As the travel industry returns to normal, people are starting to (re)schedule long-delayed trips with great enthusiasm.
While booking a vacation rental is often done well before a trip, new data shows that spontaneous vacation rental bookings are on the rise. Airbnb reported that in 2021, spur-of-the-moment reservations were up 58%.
Attracting last-minute vacation rental bookings is a great way to increase revenue and meet occupancy goals. With a few tricks, you can encourage vacation browsers to pack their bags and skedaddle, just for the heck of it. Here’s how.
What Is Last-Minute Booking?
A last-minute booking is one made very close to when the reservation takes place. These bookings look different depending on your market and type of property. A narrow booking window varies significantly between a utilitarian, one-bedroom condo versus a high-end, six-bedroom mansion. Narrow booking windows could be within months or weeks of check-in in distant luxury markets like Hawaii or seasonal hot spots like Cape Cod. Or this window could be days or hours in urban markets where stays tend to be shorter.
Why Do Last-Minute Bookings Matter
For a long time, short term rental property managers believed that a high nightly rate, in addition to a minimum stay requirement, would bring in more revenue. These restrictive practices limit the number of guests who can book a property, limiting the revenue you could potentially make.
By remaining flexible in your rates and stay requirements and encouraging travelers to book last-minute, you’re filling out your calendar, increasing your occupancy, and making more revenue.
Let’s dive into a few strategies to drive last-minute bookings.
Use Your Dynamic Pricing Tool to Adjust Rates
Dynamic pricing is a strategy wherein you use software to adjust your rates based on small market factors to keep your properties competitively priced AND attractive to guests.
As a booking window starts to narrow, it’s a good idea to lower rates to attract more potential travelers.
Some dynamic pricing tools have a feature that allows you to set this adjustment, so it happens automatically, slowly lowering the price until the window closes completely. Or you can ask a revenue management expert to help make those adjustments.
Remove Stay Restrictions
Keeping your calendar as flexible as possible always tends to attract more guests.
Restrictions like minimum or maximum stays can significantly limit last-minute vacation rental bookings. Spur-of-the-moment travel is often not for three or seven days but a night or maybe two.
Consider removing minimum or maximum stay requirements for last-minute bookings to encourage spontaneous traveler reservations!
Offer Appropriate Discounts
Discounts can be a touchy subject in the vacation rental industry, but when used appropriately, they can increase your bookings and revenue.
As mentioned above, your dynamic pricing tool or revenue management expert may recommend lowering rates as a booking window closes. You can also offer other discounts that may encourage guests to book last minute. For example, you could offer a complimentary third or fifth night, enabling your guests to book an extended stay. Any booked night earns revenue, even if the rate is lower than you would typically charge.
With these tips, you can attract a broader guest base than you would otherwise, putting your rentals in front of more potential guests.