Renting Large Properties in the Low Season

Large properties are popular for family groups, and the flexibility offered by 4+ bedrooms makes them a great choice for multi-generational reunions.  However, the low and shoulder seasons generally bring smaller groups – those without children - and the likelihood of maintaining occupancy is much reduced.  Guests at these times are looking for smaller places with better rates so attracting them to a large property needs some creativity and imagination

Market to niche groups
Niche groups are those that have specific interests that may involve either outdoor or indoor activities.  These groups congregate online in forums, on social networks like Linked In and on Facebook.  Start out by identifying the type of niche you want to focus on, then research where they hang out.  Join the forums and networks and take part in the general chat to start with before making any sales pitch.  Include your listing or site URL in your signature block so once people get to know you they will click on the links and go to your site.
Aim for the baby boomer market where you may find groups of older couples who have similar interests Quilters, gaming weekends, golfing weekends, ladies groups, geocachers, are all ideas for attracting niche groups.

Price for smaller groups
Work out your break-even point; the amount you need to meet all the overheads, then add on a small amount to make it worth your while, then offer a lower price for a smaller group with an incremental increase for additional people.

Close off bedrooms
With larger places the cost is often in heating and cleaning the bedrooms so it may not be cost effective to rent to smaller groups.  Closing off some of the bedrooms could be an option if they have locks on the doors.  Give guests the choice of bedrooms with good descriptions on the listing or web site, or email them the choices. 

Aim for the corporate market
An increasing number of business people are looking at vacation rentals rather than hotels to accommodate groups for meetings or those attending seminars.  Consider creating a leaflet or flyer describing your property, its facilities and features.  Focus on those aspects that will attract business travelers such as high speed internet, print and fax facilities and access to major through routes, airports and business centers. 

Family groups with small children
Attract families with younger pre-school children with the types of amenities that will make their vacation time easier.  These groups often travel outside the peak school holiday periods because rates are lower, so if your property is geared to families, it may appeal to them.  Create a list of family-friendly features such as a crib, high chair, bottle sterilizer etc. and include specific safety features such as stair gates, on your listing.