Vacation rental bookings rarely stay steady year-round. Everyone has their busy and slow seasons. Furthermore, given the recent travel changes since COVID-19, many vacation rental owners are looking for new ways to increase revenue and reinvent their business. So, how can you make your vacation rental property stand out without increasing your base rate?
While you can’t guarantee the number of bookings you’ll get during the low season or a pandemic, there are ways you can easily maximize revenue while also ensuring the best possible experience for your guests. One popular method is upselling.
What is Upselling?
Upselling is a sales technique used to persuade your guests to pay a little more for an even better overall experience. This tactic has been used by hotels for years but has only recently started being included in the vacation rental industry. The idea is to think of ways you can enhance someone’s holiday from start to finish. It may seem ironic but in this case, charging more can actually drastically improve the way your guests remember their stay at your vacation rental.
The Difference Between Cross-selling and Upselling
At first glance, both terms seem to mean the same thing. The difference is that cross-selling refers to selling a product that compliments another purchase while upselling encourages your buyer to pay for the upgraded version of something. Cross-selling and upselling can both be used successfully to increase the revenue of your vacation rental home and boost guest experience.
6 Ways to Upsell and Increase Revenue
1. Early Check-ins and Late Check-outs
Managing check-ins and check-outs can be overwhelming for a vacation rental owner but it can be even more stressful for the guests. That being said, the option to check in early or check out late can reduce a lot of stress and chaos during the traveling process, making their vacation a much more enjoyable experience.
If check-out time is 2 pm, but their flight doesn’t leave until 9 am, guests are left wandering aimlessly around the city or dragging their luggage through the airport for hours. Your guests would much rather hang out at the rental home for the afternoon or leave their luggage there while they explore the area a bit more.
By providing early check-in or late check-out options, your guests will get to enjoy the start or end of their stay stress and hassle-free for a small fee. This makes a big difference when they look back on their holiday trip.
2. Luggage Storage
Keep in mind that early check-ins and late check-outs only work if booking schedules don’t overlap. If you have another guest arriving the same day that your former guests are leaving, checking in early or staying late is not an option.
That leaves guests with paying for a luggage locker. Finding storage services that you can trust isn’t easy, especially in a big city. Not to mention your guests will have to schlep their luggage around until they find a luggage locker that isn’t out of the way from your rental home or the airport.
What you can offer to your guests is storing their luggage either at your vacation rental or with a company that you trust. If a guest arrives early enough in the day to do some sight-seeing, allow them to drop their luggage off for a small fee and keep it safely secured.
The chaos that ensues after leaving the airport terminal is overwhelming. Insistent cab drivers are boldly assuming you’re coming with them, shuttle companies compete by offering direct routes for a lower price, and then, of course, the bus that may or may not take you in the right direction. In other words, we can all unanimously agree that arriving at your vacation rental feeling like you just ran a marathon is not ideal.
Spare your guests from this mayhem and confusion by offering airport transportation. Ideally, if you pick them up personally from the airport, you will make more money and your guests will appreciate the personal touch.
However, that is not always a practical option. Another way you can help out your guests and make a little extra revenue is to work with a transportation company. You sign up as an affiliate, send your guests the link to the transportation company’s website or include it in your description of the property, and when guests book a ride through the link, you get a cut of the profit.
Some vacation rental owners have even found it useful to rent out their second car or motorcycle to their guests during the stay as transportation. In this case, you will want to check your local laws and insurance policy to avoid any legal issues
4. Sports Equipment Rentals
Transportation isn’t the only thing you can rent to your guests to increase revenue. Depending on where you live and what activities are popular in your area, you can rent out sports or outdoor equipment for your guests. Some of the most popular sports equipment rentals include:
- Snorkel Gear
- Tennis Gear
Keeping your prices lower than the competition will help your guests save money and ensure that they rent directly from you. Providing the opportunity to do activities that people normally wouldn’t do in their hometowns will increase your vacation rental’s memorability. Have you ever gone on a kayak adventure and not bragged about it to all your colleagues?
Remember to include all the safety gear and accessories needed for each activity, such as life jackets and helmets.
5. Hire Out Experiences with Local Vendors
Are there specific attractions that are popular in your area, such as horseback riding, white water rafting, or classes for cooking, yoga, and painting? Experiences like these are usually quite popular among tourists so consider teaming up with local vendors that offer these services. Creating a working relationship with these professionals will not only support the local economy but will also allow you to offer the very best to your guests.
You can then advertise these outings and programs by recommending it to your guests either verbally, through your website/listing, or in your welcome package.
While upgrading the overall experience of your guests, you also keep a percentage of all sales made by the local vendor.
6. Upgrade Your Welcome Basket
A complimentary welcome basket is a great way to make your guest feel at home, but with an optional upgraded basket, it’s an excellent way for you to increase your revenue.
For example, you might offer a luxury basket containing champagne, salmon, olives, artisan cheeses, and specialty meats, encouraging a romantic evening indoors.
Other upgraded baskets could include:
- Local Chef’s Basket: recipes, spices, and wines specific to the area
- Self-care Basket: facials, bath bombs, locally made soaps, lotions, tea, chocolate, and a list of the best spas in town
- Farmer’s Market Basket: fresh fruits, vegetables, and homemade bread from local farmers and bakers
The Benefits of Upselling
Apart from the chance to make more money, you will also find that upselling leads to more bookings. Because you have offered services that simplify the vacation experience, guests will feel like they are being cared for, resulting in positive reviews and returning clients.
By offering things like airport transportation or car rentals, people booking their accommodation with you will simplify their travel plans and will therefore be more open to choosing a rental home that provides these upsell options over one that forces them to figure out the trip alone.
Increasing Your Revenue
To run a profitable vacation rental business, you’ll need to be creative and put in the necessary hours. Adjusting how you do things and brainstorming what upgrades to include with your property will give you greater potential to increasing your annual revenue.
What upsell options make the most sense to your property? Housekeeping, grocery delivery services, honeymoon packages, or even a personal driver… the list is endless! Every vacation rental is different and depending on where yours is located and what your niche is, you can come up with a variety of special upgrades that can make a remarkable difference to your guests. Remember to think outside of the box and to imagine what you would enjoy if you were in their place.
Have any upselling ideas that we didn’t mention? Comment them below!