March 25, 2020
The Future of the Vacation Rental Industry
While the vacation rental industry has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, now is the time for us to stay calm, thoroughly assess the situation, accept uncertainty, and do our best to plan for the future. Based on recent events, there a few things we can expect and considerations to keep in mind moving forward.
First, we would like to give a big thank you to the Vacation Rental Management Association, VRMIntel, and all the vacation rental industry professionals who have been willing to open up and share how they are dealing with recent events.
The information below was compiled from articles on VRMIntel’s website and panel discussions that have taken place over the last few weeks.
Staying in Touch with Stakeholders is More Important than Ever
Employees, homeowners, and guests around the world are feeling uncertain. It is very important to keep them updated about what’s going on, even if the news isn’t all positive. Consider creating a page on your website dedicated to the pandemic and sending out regular weekly updates and more recent notifications as needed. Professionally respond to all reviews, positive and negative. Don’t get behind on this.
Travel & Leisure Restrictions Will Continue to Evolve
Across the world, federal and local governments have been issuing new restrictions daily. Restrictions include the closing of beaches, restaurants, amusement parks, non-essential travel restrictions, non-essential business closings, shelter-in-place mandates, and more. Here is a list of some of the most recent updates. Consider searching your state or province and city along with the word “coronavirus” to find up to date information about your area.
Working from Home is the New Norm
Because of all the new restrictions, people are working from home in record-breaking numbers. If your city hasn’t already required or asked residents to work from home, expect it to happen soon. To help prepare and deal with these changes, view strategies to manage your newly remove employees.
If you haven’t already, be sure to purchase laptops, headsets, VPN, software subscriptions, and any other items your employees will need to work from home.
Financial Help is Coming
Although your revenue forecast could be temporarily looking bleak, resources are out there. Today the White House and Senate agreed on a 2 trillion dollar stimulus deal.
Also, the US Chamber of Commerce recently created a coronavirus resource list.
Hope for the Best AND Be Realistic
Although we all prefer to stay positive, it is important to be realistic and create a few plans based on whether restrictions last only a few more weeks, 30 days, 90 days, and beyond. Either way, revenue will likely be down this season. It’s time to make adjustments as needed.
Analyze Your Profit & Loss Statement
Examine every line item on your profit and loss statement to decide whether each item is something you need to operate. Look at your payroll and get creative. Retraining staff in a few months could prove more costly than the short-term relief of layoffs. Consider furloughs and temporary salary reductions as layoff alternatives.
Pandemic Cancellation Policies for Vacation Rentals
It is also important to re-examine your cancellation policies. Most of us have never dealt with a health crisis like this. Holding tight to your cancellation policies could hurt more than help your business long term.
Work with Your Local Representatives
If you are not sure what’s going on in your city or state, find out today and advocate for your business and community.
View the congressional letter written by the VRMA.
Use this Time Wisely
Catch up on the projects you’ve been putting off. Rewrite your property descriptions, update your website, update SOPs, thoroughly clean all units, and prepare for when travel restrictions begin to ease up.
Should We Take Reservations?
While we are all uncertain how long restrictions will last, many property managers are taking reservations, but with the caveat that cancellation fees will be waived for the next 30 to 90 days or more depending on your local area.
Rethink Your Target Market
While both beach and mountain markets typically cater to an older demographic, those who are over 65 or have underlying health conditions may think twice about traveling until we have a vaccine which could be 18 months from now. If that is the case, it might be beneficial to rethink your marketing and consider targeting younger guests.
Stay Positive and Take Care of Yourself
You, your staff, your homeowners, and your guests are facing a lot of change and uncertainty in your personal and professional lives. While it is always good advice, be extra patient with each other, eat well, exercise, rest, and take a break when you need it.
With careful planning, we will all get through this. Our team hopes you find this information helpful. As always, reach out if there’s anything we can do to assist during this challenging time. We wish you and your family continued health and success.