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How do you handle the offseason/offseasons? off season/off seasons?

#1

Do you make every effort to rent at a higher price in the “on” seasons and not worry about lowering your prices during the off seasons for fear of degrading your image? We have a ski condo which rents well in the winter and summer but Spring and Fall here are known as “mud season.” I don’t know how much lower we would need to go to get it booked. Just wondering if other have this fear of “if I keep lowering my prices during the off season what kind of renters will I be attracting?” Will they be more of a liability than it is worth? Or if I have low pricing, will potential renters think the place is too “cheap” for them?

This is our first year with the property so we’re newbies and don’t know what to expect. We have an in-town manager who says that he monitors the general willingness of people to rent all year but we don’t know how to manage our managers. They work on commission so I could see that their motives could go either way. On the one hand they don’t get paid either if no one is in our unit, but on the other hand, they don’t have to monitor the place or fix anything if no one is renting. Our place is a little bit farther out of town than the other rentals they have and I could see that being a motivation.

Thanks for any help or discussion!!!

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#2

I live in an area that’s highly seasonal for the summer. My prices swing $80-120 from early spring to peak summer. I don’t worry that it degrades my image; people know it’s just not as nice to visit in April as it is in July or August. Low prices CAN attract problematic guests, but that’s usually when you’re the cheapest place compared to other listings.

I’d suggest finding your minimum pricing (that is, any lower wouldn’t be worthwhile). So long as you’re finding enough guests willing to rent at or above that number, it’s probably worth trying it for a season. For me, winter rents were so low and infrequent that I prefer closing down for the winter (as hotels in my area do).

You might consider making 3 seasonal calendars for your single property so you can brand them in different ways. I’d do a summer, winter, and “mud season” listing. Tailor the pictures to the activities of that season and price your “mud” listing at a discount.

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#3

My rates during the year go from $45-189 per night depending on season and day of the week. I find my lowest… and then compare to others in my area. I’ve been booked more often than not during our dead season and now have lots of great reviews.

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#4

I actually block the calendar in the off season. It’s not worth the aggravation and effort when the rates are so low.

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#5

Southwest Florida here. Very seasonal. High season we rent for $99 per night; off season for $65 with full prepared breakfast for two and a pool. There’s an hotel a mile away charging $325 a night in High season with no breakfast or pool, and another Airbnb about 6 blocks away for $40 a night with no pool a cereal bars.

We don’t worry about “shoulder” seasons, just High and Low.

We charge what we charge, and people can take us, or not… no tweaking of prices, no discounts or deals.

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#6

I try to rent longer terms during low season which is here 8.5 month a year .
My room goes from 40$ to 250$ per night. So not sure how its possible to not adjust prices. I would not be happy to rent out my room for 80$ if there is a possibility to make 3 times more.

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#7

I’m new, too, but what I did was to scope out my competition by searching various short-term-rental platforms for listings as similar as possible to mine and see what their prices are and what their calendars look like. It was @#$& tedious work, though. The off-season here is June through September and I haven’t actually been through it yet, so you may need more than a grain of salt with this advice.

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#8

I’m in Portland, ME. My rates go from $89 in off season to as much as $308 in July-August, and roughly match the swings in price of local hotels (which rent TINY rooms for upwards of $450 in the summer).

My pricing is done through Wheelhouse, with only minimal manual tweaking of prices. I don’t think anyone is going to be confused by vastly different prices for properties in seasonal locations. Yes, there is the possibility that a very low price will attract less than desirable guests, so you need to weigh that against how high an occupancy rate you need to make money.

Like Yana, I prefer a longer term rental in the off season. At the moment, I am renting to a pair of grad students in their final semester at one of the nearby colleges. I have 100% occupancy and make the same money I would if I were booked only 20 nights (and even that is pretty optimistic for the winter) with a lot less hassle - no turnovers during blizzards, for one thing!

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#9

I play with the prices constantly on my listings because I list 365 days a year, in a popular US city, and want every day to be booked. In winter (off-season), our daily rate can be a third of the summer weekend rates. I don’t think it degrades the listings at all, since people booking for summer can see the augmented rates, even when booking well in advance.

I have also noticed that if there is a lull in bookings/views, it changes almost instantly when I mess around with rates, and also when I do my reviews (which I generally bundle into once a week, or so). Example: if there is a single night open, wedged between other bookings, I’ll drop that rate down so it books, and then check my listing status. It seems to move up in the search.

As someone mentioned, with a lower the rate you can attract a lower quality guest, but on the flip side, some reservations at the highest rates have been regular PITA guests with absurd expectations, so I don’t care. I drop the prices because I would rather make money than not make money. But I also have cleaners who love the extra work (and of course get the same rate), so everybody makes money. Win-win for my place, but every venue is different. Only you can determine if the lower rate is worth your efforts, or will degrade the brand or image, but that has not been my experience.

(Sadly), what makes listings popular (in my city), are reviews. Those with hundreds are always booked. Those with a handful, struggle. :confused:

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#10

I tweak my prices all the time - from season to season and from year to year. Market changes mean that it isn’t possible to “set it and forget it.” My goal is to be booked as much as possible, so I use another browser and go in incognito to look at pricing in the area for similar listings and make sure that mine are competitive. I’ve had some guests stay with me because I am a SH and others just because of the pricing, so there is a careful balance. I also prefer long term over short, if I can get them, so I am looking at dates as well as pricing, and setting discount rates accordingly. If there are loads of listings available, then I lower my pricing. If there are few, then I raise them. Isn’t that what supply and demand is all about? When you book a hotel, you don’t think any less of the establishment because you got a good rate… you celebrate - because you found a great value. Airbnb isn’t any different.

I’ll add one more thing… like @LetsShareThoughts, I am careful not to lower them too much, because I want to steer away from lower quality guests, but that isn’t a guarantee. Along with the lower pricing, I might change the minimum from one night to two, to discourage guests from treating my home as a flophouse.

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#11

Thanks everyone! Great info, I really appreciate it! Happy renting!

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#12

We lower our rates slightly in the off season, but not enough to stay fully booked. I use the time to make necessary repairs that I couldn’t get to in the high season.

Our off season is also winter, so it would just be more work to clear snow as well.

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#13

I’m a blend of @Yana @KenH @Brandt & @MissSwan

Highly seasonal June July August summer rate is 150% of my September-May rate.

I get decent nightly to weekly rentals at my base rate Sept & Oct.; rare rentals in November &December but I don’t further lower my nightly rate. I use the condo and do repairs (I’ve slready got painting scheduled the first week of December).

Jan-April longer term snowbird rentals. Cheapest daily rate because rentals over 28 nights and least amount of work for me. It’s enough to pay utilities, HOA, taxes & mortgage with a few extra dollars.

My crazy pricing schemes are driven by my market. There is lots of competition for off-season dollars. The close-by Hampton Inn routinely has off season pricing $20 less per night than me. I won’t go that low for short term rentals because of the wear & tear.

As a routine Airbnb guest and superhost, my good friend finds seasonal pricing annoying because on the search you think the price is what displays then you check your dates and the price is much more. She posts her peak season price year round with weekly & monthly discounts in the off season. She usually gets enough rentals at the higher price off season to pay the bills and have some extra cash. (I may try it out this fall).

She and I are in agreement to not have extra fees. We are seeing cheap 2bedroom rentals advertised then adding on an outrageous cleaning fee ($300) and owner administration fee of $250 a week. Feels very sketchy to me.

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#14

Our off season is November to April. However there is always room for coop postgrads, MDs on rotation, and people relocating here. Minimum 1 month.

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#15

I have competitive (I think) rates in my area but add a $50 cleaning fee because I clean everything in the room - sheets, duvet, pillows (about once a month, or after lots of perfumey guests), linens - it’s about 5 loads of laundry. Would you suggest that I drop that fee and up my prices? I also take 1 night bookings, so it needs to be worth it for me to deep clean the room and bathroom after 1 night. Thoughts?

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#16

Are your bookings and income where you want them to be?

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#17

That is a reasonable fee. If you accept one night rentals you are in a difficult situation. You must either have a cleaning fee or have a higher nightly fee with a discount for rentals greater than 2 nights. We accept only 3 night or longer rentals. My rates are low and the wear & tear on the unit plus the communication needs for one night rentals are too much.

If you most of your rentals are a 3 nights or more then stop the nightly rentals, up your nightly rate by $10-$13 to cover the cleaning fee. If your rentals are mostly one night, leave it as is and move forward.

In our area we are trying to figure out how to differentiate our higher nightly rentals from the rentals that shift a higher nightly rate to crazy high additional fees. On the other side of that coin—some of these rentals advertise minimum 1 night rental $60 PLUS a $300 cleaning fee & $250 administration fee. If they can get $610 for one night in a 2BR condo not on the ocean more power to them.

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#18

Just a thought, and I’m not sure if it’d work.

Could you not do two listings, one with a one night min/max and high CF, and one with your normal min/max nights and normal cleaning fee. Then link the calendars.

JF

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#19

I do not lower prices during the “off” season, because it costs us so much more to operate then. If guests want the space to be at 75 degrees F during the winter, the propane for the heat & cooking and generator fuel for the electricity is a huge cost. Doing all that laundry is more costly in winter for us too. In summer we have solar, so most of the electricity and the A/C are solar powered, which is not an extra cost to us out of pocket. So…I leave prices the same all year.

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#20

We deep clean after every guest, no matter one night or more. It is only one large room - 850 sq ft - plus full bath, and takes 3 hours to clean. At times I get help which costs me $25 an hour. I charge $65 cleaning fee, which is about all I think the market will bear.

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