From big cities to small towns and rural destinations, short-term rentals have continued to rise in popularity post-pandemic. This demand looks poised to continue into the 2022 holiday season. With holiday short-term rental bookings on the line, how can owners be the “Host with the Most” and attract guests to stay with them over the holidays? From understanding the state of the market and booking behaviors, to setting up a festive experience and properly marketing the rental, there are several things that short-term rental owners and property managers can do to maximize revenue this holiday season.

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The State of the Holiday Market 

Before developing a seasonal strategy, it is important to have a good grasp on what is happening in the market. According to Airbnb Winter Release Highlights, 2021’s holiday season was strong, with hosts earning over $2.4 billion globally. While that is promising news for property managers, it is worth noting that this year those earnings will be split amongst a growing short-term rental market as listings are facing greater competition than ever before.

According to AirDNA, 62 percent of the 1.2 million Airbnb listings in the U.S. were added since 2020, which means markets are flooded with options. AirDNA also notes that this year, Thanksgiving demand is up 24 percent from 2021 with the average daily rate (ADR) up at least 10 percent. December is also proving to be a busy month, with bookings up more than 18 percent. To compete in this holiday market, hosts should be prepared to cater to the seasonal demand differences of a holiday short-term rental booker to better stand out and capture that revenue.

The Behaviors and Trends of Short-Term Rental Bookers During the Holiday Season  To capitalize on holiday travel, property managers and owners will want to understand current behaviors and trends. Right now, it seems bookers are looking to go big on amenities to make their stay more comfortable. According to Airbnb the top five filters that holiday travelers are using are pools, Wi-Fi, kitchens, Jacuzzis and free parking.

Another good way to stand out is to get festive. One of the draws of selecting a short-term rental over a hotel is for a more personalized and homey touch. Make it feel like the holiday season for your guests with a tree already set up in the living room, string lights and other fun décor. Treat them to seasonal delights like hot cocoa, fun mugs, and cozy throws and blankets. Having those elevated elements already arranged is important to families gathering for the holiday.

Marketing Geared Toward Kids and Families  

Property managers and owners can capture the attention of potential guests with winter marketing messages. Many guests traveling for the holidays will be families, and they need amenities that meet the needs of the entire family. It is a good idea to invest in family-forward items such as a crib, highchair, toys, and board games. This means less to pack and more for kids to do in the house. Make sure to advertise that these items are available in your listing.

Travelers often opt for a short-term rental with the broader family due to the shared spaces that allow for more quality time compared to separate hotel rooms. Create messaging that paints a picture of how your space can be used to share the holiday and use photos to help sell the ideal setting of your space for celebration of the season.

Finally, with families it’s always safety first. Larger groups that book stays in unfamiliar climates will need assistance in navigating safety needs. Highlight the preparedness and amenities of the short-term rental as a key selling point and differentiator.

Know Your Holiday Market  

Owners and property managers should already be tracking the performance of the holiday market in their area. Small towns and rural destinations have continued to rise in popularity. If your short-term rental bookings have become irregular or have begun to trend downward, it could be worth considering the services of a property manager. These professionals can help dial in the performance of a short-term rental. In addition to their expansive expertise in the marketplace, they also can help institute a marketing strategy and update your marketing technology suite.

You or your property manager should take advantage of software and technology to compete with a more developed market. Advantages include dynamic pricing tools to manage shifting consumer demands or to rebook after last-minute cancellations, and compliance tools to ensure staying within boundaries and up to date with regulations. Pricing and occupancy tools can also help adjust prices based on the current market performance to ensure that your property has a higher occupancy rate and gains a competitive edge. And compliance tools are available for a range of key concerns, from monitoring noise levels in your rental to making sure you are paying the correct lodging and other taxes to the appropriate taxing jurisdictions.

Be the Host with the Most Bookings  

When it comes to the holidays, a short-term rental can deliver a wide range of benefits and amenities to guests. Owners and property managers should know the state of the holiday market in their area, and then develop a plan to make the most of their rental. This could include tapping holiday decorations and offering amenities geared toward families and larger groups. Proper marketing should be used to show potential guests the incredible conveniences and comforts that will be offered when they book with your specific short-term rental. Property managers and technology tools can ensure that owners are getting top dollar and staying occupied during this busy season. Not only will these strategies make you the host with the most holiday cheer, but they will also you make you the host with the most revenue!


Author: Pam Knudsen is an executive at Avalara, leading multi-tax teams including Lodging, Beverage Alcohol, Communications and Sales & Use Tax. She is a leading voice in vacation rental tax compliance and regulation, in addition to bringing in-depth experience across software/SaaS technology and ERP systems. Pam joined Avalara in 2012.