Coronavirus has upended the travel industry and forced the short-term rental community to consider creative, new ways to maintain business stability. While the challenges are certainly very real, our industry is young, agile, and full of innovators and big thinkers. So, while short-term property management companies have been among the businesses hardest hit, they are also among the best-positioned to bounce back.
This post is designed to give property managers valuable resources that enable them to adapt in unprecedented times. Read on for the 5 most important steps you should be taking to navigate COVID-19.
1) Stay Informed
As with any major world event — especially those that are cause for concern — misinformation spreads quickly. While all of us are tempted to scroll through social media and current events blogs at times like these, you should be getting your information from more reliable sources. Follow the latest health and safety updates from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, as well as your local regulatory body. Take your cues on everything from your own health and that of your team to cleaning supplies for your properties exclusively from credible sources like these.
For news about the short-term rental industry in particular, check out some of the following resources:
- Airbnb’s Help Center
- Booking.com’s Help Center
- Skift’s coronavirus liveblog
- Guesty’s COVID-19 Infocenter
2) Prioritize Flexibility
While it’s tempting to stick to “tried and true” methods when you’re under stress, now is the time to revisit everything from your pricing strategy to your tech stack to your operational protocols. Remember that being able to adapt quickly is the key to coming out on top during times of great change. Be open to introducing a more lenient cancellation policy; read through past reviews to determine areas for improvement that you may now have a chance to focus on; consider using any downtime to research and invest in new tools that might help your business, such as keyless entry or other home automation options that eliminate human contact.
These days, property management companies have so many ways to communicate with current and future guests. Everything from your automated messages to your marketing strategy and social media presence present opportunities to reach out. Use your communication tools to let upcoming guests know about the health and safety precautions you’re taking or that you offer complimentary grocery delivery. You can also reach out to reassure them that you’re there for any questions or concerns they might have in light of the uncertain times.
Now is also your chance to update your listings. To make them stand out, explain why your properties are perfectly suited to guests looking for a self-isolation rental (e.g. fast WiFi, gym equipment, fully stocked kitchen). You should also be using social media to advertise any special rates and to show off improvements you’ve made to your units via photos or video tours. As people are spending long hours at home, they are inevitably online more — make sure potential guests hear from you across channels. This way, as they plan their first trip post-lockdown, your properties will be at the top of their list.
4) Empathy is the New Currency
More than anything else, keep in mind that everyone is a bit anxious right now. If guests are more demanding than usual, or if they have requests that you wouldn’t normally help with, do your best to be patient and think of creative solutions to ensure their needs are met. You might even spend some time brainstorming likely scenarios you’ll encounter — such as stranded travelers who need flexibility around check-out, or guests who need assistance finding healthcare for tourists. While it may be a bit difficult to upgrade your service in the short-term, your guests will remember you for your empathy and your kindness, and you’ll see that reflected in their glowing reviews.
Remember that your partners in guest experience — the restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions near your rentals — are struggling too. If you’re in a position to do so, consider buying giftcards that you can then hand out as perks to guests, or set-up food delivery partnerships to help alleviate some of the financial strain. If that’s not possible right now, there are other ways to help — for example, promote these businesses on your social channels to give them some extra visibility when they need it most.
Guesty is the leading, end-to-end short-term rental property management platform that streamlines and automates the complex operational needs that property managers face on a daily basis – from guest communication to task assignment to payment processing. With Guesty, property managers save time so they can focus on what matters most: growing their business.