CEO of Lodgify, a vacation rental software that allows rental owners and managers to easily build and grow their own online booking channel.

As borders are closed, flights are canceled and bustling cities become ghost towns, it becomes increasingly challenging to keep your vacation rental home booked. How will these restrictions and fears that continue to grow to affect your business in the long run?

It’s estimated that the United States’s traveling industry alone can expect to lose $24 billion in foreign spending in 2020, and the longer the pandemic continues, the higher the number will rise.

Those affected by these losses include airlines, restaurant owners and hotel owners, as well as vacation rental homeowners and property managers. Rental owners have seen a 20{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} to 30{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} drop in bookings for March and April compared to previous years. Should this be cause for worry?

Forecast Of Recovery

The good news is that the travel industry is slowly starting to bounce back from this pandemic. However, there is no global playbook, and each country is experiencing its own unique recovery. 

Different listing sites have reported that new bookings are picking up again, and although this year’s summer booking figures aren’t close to last year, reservations are at their highest since March. AirDNA reveals that as of May 18th, Airbnb and Vrbo’s bookings went from 916,000 to 2.08 million in just weeks.

Much of the driving force determining which cities are recovering relates to domestic travel. Domestic tourism has represented about 70{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} of all tourism spending in recent years, but based on AirDNA data, markets less reliant on international tourism, such as nonurban destinations, are growing faster than cities and international hubs.

How To Recover From The Situation

While these times are concerning, we recommend that you start planning and preparing for when everything goes back to normal. Here are a few ideas to make the most of these uncertain times.

1. Get A Bookable Vacation Rental Website

In order to become more self-sufficient and take control over your vacation rental business, implementing direct booking technology and having your own vacation rental website can help reach more potential guests, as well as get your brand out there.

2. Keep Your Property Listed

You might think it’s a good idea to remove your listing temporarily to discourage people from traveling to and from coronavirus hot spots. However, people are spending a lot of time online now, maybe planning a trip or vacation for several months from now. Keeping your rental home listed now will increase the chances of more bookings for later.

3. Adjust Your Pricing

People are still rightly hesitant to book trips when so much is still unknown about the future. You can encourage them to take the plunge by adjusting your average daily rate for the next few months.

4. Be Flexible

Your guests will have to make a lot of last-minute decisions, as the severity of the situation can still only be measured day by day. Last-minute booking or length-of-stay discounts are also ideal for travelers who aren’t in a position to plan too far in advance.

Be sure to review your cancellation policies to make them more flexible — you could even offer guests the option to move their reservations to a later date or the same date in 2021.

5. Target New Types Of Travelers

Airbnb is seeing patterns in terms of types of travelers. Analyze your property and think about what kind of travelers will most likely stay with you. You can also look through the list of your past guests to see if there are any trends. 

The majority of guests surveyed mentioned that they would be staying with others. Consider optimizing your website or listing content to target families with kids, pet parents, remote workers and, of course, frontliners.

6. Upgrade Your Amenities

If travelers before Covid-19 sought adventures as far from home as possible, they’re now staying closer to home and seeking safety and social distance above anything else. Highlight amenities that would appeal to these new guest types, such as fast Wi-Fi and internet connection, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, property sizes, greenery and any off-the-beaten-path options if your property is located near clinics, hospitals, pharmacies or grocery stores, etc.

7. Implement Contactless Technology

In order to limit contact with your guests, consider installing online contactless check-in solutions, smart locks or key lockboxes. This technology will allow you to save time and optimize your vacation rental business processes.

8. Highlight Health And Safety Protocols

Cleaning should still be your top priority. But before you jump head-first into doing so, be sure to reassess your procedures, add to them where necessary or perfect your techniques to maximize efficiency.

9. Improve Communication With Guests

Address safety and health concerns that your guests may have. Reassure them of the steps you’re taking, such as improving disinfecting techniques or limiting human-to-human contact by using zero-touch check-in technology. Small steps like these will help your guests relax and be more confident in booking with you.

What To Take Away

Whatever comes of the post-Covid-19 travel industry, data is proving that vacation rentals have significant advantages over hotels. People are searching for safe, comfortable and spacious accommodations, often even in urban areas. Either way, the flexibility and adaptability of the short-term rental industry will help it rebound from the effects of Covid-19. In the meantime, use the steps above as a guideline to help your rental business get back on track when the time comes.

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