Providing Shelter for Frontline Workers During COVID-19
This post about Karl Scarlett, Founder of Washington DC-based Guesty user Great Dwellings, offers insight into how one property management company is giving back to its community during the coronavirus crisis.
Karl Scarlett, the Founder of Great Dwellings, has been involved in the short-term rental ecosystem since 2014, when he launched the Washington DC-based property management company. Karl brings residential property owners and prospective guests together, helping homeowners on Airbnb, Expedia, and Booking.com maximize the value of their short-term rental properties. With 100 properties in three countries, Karl offers a range of experiences for guests while making an effort to support local communities..
With the COVID-19 pandemic placing most of the travel industry on hold, property management companies like Great Dwellings are looking for new ways to market themselves and reposition their listings to mitigate revenue loss. Karl saw this as an opportunity to give back to his community, specifically the healthcare workers at the frontline of the fight against coronavirus.
‘Help Them Help Us’
Doctors, nurses and medical staff fighting COVID-19 fear exposing their families to the virus. Many need a place to stay (whether for a two-week quarantine period or longer) before they can safely rejoin their loved ones. Additionally, some healthcare professionals working marathon shifts simply live too far away to commute home at the end of the day.
Recognizing this need, Karl launched the ‘Help Them Help Us’ initiative in April, opening Great Dwellings’ doors to local medical and healthcare professionals who must stay outside their homes amidst COVID-19. Karl has also created a donation fund as part of ‘Help Them Help Us,’ so that these stays are offered at anywhere from 50-100% off. He hopes to raise $100,000 and is looking to partner with local groups who provide additional services, such as protective masks and equipment.
“Our company has a simple mission: Do Everything With Love,” says Karl. “We are living through extraordinary times, and we have a responsibility to help where and when we can. As such, we have launched ‘Help Them Help Us’ in an effort to aid those who are tirelessly devoting themselves to the community during this time of uncertainty.”
‘Help Them Help Us’ currently offers stays at properties in the DC area, but Karl is hoping to partner with other property management companies in the future so that the organization can expand into other cities.
And it’s not just the healthcare workers that are benefitting from this initiative: Great Dwellings’ clients — those whose properties the company manages as short-term rentals — are able to earn revenue at this challenging time via these bookings.
Hosting any guest right now — especially healthcare workers — requires property managers and hosts to do everything they can to refrain from meeting their guests face-to-face.
To limit unnecessary human interaction for guests staying with Great Dwellings, Karl has implemented keyless entry systems in all properties, so guests can check-in contact-free. The company also uses Guesty’s auto-messaging tool, to ensure quick responses to guests and potential guests, including providing any updates regarding COVID-19.
Empathy is Key in the COVID-19 Era
While it is a challenging time for property management companies, displaying empathy for guests — whether healthcare workers, stranded tourists or others displaced by COVID-19 — goes a long way. Building these relationships during tough times like today will ultimately contribute to the strength of your business.
UK-based Seven Living, another Guesty user, is offering 50 self-contained luxury properties for free to NHS workers who need a place to stay for 14-day isolation periods away from loved ones. Another example is So Suite — the company has been reaching out to hospitals in Philadelphia to offer reduced rates to doctors and nurses.
Whether it’s offering up their rentals to frontline medical staff for free or at steep discounts or partnering with local restaurants and brands to increase visibility, short-term rental property management companies have proven quick to adapt to the COVID-19 era and help where they can.
Navigating COVID-19 as a Property Management Company
Great Dwellings has shown us the impact of supporting our local communities at this time, especially those keeping us safe. Here are some other tactics property managers are employing to maintain business stability at this time:
- Leveraging technology that limits human interaction, such as keyless entry systems, smart home tools, auto-messaging and self check-in/out
- Revamping policies regarding length of stay and cancellations
- Pivoting rentals to be family-friendly and/or pet-friendly so domestic travelers can comfortably travel with their loved ones
- Updating listings to showcase stringent cleaning procedures as well as amenities that allow for continued social distancing
For more details on COVID-19’s impact on the short-term rental space as well as strategies for property management companies to better market to and attract them, take a look at our latest guide: Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis as a Property Management Company.