25 May 2020

Guests in time of Covid-19

In the past weeks we have been reading a bit of everything about what is going to happen next in the vacation rental. Some are more optimistic, others are a bit more pessimistic, however all agree over the fact that the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic transformed tourism, it just will not be the same as before, at least throughout the rest of 2020. The main difference mostly lies in the possibility for everyone to travel internationally again because this was key factor that pushed tourism to foster and become one of the most important industries worldwide. Let’s say it, we are momentarily back to how it was 20-30 years ago when airplanes where very expensive, when tourists didn’t dream as far as they do in this century, when the amount of money dedicated to travel was deliberately limited in favor of other needs. Among the multitude of changes the vacation rental world is suffering today, an essential one is the tourist itself. So, who can we expect to welcome in our properties over the next months? How may the profile change on the short term?

The answer may also be found in the past. If we think about it, we already dealt with this profile although time has undoubtedly added new elements, like modern technology, and evolved trends. Nonetheless if we try to picture our future guests, we assume it will most probably:

  • Arrive in company after a long period being limited in social confinement
  • Reach the property by land transportation
  • Need directions for places where social distance can be respected
  • Be national
  • Pay more attention to hygiene
  • Buy more local products to bring back than usual
  • Tend to make more noise in the property
  • Stay longer
What considerations could we pull from this hypothetical profile? How could property managers use this information in their favor? Some of the predictions do leave some margin of exploitation in benefit of the company, both economically and brand wise. To being with, after so much forced solitude, even if someone loves to travel solo this time it will prefer to do so in company. Next, if guests arrive with a bus or a train, they will most probably need a transfer from the station to the property.

Secondly, they will very much need to rent a vehicle to move around the territory so offering a transfer and rental services may make a big difference. Land transportation is slower so it might be a good idea to offer to include groceries for a day or two as supplement. Surely the guests will want to move around during the day so they will need specific directions on where to go and, most of all, many alternatives because with social distance it is very probable that many selected locations will reach maximum capacity quickly. This task will be challenging because it will require all the property manager’s knowledge of the territory.

Also, since it is very probable that the guest is national the property manager may also need to be more colloquial than usual. Another result of the pandemic emergency is that guests will be much more sensible to property hygiene and most probably clean themselves during the stay so apart from having the property visibly cleaner try to have hygiene products ready for use in the house. If guests arrive with a bus, train, or car, they may be more propense to buy more local products to bring back home. Airplanes have always limited weight and prohibited liquids so now it is a good chance for them to buy typical local products. If the property manager organizes well, they may have another opportunity to gain some extra revenue and help the territory connecting offer and demand. It is not to exclude that part of the guests may not want to risk going out during the evenings and socialize at home instead. This means the party will be at home, we are afraid, and not in the streets, so neighbors might suffer from it. Anticipate this risk, warn neighbors to arm themselves with patience and take all possible precautions to avoid conflicts.

Finally, although restrictions are fewer, they still exist whether these are psychological or legal, so tourists will not be splitting their vacation among more destinations but consume their entire time in one location, hence extending their normal average stay. Offering a long stay discount may be a smart choice to clear any remaining doubt between your proposal and the one of competitors.

In conclusion, despite the critical situation, vacation rentals may still have interesting opportunities to explore that may enhance the experience of the guest, hence cultivating the VR brand, and increase precious cashflow accelerating recovery from the period of loss.

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