Coronavirus: 7 Strategies to Sustain Your Vacation Rental Business Growth

Disclaimer: These suggestions are recommended for short-term vacation rentals that are located outside of isolation zones. These statements are merely suggestions and should not be taken as official guidelines. Please pay attention to local announcements and follow the latest health and safety protocols and recommendations from the World Health Organization.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the short-term rental industry, it’s hard not to be worried about possible losses and business risks alongside health-related concerns.

As an Airbnb host, you have to understand that your business might be affected by this global pandemic, particularly by cancelations from guests traveling from severely impacted countries or cancelations due to the outbreak of the pandemic in your country, among other possible scenarios. However, it is possible that you maintain and even boost your bookings despite the pandemic.

COVID-19 rental business growth strategies

We gathered these suggestions to help you sustain the growth of your business during the outbreak. Read on to find out how to protect your rental and incoming guests from COVID-19, as well as how to encourage bookings and manage cancelations.

Take the Necessary Precautions

When it comes to your short-term rental business, keep yourself informed. Educating and preparing yourself instead of panicking is imperative. Now, more than ever, it is of great importance to remain flexible and plan ahead in order to keep things under control.

You will probably have to adapt since there will be more last-minute decision-making by guests as well as local authorities and even airline companies. Although your destination might not be affected and it seems like it is unlikely to be, it is still crucial to be mindful of guests’ concerns and be flexible when it comes to rearranging/canceling trips.

There is nothing you can actually do to stop the pandemic or help undo the effect of COVID-19 on the industry, but you can focus on taking extra steps. Follow these strategies to help put your short-term rental business in a much better position. 

Strategies to Optimize Your Business Operations Despite the Outbreak

  1. Don’t Panic

The COVID-19 outbreak shouldn’t influence your decision to keep running your business. In fact, it is strongly recommended to keep your listings online since the deactivation and reactivation may do more damage to your ranking than a slow period.

It is of the utmost importance to stay calm even if your revenue decreases because that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your business. Most vacation rental businesses can sustain their functioning for 2-3 months without any income (in the worst scenario). Calculate how long your business can go without any profit.

According to the experts, the virus outbreak won’t last longer than 90 days, and in two months, the situation should generally improve. Therefore, if your business can sustain itself for two months without income, there’s no need to panic or make reckless decisions.

This temporary pause in business may be a good time to review the way you run your business and think about ways to improve it. This strategy will ensure you are ahead of the curve when everything goes back to normal.

  1. Monitor Competitors’ Prices

Lowering your prices may not necessarily be the best approach. Some hosts rush to reduce their prices to attract more bookings in fear of the slow period and consequently cause harm to their business. However, what you should do is continue to monitor your local competitors’ prices and adjust yours accordingly.

  1. Target Domestic Guests

Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, there’s been a decline in travel. Fewer international tourists are willing to go abroad, and some countries, such as the US, have closed their borders. That is why you should focus on and target domestic travelers.

COVID-19 rental business growth domestic travel

The decision to close borders in the US resulted in many canceled international flights. However, travelers may still want to plan their trip somewhere local, in their own city or a nearby state. You should adjust your marketing strategy so that it inspires domestic travelers to book with you. Here’s what you can do:

  • Advertise and list your rental on the most frequently used national channels;
  • Offer deluxe or unique amenities to your guests;
  • If you have free parking, mention it in your description as many tourists will travel by car;
  • Highlight that you have all the basic cleaning supplies;
  • Recommend alternative ways to spend their trip (e.g. list of off the beaten paths).
  1. Advance Your Marketing

Now is a good time to work on your marketing strategy and all of its aspects. Here are some suggestions on what you should focus on to advance your marketing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Offer Discounts and Promotions

    Special offers and discounts are great ways to influence and motivate travelers to book with you. Consider offering discounts based on the date, and the length of the stay. This can target both early and last-minute bookers, as well as anyone looking for accommodation. Promote your discounted prices in your listing title and description.

    If guests want to cancel their reservations, you can try to alter their decision by offering them to choose later dates to re-book their stay or to move the reservation for the same dates in 2021. Offer discounts or special offers for specific dates to support their decision.

  • Improve Email and Social Media Advertising

    Consider reaching out to past guests through emails to encourage them to make reservations. Besides email marketing, you should also consider social media advertising. Create coupon codes for your website and share them along with other promos and discounts on social media channels to ensure more visibility for your business and, thus, more bookings.

  • Update Your Website and Property Listing

    Use the situation to your advantage and spend your quarantine time renewing your website and optimizing your listing. While doing deep cleans, rearrange decorative items and furniture and take new photos to update your listing and website. Eye-catching photographs and attractively decorated interior are what attract guests to book with you.

  • Modernize and Update Your Newsletters

    Redesign your newsletter, or create a new campaign. This is the best way to stay in touch with guests and keep them updated about your business. Compose visually appealing designs with interesting, informative, and funny content to help readers stay positive during this crisis.

  • Repurpose Your Offer

    Now is the time to consider alternatives. It is of great importance to keep social distance, but in order to keep your business up and running, you should consider providing your guests with what they lack. Offering a secluded, risk-free space where they can spend their vacation during the quarantine period will certainly keep you ahead of the curve when the situation calms down.

    Transform your vacation rental into ‘a perfect “work from home” retreat’ for travelers seeking a secluded getaway. Adjust the space to create a pleasant working environment, provide a comfortable office chair, and ensure a stable WiFi connection.

  • Adjust Your Cancelation Policy  

    It is likely you will encounter cancelations, but there’s no need to be worried. To make the most out of the situation, it is crucial to allow flexible cancelations, since this can be a determining factor for guests when booking a rental. 

    Besides five other cancelation policy options, Airbnb offers a Flexible cancelation policy, under which guests are eligible for a full refund when canceling a reservation at least 24 hours before check-in. Providing your guests with this lenient option will allow for more bookings. 

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all reservations that fall under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy are eligible for a full refund. Now, more than ever, it is of great importance to adjust your cancelation policy to better deal with the challenges of the current tourism slowdown.

  1. Stress Your Rental is Risk-free

If there are no registered cases of COVID-19 in the area, vacation rental hosts should include that information in the description section. This can be valuable info that will assure travelers your rental is low risk and convince them to book with you.

In the description section of your listing, you can emphasize that you are aware of the outbreak of COVID-19 and that you have taken all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure safety. Highlight that your rental is disinfected properly and be sure to leave a prevention checklist and hand sanitizers for your guests.

  1. Ensure Thorough Cleanliness

It goes without saying that cleaning your rental thoroughly after each reservation is crucial. Maintaining a clean and disinfected environment is the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus. Use rubbing alcohol to disinfect everything and thoroughly scrub all surface

COVID-19 rental business growth rental cleanliness

Wash linens on high temperature and use mattress and pillow covers to protect your bedding. Keeping your rental clean and sanitized will protect your guests and your property from the virus.

  1. Bonus Strategy: Use Vacation Rental Software to Reduce Costs

Investing in vacation rental software will help you keep things under control by enabling you to manage your business in the most effective way. iGMS vacation rental software offers a wide range of features that can help you cope with the challenges you might face during the COVID-19 outbreak. The benefits of using the iGMS software are:

  • You don’t need a large team to keep your business running smoothly since most of the day-to-day activities are automated;
  • You can manage your listings across multiple platforms; this feature can help you extend your digital presence and visibility;
  • You can keep track of your payouts and stay on top of your business results thanks to the reporting feature;
  • You can be sure that cleanings are always scheduled and completed on time.

At iGMS, loyalty is our top priority. We express it by not charging our clients for properties that had no reservations.* Using our software ensures that you will pay only if your property is booked, otherwise, it is considered inactive and no charges will be applied.

*Disclaimer: Canceled reservation is considered a reservation by our billing team.

Managing Cancelations During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Cancelations may happen, and, when they do, you should be considerate. Be sure to get acquainted with Airbnb’s extenuating circumstance policy intended for both guests and hosts impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak to know exactly what to expect and how to deal with cancelations.

Undoubtedly, the travel industry is at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. All hosts must come up with effective strategies on how to cope with the downstream effects of the virus. It is strongly recommended to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your guests when hosting. 

Stay calm and follow the latest health and safety protocols and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as pay attention to local announcements. 

Use this time to your advantage by focusing on improving and perfecting all aspects of your vacation rental business. Implementing these measures will help you sustain your business growth during the outbreak, and be ahead of the curve when the COVID-19 crisis passes. 

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