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California’s vacation rental market is flourishing, with cities like Los Angeles and San Diego leading the charge. Los Angeles boasts over 20,916 vacation rentals, making it the fourth-largest market in the U.S., while San Diego offers around 11,689 rentals (Statista). In May, the state saw a 2% rise in vacation rental occupancy rates, reflecting growing traveler interest (Visit California).

From the beaches of Malibu to the cultural hubs in San Francisco, California’s diverse vacation rentals cater to a wide range of preferences. These cities offer everything from luxury stays to cozy cabins, ensuring an enriching experience for every visitor.

What are Short-Term Rental Upsells?

A short-term rental upsell is a powerful tool which refers to the practice of offering guests additional products, services, or upgrades to enhance their stay, while increasing revenue. This strategy is commonly used in the short-term rental industry and can be either operational, or involve tours, activities, and experiences.  The key to successful upselling is understanding the guests’ needs and preferences and offering relevant and valuable additions that enhance their experience. Effective guest communication plays a crucial role in identifying these needs and suggesting suitable upsells. This approach not only boosts revenue but can also lead to higher guest satisfaction and loyalty. Implementing upselling strategies tailored to your rental property enhances the overall guest experience and strengthens your business’s competitiveness in the market.

Upsells in Hotels VS Vacation Rentals: What’s the Difference

Upsells in hotels typically involve concierge services and traditional amenities, whereas in the short-term rental properties industry, this process is digitized to streamline operations. In contrast, vacation rental upsells are more personalized, catering to individual guest needs like grocery delivery, private chefs, and local tours. Vacation rentals offer operators flexibility to innovate, tailoring unique experiences to their property and target market. This personalized approach is integral to the business model of vacation rentals, allowing them to provide an exceptional guest experience. With the growing popularity of short-term rentals, more travelers are choosing them for accommodation. These guests now expect hotel-like services during their stays. Therefore, offering add-on amenities and other enhancements is crucial for hospitality professionals managing property management systems in vacation rentals.

Why offer upsells in vacation rentals?

Offering upsells in vacation rentals brings multiple advantages. By enhancing the guest experience through added convenience and luxury, you can significantly increase guest satisfaction and tailor to your target audience’s specific needs. This not only boosts your revenue but also helps in building a strong and recognizable brand. Upselling also encourages repeat business, as guests are more likely to return to a place where they felt valued and pampered. Moreover, satisfied guests are more inclined to leave positive reviews, further enhancing your property’s reputation and attracting new visitors. Understanding market trends and employing effective revenue management strategies are essential for maximizing these benefits, ensuring that upselling occurs at the best time to meet guest demand. Ultimately, vacation rentals play a similar role to hotels in the hospitality industry, providing memorable experiences and remarkable guest experiences. Incorporating local attractions into your upselling strategy can also enrich the guest experience by offering convenient access to nearby points of interest. Enhancing your profit margin through strategic upselling efforts can lead to sustainable business growth and increased profitability. Generating great reviews from satisfied guests can further bolster your property’s reputation and attract more bookings, ensuring a seamless guest experience and additional income.

How much revenue per listing can I add with upsells in California?

A well-executed upselling strategy, tailored to your guests’ needs and the capacity of your business, can substantially boost revenue. So how can you get the potential revenue increase from upsells in your vacation rental business in California?

Factors like your property type, capacity, average stay length, and booking channels can impact your potential revenue uplift. Utilizing a dynamic pricing tool can help you optimize pricing based on demand and other factors. We can make a quick estimate, with a basic formula:

Take the value of an experience or service to upsell and calculate your cut. Different affiliate programs offer different rev share to partners. For example, Viator offers an 8% revenue share. In this case we’ll use this number, but you can insert the percentage of any affiliate partner you choose to work with. Take 8% out of an experience that costs USD $100. And just like that – you earn USD $8 every time one of your guests orders this experience through your link! In the business world, it is usually referred to as “free money”.

This is the revenue a property manager typically retains without sharing with the owners—your choice. In the STR industry, where margins are thin, these numbers can significantly impact your bottom line.

Below you can see the real experiential packages in California you can offer your guests to make a hassle-free profit.

Learn more about the economics of vacation rental upselling.

Conducting analysis based on your data, continuously testing and optimizing the upsell process are recommended to maximize the revenue uplift. The best way to do this is to have a guest experience dashboard, where you and your team can track the performance.

When should you try to upsell services in your vacation rental?

To effectively upsell services in your vacation rental, timing is crucial. Key opportunities include during the booking confirmation, when guests are excited about their stay, and upon check-in, when they might be interested in enhancements like upgraded amenities. Additionally, mid-stay touchpoints are ideal for offering experiences or services that can improve their current stay. Tailoring your upsell strategies to these moments ensures relevance and increases the likelihood of conversion, thereby maximizing revenue without overwhelming guests. Read more about when to upsell services in your short-term rental.

Types of Vacation Rental Upsells

Operational Upsells

Includes everything that requires operational resources from property managers. This includes flexible access, like early check-in, late checkout, in-property extras, like mid-stay cleaning or pool heating and gap nights. These higher offers are the best ways to make sure your guests have a successful vacation and you maximize revenue. The downside of this strategy is that it can raise operational costs, adding pressure on your cleaning and guest relations teams. By automating processes and enhancing efficiency with AI and condition-based workflows, this can be mitigated, making it worth your while.

Service Upsells

Service upsells aim to enhance the guest experience by providing additional services that add convenience, luxury, or comfort. These services can include personalized concierge assistance, in-room amenities, and private transportation options. In most cases, these offers can be implemented by third-party service providers.

Activities and Experiences

These include experiential offerings that don’t involve operational efforts from the property manager. The best way to offer these upsells is through partnerships or affiliate programs, like Viator or Holibob.

Operational Upsells

An operational upsell in the hospitality industry refers to offering guests additional services related to the operation and convenience of their stay. These services enhance the guest experience by providing added comfort, flexibility, and convenience, for an extra fee. Excellent customer service is crucial in effectively communicating and facilitating these upsells, ensuring guests perceive them as valuable additions to their stay. Below are some examples:

Early Check-in

An early check-in offers guests the possibility to access the accommodation before the standard check-in time. This would normally be between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. The service is valuable for guests arriving early in the day who want to rest, unload the bags, relax or start exploring the destination.

Late Check-out

By providing guests with late check-out, you let them stay in the property after a standard checkout time. This is usually between 10 AM and 12 PM. When people have late departures, the possibility of enjoying the property for a little longer can add up to the vacation experience. Many guests are ready to pay a premium for convenience. A willingness to offer your guests the flexibility of a later stay can go a long way.

Stay Extension or Gap Nights

This type of upsell offering can be a golden opportunity for a rental operator to increase the occupancy rate. Fill short gaps between reservations by offering departing and arriving guests to extend their stays and fill gap nights. By automating this process, you can make sure to capture these rental income opportunities with a great value proposition.

Mid-stay Clean

A short-term rental housekeeping doesn’t include daily cleaning. However, travellers staying for longer periods, would appreciate mid-stay housekeeping service and would pay extra to pay for the cleaning team effort and cleaning fees.

Pool/Hot tub Maintenance

Offering this upsell requires knowing your audience and the market you are in very well. If it is something that makes sense, upselling pool or hot tub maintenance can boost profits while enhancing the guest experience.

Service Upsells

Service upsells focus on offering additional guest services that enhance their stay by providing extra convenience, luxury, or comfort. These can range from personalized concierge services to in-room amenities and private transportation, often available for an additional fee. Examples include:

Transportation Services: Offering airport pickup and drop-off services, car rentals, or shuttle services to nearby attractions.

Food and Beverage Delivery: Offer grocery delivery services where guests can pre-order groceries and have them delivered to their rental before or during their stay. You can also provide an option for guests to order ready-to-eat meals and beverages from nearby restaurants.

Equipment Rentals: Provide rental services for equipment that guests might need during their stay. Examples include bicycles, baby equipment (cribs, high chairs), or beach accessories (chairs, snorkelling gear).

Tours, Activities, Experiences as Vacation Rental Upsells in California

Experiential upsells involve offering guests unique tours, activities, and experiences to enrich their stay. These can include guided city tours, adventure activities, cultural experiences, or wellness sessions. By providing these curated experiences, you can create memorable moments for guests while generating additional revenue.

Top Experiential Offerings in California You Can Profit From

We’ve made the research of the most revenue generating experiential packages vacation rental operators in California offer to their guests. You might find more ideas and partners to be a part of your upselling strategy. We will be happy to hear about it and add them to our list.

Tours, Activities, Experiences to Upsell in Top Tourist Accommodations in California

Los Angeles, California

Universal Studios Hollywood General Admission Ticket

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Go behind the scenes on the world-famous Studio Tour to explore where Hollywood movies are made. Then, face action head-on in heart-pounding rides, shows and attractions that put you inside some of the world’s biggest movies!

Price: CA$152.72

Your Cut: CA$12.21

Big Bus Los Angeles: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour & TMZ Celebrity Tour

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See the highlights of Los Angeles with ease and flexibility on this hop-on hop-off open-top double-decker bus. Choose between a Hollywood route and a beach route and enjoy commentary about the famous sites on the way. See the Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and more, and keep your phone battery alive with onboard chargers. Then join the awesome TMZ Celebrity Tour guides and see the REAL Hollywood on the 2-hour TMZ Celebrity Tour.

CA$152.72

Your Cut: CA$12.21

The Ultimate LA & Hollywood Photo Tour

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If you are a first-time visitor to Los Angeles, this small-group tour is an excellent way to see the city. Starting at the Dolby Theater, you’ll visit the highlights of LA and Hollywood, as well as a few unexpected, lesser-known spots. Your guide is a skilled photographer and will take fantastic photos of you at the best spots.

Price: CA$96.67

Your Cut: CA$7.73

San Diego, California

2.5 Hours of Fun: Catamaran Sunset Sail

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Book this small group tour to get out on the San Diego Bay on a comfortable Catamaran at sunset. Your captain will make sure you are comfy with a glass of white wine, beer, and soft drinks onboard. Just relax as you sail along with your small group, checking out the San Diego skyline while looking out for friendly sea lions and sometimes dolphins.

Price: CA$166.73

Your Cut: CA$13.33

San Diego Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours

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Book this small group tour to get out on the San Diego Bay on a comfortable Catamaran at sunset. Your captain will make sure you are comfy with a glass of white wine, beer, and soft drinks onboard. Just relax as you sail along with your small group, checking out the San Diego skyline while looking out for friendly sea lions and sometimes dolphins.

Price: CA$133.10

Your Cut: CA$10.64

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park 2-Visit Pass Ticket

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View over 4,000 animals roaming in large enclosures on a 2-day visit to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This admission ticket allows you to spend two days at the Zoo or Safari Park or split your time between the two. Access to all shows and exhibits and all in-park transportation are included. With mobile tickets, scan your phone for direct entry into the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.

Price: CA$173.73

Your Cut: CA$13.89

Big Bear City, California

Private Big Bear Lake Jeep Tour with Light Lunch

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Enjoy a relaxing picnic in nature at a scenic wooded location in Big Bear. Lunch is created by Big Bear’s stylish pop-up picnic company using seasonal items and gourmet flair. Menu is provided after booking. After a Jeep ride to the picnic location, you’ll enjoy listening to stories about the Big Bear Valley. Then, you’ll be left in privacy to lunch in one of the area’s most scenic—and secret—locations.

Price: CA$140.11

Your Cut: CA$11.20

Family-Friendly Nature Hike around the Big Bear Valley

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The jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest, it can be hard to find family-friendly hikes around Big Bear Lake—and in the Big Bear Valley—unless you know where to look. On this local-led tour, you’ll go on a guided walk fit for kids and adults that’s far off the beaten path, learning all about the flora and fauna of this incredible area, taking in the landscapes, and more.

Price: CA$51.84

Your Cut: CA$4.14

San Francisco, California

San Francisco Grand City Tour

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Take a San Francisco half-day tour to pack in the city’s top sights in a convenient way that leaves you with plenty of time to spare so you can enjoy the city however you wish. With a driver-guide, travel the city by bus, stopping at major attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks, and exploring neighborhoods like North Beach and Chinatown. Plus, you can upgrade to include a San Francisco Bay cruise, a half-day bike rental, or admission to the Aquarium of the Bay.

Price: CA$96.67

Your Cut: CA$7.73

Private City Tour of San Francisco

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Make the most of your time in San Francisco, and get ready to discover its top attractions all in one excursion: this private driving tour is designed as a comprehensive introduction to the city. Following pickup at your hotel, travel in the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle. You can look forward to seeing Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and more—plus additional sights you’re most interested in.

Price: CA$369.21

Your Cut: CA$29.53

Malibu, California

Private Surf Lessons in Malibu

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Suitable for all experience levels, this private surfing lesson in Malibu will have you catching waves in no time. Get hands-on instruction from a local surfer and lifelong Malibu resident, who can also give personalized travel tips. Learn the ins and outs of surfing, including paddling and standing, with the goal of riding waves.

Price: CA$189.14

Your Cut: CA$15.13

Malibu Beach Surf Tour in a Vintage VW Van

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Enjoy spectacular views of the Malibu shoreline, and even attend a surfing lesson, on this small-group, two-in-one tour. Meet your guide in the morning in Santa Monica, and hop aboard a vintage VW van. Head first to the renowned Malibu Pier, and then to Point Dume State Beach for cliff top views overlooking the ocean. Finish the tour with a surfing lesson that will get you hitting the waves in no time.

Price: CA$488.97

Your Cut: CA$39.11

Half Day Private Wine Tasting Tour in Malibu

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Embark on a luxurious wine tour in an executive SUV, with complimentary pickup within 30 miles of Los Angeles, starting at 11:45 AM. Begin your tour at Cornell Wine Co., nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, where you’re invited to explore regional wines for 45 minutes. Admission is free, but guests are responsible for all purchases. The experience deepens at Cielo Farms Malibu, offering a two-hour immersion featuring a flight of the best wines: 2 whites and 2 reds per person.

Price: CA$979.35

Your Cut: CA$78.34

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour

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Explore Santa Barbara by electric bike, covering plenty of ground on a morning or afternoon excursion. Ride your easy-to-use beach cruiser to key landmarks such as State Street and the Santa Barbara Mission as your knowledgeable guide shares the city’s history during this Santa Barbara bike tour. Have your camera ready as you glide along the renowned Pacific coastline. Numbers are limited to five people, ensuring personalized attention and a small-group experience.

Price: CA$119.09

Your Cut: CA$9.52

Private Helicopter Tour in Santa Barbara

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Venture on an aerial journey tracing the sun-kissed California coastline, extending its wings to embrace the vibrant cityscape of Santa Barbara. As we glide through the skies, the heart of the city reveals itself, with its downtown area springing to life, adorned with a captivating array of sights.

Price: CA$208.76

Your Cut: CA$16.70

Surfing Lesson in Santa Barbara (2 Hours)

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Ride the waves near Santa Barbara like a pro during this introductory surfing lesson. Get the hang of surfing fundamentals like paddling, ‘reading’ waves, catching waves, and standing up as you learn on the world-famous surfing beaches of Southern California. Your knowledgeable instructors, with more than 25 years of experience combined, will teach you all the skills you need.

Price: CA$124.70

Your Cut: CA$9.97

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley Daily Join In Group Wineries Tour Including Lunch

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Let a professional driver-guide chauffeur you around Napa Valley in one of our specialty vehicles. After a convenient pickup from your hotel in downtown Napa, American Canyon, you’ll be transported in style up to three premier Napa establishments, such as Madonna Estate Winery, Hagafen Cellars and Domaine Chandon.

Price: CA$175.12

Your Cut: CA$14.01

Napa Valley Redwood Hike

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Napa Valley is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in wine country, and they go hand-in-hand with a wellness weekend in wine country. Join us for a guided hike that features native flora and fauna, seasonal tributaries, and an abundance of wildlife. We will chat about the history of the land, the animals and plants found in the valley, as well as how Napa Valley’s unique ecosystem works, all while we explore the Redwood Canopy and a seasonal tributary, deep in the Mayacamas Mountain side. The hike is 3.25 miles, with very little elevation gain.

Price: CA$315.24

Your Cut: CA$25.21

6-Hour Private, Customized Wine Tour of Sonoma & Napa Valley

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Enjoy an intimate experience and avoid the tourist traps on this fully customizable, half-day wine tour of Napa and Sonoma. Select your favorite wineries, see lesser-known sights, or let your guide suggest highlights suited to your preferences. Indulge in wine tastings and lunch (own expense), or take advantage of the stunning scenery for a photo or two.

Price: CA$840.63

Your Cut: CA$67.25

Conclusion

In conclusion, upselling in vacation rentals offers a compelling opportunity to enhance guest experiences and boost revenue. California, with its thriving vacation rental market, provides an ideal backdrop for implementing these strategies. From operational upsells like early check-ins and mid-stay cleanings to service upsells including concierge services and equipment rentals, the potential for adding value is significant. Additionally, offering unique activities and experiences, such as guided tours and local adventures, can further enrich a guest’s stay. By understanding guest preferences and effectively timing these upsell offers, vacation rental operators can significantly enhance guest satisfaction, foster loyalty, and create memorable stays in the Golden State.

Whether you’re managing a luxury beachfront property in Malibu or a cozy mountain retreat in Lake Arrowhead, integrating a well-planned upsell strategy can set your rental apart and drive success in California’s competitive market. Building upon these offerings can lead to positive guest reviews from satisfied guests, further enhancing your property’s reputation and attracting new visitors. Utilizing the right tools and techniques is essential for optimizing your upselling efforts and maximizing guest satisfaction.

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