Case Study: Last Minute Bookings - Part 2

 

I'm back with the results of the case study that I started last week. If you haven't seen that, go ahead and click here. But if you've been following this, you know that I have two homes in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Leaf season, which is right now, is really the highest season that we have other than Christmas. We have some festivals and other things that bring people in, but starting mid-September through October is our moneymaker. By Wednesday of last week, of my two properties, I had all four weekend nights open. So Friday and Saturday one property, Friday and Saturday another property.

The one small minor change…

I lowered my prices in one and that got booked almost immediately. I am very happy with the price that we ended up getting. I'm often surprised how much people will pay. So going down a little bit really didn't hurt me. I stayed true to my price on the other one because it's a little bit more luxurious. The second one, the more luxury one, did not book for Friday night; however, Saturday morning, we got a booking for Saturday night, which I love this way of travel. You wake up in the morning and you don't know where you're going to lay your head that night.

So, I embrace it. And now, I need to embrace it not just from a traveler's perspective, but from an owner's perspective and just learn to ride out these times. As I said last week, an Airbnb person went over my entire listings, top to bottom, spent over an hour on them and said they were nearly perfect. There was nothing he would change.

Although, I did find one setting that may be throwing things off…

I do one night bookings, I do instant book, and they can book the same day. But I had the cutoff for 4:00 O'clock that day, just so my cohost could have time to go over and turn on the lights and stuff. When I switched it to 8:00 O'clock, it unblocked that night, and they just couldn't book past 8:00. But before that, it was just showing from the morning on that it was unavailable.

Invest in some time to get to know your area too.

This would've never happened with my Fiji property. Although once Airbnb came along, I did start getting shorter and more last-minute travel but still have plenty of people booking six, nine, 12, 18 months out. So, it's really a new landscape.

One of the things you can do is check the data on beyond pricing. And even in Airbnb, you can click on the day, and then it'll pull up an informational sidebar that shows you how many people are looking compared to last year, how many homes are available compared to last year, and how many people have already booked that are expected to book. This is all really good information that can help you understand your area and potential guest behavior for your vacation rental.

Even on Thursday of last week, only about 18% of the people had booked for that weekend. That really gave me a lot of confidence that I could just relax and not worry so much and just let the system do its thing.

So, other places you can check are with your chamber of commerce, your tourism board, or your visitors center. They'll have up-to-date stats on what day of the week people are arriving, what size groups they're traveling in, how long they're staying, business, leisure, all sorts of stuff like that. I encourage you to use these resources to help you along your vacation rental journey. It’ll also help you get a sense of what to talk about when you’re promoting your vacation rental.

I am definitely going to start promoting midweek stays because we're booked every weekend here now. That's why this one had me so befuddled, but weeknight bookings are harder to come by; therefore, I'm going to have to get really creative. I’m going to call in to the chamber of commerce who allow people who are legal and paying taxes to put a rack card up, but I have to check and make sure there's space before I design and print one out.

I hope this has been helpful. I call this the “much ado about nothing” because I really don't think, even if I hadn't made the change and dropping the price on one of the properties, I would have been booked. On both of them, I was the next property. So one of my properties was number one; the second one was number three. When those two booked, I was still number one. I think if I had just relaxed and ridden it out that I would have been fine.

And even 75% booking, we only had one night - a Friday night in one of our suites that didn't book, and I can live with that because we've got a really good October coming up.

So, here’s to your success!

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