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Adapting to Change - Lodging Newsletter September 30, 2020
By Wm, May
Published: 09/30/20 Topics: Behavior, Housekeeping, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
A funny thing happened on the way to the Covid mess..
Ok, there is nothing funny about Covid, but there have been numerous changes to the world in general and to lodging in particular which are unexpected or even bizarre. This letters explain what they mean to property owners and how we have adapted to the upheaval.
After the March deluge of cancellations, bookings surged greater than ever before. There are many factors, but the biggest one is people just wanted to "get out of town" and driving-to destinations won out.
Staying in a private home or small lodging facility allowed guests to remain socially distant and yet allowed them to get into the out of doors.
With shopping, restaurants, movies, and other past activities prohibited, "discretionary income" actually increases for folks still employed.
For these and other reasons, rental income grew for most homes but management had to recognize and adjust many other factors. Some of these alterations had been inching into existence before Covid, but it escalated the changes.
Some changes require property owners to recognize and adapt to them fast in order to accommodate the many new guests anxious to rent their homes. Owners who accept change will prosper. Those who don't will lose out.
TREND - Vacation Rental popularity has grown steadily for two decades, right through the world shaking events of 9-11 and the economic travails of the 2007-2008 real estate depression. Once guests try a vacation rental, they stay at hotels less, and our industry grows.
NEWBIES - This summer, additional guests who had never rented a vacation home before were booking. Those "Samplers" will permanently embrace rentals just as those did before.
But first-timers are always sensitive to every little thing. They make incorrect presumptions about what a rental is and is not. They expect 24-7 service, they complain if the weather is bad, and if there is not a 100 quart baking pan in the home. As before, the solution is to provide ever increasing amenities, more service, and higher hospitality for those traveling to relieve stress and strain in their lives.
SENSITIVITY - Every lodging manager strives to keep guests happy. A decade ago, the arrival of online guest reviews made that mandatory. Covid sensitivity increased illegitimate comments
HOUSEKEEPING - Our cleaning has always exceeded guidelines, but we increased training reminders and rewarded staff. Newbies ask lots of questions, so we answer them over and over again.
MAINTENANCE - Our staff always seek to fix every little thing very fast. But if something larger breaks - such as a water heater - now it must be replaced same day. Notifying owners in advance takes a backseat to taking care of maintenance wiki wiki (quick) as they say in Hawaii.
AMENITIES - Owners got to decide what amenities they offer in their homes including Internet, Cable TV, and local phones. Now they have no choice. With work-at-home and study-at-home, an owner who omits any required amenities loses tens of thousands of dollars per year. For some it is time to join the current world.
LATE BOOKINGS - Decades ago guests booked far in advance, often six months to a year. Although the "booking window" has decreased over the years, Covid bookings are made a few days or a few weeks prior to arrival.
RATES - In March our Robust S2D2 Yield Management software said, "Hey where did demand go?" but we held rates and waited. Early May it said, "Demand is skyrocketing. I am raising rates." Each morning we followed the Las Vegas idiom to "let it ride" watching rates go ever upward.
EARLY - LATE - With Covid cleanliness concerns, it is odd that many more demand early arrivals and late departures. Our methods of managing requests proved even more valuable during this time.
INSTANTEOUS - Guests have always expected quick service, but Covid demands instantaneous. Forgot the code? Answer the phone and give it to them (again.) Power goes out? Determine if it's wide spread. Need local restaurants? Provide the answer cheerfully of course. Forgot driving directions/? Stay on the phone and direct them step by step.
GROWTH - Projecting income was impossible but beginning in April, dates booked up last minute and owners made more money than ever before. Covid has turned the world and specialty lodging on its ear yet again. Managers who adapt fast will see owner income soar.
Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0790 – 09/30/20
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies, in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com
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