By The Hospitable Team
The off-season can create nightmares for Airbnb hosts—empty rooms, zero to no earnings, and investments sitting unlocked. But maxing out on occupancy doesn’t mean you need to offer unsustainable discounts.
You can use creative strategies like social media marketing, networking, and other techniques (including strategic pricing) to pull in more bookings during the off-season.
In this article, we look at some of these strategies, tips, tricks, and real-life examples so you can fill the blanks in your calendar and avoid the wasted inventory that many Airbnb hosts suffer due to seasonal dips in demand.
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1. Find out who your off-season guests are
When does the off-season start for your location, and how long does it last? For example, an Airbnb in Bali has an off-season in January and February due to heavy rains. Whereas an Airbnb in Canada has winter chills from November-April.
Once you’re clear on when the low season is, you can look for patterns among guests who book during that time. Are they business travelers on extended stays? Adventure seekers coming to hike or fish? Or local families visiting for festivals, regional activities, theater events, or concerts?
Connect with other Airbnb hosts and gain insights into their guests and the activities they’re interested in. Now you can use these insights to shape your services and marketing efforts as you directly target this audience and their interests (more on this later!).
2. Promote local events
Sports events, art exhibitions, music festivals, conventions, and trade shows—these are opportunities to attract guests, irrespective of the time of year. Learn about upcoming events from social media, community groups, and ticketing sites.
Add these local events and their details to your listings or guidebooks and make sure guests know your property offers fantastic access to these local events.
And, during a stay, you have brochures and other freebies from local businesses and attractions, place them where your guests can find them. It’ll be a great way to introduce them to the local culture and encourage more visits to your Airbnb in the future.
Here’s an example of an Airbnb host who created a listing specifically for the FIFA 2022 World Cup that advertises bookings for months before and after. The host also mentions the proximity to bus and metro routes, local eateries, and entertainment spots.
Now, you may not have a World Cup coming to your local neighborhood, but if there’s a festival or an activity like a hiking trail or tour that’s coming into season, you should feature it.
Here’s an example of an Airbnb listing that does just that:
3. Be extremely responsive
When guests plan to travel during the off-season, they’re likely to be shopping for good deals. Finding discounted stays is one of the prime reasons for booking at this time (we look at pricing below).
So, because guests are shopping around and potentially speaking to a number of hosts, you need to be instantly responsive to any inquiry. You want them to choose your Airbnb and close the deal quickly.
Build a STR messaging flow to ensure your guest communication is always on point, and use automated messaging with Hospitable.com to be quick with your responses. So, even if you’re busy managing your cleaners, out shopping, or fast asleep, your potential customers will get the answer they need within moments.
By using automated communication alongside a strong messaging flow, you can nurture your guest’s journey from pre-stay to post-stay, with:
- Smart and templated responses to pre-stay inquiries and in-stay questions
- Booking confirmations
- Check-in, arrival, access, and WiFi instructions
- A check-up message to ensure they’re having a great stay
- Follow-up messages for a review
Your goal is to create a positive guest experience so they’ll come back or even refer your business to their family, friends, and colleagues.
4. Update and improve your listings
First impressions matter. The best Airbnb listings have imagery with beautifully arranged interiors and professional-style lighting. So take time to carefully stage your rooms for maximum effect—how you photograph your Airbnb can be key to capturing attention and getting a booking over the line.
Also, be really clear about what guests can do and expect throughout their stay. This can be key to attracting an off-season traveler but can also help minimize the need for guests to make pre-booking inquiries.
Here are some ideas of what details to include in your Airbnb listing:
- Popular low-season activities and tours
- Best places to go (think museums, bars and restaurants, shopping)
- Recommended route into town and basic arrival information
- Distances to public transportation, local landmarks, and shopping malls
- Property access details for the disabled
5. Market your property on social media
Boosting your social media presence can help build trust, strengthen your brand, and connect you with potential future guests. It also gives travelers the opportunity to see who’s stayed with you in the past and provide them with social proof of your guest experience.
Here are some ideas for your social media posts:
- Photograph areas of your property at different times and seasons
- Show off renovations and new additions to your amenities
- Publish positive reviews and guest stories whether old or new
- Share offers and discounts particularly for direct bookings made on your website
- Target audiences based on your knowledge of typical low-season guests
- Create content with relevant hashtags like “fall getaway” or “snowy winter special”
@thewildehouse on Instagram is an excellent example of a host who creatively uses social media to attract guests. By sharing reels and images of the beautiful outdoors and rich interiors of their home, they’ve created a unique space that has attracted 21.8K+ followers.
6. Adjust pricing and booking requirements
Airline ticket prices fall during the off-season and, similarly, travelers expect good deals for accommodation during these times, too.
With Hospitable’s pricing feature, you can integrate smart pricing tools to make multiple updates from one location based on the market’s condition, synced across all your channels. This will ensure you’re competitive and have the best chance of featuring in your target audience’s filtered searches.
A dynamic pricing tool that’s synced across all your channels will also recognize if there’s a sudden peak in demand—so if there’s a festival or conference you didn’t know about, you won’t be underpricing your stay during the event.
Also, be more flexible with stay durations for your rental. For example, if you reduce your minimum stay to 2-3 days, you’ll exclude your listing from two-day weekend searches.
7. Incentivize stays with special low-season offers
Offer your guests added-value deals like discounts, four nights for the price of three, or a week’s stay at the price of five. Include a percentage of the total cost or a specific dollar amount.
For example, if you’re advertising your property in a skiing area, offer a ski package, including the lift pass and special equipment for each guest. Or, if there’s a music festival nearby, create an experience package with tickets, transportation, and meals.
Guests love feeling they’re getting a special deal and are more likely to book if you’ve already taken care of some of their organization.
Jenny, a Superhost on Airbnb, offers her guests Oyster Cards, pay-as-you travel cards that can be used on London transport networks. These cards can be topped up with any amount and save guests the hassle of working out how the system works or where to find one.
What also makes it special is that current guests can leave a small credit on the card for the following guest, which helps create a sense of community.
8. Be open to local and regional travelers
Airbnb hosts often don’t like the idea of guests visiting from the same local area because it might indicate they’re going to invite all their friends and throw a big party. But if you want to minimize the possibility of wasting inventory during the off-season, you need to be more flexible and stop treating local guests as a red flag.
So, to protect your property, use an automated vacation rental guest screening service that uses AI (such as Autohost.ai, which integrates with Hospitable) to avoid bad guests, fraud, or criminal activity. This will help you feel more confident about being flexible with who you rent your property to, and will hopefully give you some peace of mind.
9. Reach out to previous guests
Your return guests are your best ambassadors as they already have a familiarity with your property—they know what to expect and can vouch for the quality of your service. Also, you can book their stays directly, which will save you on the reservation commissions of online travel agencies.
To help increase occupancy and to drive your relationship with previous guests, create loyalty programs with discounts and exclusive offers for each referral or return stay. You can also offer special promotions for friends or past guests or give gift cards as rewards.
The key is to engage your previous Airbnb visitors in successive marketing campaigns, so you’re always front-of-mind when they start searching for their next stay.
10. Attract remote-working guests
Digital nomads can be great guests as they tend to stay for longer than the average traveler and often return. Look to attract remote working guests with amenities you know they’ll appreciate, like fantastic Wi-Fi, a comfortable and spacious working space, great coffee, and a peaceful environment.
You can also offer discounts for extended stays or bundle offers with additional services such as office supplies or delivered lunches.
Another good idea is to reach out to companies that organize team retreats or need to get employees off-site for meetings and events—they’ll be more likely to choose you if you can provide quality amenities alongside corporate packages with special discounts and services tailored to their needs.
Airbnb recently announced its “Live And Work Anywhere: Remote Working Programme” initiative, which aims to support the most desirable and remote-worker-friendly locations around the world. (Check their website and reports for more info!)
Boosting your off-season Airbnb bookings
From finding the right marketing channels to understanding your target audience, attracting off-season bookings can be a challenge. But it’s important to remember that every Airbnb is unique, and there are many creative ways to attract guests during slow months.
Here’s an overview of how to get more bookings for your Airbnb out-of-season:
- Identify who your off-season guests are and what they want from a stay
- Use guest messaging automation to be as responsive as possible to any inquiries
- Give your listings a face-lift with professional-looking photography and updated descriptions
- Leverage social media to market your guest experience
- Adjust pricing with a tool that syncs across all your channels
- Offer discounts and set flexible booking requirements
With Hospitable.com’s range of features for automated guest communication, smart pricing tools, and direct bookings, you can make the most of your inventory and maximize your off-season earnings.
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