Travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the Coronavirus have started impacting the vacation rental and short-term rental market. But as this unparalleled global pandemic grows, more owners and property managers think of creative ways to stay afloat by reinventing their businesses and/or targeting new audiences.
If travelers before the outbreak were seeking adventures as far from home as possible, travelers nowadays are looking to stay safe and stay as close to home as possible.
Traveler types to target during the crisis:
To tackle the coronavirus epidemic, vacation rental professionals should consider moving away from their normal target audiences to accommodate the new kinds of travelers that are emerging from this crisis.
Here are the most popular travelers types you should consider targeting during these difficult times:
1. Health personnel
Some travel nurses, specialized doctors and members of the emergency staff require clean and comfortable accommodations so they can be close to their patients and distance from their families for safety reasons.
2. Guests who are looking to “self-quarantine”
Apart from health personnel, there are other “frontliners” or professionals that are putting themselves on the line to safeguard the community that needs a place to stay during the crisis or need to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to their homes.
3. Stranded tourists
Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, some travelers have been left stranded without enough notice to change their itineraries. Some may have even decided to delay their trip back home until it’s a lot safer to travel. These types of guests would require to stay at flexible accommodations for an unspecified amount of time.
4. Travelers looking to escape the big cities
According to research from AirDNA, travelers from the U.S. are fleeing the big cities to rural, such as cabins and cottages or coastal areas to practice social distancing. Some of the most popular destinations are Boulder, Colorado and Upstate New York.
These types of travelers are looking for rentals with bigger spaces, greenery and a change of scenery so they can “shelter in place.”
5. Domestic travelers & Staycationers
Roughly 73% of March Airbnb revenue was made outside of large urban centers and domestic travelers are booking more staycations. They may be looking for a vacation rental for social distancing but they may also be using it as an excuse to celebrate special events like anniversaries or birthdays.
Check out our article “How to market your vacation rental to domestic travelers” to find out how to adapt and alter your marketing strategy to attract these types of guests.
6. Remote workers
As companies across the globe are encouraging people to work from home, some employees may not have the ideal set up for it. Individual professionals and firms are searching for work-from-home solutions that will allow for flexibility as well as self-isolation.
How to cater to these new types of travelers
In order to attract these kinds of travelers, you will have to alter your existing strategy to make sure their self-quarantine stay goes smoothly.
Optimize your website and listing descriptions
All of the new kinds of travelers that we’ve mentioned earlier are looking to stay somewhere safer and “better” than their existing properties. Be sure to highlight all of the amenities and services you offer, as well as your location. Don’t forget to include if your property is located near a pharmacy or grocery store!
Offer to stock your self-quarantine rental with all the essentials
In addition to your regular amenities and services, you can offer a grocery shopping service to stock up with food supplies needed for a 14-day stay. These types of travelers will need to stock up anyway, so they might be interested in paying extra to have this covered.
Some essentials you can purchase in advance for them are:
- Cleaning supplies: laundry detergents, disinfectants that have qualified for use against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, etc.
- Kitchen amenities: coffee, kettles, non-perishable food like pasta, rice and canned goods, detergents and paper towels, etc.
- Bathroom amenities: toilet paper, towels, toothpaste, shampoo, first aid kits, etc.
- Bedroom amenities: extra blankets and pillows
- Fast and reliable WiFi connection, cable tv or streaming services
You can also leave a map of the city and mark the nearest clinics or hospitals in case any of your guests start feeling unwell.
Keep it fun
Provide your guests with some additional games and activities to make their stay as comfortable as possible since they’ll be spending a lot of time at your rental. Provide them with some board games, DVDs, colored pencils, books, and if you have a pool or backyard, provide lawn chairs or inflatables.
Support local businesses
Restaurants, local shops, and cultural centers near to your property are likely struggling greatly from the travel downturn and health and safety regulations. Not only will you be helping them out, but they will also help you offer new services to your new guests. Get in touch with them and see if they’re interested in being in your entertainment plan: live-streaming yoga sessions, painting kits, wine tasting and more!
Upgrade your software & technology
If you still don’t have a vacation rental website, now’s the perfect time to invest in your business and get the extra exposure from users searching for your vacation rental online to beat the extra charges from OTA fees. We’ve learned, through this crisis, that we can’t be dependent on only listing sites.
In addition to optimizing your website, consider implementing smart home apps and gadgets that allow you to practice social distancing and minimize the need for human interaction. You can introduce tools like smart locks and keyless services to allow guests to check-in without having to meet you face-to-face or automatic messaging so queries from all guests are addressed instantly.
Who are you going to cater to?
It doesn’t require much time or energy to implement these tips into your vacation rental business. Highlighting your property’s best amenities and features and making guests feel welcomed and safe will help you stay afloat!
DISCLAIMER: We’re not encouraging owners or property managers to recklessly invite or entice guests to travel where there are risks. These tips are simply recommendations and should not be regarded as official guidelines. We recommend to listen to local announcements and visit the World Health Organization’s website to stay updated on the necessary precautions you should take to protect your business.