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Preparing Your Vacation Rental for Last Minute Bookings

Preparing Your Vacation Rental for Last Minute Bookings

Ever heard the phrase, "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese"? In the vacation rental world, last-minute bookings might just be that delicious cheese.

Flashback to 2020, and there's been a steady surge in travelers hitting that "book now" button just days before their check-in. Fast forward to 2022 and guess what? A whopping 42% - 60% of all bookings were made with barely two weeks to spare.

Now, you might be wondering: What's with this spontaneous travel spree? A few tempting reasons might be those irresistible last-minute deals, special discounts that are too good to pass up, and the sheer convenience of booking on the go through our trusty smartphones.

Eager to tap into this trend and keep your calendar filled? Stick around! We're about to delve deep into the must-know steps to gear up your vacation rental for those last-minute adventurers.

Not only will this help ensure your guests have an amazing stay, but your rental income will be singing sweet tunes too!

10 Quick Hacks to Attract Last-Minute Vacationers to Your Rental

1. Get Inside the Mind of the Spontaneous Traveler

Ever wondered who those spontaneous, adventure-chasing, deal-loving travelers are? Well, it's high time you got to know them intimately! Dive deep into their world and craft a persona for them so you can better understand and target them with your marketing efforts.

Are they young thrill-seekers, busy professionals hunting for a quick break, or seasoned travelers looking for a steal? Ponder on what ignites that impromptu travel spark in them. Is it the thrill of a spontaneous journey, a surprise opening in their schedule, or just the thrill of nabbing a fabulous deal? If you’ve had last-minute bookings in the past, take a look at your guests’ profiles to see if there are any patterns emerging between the types of last-minute bookers at your properties.

Once you're armed with these insights, harness the power of social media, catchy email blasts, and raving online reviews to make them an offer they can't resist. After all, knowing your audience is half the battle won!

2. Give your Online Listings a Makeover

Picture Perfect: We live in a visual world, and a picture really can speak a thousand words. Invest in high-quality photos that radiate the charm and comfort of your property. Capture the sunrise from the balcony, the cozy nook where guests can enjoy a book, or that stylish decor you’ve painstakingly chosen.

Crafting the Story: Beyond photos, your description is the narrative of the experience awaiting your guests. Keep it accurate, but also make it engaging. Highlight the USPs (Unique Selling Points) of your space, be it the proximity to local attractions, special amenities, or a hidden garden.

3. Price it Right - Dynamic Pricing is the Way To Go

Market Research: Before setting your rate, it's crucial to have an understanding of the competitive landscape. Explore other listings in your vicinity, and gauge a median price range. This will give you a baseline to work from.

Special Offers: Last-minute doesn't have to mean cheap, but a little incentive goes a long way. Consider discounts or exclusive offers tailored for quick bookings. This could be a 10% off or a complimentary breakfast for those booking within 48 hours.

Stay Dynamic: The market is ever-changing, and so should your prices. Update your rates to reflect demand and seasonality. To make this task less daunting, consider Dynamic Pricing tools like PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, or Beyond, all of which are supported by Hostaway. It adjusts rates based on real-time market data, ensuring your listing remains both competitive and attractive.

Updated Calendars are a Must

4. Updated Calendars are a Must

Consistent Updates: An outdated calendar can lead to booking conflicts, and trust us, that's a headache no host wants. Ensure it accurately reflects your property's availability across all platforms.

Integrated Management: Consider adopting a channel manager such as Hostaway. This tool is a lifesaver for hosts with listings on multiple platforms. If there's a last-minute cancellation or booking on one site, the channel manager ensures all other calendars reflect this change. It streamlines the process and reduces the chances of overbooking.

Highlight Openings: Have a sudden vacancy? Feature it! Whether it's a highlighted date or a pop-up on your listing, making these open slots more visible can catch the eye of a last-minute traveler.

5. Set up Seamless Check-in & Out Processes

24/7 Access: With flights arriving at all hours, the freedom of a 24-hour check-in is what many travelers yearn for. Make this dream a reality by simplifying your check-in process to cater to any hour.

Comprehensive Guidance: Draft a detailed guide for your guests. Cover aspects from property access, and crucial amenities, to house rules. This ensures they start their stay with clarity, no matter how last-minute their booking.

Keyless Entry: The future is now, and it's keyless! Shift to smart locks or keyless entry systems. With these, guests get hassle-free access using unique codes or a smartphone app – no more worries about misplaced or duplicated keys!

6. Swift Communication – The Bridge to Trust

Direct Channels: In this fast-paced scenario, guests need quick answers. Dedicate an email or direct contact line to respond to these swift bookings. Don’t let your potential guests book with a competitor because their request got lost in your inbox.

Promptness is Key: Time is of the essence. Prioritize speedy responses, ensuring guests get the details they need without delays.

Automate to Elevate: Platforms like Hostaway’s guest messaging tool can elevate your communication, automate messages, and ensure crucial information reaches guests seamlessly. By automating messaging, you’re able to get bookings done even faster.

7. Clean Spaces even During Downtime

On-the-Go Cleaning: Guests adore walking into a spotless space. With tools like Turno and Doinn, you can quickly coordinate with cleaning professionals, ensuring your property is always guest-ready, even at the eleventh hour.

Routine Maintenance: Even during downtime, keep your property spruced up. Regular cleanings keep it inviting so you can always be prepared for that sudden booking.

Quality Comfort: From silky sheets to plush towels, ensure guests find a haven of comfort. Keep an inventory of linens, and swiftly replace any showing signs of wear. After all, a rested guest is a happy guest.

8. Craft Flexible Cancellation Policies

Unpredictable Plans: Let's face it, life happens! Last-minute bookings often come with their share of uncertainty. Offering flexible cancellation policies not only establishes trust but also boosts the likelihood of guests opting for your space without any hesitation.

Balancing Acts: Aim for a win-win. Frame policies that give guests a reasonable timeframe to cancel without harsh penalties. This assurance is often the nudge they need to hit the 'Book Now' button.

Give a Warm Welcome

9. Give a Warm Welcome

Local Expertise: Spontaneous guests might be in a daze about local hotspots. Why not give them a local's eye view? Highlight in your listing that you're their inside source for the best eateries, attractions, and hidden gems.

Your Personal City Guide: Whether it's a tangible welcome book placed on the coffee table or a digital guide sent to their email, provide guests with an insider's look. For that extra touch of class, collaborate with neighborhood businesses to roll out special offers exclusive to your guests. It's all about enriching their impromptu vacation.

10. Stock Up and Stand Out

Toiletry Treasures: Imagine the relief of finding a well-stocked bathroom after a hectic, unplanned trip. Ensure your space is overflowing with essentials - from aromatic shampoos to calming body washes. Replenish these supplies periodically, ensuring they're always fresh and ready.

The Heart of the Home – The Kitchen: Food is where the heart finds comfort and a well-equipped kitchen can be the game-changer. Periodically inspect and upgrade your culinary tools, from the non-stick pans to the ergonomic vegetable peeler.

Pantry Essentials: As they say, it's the little things! Stocking up on staples like aromatic coffee or a diverse tea selection can turn a regular morning into a delightful ritual. And, trust us, sparing them a grocery store run right after arrival? That's the hallmark of a top-tier host!


In the world of vacation rentals, the ability to seize last-minute bookings is an art. By perfecting your online listings, nailing your pricing strategy, and managing your calendar with finesse, you're poised to shine.

But wait, there's more! It's not just about catering to the spontaneous traveler; it's about setting a high bar. With seamless check-ins, transparent communication, and a dedication to maintaining pristine properties, you're not merely hosting; you're crafting an experience of excellence.

Imagine those impromptu getaways turning into planned, extended stays. Your exceptional hosting will be the reason guests keep returning. So embrace the challenge of last-minute bookings as an opportunity to build lasting connections and foster a thriving vacation rental business. Here's to your hosting success!

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!