In the past few weeks, I've been talking a lot about Coronavirus and its implications for the STR and Vacation Rental industry. Now, that reality has set in. Many VRMs are shut down across the country, as Short-Term Rentals have been temporarily banned by local governments. Others are still operating, but have with more vacancies. Some rural VRMs are busier than ever with unexpected guest flocking from big cities. Regardless of what your scenario is, here are 12 ideas to use this extra time to stay proactive during Coronavirus.
1. Internet Speed Tests
Coronavirus is creating more demand for renters who are working-from-home and/or streaming video games and movies. Unless you have Bill and Karolyn Slowsky looking at your property(s), subpar internet speed will likely turn into a complaint, no repeat business, and/or a bad review.
Not to mention, guests are going out of their way to ask about proof of internet speed before committing weeks of their life to your property. Even if internet speed isn't something a guest is actively looking for in their booking process, it's likely something they will complain about after a few days into quarantine. Now is the time to be proactive, so you can potentially increase occupancy rates and prevent future headaches and bad ratings.
Consider using this extra time to check the internet speed at empty properties, using this free and fast tool. It only takes a few seconds of you or your cleaner's time to do. If the Internet Speed is fast, post the screenshot to your listings to set you apart from the competition and prove your claims about fast Wifi. If it’s not as fast, you can also be proactive and contact the internet provider to fix the issue.
2. Improve Your Booking Website or Start One
The big OTA's have shown their true colors during this crisis. When times get tough, guests will always come before the supply side. Now, is the perfect time to double down on owning direct relationships with your guests. Lodgify and MyVR are both great, easy options to setup your own booking sites.
3. Video Marketing for Your Properties' Cleanliness Standards
The next time your cleaner is at a property, you can take a video of your cleaner following all CDC Recommendations and post to Youtube with Narration. This is a great way to ease potential guests' minds to show them all the precautions you are taking and details your cleaners are trained to take care of. At the very least, it's a great excuse to review your cleaners' practices without insulting them.
4. Take advantage of Google and Facebook's Free Advertising Credits for SMBs
Here's a quick video I made explaining how you can take advantage of these programs (Ignore the last part about the upcoming webinar for now)
5. Be Extra Precautious About Partiers, Scammers and Squatters
What do you get when combine cheaper than normal STR prices, bored college/high school kids, and no public gathering spaces open? That's right. Underage Partiers. As unfortunate as that may sound, we all know how utterly careless and selfish teenagers can be. Now is prime time for a group of local kids to trash your property, spread the virus, or drive the neighbors crazy with loud music and underage drinking. No thank you.
Since lowering daily rates on my personal property due to CV cancellations, I’ve had 3 groups of locals under age 25 try to rent my house in the last week alone. No lie! It was shocking to me, but as it turns out, this type of behavior is cropping up right now,
One of our readers told us she helps combat this by requiring all renters who've booked the property within 24 hour notice to verify their identity on FaceTime holding their ID's. While this may sound a little extreme, it probably makes sense to do during this unique time.
6. Lock Up Extra Toilet Paper and Other Vital Supplies
In times like this, the bad parts of human nature can rear its ugly head. I've read stories about savage guests taking all the toilet paper in the house, and other supplies like soap and shampoo. Any extra supplies should be locked in a closet that only the cleaner and you can access. If you don't have a closet like this, you can turn any closet into a locked door with a lock like this
7. Schedule Deep Cleans for Your Cleaners
With so many cancelled bookings lately, many cleaners are really struggling. Typically cleaners are paid on a per-cleaning basis and don't have salaries to fall back on. Meanwhile, guests care about cleanliness more than ever before. See if your owners or friends want to deep clean their properties. It's a great way to keep your cleaners busy during this time too.
8. Preventive Maintenance
Another idea to stay proactive is to use any property vacancies to complete tasks like Replacing All the Air Filters or doing a preventive maintenance inspection on HVAC systems. Fresh, new air filters is also a nice little selling point at this time.
9. Update and Re-print Fresh House Manuals
Printed out House manuals are the best way to get guests to actually follow instructions. Online manuals, at best, are only read by the person who booked the house. For whatever reason, these booklets get destroyed by guests overtime - coffee spills, random crayon drawings, sentences crossed out - after a while it's not the perfect first impression you envisioned.
Fed-Ex Office can do a great job of printing out these manuals in a professional booklet. If you want a template for a house manual, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
10. Clear Out Clutter
Clutter accumulates from guests overtime. They buy things for the house, and the cleaner doesn't know if they should throw it away or not. After a while, it all adds up to bring the quality of the house down. Now is a great time to do a spring cleaning if the house is vacant.
11. Take Advantage of the Forgivable PPP Loans
I wrote an article here about why this is a no-brainer for businesses, self-employed and contractors affected financially by Coronavirus. Make sure to take advantage of this amazing program before funds run out.
12. Do a Deep Dive on Ways You Might Unknowingly Be Losing Money
On April 3rd 2020, I updated my Mini Course 5 Ways VRMs Unknowingly Lose Money with video, audio, and new content. During this challenging time, I'm giving it to my readers for free. I hope it helps you find some ways to improve your business!