Vacation Rental Occupancy Rates: What They Are and Why They Matter

Maximizing your vacation rental occupancy rate is important for maintaining the highest return on your investment property, and that’s something we all want, isn’t it? 

This blog post will walk you through what occupancy rate is, how to calculate it, and a few practical tips to increase yours. 

How to Calculate your Vacation Rental Property Occupancy Rate?

Occupancy rates are calculated by taking the percentage of time a vacation rental property is booked and comparing it to its total time available for bookings. 

Let’s walk through an example. You own a STR in the Smokies and you like to use it for 2 weeks at Christmas, two weeks in the summer, and one week in the fall – for a total of 35 days. 

Which means that your short term vacation rental is available for a total of 330 days. 

Formula: (total days booked/total available days) * 100

If you home is booked for 175 of those days, your occupancy rate is 53%
If you home is booked for 225 of those days, your occupancy rate is 68%


What Occupancy Rate Should I Be Looking to Hit for My STR?

Average Airbnb occupancy rates vary from market to market and year to year. You can see how the national average occucancy rate has fluctuate, per AirDNA

  • Trailing twelve months (TTM), March 2023 to February 2024: 55.1%
  • 2023: 55.4%
  • 2022: 58.6%
  • 2021: 60.3%

There are numerous ways you can improve your vacation rental occupancy rates!


Optimize Your Price to Increase Your Short Term Rental Occupancy Rate

Pricing is one of the most straightforward ways you can impact your occupancy rates. Utilizing dynamic pricing allows you to adjust your nightly rates based on the demand patterns.  

This gives you the ability to 

  • Offer discounts for longer stays 
  • Incentivize last minute bookings 
  • Lower your rates during slower periods. 


Elevate Your Amenities to Improve Your Vacation Rental Occupancy Rate

Set your home apart from the pack by elevating the amenities you offer. That can be done in a number of ways – a more comfortable space, items not found in most rentals, or personal touches upon check in. 

Spend just a bit of time thinking about the things that matter to you when you go on vacation, and decide how you can improve them in your rental! 

Is it important to you that the vacation rental you stay in feels like home? In what ways can you bring a bit of “home” to your rental? (We don’t know anyone that doesn’t like comfy couch blankets…)

Is it important that the short term rental you stay in be unique? What items can you provide in your rental that aren’t found in most others?

Do you feel extra special when you find a personal touch left by the host when you check in? In what ways can you provide those for your guests?


Expand your Sleeping Areas to Increase Your Occupancy Rates 

Expanding your sleeping areas allows you to cater to larger groups of people. 

We all know how fun (for the most part) going on vacation with people you love is – why not do your best to make sure everyone is comfortable? 

There are so many ways you can expand your sleeping areas 

  • Could you make one of your rooms a double queen room – hotel style?
  • Could you add bunk beds to the game/recreational room?
  • Could you switch your couches to sleeper sofas?

Not sure how to best expand your sleeping areas? This blog offers practical tips to transform tight spaces into cozy sleeping areas


Hire a Professional Property Manager so That You Can Increase Your Occupancy Rates

You might be managing your rental from afar right now, which sometimes makes things hard to react to quickly. 

It’s important to run your numbers before you decide to hire a professional property manager, but you might find that the lift in occupancy rate is worth the cost! 

There are multiple types of property management options you can choose from! 


There are tons of other ways you can increase your vacation rental occupancy rates! 

  • Encourage your guests to leave reviews 
  • Offer your guests an incentive to book another stay with you 
  • Optimize your listing – titles, descriptions, and photos
  • Run promotions
  • Consider upgrades


Improving your vacation rental occupancy rate isn’t a one and done issue. It requires your continued attention. 

By monitoring your results, evaluating your data, reviewing guest feedback, and taking action on those items you can be sure to see improvements in your occupancy rates.