For many people owning and operating businesses in the time of COVID-19, it’s become apparent that we are facing more of a long-term adjustment than we initially expected. As property management companies overseeing multiple rental properties, we saw a rough beginning of the pandemic that has led to a slow but promising uptick in domestic travel. So with a more local audience of potential guests, and cleanliness being more important than ever, now is the time to adapt to this new normal and assess the ways your business can continue to prosper despite today’s challenges.
To help get you started, here are 5 creative and growth-oriented ideas that your property management company can experiment with.
1. Make Cleanliness Part of Your Brand Identity
We noted as part of a conversation about COVID-19 business practices with Breezeway that surveys have indicated “96% of vacation rental managers feel guests will be more focused on cleanliness and safety when bookings resume.” That’s a significant number, and by all indications it reflects broader consumer preferences as people look ahead to more normal activity – which means any property management company looking to grow should not just cater to this demand, but make it a focal point.
By and large, renters are going to value cleanliness to an unprecedented extent for the foreseeable future. This means that properties emphasizing clean and hygienic practices — not just checking boxes — will be likely to move to the top of renters’ lists. Make it impossible for prospective guests not to notice and appreciate your emphasis in this area, and you’ll almost certainly generate more business because of it.
2. Conduct Research on Guest Expectations
That same Q&A we had with Breezeway focused largely on getting into the heads of renters and guests – figuring out what they expect in the new normal, finding out what the best health and safety practices are for them, and so on. In some cases, publicly available surveys will be able to give you a good idea of what your potential guests are looking for.. But your business is unique, and as such it should have its own data in order to deliver exactly what your audience is looking for. . For this reason, particularly if you’re still in a state of limbo from ramping your operation back up amid COVID-19, we’d recommend conducting some market research of your own. Figure out what your target market wants in a property during and after the COVID crisis and then, invest the time and energy in providing it.
3. Invest in Yourself
If you are unable to operate your property management business at full capacity for the time being, another excellent growth-related activity is to invest in yourself as a business leader. Most notably, this can mean using this time to gain additional business education that will not only give you real-world knowledge to apply to your company, but also enhance your credibility and appeal as a business owner.
By learning tried-and-true business practices that can help you fine-tune your business’s strategies and enhance your management credibility, you won’t just be bettering your business but you will also increase your appeal to potential clients and partners going forward. Look for courses on marketing and branding, or reach out to those who inspire you in the field to see if they will mentor you in an area you want to learn about that they are excelling in.
4. Grow Your Brand
With short-term rentals emerging as the choice option for travelers who wish to avoid crowded hotels, the time to stand out from your competition is now. In addition to effectively marketing your brand as one that meets the highest degree of cleanliness standards, also market your properties as options that give guests what they are seeking today: unique getaways that will give them an escape from today’s crazy reality. We’d also recommend becoming more active on social media, reaching out to your target market, and sharing as much interesting content as possible to grow your brand and increase awareness of your properties during this unique time period – especially if they cater to travel personas that emerged due to the virus, such as digital nomads who crave connectivity and the great outdoors, families seeking more outdoor space, and so on .
5. Start an Incentive & Referral Program
As an add-on to brand growth, another productive strategy that can help expand business in the midst of a pandemic is to ramp up new bookings with an incentive and referral program. It’s worth it too – data from a MarketForce survey indicates that 81% of online consumers in the U.S. are influenced by friends.
While word-of-mouth referrals between friends are always ideal, you can’t expect them to happen without the referrer getting something out of it too. Try offering a free night to anyone who refers a friend that books a stay. Whichever tactic you choose, incentivizing your customers to spread the word about your properties and overall hospitality experience can be one of the most effective ways to gain business.
Keep The Growth Going
Although COVID-19 has certainly posed many challenges for property management companies, adopting a strategic and growth-oriented approach to your business going forward will help it to not only thrive during these difficult times, but to also emerge stronger than ever.