Everyone loves a bargain, so when marketing your vacation home it's important to communicate the “value” your vacation rental guests are getting for their money. It’s not all about giving 10% off; get more creative with your discounts and see more bookings as a result.
Common Types of Discounts
Off-Season Discounts The most common discount offered by vacation rental owners is an off-season rate. This rate is typically significantly lower than peak season rates, but still high enough to make a 3-night rental worthwhile. Since off-season dates tend to be difficult to book, many owners are more flexible with their rates in the off-peak times.
Example: “Fall Special: Oct. & Nov. 50% Off”
Last-Minute Discounts If you have an upcoming week or weekend that is still open, consider running a last-minute special for that time frame. On HomeAway and VRBO you can also purchase a Special Offer to highlight open dates.
Example: “Sept. 18-25 Opening: Rent 2 Nights, Get 1 Free”
Discount for Return Guests Some owners offer a small discount to repeat renters. Communicate this offer to past renters in a holiday card or newsletter.
Example: “5% discounts for past guests” or “Get this year's rates for next year.”
Longer-Term Stays Some owners offer special rates for guests who rent for a month or longer. If a guest wants to rent for a longer stay during the peak season and asks for a discount, weigh the pros and cons. If you know you will rent every single week during your peak season, you might not want to offer a discount. However, if the idea of making a little bit less revenue in exchange for less overall work appeals to you, consider the offer.
Military Discounts You might consider offering a 10 to15% discount to active members of the Armed Forces.
Perceived Discounts Sometimes all it takes is the perception of value to sell a potential renter. For example, if your property rents for $1500/week ($214/night) during the peak season, consider posting a nightly rate of $250 and market the special “7 nights for the price of 6.” This way, you're charging the same amount you normally would for a week, but you are giving renters the perception that they're getting your home for $214 a night instead of $250. You can also build your cleaning fee into your rental rates and promote a "No Cleaning Fee" offer to differentiate yourself from other properties.
Considerations to Keep in Mind When Offering Discounts
- Don't give a discount too early. Vacation renters are booking accommodations much closer to the rental date than in the past. Try not to jump the gun and give a discount too early.
- Be aware of holidays and events. Keep a calendar of all major holidays, as well as concerts, festivals, and sporting events going on in your vacation rental area. You don't want to rent a holiday week for significantly less than it's worth.
- Don't give your place away. Your vacation home is valuable. Don't let a renter stay in your home for less than they would pay to stay at the local motor inn.
- Be careful when giving discounts to friends and family members. If you are claiming your vacation rental property on your income taxes as an investment property, you could get yourself into big trouble if the IRS finds out you're giving time away to friends or family for free or reduced rates.
*Last Updated April 11, 2018
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