Minimum Stay Length Strategy?

My wife suggested we change from 2-day minimum stay to a 3- or 4-day minimum. Her reasoning is that over half of our reservations for the entire fall season were 2- and 3-day weekend reservations leaving most weekdays open that never got booked. Making the change sounds reasonable, but I know it’s not so simple.

I’ve downloaded all of my reservation data for the past year and I’ve done some analysis, but I’ve concluded I need at least another 3 months worth of data to get a picture of a full year (My listing went live on 2018-12-15 with a 90-day booking window, so the first 90 days are skewed).

So, in my searching, I found a lot of info on minimum stay strategies and what is the most interesting to me is to increase the minimum stay for reservations farther away and decrease it for stays that are closer. For example, you could make the minimum stay 4 days for reservations that are over 60 days away, 3 days for reservations between 30 and 60 days away, and 2 days for reservations less than 30 days away. Unfortunately, my current data says that this exact strategy would help replace a 2-day reservation with a 3-day or longer reservation at best only 11% of the time.

So, my questions are

  1. Does anyone have data showing the above strategy works?
  2. Are there any tools that will automatically adjust your minimum stay settings based on the advance booking window or seasons, so you don’t have to do it manually all the time?
  3. Are there any decent guides to setting your minimum stay that aren’t just anecdotal or a bunch of fluff that ends up being guesswork at your expense?

No hard data, and what I have is probably completely irrelevant to your market/situation.

We tried making certain popular periods three days minimum to avoid the dead Thursday, Sunday or Monday. This was over ninety days out. By sixty days still unbooked and the same at thirty days out.

Dropped to two days minimum and all availability booked within less then a week.

Our takeaway from that is that if guests want two nights, that’s all they’ll book. That said, our booking window, apart from specific events, is generally pretty narrow. A couple of weeks out is our norm outside peak periods so maybe they wouldn’t have booked at ninety days out anyway?


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Personally I think you’re over analyzing things and trying too hard to micromanage something that’s not really suited for micromanagement unless you’re running a 300 room hotel. Too many seasonal and location and activity variables to be really analyzed with less than say 10 years of data not 10 months.

Why not just set 1 night minimum and leave it alone?


I had the same issue when I first started. I allowed two or three night bookings which caused the property to sit unoccuppied Mondays - Thursdays plus those were the guests that caused us so much trouble with unauthorized parties.

This past summer we changed it to five night bookings and it was so much better. We were booked all summer long and had very little issues since they were mostly families, so no parties.

Try it and see if it works out for you. If you’re not getting that many five night bookings, then lower it to four and finally three nights, if necessary.

Best wishes.


Here is my take on it, and it is all fluff and guesswork…

I have a 3 day minimum on VRBO and get fewer bookings there, the reason I keep it at 3 is because I pay more in fees there and figure if I get bookings at least it is a few days.

I think a 3-4 day minimum across the board would kill my business, most of my stays are one or two days.

I will never book those midday weeks by requiring longer stays, I will just get fewer bookings and make less money.

I am in a vacation destination, yet my longest booking in 2 years has been 5 days.

I love one nighters, they do not cook for the most part, arrive late and leave early.



I did the same this past summer season with my two (coastal Maine) listings. I use Wheelhouse to set the global minimum stay, day of week minimum stays and time-based minimum stays (rules to automatically adjust the minimum night stay for stay dates within and beyond a specific number of days from the booking date).

I started out with high minimum night stays, and lowered the number of nights as I got closer to the dates. It’s pretty easy to get 5+ night bookings in July/Aug here, and 3-4 night weekend rentals June-October. I also had good luck on last minute bookings (two night minimum) Sun-Weds, but I did have to lower my rates quite a bit to get some of those.

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This is an excellent question. For hosts that charge a cleaning fee and do the cleaning themselves, 1-day stays are the most lucrative, and they’re the easiest to fit into open days in the calendar. My problem is I can’t do a same day turnover. So, I have a 1-day preparation time between every booking, and that makes 1-day stays the least lucrative. It also means a 1-day stay on a Saturday night would block Friday and Sunday and leave even more days un-booked.


Hmmm… You live across the street right? Do you do your own cleaning? If not I would think about having more than one cleaner to call on.

I think this is a huge barrier to filling those empty nights.

Now clearly I do not know your circumstances and nothing is one size fits all but I would try to make your place more available, more availability should equate to more bookings.


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Also my 1 bed 1 bath listing, accomplished by locking doors in my 3+2 gets the lionshare of my overall bookings, with less cleaning and yes less money per night, but many more nights.


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It seems like one night stays in the middle of the week for a whole house would be unusual even if available.

OTOH I don’t think a Phoenix suburb is going to have families renting for a week’s vacation like the Jersey shore and coastal Maine do.


I get about three of these per month. Usually a single person in town for business so super easy turnover; several are repeat guests.

I don’t allow one night stays on weekends.

Much will depend on your location and the type of guests you attract.

A friend that lists a whole house 10 miles out of town attracts more of the “family vacation” crowd and does Saturday-Saturday whole week rentals only. And stays booked.

I tried bumping my minimum stay to 3-days for regular weekends and 4-days for holiday weekends. Neither booked early and I got a lot of inquiries about reducing the length of stay. I went back to 2 as the default and 3 for holidays. Sometimes they book longer, but it’s a crapshoot I can’t control.

My friend and I are located in the same area, but she has a whole-house with kitchen and I have a suite with enough to make coffee & warm up leftovers. I get foodies that eat downtown, but rarely does someone want to do that for a week. (I get a lovely couple of older ladies who’ve known each other since high school who do just that - come for a week and eat and all the fun restaurants, but they’re the exception, not the norm).

So I’d say, give it a shot if you think it fits your listing, but be ready to field some inquiries trying for shorter stays. No loss giving it a shot - if you don’t get any bites several weeks out, reduce the LOS and they’ll still book.


Yes, I live across the street and do my own cleaning, but I haven’t been able to find reasonable and reliable cleaners. Also, my current cleaning fee is $100, and the lowest quote I got was $175 and that did not include cleaning the two outdoor patios or any guarantee of availability.

I work full time, so I can’t take off from 11-3 and clean. My wife works full time from home she takes short breaks to do the laundry. We do the rest of the cleaning in the evening unless it’s a weekend.


@Brian_R170 I don’t collect data per se but have good anecdotal information as I do use the minimum stay options extensively.

You have to know what is going to book “basically for sure anyways”. For me that is certain dates that have to do with the colleges in the area (graduations, parents weekends, that kind of stuff),
festivals, 3-day weekends, recurring special event weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and generally all of July through September as well as a couple of road race weekends and any big concert or big convention that is concurrent with a time that is busy for another reason (e.g. 2 fairly big things happening at once). These are just examples for my city, your area I’m sure has similar times but they may be different. It’s best to keep track of one-time events as well as yearly events that people are coming for - I’m sure you already know what these times are for you.

Once you have that list. Those are the times that you can “force” a minimum stay without risk. Maybe try those times first to get comfortable with it?

I opened up May for college graduations in October and have already gotten my minimums for 2 of the listings (5 days and 6 days). I fully expect to get the min on the 3rd listing too but make sure to have it open long enough to find the right match.

I opened President’s day about a month ago and have gotten my minimums on 2 of the 3 already.

There’s not much risk if the dates are bound to book anyways. If someone doesn’t book my 4-day min at President’s day by the week before, I’ll drop it to 3 or 2 and book pretty much immediately, because that weekend is definitely going to book in my neighborhood.
That’s my ‘data’ :slight_smile:


On average, my guests book 51 days in advance.
Only 8% were less than 2 weeks in advance (funerals and house-hunting).

20% Visiting local friends/family
20% Local events (sports games, golf tournaments, music festivals, etc.)
20% Attending wedding (Also 60% of my cancellations are guests attending a wedding)
10% Vacations (without local friends/family)
10% Playing golf
8% Unspecified (guest didn’t tell me)
6% Attending funeral
4% Work
2% House-hunting

We don’t expect many bookings for work in a 4-bedroom whole-house listing.
Vacations for families with children are also rare because the summer when kids are out of school is not when people come to Phoenix, but we do get some for spring/fall break and long weekends. Most vacations are groups of friends or extended families without kids.
The golfers tend to do 4 or 5 day booking on weekdays, but can kill the weekends with my 1-day preparation time.

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My theory is that wedding party/guests end up staying with family/friends, either in their homes or in bigger/“better” STRs.

At least I hope that’s the case. Would be sad to think it’s because the weddings have been called off.


I like the accuracy and the comprehensiveness of your data. My twopence are that the 4-bedroom whole-house listing will only cater to a VERY SPECIFIC guest. I assume that the only way that your listing is cost effective if it’s four adults or more that are travelling TOGETHER. To me this is a very specific guest and it cuts out pretty much everyone who either travels solo or in a couple. Perhaps even three people is too little for your type of listing. What I am trying to say is that even though the data you have is very good, you will always be limited by the fact that your listing only attracts very specific guests.

Having said that, if you are booked 51 days in advance, to me this indicates that you are competively priced and that there is a clear demand. If I was in your position, I would increase the price for the single night stay across the board but most certainly for high season (e.g. wedding season). I would consider also strict cancellation policy because that 60% cancellation rate for wedding guests would really bother more. I would also set up rule sets to start giving discounts for 2-night stays. If I read in between the lines of your previous comments, it sounds as if you most prefer one-week stay (e.g. you only need to clean the house once). If that is the case I would reward a one-week stay with a substantial discount - perhaps 20% or even more.

In summary, increase nightly rate but then increase discount for longer stays. What do you think?

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Yes, I pretty much get groups of 4 to 8 people. They are either families or group of friends that are friendly enough to share a house but not a bedroom. Pricing, including all taxes and Airbnb’s fees, is almost exactly what you’d pay for 2 rooms with 2 queen beds each at the nearest hotel (which is a Marriot Springhill Suites, a mid-range hotel).

Not 60% cancellation rate, but 60% of all cancellations have been guests attending weddings.

If only Airbnb would support this in a more flexible way. They currently allow setting discounts for weekly and monthly, and of course there is the cleaning fee that can make shorter stays more expensive per day.

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Thanks for getting back to me. On your last point: that’s not quite correct actually. If you click on “professional hosting tools” (forgot the exact name of the service) you effectively enable the setting of “rule sets” for your calendar. A statistics guy like yourself would really like these rule sets. I start giving discounts on 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 days stays - that’s in addition to 7, 14 and 28+ stays. I also start lowering my prices 8 days before available days that aren’t booked yet. It’s very handy and fully automated so you don’t have to do anything. Check it out.


… also, I would still increase my nightly prices. Yes, you are priced similar to mid-range hotels near you but these places don’t have a porch, a kitchen, a living room, a garden, a big fridge, a welcome package (I assume you do one) etc. I would think that these things would mean you can charge 10% or 20% more at least.

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