According to new research conducted by ATLIST Travel, 65% of surveyed vacation rental hosts have confirmed bookings for July and August. The study, conducted in May, included hosts in the United States as well as in popular international destinations such as Mexico, Bali, and Australia.
Despite an increase in summer staycations, nearly half of participants said they feel it won’t be until spring/summer 2021 before occupancy rates return to previous levels.
To beat the slump, hosts are exploring innovative ways to ease guests and maximize earnings. Using the collected data, we’ve compiled the top insights on how vacation rental owners and managers are adjusting their strategy for the post-pandemic economy.
Unsurprisingly, hosts are putting a greater focus on cleanliness. Many will be adhering to the new guidelines, such as Airbnb’s Cleaning Protocol, set by vacation rental platforms. More hosts will be enforcing the use of personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves for their cleaners, as well as disinfectants that are approved by regulatory authorities.
In addition to stringent sanitation, many hosts will be implementing a waiting period between stays. Airbnb’s current Booking Buffer, an optional feature, automatically blocks new reservations for 72 hours after a guest checks out.
With the COVID-19 pandemic placing a greater level of importance on cleanliness, convenience, and trust, more hosts will be offering their guests helpful add-ons like sanitized airport transfers and bicycle rentals. Not only does offering extra services and amenities boost revenue, but it can also improve overall guest satisfaction.
To attract more guests, more than half of the surveyed hosts have slashed their nightly rates. This reduction in revenue has been compounded by mandatory refunds to guests whose travel plans had been disrupted by the pandemic.
Gone are the days of offering a bare-bones vacation rental. With hosts eager to make back lost earnings, for-purchase amenities and services have taken a front seat. The offerings have become more creative and varied, too—from pre-packed picnic baskets filled with seasonal favorites to fitness equipment rentals.
Monthly stays have soared in popularity following worldwide travel bans. As domestic travel resumes with strict guidelines, hosts will continue to market to longer-term guests.
The most popular additional revenue streams for vacation rental hosts are items for purchase (e.g, food & beverage) at 40% and ancillary services (e.g. airport transfers, laundry) at 35%. With independent experiences on the rise, more hosts are promoting private classes with local service providers like chefs and yoga instructors, as well as digital products such as downloadable audio guides about the region.
Upselling guests comes with its own set of unique challenges. Surveyed vacation rental hosts cited price competitiveness and the lack of an efficient way to promote and coordinate add-ons as two primary gripes.
Guest experience platforms like ATLIST Travel provide an all-in-one solution to help hotels and vacation rentals modernize their approach to upselling. The platform allows hosts to customize their own portal, increase revenue, and manage online bookings of services, amenities, equipment, activities, and merchandise.