Like everything else that has been forced to adjust based on the COVID-19 pandemic, the vacation season will look different this year. Even with the vaccine rollout and dwindling cases, many people hoping to get away won’t be considering traditional vacation spots where there could be crowds—or chain hotels with high turnover rates. Instead, they’ll be looking for more isolated short-term rentals that allow them to truly relax and feel safe while still satisfying their love of travel.
That shift creates opportunities for property managers of short-term rentals to attract a wide array of guests who might have picked more conventional options in a more conventional year. However, that doesn’t mean property managers can just sit back and watch the guests roll in.
Even with rentals outperforming hotels, the pool of travelers this year will likely be smaller than normal, much like it was in 2020—and the competition will be fierce. If you’re a property manager, you need to prepare now to bring in tenants for the spring and summer holidays.
To do this, you’ll not only need to go the extra mile to keep vacationers safe, but you’ll also want to make sure potential renters can see the steps you’ve taken.
Getting Your Property Ready for the Vacation Season
Chances are, you’ve already implemented more stringent cleaning procedures and social distancing guidelines, but travel in 2021–especially in colder climates–will likely involve more time spent indoors. Here are a few extra steps you can take to help your renters have a happy and safe vacation:
- Update your welcome guides. It’s no longer enough to offer a list of local attractions and a stack of flyers to area restaurants. Today, guests want to know which of the local attractions will be safe to visit. Highlight stores and restaurants that support social distancing, masks, and reduced capacity. In addition, make special mention of any establishments that deliver.
- Upgrade your filters. With more time spent indoors, a germ-catching filter is more important than ever. Consider high-grade HVAC filters and HEPA air filters that can be placed near HVAC intakes to clean the air further—and be sure to change those filters regularly.
- Review your cleaning procedures. Are you using a tool like cleaning codes or cleaning checklists to make sure your staff members are still following COVID-19 safety and cleaning guidelines properly? Are there things you might need to change because of the warmer weather or the uptick in visitors? Don’t wait until the busy season is upon you to answer these questions.
Once you have everything ready for travelers, the next step is making sure that potential renters know all about it.
How to Compete for Bookings
When it comes to promoting pandemic preparedness, it’s essential not to be shy about it. Customer preferences have shifted, and you have to do what you can to show that your priorities have also changed. Here are three ways you can make your efforts clear to potential renters:
1. Make a Show of Your Cleaning Processes
Put a spotlight on your COVID-19 cleaning process to show vacationers precisely what you’ll do to keep them safe if they choose your property. Post lists detailing your process and the equipment you use—and include a few pictures and videos for good measure. You can even offer virtual tours of homes that show the cleaning and safety measures you’ve implemented specifically to deal with the realities of the coronavirus.
2. Promote Keyless Entry
Keyless entry methods enable you to offer remote check-in and check-out processes, removing the need for guests to interact closely with anyone beyond their bubble. The remote access feature of keyless entry also means that any work orders or maintenance requests can be handled while guests are not on-site, removing the risk factors of routine work during COVID-19.
3. Ramp Up Your Communication Efforts
A more proactive approach to communication can help reassure travelers that you have their best interests in mind. Have specific employees send texts to guests when they arrive, introducing themselves and letting renters know to come to them with questions. You also should make sure your team members are ready to answer all pandemic-related questions renters might ask. Have multiple communication methods available–email, chat, call, text–and reiterate that renters can reach out at any time.
The 2021 vacation season will be a crucial time for many short-term rentals. With traveling down and the future still uncertain, property managers must work hard to attract customers while keeping everyone safe and happy.
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com and the leader in enterprise property automation solutions for long-term and short-term managers of single-family and multifamily rental properties. Outside of having a lifelong passion for technology, Mr. Miller has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IoT/home automation technology.