My apartments are in Fort Lauderdale, which is definitely a seasonal destination. For others with experience in Florida, how much do you discount the summer versus the winter season, and how much does your revenue drop high season vs low season?
I Matthew – I’ve over in Ft Myers on the other coast. We do not “discount” during summer. Discounts are a different thing than seasonal pricing. Discounts make it sound like you’re dickering and will accept ‘bids’ for a night’s stay.
We just set our prices at a lower nightly rate. We’re at $95 a night from 1 Nov to mid-May when we drop to $65 a night. But, of course, that’s for what we offer. Here’s our listing so you can see what we have:
Guests aren’t aware until thy arrive that the also get a bottle of (inexpensive but nice) wine and chocolates.
Welcome neighbour - I’m in Fort Lauderdale too
(I don’t mind that you’re ‘the competition’ - there are plenty of guests for all of us here!)
We keep the same pricing throughout the year. I put prices up at certain times of year (Christmas, Thanksgiving etc.) and especially for the boat show. When the air show was the air and sea show, I used to put prices up but no-one seems to come into town for that any more, it seems.
It also depends where you are. I put prices up a little for events like the Las Olas art fairs because our rentals are convenient for the event. But if you’re on the beach, you’d put your prices up for the tortuga festival, for instance.
Many off-season guests are in town for conferences and work-related events so we don’t usually see much of a decline during that time.
KenH, thanks for the info on Ft Myers. Yes, what I meant was seasonal pricing. I don’t negotiate prices with guests. That’s a definite drop from $95 to $65. What is your occupancy like from high season to low season?
Jacquo, very interesting that you don’t see much of a change in demand between seasons, but that you are able to increase prices for events. My units are just south of Wilton Manors. It sounds like you are a little south of me. I do get people arriving from or leaving on cruise ships and lots of event- and convention-oriented travel. But during the winter season maybe 50% of my guests specifically mention the beach.
I definitely see a drop-off in demand in the summer season. I have >95% occupancy in the winter season but maybe around 85-90% in the summer. Midweek singleton nights will usually get booked in the winter, but usually not in the summer, even with aggressive discounting.
As you’re close to Wilton Manors, do you get plenty of gay guests? I think that’s an excellent marketing niche, particularly as the CVB market so aggressively towards the gay community. (Apparently Fort Lauderdale was one of the first resort cities in the US to do so - they started advertising specifically to the gay community in - I think - 1992. Useless fact, sorry!)
One of the features I’ve found is that it’s relatively easy to encourage repeat guests to come to our apartments during the summer months. There are quite a few who have initially been here during the season but manage a few days in the summer months as well. There are plenty of initiatives going round during that time (cheaper dining for example) and although it’s the ‘rainy season’ the rain is usually over quite quickly - plus there’s so much to do here when it’s raining. Summer guests also like the fact that it’s less crowded.
Because our apartments have central AC, the fact that it’s warmer in the summer tends not to bother most people. And quite a few people (myself included!) love the drama of a loud summer storm
As I said before, we don’t discount for the summer at all. If we do get a gap between bookings at all, I tend to use those days in order to have maintenance and other work done that we don’t ordinarily have time for.
I have a good mix of guests. There is definitely a large percentage of gay couples, and I assume they are looking for something with easy access to Wilton Manors, but at a slightly lower price. I also get those arriving or leaving on cruise ships, beach-goers, people coming from South America to shop, and convention-goers.
I am really glad that I’m not dependent on just one category. It’d be great to have something just a block off the Wilton Manors strip – I could charge double! But what if something happens to the Wilton Manors strip? It could go out of style. It’s sort of the same with a beachfront property.
It certainly is. I know someone who lives in a beachfront apartment (Fort Lauderdale beach) and has grown to dislike it because it can be so noisy and busy. Okay, it’s convenient for the beach but not everyone wants to spend all their time lounging around there.
I am sitting at 53% occupancy for June over five apartments. Pricing is a bit like a game of chicken – you never know when to drop the prices, but if you wait too long, you end up with unsold nights.
That’s a very low occupancy. Are you promoting your listings yourself or relying on Airbnb?
You’ll probably not agree but I don’t discount if I have a small gap in bookings. We have a good occupancy so if I have a couple of days with no guests then I block them anyway to schedule maintenance and extra-special cleaning matters. There are so many issues that I simply don’t have the time to deal with when there are same day turnovers.
Remember that the chances are that other rentals in your immediate area might have been booked before you - so last-minute guests are prepared to pay a little more if you’re one of the few remaining rentals. Last minute bookers will often pay more rather than less.
I rely 100% on Airbnb. Do you post your listings on other platforms, too? Do you use a software service to manage the calendar? I was thinking that would be my next step. I tried using Tokeet but couldn’t get it to sync with Airbnb.
No, I don’t do either. I’ve tried many things as free trials but I haven’t gone ahead and actually spent any money on any additional software etc.
I do have an extensive Fort Lauderdale social media presence though with followers who are potential visitors to the area so that helps if I have a cancellation and need to fill a gap. Plus I run a couple of websites and can use them to promote our listings if needs be.
I too rely 100% on Airbnb these days.