How Far in Advance do Outdoorsy Guests Book?

Josh SchukmanFebruary 29, 2024

How Far in Advance do Outdoorsy Guests Book?

Ever wonder how far in advance Outdoorsy guests tend to book? We got curious about it too, so we did what we always do when we get curious — we crunched the numbers. 

And some of what we found might astound you. For example, a healthy chunk of bookings are made the same month as departure. 

Let’s unpack what we found to see how you can make the most of it:

Note: We used 2023 booking info for this post to get the picture from a full year of data.

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Summer Surprised Us

Don’t know about you, but we figured the bulk of summer bookings would happen far in advance. We’ve also caught many conversations in our Facebook group for hosts where owners get spring jitters if their summer calendar isn’t full up. 

The data tell a different story. Here are the summer tidbits that stuck out to us:

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May

  • A whopping 25% of bookings finalized in May were for trips departing in May. That means you could walk into May with a chunk of the month unbooked and still make out well.
  • Another 33% of May bookings were for trips departing in June. This was one of many indicators we found showing that summer doesn’t always fill up in advance.
  • Only 11% of the bookings made in May were for July. 

June

  • 34% of June bookings were for trips departing in June, meaning there’s plenty of business yet to be had if you walk into June with an un-full calendar.
  • 40% of June bookings were for trips departing in July.
  • 16% of June bookings were for trips departing in August.

July

  • 41% of July bookings were for trips departing in July.
  • 37% of July bookings were for trips departing in August.
  • 13% of July bookings were for trips departing in September.

August

  • 41% of August bookings were for trips departing in August.
  • 38% of August bookings were for trips departing in September.

September

  • 42% of September bookings were for trips departing in September.

Our Takeaways From This Data

1. A bunch of summer bookings happen in the same month as departure. That’s why it pays to keep your calendar fresh, your marketing popping, and your rigs ready to roll. 

2. Many guests wait to book summer plans. Even when they aren’t booking in the same month as departure, renters are booking trips just one month out. Advance planners book in significant numbers too, but don’t lose sight of the renters who book all summer long. 

April Is An Inflection Point

April is a fascinating month with bookings almost evenly divided across departure dates in April, May, June, and July. 

If you hit April and your listing isn’t firing on all cylinders, you’ll miss an important booking window. Make sure your rental listing has 10-15 high-quality photos, a detailed listing description, and an up-to-date calendar to ride the April inflection. 

What About Fall And Winter?

The only two winter months when we saw a slightly slower booking flow were November and December. Nonetheless, nearly half of all bookings made in these two months departed the same month of booking. 

Guests rent rigs for things like Thanksgiving guest houses and winter beach escapes in November and December.

January-March sees progressive booking growth as those advance-planning guests solidify their vacations. 

But advance bookers aren’t the whole story. Here’s data that may surprise you:  

  • 11% of January bookings we made for trips departing in January.
  • The majority of February bookings were for March departures.
     
    • Our conclusion? Spring breaking families book in droves in February.
  • March looks a lot like April with bookings pretty evenly divided by departure month. 
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How To Use This Data In Your Business

The moral of this whole story is that bookings happen throughout the year. Some guests book last minute and others much further in advance. That’s why it pays to have your listing in top form every day of the year. 

Here are some other tips and tactics we see flowing from this data:

Consider INSTAbook — Last-minute planners will usually want to see a booking confirmation right away. INSTAbook is a switch you can flip in your host dashboard that’ll make that happen. You can also set a buffer preventing guests from INSTAbooking trips X number of days ahead of departure. This allows you to choose the amount of time you need to prep for each key exchange.

INSTAbook requires you to always keep your calendar up to date. You can cancel an INSTAbook rental without penalty if the renter does not meet your stated rules, policies, or terms and conditions.

Market to the trends — For example, the February and March booking spike is likely due to spring break trips. Knowing this, you could add photos of families on spring break trips with your RV, your rig at a beach, or other images demonstrating that you’re the cure for spring fever.

And since summer bookings happen all summer, keep those marketing engines on. Jump into Facebook groups and other social to share your listing, put ‘rent me’ decals on your RV(s), and regularly update your listing description to call out popular summer events near you. 

By knowing the above data by heart and adapting your marketing to follow the trends, you’ll be set up to capitalize on it. 

Don’t underestimate winter — From guesthouse RVs to beach trips to guests planning for summer, winter is a happening time for bookings. 

Whether you rent out one RV or one hundred, all of us hosts are running businesses. The best businesses understand when and why their customers buy. Build your marketing on the buying behaviors we lay out above and you’ll be on a smooth road.

Josh is half of the husband+wife duo behind OutofNorm.al - where their mantra is "life, unwasted". Josh and his wife gallivanted all over the country in an '88 Airstream for 4+ years. They now run a glamping property in Montana by Glacier National Park. They keep up their RVing love by renting out vintage Airstreams and other RVs to travelers hitting Montana.


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