4 Tips for filling long vacancies in your home-share rental.

If you’re anything like me, long vacancies give me a sense of anxiety. I want maximum bookings 100% of the time. As a host in Miami, I can’t ever imagine why my condo wouldn’t be booked. It’s in the perfect location, it’s a great place, the rates are always better than what you’d pay in one of the expensive hotels. So what gives? Maybe it’s not busy season so rental requests are down, maybe there’s a flood of new hosts in your area, maybe the city where you’re hosting has implemented a new set of regulations which are acting as a deterrent….. There are countless reasons why you may end up with a long vacancy or less rentals. But there’s definitely something you can do about it.

List on multiple websites for maximum exposure.

Most hosts I talk to and most travelers I interview list their rental on the juggernaut… That’s right, Airbnb. We all know it. We all love it, we all use it when we travel. The brand that’s become the leader in home-sharing and redefined the way the world travels with over 2,000,000 listings and 100,000,000 stays. But Airbnb isn’t the only game in town. Coming in second, but not to be ignored is another popular booking site HomeAway, also known as VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). You’ve probably seen their commercials on TV recently. Well.

Well that’s great but two sites doesn’t always get the job done so here’s a full list of websites where you can list your rental. They all work the same way. Create a listing, set your rates and availability and take inquiries for rentals.

Here’s a list (in no particular order) of other popular rental sites to list your property.

It might feel overwhelming to list your site in so many places but the exposure you gain to travelers who don’t necessarily go on the big two to find their destinations is well worth it.

Email past guests with special offers.

Have you been renting for a while now? A home share host, has an average of 50 guests per year. If you provided a great stay, and you’re in a desirable destination, it’s likely your guests have thought about coming back to the area, if not your condo directly. Because most of the homes sharing websites leave a communication portal open, even after the stay, it’s really easy to send your guest a private message with an offer to return.

Try sending them a friendly message at the beginning of the “season” and let them know that if they have any plans to return to the area, you’d love to host them again and as a “returning guest” you’d be more than happy to offer them a 10% discount (yes a discount on top of the discounted rates) if they’d like to book with you again. If you have specific dates you’d like to fill, let them know you have an opening for particular dates and see if they’re intrigued. It’s a great way to maintain a relationship and build loyalty, while rewarding guests for theirs (loyalty).

Drop the rates.

Occasionally, even during high season in Miami, I’ll have an awkward block of availability in the middle of a busy month. During high season I can increase my rates quite a bit because of the huge influx of travel and high demand on the area. But what to do when I have a random week that hasn’t been booked? I drop the rates. Of course it kills me to drop the rates on what i perceive to already be a great deal but the reality is, something is better than nothing. If my average daily rate during high season is $185/night to $200/night and I have an open week, occasionally I’ll drop it all the way down to $140/night or even $130/night. Why? Because, like I said, something is better than nothing. I’d rather the week not go totally empty so why not throw something out there that’s too good to be true.

If you’re listed on multiple sites like I am, you can always leave it high on some, and drop it on others. Either way, an irresistible offer is sure to attract someone looking for a deal….. on top of the deal.

Get a little social… media.

I’m pretty active on my social media accounts and (I sound like a teenager when I make this next statement) proudly have a lot of friends and connections. Well guess what folks, they all travel. Especially living in the Northeast, the winters can be brutal and my friends, acquaintances and connections are always looking for a little fun in the sun. Every now and then I post links to my listing on my Facebook page or LinkedIn profile and remind my friends to please think of me if they’re traveling to the area. Or I post a picture of the condo. It’s a great way to stay top of mind and without fail, I get regular messages from my ” Facebook friends” asking about this date and that. This weekend and that. If it’s open, it’s all theirs. Want to go an extra mile, tell them you’ll give them a good deal if they share the link on their own page or send it around to their friends.

And if all else fails…

The reality is, that sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t always fill that long vacancy or random block of availability. Don’t look at it as a disappointment, but take it as an opportunity to make some small improvements. Swap out a chair, take a look for wear and tear damage that may impact a guest’s overall experience, paint a wall and do some general cleanup. The last time I was in my place, I noticed some scuff marks on the wall and some general wear and tear on the arm chair in the living room. I got a small can of paint, painted over the scuff marks and swapped out the chair for a new one. It was IKEA, so it wasn’t expensive. The reality is, that we as hosts are providing an experience for guests. Those small cleanup tasks I took on seemed well worth it to me, to ensure my guests always see my property as bright, fresh, and clean. Perhaps part of the reason I’ve been fortunate enough to earn super host status on Airbnb (which also increases my listing rental volume since Airbnb rewards super hosts with better rankings.

Let us know how you fill vacancies and what you do with spare time in the comments below.