How to Stand Out from the Competition in Tough Economic Times

lightbulbs 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.


Expansion into the online booking industry is also another great solution. There are many rental sites that will allow you to post your home for free or at a discounted rate. If your home is in the $100,000-$400,000 range I would try to post on as many sites as possible. Start with vrbo ( then expand from there.

If your home is over $2 million you could look into the luxury market. For example, One Key ( travel club inspects and certifies homes. You could submit an acquisitions request form, then if you qualify they will visit your home and if approved add it to your portfolio.

These are alternatives where a third party steps in and helps rent out your space. Whatever the value of the home, the internet is buy far the best starting and best selling point.

Scott V

No matter what we are going to have to work harder and harder at elevating our rental properties above the rest in these tough economic times. But at the end of the day, these improvements on our rental properties will only make the experience better for our guests.

I’m planning on taking some of your advice with the package deals, I like that alot! I also thought about including passess to some of the local attractions, freshening up my website with new photos and even starting a blog about the improvements I am making on the property.

Heather Bayer

Seren_a- there’s been a few comments on my earlier post re: Expedia, on the subject of online bookings. Alfred made some interesting points on that topic.

Scott – your ideas are great. Having a blog that enables regular updating about improvements works really well.

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