The coronavirus pandemic is causing so much hardship. It’s a total bummer. And it’s really scary. Not only are we worried about the health and wellbeing of our loved ones, we’re also worried about our economic well being. And maybe we’re losing our minds trapped in our houses. It’s all very real. These are uncertain times. But the only thing we can be certain about is that we just don’t know how all this is going to turn out.
If social distancing and sheltering-in-place works, this will all look like an overreaction – AND THAT’S THE POINT! We can all hope for the best. That we’ll spend a few weeks, a month or more maybe, making major sacrifices in our lives, for the greater good of us all. And that we can emerge from this, scarred, but not broken – able to bounce back and pick up with our lives and our livelihoods where we left off. Or better yet, we’ll start back with a new sense of vision and purpose, because we’ll all have had some good quality time to think and plan for the future!
To that note, we wanted to give you some ideas for how to use this downtime wisely. Assuming all or some of your bookings have been canceled and there’s a lull to come, here are some things you can be doing now to make it more likely that you can jump off on the right foot when we get the “all clear!”
Review and update your operations plan. Have you had an idea in the back of your mind about how you could improve some aspect of your STR operations? Or did you start your STR kind of “winging it” but have learned some things along the way that you really want to capture in writing. Use this pause to write up your own standard operating procedures and look through all the steps running your STR business. Can anything be streamlined? Could your communications to your guests be clearer? What can you do to ensure better reviews? Put some solid ideas on paper and be ready to put them into practice with new bookings.
Deep cleaning. We recognize that getting your hands on cleaning products right now can be a challenge. Some of you may have back stocks of cleaning supplies, or you can clean with less-sought after cleaners right now, like white vinegar and essential oil mixtures, that aren’t necessarily meant for killing the coronavirus, but will be fine if you haven’t had exposure in your rental. Take this time of infrequent bookings to move furniture and really scrub floors, clean windows inside and out, and make sure your unit is as sparkly clean as possible when your guests do start traveling again – you know they will be ready to go when we’re on the other side of this thing! But we may all have a little PTSD for a while, so being able to ensure guests that they’re walking into a well-cleaned unit will be important!
Stay Active on Social Media. This is a great time to get in your unit and gather a lot of great content for social media. Take some action shots of your cleaning efforts to reassure your guests. Stage some games being played, or some reading by a fireplace shots. Recreate the experiences your guests can have when they visit you after this is all over. Make them excited to come!
Look at your data! This is something we’ve probably all known we “should” be doing, but never quite get around to. This is a great time to go back through your booking data and see if there are helpful nuggets of information in there that can guide your future planning.
- Look back at all your old reviews and identify themes and hidden gems that can help you improve your operations or branding/marketing: Do your guests rave about what you expect them to rave about or are they revealing important features/benefits that you should be promoting more:
- “We loved the short walk to the local coffee shop!” showing up in multiple reviews? Then, be sure to tout the proximity to good coffee in your property description.
- If you notice people referencing your space being good for business travel, getting work done, writing, proximity to local business hubs, this may be an opportunity to increase your business traveler amenities and brand yourself as an ideal business travel property.
- Occupancy Rates Spikes & Valleys Review your data from the beginning of bookings to identify trends. Do reservations unexpectedly drop off at the beginning of August? Spike before the holidays? You may be missing opportunities to market in a different way or to different audiences to get more consistent bookings when rates are highest or to increase occupancy rates during low booking times.
These are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning! We’re sure you can come up with great ways to use this pause in business to make it possible to come back stronger and better than ever.