How to Stand Out from the Competition in Tough Economic Times

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2009 could be a tough year for cottage rentals. There's indications that the increase of properties available for rent, coupled with a reduction in the rental population could mean a difficult time ahead. This means that owners need to market wisely, upgrade, price competitively and be responsive to every enquiry.

I've written before about ‘cherry pickers' and there's going to be lots of those around over the next few months. With such a variety of cottages to choose from, renters are going to be more selective and take their time over finding the best place for their vacation. They'll be looking for price deals, extras as standard, and overall value for money.

Charging extra for linens or for accepting pets and reluctance to upgrade entertainment systems or install high speed internet might be the ‘business' decisions that will turn potential customers away.

We need to be real about what may occur next year and plan strategically to appeal to a deal-hungry market. If you're not willing to lower or discount rates, how else can you stand out above the competition?

This is something I've been thinking about for my own cottage and I'll be implementing a few improvements over the next few weeks.  The ones I've already put in place that have increased our occupancy are:

  • Post rental cleaning included in the price
  • A Welcome to Your Pet package
  • Installation of a hot tub
  • Linens included – goosedown duvets for winter rentals
  • Honeymoon and anniversary packages
  • Fishing equipment included

On the subject of discounts, my view has always been that high quality accommodation will attract renters over the lure of a deal, however I'm rethinking that in light of the economy and the need to create a really attractive package. Kirsten Massenbeau offers beach vacation rentals in Oregon and her view is that deep discounting will keep occupancy high in the low season months. This is a topic I'll be pursuing over the next few weeks.