Fall and winter can be tricky seasons for vacation rentals, especially in colder climates. Snowfall may be attractive and even necessary for winter activities like skiing, but guests can be reluctant to travel through it to get to a cottage or a cabin. However, it’s easier than you might think to learn how to rent your cottage in the off season. Adjusting your expectations, creating new amenities, and looking for new advertising opportunities are key to this experience. A different approach is needed to secure off-season bookings, but these winter cottage rental tips may help.
Create Package Deals with Local Attractions
Many local businesses in tourist destinations can struggle to bring in traffic over fall and winter as well. Pairing up with wineries, spas, and any other local attractions that bring travellers can make your cottage much more visible to motivated guests. Holiday packages are particularly popular, especially if there’s a limited time frame for certain area attractions. Getting a premium price for a single stay may make up for the lack of bookings for the rest of the season.
Plan for Downtime
Adjusting your expectations for fewer bookings can help you focus on preparing the property for the next rush season. Instead of just looking to maintain its condition, consider upgrading it with low-cost touches like paint and new decor. Being able to raise the price of your rental cottage bookings during the next spring and summer can offset the downtime over the winter. Many projects can be handled in just a few days, leaving you free to book around them when interest does come in from off-season guests.
Winterize the Property
Most cottage winterizing articles are geared towards shutting the systems down for the winter. But if you plan to keep guests visiting all winter long, you’ll need to set up the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems to reflect that instead. Depending on the location and the utilities available, this may mean installing more natural gas or propane fixtures, adding insulating and heating cables to plumbing, and increasing insulation throughout the structure to prevent high heating costs. Keep in mind that most guests won’t pay a higher fee in the winter to compensate for heating expenses but will instead tend to expect a discount in the off-season. You can quickly lose your profit margin once you add up cleaning and maintenance on the heating equipment, so make sure the costs work out before committing to off-season rentals in a very cold area.
Upgrade Heating and Winter Amenities
Speaking of heating, the space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces often used in fall or spring for cottage heating are often unpopular with guests. They don’t want the worry of keeping a fire going all night long, even if they’d like to have one for a few hours in the evening.
Cottages may need to be upgraded with at least secure and fireproof vented wall heaters. Choose a heating solution that is both comfortable and easy to operate for the guests and affordable to run for your bottom line. In addition to reliable heating, guests will expect some kind of winter amenities. If adding a fire pit or fireplace is out of the question, a hot tub or heated driveway to keep it clear from snow may work.
Decorate for the Seasons
When deciding how to rent your cottage in the off-season, consider the natural scenery. Most areas don’t look particularly their best during winter, but some seasonal decorations can go a long way in making the cottage more enticing. They don’t have to be holiday-themed, which runs the risk of alienating some guests or looking dated after the holiday season passes. Stick to more general fall and winter themes and draw inspiration form evergreens and snow.
These winter cottage rental tips should make it easier to secure a few extra bookings this off-season. Before you know it, it’ll be spring and summer again with a full calendar of guests. Make sure your cottage or cabin is well protected with rental property insurance from Wayfarer Insurance.