This may not apply to you if your rental cottage, cabin or villa is already fully booked for the summer. But if you have only just listed your property, or traffic is slow so far this year, it may be time to take some remedial action on your listings.
Here's my top five tips to increase the take-up of those pesky vacant weeks.
Find a last minute list
CottageLINK has a very popular Late Availability list that is issued around the middle of June. If you have your cottage listed on CL (and this is good value at around $50 for the year) you can take the option to have your empty weeks shown on the last minute page. There is a small additional charge for this, but since the page has massive readership it is worth it to get those weeks filled up.
Offer an incentive or discount
I'm not a great fan of doing deals for people who have left it late to book. However, it may be worth offering an incentive to encourage a booking. A gift voucher for a local restaurant or entry into an attraction; a $25 voucher from your local gas station; or a discount card for a round of golf, could all be ideas to consider. Offering a voucher for ‘3 nights for the price of 2' weekend in the low season works well too. It encourages booking for your high season week now, and increases the chance of occupancy in the low season at the same time. Just make sure you exclude the holiday long weekends from your offer.
Update your photos
People may become desperate to book their cottage rental as the summer approaches but unless the photos on your listing are attractive and appealing, they will still pass it by. In my latest wander around the listing sites, I've come across many with dull, uninteresting photos that wouldn't encourage anyone to book. Good photos are the lifeblood of your listing. The weather is great now – take some new pics and get them up on your site or ad.
Buy a featured listing
Some listing sites offer a ‘featured listing' position at the top of a page or more prominently displayed somewhere on the site. Check what is on offer and consider paying the supplement to appear in a a feature position. At The Cottage.com does this very well, and although the site can look cluttered and busy, it has a lot of visitors and is worth the listing fee.
Don't panic if you haven't filled those empty weeks yet. Four years ago I bought Osprey Cottage and closed on the purchase on July 15th. As soon as we had removed the conditions and the offer was set in mid-June, we marketed the rest of the summer and by closing had filled every week. Providing your rental rate is set at a competitive level and you are maximising all the marketing opportunities available, you should not have a problem.