The pandemic has hit most short term rentals businesses hard – especially those in urban areas – where the normal draws, like restaurants, sporting events and conferences have been closed. Conversely rural hosts are seeing a surge in bookings. What is interesting is that both of these realities have led to a common problem: strong competition. For the urban listing, it’s competition from other listings, for the rural host its from competing guests.
Regardless of where you operate, the goal is the same: to secure bookings at the highest rate possible. For the urban host that means standing out from sea of listings. For the rural host that means positioning themselves as the must have property that can command a higher price.
Here are 5 hacks to drive bookings and revenue during the Pandemic.
The pandemic has given rise to the ability to work from home… and it generally doesn’t matter which “home” a guest works from. Enter the work-action traveler. These guests are booking vacations, but plan to work-from-home while they’re away. To appease these travelers extremely high speed internet is a must, as is a comfortable workstation. Highlight both of these with pictures. Take a screen capture of an internet speed test and post it to your listing along with a picture of your workspace.
People are bored during the pandemic. Activities and social interactions are limited. Highlight exciting activities available in your rental. Be it a large collection of board games, Netflix, HBO MAX or cable TV. Highlight unique experiences available on your property – be it an outdoor fire pit, hot tub, nature walk or hike. Take it one step further by creating activities for your guests – a scavenger hunt, murder mystery or craft that uses materials found on your property. Guests also want to know what’s open in the local community. Provide each guest with an updated list of local businesses and attractions that are open during their stay.
A kitchen’s setup and available cooking ‘tools’ varies greatly from short term rental to short term rental. During the pandemic many restaurants are closed, which means guests will be doing a lot more cooking. Offer your guests some additional comforts like blenders, high end coffee makers, waffle makers and mixers. Show your guests that you haven’t skimmed on your kitchen setup and that they can cook virtually any meal.
One of the biggest advantages short term rentals have over hotels is that guests don’t have to walk through a busy hotel lobby, deal with a front desk agent (who has checked in hundreds of travelers) or share elevators with other travelers. Exploit this advantage by using a self check in. Self check in can be as simple as a lockbox hanging from the door knob to one of the many technology enabled options – like August locks or keypad.
It is no surprise that during a global pandemic cleaning and sanitization practices are on guests’ minds. Highlight your cleaning and sanitization practices on your listings. Since we know guests generally focus on pictures, upload a picture of a cleaner and list your cleaning and sanitization practices. Let your guests know you have their needs taken care of and that you’re fully stocked with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and disinfectant that they can use during their stay.
While all of these items will go a long way towards delighting your guests during their stay, you must advertise them. As I mentioned pictures are the best way to do this. The one caveat is not to overtake your property’s best pictures with pandemic related ones. Draw guests in with your property’s best pictures and then land the booking with your pandemic related ones: a killer property with everything a guest could want during the pandemic.
A global pandemic doesn’t have to mean that you can’t maximize your returns on your short term rental. While the challenges facing urban and rural hosts are slightly different, the goal remains the same: occupancy and profit. Using these 5 hacks, you’ll be well on your way towards achieving both.
Matt is an Airbnb Super Host and the creator of Airbnb Uncovered, an online training consultancy for Airbnb hosts. Based in Toronto, Canada, Matt has hosted nearly 3500 guests across 10 properties generating over 7 figures. Since starting his Short term rentals business 5 years ago, he’s achieved Super Host status every quarter and was one of the first Airbnb Plus listing hosts in the world. Thanks to the systems and processes he’s created, he now focuses on teaching new hosts how to accelerate their profits and growth. After not only surviving, but profiting, during the pandemic he has recently launched a course that teaches Airbnb hosts to do the same.