A steaming mug of cocoa, board games near the fireplace, and snow flurries during the day—these things make the perfect winter escape for your guests. However, for unprepared vacation rental hosts, these ingredients can translate into fire hazards, drafty windows, and plumbing disasters waiting to happen. While this time of the year brings its own set of challenges, prepping up for the low season will give you a head start.
Here we've gathered a few tips for you to help prepare your vacation rentals before winter.
- Stock Up on Your Winter Essentials
Whether you're preparing for spring, fall, or winter, stocking up your property with the right season supplies is key to happier guests and keeping your rental rolling with visitors throughout your calendar days.
When they reserve a room with your listing, your guests will expect to find warm blankets, wood for the fireplace, candles, extra light bulbs, and batteries ready for the chilly nights.
Some guests would also want to clean after themselves, and not finding cleaning essentials can be frustrating, especially during winter. Help your guests by providing extra essentials like car scrapers, ice melt, shovels, and a heavy-duty broom.
- Discount Your Nightly Rate
Reducing your nightly rate during the low season won't exactly sound encouraging, but it's the right thing to do. Since winters are quiet and bookings are slow, your competitors will significantly lower their prices or run discount offers to lure customers. So, if you want to stay competitive in the market, coming up with a price that measures up with your rivals is your best bet.
Offering discount prices when demand is low is a smart way to attract customers. However, instead of using a flat pricing approach, it's vital to utilize peak days wisely, for example, during Christmas and New Year's holidays when demand spikes and you can price up, allowing you to improve your overall revenue.
- Take Care of Seasonal Cleaning Tasks
In the best-case scenario, your Airbnb cleaning services are living up to your expectations. But when did your staff last check your fireplace? Or that gutter that's brimming with fall foliage? To prepare for new season guests and winterize your home, you may want to assign your cleaning crew tasks that usually take a back seat during the rest of the year. Things like,
- Cleaning the fireplace, inspect the ignition switch and coupler.
- Remove combustible material such as leaves and twigs from the fire pit outside.
- Clean soot and remnants of the burning wood from the chimney.
- Discard leaves and trash from gutters.
- Wash all the thick blankets and comforters your guests will need for the colder evenings.
- Inspect Your Heating Systems
While we know that using a heating system will hike up your utility expenses, how can you expect your guests not to use it if you have one? Regardless of which part of the world you live in, it can get freezing cold during winter, and people depend on the heater for warmth. However, if you don't want to end up with exorbitant electricity bills at the end of the month, it's a good idea to leave heater operating instructions for your guests. Luckily for you, heaters now come equipped with smart systems that you can control from miles away.
Additionally, hosts complain about heaters being left on all day and night, even when the guests are not there. This can be stressful and expensive at the same time. For this reason, informing your renters about usage instructions or employing remote access to operate the heating system can take the stress off your shoulders.
- Complimentary Snacks and Drinks
It's not the big things but the little things that leave the most impact. Everyone likes to be treated nicely. Wouldn’t you love entering your hotel room to find a sweet welcome package on the bedside? Your guests would appreciate it too. While during warmer months, hosts can replenish the fridge with cold beverages, during winter months, you can stock up complimentary hot drinks, snacks, salted nuts, or a trail mix.
You can even add pictures of these to your Airbnb listing to showcase your special winter add-ons. While these are minor touch-ups, they will delight your guests with a warm gesture and show them you care.
- Insulate Your Water Pipes
When temperatures plummet during the colder season, water pipes in unconditioned areas, such as an unfinished basement or a non-insulated crawl space, are prone to freezing. This happens because the chilly wind outside meets the pipes and leads to frost inside. Not only can it become an unexpected winter catastrophe, but your pipes can also burst and cause severe flooding.
Insulating your pipes before winter rolls in will lower the risk of frozen pipes and keep them warm. It’s also recommended to use caulk around windows near pipes, so there is no risk of air leaks from any gaps in the frame.
- Stop Your Washing Machine’s Water Supply
Before winter arrives, unplug your washer, and shut off the water supply in all your unoccupied rental units. This will prevent water lines connected to your washing machine’s valves from freezing when the temperature goes down.
Moreover, you may want to connect your water systems to a compressor to help you remove any water remaining in the valves. Since compressors are easy to operate, you do not need to get any experts involved; they’re also reasonably priced, so you don’t have to worry about adding any high expenses. It’s also a wise move to pump as much water as possible out of your sewage traps. You can find sewage traps in the toilet, floor drains as well as your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Make sure to inspect and clean these areas to minimize sewage backups freezing in your pipes.
- Replenish Emergency Supplies
Winters are notorious for severe storms. Those fierce winds and blizzards can bring down trees and telephone poles and cause them to fall over power lines leading to long power outages. Since this is expected during cold weather, make sure you replenish emergency supplies your guests might need, such as batteries, flashlights, lanterns, styrofoam coolers, and crank radios so that they’re safe until power is restored.
Additionally, if there are warnings regarding an impending storm, it would be best to cancel any booking and wait until the storm is over to ensure your and your guests’ safety.