If you’re an Airbnb host, we feel your pain. Cancellations are through the roof and it seems like there is no end in sight. Whether you’ve got a mortgage to pay, you’re doing rental arbitrage, or you rent out a room in your house for extra cash- hosts are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place.
So what should you do to survive the COVID-19 pandemic as a host and business owner? Here are 11 tips to point you in the right direction.
(1) Extend current guests
If you’re lucky enough to have a guest in one of your properties right now, consider reaching out to them and asking if they’d like to extend their stay. There is a good chance they may be unable to travel to wherever is “home” for them; perhaps because their hometown is more dangerous or maybe they’ve got elderly relatives and need separate living space to keep them safe.
There is no harm in asking a current guest if they’d like to extend their stay and you’re in a position to offer them a great deal. Combined with tip #8, these 2 tips alone could put you in good shape.
(2) Lower internal costs
Take a look at what you’re spending each month and try to trim the fat where it’s possible. Some ideas include:
- Cleaning your property yourself
- Temporarily unsubscribing to Cable TV or Netflix
- Cancel business subscription tools you aren’t using
- Pause offering “gift baskets” and instead leave cards for guests
The options will obviously depend on how you’re currently running your business, so give yourself a good audit and see where you can save. Having cash on hand is more important than ever and every dollar counts.
(3) Be more aggressive in your price structure
Under normal conditions we don’t hesitate to leave our property vacant until the last minute because high demand means someone will eventually scoop it up. But the demand isn’t there right now and won’t be for awhile.
As Sean put it, “It’s a mad grab for cash and it’s a desert out there.”
The competition is drastically lowering their prices and you need to do the same. Be willing to take any amount of money that will help cover your monthly expenses. It might feel absurd to accept $50/night when your typical rate is $150 but aggressive pricing may be the only thing that gets you booked. Now is the time to swallow your pride and lower your prices further than you have before.
(4) Get on multiple platforms
Take a look at your Airbnb performance here:
There’s a good chance that your “Visibility” has taken a nose dive. Less people are searching, less people are booking, and one way to get your property in front of more eyeballs is to sign up for other platforms.
This may not only help you in the short-term but also in the long-term. Why not start diversifying now?
(5) Book directly
The ultimate form of diversification is booking guests directly through your own website. Alternatively, you could push direct bookings through social media or other outlets you control.
The next time the you know what hits the fan, Airbnb won’t be able to hijack your cancellation policy if you’ve booked guests directly! This gives you control, power, and builds equity in your brand and business.
(6) Start Networking
Now is not the time to be shy. One of your friends on Facebook might know someone who needs somewhere to stay. There may be a neighbors group that can help you book your place. Pick up the phone and call people that might be able to point you in the right direction.
When combined with “booking direct” this presents a great opportunity to explore an avenue of marketing your property that you can use long after the Coronavirus debacle is gone.
Don’t be shy- ask for referrals!
(7) Get Creative – Try Voodoo
Okay, maybe don’t literally try Voodoo. But try something you may not normally try. Now is the time to get creative- what do you have to lose?
(8) Take Long-Term Guests
Airbnb hosts have enjoyed huge profit margins from short-term guests because these types of stays command a much larger price per night. However, right now it’s time to look for stability and taking less money for a long-term stay can help solve some of your problems – at least temporarily -kicking the can down the road and buying you time to solve more problems (with suggestions from this list!).
Use this as a time to check your maximum stay length to ensure you’re accepting guests with long-term stays.
(9) Prepare to Host Healthcare Professionals
If you want to host healthcare professionals through Airbnb you’ll need to agree to their terms due to the increase risk exposure to COVID-19. If you’re not afraid to try something new- this is one of your opportunities.
You’ll need to improve your cleaning list to meet their COVID-19 cleaning standards and we recommend going above and beyond: buy one of these High Capacity Ozone generators.
These devices will not only purify and deodorize rooms in your property but they also help to kill germs. Run this for several hours after a guest (but before the cleaners arrive) to protect yourself, your guests, and your cleaners. Adding this to your process gives you the opportunity to show guests you’re doing all you can to keep them safe and healthy in this difficult time.
(10) Renegotiate Rents & Mortgages
Everyone is in a difficult spot right now. Renters, owners, landlords, hosts, banks- you name it. This is an opportunity to negotiate.
- If you’re renting, ask your landlord for half rent for several months or to defer a few months of rent until the end of the term
- If you have a mortgage, ask for forebearance (pause payments)
- Get creative and see tip #7
The worst that can happen is people can say “no” but if you don’t ask you won’t receive. People are willing to budge. Be brave enough to ask.
(11) Don’t Give Up!
You got this far- why give up now?
The folks who double down on their investments with even more energy and better work ethic will prevail. When it’s all said and done it will put you in even better position among your competition when global travel comes back.
Have other tips?
Let us know in the comments!