Be Our Guest(y): Preparing Your Properties for New Travel Personas in the New Normal
Due to travel limitations brought on by COVID-19, there has been a rise in new types of travelers booking short-term rentals, such as families, domestic travelers, and digital nomads working from home. That’s why Guesty teamed up with experts from the global short-term rental industry in an online event to help property managers optimize their businesses in light of new travel expectations and current demands.
During this event, Guesty’s own Omer Rabin (Managing Director, Americas) — along with Michael Driedger, CEO of Operto; Andria Santos, CEO at Fulhaus; and Roman Pedan, CEO & Founder of Kasa Living — led us through a discussion on how to perfect guest experience in the new normal by implementing technology to limit human interaction and equipping rentals with the proper amenities to attract domestic travelers.
Omer started the discussion by introducing the travel personas short-term rental owners should expect to see during this time. The rise of these traveler groups has resulted in different guest patterns and behavior, including an increased need for extended stays of 30+ days and the ability to book last minute reservations only 7 days in advance.
Michael then shared contact-free solutions and monitoring technology that property managers can implement to ensure guests are safe during their stay, such as smart locks and noise monitoring tools. He suggested ways that hosts can limit human interaction while still offering top-notch guest experiences by providing self-catered services (like UberEats), digital guidebooks, and self check-in options. He then emphasized the importance of monitoring air quality within your properties to ensure a better cognitive environment for guests, as optimal air quality limits CO2 buildup and reduces the chance of virus transmission.
Up next, Andria took the stage with interior design strategies to revamp your listings and create the ideal environment for those working from home, such as offering a dedicated workstation away from noisy distractions. Other best practices mentioned include providing a desk that is at least 24” deep and 32” wide, a mobile and easily adjustable chair for added comfort, and plants around the space to increase productivity. To make sure families are also occupied while at home, she suggests that property managers provide an entertainment room with books and games for the kids as well as an equipped kitchen for those booking longer stays.
With an increase in market share and occupancy, Roman followed with some tips as to how his property management company was able to come out stronger during this difficult time. In light of COVID-19, Kasa Living changed its overall operations by adding more stringent cleaning procedures and robust safety tools, such as using CDC-approved disinfectants for their properties, upgrading their noise sensors, inputting a new internal system that allows guests to get from their car to property door germ-free and more. He went on to explain how marketing directly to past guests has led to an increase in repeat customers and reaching out to those in local destinations to attract domestic travelers has also allowed them to triple their direct bookings in recent months.
Following the presentations, we conducted a panel discussion and addressed questions from our live audience. Here are some highlights (edited for clarity):
Q: What is the first action item a property manager should add to their “to-do” list following this meetup?
Michael (Operto): Get a smart virtual lock with a different passcode for every guest to make sure your travelers are safe and protected in between stays.
Andria (Fulhaus): Make sure you have great WiFi, especially when attracting business travelers. Secondly, an ideal workstation is what people are looking for, so make sure to highlight those in your listing photos. You also want to have attractive photos for your properties with the available amenities shown to give travelers the chance to actually visualize themselves living and working there for a long period of time.
Roman (Kasa Living): Make sure your business will work for the long-term amid COVID-19, planning for 5 years rather than just the next 1-2. It’s best to adapt your mindset to the current situation and be sure your business is prepared for any uphill battles that may linger ahead.
Q: When it comes to guest expectations, what are the key things property managers need to provide in their listings to be considered a contact-free property?
Michael (Operto): Contact-free is all about limiting human interaction, such as not having a greeter at your properties. There also needs to be availability for guests to easily check themselves in with a 4 digit access code and a smart lock that is easily wiped down and disinfected to be considered a contact-free stay.
Q: What are you doing to increase future reservations that are booked more than 7 days in advance?
Roman (Kasa Living): Right now most people are focused on flexibility as there’s still uncertainty for what’s going to happen in the future. We have tried a few things to limit last-minute bookings, such as discounting stays that are farther in the future and discounts for longer stays as well. One thing you can do is change your cancellation policies to make sure they are more flexible, but unfortunately, it’s very difficult to change people’s expectations on what the future holds.
Q: What are the things you should have in your units to cater to those travelers looking for that ideal work-from-home environment?
Andria (Fulhaus): It’s best to think of the minimum requirements you would want to have when living somewhere for a long period of time, such as basic kitchen appliances. Also, implementing noise monitoring sensors is recommended to ensure guests don’t have any outside distractions while working. As guests will be stuck inside the rental property for longer periods of time, it’s also best to offer near-by destinations and experiences that are walking distance so guests can still feel a part of the local community during their stay.