Vacation rental rates can vary drastically, depending on the time of year, some being 300% or even 400% more during a summer month than during an off season month, such as January. Seasons obviously vary depending on if you are visiting a beach town or a ski town…the following is a typical schedule for a beach town…say beautiful Southern California.
If you really want that peak summer vacation when all of the kids are out of school, then it may be nearly impossible to avoid the peak season rates. Peak season falls somewhere between the end of June and mid to end of August. Because this is the prime vacation time for Americans, and many foreigners as well, be sure to book early. Most companies should take reservations up to a year in advance. Homes fill up fast during these summer months, and while there may be vacancies available closer to summer, you won’t have the luxury of options…whether you want the home with the large beach front patio or the one with the rooftop deck overlooking the ocean.
This season is defined by its name, holidays. Some companies may lump all holidays including Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., in the same rate category while others may separate them out. These rates are usually a little less than peak season rates, but still high. Again, book well ahead! Thanksgiving has become an increasingly popular holiday to spend in a vacation home, where family from all over can come and gather in one large home and have a kitchen to prepare a Thanksgiving feast in.
If you book a rental during mid season, you can find some incredible deals. Homes do not fill up quite as fast as the peak and holiday seasons, so there may be more last minute discounts, and flexibility with whatever budget you are working with. Mid season dates are typically around spring break time (although some may have spring break as holiday rates), the weeks leading up to summer and the few weeks after summer. Depending on where you are renting, this could be the prime time for a vacation. In San Diego for example, our most gorgeous weather happens to be in September and October, when the sky’s are clear, the water is warm, and the Santa Ana winds come through every so often.
Lastly, there is low season…all of the dates that don’t fall into any other season. Excluding holidays, these months include November thru April. Many companies have outstanding deals during this off season time, and you can find great rates by booking last minute. Homes are rarely booked up 100% in advance, so you can take that risk and book a week or two before you plan on arriving.
There are benefits to booking early of course…peace of mind that you have your place secured, and that you choose the best place possible for your groups’ needs. However, you do lose out on any last minute specials the company may run closer to your stay dates. The advantage is you get prime pick, and to me, that is well worth it. If you are willing to take a risk and wait till last minute, it is almost certain you will receive some sort of discount. If there are no last minute specials running at the time, simply ask and most likely the property management company will honor some sort of discounted rate.
Return Customers: If you are a return customer to the same management company, ask for a return customer discount.
Online booking discounts: Many companies, if they offer online booking, will give a discount if you complete the booking online.