What To Do When Short Term Rental Bookings Are Low

February 12, 2024
Table of Contents

2023 showed a decline in short term rental performance in the US, with March and April recording lower occupancy rates year over year.

Some destinations, such as Florida, showing signs of a slower summer season in June of 2023— as occupancy pacing rates were lower than 2021 and 2022 levels. 

This downward trend could be the result of tighter travel budgets and supply increases. But there are a few strategies that vacation rental property managers can implement when bookings are low to improve guest appeal for future bookings. Here are three top tips for navigating a challenging short term rental booking period… 

3 Tips for Boosting Short Term Rental Bookings 

1. Check the Market Data

If you’re experiencing low booking rates at your short term rental properties, it may be time to analyze the market around you. Maybe your nightly rates are too high, driving away potential guests who go on to book with one of your competitors. Maybe your property doesn’t appeal to current short term rental guest trends. Or maybe your competitors are offering amenities that your properties don’t currently have. 

To find out what guests are looking for, property managers can use short term rental market ProData to gain greater insight into local booking habits. For example, average daily rates (ADRs) will indicate what guests are willing to pay for similar properties in your area — providing a solid baseline for how to price your own short term rentals.

Localized market data, including bespoke data dashboards featuring selected short term rental competitors, can also help property managers identify current guest trends, such as the amenities attracting the most bookings. With our DemandIQ™ tool, you can go one step further and discover exactly what amenities guests are searching for on your direct booking website, whether they complete the booking or not. This gives you the confidence to add amenities and improve future booking rates if you want to, because you know the demand is there.

2. Upgrade your Listing Descriptions and Images

Vacation rental operators who bring in professional photographers to produce images that really show off their properties witness an increase of up to 309% in listing views according to Evolve, showing the importance of quality photographs when it comes to boosting visibility to potential guests. 

Airbnb states that photographs are one of the top three reasons guests book a property. They also believe that providing up-to-date, professional photographs of your vacation rental can increase earnings and bookings by up to 20% — a healthy return for something that pays for itself in under two nights.

We recommend that short term rental property managers provide around 30 high-quality photographs of a rental, including pictures of the interior and exterior. Ensure the property is clean and tidy when taking photos (they’ll look best if you use natural light). Most importantly, don’t mislead potential guests with your images. Making a room or property look different than it really is creates unrealistically high expectations and will, inevitably, lead to disappointment on arrival. This will only result in negative reviews — even if your property represents good value. So, don’t leave out areas of the property if it means you can be accused of creating a false impression. Hiring professional photographers, like TruPlace, can help ensure the best representation of your properties. 

Keeping your listing description up-to-date and ensuring it is comprehensive can also help to improve booking conversion rates. If your property is near a local attraction or nature reserve which travelers come to the area to visit, be sure to mention this in your description, or even your listing title, as this will boost where your property ranks in searches. 

3. Improve your Rental 

Having low numbers of bookings for a period of time can create opportunities. It’s an ideal chance for property managers to embark on a rental upgrade by adding features that will improve the property’s booking appeal. 

Taking advantage of this time to complete outstanding maintenance or undertake minor renovations that make your short term rental more modern or in line with current trends can lead to more bookings — and may even enable you to increase nightly rates for a higher profit margin. 

Consider installing smart home tech. Some solutions, like smart locks and thermostats can be retro-fitted to devices you already have, so it’s quick and cost effective. According to a survey by Amadeus, technology to ease friction during travel is among the top five things travelers are most excited about in 2023. What’s more, considering the number of smart households are on the rise and almost two-thirds of prospective renters seek smart devices when searching for a new home, it’s no surprise that they also expect the same amenities in their vacation rentals. Again, adding these amenities could increase appeal and enable you to raise your rates. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Property managers can optimize short term rental booking rates with local short term rental market data. 
  • Providing professional property photographs and updated descriptions can boost how your property is ranking in searches and increase conversion rates. 
  • Low booking periods don’t have to be a total loss — turn empty days into an opportunity to revamp your property for increased guest appeal and the chance to raise nightly rates. 

If you’re interested in improving your property’s appeal by using local market insights, you can compare the performance of your short term rentals to local competitors in our Key Data Dashboard.

short term rental booking data

Ready for trusted direct source data?

Connect with our Sales Team.

Get Your Demo

Articles you might also like...

If you’re interested in browsing all of our articles, click here.