As a vacation rental owner, a global crisis can hit your business like a sledgehammer, leaving you scratching your head in anxiety wondering whether you’ll be able to pay your bills. For vacation rental owners with units listed on several listing sites like Airbnb, coronavirus has all but destroyed your revenue. But there are still ways to generate revenue, and there’s still hope.
Even if your property is usually used for leisure and vacation, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make the most of it during a crisis like this. Not to mention, people are still in need of lodging right now. There are always alternative ways to generate revenue with your short-term rental property so that when the crisis ends, you can pick up where you left off and go back to vacation rentals.
Most of these options aren’t as profitable as vacation rentals once were, but they’ll prevent the needle of your business from dropping down to zero.
So let’s take a look:
Transitioning to Mid-term rentals
The most natural jump from short-term rentals is into mid-term rentals. As you may know, these are rentals that host guests for 30 days or more, but not necessarily lasting years as long-term rentals do.
This is a good option for those who aren’t ready to sign on tenants for contracts lasting years, especially if you’re still hopeful for a turnaround when the pandemic is over.
Mid-term rentals (MTRs) are a good sweet spot – you can’t charge as much as for short-term rentals, but you can still charge a good 25-30% more than you would with a long-term rental. The goal in the current climate is to at least break even, or cut your losses as much as possible.
However, in MTRs, your responsibilities are more similar to those of an LTR landlord. Make sure to pay attention to whatever laws your county is implementing regarding rentals during the crisis.
So who can you house in MTR right now?
Offering Student Housing
As universities are closing, many students have been kicked out of their dorm rooms and need a temporary place to stay. Students aren’t difficult to please and don’t need anything fancy – just a furnished home with wifi.
Most of the time, their budgets will be fairly limited, so if you have a large, luxury unit or multi-family home, this may not be the best target market for you.
If you live in a college town, contact the housing departments of your local universities to see how you can help them house displaced students.
Hosting Travel Nurses
With a shortage of masks and protective gear, healthcare workers around the nation are getting sick and need to be quarantined. In response, hospitals are hiring travel nurses from around the country, and they all need housing.
Travel nurses usually will stay 1-4 months and have varying housing stipends which are generally higher than students. They’ll either be housed by the travel nurse staffing agency that’s hiring them, or they’ll receive a stipend and be able to choose a property themselves.
The Short-Term Rental Profit Academy recently released a Coronavirus Survival Kit that includes templates for emails you can send to travel nurse staffing companies offering them your unit.
You can also change the headlines on your listings to mention that you aren’t hosting travelers but that you’re specifically housing travel nurses.
And Other Isolated Healthcare Workers
Another profile that needs housing is local healthcare workers who need to live away from their families in order not to put them at risk. They know the area and don’t need to be sold on any tourism, they just need a comfortable place to sleep with amenities that’s either close to the hospital or close to their family home – or both.
You can contact your local hospitals to inform them that you have housing available for these heroes. This option should keep your listing booked at least throughout the crisis.
Targeting People “Sheltering in Place”
The majority of counties across the nation have now been ordered to shelter in place. Which leaves people who are not in their home state or city without housing.
You may still be able to find them on Airbnb or the regular vacation rental platforms since many of them won’t know where else to look for temporary housing.
What to Watch Out for
Many counties across the US are implementing laws regarding rentals – in many states, occupancy with more than 2 people is now temporarily illegal and considered dangerous. Be careful who you let in and be sure to vet them. For instance, a group of 5-6 unrelated people can be dangerous and we wouldn’t recommend to accept them.
Make sure you’re up-to-date and aware of all the laws being set in place.
Websites Other Than Airbnb
Some of the people mentioned above will check Airbnb or the regular vacation rental platforms, but not all of them. You’ll have to find other ways to promote your listing and spread the word. Some places you can list your mid-term rental on are:
Your Own Vacation Rental Website
Having your own vacation rental website is one of the best ways to reach potential guests/tenants. You can re-optimize the website to target the audience you’re trying to reach. We’ve learned, through this crisis, that we can’t be dependent on only listing sites.
If you don’t have your vacation rental website yet, use tools like Lodgify to create one that looks less like a vacation rental and more like housing for displaced people or healthcare workers.
Craigslist is a classic channel for posting property that many people still use. This may work better for long-term rentals than short-term rentals, but it’s best to try to put your listing on as many channels as possible to up your chances of getting it booked.
This website is for mid to long-term rentals worldwide and is a great place to list your property if you’ve decided to pivot to mid-term rentals. Their booking fee, however, is pretty big – at around 25% of one month of rent (minimum of €150 and capped at €250). They only charge you once, though – not every month.
Stay creative and positive during the crisis
This pandemic has not only affected all of our businesses, but it’s taken a toll on everyone’s emotions and health. But it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for you or your business. Try to stay positive, keep speaking to your community, and try alternative ways to generate revenue with your vacation rental property until this all blows over.
About the author:
Get Paid For Your Pad is a blog, podcast and book by Jasper Ribbers that teaches people how to start and grow a short-term rental business. He covers topics such as getting better reviews, more bookings, pricing, and staying in business during a crisis.
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