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20 Feb 2012
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Last week I gave a quick introduction to a new blog series - The Truth About Outer Banks Vacation Rentals - where I'm going to attempt to highlight some of the nuances of the OBX vacation rental industry.

As I mentioned in that post, I've been on both sides of the check-in desk; I've rented a number of Outer Banks vacation rental homes, and I've now had the pleasure of working at Seaside Vacations for about four years. With an understanding of both perspectives, my goal is to to pull back the curtain and try to give you an insider perspective of the OBX vacation rental industry.

How do we make the magic happen, and why doesn’t the magic always happen? Let’s dissect it and figure it out together. Please join in the discussion. Have any topics or questions you’d like me to cover? Feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to address them.

Let's start this fact-finding journey with a look at some data that could help you determine when is the best time book your Outer Banks vacation.

As with most things in life, timing is everything. Vacations are difficult to plan, especially with large groups of people with a lot of particular interests and needs. I need this week, how about this house, let's go here, definitely not there, don't forget Bobby can't be in the same room as know how it is...and so do we. :)

If you are completely flexible with your plans, than timing is much less important. Book when you're ready to come and see what's available. However, the "fly by the seat of your pants" planning strategy doesn't work for most OBX vacation planners.

Most groups need to fit into a specific planning strategy with a particular week, particular town, particular location, and possibly a particular house. The more "particulars" you have in your planning strategy, the more crucial timing becomes... especially for the busy summer months.

As you may guess, it all depends on when you want to come and where you want to stay.

This data is gathered from our reservations over the past four+ years and averaged to give you a general understanding of the "booking window" or "lead time" for reservations based on the various categories.

Basically, how far in advance do guests book oceanfront homes, or 10 bedroom homes, or homes in Southern Shores, etc. Please keep in mind, these are averages so there is some wiggle room, but this should give you a good idea of how early you should consider booking to make sure you get everything you need from your vacation. Let's take a peak, shall we?

Average Lead Days: This first graph demonstrates the Average Lead Days over the past few years. It is interesting to note that the lead days have not fluctuated too much over the years. We see an expected dip in 2008 with some of the economic concerns, but the lead time has regained that ground. And it is interesting to note that we are seeing a bit of a "break out" for 2012 at the end of the graph. This trend seems to indicate that it is wise to book your 2012 OBX getaway early rather than waiting for the last minute.