Set your seasonal rates too high and you’ll be left with big gaps in your reservations diary, set them too low and you may attract the wrong sort of guests. How to tread that middle line.
If you’re looking to rent out your property year round you will need to set your seasonal rates to realistic levels that reflect seasonal and peak demand times. Establish a framework by researching what happens locally. Check out what your competitors do via some of the well known listing sites such as HomeAway.com, Flipkey, HolidayLettings.co.uk etc.
Select a handful of properties similar in size and appeal to yours and pinpoint the dates on which their rates change. Check their seasonal rates for the different booking periods. It’s also worth looking at their availability on key dates to see how fully booked they are for those periods.
In this way, independent owners can get a feel for the level at which the market is charging and what level the market will bear. If you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to pitch your prices a little below your competitors to attract visitors – after all, your rivals may have the edge over you with repeat visitors but these might be swayed in your direction by a lower rate.
Set the seasonal rates too high and you’ll scare some people off; too low and, apart from losing out yourself, you may attract the wrong sort of clientele who may not treat your property with the respect it deserves.
Build on your framework
So now you have a framework of seasonal rates covering the year – or the times of the year you want to offer your property for rental. As a guide, you’ll need to provide your own rates for all rental dates in summer, fall (autumn), spring, winter (or ‘ski season’ if that applies to your home area), holidays (Christmas, Easter, Passover, Labor Day, Thanksgiving etc.) and special events (such as festivals or major sporting events in your area).
If you do not include any applicable taxes in your posted seasonal rates, make it clear elsewhere on your website what these will be and how much they will add to the cost of your stay. In fact, you will need to itemize anything that is charged as extra. Your guests will be less than pleased to discover additional charges when they appear at payment time.
Guests who initially thought your property looked like a great vacation rental may lose their enthusiasm when they discover that several extra fees have been added to your advertised base rate. This sort of approach may get people clicking on your listing, but it’s unlikely to increase your confirmed bookings.
What about ‘extras’?
Taxes and ‘reasonable’ cleaning fees may be expected, but unless it’s an extra specific to your property – say heating for the swimming pool or logs for the fire outside of the summer season – then include it in the upfront price.
Another useful tip for those starting out: while your initial rates are set low, garner as many good reviews as you can. With these under your belt you can soon leverage up your rates to match the competition.
This much, the independent owner can do for his or her self, but there are several SaaS (software as a service) suppliers on the web who can offer sophisticated solutions that can not only guide you through this tricky area, but will provide you with the facility to change seasonal rates (and taxes) easily at any time to react to changing situations.
They will provide you with useful performance data that can help you plan and improve your rental operation. These services offer you the sort of flexibility essential to maximizing your reservations and revenues and are well worth consideration.