1 Change the photos on your website to show winter scenes
Potential renters are going to find your site more attractive if there are winter photos to motivate them to book. Next time you get a good snowfall, take some great pictures of the exterior of the property before the snow gets trampled on. If you have a woodstove or open fireplace, take an ambient photo of it alight. Photos like these attract more interest than those showing summer activities.
To supplement your own photos, sign up with istockphoto.com . You can download terrific photos to add to your site from $1 per image. Use these to set the winter scene.
2 Team up with a local activity provider
What’s going on in the area of your cottage? Is there a company offering dog sled outings, or a snowmobile rental outfit; a downhill ski area, or cross-country trails with rental equipment? Work out a deal where you can offer a weekend package including a local activity.
3 Promote local events
Does your local town have a winter festival? Is there a theatre nearby that has productions through the winter? There are so many events throughout the winter across Ontario that you could probably find several to focus on. Winterlude in Ottawa for Eastern Ontario cottages; the Dorset Snowball Festival; Marmora Dog Sled Races, are a few examples.
4 Create a winter listing
If you subscribe to listing sites, change your listing to describe your place in winter. Let your potential renters know what is in the vicinity of your cottage – cross-country trails, ski hills, toboggan runs etc. Make it attractive for people looking for winter breaks.
5 Offer a geocaching package
Get familiar with the activity of geocaching and create a weekend package that includes lists of caches in your area, maps and even a GPS unit for rental. Go to Geocaching.com to find out more. Geocaching Online is another useful site to get you started.
6 Advertise regularly on Kijiji
Kijiji is a great way of advertising your property, and it is completely free. The only drawback is that there are many different Kijiji locations so you need to decide which one you think would attract the most guests. Spend a little time exploring each one and you’ll get the feel of each one.
7 Create a YouTube video
I was intrigued by an article by Mike McFadden on using YouTube for marketing your vacation rental. I haven’t tried this out yet, but from the viewer numbers of the example videos in Mike’s post, it sure looks as though it’s worthwhile.
8 Build a blog
I wrote a post recently on building your own blog. If you are serious about renting your cottage year round, this is a great way to get people interested. Take another look at the post and get started. Use Blogger or WordPress – they are both free and very easy to set up. Just remember that you need to post regularly to get the traffic.
Any of these tips can be useful in driving traffic to your site or listing. At this time of year it's not enough to simply hope people will find you and make a booking. There's just too much out there for them to choose from. You have to make your place stand out and be seen. Let me know what works for you.