How to get more bookings in low season

8 ways to increase your occupancy rate on Airbnb all year long


It’s the time of year vacation rental owners and Airbnb hosts dread—when high season comes to an end, guests start heading home, and bookings slow down.

Well, we’ve got good news. Slow season doesn’t have to mean a drop in bookings and revenue. There are several ways to keep your calendar full and bookings strong throughout the year. Try these expert-backed strategies to book more off-season guests and increase your Airbnb occupancy throughout the year.

Top 8 tips to get more bookings during low season

1. Identify your low season

First things first—know when your low season actually is. Also known as off-peak and slow season in the travel and vacation rental industry, these periods are when your destination attracts the fewest number of visitors. In contrast, peak season—or high season—is when your destination gets the most visitors and the highest occupancy rates.

Every destination and Airbnb is different. Ski towns fill up with skiers and snowboarders in the winter, while coastal areas attract a large number of vacationers come summer. However, slow and high seasons aren’t always that obvious. For instance, the vast Oregon coast still draws tourists in the winter looking for storm-watching opportunities.

2. Target business travelers

The ultimate all-season travelers, business travelers don’t abide by the normal tourist waves. In fact, they’re more likely to stay during off-peak dates, such as weekdays and traditionally slower months.

Even better? Today’s large number of remote workers have more flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime. So now, there are even more opportunities to fill those low-season dates.

Some ways to attract vacation rental business travelers:

  • Offer high-speed WiFi so they can work, email, take video meetings, and stay in touch with their office. Most vacation rental owners who work with Vacasa receive a free router so that guests can get online quickly and seamlessly.
  • Be flexible with check-in and check-out times.
  • Create a workstation with a comfortable desk, chair, and good lighting.
  • Mention the proximity to nearby company headquarters, convention centers, and meeting spaces.
  • Stay on top of major local conventions, trade shows, and exhibitions. Most events today have hashtags so attendees can stay up-to-date with event details. So, use the hashtag when promoting your home on social media.

3. Invest in amenities that guests want in the slow season

Consider offering amenities that could attract off-season guests. Some short-term rental amenities can be considerable—yet worthwhile—investments. For example, adding a hot tub can help you earn 15-20% more. In contrast, easy and inexpensive upgrades include outdoor seating for summer stays at a mountain cabin or a fire pit and pool table to attract winter travelers to your beach house.

If you need additional help, you can also start with these 7 top vacation rental amenities that guests want.

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4. Reach out to former vacation rental guests

Former guests (especially those who left positive reviews) can be a goldmine for repeat bookings and referrals. Plus, marketing to them is often easier, cheaper, and faster than going after new potential guests who have never heard of your vacation rental. Some ideas to market to past guests to boost bookings at your vacation rental property:

  • Send an email offering a promotional rate just for past guests.
  • Give a discount they can pass along to family and friends.
  • Plug their contact info into Facebook’s social media ads. Not only will they receive your ads, but Facebook will also reach out to other people like them.

5. Update your vacation rental listing

Consider your vacation rental listing to be your biggest advertisement—an essential marketing tool that should constantly be improved and updated. Renew your Airbnb and Vrbo listing to reflect the seasons. After all, an image of your mountain cabin blanketed in snow wouldn’t appeal to travelers booking a fall or summer mountain getaway. Some ways to update your listing:

  • Highlight any holiday features. For example, let them know if your home will be decorated for Christmas, which could be a big draw for groups and families spending the holidays together.
  • Emphasize amenities that potential guests want in the off-season, like indoor games, TV streaming services, and cozy fireplaces for rainy weather.
  • Write a new persuasive headline that reflects seasonal activities nearby, such as “Close to fall leaf peeping spots.”
  • Update your calendar to reflect your most up-to-date availability. Homes with updated calendars tend to rank higher in Airbnb and Vrbo search results.
  • Mention any nearby seasonal and holiday festivals, events, and attractions.

6. Adjust your nightly rates

Less demand often calls for lowering prices to drive bookings. However, don’t just drop your rate for the entire season (even slow seasons have busy days) or discount blindly. Your pricing strategy should maximize both your bookings and your rental income.

This is where it helps to have a dynamic pricing tool at your fingertips. At Vacasa, our dynamic pricing automatically adjusts every home’s rates according to market conditions that drive or drop demand, such as:

  • Season
  • Holidays
  • Weather
  • Upcoming events
  • Competition
The dock of overlooking Lake George at a vacation rental in Upstate New York.

7. Leverage local events

Research local festivals and events happening in the low season that would draw travelers to your area. From winter festivals to Oktoberfest celebrations, out-of-towners will be looking for a place to stay. Here are some ways you can leverage local events:

  • Mention upcoming local events in your profile listing and your distance from them.
  • Send out marketing emails with a calendar of events.
  • Post about upcoming local happenings on your social media channels (if an event has its own hashtag, make sure to use it so you’ll pop up in the search results for that hashtag).
  • Adjust your rates to match the demand, instead of discounting (again, this is where dynamic pricing for short-term rentals kicks in).

8. Market for holiday travel

If any major holidays happen during your low season, position your vacation rental as the ideal place to celebrate. For instance, does your vacation home offer a large kitchen and dining space for groups and families to gather for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Make sure to highlight that in your listing and listing headline. Also, consider decorating for the holidays to offer an even more festive guest experience and more compelling vacation rental photos.

Low season doesn’t mean surrendering to low occupancy. People still travel during these periods. So, use these strategies to help your Airbnb ride out this slow time of year, capture these travelers, and maximize your earning potential.

Occupancy rate FAQ

Your occupancy rate is the percentage of time your vacation rental is booked compared to the total number of nights it’s available. It’s one of the most commonly used metrics to determine your vacation home’s performance and success. For instance, if your vacation rental is available for 30 nights a month, and booked for 15 nights, your occupancy rate is 50%.

A good occupancy rate for vacation rentals depends on your location. It helps to know the average occupancy rates in your destination, as they can vary widely from city to city, zip code to zip code. For example, if your occupancy rate is 60%, while other vacation rentals in your area have an average 45% occupancy rate, you’re doing pretty well and out-booking most of your competition.

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