Owners often have many questions about why certain properties book more – and how the size of the property affects booking windows. Why would another cabin be booked for the summer far ahead of time while yours isn’t? What’s the key to your large group property booking faster than your 2-bedroom cabin? When will your guests begin booking their holiday stays? Should I raise my rates? Lower them? What is the hospitality industry doing year-over-year?
While booking habits of guests often fluctuate, there are ways to track and learn more about booking habits – and figure out how to use them to your advantage. Once you understand typical booking windows (the number of days between when guests books and when they arrive) during the year, you can learn how to strategically price your property and maximize your revenue. Knowing how guests typically book also offers peace of mind. Instead of worrying about why your property hasn’t booked, you’ll understand that it’s the typical timeframe for guests.
But how do you predict how and when guests will book? While the season or time of year is part of the equation, the number of bedrooms is the star factor. After considering how your bedroom count will affect booking windows, you’ll next look into fluctuating booking trends and average booking windows.
Booking Windows – What are they?
A booking window is the time between when a guest books a property (makes the reservation) and when they check in at your property. When you know the average booking windows for guests, you’ll be able to better predict when guests when reservations will peak – and set your rates appropriately based on demand!
One way to capitalize on demand is through dynamic pricing. If your 1-bedroom cabin is often booked 45 days before Valentine’s Day, use dynamic pricing to simulate reservations for dates around that booking timeframe. If you manage your rates to be higher before peak booking time, competitive during peak booking time, and lower after peak booking time, you’ll likely increase your overall revenue AND your occupancy – at the same time!
How does my bedroom count affect booking windows?
While you can predict some ways guests will book, booking windows are naturally inconsistent. They will change based on holidays, seasons, and other factors. Generally, guests will book further out around holidays or certain seasons (depending on your property’s location) due to higher demand. But another major factor is bedroom count – something that generally stays the same at your property.
Consider what size property different types of groups would book. Couples, a small family, or a few friends will generally book 1-2 bedroom properties. Small groups and families that are a bit larger will often book 3-5 bedroom rentals for more space. Large groups – including wedding parties, retreats, and reunions – will probably book a property that has 6 or more bedrooms, i.e. a large group lodge or chalet. Then think about the time it takes a group to get ready for a vacation. The larger the group, the more people there are to plan around. Guests will have to coordinate time off from work, reschedule appointments, and make plans – possibly from multiple states or even countries.
Planning takes time, so it’s understandable that groups with more guests would have longer booking windows, and groups with fewer guests would have shorter booking windows. A couple or a small family may book a last-minute stay while a group will likely book further our from their check-in date.
Average Booking Windows – By Property Size
While things in the vacation rental industry have certainly changed a lot over the last couple of years, we do have some great data from recent years on typical booking windows based on property size at our sister company, Cabins for YOU (based in the Great Smoky Mountains). Booking windows have decreased recently, but these 2019 results are a good way to understand the basic booking patterns of guests.
1-2 Bedroom Vacation Rentals
Guests typically book 1-2 bedroom properties about 30 days before their planned trip. In spring, this increases by 10-15 days (think planning ahead for spring break). In summer, reservations (particularly June) are made a few months before a trip, while guests typically need less lead time in July and August (about 45-50 days ahead).
Because of the gorgeous changing leaves, many fall events, and mild weather, fall is a peak season – with guests booking as early as 73 days in advance when planning an October trip! Guests also tend to book earlier for holidays (about 8-9 weeks) like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
3-5 Bedroom Vacation Rentals
January numbers show guests booking about 56 days ahead of their trip, and about 2 weeks less than that in February. As with 1-2 bedroom cabins, there is a pickup in the spring – about 7 weeks ahead of arrival throughout this season. For June, guests book about 16 ½ weeks out. In July and August, we see a dip down to about 11-13 weeks in advance.
When fall arrives in September, guests are booking about 7 weeks before arrival and about 12-13 weeks in advance for October stays. As you might guess, guests book these larger cabins further in advance for the holidays. We often see guests booking as much as 100 days before arrival!
6+ Bedroom Vacation Rentals
Booking a vacation with more people means guests need more time to plan. Unsurprisingly, we see guests book 6 – 16 bedroom properties anywhere from 100 to 200 days out. January generally stays consistent with booking windows, but February often gets a bump (think last-minute romantic stays). Spring booking windows for larger cabins sit around 14-16 weeks ahead, and June for large cabins jumps up to 28.5 weeks before arrival! Guest do not want to miss out on their summer vacation – especially when planning with multiple families. Interestingly, booking windows shorten in fall for larger properties, with October sitting around 18 weeks in advance. Booking windows jump back up around the holidays, about 25-26 weeks for November and around 21 weeks for December stays.
What Affects Booking Windows?
Not surprisingly, big events greatly affect booking lead time. Examples include the 2009 financial crash, the Gatlinburg fires in 2016, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These events, of course, can’t be predicted – thus booking windows aren’t always an exact science.
Strategic Property Management for YOU
Take the mystery out of why your property isn’t booking by considering what we’ve talked about above – how the number of bedrooms correlates to booking windows. But how do you keep your property competitive considering these data insights? Capitalize on peak booking times and utilize strategic planning with Georgia Cabins for YOU.
Along with appropriate pricing and revenue management, search engine optimization, and managing OTAs, we handle maintenance, housekeeping, and inspections to work around peak booking times, last-minute arrivals or cancellations, and more. You want to reap the benefits of owning a vacation rental property – not spend every second you have dealing with any challenges. Our dedicated marketing team is always on top of fluctuating industry trends, implementing new and fresh strategies tailored to your property – and what guests are currently doing.
Why Georgia Cabins for YOU?
We don’t outsource our work. We have a dedicated in-house marketing team that will:
- Stay up-to-date on booking windows – daily – by forecasting future trends
- Hold regular meetings with our Traffic and Advertising Manager to ensure properties perform at their peak – all year long
- Coordinate with maintenance, inspections, and housekeeping staff who are knowledgable, passionate, and experienced in handling an influx of arrivals
Need more reasons to partner with Georgia Cabins for YOU?
- We offer keyless entry for each property, so guests only punch in a code to get their vacations started. They won’t have to stop by an office for check-in or drop keys off at checkout.
- YOU will have a personal Owner Relations representative who is always a phone call or email away. You will deal with the same person each time you reach out, so your owner rep will KNOW you and your property.
- We maintain a streamlined, easy-to-use website so guests can reserve your property online – by either computer or mobile device.
- Our thriving (in-house) call center is full of helpful, friendly team members who can help guests book and plan their vacations, pass on any concerns to the appropriate departments, seamlessly handle last-minute bookings, and be ready by phone, email or messaging.
- We send post-stay surveys so guests feel heard and so we can improve the guest experience and foster positive reviews for YOUR property.