These are tough times for us all. But tough times also present new opportunities and this blog is written to help you seize these opportunities.
Until just a few weeks ago, it was business as normal. Somehow, in those few short weeks, everything has changed for everyone in the travel industry, including vacation homeowners. We’re all grappling with how to keep each other safe, while adjusting to the new normal.
As the short-term rental industry navigates the impact of COVID-19 global pandemic, new strategies for overcoming the challenges of this period need to be developed. To help you, we’ve identified the main areas that you need to review in order to maintain business stability and longevity.
At a glance – the important actions you should take now:
- Diversify marketing channels
- Adjust listings to attract new audiences and emphasise key changes
- Discount long stays
- Change cancellation policy
- Improve communication – stay alert
Diversify your marketing channels
We might as well make most of the lull and make it work for us. Use this time to research and advertise on other listing sites. You could even use this time to make a start on becoming listing-site free!
This quiet period is a great time to concentrate on creating a website for your vacation home – or revamp your existing website, if you already have one.
You could design a newsletter to keep in touch with previous guests. Or advertise your home on social media. Test out different channels to see what works for your home.
Another option is to introduce a Groupon-style voucher for future bookings. Perhaps you could offer your guests the option to purchase $1,000 of future holiday credit for $500 (or whatever ratio you choose). This way, you can generate cash flow during these fallow months.
Update your listing to emphasise key changes
Take this downtime to update your listings and emphasise key changes. Don’t just update the content, but look at adding the key changes you’ve made in response to Coronavirus. Make sure these changes are reflected in your listing profile photos.
These changes will include: new rules for sanitising the property, plenty of toilet paper, masks provided, grocery shopping deliveries, fast WiFi, self-check-in, PlayStation and games provided. These aspects let guests know at a glance that they’ll be comfy for a long stay.
Highlight the features you already have in place for example self-check-in, thereby eliminating the need for unnecessary person-to-person contact.
Attract new vacation home audiences
New traveller demographics will emerge out of this mayhem and, as a host, you need to be able to pivot from your usual target audiences and appeal to these new types of travellers.
Four of the most common new guest types are listed here. Get a head start on these groups: they are your future guests.
- Stranded guests
- Work from homers
With cancelled international travel plans, domestic tourists are booking more staycations.
- Medical staff / Self-quarantiners
Local service providers and medical staff often require a place to stay while working so they can avoid cross-contamination with other family members.
Offer guests a flexible refund policy
It’s also worth considering making a change to a more flexible refund policy during these times of uncertainty. It’s a simple way to help guests feel happier and more confident when placing a booking. Guests want more protection.
Don’t forget to highlight this new flexibility in your listing profile picture. Once things go back to normal, you can always revert back to your standard cancellation policy.
Pricing your Orlando vacation home
Attracting shorter stays can be very challenging at a time like this. In Florida, the governor has said that stays must be longer than 30 days.
Be flexible and offer large, monthly discounts to attract monthly stays and keep occupancy up.
You may also need to look at heavily discounting your daily rates. For example, you could offer a special price for people on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, including doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
You may also attract people who need to book a place to stay for a 14-day quarantine by offering a discount.
Even thought things are quieter, you need to be checking your messages and listing sites regularly. Stay alert to messages and enquiries and attend to them as fast as you can.
This will give you an important edge over your competition. Things are moving fast for affected people and responding quickly may make all the different in securing the booking.
Do you best to remain in regular and frequent communication with guests – this is so important given how quickly things can change.
Don’t write off cancelled bookings!
Don’t forget to nurture your cancelled reservations. These guests wanted to stay; it is only circumstances keeping them away. At some point they will rebook – make sure it is with you!
Keep in touch with guests who have cancelled. The easy way to do this is to schedule an auto-message after reservation cancellations offering discounts for future stays. This helps to encourage the guest to book with you when they are ready.
Remember, this is a challenging time for everyone. Yet, during these quiet periods there is no better time to review your marketing strategy. Do it now and you will be ready for the inevitable upsurge when this is over.
White Rose Villas property management is on hand to help.
If you’d like any help or advice during this time, please contact our team.