With the short-term flexible rental industry and travel businesses globally reporting losses since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s easy for us all to get caught up worrying not just about the health risk, but about the risk to our business as well. When it comes to your business, now is the time to remain agile, learn from this specific experience and plan ahead to mitigate the challenges that come with any widespread health or economic scare, like coronavirus. We’re urging all Airpeachy students to stay on top of the latest health and safety protocols and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to your local authorities and governments. To help, we have blogged some strategies for Airbnb hosts during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Assess the Impact
Before taking action, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Your guests: Use upcoming reservation reports to determine if and when you might be expecting guests coming from areas indicated as high-risk by the (WHO). This way you’ll be able to prepare accordingly.
Your business metrics: Run analytics reports from your Airbnb host dashboard. You will then be able to see how your upcoming bookings and current occupancy levels compare to previous months. This will enable you to anticipate the financial impact and start planning to offset it.
Encourage New Bookings
As long as people are still traveling and they are, they’ll need places to stay. On the contrary, if your country is on lock down, people get stuck and cannot travel, they’ll need places to stay. There are a number of strategies you can employ to make your listings stand out from the competition.
Cancellation policies: Now is a good time to consider a more lenient cancellation policy. Possible guests will feel secure booking your property when they may be forced to cancel last minute.
Price optimisation: Use the Airbnb smart pricing tool to adjust prices. This may attract a different clientele, like local tourists, for example. If you don’t want to lower prices, another option is reducing your minimum stay requirements during gaps between bookings.
Marketing strategy: Double up on the pricing updates by changing your marketing tune in kind. Gear your language, attractions and listing information to local tourists. They may be more likely to seek out a staycation when traveling abroad feels intimidating. You may know someone who knows someone who’s had to cancel their holiday. These people who are disappointed by cancelled international holidays, can still spend a weekend as tourists in their country. Inspire them with local recommendations for great food and off-the-beaten-path ways to spend a weekend. It is also worth consider adjusting your listings to include some of the precautions you’re taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This can include things like more stringent cleaning procedures and hand sanitisers available for guest use.
Keep Ahead of Cancellations
Quick, personal and effective communication is the key here. We cover this strategy in huge detail as part of the Peachy Plus and Peachy Personal courses.
Update your guests: Much like the above marketing strategy, adopt a direct to guest contact strategy to keep concerns at bay. Make sure you directly let your future guests know about what you’re doing to prevent contagion. You might also want to direct them to official health information sources for your area. This will enable them to get their coronavirus news straight from the source, rather than from the media or socials. Finally, ask them if there’s anything more you can do to make them feel more comfortable. Keep all this communication efficient by using pre drafted message templates. If you are a Peachy Plus or Peachy Personal student, you get access to whole host of pre-drafted message templates.
Incentivise re-bookings: Some cancellations are inevitable and given the concern around coronavirus, most of those cancellations aren’t coming from flaky or otherwise undesirable guests. Consider changing up your cancellation message to be kind in regard to the situation. You can also encourage guests to book again in the future. You might even want to offer a discount to encourage a rebooking in the future. Everybody loves a discount and this is great was to keep your listing or your business, front of mind.
Optimize Operations for Health & Safety
From stocking up on cleaning products and disinfectants, to being mindful of guests showing signs of illness, you need to prepare your property and your processes, to minimise health risks.
Revamp your cleaning process: While you or your cleaning staff should already be doing a thorough job, make sure they’re taking extra care. This includes sterilising things that are easy to miss but often touched by guests like TV remotes, switches and doorknobs. Viruses can live on surfaces made from plastic and metal specifically, for up to 3 days. Furthermore and maybe when you normally otherwise wouldn’t, provide new sponges and soaps between each guest and ensure that all kitchen and dining wear are washed, not just the dirty ones.
Keep Owners in the Loop if Your’e Operating a Rent-to-Rent Strategy
Health scares are extremely stressful in their own right. When they impact your business, they’re even more so. Then when you have to answer to the owner of the property you are managing… its enough to tip you over the edge right? That stress can be tough to manage but manage it you must. The best thing you can do in times like these is to communicate openly.
Be transparent: Everyone is think about the impact of coronavirus and that includes the owner of your property. So instead of keeping them guessing, be extra communicative to show that you are being proactive and taking care of your business and their property.
Keep Calm and Plan Plan Plan
There’s nothing you can do to stop the outbreak or completely undo the coronavirus effect on the travel industry. Taking the extra steps outlined here, can help put your business in a much better position as the world weathers the storm.