3 tips for getting bookings during the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the world's tourism and travel. The current situation for holiday rental hosts and companies is intense, both economically and socially. If we look directly at the impact on Australia, the market will forever change as demand is greatly lowered. Austrade found that in 2019 there were 8.7 million international visitors to Australia who contributed 276 million nights stayed.

As challenging as this will be on hosts, there are ways to change your strategy and find alternate opportunities to listing your property. We've put together 3 tips to help you get bookings and remain stable during this time of uncertainty.

Kimosabee’s primary concern is the health of everyone in the short-term letting industry, so if you are in a high-risk area, please adhere to the COVID-19 safety advice of the World Health Organization as well as your local, state, and federal government guidelines.

1. Establish if your target markets have changed

For most of us, the holiday rental industry has dramatically turned from an international market into a domestic market. As of the 22nd of March, the government ask all Australians to refrain from non-essential travel.

Start by aiming your property at your local area, which now include the people who live, work, and are stranded in your community until they can return home. It is definitely worth getting in touch with friends, co-workers, and neighbours to find out if they need accommodation or know someone who needs a place to stay. Be proactive and post about your listing availability on social media to get as many people aware about it as possible.

At the same time, be sure to price your property accordingly, ensuring that it's reasonable for the people who need it at this time. Many hosts are likely to price too high out of desperation, but pricing reasonably shows empathy to potential guests and will more likely land you a booking - which is better than none.

2. Expand your target market horizons

Remove any automatic seasonal or tourism-based pricing you had set up. For the next 3 months, you have to assume all events, all holidays, and all weekend traffic is non-existent.

Your new strategy is based on occupancy, not revenue. Price your properties more reasonably to assume for longer stays, but also relax your minimum stay options. Consider advertising your property on less traditional holiday rental platforms such as Gumtree, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

If you don't use multiple OTA sites or GDS systems, now would be the time to create additional listings. Ask yourself what changes could help open up your property to more target markets. Could it be pet-friendly? Would a porta-cot and high chair make it baby-friendly for young families? Could you offer a second car park? Also, keep an eye out for how your OTAs and partners are helping to create bookings for you. Airbnb launched the Open Homes Campaign where hosts can help accommodate 100,000 COVID-19 responders and health professionals. Smartbnb recently launched Footshake, a property marketplace for employers to help their employees "work from home".

3. Be a compassionate host

Now is the time to offer your property to those less fortunate. If you cannot get your home booked on the platforms mentioned above, why not open it up for free or at a very low cost for those who need shelter right now.

Reach out to social services like Refugees Welcome and the Romero Centre, or get in touch with families within your community that are stuck in limbo. This kind of compassion at this time may give you some marketable opportunities for when the world goes back to normal. It is also the right thing to do if you have the ability to do so.

Please look after yourself and those around you. If you have questions or would like further advice, reach out to Kimosabee directly or one of our awesome partners on the marketplace.