RISMEDIA, October 2, 2010—”Fall is such a wonderful time of year to take a vacation,” says Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for HomeAway, Inc. and author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment. “Whether travelers are planning a weekend trip to see changing leaves, or if they’re coming to their college town to visit old friends and watch their favorite team play, your vacation home may just be the perfect spot for them.”
The possibilities for booking your home this fall are abundant. Here are some types of travelers who may be crashing at your vacation home this season:
Leaf peepers. Scenic drives spent admiring the changing colors of fall foliage are a seasonal ritual in some parts of the country. Check your area’s autumn foliage reports and highlight the prime viewing weeks (and other related local events) in your listing. And be sure to post some stunning photos of last year’s leaves to catch those travelers’ eyes.
Warm weather seekers. Those folks who typically see snow by the foot in winter might feel that they could use one last hurrah before the first arctic blast rolls in. If your vacation property is located in a warmer climate, then yours may be just the spot for these folks in search of warmer winds. Mention outdoor activities available to vacationers to entice those visitors to put on their shorts one last time before they have to trade them in for insulated socks and winter coats.
Sports enthusiasts. Many college alumni will travel to their alma maters to attend football games and other sporting events, and don’t forget the loyal fans of your city’s professional teams. Whether the teams are champions or chumps, if you have access to these tickets, you might consider including them in a package to attract the die-hard fans.
Fishermen and hunters. To some vacationers, it’s not what’s inside your home that makes it the best vacation spot, but rather what’s near the home. If your vacation property happens to be close to some great fly fishing spots, or if it’s a great place to be for deer season, make note of it. Also make note of the fact that it may be a cozy getaway for family members who would rather go hiking or kick back and relax while dad is on the hunt.
Semi-locals. A new trend: Many budget-conscious (or time-strapped) travelers are taking short trips closer to home, so make sure your listing reaches out to those travelers within driving distance looking for a long weekend out of town. Don’t forget that many schools are closed for fall breaks or Columbus Day, providing families with some extra vacation time.
Wildlife and bird watchers. As animals are out preparing dens and as birds begin to migrate, fall is a wonderful time to get out there and snap some photos of wildlife, and there is quite a market of travelers looking to do just that. Be sure to mention to potential guests the kinds of animals they may see near your vacation home and be sure to share outdoor photos of animals you’ve seen on and near the property.
Bargain hunters. Although bargain hunters can be frustrating during peak season, you might be willing to entertain their offers once the off-season rolls around. Take advantage of those deal-seeking inquiries by promoting your available fall weeks. Chances are the bargain hunters might just take what they can get.
Treasure chasers. To some vacationers, shopping is the highlight of their trip, and fall provides them with great opportunities for shopping. And if your vacation property is located in a northeastern state such as Massachusetts or Maine, it is to your delight that fall is prime antique auction season. Provide in your home’s fall offerings shopping information and be sure to mention those antique auctions. Also be sure to mention any Christmas expos coming to the area. Your treasure-seeking guests will appreciate the heads-up.
Empty nesters. Once the kids have grown up and are out of the house, many parents will take advantage of their new-found freedom (and extra spending money) by hitting the road. These couples are not restricted by school vacation days and may be more inclined to travel in the off-season to avoid the crowds. Be sure to emphasize the benefits of traveling to your town once the tourists have started to fizzle out.
Honeymooners. A June wedding isn’t for everyone. Reach out to couples planning fall weddings and promote your home as a perfect honeymoon destination. Add a little romance to your ads by featuring candles, rose petals, and champagne in your photos.
Special event seekers. Even if your city isn’t hosting the Olympics or the Super Bowl, think of all the other festivals and concerts that might attract travelers. Be sure to promote local events (from hayrides at the neighborhood pumpkin patch to your local music and Renaissance festival) in your listing—you never know which renters it might attract.
Pet lovers. Reach out to those travelers who can’t bear to leave Fluffy or Mrs. Whiskerson at home during family vacations. You might avoid accepting pets during your peak weeks simply because you’ll fill those dates regardless, but the slow season is a good time to experiment with broadening your reach.
Corporate retreat planners. Many companies try to boost employee morale and get their creative juices flowing by heading outside the cubicle walls. A healthy mix of brainstorming sessions and rounds of golf can do wonders for business goals. Or sometimes professionals just need some time away from the hustle and bustle of the office (and the water cooler chatter) to catch up on work and get inspired. Emphasize the quietness of your home and the convenience of your work space for these working vacationers.
Early skiers. Even though many slopes don’t really start to get busy until December or January, the first snow of the season can be as early as October or November. As long as the snow sticks, early skiers might be seeking out quieter slopes and discounted rates to get a jump on their ski season.
Guys/girlfriend getaway travelers. We’re not saying you should host a rowdy bachelor party at your vacation home—but sometimes guys and girls (of all ages) need to get away from home and from each other. Be sure to feature the local attractions that would appeal to these groups (golf courses, fishing, spas, shopping, etc.). And you don’t necessarily have to have a large home—think about mother/daughter and father/son getaways as well.
“Capitalize on opportunities to attract these kinds of travelers to your property this fall,” concludes Karpinski. “Whether your home is surrounded by nature trails for viewing leaves, is located in a town that hosts local festivals and fun gatherings, or if it features romantic amenities, update your property description and be sure to mention every reason why travelers would love your home this season. You may be pleasantly surprised how it helps you book new guests.”