Gap days, also known as orphan days, are vacant days in between bookings. A few gap days in your annual booking calendar could be considered an annoyance. But if your booking calendar is littered with orphan days, you’re losing income. One of your top priorities should be filling your gap days to ensure you maximize your occupancy and revenue.
Top 5 Tips to Fill Gap Days
Your minimum night or length of stay policy has a significant impact on the occurrence of gap days. Even as more guests choose longer stays, others are being forced to cut down on their lengths of stay due to cost. While a 2-night minimum stay over the weekend or a 4-night stay during peak summer may make sense, applying an arbitrary number rigidly as your minimum stay policy will only leave your calendar with more gaps than is healthy for your business.
By dynamically adjusting your length of stay policy with demand and the type of your destination and property, you can reduce the number of orphan days and improve occupancy.
Using dynamic pricing allows you to automatically adjust your rental’s nightly rate based on a number of factors. Dynamic pricing algorithms, when used well, can not only help reduce the incidence of gap days by providing competitive rates but also help fill in orphan days by pricing to increase conversion.
A tried and tested tactic, offering a discounted rate for your vacant nights can be a simple and easy way to fill those gaps. You can offer the discounted days to previous guests as an incentive and turn them into loyal repeat customers. You can also offer gap days at a discounted rate to the guests who have booked right before or after, improving their experience with you even before they step foot on your property.
A tactic used by retailers that can be applied here is having a flash sale for the orphan days and marketing it on your social media channels. Providing a price discount will also be rewarded by Airbnb with better search rankings.
If the gap days are getting closer and you have still not been able to fill them, you can always list your property on a last minute booking platform like GetawayGoGo or Whimstay. Remember that your dates must usually be no more than 14 days prior to arrival to qualify.
If all else fails, you can always offer early check-in or late check-out to your guests who are arriving right after or before your orphan day. You can choose to sell this to your guests for a reasonable fee or use it as a means of improving their impression of you by offering it to them for free.
Considering the ever-increasingly competitive short term rental landscape, hosts ignore gap days at cost to their profit. By choosing to utilize a dynamic minimum length of stay policy and dynamic pricing, you can try to prevent and fill orphan days in your booking calendar. Offering the day at a discounted rate can yield marketing benefits while listing on a last minute booking platform increases your chances of being booked as well as your reach to vacation rental guests. It is important to remember that filling vacant nights at a loss—if you are incurring a cost that is greater than what the guest pays—for the sake of maximizing occupancy will only have the opposite effect on your annual profit.