The novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, is coming in full force. Technically, it’s already here. It should come as no surprise that millions of travelers across the globe are canceling their plans – both out of fear and because of legitimate, lawful restrictions.
There’s a lot of fear going around and for good reason, but there’s no reason to panic. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is that many, many people will feel some negative repercussions as the result of COVID-19 this year, especially the travel and hospitality industries.
As a vacation rental host, here are some facts about the current situation as well as a few tips on what you can do to weather the storm.
COVID-19’s Impact on Travel
As of now, main airline carriers in the United States, including Delta, American, and United have interrupted or completely suspended flights to and from countries hardest hit by the virus, including Italy, South Korea, and mainland China. Though these changes are not permanent, they clearly put a damper on travelers visiting the US from abroad.
Travelers from those same countries have been denied entry to dozens of other countries around the globe as the mass public deals with containing the outbreak.
Within the US, at the time of this writing, no travel restrictions are in place. However, as the virus continues to spread from state to state, that may change to help curb the spread of the virus. After the cancellation of SXSW in Austin last week, it’s likely that many more events will follow suit this spring. Unsurprisingly, guest cancellations will follow future event cancellations.
COVID-19 in California
As of Sunday, more than 110 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the state of California alone. Los Angeles County had, as of March 8, identified 14 cases of the coronavirus and the county and city officials have declared a state of emergency.
Most concerningly, workers from LAX International came into contact with a traveler who had the virus but was showing no symptoms. Due to the sheer size of the state and because of the density of metropolises like LA, state officials “have acknowledged that the spread of the virus is beyond their control,” according to the LA Times.
The important thing to remember is to not panic. Basic health and safety protocols like washing hands, keeping a safe distance of 3-6 feet from people you don’t know or who appear sick, and avoiding touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth – are all ways you and those around you can avoid contracting the virus.
Maintaining High Occupancy & Revenue
This year’s high season is likely to look more like a low season. While you can’t control what people do, you can control how you market your vacation rental. Here are a few tips for doing what you can to stay on top.
1. Publicize that you sanitize in your listing title.
Sanitizing is a big way public locales can protect visitors from contracting the COVID-19 virus because while we don’t know how long the virus can live on surfaces, according to the WHO, we do know that it seems to react similarly to sanitization the way other coronaviruses do – meaning it can be killed with a quick cleaning.
By reassuring your guests that your place is COVID-19 free from the get-go, they’re more likely to flock to your listing.
When we turn over your Airbnb after guests check out, we make sure to wipe down and clean every surface. You and your guests can rest assured that your place is a safe zone.
2. Adjust your cancellation policy.
Airbnb has already put a special COVID-19 cancellation policy in place for travelers going to or traveling from infected areas. That said, it makes you look better if you relax your cancellation policy and explain in your listing that you’re allowing flexible cancellations due to concerns surrounding the virus.
At the top of your listing description, write a sentence or two that explains you’re open to flexible cancellations because you understand your guests’ concerns about traveling during the COVID-19 outbreak. Put them at ease from the start.
3. Offer airport pickup as a safe add-on service.
Right now everyone is concerned about using public transportation because you just can’t be sure who’s been in the car, bus, or train and when it was last sanitized.
By offering your guests transport to and from the airport (for a fee!), you can guarantee their health safety. Of course, this means you need to take precautions and ensure your transportation is truly sanitized.
4. Consider adding an Airbnb Experience to your hosting lineup.
The beauty of offering experiences is that you can market to both local and out-of-town guests. While guests may be canceling their stays in Los Angeles and greater California, locals who are staying closer to home might be looking for ways to get out of the house.
Experiences can be confined to small groups which, due to how easily the virus can be passed in large groups, may be comforting to many experience guests. You can also advertise your experience on social media the same way you would your home listing and thanks to the robustness of advertising platforms like Facebook, you can target a very local market.
Don’t lose hope yet: There are still ways to keep your vacation rental business afloat during this season of uncertainty. Remember to stay calm and practice good health habits. As always, keep an open door communication policy with your guests. By following our tips, you’ll be more likely to keep your bookings up and cancellations down.
Find A Location Near Me