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How to Optimize Your Short-Term Rental’s Bookings During the COVID-19 Crisis

by Kevin Kiene
Pandemic Vacation Rental COVID-19

During the global pandemic, it seems like everything is uncertain. If you’re managing a short-term rental property during COVID-19, you’ve likely felt this more acutely than you might with a long-term tenant. With “stay home” orders in place throughout the majority of the country and world, your bookings may have disappeared altogether, leaving you without an income to pay your property’s expenses. So, what to do?

While it’s true that there is a lot you can’t control, you can optimize your short-term rental bookings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Update Your Listing

As bookings drop, you need to adapt quickly. You must reread your listing carefully and even rewrite it altogether. Think of it as a property rebrand during the pandemic. Highlight what makes your property particularly attractive, and safe, to stay in during stay home orders are in place. Ask yourself, how easy will it be to comply with social distancing measures while staying there? Emphasize those points. Consider adding the following information, as applicable:

Make it clear the guest will have the entire home to him or herself Clearly state the increased cleaning and sanitization you’ve implemented Include keywords like no-contact or contact-free and adhere to them Highlight if you have parking since guests will typically be traveling via car rather than mass transit or ride-sharing services

Brand your property as the perfect “work from home” retreat, and make sure it’s true. Provide a comfortable work set-up with a desk, chair, and more Highlight the stable, high-speed WiFi (and ensure it’s genuinely stable and fast)Call out amenities like a top-of-the-line TV, streaming services, and more Provide accommodations for COVID-19 frontline responders

It’s also worth checking where your property is currently listed. Have you utilized all available platforms? Perhaps there are new ones since the last time you listed it? Maybe you’ve usually marketed your home as a vacation property, and now need to appeal to local corporate guests are you using the right website to reach those folks? Take some time to thoroughly audit where you’re listed and where you should be listed, and get your property on there. The more eyeballs, the better.

Adjust Your Settings

Now is not the time for weekend stays or quick turnover between guests—quite the opposite. You should change your booking settings to encourage and reward long-term stays of 30+ days. You can do this by discounting your rate for more extended stays and using your ad copy to highlight the benefits of staying in your property.

It’s also essential to change your cancelation policy. While you may typically have a strict cancellation policy, the coronavirus has changed everything, including that. During these uncertain times, plans can change without much notice at all, and if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we need to be adaptable. You should apply this adaptability to your rental property as well.

Change Your Cleaning Habits

Cleaning between guests is always important. Today, it’s vital. However, cleaning is not enough. It is imperative that you clean and then sanitize between guests. According to the CDC, someone can contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface. Viruses may live on surfaces for hours or even days, so you must clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially between reservations.

It’s crucial to recognize that soap and water is not disinfecting, and is not shown to kill the virus. You must sterilize adequately and safely, with chemicals between guests, as per the CDC recommendations.

You’ll also need to clean and sanitize items that may get overlooked during a routine cleaning, including:

  • Soft surfaces rugs, sofas, drapes, and other porous surfaces
  • Laundry baskets
  • Mattress covers

Improve Your Offerings

To increase the likelihood of a booking during the pandemic, you should improve your property’s offerings. What may have seemed a silly thing to include in your listing in the pre-pandemic days may just be what sets it apart today. Your property should provide the following staples:

  • Hand soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Disinfectants
  • Cleaning supplies

You may want to include other bonuses like tissues, paper towels, and more. It would also be wise to include the cleaning guidelines from the CDC to encourage your guests to sterilize at regular intervals.

Be Human

While renting your short-term property out during the pandemic is important and can make or break you financially, it’s important to remember that we are all human first. This is a trying time for all of us, so while frustrations are sure to come, it’s crucial to follow the following principles: be transparent, be communicative, be flexible, and be kind.

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