3 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2019 2:18 PM by planthealth RSS

    How to master seasonal rates for more earnings

    amanda_ha HomeAway Employee

      What's a seasonal rate? Simply speaking, a seasonal or "event" rate are rates that differ from your base rate. It gives you the flexibility to offer different pricing for specific periods of time, such as peak, shoulder, and off-season. They can also be used for the weekends, holidays, or specific events in your market. It's a simple yet powerful way for you to earn more or fill up your calendar.

      Where to start

      Most vacation rental markets have at least three seasons: peak season, shoulder season, and off-season. However, some markets have up to six or seven distinct seasons, while others have just one year-round rate.

      If you've rented your home for a while, you're likely all-too-familiar with the ebb and flow of your particular market. If you're fairly new to renting, a good starting point for determining the right rental seasons for your home is to research other vacation rental properties in your market.

      Note: Make sure you understand your local laws and regulations as they can require you to have a specific minimum stay. If you have the flexibility, lower minimum stays make it easier for travelers to find availability at your property.

      Setting specific rates for each of your market's rental seasons, as well as for major holiday weeks, will likely increase your overall occupancy and rental revenue. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for choosing rental seasons since every market is unique, here's a general overview of the three most common seasons and holiday pricing:

      Seasonal Cycles

      To ensure you’re earning the most during high and low seasons, it’s important to understand the seasonal cycles of your market — and how to adjust your rates based on demand or desired income.


      Peak Season

      Most vacation markets have a peak season of at least 10 to 12 weeks. Since this period is in such high demand, you can typically charge higher rates and have longer minimum stays.

      • Typical rental rate: Your highest weekly rate
      • Minimum stay: 1 week


      Shoulder Season

      The shoulder season tends to run right before and right after the peak season. These weeks can be a little bit harder to book than the peak season but it will be easier than the offseason. Your shoulder weeks may warrant a lower rental rate than your peak weeks (60 to 75% of the peak rate). For example, if you charge $1000/week during the peak season, you might charge $600 to $750/week during the shoulder season. Consider lowering your minimum stay during the shoulder season to fill up your availability.

      • Typical rental rate: 60% to 75% of your peak-season rate
      • Minimum stay: 1-3 nights


      The off-season or slower season tends to be the time of year when the weather is less-than-ideal for your market's main outdoor attraction (skiing, beach, etc.). Travelers who vacation in your market during the slower season likely stay for either a few days (weekend getaways) or a few months (escaping the cold weather), so be sure to display your nightly, weekly, and monthly rates. Your off-season rate is usually considerably lower than your peak or shoulder season rates.

      • Typical rental rate: 25% to 30% of your peak season rate
      • Minimum stay: 1-3 nights

      Holidays and Special Events

      Many travelers plan trips around major holidays to work around school calendars. The most popular weeks tend to be around Spring Break, national holidays, Christmas, and New Year's. Since these weeks are in such high demand, you should charge a bit more for them and require a longer minimum stay in many markets. Don't forget special events like major sporting events or business conferences and festivals that could be happening in your market.

      For example, ski properties in Colorado can sometimes fetch up to 200% of their peak season rates for the weeks surrounding Christmas. However, the same properties couldn't charge such a high rate for the week of the Fourth of July. On the flip side, many beach properties charge up to 200% of their peak rate for the Fourth of July week, but only 25% to 30% of their peak rate for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      • Typical rental rate: 25% to 200% of your peak season rate
      • Minimum stay: 3 nights to 1 week

      Before setting your rates for the year, sketch out a rough calendar that includes:

      • Major holiday weeks: In many markets, you can charge a little bit more for high-demand holiday weeks like Christmas, New Year's, or national holidays.
      • Bank and other holidays: Don't forget other holidays like Valentine's Day (2/14), St. Patrick's Day (3/17), Mother's Day, and Father's Day. In many countries, bank holidays are also prime days for travelers to take quick 2-3 day getaways.
      • School breaks: Check the school calendars for metro cities within driving distance of your home (or if you're in a fly market, where many of your travelers come from). Specifically, determine when the schools adjourn for the summer when they start up again in the fall, and any breaks of a week or longer (spring break, fall break, holidays, etc.)
      • Annual events in your market: If your market hosts an annual event that brings hordes of tourists into town, be sure to take note of it. If the event is large enough, you may even be able to charge an inflated rate due to the scarcity of lodging available.

      Setting the right rate

      Depending on your market, travelers could be booking several months to even a year in advance of their travel date — so it’s important to have your rates set up at least 6-12 months in advance.

      Keep in mind, this is just a starting point. You should always optimize your rates as your market changes.

      More accuracy with MarketMaker

      MarketMaker is a powerful tool you can use to see what traveler demand and availability is in your market. It's a great way to help you experiment with different rates and optimize your rates to the constantly changing market.

      Read the full article here

        • Re: How to master seasonal rates for more earnings
          ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

          The old calendar was so much easier to handle for seasonal rates.  I find the new calendar DIFFICULT and with all of the market maker options to boost and change rates CHAOTIC and CRAZY.  These are tools for professionals, not for the average homeowner who has a VR.   For years I had a full calendar and received better than average rates.  Guests could readily see when the prime season was, the shoulder season and off-season.  Those rates were right out front.  Guests could adjust their booking request for the time frame that met their pocketbooks.  Not since Expedia however. 


          I do map out my calendar on paper and then painstakingly go DAY BY DAY on the rates calendar.  TOTAL PITA. 


          So don't post on here about seasonal rates when we can no longer plug in start and end dates for those seasons.  Perhaps the professional rental owners like the new calendar, but there are those of us who really preferred to set the rates from Day X to Day Y and then move on with our lives.

            • Re: How to master seasonal rates for more earnings
              ohst8er Premier Contributor

              The old rates editor was a clunker.  You said, "Guests could readily see when the prime season was, the shoulder season and off season."  They still can. 


              Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 3.00.06 PM.png

              One click on the "rates and availability" tab, then scroll down to the months you are considering, a guest can see, right in front of them, that  the week of August 22-29 would save them 20$ a night over the week of August 15-22.  And if they wanted to come in September instead, there it is right there, a much cheaper rate.  It's right there at a glance. 


              When we had the old calendar, I also mapped my rates out on paper, now with the new calendar it's just so much more intuitive, and it take me half the time to set my rates.  You absolutely CAN plug in start dates and end dates for seasons. See screen shot. 

              Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 3.05.16 PM.png


              It took me EXACTLY 10 keystrokes to set those rates. 

              click the first date, click the 2nd date, click each number in 243.00 (the rate), type 7 for the mininum night stay.  click save.  DONE. 


              I will give you the fact that visual in Market Maker could be MUCH better.  They keep adding stuff, but the viewing screen really needs a mass overhaul.  But the overall ease of setting rates in the rates calendar is head and shoulders ABOVE the old system.  And, to make it much better, you can easily change rates within rate seasons to either chase occupancy, or revenue.  Or, ideally, both.   I think it's a winner and always has been. 

            • Re: How to master seasonal rates for more earnings
              planthealth Active Contributor

              I wish there was a repeat function.


              Like if I set the January 2020 rates, higher on weekends, lower a few days mid week, discount if you book for a week, etc, that I could say 'repeat this same format for January 2021'. Even if I want to change 2021, if 99% of it could just be repeated from 2020, I can tweak later if needed.