Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer here in the United States, and for many of us hosts, it usually means we’re entering our busy season. By the time Memorial Day passes our vacation rentals have already been deep-cleaned and we have seen guests come and go. Our calendars are filled with only a few days open until September… Not this year. A girl can remember and dream.
Back to the present-day reality. Maybe your state just announced that you can open up but only at 50% capacity. You’re trying to figure out what it means. Or you booked, canceled and rebooked the same dates eight times because people keep canceling. Ahhh, Airbnb’s flexible cancelation policy that they keep pushing…
You’re looking for cleaning supplies for your team—you have three tabs open and you’re trying to decide if it’s worth paying twice as much for that specific brand. (What in the world is going on with cleaning supplies? I thought by now things would be back to some sort of normal…)
Well, this is the new normal. In today's episode, I’m going to discuss the five areas in your Airbnb that you need to update today before you accept another reservation whether you’re in the United States or any other part of the world. Yes, this episode is for everyone. It's a new season and a new…. well, you know what is going on, so let’s just get started with what you need to do with your vacation rental:
Whether you’re on Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com or you have your own website, all of these tips will apply to you.
If you haven’t gone through your photos since last year, now is the time to go through them and refresh them. Review what you’re showing and decide whether or not it’s true this summer of 2020.
- Are the local parks opened?
- Are the area beaches open?
- Are there any restrictions guests need to know about?
- Do you have a pool in your building? Is it open? Are there any restrictions?
- What about that fabulous gym that you’re showing off? Open?
- Does your building or community have any restrictions on vacation rentals?
For example: at a friend’s place, the community is only allowing families to rent. They don’t want a group of friends to rent a house. Hey, that’s what they’re doing. You might want to communicate that in a photo with a graphic.
The reason for this? It’s because people look at photos, so if there are very specific restrictions from your town that could make you lose your vacation rental license, you need to make sure you’re covered. How?
By showing it clearly in your photos and stating it explicitly in your house rules, your description, and your communications.
What to Show:
But right now we’re talking photos.
Now more than ever your photos need to show some regulations and guidelines that you might need to adhere to because of town rules. This can also provide reinforcement if you by any chance need to evict anyone. The old saying is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Now let’s take a closer look at those photos you’re going to use:
You don’t want to remind people of COVID exactly, so if you decide to post a photo of your cleaning protocol, I recommend you don’t call it COVID cleaning. I also refrain from mentioning my cleaning products by name, just in case, I’m not able to find a specific product.
Just be a bit more generic and state “We’re following CDC cleaning guidelines,” etc.
Again, take a fresh look at your photos and see what needs to be updated or refreshed. Remember that Airbnb LOVES IT when we update or touch-up our listing.
The house rules need to be updated with the new rules of the town. You want to make sure that if anything happens your guests don't say, “Ohh… I didn’t know.” or “I didn’t see that.”
“Oh yeah? Well, it’s there in writing and you had to agree to it even though you didn’t read it.”
Look, be clear about your house rules, “Mi casa es su casa” is not a house rule. Which is a reason I included house rules in the Language of Welcome: the Ultimate Guide to Guest Communication.
House rules are what Airbnb uses to pay your claims. Believe me, I know. Oh yeah. So make sure they’re updated, clear, and concise. Because there is a difference between a house rule and what goes into a house manual.
House Rule vs House Manual:
Ohh, you want to know the difference?
A house rule is something that can get a guest evicted or at least cost them money. They have a party…they smoke inside the house…they break something? House Rule.
While something like their failure to wipe down the hairs in the bathroom sink in a shared space with you as a host is not an infraction of a house rule.
Is it gross and disgusting? Yes.
Does it make you want to kick them out? Yes.
Will you? Hopefully not.
Will you call Airbnb and say, “Look, I will clean the toilet and the shower but if I see one more hair in the sink, I’m going to lose it.” I’m hoping not, not even after living with them in quarantine for 60 days and counting.
(And just in case you’re wondering, Javier and I have two bathrooms. He has his, I have mine. Yes, that’s how you quarantine, baby.)
You might want to address that little hair-in-the-sink issue in the house manual; but even then remember, they’re leaving soon.
To recap: Update your house rules to reflect any changes that are going on in your community and town.Listing Description:
The next thing you should address is your listing description:
Yes, dear hosts, I know that people don’t read; but if you have it in writing and you have that one person that reads it, who knows? So update your listing description. Remove anything that isn’t relevant at the moment, or state that “Due to current conditions, some amenities might not be available.”
For example, If someone rents a place because of the pool and the pool isn’t available and they didn’t know it, they will be refunded, trust me.
Go through your entire listing and make sure everything is accurate.
I’m sorry to say, but cleaning in the COVID-19 era takes FOREVER. You need to take everything out, wipe and disinfect the walls, launder everything. Airbnb, CDC, and a lot of different organizations are coming out with cleaning protocols.
Yes, I have read in the many Facebook groups how Airbnb’s request of having a 24-hour downtime between guests will be horrible for the industry. And “How dare they tell hosts what to do?”, etc.
I also have read, “Well a hospital operating room doesn’t close down for 24-hours.”
And for all of that I say… Well, well, well. Are the cleaners trained in bio-hazard operating room cleaning? No? OK.
Cleaning for a hospital is a lot different than cleaning for an Airbnb.
I get it. We have already lost so much money, and how dare anyone tell us how to run our business? We know better. Right.
But will anyone sacrifice the life of another person just because they want the economy to open up? To make money. Hmm…I wonder?
Are you going in there and cleaning? Will you go in and clean immediately after the person left if you knew the person had COVID or will you allow those 24 hours for everything to settle down and then clean?
Protect your team. Create a protocol. Different towns are dictating what is mandatory. Follow it. Let me repeat. Follow it. This is happening this season. Next year will be different. Train your team and make sure you have a back-up team in place.
Get cleaning supplies and PPE equipment. My current nurses are scheduled to leave in the middle of June, and I’m already working on getting supplies for my cleaning crew.
This time around it isn’t as simple as logging into Amazon or the Costco website and ordering toilet paper and Clorox wipes.
Click below for Airbnb and CDC's Cleaning Protocol. I want you to know that everything is changing so please stay current but without getting overwhelmed. You’ve got this.
Your Guest Communications:
Last but not least, your guest communications. If you have your communications automated as I do (Hey I’ve been using iGMS for the last 2 years for all my communication automation and I love it.), you need to go in and see what you have written. Are your messages current? Has anything changed?
You might want to let your guests know of the town’s new regulations. Do your guests need to wear masks when they’re in town or at the parks? Are there social distancing rules? Include them in your house rules, photos and descriptions, include that information in the emails your guests receive.
Yes, be that broken record. This stuff is important. Very important.
In the arrival email you can let guests know if you’ll be providing any extra masks just in case they forget theirs, so they’ll have no excuses for not following your or the town’s rules.
Remember, you’ll find all these pre-written scripts in the updated Language of Welcome: the Ultimate Guide to Guest Communication. And you can find that at the hostingjourney.com slash communication.
I get it that right now you’re getting the lovely sound of Airbnbs dings that indicate reservations, but please be ready for this season. I want you to be successful and profitable. And to do that you need to be prepared and have a plan in place.
Because guests are coming and you need to be ready.