The coronavirus crisis has resulted in lost earnings for vacation property owners worldwide. However, many countries are slowly opening up and ending their lockdowns. Are you ready for the post-COVID-19 Era?
1. Get ready for an upsurge in bookings
After being trapped indoors for many months, people from all around the world will be eager to spread their wings and travel. Tourists who have delayed their vacation plans will be rushing to book before the end of the summer season or for a late vacation in the fall. So, compared to normal years, expect an increase in demand for vacation properties in the usual shoulder season and even offseason.
The following year may prove to be the busiest ever. Because many people have lost out on the opportunity to travel this year, they’ll have twice as much to spend in 2021. And the fact that many people have been forced to spend so long inside the four walls of their own home will mean that they’ll be looking to go further, spend longer, and do more on vacation than in previous years. You must do what you can to earn a share of this boost in vacation spending.
2. Invest in automation and web presence
When things get busy post-COVID-19, you’re going to be rushed off your feet. Consider investing in new vacation rental software to streamline your operation. The right software will help you manage your bookings and payments for all your vacation rentals.
A well-designed website will increase your proportion of direct bookings so that you save on commissions. Your website should include an integrated booking system enabling guests to book directly with you. It should also empower you to securely accept worldwide currencies and easily take credit card payments.
Use your website to highlight how clean and safe your rentals are, as well as highlight the wonderful attractions and activities available near your vacation rentals. Even if people visiting your website decide to stay in a hotel or guesthouse instead of in one of your vacation rentals, it can still benefit you. If they read about local tips on your website and you have a strong visual brand, they will remember your business in the future. Also, the more tourists that crowd into your area, the fewer rooms will be available in hotels, and the more other visitors will be pushed toward your vacation rentals.
While you’re waiting for the lockdown to end, do some networking in your area. Approach the websites of local attractions and offer to exchange links. In this way, a visitor to your website will see that there is, for example, a water park near you and see a link on your page. But a visitor to the water park’s website will see information about local accommodations linked to your website. It’s good to have friends with benefits in the tourism industry.
3. Use this time to prepare
While waiting for the world to re-open, why not take the opportunity to improve your properties so they are more attractive to potential guests? Since you cannot currently take in guests, this is a perfect opportunity to upgrade your vacation properties.
A fresh lick of paint can dramatically improve the look of your vacation rentals. Then you can take new photographs to show the world how beautiful your vacation rentals now look.
In some cases, you may wish to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms to ensure your ratings on listing sites stay high. Of course, you should first do any major repairs that you’ve been putting off for years because you always had guests in residence.
Take the time to research your competitors. Are they offering anything you’re not? For example, beach vacation properties often come supplied with beach chairs, umbrellas, and beach toys like stand-up paddleboards and beach balls. If every other property in the area is offering something simple like a fruit basket or free tickets to a local attraction, you might be missing out on bookings.
4. Ensure you have the right connections
After escaping their isolation, many people who have never before booked a vacation rental will be looking to do so for the first time. With no prior experience of booking a vacation rental, they will inevitably head for the famous, big-name companies everyone knows.
Although you make more money on bookings made directly on your website without third party commissions, you cannot afford to ignore the big players in the vacation business, such as Vrbo, Airbnb, and Booking.com. Also, some countries or popular tourist areas have local tourism bureaus or private websites commonly used by visitors to book vacation rentals.
The best vacation rental software will include a channel manager that enables you to control calendars, reservations, and rates while syncing with third party booking websites.
5. Stay on top of payments
Post-COVID-19, finances are going to be tight for many people, including some of your guests. Some people will have experienced a drop in income and used up their savings. For this reason, it’s important to protect yourself from potential financial loss where guests no longer have the funds they claim.
Ensure you take steps to protect yourself. In the past, you may have avoided taking large deposits because you were worried about putting off potential guests. However, when you find yourself turning people away because all your vacation rentals are booked, it’s time to take bigger deposits and credit card details.
Make paying as easy as possible for potential customers through your website. A good-quality booking software will enable you to take credit card payments as part of the vacation rental booking system.
About the author
Robert Baker is a blogger and a travel writer for many years and has been providing destination guides and recommendations to places he has been.