Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Feeling Invisible? Here’s How to Manage Multiple Airbnb Listings for Increased Visibility

Airbnb owner on her cell phone

As COVID-19 slowly loosens its grip on our society, Airbnb’s popularity is reemerging from the ashes. 

While the company saw a 72% drop in its services at the height of the pandemic, Airbnb is now seeing an increase in bookings once more, thanks to significant restructuring.

With this post-pandemic growth, short-term rental landlords are now looking at ways to optimize their vacation rental business to take advantage of the boom. And, more importantly, stand out from the competition. 

One of these techniques is using multiple Airbnb accounts for your various properties, as we’ll see in this article. Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind, but the strategy proves to be a great way to show up more in Airbnb’s search results, increase your property’s visibility, attract more guests, and secure more bookings.

Let’s take a closer look.

Can I Have Multiple Airbnb Accounts?

You may be thinking, “Is it even legal to list the same property on multiple Airbnb accounts?” After all, you don’t want to go against any of Airbnb’s rules and regulations and risk getting banned altogether. The company can track single IP addresses or cross-reference your contact information to prevent its users from having  multiple accounts

Since they do regularly crackdown on users trying to flood Airbnb listings with the same property, we advise against it. However, if you have multiple properties, then you can have a different account for each different property. 

While it is a lot more work, it can be alright if you are operating an Airbnb business with different properties in vastly different areas. We’ll explain why you might do that in a bit. 

Of course, if you don’t want to deal with multiple accounts for your listings, consider posting your properties on multiple platforms instead of just Airbnb. There are plenty of other options today like VRBO, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor. You can even try social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to expand your reach.

Next up, let’s explore the situations where you can have multiple Airbnb accounts. 

When Should I Have Multiple Airbnb Accounts?

As we said, Airbnb doesn’t allow users to manage multiple accounts for the same listings. Although, managing multiple accounts for other situations can be beneficial for your short-term rental properties. Keep in mind, this advice is for people with multiple properties.

Now, here are a few reasons why you might need multiple Airbnb accounts, you can:

  • Have separate accounts for the properties that are in different locations. They’ll have unique addresses that will help potential guests see that your rentals are in a specific area, rather than thinking you’re spread across multiple locations (and might not have expertise in the local area). Plus, if you have Superhost status and get a bad review on a different property, it won’t affect your status on your other accounts.
  • Have separate accounts if you’re running a property management company. This way, your team can oversee several properties across the Airbnb platform. You can have one account for guest bookings and another for hosting services, although this might complicate things for your team.

As you can see, there are some cases where you have multiple Airbnb accounts. But, make sure that you are always following the rules on the platform, so you don’t get banned and miss out on additional income. 

How Can I Manage Multiple Airbnb Accounts?

Now, managing multiple Airbnb accounts isn’t easy. You’ll have to figure out a way to do the following across different accounts, logging in and out of each profile to:

  • Stay on top of your messages and communication with guests
  • Update your calendar to avoid double-bookings
  • Change your prices, post new information, or pick new photos for your listings

It’s a lot to do, but you can use smart tools to streamline daily property management operations and control the many aspects of your short-term rental business. 

Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Hire a property management company to handle properties on your behalf. Get in touch with us if your short-term rental properties are in the Metro Detroit area!
  • Use a vacation rental software solution like AirGMS to automate operations.
  • Bring in a co-host to double your workforce and combine Airbnb techniques.

Follow these tips to help you take care of multiple Airbnb accounts and lessen your chances of going against Airbnb’s rules. Additionally, having a property management company or co-host means you’ll be logging in to Airbnb via different IP addresses, which helps your case.

Level Up Your Airbnb Strategy

Take the time to consider whether you can manage different Airbnb accounts and if it makes sense for your portfolio of short-term rentals. The better you plan for it, the greater the chances of your properties ranking higher in Airbnb’s search results—being more visible to potential guests.

Once everything is running smoothly, you can sit back, relax, and watch your bookings increase alongside Airbnb’s post-pandemic revival. 

Got any thoughts on this listing strategy? Comment down below, and let’s get a conversation going.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Encourage Repeat Guests for Your Short-Term Rental

Investing in rental properties is one of the best ways to build wealth. That said, the market is getting increasingly competitive, especially when it comes to short-term rentals (STRs). 

While the STR industry took a hit during the height of the pandemic, research showed that many guests stayed longer in vacation rentals to fully take advantage of the work-from-home situation, and data forecasts expect the industry to resume its year-on-year growth starting September 2021.

Given the situation, STR owners like yourself need to grab the opportunity to attract repeat customers to grow with the market. For long-term rentals (LTRs), you only have to find a good tenant once a year. With STRs, however, repeat business is the only way to gain strong cash flow and secure business continuity.

As the industry resumes its annual growth, you need all the tips and tricks you can get to encourage repeat guests and remain competitive against other STRs, hotels, and home-sharing services. 

Here are a couple of ways to do precisely that.

Target Business Travelers

With COVID-19 slowly letting go and businesses restarting regular operations, a large portion of your guests will be business travelers visiting the area for work and extending their stay for leisure. In the industry, this is called ‘bleisure’ or ‘bizcation’ tourism

There are several ways to target business travelers, and these are some of them:

  • Promote a Work-Conducive Space: Apart from fast Wi-Fi connection and a proper desk, you can invest in a few essential devices that make your rental work-friendly. This includes a phone line, personal printer, and even a laptop. The more work-conducive it is, the more your guest will feel comfortable enough to extend their stay.
  • Promote Convenience with High-Quality Service: You’re competing with hotels that pamper their business guests. So, meet them head-to-head with convenience and good service to earn repeat customers. For example, provide quality bedding and branded toiletries. 

And since hotels offer concierges, it’s also worthwhile to provide daily housekeeping services to your guests. The absence of these amenities may not bother backpackers and frugal tourists, but it may very well be a deal-breaker for busy business travelers.   

  • Promote Easy Access to Event Locations: Business travelers look for an accommodation close to their meeting locations. You won’t be able to move your property closer to their venues, but you can certainly offer ease of transportation and accessible parking facilities.

If most of your guests don’t have a car (and won’t rent one either), consider partnering with a cab company to have pick-and-drop services included in your business traveler package.

Think of the things business travelers will prioritize and try to include them in your package. Remember that they’re working out-of-office and will gladly enjoy luxurious convenience.

Start a Referral Program

One great way to attract repeat business is by word-of-mouth referrals. To encourage this marketing strategy, start incentive-based referral programs for the highest chance of guests recommending your short-term rental to friends and business associates. 

Here are two of the many types of referral programs you can run:

  • Friend Referral Discounts: You can reward or provide discounts to customers who bring in more business. For example, offer guests a free night’s stay if they give you two weekend bookings by referring your rental to their friends and colleagues. 
  • Discounts and Rewards for Repeat Stays: You can also offer reasonable rewards and discounts to repeat guests to encourage them to return. If their experience with you is fantastic, there’s no reason why they’ll waste the opportunity.

Take inspiration from Airbnb’s Referrals 2.0 program as well. The platform got people to send customized altruistic invitations to their Gmail contacts, giving their friends a discount to travel. The email says something like “gives your friends $25 to travel!” which motivated people to refer Airbnb to their friends.

The program was so successful, it drove Airbnb’s first-time bookings by 900% year-on-year growth, and daily bookings and signups increased by 300%. When done right, Airbnb proved that referral programs could bring in guests and generate a lot of profits.

Promote Upgrades to Past Guests

Of course, you need to stay in touch and follow up with your past guests to keep them interested. There are two effective ways for you to retap past guests: 

  • Constantly Update Your Listing: Did you install new upgrades, features, or have new amenities for guests to enjoy? Whenever you add or improve things in your short-term rental, update your listing right away and update your previous occupants of the new changes.
  • Respond to Negative Reviews: Negative reviews aren’t so bad if you can use them as insights to improve your offer. Any pain points your guests experience are opportunities for you to improve according to their expectations. 

So, encourage all guests to leave feedback and respond to their concerns. Being proactive will also boost your referral program, as guests will undoubtedly recognize your willingness to give them the best experience.

From a business standpoint, it’s much easier to gain back previous guests than earn new ones. Therefore, identify and focus on the factors that will encourage guests to book with you again—and make sure that they hear about your upgrades. 

Focus on Guest Experience

Aside from providing guests with a clean and comfortable place to stay in, add small details that will enhance their experience with your short-term rental. Here are a few examples:

  • Detailed Welcome Packet: Ensure that your guests feel welcomed as soon as they enter the short-term rental. You want them to know how much you care about their stay.

For example, prepare a welcome packet or gift with all they need to know about the rental (e.g., Wi-Fi passwords and technical instructions) and throw in some pleasantries (e.g., free sunscreen or some chocolates) to welcome them in.

  • Send “Thank You” Notes After Their Stay: In the same way, make your guests feel appreciated once they end their stay. Give them something to remember you by even when they’ve moved on. 

For example, give them a hand-written thank you note, personalized thank you email, or even a small gift (possibly in exchange for feedback, too). As they say, how you end is as important as how you began!

At the end of the day, no amount of features or discounts can beat an amazing experience. So focus on providing your guests with the most memorable stay to have the highest chance of getting them back.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to encourage repeat guests. You’ll need to be persistent in figuring out which combination of strategies works best for your particular short-term rental. So, to get the ball rolling, try attracting business travelers, starting a referral program, promoting upgrades to past guests, and focusing on giving the best guest experience ever.

Before you know it, you’ll be fully booked with a long line of guests just waiting for the opportunity to book your place again!

Any other tips we’ve missed? What strategy works best for your short-term rental?

Image courtesy of Dan Gold

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Best Practices to Optimize Your Airbnb Listing

Wondering why your short-term rental on Airbnb isn’t performing as well as you hoped? 

You might think real estate knowledge is all you need to run a successful Airbnb, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The secret to having a highly-ranked listing and generating traffic on Airbnb is to use marketing skills, rather than real estate know-how.

But it’s not just about creating impressive listings with all the best features and amenities—you need to know how to rank well in search results. By doing so, more potential guests see your listing, and it’ll land you more bookings. And we all know more bookings mean higher profits.

So, to help you in this daunting task, we’ve listed the top ways to optimize your vacation rentals on Airbnb below. Use these ranking optimization techniques to get more people to choose your short-term rental units and see real results.

Tips for Higher Airbnb Ranking

In general, Airbnb recognizes good listings and rewards them with a higher search ranking. Airbnb does this because it wants the users (i.e. your guests) to have the best customer experience on their platform. After all, if they saw a dark basement suite with 2 stars review first, it wouldn’t reflect well on their own brand image.

As a host, your goal is to check off as much of these things as possible to have Airbnb rank your listing higher:

  • Ask for Positive Reviews: According to Airbnb host Nick Child’s data experiment, the average Guest Satisfaction score that shows up on the first page of search is a whopping 83.7%. This means that the more positive reviews you get, the more visible your rental will be.

So, provide your guests with the best experience and encourage them to leave a review after their stay. You want to have as many 5-star ratings as possible to appear on top.

  • Use Instant Book: Instant Book is a feature Airbnb has been pushing to make booking faster and easier for guests. More importantly, Airbnb confirmed that Instant Book is part of their search algorithm, and 50% of its bookings are via this channel.

Additionally, the Instant Book filter might be turned on by default for most guests. With the filter activated, guests will only see the listings that have Instant Book turned on. In other words, your rental might not show up if guests don’t turn off their Instant Book filter.

  • Respond Quickly: You’ll need to have a 90% or higher response rate to use Instant Book. This means that responding within 24 hours or less will boost your search ranking on the platform.
  • Hasten the Booking Process: Since Airbnb prioritizes ease and speed of booking, you should also gain their favor. The faster it is for a guest to finalize a booking with you, the more priority you’ll get on Airbnb’s search algorithm.

If you’re not sure how efficient your process is, evaluate how long it takes for you to finalize booking with a prospect. If they ask a lot of questions and can’t complete the booking within 24 hours, you need to improve your listing and hasten the process.

Improving your listing by adding all features and amenities offered (e.g., wifi, Netflix, cable, water heaters, etc.). That way you’ll reduce the time spent answering potential client clarifications.

  • Keep Booking Commitments: Because Airbnb prioritizes reliable hosts, you should only accept bookings you can commit to.b Every time you cancel or reject guests, Airbnb will see you as an unreliable host, decreasing your visibility on search pages.

One important thing is to ensure that your listing has all the details and considerations listed. That way, the only guests who’ll book with you are the one who agrees to your terms. It’ll be easier for you to accept them since expectations are all met.

  • Update Your Calendar Regularly: Airbnb checks if you’re updating your calendar regularly because they want guests to have an easy time booking a place. Don’t miss bookings when your unit is available, and remember to update it right away when a booking is confirmed.
  • Post Shareable Photos: We all know that good photos attract guests, but what you might not know is how important shareable images are—the types that guests can send to their friends before booking. The more they share your photos, the higher traffic you’ll get, which results in Airbnb prioritizing your listing on search.

Post photos that highlight the features of your listing, photos that aptly describe the place, and ultimately, have the highest chance of being added to the Wishlist feature or shared on social media.

Issues that Lower Your Airbnb Ranking

In contrast, Airbnb also sees “bad listings” and tries their best not to show these to their audience. Moreover, Airbnb also has some features that, when ignored, will lower your search visibility.

Make sure that you don’t do these things, or else you’re jeopardizing your ranking and preventing yourself from attracting guests:

  • Booking Cancellations & Rejections: As we said already, Airbnb wants to prioritize reliable hosts. This is the reason why they’re constantly pushing hosts to achieve the Superhost designation, and will deprioritize any hosts who have a high cancellation rate.

It’s difficult to stop guests from canceling. However, by updating your calendar and including all important details in your listing upfront, you can significantly reduce the chances of guests canceling a booking due to a myriad of reasons.

You also need to make sure you’re not rejecting guests because it will also make your rank go down. Every action you take on Airbnb factors is tracked and being factored into your performance.

  • Extra Charges: Extra service fees and additional security deposits will affect the amount of traffic your listing receives—especially if you’re charging more than other hosts. Once your booking rates drop, your search ranking will fall with it.
  • Too Strict: Flexibility is another factor to consider. While you might want to limit a guest’s stay to just a few days, like the weekend or weekdays, that excludes a lot of people. If you’re more flexible, you’ll appear in more searches. 

Summary

Use all our tips and tricks to optimize your short-term rental listing on Airbnb and help you generate more profits. When you’re a stellar host, your guests will thank you and appreciate it. While some see Airbnb as a means to make money, it’s also a way to provide others a lovely place to stay and create lasting memories when they visit.

Remember that it all boils down to providing a great experience for your guests. Impress them, and you’ll have plenty of people hoping to stay with you. 

Any other tips we’ve missed? Drop us a comment below on what’s worked for you with your Airbnb listing! 

Image courtesy of Andrea Davis

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

What to Do if You Have Negative Past Reviews?

The internet is full of critics, so it’s no surprise if you’ve got a couple of negative reviews for your short-term rental. This can feel like a low blow, especially if you’re doing everything you can to please your guests.

You might also experience more negative feedback if you’re catering to a higher-end clientele. They often have higher standards (the towels aren’t white enough! The oysters aren’t fresh!) and are, unfortunately, more vocal about it, as well.

However, a bad review is not the end of the world! What’s crucial is your response. Look at these as an opportunity to prove critics wrong, by showing them how good your customer service actually is. 

Here are some tips on how to handle negative reviews.

Calm Down Before Reacting

If a bad review gets you emotional, calm down first. Any rash reactions might “prove” the negative review right and scare potential guests away—whether your reply is posted publicly, or directly to the guest. Calming down will also allow you to strategically decide what course of action will give you the most positive result.

For STRs listed on Airbnb, here’s a technique: If you already suspect that your current guest will give you a negative review, remember that the review won’t be published until after two weeks, or after both of you submit reviews of each other. 

You won’t be able to read their review until it’s published, but you can delay it. Either skip your review entirely or wait until the two weeks is up before submitting your review. This will help because the reviews are posted in order of rental dates. By delaying a potentially negative review for two weeks, you give yourself time to get positive reviews from more recent guests—effectively pushing the negative review down the timeline.

Communicate and Apologize

Once you’ve calmed down, contact the guest directly. Though you can’t change the review they posted, at least you can show that you’re concerned about giving your guests the best experience. 

Offer your apologies and ask if there’s anything you can do to address the issues. In many cases, their reactions are due to a simple misunderstanding, which should be easy to resolve. 

Remember that most complaints are not a personal attack—it’s all just business, at the end of the day. But if the reviews are getting personal (and are justified), then take them as critiques for your own improvement. 

If the reviews are unjustifiable and/or unreasonable, then maybe the guest was just having a bad day. It still won’t hurt to offer a sincere apology, as hospitality is your job as an STR host. 

Keep Future Guests in Mind

Remember that all posts are public. Reviews that are posted on your listing can be seen by anybody on the internet. Even private reviews or responses can spread like wildfire to the guests’ circle of influence. 

So, when you’re replying to negative reviews, keep your future guests in mind. Your response should “reverse” or lessen the severity of the negative review, undoing the damage done to your reputation.

Keep your replies short and professional. Avoid being defensive or putting the blame on the guests, as these will only make you look hot-headed and immature. You want to show future guests that you’re an owner who’s mature, objective, and won’t lash out like a teenager if there’s a complaint. State facts, instead of feelings—explaining your side in the most objective way possible, without attacking the guest in any way.

These tips should help you handle any negative reviews you might encounter. However, it’s much better to avoid getting bad reviews in the first place. 

Take note of past complaints, and address those before accepting new guests. Are they upset because of a misleading description? Uncomfortable beds or faulty appliances? Lack of cleanliness or WiFi? You can significantly improve your services just by listening to your guests!

Steps to Remember:

  1. Breathe, calm down, and don’t take it personally.
  2. Think of the best strategy to handle the situation. Sometimes, this means ignoring a review—but only when the review is obviously biased or inaccurate. 
  3. Communicate directly and professionally with the guest.

Most people just want to know that they’re being heard. So, when you receive a negative review, assess the situation properly. Take all reasonable feedback as a chance to improve, and take all unreasonable complaints as a chance to show great hospitality and customer service—the real product you’re selling!

What’s your experience with getting bad reviews for your STR? Any tips for how to manage negative reviews? 

Image courtesy of Michael Burrows

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Diversify Your Short-Term Rental Portfolio

Investing in short-term rentals (STRs) requires you to apply one of the main two schools of thought that exist when it comes to real estate investing in general:

  • Diversifying: Balancing risk and reward by spreading out investments across varied property types, locations, classes, and strategies.
  • Specializing: Focusing on investing in the same property type—repeating what you’ve found successful without spreading your resources too thin.

Both strategies are valid approaches to grow your portfolio. One focuses on horizontal expansion, while the other does it vertically. While investors tend to stick with one over the other, there is a way to have a hybrid—focusing on STR investments across different locations but keeping just to one specific asset class. Doing this can help you mitigate risks while focusing on one property type of your choice.

Before you set out to diversify your short-term rental portfolio, let’s look at the benefits of this approach.

Why You Need to Diversify Your STR Portfolio

There are two primary reasons why you need to diversify your STR portfolio: 

  1. To remain resilient in the market, especially with the unique rhythm of vacation rentals. Compared to long-term rentals that give consistent income year on year, the income generation of STRs is highly dependent on the season, the location, and their respective peak times.

A lake house will attract more guests in the summer, a log cabin near a ski resort will be profitable in the winter, and homes near Disneyland will be in high demand during school vacations.

  1. To meet the rising post-pandemic demand, where travelers are now seeking alternative accommodations to minimize human interaction and maximize flexibility.

In fact, the bookings’ reservation volume this year is now 400% higher than 2020 and 50% higher than 2019. With this increase in demand comes higher prices as well, where STRs are charging 20% more than they did last year.

As an STR investor, you want to protect your portfolio and capitalize on the growing demand—expanding your coverage to include rentals in other locations and of different class levels.

How to Diversify Your STR Portfolio

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits, let’s look at two ways you can diversify your portfolio. One way to diversify is opting to have STRs in multiple locations, which can bring more stability to your investments.

Diversifying By Geographical Location

While the STR demand in one city might be booming, another might be slowing down. By having investments in different locations, you can take advantage of a market’s natural ups and downs for a more stable and consistent revenue flow.

For example, take a look at how Big Bear Lake, South Lake Tahoe, Gulf Shores, and Sedona performed vastly differently over a two year period (thanks to seasonal demand, among other factors):

Source: AirDNA

If you have STRs in only one market, the success of your investments will completely be at the mercy of that market’s performance. Instead, consider spreading your investments across different geographical locations, so you’re not vulnerable to the same risks simultaneously.

In choosing where to spread your investments, AirDNA shares a list of different markets that covers the key factors of a successful STR investment:

  • Growing rental demand: Where the annual occupancy of rentals and listing growth rates are increasing. A good number means the STR and travel demand in the market is healthy.
  • Financial viability: Where you compare the home value to the average income of other STRs in the area (e.g., Airbnbs) to evaluate the rent-to-price ratio. The rule of thumb is to make sure that the monthly rent you can charge is at least 1% of the purchase price.
  • Increasing revenue growth: Where the income earned from STRs increases over time. You can calculate this by looking at the year-on-year change of revenue per available room (RevPAR) for the rentals that were booked in both time periods.

Here are some locations to consider, based on AirDNA’s top performers for these metrics:

Source: AirDNA

Diversifying By Asset Class

Generally, real estate asset classes are divided into four letter grades: A, B, C, and D. While these scores refer to property condition and neighborhood livability, it also describes the type of guests or tenants you’ll attract:

  • Class A properties: These are the most expensive and best-maintained homes in the market. They attract guests and tenants who can afford to live in luxury and enjoy the special features available in the property.
  • Class B properties: These are slightly smaller and more affordable than class A properties, but are still well-maintained. They attract those who want a pleasant place to stay without spending too much money.
  • Class C properties: These are reasonably maintained and decent homes. When times are tough, guests and tenants who used to stay in class A or B options might opt for class C instead.
  • Class D properties: These are older homes in areas that guests find less favorable to stay in. Aside from being in a more dangerous neighborhood, class D homes are likely far from shopping areas or grocery stores. Typically, they don’t make profitable STRs.

There are specific asset types to consider for Airbnbs as well. Properties are not divided into the same letter grades, but are categorized according to the type of guests they’ll attract:

  • Unique Stays: These are unusual but beautiful places to stay for a vacation. Whether it’s a yurt in the woods or a houseboat in a scenic lake, unique stays will attract guests looking to splurge on an adventure.
  • Entire Place: These are typically whole houses where guests have complete privacy to enjoy amenities and other activities exclusively.

Since these can be the likes of single-family homes, you can keep the letter grades in mind to diversify your “entire place” offers.

  • Private Room: These are single rooms in a bigger property. These listings attract guests who have no problem with shared spaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Travelers passing through the city or students on a budget tend to choose these.
  • Shared Room: These are similar to private rooms, except the guest can have another person sharing the room with them. These options often attract guests who are younger and more budget-conscious, like backpackers. 

The list is not exhaustive, but it shows how STRs are attractive to guests with varying budgets. Based on how guests generally respond to economic changes, it’s safe to assume that higher-class or luxurious properties would fare better in good economic times, while lower-class or budget ones will become necessary in tougher times.

The bottom line is you should consider the guests’ needs and preferences to diversify your STR portfolio and remain profitable in all parts of the market cycle.

Conclusion

The goal is to diversify your STR portfolio to appeal to a broader base, creating more stable revenue streams in your investment model. Doing so will help you weather market cycles and peak seasons, helping you meet the increasing demand for STRs in the post-pandemic world.

Any other tips on how to diversify a portfolio that’s focused on STR investments?

Image courtesy of Alexandr Podvalny

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Cleaning Checklist for Every Short-Term Rental Landlord

Image Courtesy of Tirachard Kumtanom

End of stay cleaning can be frustrating for short term rental owners, especially those who manage their properties themselves. It turns out that “clean” is very subjective—what’s clean for one guest is a pigsty for another. And if they’re unhappy with the cleanliness of your property, chances are they’ll be vocal about it in the review they leave you on Airbnb.

To avoid wondering whether the property is clean enough to satisfy even the most particular guests, it’s crucial for landlords to have a cleaning checklist. A cleaning checklist doesn’t only help make sure your property is well-maintained and sparkling clean for the next guest – it also helps you stay on top of any issues or damages that outgoing guests may have caused.

Plus, if you’re hiring professional cleaners, the checklist can serve as a guideline for them to use when cleaning your properties, making sure they’re cleaned to the same high standard for every turnover.

Not sure how to start your checklist?

We’ve put together a general cleaning step-by-step guide that you can alter to fit your needs.

Bathrooms

  1. Clean:
    • Mirrors 
    • Windows
    • Floors and tile walls
    • Wastebaskets (don’t forget to put extra trash bags inside)
  2. Clean and sanitize:
    • Toilet
  3. Clean, sanitize, and scrub:
    • Showers
    • Bathtubs
    • Vanity sinks
    • Backsplashes 
  4. Refill toiletries:
    • Handsoap
    • 2 rolls of toilet paper
    • Makeup wipes or tissue wipes
  5. Replace with clean items:
    • 1 hand towel
    • 1 washcloth
    • 1 bath towel per guest
    • 1 shower mat per bathroom
    • Shower curtain liners (optional)
  6. Check if sinks, tubs, toilets, and faucets are running properly.

Pro tip: We recommend that you tackle one room at a time so you won’t miss out on any of these tasks.

Bedrooms

  1. Change sheets, blankets, and pillowcases.
  2. Vacuum floors, including under the beds.
  3. Check drawers, tables, and closets for personal belongings.
  4. Clean the mirror and windows and dust the furniture.
  5. Check for stains and wear and tear on the sheets and pillowcases.

Pro tip: One cleaning trick is to close the door of the room that you’ve just finished cleaning–this way, you’ll know which rooms still need cleaning and which you’ve already done. Plus, it will stop any wandering pets or people from going inside and messing up the beautiful work you’ve just finished.

Living Room

  1. Clean, dust, and vacuum the entire area.
  2. Dust:
    1. Furniture
    2. Picture frames
    3. Decorations on display
    4. Lamps
  3. Vacuum carpets or wash the floors with specialty cleaners.
  4. Place 2 standard pillows and 1 clean blanket for the sofa bed.
  5. Place the remotes, welcome packet, and other welcome items for the new guest in an easy-to-locate spot (like the center of the coffee table).

Pro tip: When wiping and dusting, the dirt will naturally fall to the lower furniture and the floor. Thus, it’s best to start cleaning from the top and work your way down to the floor.

Kitchen

  1. Clean:
    1. Counters and countertops
    2. Chairs and tables
    3. Sinks and backsplashes
    4. Glass doors and windows (if any)
    5. Appliance exteriors, including the coffee maker and toaster crumb tray (also check if they still work or are malfunctioning in any way)
    6. Inside and outside the refrigerator (and throw away any leftover food)
  2. Empty:
    1. Dishwasher and replace items in the cupboard
    2. Ice tray
  3. Sweep and mop the floor.
  4. Supply:
    1. 2 clean dish towels
    2. New dishrag, sponge, and soap
    3. 2 trash bags
    4. 1 roll of paper towels
    5. 2 dishwashing pods

Pro tip: Start cleaning at the area furthest from the door, and then work your way towards the doorway—this way, you avoid stepping on wet floors and dirtying them again on your way out of the kitchen.

Before Locking Up

  1. Turn off all lights and unplug appliances (except for the refrigerator, aircon, and TV).
  2. Set the thermostat to a temperature that doesn’t keep the unit running.
  3. Place patio sets and other outdoor items inside or in a covered storage area.
  4. Place trash bins by the road.
  5. Ensure that all doors are locked to prevent break-ins.
  6. Make sure cleaning supplies are well stocked.

Deep cleaning

  1. Clean:
    1. Exterior and interior of cabinets
    2. Lamp, lampshades, chrome fixtures, and display items
    3. Stovetop and range hood (and replace filters if necessary)
    4. Dishwasher
    5. Behind and under appliances and furniture
    6. Walls, baseboards, moldings, and tiles (and remove markings, if any)
    7. Door frames, switchplates, and other woodwork (remove any fingerprints or other marks)
    8. Windowsills, ledges, blinds, ceiling and electric fans
  2. Vacuum cushions and upholstered furniture.
  3. Deep sanitize sinks, countertops, and appliances (including oven and microwave).
  4. Wash windows and glass doors.
  5. Change air filters.
  6. Descale faucets and showerheads.
  7. Disinfect all surfaces and contact points.

Pro tip: Aside from the regular cleaning you do on your property between guests, you will also need to do deep cleaning once in a while. Deep cleaning ensures that your entire home is free from dust and dirt, which helps maintain your appliances at maximum efficiency (e.g. air conditioning units).

Conclusion

End of stay cleaning may be complicated and frustrating. But with a checklist that’s customized to your property and needs, it doesn’t have to be!

Checklists instruct professional cleaners how to make your property perfectly presentable for your next guest, and they can also help you make sure you haven’t missed a spot when doing DIY maintenance for your short-term rental. 

Going through after each turnover to make sure every box has been ticked on this list is your best bet at ensuring a 5-star cleanliness rating from every guest you host – and that’s a highly valuable thing to have when it comes to attracting new customers to your STR business.

How do you clean your property between guests? Are there other items that we should include in the checklist?

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Short vs. Medium vs. Long-term Rentals: Which is Best?

The kind of rental model you choose directly relates to your overall real estate investment goals – like how much time and energy you want to put into managing your properties. Generally, short-term rentals (like Airbnbs and VRBOs) offer high-profit margins with sporadic high-maintenance costs, while medium- and long-term rentals offer a more stable revenue stream, while also requiring more regular maintenance works.

Between short, medium, and long-term rental models, are you wondering which you should focus on? We’ve laid out the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed business decision that fits with your goals for rental investing.

What’s the difference between short vs. medium vs. long-term rentals?

Each rental model – short, medium, and long-term rentals – has its own benefits and risks. You should know what those points are before deciding which to go for, so you can choose the one that best compliments your investment purpose and strategy.

Short-term rentals (STRs) 

Short-term rentals have guests that usually stay for around 3-7 days. These rentals are often called “vacation rentals” because they often cater to travelers. Compared to hotels, STRs are often cheaper, more spacious, and provide a homey atmosphere—making them much more attractive to many business travelers and tourists. 

STRs fit investors who prioritize business flexibility over stability. Cash flow is fast and substantial, but it’s also inconsistent and requires a lot of leg work. Nevertheless, STRs can be lucrative with the right marketing, location, and season.

Pros:

  • STRs tend to charge a higher rent amount at $184/night.
  • There is flexibility in having guests only stay for a couple of days at a time. There is also the flexibility to charge different rent prices, depending on the season or demand.

Cons:

  • There’s a lower occupancy rate at 87%.
  • STRs require around 30-40 hours of work/month (PER PROPERTY). You need to reply to messages, give and receive keys from guests, clean up the units, deal with demanding guests, and more.
  • There are stricter rental laws in some cities. Some have banned short-term rentals (like Airbnbs) altogether, or limited the number allowed to operate within a given area.
  • Vacation rentals are hit harder by economic downturns. For example, in the state of Michigan, STRs were banned during the height of the pandemic. Nowadays, STRs are allowed to operate again, but potential government restrictions are something to keep in mind for the future. 
  • Both income and business tax are required for STRs.

Medium-term rentals (MTRs) 

Medium-term rentals have tenants that typically rent on a weekly or monthly basis, and often they take the form of a boarding house or mid-term rental apartment complex. This model is also called the “month-to-month” rental model and is the least popular among the three.

MTRs may seem to have the best of both STRs and LTRs, but it also comes with some challenges:

Pros:

  • The occupancy rate is closer to 87%, which is almost the same as STRs, but with longer-term tenants.
  • The number of hours required to manage MTRs monthly is significantly lower than with STRs. 
  • MTRs are subject to standard landlord-tenant laws. 
  • Only income tax is required (business tax is not needed). 

Cons:

  • MTRs charge an average rent of $952 per week (or $136/night)—which is 28% higher than long-term rentals, but still 35% lower than STRs.
  • The turnover rate for MTRs is better than STRs, but still higher than long-term rentals. You’ll still need to do a lot of marketing for these, as your tenants only stay for roughly a month at a time.
  • Marketing is more difficult, as there aren’t many channels that focus on MTRs compared to the other two models.

Long-term rentals (LTRs) 

Long-term rentals have tenants that live in the property for 1+ years. Most rental properties in the real estate market are long-term rentals.

LTRs are a commitment both for landlords and tenants. Despite that, this rental model is favored by most in the real estate industry, as it offers landlords and investors a stable, steady rental income with minimal turnovers. Main responsibilities include property maintenance and dealing with tenants—both of which can be done by property management companies. 

Pros:

  • The occupancy rate of LTRs is very high at 95%. 
  • The work needed to manage and maintain LTRs can be as little as an hour/month. However, it should be said that the work hours required depends on how big your portfolio is—many landlords have more than a couple of LTRs. As their portfolio expands, most will consider hiring a property management company.
  • The turnover rate for LTRs is significantly lower than STRs and MTRs.
  • LTRs are subject to standard landlord-tenant laws.
  • Only income tax is required (business tax is not needed). 

Cons:

  • This may vary greatly from location to location, but LTRs generally earn less than STRs and MTRs. LTRs charge an average rent of $98/night or $3k/month. 
  • You can’t increase your rent amount seasonally, as you can with STRs.

Conclusion

We hope this guide helps you figure out which rental model to choose. Each of them has its pros and cons—the decision wholly depends on what you want to prioritize in rental property investing.

Which model have you applied to your portfolio? Any tips you’d like to give for those who are starting out?

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Attract Short-Term Rental Guests During COVID

If you want your rental portfolio to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic, you need to align your offering with people’s priorities in the new normal. 

Safety and protection are of utmost importance right now, so what safety measures should you implement to assure your guests? 

Furthermore, why are they renting in the first place – are they going to have a staycation since traveling abroad isn’t a safe option anymore? What can you then provide to make your STR attractive, given the rapidly-changing consumer behaviors we’re now seeing?

Here are some ideas to help your short term rental business adapt to these new times:

  1. Contactless Check-In and Out

Plenty of us have experienced arriving in a new country and checking yourself in to the AirBnb rental you’ve reserved beforehand. You don’t even meet the owner, you just use the passcode they gave you to enter the cute little apartment unit. Days later, after you’ve eaten all the street food and bought all the souvenirs possible, you check yourself out simply by locking the door behind you, before heading to the airport. It’s easy, safe, and keeps human interactions to a bare minimum (owners or property managers only show up when something goes wrong with the unit!).

With all the tools and technologies available, you can implement contactless checking-in and out in your rentals too, and operate with increased health and safety protocols. Digitizing and revamping your check-in and out process will help to assure guests that you provide convenience plus safety. All you need is: 

  • Digital key or lockbox access
  • Welcome card with house directions & local info
  • List of contact numbers
  1. Refund Policy

COVID has cancelled a lot of plans – but not a lot of payments. One of the biggest head-scratchers during this pandemic is how most of us can’t cancel expensive flights, gym memberships, or reservations in resorts without a whopping, heartless cancellation fee. 

To assure renters that your refund policy considers the pandemic and related governmental restrictions, try including these two in your emergency policy (at least, for bookings made prior to March 2020):

  • Flexible credits – Offer the guest a full credit for the amount they’ve paid if they are beyond your cancellation window. You can allow them to use these credits to book your property again in the future (post-pandemic), so at least it’s just a “rescheduling” for both of you. 
  • Refunding – Offer the highest refund you can in your cancellation policy, while still protecting yourself. If the guests are unable to accept credits, and you can’t commit to a 100% refund, then at least give them back 50%. With the pandemic, uncertainty is our reality nowadays, so take this opportunity to show understanding to your travelers – it will result in higher chances of them returning post-COVID.

3. Sanitizing and Documentation

Take the extra mile to sanitize your STRs – not just clean them. What’s the difference? Cleaning is removing most germs, dirt, and dust using a soapy sponge or damp cloth. However, cleaning does not remove all the germs and bacteria that are hidden in the deeper layers. By using chemicals to deep-cleanse, sanitizing your rental will lower the risk of infection and further assure your guests of a COVID-free home. 

Document all the sanitizing measures you’ve done using the simple guideline below. Feel free to add more details as you go along. You can even post this as part of your listing to make any prospective guest feel at ease:

  • Wear protective gear or PPEs while you clean.
  • Ventilate the rooms before you clean (as recommended by the CDC).
  • Wash your hands properly and thoroughly before and after each cleaning. 
  • Clean first, then sanitize. Use detergent to remove dirt, dust, grease, and most germs. Afterwards, spray and wipe with disinfectants using clean cloths.
  • Use disinfectants that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (or has 70% alcohol) as these are believed to be effective against the virus. 
  • Pay attention to all surfaces–especially those that are frequently touched. For rugs, sofas, drapes, or anything else that’s similar, machine-wash if possible.
  • Avoid touching your face while cleaning to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Wash all linens at the highest heat setting recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Empty all appliances and disinfect their surfaces.
  • Dispose of your cleaning supplies properly. 
  • Safely remove your cleaning gear after you’re done. 
  • Include a card in the property, informing newly-arrived guests that the property has been disinfected (listing all these steps, if desired!), and publish this
  • information online – it will help set your property apart when people are searching for a place to stay.

4. Comfort Features

Lastly, figure out why they are renting your property during COVID. If they’re planning a staycation, then it’s best to fit your property with entertainment and other comforts. This could mean additional towels, a coffee maker, board games, or free Netflix. (It will also differ, depending on where your STR is situated and what kind of guests you attract. Features that rowdy 20-year-olds will appreciate are quite far from those that 80-year-old elderlies will kiss your cheek for!)

Here are some features to consider:

  • Provide quality basics – Strong water pressure, fast and reliable WiFi, AC units and heaters that work without fail are all examples of levelled-up basics. Having these basics at good quality gives the guests everything they need for living, working, and relaxing in the easiest way possible.
  • Offer ample amenities – Stock your bathrooms chock-full of toiletries any of your guests can appreciate (especially when one of them forgets their toothbrush or shaving cream). Prepare your kitchen to handle an entire family cooking together with all the pots, plates, wine opener, and sponges. People are cooking in more now than ever before, so having things like spices and oil might be a nice additional touch, too. 
  • Have unexpected features – If Netflix is now an expected offer, then try installing a Nintendo Switch for your guests to enjoy. Throw in a foot massager in the living room too, for mom to get pampered while the kids play Mario Kart on the big screen. Perhaps you can put a couple of cold ones in the fridge for dad to kick back and relax as well. These are all small items that you can offer specially for COVID-escaping staycationers that will stay in the rental for days at a time, and these small touches go a long way towards garnering awesome reviews.

COVID may have hindered a lot of businesses from operating, but that doesn’t mean yours should stop too. There are ways to keep your short-term rentals attractive even in the midst of this pandemic. Try out these tips and comment below on how they worked for you!

Image Courtesy of Evgenia Basyrova

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How Soon Until Short Term Rentals Bounce Back From Coronavirus

Lady wearing a face mask
What is the new normal?

Coronavirus has affected the travel and tourism industry at an unprecedented scale. With strict stay-at-home orders and lockdowns still in place globally, online travel traffic is down by 70%, potentially accounting for up to $20B in missed revenues. In the US, bookings for short-term rentals bookings saw a 94% year-on-year decrease due to the pandemic.

As borders slowly start to reopen in the near future, what will the new normal of the short-term rental industry look like in Metro Detroit and Oakland County, in particular?

Localized Effects Will Differ

Travel restrictions have crippled the industry severely, but data suggests that the short-term rental industry is doing better than the hotel industry, which reported continuous declines, with revenues per available hotel room dropping year-on-year by as much as 94%.

Urban markets will likely suffer more than holiday or leisure destinations. In New York (where the virus hit hardest), year-on-year data indicate that the demand for short-term rental properties have decreased by 50%, and consequently, revenues have gone down by 47%, too.

What we’re currently seeing is a shift in demand from urban to remote rental locations, where there is less exposure to the virus. As these patterns carry on into the foreseeable future, we recommend STR operators to keep a closer eye on market trends and industry news. More than ever, strategic and data-driven decisions will be crucial in bouncing back from this crisis.

Assessing the Impact of COVID-19

To predict demand and gain market insights, consider using a trend analysis tool, such as MarketMinder. They provide good breakdowns of market rates and offer valuable insights on trends that can help you work out the state of your particular market, and adjust your strategy accordingly. (Note: some of their features are only available for paid subscribers, but you can do 5 basic reports a month for free).

Here are some trends to look at to gauge the stage of your market’s recovery:

  • How far ahead reservations are being made?
  • How are other hosts pricing their properties now vs. their pre-pandemic rates?
  • What rate do guests actually book the property for?
  • How far are people travelling to reach your area?
  • How are they getting there – by air or car?
  • When will business-related travel resume? Are there any conferences planned for the future in your area?
  • Are people booking owner-occupied rentals, or only “have the whole place to yourself” ones?

Post-pandemic, it seems very likely that travelers may opt for vacations that could be reached via land travel to mitigate risks. This may lead to an increase in demand for nearby STRs, as travelers try to find budget-friendly holidays and accommodations within easy reach of the city. 

To see how these trends are developing in Metro Detroit, we used MarketMinder to conduct a comparison between Downtown Detroit and a suburban area closer to the lake, such as Saint Clair Shores.

Insights from the tool indicate a rental demand score for Saint Clair Shores of 72, in comparison to Detroit’s score of 69. Median occupancy rates (calculated over the last 12 months) in Downtown Detroit are also down, from 69% in June 2019 to 45% in April 2020. By comparison, Saint Clair Shores has a current occupancy rate of 50%, possibly showing early signs of the shift in demand from urban locations to less densely-populated areas.

Human beings have an inherent desire to travel and explore. So it’s almost certain that, once travel restrictions are lifted globally, the demand for STRs will slowly increase again. Although we don’t exactly know when this “new normal” will begin in earnest, for now, property owners and landlords can spend this time preparing for it, by implementing strict sanitation measures to reassure and attract future guests.

Image Courtesy of: Anan Shvets

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Market Short-Term Rental in Metro Detroit

short-term rental

Got a property in Metro Detroit that you want to rent out short-term, but don’t know how best to market it? In Michigan, short-term rental properties were banned during the height of the pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus. However, now businesses have almost fully reopened, and short-term rentals are allowed to operate again.

People are still wary of travel, but short-term rental properties are seen as a safer alternative to crowded hotels for many, and this demand is helping steadily revive the industry as a whole.

Aside from that, the City of Detroit is still keen on limiting short-term rentals that are not owner-occupied.

This gives short-term rental owners in the Ring Cities (the cities surrounding Detroit) an edge. If the ordinance passes, travelers expecting to book an Airbnb in the city center will now have to choose between hotels or shared STRs within Detroit, or look beyond it to the Ring Cities.

So, along with the growing tourism of the general metropolitan area, it’s no wonder that many have chosen to invest in Metro Detroit short-term rentals. But how can you make your property stand out from the competition, and encourage guests to book?

  1. Know the Rules in Your City

Just a few days ago, the city of Ann Arbor banned short-term rentals, except for shared listings where the owner-occupier will be staying in the house alongside their guests. If you want to rent your whole house out in Ann Arbor after March 2021, you can now only do so for a short period, and all short-term rentals need to be licensed by the city. 

Ordinances like this are being passed all the time, so make sure your city allows Airbnbs, and that you fulfill any licensing requirements before marketing your unit. 

  1. Know Your Audience

The first step in any business is knowing who your core audience is, and what they want. Are you catering to families, staycationers, business travelers, out-of-towners, or young people? Know what’s in your specific area, and you’ll start to understand who would want to stay there because of those amenities. Most short-term rental properties attract a mix of different demographics, but some will be stronger contenders for your property than others – so don’t try to sell your listing to businesspeople if you’re not near good travel links.

Next, think of what your audience wants. Right now, that will almost certainly include some added assurances regarding property cleaning and disinfection between visitors. Airbnb has come out with their own set of enhanced cleaning protocols, and if hosts follow these guidelines, they’ll earn an additional badge on their profile showing guests that they’re dedicated to health and safety. Something like this shows you’re reacting to your customer’s wants and fears, and may prompt them to choose your place over another similar property on offer. 

  1. Use Great Photos 

Did you know that the success of Airbnb is mostly due to the quality of their photos? The company, now worth $2 billion, began with two guys renting out a couple of air mattresses to guests, out of necessity, to pay their own rent. They expanded to letting other people rent out spaces in their homes on an online platform, but found that hosts were taking poor-quality photos that didn’t entice anyone to book. So Airbnb called up a professional photographer and had them take quality photos of the properties. Right away, they saw bookings increase by 2-3x, and had doubled their revenues by the end of the month. 

The moral of the story? It’s worth the extra buck to hire a freelance photographer (or ask your tech-savvy nephew) to take quality photos for you. Guests will judge your property and base their decision mainly on the images you post, so it’s important to get these right. It doesn’t cost much to hire a freelancer online for an hour or two, and it’s an investment that you can recoup in just a few bookings. 

If you’re already a great photographer, then the next time the sunset is just right or your house is covered in a perfect layer of snow – get out your camera! A special photo like this will help your listing stand out from the rest, and help guests imagine having their perfect getaway in your place.

  1. Write an Engaging, Easy-to-Read Description

To compliment your great photos, also have a property description that accurately and attractively explains what you’re offering. The first step is to have a great title for your listing that gets across your property’s unique selling point(s). For example, if your unit is close to important landmarks or can accommodate a lot more people than other properties in the area, highlight this in your title, e.g. “5 mins from hospital, sleeps up to 12”. 

Since most people will just scan through the body of your description quickly, use short paragraphs or bulleted lists to highlight relevant features to your core audience. Avoid using too many superfluous words, and focus on the things people need or want to know. Here are some examples:

Need to know:

  • If some parts of the property are only accessible by stairs
  • If any pets live at the property usually (for those with allergies)
  • Any important house rules

Want to know

  • Travel distances to local attractions and amenities
  • How the windows in the bedroom overlook a lake
  • Special cleaning measures during the pandemic
  1. Stand Out with Little Details & Extras

The little details make a big difference when it comes to short-term rental properties. Guests want to experience staying in a temporary home that’s cuter or cooler than their own. Just a few throw pillows, some candles, a couple of paintings from your local bargain store, and some small decorative touches can elevate your place 4 stars to 5. It’s all about adding finishing touches that will help you stand out from the competition.

When it comes to deciding on those little extras that entice bookings (and encourage great reviews), use the competitors around you to your advantage. Do some research on what they offer: free Netflix, gourmet coffee, fluffy bathrobes? Compare their extras to yours, and see where you can outdo them. These details might be small, but they play a big part when people browse through multiple options – especially when you have a unit that’s very similar to others. 

  1. Validate Your Offer with Good Reviews

Reviews have become a significant decision-making driver in the short-term rental market, with 90% of people checking reviews first because proceeding with their booking. Getting good reviews from past guests will therefore either make or break your listing. A great listing could be significantly damaged just by one negative review, while similarly, a positive review could do wonders for your occupancy rate. It’s “word-of-mouth marketing,” but in digital form!

So, how do you get good reviews? Kill your guests with kindness. Be readily available to assist them throughout their stay, create a folder that details all your favorite restaurants and tourist spots nearby, and go above-and-beyond with those little extras, like leaving a welcome basket with wine, snacks, or hand soaps which guests can take home with them as a souvenir. 

Another reason why reviews are critical is that they are a direct reflection of customer satisfaction; therefore, they can help you figure out what your core audience expects from you. Take the time to read both negative and positive feedback, then use it to improve your offer and engage with your guests. Just never argue or get angry with former guests in the comments, even if they leave a bad review, as this can harm your reputation as a host and drive away potential customers.

Apply these 6 tips and prepare yourself for a flood of guests! 

Right now is an optimal time for short-term rental owners to grow their business in the Metro Detroit area. It may not be as developed as other areas, like Chicago, but the industry was growing before the pandemic and will likely keep growing once the new normal gets in full swing. 

Just remember to keep an eye out for ordinances regulating short-term rental properties in your area, so you can adjust your strategy if needed to remain competitive.

Any short-term rental marketing tips we’ve missed? Share your thoughts below! 

Image Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio