So very slowwww

I’ve been at this for 7 years now and this winter is the absolute worst. Not a single booking for January so far when other years were not anywhere near this bad. How do you decide when to hang it up for good?

I am having a spat with the worse half right now about how low we should go. I was absolutely aghast at the prices of the “newbies” in this area. I know we can weather the storm but when will they just give up?

Can someone just tell me I’m not alone?

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I don’t get a lot of folks here in Alaska in the winter, either. When I did my initial planning I assumed that I’d be almost entirely empty from October to April unless I was able to rent LTR from January to April to legislative staff when our Legislature is in session, and I set my rates accordingly, with a goal of netting at least 35% more than my upstairs made on a yearly apartment lease. Didn’t do that the first summer, but I did better than that last summer.

If you have good reviews or are a super host, my advice would be to NOT lower your rates much, since that’s not likely to help. If your market is flooded with newbies, you just have to hope that they’ll wake up once they realize they’re losing money.

You have to set your rates for high season so that you make your target revenue then, and the off season is extra. I actually prefer that, since I have a long bucket list of places to visit in the tropics and the southern hemisphere and I prefer to spend my summers here even if they are crazy busy.


I go from 100 percent occupancy from April - Oct, to about 75 precent occupancy Nov, Dec, Jan with much lower rates. Feb is usually pretty slow so I use this time to make upgrades, deep clean, etc. I also use this time to take vacations. I do have a backup host if it gets booked but I just plan my budget to expect less revenue. And yes, I do lower my rates.

This year I tried to get traveling nurses. I promoted my STR on Housing for Traveling Nurse sites in Oct, Nov for December and kept the winter dates blocked. Eventually I gave up because I just wasn’t getting any nibbles and I can’t keep the dates blocked the closer it got.

I asked on the traveling nurses sites for feedback and found that many nurses just stay in an extended stay place when they first arrive to make sure that their job comes through and then look for a place. Or they only book a few days to make sure that they have been happy with the place. Also, I found that even with heavily discounted rates, they nurses couldn’t afford a whole space rental and were renting rooms.

So with somewhat aggressive pricing I’ve done ok so far this year. I have also noticed a trend that guests book closer to the date they want to check in in my off season. I live below so a lot of my overhead doesn’t change if the place is rented or not so it’s worth it for m to have it booked. One way I save is that I provide less amenities in my off season to save money and since the place isn’t rented as much, I’ve cut back on my monthly deep cleaning to once ever 1 1/2 months.

Where are you based @Natalie As you know each area has it’s high and low seasons depending on where you are and what sort of guests you attract. So yes in the winter, post the festive season bookings are much slower for many in the West.

I would never join a race to the bottom price wise. Look at diversifying the channels you use to market your STR business.

  • What other platforms are you listed on?
  • Do you have your own website/FB to market directly?
  • What research have you done around local third parties you might partner with whose staff might need accommodation.

STRs are like any business, unless you have a unique, must stay there property in a location people want to stay in, or it is a side income stream, you can’t just rely on one platform to market your business but need to use those that are likely to attract the sort of customers (guests) you want to target to maximise opportunities for booking.

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We are swamped from early April through autumn. Because we knew that winter would be considerably slower, we decided to book one of our rooms this winter (Dec-Mar) to a travel nurse on a 13-week lease (not through Airbnb). We do that at a lower rate than we’d rent through Airbnb, but we do very little work for the nurse’s room. It’s a great steady income through our slowest months.

And we still rent out our other room through Airbnb for short stays. Just not as often as in the other seasons.

We already have Airbnb reservations for the nurse’s room, starting in April, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting it back to full Airbnb speed come spring.

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My December was my best month ever but Jan has been slow for me, only 10 Air bookings for 15 nights. But I’ve enjoyed having some time off. I won’t lower my prices, all these bookings have been close to my year round rate. I don’t really have a season.

But I agree it’s slower and I’m sure someone is steadily booking their space at 25% lower rates but not for me at this time.

I would never completely stop due to it being slow unless I absolutely had to have the money. Keep in mind that you have all those years and reviews that newbies will never catch up to. That gives you more pricing power and I suspect more savvy guests . Hang in there.

We no longer have this discussion, but at first my better half kept asking me if I should drop the rates to boost occupancy. My answer to him is we can’t create demand where there is none by lowering our price. Because we occupy the place during the winter holidays, I don’t really expect any bookings after October until Spring Break in March. I was surprised and thrilled that we arrived for our Thanksgiving trip right after the last guests we hosted left… expected nothing in November at all.

Already have guests booked for 5 nights for a big annual event in late March, otherwise there’s been no activity on ours since November. Last year (year 1) we went live on 01/01, booked our first party in mid-Februrary for a late June vacation, booked our second reservation and first guests to occupy the place for a big Spring Break festival booked a few days before their arrival in early March. This is what I expected going in because I know our area … the only people coming up in winter outside of holiday dates are spending their nights in deer camp.

And this is very dependent on the kind of listing one has. You can’t “create demand” but you absolutely can improve your chances of snagging some of the reduced number of bookings by lowering prices. I’m happy to maintain prices and have fewer bookings but I can see that for others half the income and twice the work is still better than no work and no income. I may actually lower my prices for next week and test out the idea that lower prices = more bookings.

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This is not to say I am not priced lower now than in high season. But there is a dollar amount at which it is just not worth our time.

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It slowed down here as well. Planning on blocking 13 weeks off the Air calendar for a Travel Nurse, it will be a breakeven situation but I won’t have the ins and outs for 3 months until the high season hits. We’ve done a lot with Travel Nurses and it’s no where near as profitable as Air. If the demand doesn’t pickup we will store the furnishings and rent long-term.

How long have you been doing Airbnb? Would you say it’s the result of increased supply in your market in that time?

Yes, definitely more Air supply (pun) without a doubt also many more hosts doing Nurse housing so the good margins in that are all but gone now.

Most of our guests the last several months have been newbies as well so I wonder if Air demand is also waning.

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Whoooo i just got a booking…

… for April. :joy:

Eventually people will drop out if they are dependent on the income. Hosts who do Airbnb as a supplement or side job will always have an advantage.

I had my best month ever in Dec and all the new guests are a good sign that Airbnb is still expanding. Any travel related company can confirm that demand is seasonal and the expansion of the pie is not limitless.

You are NOT alone. It is very slow and I would like to know if you have received messages from Airbnb that occupancy is down in your area by double digits and that supply is up by double digits too.

I see these messages in price tips. ‘there are 30% fewer searches and 25% more inventory than this time last year so lower your rate by 75%’

no, thanks. :cowboy_hat_face:

Yeah, it is super slow for us too. There are also a ton of new listings that are priced very low here. Even the hotels are priced very low. It was slow last year in January too but we were a relatively new and low priced listing and did okay I guess (I later realized that the heat bill ate up any profits we might have had :roll_eyes: I have dropped my prices from the high season but not to the newbie prices (never again!) and so we have actually made more this January with less bookings, which feels like some kind of progress. And for now, I’m fine with it because we were crazy busy through December and I need the break and I am trying to use the time well. Also, some of those new listings are not holding up well and certainly can’t be making a profit and because our city also has new regulations that will surely get enforced eventually, I think some of them will fall off anyway :japanese_ogre:

I will say that about 30% of our bookings so far for Jan/Feb/Mar are return guests and so I feeling validated about that at least - the extra work to develop them as returns is paying off, thankfully. Yay!

Also, when I look at a Tuesday in June, it says “79% more guests than average…” so that is hopeful too :slight_smile:

I think the trick is to find a way to enjoy the slow time, to justify the time somehow, whether it be to take care of you or take care of your listing or just have the ever-elusive down time.

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Definitely not alone, I haven’t had a booking all December or January. My City does not get a lot of tourists but this has been by far the worst Winter season. Usually I get a couple guests in December and January in previous years but this year none. The harder part is I am charging $38 a night for one bedroom in a shared home but AIRBNB has exploded in my city the past couple of years. There are so many cheap listings, even below $20 a night. Even at $38 a night I feel it is almost not worth it so I am not lowering my price.

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I dropped my price and also took a 5% promotion offer for some days next week to see if it would get the room booked. So far, nothing. If none of them get booked I’m going to block it off and work on the grout in the shower. I may also be washing walls and sanitizing everything. I can hear the guy in the room now sneezing and it doesn’t sound like he is covering his face when he does it.

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No, you’re not alone, in respect of the increased number of listing in your area.

We’ve seen our area go from 200ish to well over 300 in the space of a year with Airbnb, and I suspect it partly explains the drop off we’ve had the past year from Airbnb. BDC has 206 in our area and we’ve made up the Airbnb loss from there, mostly at higher rates also. HA has also started to come good which is a bonus.

January is a poor month here usually, apart from the first few days, so we don’t have any expectations and it’s when we try to get away for a break. That said, what few we’ve had has been significantly up on last year so no complaints. Given that we’ve been getting battered by storm Gloria for the past few days, and probably will continue to get battered for a few days more, nobody’s coming here if they can help it!

Our January prices are the lowest in our calendar, but like @Helsi, we refuse to join the race to the bottom. Some folks are offering full apartments for a base €18 per night. Take off the heating costs etc and you are not making much, if any, at those rates for a party of four.

Personally I’m hoping for a few dry days as we’ve sprung three leaks in our main roof, our bedroom looks like something out of sixties London squat with buckets :laughing: as soon as the rain subsides, that’s my job for next week sorted.