Business AspectsVacation Rental Owners

How to Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings

After the onset of COVID-19, the world around us has been locked up. Governments all over the world have put restrictions of various kinds. All this is being done to protect the people from catching the disease and stopping the Pandemic. This will have a lasting effect on the entire tourism industry.

People have become extremely cautious about where they go, what they eat, and where they stay. Further, it has taken a huge toll on the world economy. Some experts have accepted that the recession is unavoidable, while some still haven’t given any conclusive opinion. However, it is clear that the economy will take a long time to regain growth.

Tourism is an industry that does well in a booming economy. People increase leisure spending because they work hard and need time off. Also, they have money in spare to spend on such luxuries. After the Pandemic, the savings have depleted drastically. People are finding it difficult to make ends meet. So, leisure spending is expected to reduce. This will directly impact Vacation Rental bookings.

In such times, Vacation Rental owners can take a few steps to keep their business afloat. So let’s look into these steps and find out what would be the best course of action.

Reassure your target audience

Many industries are trying to bring back the faith people had before the spread of the virus. Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber,  are sharing the safety measures they are undertaking for the customers. They are creating awareness campaigns to make customers more sensitive to safety. Vacation Rental owners also need to do the same.

Convey to your target audience that your property is safe for their stay. You have taken measures such as installing sanitizing booths and are disinfecting the property regularly. Update your website and listings with videos and images of the process. This will regenerate faith among prospective customers.

It will get even more competitive because the entire industry is struggling. So to stay relevant, you have to reassure the faith of your target audience.

Most of the times, the Vacation Rental properties are booked by the high-income group people. These people will not face a financial crisis, as bad as the lower-income strata. Therefore, once the faith is redeveloped, these will be the first people to restart bookings.

So without losing hope, start with reassurances.

Broaden your target audience

Vacation Rental is, at the end of the day, a place of stay used by travelers. It is not always the case that these are located in remote tourist destinations. At times, some are located in hustling and bustling cities. These are close to commercial districts. If that is the case with your property, make use of the same.

Attract travelers traveling for work. You may redevelop some parts of the rental property into a conference room or an office space. This will allow work travelers to pick up your place. The post-pandemic economy will demand greater marketing and sales efforts in all industries. This will bring many work travelers to your property because other properties will also be booked.

Therefore, updating listings accordingly can help you in targeting a more frequent audience than focussing on any particular niche.

Something is better than nothing

Pricing will also be a key driver for bookings. You need to understand that without taking any bookings, you will still be incurring losses. Those properties which are partially rented might not depend highly on rental income. However, properties meant completely for rentals will face the cringe. Owners of such properties depend mostly on the rental income.

Therefore, fully-rental property owners should look at the pricing very seriously. They need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. This will help them in understanding the minimum price they should charge to break-even. Comparing it with the pricing of competitors will help in deciding whether they need to reduce the price or not.

Lower prices combined with safety measures can attract many people wishing to take a break. Lockdown around the world has been highly depressing. People will want to have a relaxing time that they can afford, to get over the hangover of COVID-19. If your property meets such criteria, you will be able to get a higher number of bookings.

However, incurring a loss will be very difficult. So do not go into heavy discounting. Only reduce your margins so that you don’t go into debt.

Be Innovative

It might be possible that earlier you were renting your property only to a single family when you can accommodate more. So it will be helpful to convert your property into a shared property. But do not abuse this option. Post the pandemic, people are very particular about social distancing. So don’t overcrowd the place.

However, shared accommodation will help in reducing your dependency on one single booking, make the bookings more affordable, might even increase the aggregate income. Therefore, this will help in getting you more bookings and breaking-even, even if you don’t make a profit.

If you have a big property, and you have enough saved up, it is a good time to invest in smart-property technology. This will be a one-time investment, but it will bring you to cost savings in the form of energy-saving and manpower cost reductions. Further, it will be aligned with the social distancing requirement of the post-pandemic world. Lower the number of people employed, lesser are the chances of transmission of COVID-19.

This is also a good marketing point for reassuring safety measures, so it is equivalent to killing two birds with one stone. On the other hand, you can increase your bookings by digital handshake.

Local Campaigns

Let us face it, foreign travel will be limited. Even domestic travel will be lower. People might not want to risk it if they don’t think it is necessary. If that is the case then, It would be advantageous to market your property locally.

People have stayed in their homes for a long time. They have been tired of doing the home chores. They need a break. However, they don’t want to travel too far. You can target such people and make them spend some time at your property. This will help them relax and take the break they so desire.

Increase your listings

Most of the smaller properties are listed on one or two listing portals only. This is done because it is easier to manage lesser listings. However, in post-pandemic circumstances, it will be helpful to have your property listed on several different portals.

There are several different software and integrating websites that can help you in managing multiple listings for a subscription fee. So see if these costs are affordable it could be advantageous to increase your listings.

You may do the same manually also, but then you will have to be highly organized. Here you will save some costs. So decide what works best for you.

Give your target audience a greater flexibility

If you have a very strict cancellation policy, none of your prospective customers would book your property. This is so because we live in uncertain times. We don’t know what will happen in the next hour. Bookings are always made in advance, so if the prospective customer doesn’t have the flexibility to cancel any time, they might not consider your property. On the other hand, if they do get such flexibility, they would prefer your property to your competitor’s

Further, a reduction in the minimum night stay would also bring them flexibility. Drawing on the same logic of uncertainty, a guest might have to leave early. Give them a free cancellation or a concessional one so that they are not burdened. This will bring you a good review and keep the ball rolling.

This too shall pass

We know that this is a phase. Till the time there is no vaccine for the virus, people are scared. Once the vaccine is discovered, people will start going back to their normal behavior. Even economically, once the vaccine is discovered, the industries will pick up as demand for goods and services increases.

Vacation rental owners should, therefore, be calm in such times because, in a matter of a few years, the economy will recover. Therefore, the owners need to be far-sighted and plan for the next few years.

Based on this plan for the upcoming few years, owners should come up with the new pricing and innovations. Once this phase is over, gradually the pricing can return to the normal levels.

So these are a few ways of increasing the vacation rental bookings in these uncertain times post the COVID-19. It is a phase that will come to an end and you are not in this alone. We all are in the same boat. There can be many other ways of increasing bookings, so be innovative. Find out what works for your property in particular.

Customer satisfaction matters a lot more at such times. Be flexible and make attempts to reassure your target audience that you are taking the necessary steps for their safety. Once the things pick up again, your property will become profitable again. You only have to sustain till then and do your best to not let it fall apart.

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