Maximize your year-round rental revenue

rstenhammer@hiltonheadusa.comOctober 17, 2012 

Now that the peak tourism season has come and gone, generating bookings for your vacation rental property becomes more challenging in the off-season. In order to compete in the fall, winter and spring, your property should be marketed differently than in the summer months. This time of year, your property also should be deep-cleaned and inspected in detail by your vacation rental property manager for maintenance issues and improvement recommendations. Here are the top characteristics of short-term rental properties that perform well on a year-round basis.

Market to monthly renters. By marketing to and accepting monthly renters, you will most likely attract mature "snowbirds" who can afford to get away from the Northern winters. They tend to treat rental properties with respect, generate revenue in the most challenging months and keep things moving in your home or villa.

Generate guest reviews. The most powerful form of marketing is word of mouth. This happens through public reviews that guests write about your property. Make sure you get reviews that talk about the benefits of visiting in the off season.

Added value like bikes, gas cards, dining certificates. A small gesture like a $50 gas card might make the difference in competing for bookings. Including these items in the reservation will pay for themselves.

Upgraded kitchen facilities. One of the reasons people choose a vacation rental over a hotel is the ability to prepare their own meals. The kitchen should have updated countertops and appliances, plenty of utensils and quality pots and pans.

Flat-screen televisions and DVD players in the living room and all the bedrooms. Good TVs and DVD players are cheaper than they have ever been. Install wall-mounted electronics and make sure guests have instructions on how to use each one.

A heated pool. Pools tend to be too cold to swim in during the winter. A private, heated pool is a major competitive advantage.

Use high resolution photography and HD videos. There is no better way to attract bookings than to show off your property with the best photography and video possible. The expense of doing this will garner a return on your investment.

Consider making your property pet friendly. If you're concerned about keeping your property in good condition, consider putting restrictions in place such as no dogs over 50 pounds or that the dog must be in a crate if left alone in the property.

Redefine your marketing plan for the off-season. Market to golfers, tennis players and retirees. Gear your marketing to families for the kids' fall breaks and for the holidays. Raise your rates during these higher demand periods.

Wireless Internet. This is no longer a luxury and is generally expected for a rental property. Guests expect to have Wi-Fi available for their computers, laptops, tablets and phones.

Robert Stenhammer has been a resort executive for more than 15 years. He is the president of Hilton Head Accommodations.

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