Dear hosts, we’re entering August 2020; and if your business hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19, congratulations. I know some hosts are booked solid and making more money than ever. Yes, they really are, while other hosts continue seeing cancellations or have not even had an inquiry.
In today’s episode I'm going to talk about In 2020 Do You Throw in the Towel or Do You Hang On?
Dear hosts, I want to start by going back a bit to the 2008 recession, because that was also a worldwide event that impacted millions of people. Many of us were affected financially by circumstances out of our control.
Lessons from the Past:
I had done the right things. I had a job as a Commercial Producer. I had my home. I had a tenant and a roommate that helped with the mortgage. I had savings in the bank. I’d been making the right decisions for a long time. Or so I thought.
Boof.. my world was turned upside down.
My job was gone and I couldn’t find a new one. One month turned into two, which quickly turned into five. To make things worse, my tenant moved out.
I remember standing in the corner of my home, crying, thinking “Am I going to lose it?” My doctor checked up on me to make sure I was ok.
I had savings, but you know how it is when you’re pulling money out and not replacing it.
Then I found Airbnb, and before I knew it I was listing my bedroom on their site. Yes, dear hosts, my room, my bed—a room of that house that I bought and was paying for.
How I Saved my Home:
My first guest, Ed, arrived, and the rest is history which you can listen to on Episode 1 My Hosting Journey.
When a job finally turned up, the pay was 20% less than I used to make. But I took it because you do what you have to do. Right?
This is part of my original story, but there were five months when I was waiting for the past to be the same. For my life to go back to what it used to be.
Waiting to do what I had done before when in reality I knew I could never go back.
Jobs forever changed. How we worked, who our employers were.
The gig economy was born out of that recession. Airbnb, Uber, Task Rabbit. Our lives forever changed. Is it better? Is it worse? It depends on who you ask.
Our lives were never the same. My job, my career, what I went to school for — it all changed when I lost my job as a producer.
If you would have told me in 2010 that I would no longer be working as a producer or that I would be living with strangers and doing a podcast talking to you, I would have said you’re cray-cray, my dear hosts. But here we are.
That was the big recession of 2008, which lasted for a reeeeealllly long time.
Back to 2020:
You’re probably thinking, ”What does that have to do with COVID-19 and what we’re living through?”
Whether you believe in wearing a mask or not, or whether or not you think COVID is a hoax, it's affecting your hospitality business. Travel bans all around the world.
Airbnb refunding guests, and we as hosts losing thousands of dollars in cancellations from March until—well, now.
When the pandemic hit, state after state started shutting down, one after the other. The entire world got quiet and we waited for what would come next.
Changing with COVID:
During that time many of us changed our business model. Some hosts got long-term tenants, then governments passed non-eviction notices that meant if the tenant didn’t pay there was nothing the host could do.
Other hosts decided to close down until this thing is over, but how long will that be? We’re four months in already; and until there’s a vaccine, we will go back and forth.
I went the more secure route by opening my home to Travel Nurses. I was grateful that I had four nurses in my home 10 days after I decided to go this route. It’s something I highly recommend and will do again in a heartbeat. Having professional paying customers was fantastic. And the fact that they were saving my city was the icing on the cake.
Then states started opening and we started getting some inquiries— even some reservations. There was a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Some hosts were lucky enough to have places that are fantastic for social distancing like cabins in the woods or a place by the beach. Guests went to them like moths to a flame. That is, if your city allowed you to accept guests, of course.
If you’re in a major city, or if your city has travel restrictions like a mandatory quarantine period after arrival, you’re probably still hurting. Maybe you’ve discounted your place or are still trying to decide what’s next.
Maybe you got some bookings and have some guests coming in.
Guests in 2020:
Guests are different this year, or maybe I’m more sensitive. The demands are greater. Guests want more discounts, and it feels like we’re trying to avoid parties at all times. And the messes some are leaving are bigger. (I’ll go deeper about this in another episode, but I want you to know you’re not alone in feeling this way.)
Now the big question is, what do you do as a host?
Do you throw in the stained towel? Or do you hang on and wait?
The Current Reality:
Right now you need to look at your numbers. Look realistically, not at what your financial picture was, but at what it is. And acknowledge that it will be like this for a bit longer.
A host posted on my Instagram account, The Hosting Journey, that she is expecting only 50% of what she made the previous year.
Look, Puerto Rico opened July 15th for inbound tourism for less than 48-hours. You heard me right. They cracked open the door and then quickly slammed it shut again.
The beaches of Puerto Rico are now available for exercise only, and you have to have a negative COVID test taken 48 hours before arrival or you quarantine. Casinos are closed and much more. We went back to more restrictions—thankfully not all the way back to when we had an 8pm curfew, but still backwards. Oh yeah, we still have a curfew, but it’s now for 10pm. Lucky us.
When I told the upcoming guests of the new changes, I received more cancellations. I fully refunded them, because I didn’t want to waste my mental energy on any back and forth.
Thankfully other folks booked right away, but I had to communicate quickly… “Hey, that vacation you’re planning is going to look very different, my friend. Are you sure you still want to come?” Most said yes.
Like Puerto Rico, other states are going back into their lockdowns and restrictions.
Do You Hang On?
I want you to look at your numbers. Yes, I’m saying it again. Look at your numbers and decide. Can you ride this wave for another year?
Most importantly, do you want to ride this ride, or do you want to say “I’m done for now and will come back in a bit”?
Please, dear hosts, look at your expenses and your savings. Right now it’s about how much not to lose, not “How am I going to make 2020 the best year ever?” It’s about reality, not looking back at what it was—because that can be heartbreaking.
There is no shame in saving yourself by closing down your business or changing it to long-term tenants or travel nurses. Do what is right for you!
You do you.
When you look back at this time, you might say, “I’m a bit bruised… a little cautious, but a lot wiser.