real estate

Rent your vacation home offseason

Know your audience. It's always easier to craft an effective sales pitch when you understand your customer. Because school is in session, winter travelers are typically singles or couples with no school-age children, Karpinski says. Some don't like huge crowds, so a rental home that provides a measure of seclusion may be appealing. Likewise, if you allow dogs, many times you can attract travelers who are having a difficult time finding a vacation home that accepts pets, Karpinksi adds.

Appeal to summer guests. Vacation-goers who have already stayed at your vacation home will be easier to market to than total strangers because they're familiar with your property and the surrounding area. Contact them and offer a special winter discount for making a return trip. Let them know you offer "friends and family" rates. Even if they're not interested in taking a winter vacation, they may just know someone who is.

Think in smaller terms. Large groups are less likely to travel together in the winter than in the summer, says Karpinksi, "because coordinating time off between a lot of people during the offseason can be more difficult." Consequently, larger properties are more difficult to rent out. Try marketing a four-bedroom home, for example, for the price of a two-bedroom, letting travelers think they're getting more for their money. Or, actually block off two of the rooms and charge accordingly, Karpinski suggests. It's better to get something than nothing, and you'll save on the housekeeping service.

When it comes to renting out your vacation home in the winter, go the extra mile to create an outstanding experience for the guest, whether through price cuts or a stocked pantry, Karpinski says. "It's more work, but it's definitely worth it."

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