The phone conversations vacation rental agents are having with today’s callers has changed in many ways. Now that potential guests can see multiple photos and virtual tours, there is still one question that callers continue to challenge our agents with every day: “Why are the rates so much higher this time of year?”
Now, depending on whether your vacation rental company is located in a mountain area or at the beach, the actual dates they are asking about might vary. For ski areas it might be, “Why are your rates so much higher in February?” while at the beach it is, “Why do you guys charge so much more in July?”
For as long as I can remember, vacation rental agents have given essentially the same answer, which is some version of: “It’s our busy season — the rates go up this time of year.”
Yet when you think about it, offering this type explanation is essentially defending one of the fundamental laws of capitalism: supply and demand. We might as well tell them the whole truth and nothing but the truth: “Actually, the rate goes up due to what our marketing manager calls compressed demand. When that happens, she really pushes rate so that we can get a good return on investment (ROI) so our owners can make the most profit off of guests like you!”
Okay, so this is all true, but do we really want to say this? There is another way of explaining why rates change that is equally as true, but sounds much better to the listener.
It is true that we do charge higher rates during peak demand such as holidays and special events. However, it is every bit as equally true that we also discount when it’s slow. Further, and also very true, smart vacation rental agents are very happy to help callers find discounted rates if their plans are flexible. Any rental company can sell out when demand is strong; the best companies do all they can to encourage those who are flexible to move to alternative dates by luring them with lower rates, helping to optimize revenue and fully actualize potential.
All you have to do is reprogram your mind to change-up the way you explain rate variance. It does take some practice.
The next time a caller or email inquirer asks, “Why are the rates so much higher during for the first week in July?”, respond by saying, “July is the most popular time for our guests to visit, so our normal rates apply; however, we do offer discounts during slower periods. Would you like me to check early June or late August for you? That’s another wonderful time to visit.” Or, for mountain areas, “February is our most popular time of the year for skiing so our regular rates apply; however, we offer discounts whenever possible during slower periods. Would you like me to check the first week of January or perhaps early March?”