A designed cover photo that says episode 10 and 4 ways to increase offseason bookings.

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[00:00:00.250] – Jordan

Every year there could be, again, travel nurses or for example, we have a nuclear power plant that’s near ours that people come and service. You know, every year or two there’s a bunch of people that need housing. So once you get your foot in the door with those people welcome to.

[00:00:16.150] – Intro

The Michigan short term rentals podcast, the show about buying, optimizing, and managing short term rentals in the state of Michigan. Get insights and recommendations from vacation rental operators to help take your property to the next level. Are you ready to profit from your short term rental? Let’s get started.

[00:00:37.290] – Tony

Welcome to the Michigan short term rentals podcast. My name is Tony Stancato, and I’m here with my co host, Jordan Painter. Today we’re going to be talking about four ways to increase off season bookings. What’s up, man?

[00:00:49.890] – Jordan

Man, life is good. I’m excited to get into this topic today. This is a good one.

[00:00:53.350] – Tony

Yeah, absolutely. And not necessarily the easiest one.

[00:00:57.650] – Jordan

Certainly isn’t. Hey, quick question for you. How have the off season bookings been with the holidays recently?

[00:01:03.980] – Tony

Yeah, I mean, Thanksgiving. So initially I thought Thanksgiving would be we’d have maybe a weekend booking, maybe a long weekend, but we were booked up in quite a few of our properties in southwest Michigan for pretty much the entire week. Had a lot of same day turnovers, one of the one bed, one bath that’s essentially booked up from the 17 November all the way till the first. And yeah, so incredible. Super strong week. Definitely something to keep in mind. That pretty much the week of Thanksgiving. And then even going into Christmas, it’ll be very similar to that. We’re getting those Christmas bookings already. New year’s Eve bookings on a new year’s eve standpoint. It’s interesting. I mean, we have a couple smaller properties that we either own or manage, and it’s paid two people just looking to get a place for two or three nights over new year’s Eve. So definitely interesting there. But yeah, super excited about that. And in terms of off season, a lot of our properties are staying booked up on the weekends. So definitely good to see there.

[00:02:15.450] – Jordan

Definitely, yeah.

[00:02:16.750] – Tony

You ready to jump into it? All right, here we go. Four ways to increase off season bookings. Number one, amenities. I know we talk a lot about amenities. We’re going to go at this one from a little bit of a different angle, more from a perspective of off season amenities. Again, we’re in Michigan, so what are some of the amenities that a Michigan should have?

[00:02:40.360] – Jordan

Jordan yeah, I think the one that we’ve talked about quite a bit is the hot tub. It’s more of an expensive amenity, it’s more expensive to run it and maintain it and those types of things. But once again, it’s the questions that we get when people are booking or getting ready to come consistently. One of the questions is, hey, is that hot tub up and running. Does that work? All year long. So it is definitely a factor that is driving people towards those properties. I’d say hot tub is a big one. We also have a sauna in one of our properties. We’ve talked about doing some of the barrel saunas or some of the ones that are a little bit less expensive to get installed into the house. The one house we have, it’s actually built in pretty custom nicely. But those two I think are definitely drivers for us so far. What other ones would you suggest Tony?

[00:03:28.460] – Tony

Yeah, I think those are the big ones for me. If you think about southwest Michigan or just Michigan in general, it’s a little bit cold. So what could draw people in? Hey, we’re going to go hang out in the hot tub in the sauna. The other thing we’ve seen is we’ve had people bring sleds, leave sleds, so definitely some people come into the area to do some sledding and then after that it’s just really focusing on, hey, what are those things inside the house? Definitely, I know we talked a little bit about the holidays and stuff, so making sure that you get the stuff inside your house, call it a Christmas tree, some holiday decorations. I know those aren’t necessarily amenities, but they can definitely draw people in to want to come celebrate during the off season at your property.

[00:04:17.410] – Jordan

Definitely another one that we’ve seen drive traffic has been converting garage spaces into some kind of a game room.

[00:04:25.330] – Tony

It’s funny actually.

[00:04:26.340] – Jordan

One of the properties that we have, it’s got a little one stall garage and we put a ping pong table out there and we had a big blizzard early this year. And when I say blizzard, I mean it was, I don’t know, somewhere between twelve and 24 inches of snow. It was coming down, it was cold. We got a message one evening from the people staying there that the window had somehow broken. They didn’t know how, but it broke. But they were out in the garage in November in a snowstorm playing ping pong. And my first thought was what the heck are these crazy people doing out there freezing? But they were out there enjoying that space. So you can figure out ways to convert those garage spaces into usable spaces. You’re increasing the square footage that you can provide those amenities for much less expensive than adding on or building.

[00:05:13.430] – Tony

Yeah, I got a question for you. So you said they were playing ping pong. Do you think they were playing ping pong or do you think there was maybe something else that warmed their spirits up a little bit?

[00:05:22.340] – Jordan

There could have been beer pong going on. They said they were playing ping pong. I’m just trying not to miss. They were playing ping pong and somehow a window broke. They didn’t really know how. Maybe wind blew a tree branch into it or something like that. So again, one of those times where you can pick your battles and we just didn’t push back on it. And sometimes you lose one, but I’m.

[00:05:45.570] – Tony

Not worried about that. I just feel like most of our groups tend to probably be on the maybe a little bit of Ping pong, but more than likely, again, we host a lot of bachelor bachelorette parties, a lot of friends groups. I’m sure there’s ping pong, but there’s definitely some other games being played on those Ping pong tables.

[00:06:05.770] – Jordan

There definitely is. We had one collapse at one point in time, actually, if I remember correctly.

[00:06:10.300] – Tony

So WWE all right, number two, price. So one way to increase your off season bookings is going to be on price. That’s where it’s going to be a little bit more competitive. Again, in the markets that were in the summer, you just can’t find a property to book, especially on the weekends. So you can kind of set your own price, but in the off season, it’s going to be a combination of your offerings and your price. So I’ve been playing around with the price, and in our area, there’s actually quite a few people coming to do some work. One group was, hey, there’s three people coming. And obviously you either have to book three hotel rooms or you can book one of our places. So if we can be at least competitive in that and everybody can have their own kind of sleeping arrangements and stuff like that, we can definitely compete at that. And then we got a guy checking in today, has a trailer, needs the garage for it. Obviously a hotel can offer that. So he’s booking our place. Luckily, we got a competitive price, I would say somewhat similar to that of a hotel.

[00:07:24.610] – Tony

And so he needs a place for his trailer, booking it for the week so he can come in, do some contractor work. You definitely got to be flexible on your price and be competitive.

[00:07:37.270] – Jordan

Yeah, I would say the weekend bookings tend to definitely drive much better revenue. And it seems like last year we had a lot of weekend traffic and almost no weekday traffic. So I think Tony has done a great job doing some price adjustments and trying to figure out where that sweet spot is that we can get more bookings during the week than we had in the past. It’s really important just to be staying on top of that demand to make sure that you’re filling those weekdays as much as possible because it really can drive quite a bit of additional revenue.

[00:08:07.350] – Tony

Absolutely. Number three, midterm rentals. So if you’re not familiar, a midterm rental is going to be kind of that 30 to 90 days stay, maybe upwards of six months. But maybe it’s travel nurses, maybe, again, somebody’s coming to town for maybe it’s an engineer coming to town for a particular project. Right. So just making sure that your pricing I guess it goes a little bit back to pricing as well, but making sure that you’re somewhat competitive on those 30 to 90 day stays if you don’t actually give discounts on the monthly rate or actually manage the pricing on those, it’s going to say, hey, your home is $300 a night, and times 30 nights, it’s $9,000 a month. Now, if you think about it, I don’t think that’s actually going to be a reasonable price for a lot of people. So you’ll just want to go in and say, hey, you can literally put a particular price for the month. So $2,500 a month, look at what else is available in your market and see where you’re at. In terms of competitive. You don’t need to be the cheapest, you don’t want to be the most expensive, but you want to be kind of that best value.

[00:09:23.440] – Tony

So if you got a lot of good reviews, you have a lot of good amenities. Again, maybe you have the hot tub in the Sauna and somebody that’s coming to town is really big on health and love sauna. You can definitely demand or command a higher price for that one. Again, you want to be diligent about making sure that your pricing for those types of stays are in line and in a spot where people can actually go in and want to book at that price.

[00:09:51.540] – Jordan

Yeah, I think that’s great. And I also think just from a strategic perspective, there could be companies in the area that you manage, and that’s part of that research of what is your market. There could be companies that bring people in every year. There could be, again, travel nurses. Or for example, we have a nuclear power plant that’s near ours that people come and service every year or two. There’s a bunch of people that need housing. So once you get your foot in the door with those people, have those conversations to say, hey, how can I get in touch with the HR manager at the hospital? Or wherever it is, to say, hey, we’ve got this product for people that are coming in, you’re adding value to them because now they have a place where they can place their people that are coming in that they know is going to be well taken care of. It’s going to be close to where they need to be, and it’s going to be a clean, safe place for them. So once you get those bookings, make sure you’re doing everything you can to try to make sure that you’re getting recurring bookings from those businesses that are bringing people in.

[00:10:49.470] – Jordan

That’s a great way to try to generate those longer term midterm stays.

[00:10:54.310] – Tony

Yeah, and I can give a great example of how we did it. So again, we’re in an area where there’s a nuclear power plant, and once, sometimes twice a year, they’re doing shutdowns and a shutdown. They bring in 500 contractors from out of town and they all need places to stay, and I believe they all get a stipend. So we had a guy, he called on call it a Tuesday night at 07:00. Needed a place to stay for 45 days, and he wanted to get in there that night. I was like, hey, how about we put you in a hotel tonight? And then he was like, no, I really want to get where I want to be. So put together a contract, got signed the agreement and that kind of stuff. And he went in there and I stopped out a couple of times. Just do a walk through, make sure any damage report that prior. That way he can get his deposit back. So we got to talk him. He’s like, yeah, give me your business card. I’ll give it to the person at the nuclear plant here, and then I’ll give it to someone down in Texas, I think it was, and I’ll make sure that they know that you’re the guy that will have properties available when these power outages happen.

[00:12:04.860] – Tony

So he actually gave me some names as well, connected with them on LinkedIn, sent him a message. Actually didn’t have cards to give him to take back when I stopped out. So I just actually just this last week sent him a letter just thanking him again for staying with us and sent him some business cards as well. So he’s going to be, again, reaching out to people that facilitate the coordination of those days. And he was really happy with his stay and then again just being able to kind of get a last minute place to stay when he really needed it. So I think he was super happy. But yeah, that’s one way you can go about it is, again, just talk to your guests and then have them put you in contact with people that help make those decisions.

[00:12:49.840] – Jordan

Yeah, definitely a great way to drive additional traffic. So number four is going to be networking with local Realtors in that marketplace. So one of the things that we did over this last year is trying to figure out, hey, who knows where people are that are trying to find a place to live. Well, Realtors obviously is the low hanging fruit in that category. So there’s a lot of times where real estate agents will have a client that’s selling a house, and they may not have bought a house yet, so there’s some in between time. So we just had one client guest in one of our houses that, I don’t know, she was there for close to two months, and so we were able to through that Realtor connection, she had a place to stay while she was relocating here to find a house. A Realtor looked like a hero because her Realtor was able to find her a good quality housing while she was searching. We put together a list of the top couple hundred Realtors in the market that we’re serving. And when we have opportunities and we have vacancies, we will just shoot an email, blast out to those agents to say, hey, we’ve got three bedroom, two bathroom for this much a month available, starting such and such and ending such and such.

[00:13:58.970] – Jordan

Do you know anybody? And it’s been amazing how I’ve had agents reach out to me that aren’t on that list that said, hey, somebody in my office sent us over. I’ve got somebody looking for a place. And so that’s been a really good way for us to find people that would otherwise not even necessarily be able to find our product, get it in front of them, and provide solutions. So the feedback that we’ve gotten from agents in those areas has been very positive. They appreciate the fact that we’re providing solution for the issues that their clients are having. So that’s been a really good one for us.

[00:14:29.720] – Tony

Absolutely. I don’t think I really have anything additional to add to that. But, yeah, just building out your network. And again, if you can build out your network of Realtors, I think really you just went through and got there’s a place where maybe only other Realtors can get the emails, but you went through, got a list of 100 plus emails, and we sent it out to them. And like I said, had a lot of good response. So the demand is there for these midterm in between stays. So somebody selling their house, they won’t be able to get into their new house for 60 to 90 days. It makes it really easy. If they can find a call, affordable option where they don’t even have to move all their stuff in. They can just pack their stuff up into pods, store it, and then once they close, half the pods delivered. But they can just move right into one of these vacation rentals for a month or two until they’re able to get into their new place.

[00:15:29.690] – Jordan

And just to understand how important this conversation is, I don’t know exactly what the ratio is, but let’s say it’s 80 20. Let’s say you make 80% of your yearly income in the summer months, let’s say four months in the summer, and then the other 20% ish is the rest of the year. So if you can take that 20% and you can drive it up five or ten or 15%, there’s a huge difference in the value of that asset and the amount of money that you’re able to bring in. So just a really big deal to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to drive traffic in the off season, in the on season in Michigan, it’s not hard to find people who are looking for a place and willing to pay a premium. But in the off season, if you can just drive that up a little bit, it just makes a huge difference in what that profit loss sheet looks like at the end of the year.

[00:16:22.510] – Tony

Absolutely. I think that’s it for this podcast. So if you get a chance, head on over to the Apple podcast and leave us a review. Or if you’re listening on Spotify, leave us a review there as well. Really appreciate it. It helps us get discovered in those platforms. So thank you for those that have taken the time to do that. And then if you’re not on the Michigan Shortterm Rentals.com, email us yet. Go ahead over to Michigan shortterm rentals.com. There’s going to be a place where you can drop your email in right at the homepage there, and you’re just going to get four very valuable emails that’s going to help you on your short term rental journey. There’s a list of 650 property or zip codes that we’ve already analyzed and have projections around. So you can kind of, if you’re looking for an area to invest in, you’ll get that and you can see which one might be the biggest return for you. In addition to that, we’ll also have a furnishing calculator. If you want to see how much it costs to furnish a four bed, two bath with a hot tub, you go in, put that info there to calculate, and it’ll tell you exactly what the projected cost to furnish that would be.

[00:17:29.260] – Tony

And we have a property grading tool, so if you want to look at a property the way that we do, you’ll get that and you’ll be able to put in your information and it will give you a letter grade for your property. So all of ours are letter grade B. If it drops below the B, let’s say you get a C or D, you really want to question whether that’s going to be a great property for you to buy. So again, not looking to spam. You just looking to add value. Head over there, put your email in, start getting those four emails over the course of twelve days and until next time.