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Plan, Don’t Panic: Strategies for Property Management Companies During the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 25, 2020 |
the coronavirus effect on the travel industry

With the short-term rental industry and travel businesses around the world already reporting losses since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s easy to get caught up worrying not just about the health risk, but about the business one as well.

We’re urging all Guesty users to stay on top of the latest health and safety protocols and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) in addition to local advisories. To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled a list of resources here.

When it comes to your business, now is the time to remain agile and plan ahead to mitigate the challenges that come with any widespread health scare, like coronavirus.

Assess the Impact

Before taking action, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Your guests: Use Reservation Reports to determine if and when you might be expecting guests coming from areas indicated as high-risk by the WHO. This way you’ll be able to prepare accordingly.

Your business metrics: Run Analytics Reports to see how your upcoming bookings and current occupancy levels compare to previous months, allowing you to anticipate the financial impact and start planning to offset it.

Encourage New Bookings

As long as people are still traveling — and they are — they’ll need places to stay. There are a number of strategies you can employ to make your listings stand out from the competition.

Cancellation policies: Now is a good time to consider a more lenient cancellation policy, so that travelers will feel secure booking your property when they may be forced to cancel last minute.

Price optimization: Use our Yield Management tool to adjust prices that may attract a different clientele, like local tourists, for example. If you don’t want to lower prices, another option is reducing your minimum stay requirements during gaps between bookings.

staycation
Marketing strategy: Double up on the pricing updates by changing your marketing tune in kind. Gear your language, attractions and listing information to local tourists, who may be more likely to seek out a staycation when traveling abroad feels intimidating. Travelers disappointed by canceled plans for international vacations can still spend a weekend as tourists in their own city or in a neighboring state; inspire them with luxurious amenities, recommendations for great food and off-the-beaten-path ways to spend a weekend. You might also consider adjusting your listings to include some of the precautions you’re taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus (i.e. more stringent cleaning procedures).

Keep Ahead of Cancellations

Quick, personal and effective communication is the key here.

Update your guests: To keep concerns at bay, be sure to let guests know about what you’re doing to prevent contagion. You might also want to direct them to official health information sources for your area, so they get their coronavirus news straight from the source, rather than from the media, family or friends. Finally, ask them if there’s anything more you can do to make them feel more comfortable. Keep all this communication efficient by using Auto-Messaging and saved replies.

Incentivize re-bookings: Some cancellations are inevitable and given the concern around coronavirus, most of those cancellations aren’t coming from flaky or otherwise undesirable guests. Consider changing up your cancellation message to encourage guests to book again in the future — you might even want to offer a discount or coupon to sweeten the deal.

Optimize Operations for Health & Safety

From stocking up on approved disinfectants to being mindful of guests showing signs of illness, you need to prepare your properties — and your processes — to minimize health risks.

cleaning supplies coronavirus

Re-vamp your cleaning process: While your cleaning staff should already be doing a thorough job, make sure they’re taking extra care to sterilize things that are easy to miss but often touched by guests — TV remotes, light switches, doorknobs, appliances, etc. Provide new sponges and soaps, ensure that all dishes (not just the dirty ones) are washed between guests and pay special attention to common areas in your properties.

Stay on top of tasks: With new steps added to the cleaning process, and perhaps additional cleaning inspections as well, you need to be auditing the changes and making the most of your Task Management for staff todos so nothing falls through the cracks.

Keep Owners in the Loop

Health scares are stressful in their own right, but when they impact your business and you have to answer to property owners, that stress can be tough to manage. The best thing you can do in times like these is to communicate openly.

Be transparent: Property owners are also thinking about the impact of coronavirus, so instead of keeping them guessing, be extra communicative to show that you are being proactive and taking care of the business. Give owners access to the Owners Portal so they can check in independently, and consider sending auto-messages for each new booking or sending regular reports.

Be prepared to re-evaluate your financial model: Depending on your situation, owners might be raising concerns about their margins. Review your financial data and be prepared with alternative short-and-mid-term business models that you can offer in the meantime.

Stay Calm & Plan

While there’s nothing you can do to stop the outbreak or completely undo the coronavirus effect on the travel industry, remember that taking the extra steps outlined here can help put your business in a much better position as the world weathers the storm.

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