Customers are booking more alternative accommodations than ever before. In the second quarter alone, alternative accommodation bookings represented around 40% of all new bookings. Even though our new reality is still very challenging in many parts of the world and certainly subject to change, there are early signs of cautious optimism in the short-term rental sector.
Here are four actionable insights that can help set you on the right path for rebuilding your business.
Showcase your uniqueness
It all starts with good content. If I’m running a shop and I dress the shop window, I would go and look at it from the outside. The same approach should be taken when selling things online - look at your listing through the lens of a prospective guest.
Unsurprisingly, images play a huge role here. They need to be high quality and representative of both the inside and outside of the property. The outside is something a lot of property managers tend to forget, but it’s important because guests want to know what to expect and get a feel for their surroundings. Once you’ve covered the basics - bedroom, bathroom, etc - think about what else you want your guests to know. What have you updated as a response to the pandemic? Do you now provide complimentary masks or a hand-sanitising station? Include images of these in your property photos.
On our end, we know people are looking for clarity and transparency more than ever. We are taking steps to make it easier for hosts to showcase their entire property. For example, we now enable hosts to display their health and hygiene measures. But we can only showcase what we know; it’s important for property managers to indicate their features in the extranet so that we can highlight this information for them.
Optimise your rates
Diversifying the policies and rates you offer is key, now more than ever. If you only have one rate, for example, it’s like you’re running a shop but only selling milk. If I walk into your shop and don’t want milk, then I can’t buy anything else. By diversifying, you’re increasing your chances of converting lookers into bookers.
Take flexibility, which is crucial right now, as a more tangible example. If you only have one cancellation policy that isn’t flexible, you’re potentially cutting off a huge chunk of demand. Even the simple act of keeping your standard policy but adding an additional, more flexible option will make your offer more attractive and increase your visibility.
It’s worth noting that revenue management doesn’t only involve discounts; not everything you offer has to be a discount. In fact, the flexible rate can be priced even higher than your normal rate because it’s a better product for guests who are searching for flexibility. Yes, discounts are a part of revenue management, but the biggest takeaway is that you should have a diverse portfolio of rates and pricing solutions on offer.
Stay ahead of the trends
There are three main trends we’re seeing right now. The first is the demand for longer stays, for which we now offer weekly and monthly rates. This product is a good example of how you can add a rate and then we’ll do the rest of the work to help you capture the market demand.
The second is the work-from-anywhere trend, which we are approaching from a facilities perspective. There are certain facilities that are very important for travellers planning to work from a certain location, from strong wifi to a dedicated workspace. To be displayed as a work-friendly property on our platform, all you need to do is indicate in the extranet that you offer these things.
Finally, domestic travel. Think about what’s important to domestic travellers in your location and showcase those offerings. For example, people are increasingly travelling to drivable destinations. If you have a parking spot they can use, highlight it in your content. Another example is adding mobile rates to attract customers who are booking on their smartphone while travelling.
Match guest expectations, better
The short-term rental quality rating score is important because, much like a hotel star rating, it sets guests’ expectations by quickly describing the relative quality of a property. This increases customer awareness of the type of property they’re booking, which helps hosts better match guest expectations upon arrival.
The rating is based on an algorithm that considers over 400 different features including property facilities. Again, this is why it’s important for properties to indicate they have a certain feature. Otherwise, it won’t be taken into account when calculating the rating.
In the extranet, where you can see your own quality rating, we have a section that informs you of how to change your rating. For example, adding certain amenities - such as free wifi, laundry facilities and a dishwasher - can boost your rating. The algorithm weighs various facilities differently depending on location, for example an air conditioner is more important in Miami than in Reykjavik. It takes that into account when suggesting how you can improve your score.
I’m not advocating that every property should be 5-star, but the guidance is there if you do wish to learn more about what affects your rating and how to potentially change it.
- It all starts with optimising your property listing content. High-quality images, relevant features, and transparency can increase your chances of converting a looker into a booker
- Diversifying your policies and rates to offer prospective guests a range of options is key. But that’s not to say that everything you offer has to be a discount
- There are three main trends we’re seeing right now: longer stays, remote working and domestic travel. Increase your chances of capturing demand by targeting these markets
- In the extranet, we now offer actionable suggestions for boosting your quality rating score. Monitor your score and use it to help better match guest expectations