Blackout Dates: What Are They and How to Manage Them Effectively?

blackout dates

By The Hospitable Team

Blackout dates are common practice for owners of vacation rental properties and hosts because they allow them to control their property’s availability. Blackout dates can significantly impact your revenue and guest satisfaction, so it’s important to understand how to use them effectively.

What Is a Blackout Day?

The term’ blackout days’ is used in many contexts. Still, when it comes to the vacation rental industry, it refers to specific dates or periods during which a property owner, a host, or a vacation rental company doesn’t accept bookings for a particular STR property or destination.

These blackout days, or it’s better to say blackout dates, are also known as blocked dates or restricted dates. They are typically set by property owners or hosts who do it for various reasons. For example, they may want to use the vacation rental themselves or allow friends or family to stay there for free.

Hosts may also choose these dates for a thorough vacation rental cleaning between guest stays, renovations, or regular repairs and maintenance. They may also block specific dates to ensure compliance with strict local laws and regulations that may limit the number of days you can accept STR guests.

Blackout dates help ensure that vacation rental property is only rented out when it’s most profitable or convenient for hosts. By choosing blackout dates strategically, you can avoid scheduling conflicts and maximize your STR income. And use vacation rental software like Hospitable to automate your routine property management operations. You’ll save many hours of your precious time every week and will be able to scale even faster.

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What Are the Most Common Blackout Dates?

The most common blackout dates for short-term rentals may vary, depending on the location, specific STR rental, or vacation rental management company. Still, they typically include major holidays, special events, and popular travel periods. You should research and identify the high-demand periods for your specific market and plan blackout dates accordingly.

Here are some of the most common blackout dates due to the high demand for family gatherings and celebrations:

  • Christmas—Christmas Eve (December 24th) and Christmas Day (December 25th)
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31st) and New Year’s Day (January 1st)
  • Valentine’s Day (February 14th)
  • Thanksgiving Weekend
  • Easter Weekend
  • Mother’s Day Weekend
  • Father’s Day Weekend
  • Independence Day (4th July)
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • Summer months—July and August are peak travel periods for many destinations
  • Major sports events like the World Series, Super Bowl, Olympics, or NBA Finals can cause short-term rental blackout dates in the cities that host the events and nearby areas
  • Major local events and festivals which draw crowds to a specific area

Blocking out peak season dates is a somewhat outdated approach. The main reason why hosts would do that is to avoid double-bookings or prevent parties in their rental space. You can resolve both issues with modern technology.

Vacation rental software like Hospitable will instantly sync calendars across all booking platforms, including your direct booking website to prevent double-bookings.

We recommend you use guest-screening software like Autohost and Superhog—they unleash AI algorithms to collect information about your potential guests instantly and alert you if there are any red flags. Learn more about guest screening in our masterclass.

As the last level of defense, you can use noise monitoring solutions like Minut or Noiseaware. Their smart devices measure the decibel levels in your rental without recording the actual sounds—your guests’ privacy won’t be compromised. You will receive a notification if things get consistently loud. Discover more details about noise monitoring in our masterclass.

Should You Apply Blackout Dates to Your Vacation Rentals?

Applying blackout dates for vacation rentals has advantages and disadvantages and greatly depends on your calendar flexibility and specific needs and goals. For example, applying blackout dates can help you avoid overbooking your STR properties, which can lead to cancellations and unhappy guests.

If you list your vacation rentals on many different booking platforms, updating your calendars and availability and juggling messages across bookings can be very stressful if you do everything manually. But you won’t have to constantly hustle between a dozen websites if you opt for Hospitable, which comes with channel manager functionality and allows you to run your entire STR business from a single platform.

All you need from a channel manager is here!

Double-booking protection, pricing synchronization, single calendar for all your listings, and more.

Blackout dates can also help you avoid conflicting your plans with possible guests. Still, you should keep in mind that applying them to your calendar may turn away potential guests looking to book a stay during those specific periods. Suppose a traveler can’t book a vacation rental during their desired travel dates because of blackout dates. In that case, it can negatively impact their overall customer satisfaction with you as a vacation rental property owner. 

Blacking out particular dates on your booking calendar might make the most sense, for example, when you want to use your beach house or ski rental to spend a weekend with your family. But if you just want to perform regular home maintenance, it makes sense to plan this activity for the slow season in the middle of the week. This way, you can feel confident that nobody will book your vacation rental for that day.

Limiting the availability of your vacation rentals during peak periods can encourage potential guests to book in advance or choose alternative dates, which can help increase your occupancy rates throughout the year. And if you offer incentives for booking your vacation rentals outside peak periods, it can help you maximize your revenue.

On the other hand, if you use blackout dates strategically and highlight the availability of your rentals during peak travel periods or special events, you’ll be able to charge higher rates. By emphasizing the exclusivity of blackout dates, you’ll create a sense of urgency and scarcity that can help drive more bookings.

The Bottom Line

Blackout dates give you total control over when you want to be a host. By effectively managing blackout dates for your vacation rental properties, you can ensure you are providing the best possible experience for your guests and can maximize your profits.

If you rent out your vacation rental properties on Airbnb, you may want to check out our article, where we talk about Airbnb badges that the company uses to recognize great hosts.

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