Get Your Holiday Home Ready for the January Bookings Rush

January Vacation Rentals Bookings Rush

January always sees a significant increase in holiday home bookings, with people desperate to escape the cold winter months and make plans for the year ahead. After a turbulent 2021, travel is set to be more certain in 2022. Holidaymakers are chomping at the bit to book, and this January is set to be bigger than ever. In our latest blog, our vacation rental listing specialists have put together 5 top tips to help you prepare for the bumper New Year bookings surge. Making these changes now will optimise your vacation rental listing so it stands out on booking channels and ranks ahead of the competition.

By Heidi Bates, Customer Operations Advisor

1. Update your photos

Greenmyre Farmhouse on Airbnb
This property benefits from photos taken by a professional photographer.

A picture is worth a thousand words and that’s certainly true when it comes to optimising your vacation rental listings! The right photos make all the difference to your booking success. That’s why we strongly recommend at least 30, crisp, high-quality images, taken by a professional photographer. Our data shows why more photos are the way to go –  vacation rental listings with 20+ photos perform 6 times better than those with fewer photos.

  • Alongside photos of each room in your holiday home, we also recommend including some snaps of the local area or noteworthy tourist spots nearby. Not only do you need to sell your vacation rental to guests, you also need to sell the local area too.
  • The most important photo is the header photo or hero image. It’s the first photo of your holiday home that guests see, so it needs to be a fantastic image. Choose a bright, attractive image, preferably of the outside of your vacation rental. If the outside of your property isn’t ideal, an inviting living space is your next best hero photo.
  • To avoid your photos being cropped by the channels, don’t use portrait (vertical) images. Landscape (horizontal) images are a must to ensure your photos can be viewed property on booking sites, particularly when your listing is viewed on a mobile.

For more tips on the photos that will get guests clicking on your listing, check out our photo guide.

2. Review your pricing

Having competitive pricing is essential to the success of your vacation rental listing. Make sure you have pricing available now for all of 2022 so you are ready to take advantage of the January bookings surge. If you are unsure how to price your property, take a look at other holiday homes in your area. Reviewing your immediate competition on channels such as Airbnb and Booking.com should be a regular aspect of marketing strategy and listing optimisation strategy.

Additionally, AirDNA allows you to compare the price of your property with similar ones nearby, and offers guidance to help determine an appropriate price for your property. Remember that if you are priced slightly below the competition, you will rank higher on the channels.

When it comes to your pricing, we also recommend being as transparent as possible. For example:

  • If you have a cleaning fee, consider incorporating it into your nightly pricing, so the guest is not put off by any ‘add-ons’ when they click through to book.
  • You could also encourage longer stays with a discount for week-long stays.
  • If you want to be pricing savvy, research events taking place in your area next year and amend your pricing accordingly to make the most of the potential increase in demand.

Need advice on how best to price your property? See our pricing guide.

Unlock the potential of your vacation rental

3. Open up your calendar

Vacation rental calendar with bookings
Setting up your calendar to offer guests flexibility can really boost your bookings.

Often overlooked by property owners, optimising your vacation rental calendar to offer guests flexibility is an important way to attract additional bookings. Our data shows that the top 20% most flexible holiday homes get nearly two times more nights booked than the 20% least flexible. If it`s economically viable, allow shorter stays of 1 or 2 nights – you’ll attract more bookings and also appear higher on the channel rankings. Make sure guests are able to arrive on any day and consider having a one-day booking notice to encourage last minute bookings. Finally, as previously mentioned, free up dates throughout 2022 as holidaymakers are keen to book for next year right now. 

Our guide to creating a flexible calendar has more.

4. Improve your property description and listing title

Airbnb listing title
The listing title is one of the most crucial things to optimise in your vacation rental listing.

Alongside the header photo, the title of your vacation rental listing is especially important to catch the eye of potential guests. Succinct and specific are the two key points to bear in mind when crafting your title. Avoid property names, as this doesn’t add useful information to the listing. Instead, focus on your holiday home’s key features such as the number of rooms, property type and most importantly: a special or unique selling point. Recently, searches for properties with hot tubs have skyrocketed, and properties with pools and outside space are particularly sought after for the summer months. If your holiday home has a balcony, terrace, garden or patio, be sure to mention it! If your vacation rental is situated in an ideal location for exploring the local area, this could also be used as a key selling point.   

Our listing experts recommend using the formula below to come up with the perfect title for your holiday home listing.

Adjective + Number of Bedrooms + House Type (House/Apartment/Narrowboat) + Special Feature (Onsite Parking/Fireplace/Sky TV/etc.) + Another Special Feature

  • Take some time to perfect your written description too – this can enhance your listing even further and really sell what it is like to stay at your holiday home to the guest. Be sure to mention the key selling points in more detail.
  • If you allow pets, the description is a good place to mention this, plus any extra fees (if these apply).
  • The best descriptions include information about the local area and things to do, to complement the extra photos in your listing. 

Our guide to writing standout property descriptions has more.

5. Flex your cancellation policy

Although everyone hopes to bid goodbye to Covid-19 restrictions in 2022, as we head into January, some guests will be wary when it comes to booking future holidays. They’ll be looking for holiday homes that give them peace of mind, most notably with a refundable cancellation policy. For this reason, we recommend offering as much flexibility around cancellations as possible. According to Booking.com, listings with a flexible cancellation policy benefit from nearly 3 times as many bookings than those with strict, non-refundable cancellation.

To find out more about what your choice of cancellation policy means for the guest, see our cancellation policy guide.

Discover your Property Score

Our all-new new Property Score feature has been developed to help hosts create great listings that perform well on every booking channel. Each property listed with TravelNest is given a Property Score. This measures overall listing health, based on the factors channels use to rank properties. Taking action to boost your TravelNest Property Score gives your property much better visibility in search results on the booking sites. 

Join TravelNest today to discover how well your holiday home is performing and how to beat the competition!

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TravelNest gets your property seen in all the right places. We can list your property on over 30 of the best booking channels including Airbnb, Booking. com, Expedia, Vrbo, TUI and TripAdvisor.

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