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How to gear up for summer 2021 in the vacation rental industry

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Getting all the nitty-gritty checks in place and managing the risks is vital to ensuring this summer runs smoothly both for paying guests desperate for a holiday as well as for owners who have decided to let their properties.

Domestic travel bookings are surging according to AirDNA as vaccination programs gain momentum and there remains a pent-up demand to get away. After a tough year, travelers are increasingly determined to make plans.

Drive-to destinations are top of the list - a Vrbo report states that 59% of US travelers said they were more likely to drive than fly to their next destination - further boosting vacation rental accommodation as the number one choice for families and groups looking forward to safe, secure summer breaks.

The result: vacation rentals are full for summer 2021. Last-minute booking options are snapped up and maybe we are entering the roaring 20s for travel... Great news for short-term rental property managers and second home owners looking at full calendars. But are they ready for back-to-back reservations and can they cope with the high demand? How are they preparing for what looks like one of the busiest summers on record?

As in life, the key is in the planning. It’s essential that managers assess the risks involved when renting out properties, getting all the checks in place before the season kicks off.

Here are my proactive top tips:

List your property appropriately
Think carefully about how you describe your properties. Which guests do you want to attract, families, couples or a large group? Word your description with your ideal guest in mind and be sure to be realistic about your amenities.

By being intentional about the image you want to project - through language and photos - you can actively appeal to your chosen market. Look at how other similar properties are described and use these as examples.

Trust your instincts
Look out for the telltale signs of a ‘risky’ booking and make sure you do your research to protect properties from damage. Up to a point, managers can be alert to warning signals, including last minute bookings, reservations from locals or large groups.

If you have concerns about partying guests, check them out at check in. However, in all instances, trust your gut feeling about a booking. Remember, demand is high - you don’t ‘need’ this booking and it might be better to wait for the next enquiry.

Leave clear guest instructions
Once the guests have arrived, ensure that there are comprehensive, clear instructions for the house. How to operate the dishwasher, air conditioning or TV; details on where things are kept; which towels to use for the pool, beach and bathroom.

This might sound obvious, but remember your guest is in a vacation mindset and a third of insurance claims in short-term rentals involve silly mistakes.

Prevent bad guests
Instead of working out how to deal with ‘bad’ guests, find the right people in the first place. At Safely.com, we advise turning internet strangers into trusted guests.

Guest screening stops the guests you don’t want before they get through the door - identifying sex offenders, criminals, and the small, but damaging number of guests who have already destroyed other homes. Powered by analytics, comprehensive guest screening solutions give you peace of mind.

Get tailored vacation rental insurance
Specialist insurance is a must for vacation rentals and it can be a complex process choosing the right product. Many owners rely on Airbnb's $1,000,000 Host Guarantee. This may sound ideal, but it is called a “Guarantee” instead of your personal insurance policy for a reason. Other OTAs may have some level of coverage, but it can be inconsistent so do your research.

Guests are sometimes given the opportunity to purchase damage insurance when they book a rental, but it is the decision of the guest, not the property manager, so it leaves gaps in coverage.

To avoid accidental damage and guest misconduct, ensure you have $1,000,000 of commercial insurance that covers damage to the home’s structure, its contents, and bodily injury (covering accidents and non-accidents and eliminating damage deposit administration). Travel protection and cancellation insurance are also essential.

Getting all the nitty-gritty checks in place and managing the risks is vital to ensuring this summer runs smoothly both for paying guests desperate for a holiday as well as for owners who have decided to let their properties.

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