Why Travelers Are Turning to Vacation Home Rentals for a Safe Getaway This Summer
Hotels have borne a large share of the burden from COVID-19-related cancellations, but home rental companies like Airbnb and Vrbo are continuing to see bookings, driven by families desperate for a change of scenery after being stuck at home and groups looking to vacation together while remaining in a self-contained bubble.
The stays are getting longer.
Extended stays are becoming increasingly more popular, said Sean Breuner, the CEO of short-term rental company AvantStay, as COVID-19 has made working from home both easier and oftentimes a necessity.
“Usually we average about three to four days per stay and now that has increased dramatically,” he said. “You might see four couples get together to work from home in Scottsdale for a month at a time… people looking for control versus going to a hotel.”
A (Secluded) Home Away From Home Offers Unique Appeal
Hotels across the country and throughout the world have implemented social distancing and cleaning procedures to reassure guests. Marriott International, for example, will utilize technology like electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant. Hyatt will train a “Hygiene Manager” to oversee disinfection protocols, and Hilton will employ a “CleanStay Room Seal” to show the room has not been touched since it was last cleaned.
Staff said Getaway is inherently built for social distancing: you let yourself into the cabin, you don’t see a check-in desk, there is no restaurant. For now, the company is also limiting capacity to around 50 percent to ensure time can pass between guests leaving and staff entering.
New Vrbo Program Promises A Closer, Cleaner Vacation Rental
As the travel industry starts down a long road to recovery, companies are looking for new ways to reassure customers that their products are safe. Vrbo just introduced a new program to help its customers find a clean vacation rental closer to home. It includes cleanliness guidelines and new search filters that will guide customers to the right property.
New cleaning standards. These new guidelines combine information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Cristal International Standards. Homeowners and property managers now have “clear guidelines” for disinfecting high-touch surfaces, building in time between bookings to avoid back-to-back stays, and stocking antibacterial handwashes, cleaners and hand sanitizers for guests.
New property descriptions. Homeowners and property managers will be able to report if the property is being cleaned with disinfectant, if guests can check in and out without any person-to-person contact, and whether the property is unavailable for at least 24 hours between guests. Once property owners have supplied that information, Vrbo will add it to the property descriptions that travelers see on the site and app.
New search filters for flexibility and proximity. Vrbo’s internal polling suggests more than 75% of guests are more likely to choose accommodations with flexible cancellation policies when booking their next vacation home. So the company is adding new search filters that allow customers to find vacation homes that provide a full refund when canceling by a specific date. Vrbo will also highlight listings with the most relaxed cancellation policies, making it easier for people to find vacation homes that offer free cancellation closer to their check-in date. Vrbo is also adding a search function for proximity, so you can plan a driving vacation.
You’ve introduced some significant changes to your product today. What are you hoping to accomplish?
We know that when families decide they’re ready to travel again, they’re going to have new priorities when choosing a place to stay. Vacation homes already have the space and privacy away from crowds we know they’ll want, but there are other things we need to highlight for them, including cleanliness, flexibility, and places to stay close to home.
How to Turnover Your Vacation Rental Property
A fast turnover rate is valuable because more bookings equal more money. As a vacation rental owner, you want to organize your bookings to maximize profit. Organization and fast turnovers prepare your property for the next renter.
What Days Should Guests Checkout?
If you’ve vacationed before, guests are offered check-in and check-out dates. As the vacation rental owner, you have the power to decide what these dates are. This gives you the organization to schedule your turnover services, and prepare the rental.
Some rentals write, “Turnover any.” This means that guests have the power to pick any dates for check-in and check out. If you hire services with flexible schedules, you can also offer this. Keep in mind, that offering consistent dates makes managing your property and turnovers easier.
According to one article, the most popular booking dates are Saturday to Saturday. They found that 85% of renters left on Saturdays, making it the most popular turnover day.
Sunday follows with a 12% check out date. Friday was less popular at 2.2%. The rest of the weekdays tallied 1% as a check-in/check-out date.
Mistakes VRBO’s Often Make
Managing a vacation rental by owner property (VRBO) can be challenging.
There is so much involved in creating a profitable vacation rental business that getting it right from the start is tough — manageable but tough. It is more than learning from a few websites and hoping for the best; adopting a strategy for marketing and operating the business professionally from the outset can yield more income and occupancy than any ad-hoc approach.
Putting all your eggs in one basket
In an earlier blog post, one of the suggested mistakes was listing on too many sites. When I wrote that, there were dozens of wannabee listing sites vying to take business away from the fast-growing HomeAway family. Airbnb hadn’t appeared on the scene for whole-home rentals at that time. Since then, we’ve come full circle with HA and Airbnb dominating the market to the degree that many owners seem satisfied with listing with just one. I suggest you spread the risk by broadening a marketing strategy and of course, building a home site as well. There are a multitude of hyper-local listing sites popping up that could deliver quality reservations without the draconian measures the OTAs expect you to comply with.
Relying on listing sites alone
Following from #1, even if you decide to list on several sites, your property still becomes one of many – maybe thousands – competing for attention. The only way to stand out from the throngs is to create a website and use social media to drive traffic to it. It requires time and commitment but the results over time will speak for themselves.
Being unprepared for emergencies
A dripping tap might not rank highly as an emergency to you, but to a guest who has prepared for months for a much-longed-for vacation, it can be enough to tip them over the edge. And if it’s A/C or refrigeration that breaks down or a power outage in winter, lack of quick resolution can have severe repercussions. There are so many potential issues that can arise to disrupt a vacation, that not preparing for every eventuality is a huge mistake. Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it won’t next week
Tips for Renting a Vacation House
If you’re looking to rent a vacation home but don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Finding the perfect holiday getaway isn’t easy, but there are ways to set yourself apart from the herd and guarantee you get the residence you want without breaking your budget.
Start Your Search Early
Avoid some of the stress and excessive costs that can go with trying to secure a vacation home, particularly during peak season and on short notice, by thinking, researching and planning at least six months (but preferably a year) in advance. While this may seem excessive, keep in mind that vacation rentals – at least, the good ones—usually book up fast.
If you’re not sure where to start, your first goal should be to nail down your destination and the approximate timing of your trip. Once you’ve made these decisions, a real estate agent who specializes in your area can be helpful in finding a vacation home rental. Consider contacting popular brokerages that have a large presence or looking for individual agents that are known and respected in the area you are visiting.
Consult Multiple Sources
It’s very important to consult a variety of sources when vacation-house hunting. By shopping around and talking to many different people, you’ll not only learn more about the area you are visiting, but you may also find yourself a better deal. Leave your options open by talking to several real estate agents and consulting multiple websites.
Read the Whole Contract
Unfortunately, people are often so happy that they landed the vacation home they wanted and so eager to start having fun that they overlook the importance of the contract. But, this document should not be ignored. It explains what expenses you are on the hook for. It will outline not only your payment schedule but also your liability in case of damages or if extra cleaning is needed.