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Ski season is here! Preparing your short-term rental for a big winter

Posted by Rachel Devitt | Sharing Economy

Ski season isn’t just about outdoor recreation. It’s also the season to make some extra income, especially if you own a winter vacation rental property. Over the past 10 years, thanks in large part to online vacation rental platforms like Airbnb, ski vacation rentals in Canada have skyrocketed in popularity.

Guests like them because of the savings and convenience they offer. Hosts like them because of the opportunity to make some extra money while also meeting people from other parts of Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world.

But renting out your ski vacation home in Canada is about much more than putting your listing online and waiting for guests to book. Here’s everything you need to know to profitably and safely prepare your rental for the upcoming ski season.

Know your skier profile

The old adage of knowing your customer holds true no matter what business you are in. And, as a vacation rental host, you are most certainly a business owner. If you understand the demographics of the typical skier, then you can more easily tailor your product to them.

For instance, 52% of skiers live in households with children under the age of 18. This means you need to understand that families will be staying at your rental. Moreover, almost 60% of skiers are married, so you’ll need to cater to couples as well. The skier profile also generally skews towards higher income families.

Also, keep in mind the type of snow sports available in your area—because it’s not just skiers who come out for the snow season. You also have snowboarders, who tend to be younger, cross-country skiers who tend to be older, and snowmobilers.

Six tips for listing your ski property

What happens after your guests arrive is just as important as getting them to book in the first place. People that use vacation ski rentals in Canada are looking for a nice place to stay and one that fires up their imaginations.

Here are six important tips to follow to help your place stand out – and to protect yourself, your property, and your guests.

  • Be a great concierge by meeting guests in person – or creating a great welcome book using a service like Hostfully – to let them know about all the activities nearby like the night time skiing in Big White or the tree skiing in Red Mountain.
  • Little things like cheese, or some light snacks make guests feel like they’re welcome in your home after spending a day on the diverse slopes of Lake Louise. Remember, your profile leans heavily to couples and people with kids, so snacks or a romantic gesture would be a nice touch.
  • Keep your place spotless by hiring a professional cleaner to clean up between guests, and for those that stay a week or more. If you need help, consider options like BnBCare or TurnoverBnb.
  • Declutter by removing as much of your personal stuff as possible to leave plenty of space for guests to store ski gear and clothes to dry.
  • Keep your ski vacation rental well stocked for guests with plenty of toiletries, extra towels in the bathroom, and coffee, and hot chocolate in the kitchen for those chilly winter mornings.
  • Manage guest expectations right from the start by letting them know what is and is not allowed in your rental.

Maximize your bookings and profits

Once you’ve set the right expectations with your guests it’s time to think about how to put your rental property on the express chairlift all the way to the top of the booking mountain. Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep your description accurate, your booking calendar updated, and your photos professional.
  • Upgrade your outdoor living space, consider a kitchen update, and always keep interior décor and design in mind.
  • Maximize the design of your ski vacation rental to cater to skiers by having racks for skis, convenient places to hang wet clothes, and art that shows off the winter wonderland they’re visiting.
  • Market to your dream guest by offering a luxurious experience and pricing accordingly – guests that are willing to pay higher prices to stay in your rental are more likely to take care of it (although you’ll still want to have short-term rental insurance for the unexpected).
  • Always use dynamic pricing (tools like BeyondPricing can be helpful) to vary your nightly rate based on items like specific events, the average price in your area, and the length of a guest stay – especially in Banff and Lake Louise where the ski season can be almost six months long.

Amenities: Put yourself in the skier’s boots

As we’ve discussed, the more you understand your target renter the better you’ll be able to offer the amenities they want. The features that renters are looking for in family-friendly ski areas like Big White and Panorama will be different from what expert skiers in Revelstoke, Fernie, or Red Mountain want and need.

Some of the most sought-after amenities for vacation ski rental property in Canada that will increase your bookings and profit potential include:

  • Candles, candles, and more candles for giving rooms a warm glow – for safety reasons battery-powered candles are the best choice.
  • Staging the bedroom with luxuriously warm bedding lets guests dream of hanging out in bed all day, even when the slopes are right outside the front door.
  • Intelligent keyless electronic entry systems and connectivity systems for climate control make it easy for guests to come and go, and for you to keep utility bills low.
  • Luxury kitchen items like a Nespresso coffee machine and a Vitamix blender show your guests they’re getting the quality that they’re paying for.

Safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and basic first-aid kit combined with short-term rental insurance is part of being a good vacation rental host – you’ll sleep better at night because, let’s face it, accidents can happen.

How to avoid challenges when renting out your vacation ski home in Canada

You’ve followed all the tips to make your ski vacation rental property stand out. You’ve selected the right amenities that your target guests expect (and are willing to pay more for), Yet, despite your best efforts, something still happens…

Maybe they accidentally left the water running after they checked out. Maybe there’s a giant red wine spot on your expensive white couch. Or maybe one of your guests missed a step on your front porch and broke their ankle.

Now what?

While popular online vacation rental platforms like Airbnb provide hosts with Host Guarantees and Host Protection Insurance, these programs may not be providing you with all the coverage you’d like. It’s not that rental platforms want to leave you unprotected – it’s simply that insurance really isn’t their thing.

That’s why more and more owners of ski vacation rental property in Canada are opting for short-term rental insurance.

As you prepare for the upcoming ski season there are many things you need to consider. Outside of knowing your target customer, there are other considerations like amenities, your protection as a host, and guest satisfaction. Let’s face it, new bookings are always good, but the best guest of all is a happy one who returns one ski season after the next.


About the author

Rachel Devitt
As Duuo’s Brand & Communications Manager, Rachel manages Duuo’s content, events calendar, and PR initiatives. During Duuo team trivia games you’ll often find Rachel racking up points as a result of her pop-culture obsession.