The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 virus is concerning for short-term rental managers running their businesses and has caused a massive disruption in the hospitality and travel industry as a whole. With travel restrictions and quarantine measures in effect across the globe, we are witnessing a decrease in travel and property occupancy levels.
We at Kigo® want to do our part to help you stay as informed as possible regarding this virus. The following post provides some tips that can be put into action quickly to make your business more manageable during the situation.
Enhance Your Cleaning & Maintenance Operations to Maintain a Sanitary Environment, and Don’t Forget to Let Your Guests Know
Although your cleaning staff may already be doing a great job, make sure they're taking extra precautions when sanitizing and disinfecting the entire home, including doorknobs, remotes, light switches and appliances. And don't hesitate to offer extras like hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes to show guests you truly care about keeping them healthy. If you have been thinking about updating your property, now would be a good time to improve the quality of your rental as well.
Don't forget to proactively post on your website and social channels that you are taking these extra precautions. You'll be building both your current and potential guests' confidence.
Be More Flexible with Your Cancellation Policies & Offer Discounts
Given the concern around the Coronavirus, you may have a lot of cancellations coming through. Offer more flexible cancellation policies so that the guest knows you provide great customer service. You could also provide a promo code for a discount as an incentive if they decide to rebook in the future. If you have a social media presence, try posting a unique promo code to all your followers and then track the bookings related to that code to see if you get a boost in guest stays.
Stay Up-to-Date with OTA Partner Policies
- For those bookings not coming directly through your website, make sure you and your guests are updated on the most recent channel-specific policies. These policies are constantly changing as the COVID-19 situation evolves, so be sure you are regularly checking the links below.
- AirBnB® has implemented their “extenuating circumstances” policy: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2701/coronavirus-information-and-extenuating-circumstances-policy
- Booking.com® has issued “force majeure” guidance here: https://partner.booking.com/en-gb/help/legal-security/important-information-regarding-coronavirus
- VRBO®/HomeAway® has issued guidance on cancellations here: https://www.homeaway.com/discoveryhub OR https://help.vrbo.com
Optimize your Website & Channel Property Listing Content to Improve Visibility
Use downtime to update your website and channel property content with a few best practices to help you rank higher on both Google® and the OTAs, resulting in more bookings.
- Maintain detailed, up-to-date property content, which includes headlines, descriptions and photos. Make sure the photos are well-lit and high resolution.
- If you don't already have one, create your own website to allow customers to book direct. That way you won't have to pay channel commissions or fees, especially when it comes to repeat bookings.
- Invest in SEO to ensure your properties are ranking the highest that they can on Google by using relevant keywords and content on your website.
- Social media is another way a property can maintain a digital presence. For example, running contests on Instagram® that reward travelers for posting photos of your property is a great way to increase visibility.
At Kigo, we are committed to supporting our short-term rental owners and managers in every way we can so that they can dedicate their time to what matters most during these uncertain times. We will continue to provide updates and useful information on our website, sharing industry best practices and resources that can help you manage your business throughout this situation.
Start our free trial and see how Kigo’s short-term and vacation rental software can help you save time and increase your bookings!
On Tuesday, March 31, join Kigo’s Daniel Bowen and RealPage’s Jay Parsons for the live webcast COVID-19: Impact on Short-Term Rentals. You can register here.