Encouraging / marketing off-season stays

Kenneth12
Level 10
Chicago, IL

Encouraging / marketing off-season stays

Howdy again all,

In general,   our primary market (Chicago) has high seasonality.  We are achieving ~90% occupancy over May-Aug,   at weekend peak prices that are about 3x those of winter month stays (Nov-Feb).   April to October is also fairly good,  but those winter months are under 20%.

What I'd like is to fill those winter months with lower nightly price,  longer-term stays (1-4 weeks).   Proper discounting may be a method;  I also plan to reach out to contacts and various channels,  such as conferences and events in the area.

Note that pushing price down just isn't worth it;  in the winter we're just above break-even,  and short-term low-yield stays just aren't worth it.

I'm wondering if anyone else is in a similar situation and can advise,   or if people in general have suggestions to increase occupancy in such a situation?

Thanks in advance,

Ken

11 Replies 11
Stacy357
Level 1
Lakeview, MI

I am also looking for advice on social media presence for off season traffic and bookings.  Any suggestions?

Stacy357
Level 1
Lakeview, MI

Hello yes we are in Grand Haven, MI with 2 properties on water and looking to go into our first off season.  One approach is to list property with FurnishedFinder.com.  It is a yearly membership fee per property that is much like airbnb that traveling nurses and or professionals go to whom dont want the hassle of moving all their belongings while they may be looking for a place to live or purchase while they start a new job or are just traveling as a single with a pet in the off season.

 

I hope this helps you.  My issue is we have very nice properties and the price point goes way down off season on our side of lake Michigan (even though we have garage beneath condo building).   We will be taking a loss to go that low.   I feel in Chicago because of housing needs in city you can maybe go for night vs day shift roomie situation to split rent of traveling medical professionals.  Check with education hospitals close to your properties and on Furnishedfinder they tell you how many inquiries in designated area.

 

Kelly149
Level 10
Austin, TX

@Kenneth12 If you were willing to create different listings with very specific rules for each then that would help. I find that abb calendar/pricing rules work well for one situation at a time but get clunky when trying to infuse more nuance than that. 

 

Austin is dead in January. In 18, I booked 10 nights at sub $100/. My normal month is 15-22 at 175+. So this year I didn’t discount and didn’t book a single night. But mine’s a back house that doesn’t HAVE to be rented and we enjoyed the break. 

 

My college town house goes for 800/night for 7 events a year but just to keep it lived in this summer we did 500/month +utilities +deposit. But that was a renter pulled from a college FB message board. Not really a STR kind of guest. 

 

I guess that’s my point: STR platforms work for generating short stays but other avenues are likely better for longer off-peak times

 

And you know abb refund policies are no guarantee of payment 😬

Kenneth12
Level 10
Chicago, IL


@Kelly149 wrote:

 

And you know abb refund policies are no guarantee of payment 😬


Other than the known possible exceptions for documented emergencies and the like,   do we have reports of guests getting out of 50% payments under the Strict policy?   I haven't seen them.

Kelly149
Level 10
Austin, TX

@Kenneth12 Any guest who is removed for rule breaking will be 100% refunded and yes, EC voids all cancellation policy. 

Branka-and-Silvia0
Level 10
Zagreb, Croatia

@Kenneth12 

same thing here, we are empty n November, January, February and half of March.

 

But, I spoke yesterday with a friend, he has bed and breakfast, 4 rooms above his restaurant and he offers a room + breakfast for 3x higher price then I rent the entire 2 Bdr apartment and his occupancy rate is 90%. So, I am wondering if the breakfast instead of a discount would work. 

 

I am thinking of toast, butter, jam/honey, milk, and salami. ( we already have coffee, tea, and cereals anyway). The cost of those added items would be less than our off-season discount.

 

The only problem is - listings with lower price are on the top of the search 😞  He is not on Airbnb, he lists on Booking.com only.

Kenneth12
Level 10
Chicago, IL

 


@Branka-and-Silvia0 wrote:

 

The only problem is - listings with lower price are on the top of the search 😞  He is not on Airbnb, he lists on Booking.com only.


Do you mean on Booking.com?  That is definitely not the case on Airbnb.

 

 

Branka-and-Silvia0
Level 10
Zagreb, Croatia

@Kenneth12 

I mean at Airbnb , listings with lower price are on the top of the search

Kenneth12
Level 10
Chicago, IL


@Branka-and-Silvia0 wrote:

@Kenneth12 

I mean at Airbnb , listings with lower price are on the top of the search


That is not the case even for guests who use price filters,  at least not here.   I raise prices and see search position increase.  ABB appears at the least,  interested in its fees,  not displaying lowest priced options first.

Is there an option to sort by price?

Kelly149
Level 10
Austin, TX

@Kenneth12 I can’t help other than to say that my market is similar and I’ve chosen to see the revenue on an annual basis rather than day to day. So I’m working on pushing rates up in high time and sitting empty in low. (And enjoying the quiet when it comes.)

 

ps I don’t find abb pricing model helpful for what you’re proposing, nor do I trust the cancellation possibilities

Kenneth12
Level 10
Chicago, IL

@Kelly149 :  nice point on cancellation possibilities;  a low portion of our booking are very far in advance and I suppose one would build such a model around strict cancellation policies.

How does the seasonality in Austin work?   (At least you're pleasant and don't have Polar Vortexes with -30F for a few days!).

We are in the end a small business operation supporting a non-profit institute,   probably about to purchase additional properties,   so need to maximize revenue.  

How does ABB's pricing model not work for something like this,  in your view?  I might link listings/calendars,  creating ones with 1,  2,  and 3-week minimum stays,  possibily maximum stays to prevent overlap, and unique pricing for each.

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