Shoulder Season Marketing To Get More Bookings

Welcome, vacation rental managers and hosts! As the leaves change and the crowds thin out, it’s time to dive into the mechanics of shoulder season marketing. The possibilities for maximizing your property’s occupancy during these off-peak periods are boundless. In this blog post, we’ll explore a variety of effective strategies to employ in your marketing arsenal. From the science of pricing adjustments to the magic of giving your shoulder season a unique identity, we’ll guide you through actionable steps that not only fill your calendar but also create memorable experiences for your guests. Get ready to usher in a new era of shoulder season success – let’s make your property the must-visit destination, no matter the time of year!

When is Your Shoulder Season, Anyway?

First, let’s demystify the world of shoulder seasons and turn those quieter times into bustling booking bonanzas! In some markets, the idea of a crystal-clear shoulder season is as elusive as a beach ball at sea. 

First things first, get to know your crowd. Why are people flocking to your area? Is it the summer sun, winter wonderland, or perhaps a local festival that draws them in? Understanding these travel motivations is like having the keys to the kingdom. 

Next up, let’s talk frequency – how often do visitors grace your locale? Is it a weekend escape or a week-long retreat? Pinpointing these details is part of the secret sauce to tailor-made marketing. And of course, we can’t forget the seasons themselves – when is prime time, when does the shoulder season gracefully step in, and when does the off-season take center stage? 

Mastering this seasonal dance will set the stage for your marketing efforts. So, grab your metaphorical compass and let’s chart the course!

Unique Shoulder Season Name

Ready to add a little twist on your shoulder season? Consider giving it a name that’s not just a label but an exclusive invitation. Why settle for plain old ‘off-peak’ when you can craft a name that sparks curiosity and excitement? Think about tying it to local calendar events – whether it’s the “Harvest Hideaway” or “Winter Wonderland Retreat,” connecting your shoulder season to specific happenings adds a touch of local flavor and exclusivity. People love feeling like they’re part of something special, a bit like being in a members-only club. 


Let’s talk about pricing! The right rate on the right date can definitely tempt potential guests into taking advantage of a great deal. Industry specific pricing tools can help you to find the sweet spot between “in the in-season, maybe” and “there must be something wrong with it”.  These tools are designed to keep you ahead of the curve, ensuring your rates are not just competitive but impossible-to-resist! 

Minimum Night Requirements & Cancellation Policies

Relaxing your minimum night requirements in the shoulder season is another great way to entice those on-the-fence guests. When folks know they can book a long weekend away instead of having to commit to a full week, it makes it much easier to hit “book”. Typically, the winter holidays like Christmas and New Year’s command a higher minimum night requirement and sometimes a higher rate, but you know your market best. 

Another great way to tempt your shoulder season guests is with a more flexible cancellation policy. During the in-season, it’s important to adhere to the written policy. But during the shoulder season, when things are not quite so hectic, it’s okay to bend the rules a little. Your guests will appreciate it – and who knows, it may lead to another booking in the future!

Don’t forget to shout these changes to your minimum night requirements and cancellation policy from the virtual rooftops – update your website, your OTAs, your newsletter, and every social nook and cranny. This way, no potential guest misses out on the news that your place is the go-to spot for a last-minute retreat. 

Free Nights

Let’s talk about the magic of free nights and how they can be part of the secret sauce for packing your calendar during those shoulder seasons! Consider offering a free night bonus that stretches from the weekend straight into the midweek, creating a special getaway for your guests. 

Trust us, these free night perks aren’t just another tactic – they’ve aced the test in both copy and performance. The best part of all is that a free night isn’t the back-end loss that it sounds like. Typically, it equates to a 25% discount, something you would likely be prepared to give to get a shoulder season booking, anyway. Here’s the genius twist: it’s a clever way to offer a discount without lowering the per-night rate. 

Also consider offering a “free late checkout” option. It’s the cherry on top for those looking to savor every moment of their getaway. 


Let’s go over a trend that’s not just a buzzword but also a booking magnet, especially in those shoulder seasons – staycations! As the distance traveled for vacations shortens during these off-peak times, why not market your space as the perfect “work or study at home with a change of scenery” haven? 

But here’s the secret: it’s not just about throwing a desk and chair in the corner. Invest in quality equipment to ensure your guests not only work efficiently but do so in absolute comfort, making them eager to return. Highlighting high-speed WiFi is like music to remote workers’ ears, so make sure to shout it from the rooftops in your promotions.

And here’s the magic touch – after the workday ends, guests can still bask in the unique experiences your area has to offer. Here’s a nugget of wisdom: even in year four of the COVID era, many hosts haven’t upgraded their work-from-home setups, presenting a golden opportunity to shine. 

To further foster that sense of exclusivity, offer a staycation promotion to local residents only (or within “x” miles of your location) by requiring a driver’s license at booking to prove they’re entitled to the special deal. 

Seasonal Makeovers

Let’s talk about giving your place a seasonal makeover and making those shoulder seasons uniquely irresistible! One key strategy is to showcase your property differently in line with the changing seasons. Swap out those sun-soaked pool pictures for cozy shots around a firepit, painting a picture of warmth and camaraderie. After all, who wouldn’t want to snuggle up with a blanket and a good book near a crackling fire during the shoulder season? 

But the magic doesn’t stop there – update your property description to highlight the season-appropriate amenities and decor. Whether it’s the allure of a hot cocoa station or the charm of autumnal decor, let your guests know that your property transforms with the seasons. It’s not just a stay; it’s an experience that adapts and evolves, creating a magnetic pull for those looking for something special. 

Invest in Your Own Marketing Collateral

Here’s the game-changer to skyrocket your shoulder season bookings (actually, all your bookings) – investing in your own marketing collateral. While OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) are great partners, having owned marketing materials gives you the creative freedom to implement all the amazing suggestions we’ve shared here. 

Imagine having control over how you present your property, with the ability to showcase those cozy firepits or highlight seasonal transformations, without limitations. Plus, owning your marketing collateral isn’t just about the present – it’s an investment in your future. You can build on past successes, learn from what resonates with your audience, and continually refine your message. It’s like having a magic wand to tailor your property’s story, making it a must-book destination during every season. So, let’s shift gears, take the reins, and build a marketing strategy that’s uniquely yours. Your property deserves to shine, and owned marketing collateral is the key to unlocking its full potential! 

Local Events

Consider adding a splash of community magic to your shoulder season marketing playbook – tie it to local events! Keep those eagle eyes on the lookout for events that align with your vibe and consider becoming a sponsor. Events promoters are often on the hunt for supporters, and this could be a golden opportunity. Not only does it put your vacation rental company in the spotlight, but it also paints you as a valuable community member. 

However, here’s the pro tip: always weigh the pros and cons to ensure the sponsorship provides a solid return on investment. Investigate the event’s history, check out previous years’ attendance, and make sure it aligns with your target audience. 

With these tips and tricks, we hope you’re ready to take on your shoulder season!

From crafting irresistible staycation vibes to embracing the marketing magic of free night bonuses, and even tying your marketing to local events – these strategies are the keys to unlocking the full potential of your vacation rental. 

Remember, having owned marketing collateral empowers you to tell your property’s unique story and build a lasting connection with your audience. So, as you gear up to take on shoulder season, don’t forget to explore the untapped potential in your community through event sponsorships. By adopting these approaches, you’re not just filling up your calendar; you’re crafting memorable experiences and positioning your property as the go-to destination, no matter the season. Here’s to more bookings, more smiles, and the start of a remarkable journey into shoulder season success! 

Take The Next Step
  1. Download the free guide: 17 Ways To Level Up Your Vacation Rental Marketing and get our best tips on how to grow and scale your business.
  2. If you want to learn more about how to generate more bookings, visit our blog and read our articles.
  3. To get started working with us, visit our contact page, complete the form and schedule a call.
  4. If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team or other vacation rental managers you know!
Share On Facebook
Tweet This
Share On LinkedIn
Recent Articles


Get A FREE Chapter Of "Mastering Vacation Rental Marketing"

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.