I too, have 3 homes that rent for 2 huge special events per year. On Homeaway, they give you unlimited spaces to put different rates, etc on the rate section. Just spell out the rates for the time frame you are raising your rates for. It's perfectly ok to raise you rates for a special event. Hotels and airlines certainly do it! It's a matter of supply and demand. On a home that normally rents for $170 per night peak season, I charge $320 for the special event and book it over a year in advance!
Thanks for the quick response, Sophie. Flying around Christmas makes me keenly aware that the airlines certainly do this!
It seems like your special event price is nearly double the regular rate. Might be a good benchmark. May I ask what your 2 huge special events are/were and how close (roughly) your homes are to them? It might help be to better guage how much to increase my rates.
Great question. It is definitely not "frowned upon" to raise your rates when a special event comes to your town, everybody does it (try getting a place in Austin during the South by Southwest music fest and you will see what I mean.) There are a couple of articles here and here on the topic you may enjoy.
Thanks for the article links. It will be a challenge for me to find what price is high enough to be special event-worthy, but not too high to end up with my place not rented. Seems like a delicate balance, especially since I'll be listing with only about 3-4 weeks until the race.
For my beach property overseas, I have four sets of rates for each season, two of them are most often used, say Low and Medium Rate, based on past experience.
The third rate is for the special weeks or weekends, in your case it could be 4th of July week, Spring Break month, etc.
My highest rate, more than twice the lowest rate, is reserved for two special weeks: Easter Week and New Years, they have a huge demand and usually are booked almost a year in advance.
In your case, you should identify the seasons and special weeks and set your rates accordingly, don't be afraid to raise them, and monitor the accopancy of your competitors, if you are not getting bookings, you can always lower them until you find the right price. Just like the airlines charge $99 and $499 for the same route depending on demand.
After all, a few hundred or a few thousand bucks are always useful.
Best of luck,
To me there is no benefit in booking faster or earlier. I am perfectly content to let all the other lower priced properties fill up and then I still get the benefit of the higher rate. Especially for a special event. This works also when someone is undercutting the rental costs in your area. Let the others fill up, then they come to me and pay my asking rates.
So far we haven't been increasing our prices for special event weekends.
We do often get people trying to bargain for a cheap price far in advance. We don't entertain these offers.
I agree with sophie, if you have a property in a location with high demand, and you've got good pictures and a reasonable price ... people will want to book your place. We are generally booked a few months in advance, and we've noticed that we get lots of people dying for last-minute bookings. They contact us out of desperation, even though our calendar clearly shows as booked.
So ... it seems to me, these people would pay just about any price, if only they could find a decent place that was AVAILABLE ... i.e., NOT booked already. In time like these, Sophie must be sitting pretty, because she can say "Yes, I do have something available, and it costs XXX."
The key here is, if you're going to charge high prices, you better have an impeccably clean, high quality property, with a bit of luxury thrown in, so that the guests won't feel the least bit gypped by your prices. The worst thing that can happen is for you to overcharge, causing the guests to feel ripped off and motivating them to write bad / negative reviews. My advice would be to impresss your higher paying guests with plenty of luxury and extras. If you're going to charge a high price, you need the guests to leave feeling "it was worth it."
Also I want to add.
Our family stayed in a vacation rental that, once we got there, seemed WAY OVER-PRICED. Although it was clean, they had duct tape holding the floors together, huge pieces of wall-paper peeling off the walls in main gathering room (the dining room which was open to the kitchen and fireplace), shag carpet that was loose and ripped on the stairways, jerry-rigged plumbing systems .... all in all, it was okay for a family get-together, as we loved the location. But ... for the price they were charging, it did not live up to expectations, especially not when you take into account the prices of other much newer and more modern homes in the area.
I have not left a review yet, but I am still considering it. The interesting thing is, the place had a lot of REALLY GOOD THINGS about it, and it would be very easy to leave a review focusing on the good things, if the price has been more reasonable. But for the price we paid, we expected something much better ... so the shabbiness of the place became one of the main topics of conversation during our family reunion. And so unfortunately that would be the prime thing I would mention if I do write a review.
So my word of advice is ... yes, definitely do hold firm to your prices and get a good price for your rental, but ... be careful of over-charging !
I'd like to add a new twist! We have a vacation condo in Scottsdale, AZ. Next year the Super Bowl will be Feb. 1 in Glendale (about 15 miles away). But the months of February & March are our #1 prime time, for which we get our best prices ($3,200 a month). We get a number of elderly Snowbirds renting at this time, and they are generally excellent tenants. However, the Super Bowl is the hugest of huge special events, which command very high prices. I hate to give up this opportunity. Yet, I really don't want to turn off winter renters who most probably aren't interested in the Super Bowl.
Should I give them the month at the regular peak season rate if they rent for a month or more?. Or should I charge them a premium for Super Bowl Week? And if I don't charge them a Super Bowl premium, should I charge them a fee if they cancel, as I would have had Super Bowl week blocked off for them?
I don't want to be cheap, but OTOH I don't want to pass up an opportunity to maximize our revenues. Any opinions and/or suggestions would be appreciated.
Ernie (Yank in Oz)
Having just checked the Eagles score from last night's game, I don't want to hear or read the word Superbowl.
Anyway, as to your question:
You should ALWAYS charge a cancellation fee. It should be part of your rental agreement. Something along the lines of 10% if your unit is re-rented and all money not recovered if rented again for less money or not rented. No money refunded if unit not rerented. Sometimes the only way to get a last minute rental is by reducing the price.
I know others that have rentals in the area where previous you-know-whats has been held that are snowbird areas can offer good advise. One thought is to check the rates of motels near the Meadowlands for dates around Feb. 2 and compare those rates to the rates for the week before and after the you know what.
I inquired to rent condos in FL. When I inquired for condos in Daytona Beach, a couple of owners responded they don't rent monthly in February because of the much higher rates they get for Daytona 500 dates.
If you decide to not rent for the month and charge more for the week of the you know what, it would be a good idea to have varius options to iffer tenants as to transportation to the game.
I don't want to pass up an opportunity to maximize our revenues.
Keep in mind that maximizing revenue may be inconsistent with minimizing aggravation. If I had the choice between renting to a couple of elderly snowbirds for a month at standard prices, or carving out a week that would be rented at a premium price to Superbowl fans, I would probably stick with the elderly. It is unlikely that people going to Scottsdale for the Superbowl are going to be spending the non-game time visiting museums, watching the opera, and bird watching. Perhaps I am stereotyping, but I visualize Superbowl attendees as tending to be people who are spending a whole lot of money to go and have a SUPERPARTY. How many days after Superbowl attendees departed would you need to keep the house vacant to clean up and complete repairs? Perhaps nothing would go wrong. But it might.
It has been my experience that pigs get slaughtered. If you wish to maximize your revenue by charging a premium price vs. renting to a more stable renter such as a snowbird, I would go with the snowbird everytime. You will still make good cash and not have to worry about potential aggravation with the renters you may be attracting.
Sometimes the less headache is worth more than the cash in hand. Just my two cents.
I would look at this slightly differently.
As you are new to this, and probably don't have too many rentals, I would maximize income and face the potential consequences.
If, however, you are like yankinoz, and have a bunch of excellent repeat guests, I would not risk losing them for a quick buck. In the long run, good repeat guests are worth their weight in gold.