As expected, opportunity in the post-COVID market has shifted. And so far it seems clear that it’s shifted in favor of property owners and real estate investors. As the demand for shorter-term stays and flexible accommodations continues to climb, anyone with an address—whether it’s a full vacation home or just a spare bedroom—is well-positioned to capitalize on the trend. When it comes to short-term rental demand, there’s virtually no end in sight.
Further, there’s no supply in sight. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, has announced that roughly 1 million hosts would be needed to fulfill the market demand. This is particularly true in multifamily real estate, a category 65% of Airbnb properties belong. Multifamily buildings with 40 doors or less have seen some of the best returns so far.
Low risk and high reward awaits any real estate owner, whether it’s an at-home, hands-on operation or a full scale, multi-property portfolio. But in either case, data, marketing, and automation are an owner’s best friend. Old marketing techniques will miss the shifts in demand, and a failure to automate the labor-intensive turnover process—particularly with shorter term rentals—can make a real estate investment go south. With proper planning, preparation, and a few manageable investments, property owners can feel confident that they’ve positioned their rental properly for post-COVID success.
Best Foot Forward
COVID-19 was a global crisis; it’s effects and perspective shifts are universal. That means most post-COVID guests are looking for the same things, and a great first step for any host would be making sure those things are in order. Listings should advertise an enhanced cleaning protocol between guests, and sanitization strategies within a guest’s stay. Hosts that opt-in to Airbnb’s five-step enhanced cleaning process receive a special highlight on their listing, which reflects the desire among renters to have that kind of visual cue. Housekeeping used to be something that went on behind the scenes; now, guests want to see the health and safety solutions in order to believe in a property’s safety.
Hosts should also keep work-from-home amenities in mind when advertising their listings. For months, wireless internet has been one of the most sought after amenities among travelers. Airbnb released a study that showed hosts who add a laptop-friendly work station earn 14% more than their counterparts. High-quality images of a spacious workstation—maybe complementary coffee, a printer, high-speed Internet capabilities—will attract one of the most valuable COVID-era demographics: the work-from-anywhere renter.
Concurrent Listings — The More The Merrier
Change has been a constant in the post-COVID market. Rather than trying to time the market and enduring the guesswork of finding the right price, property owners can make one smart investment to eradicate the marketing headache. Automated marketing makes optimized pricing easy. Investors and owners can invest in technology that will survey the market demand and list the property at the appropriate price level and stay length. It can toggle either option, appealing to more guests with different needs as far as duration or budget. It can also list the same property on multiple short-term rental sites, each of which bring in a different audience.
And with an automated marketing system in place, it’s important that owners and investors collect the data around how each listing performs. An owner’s portal can be a great place to centralize important numbers, keeping track of revenue, booking history, expenses, and payments in one place. Investors can understand the success of different marketing strategies, and track which pricing and stay length model is attracting most of their sales. They can automate their payments, streamline their accounting, and keep track of their bottom line while at the same time collecting important metrics: occupancy, monthly revenue, etc.
The Passivity Pay-Off
Investors and owners lose time and mental energy when they try to tend to the minutia of tenant turnover. The hands-on management of short-term rentals quickly add up. Owners are juggling underwriting, guest check-in and ID verification, payments, and cleaning between every stay. Quickly than an owner might plan for, those items of management become a full-time job, taking them further away from a common starting goal: establishing passive income.
Owners can make a one-time investment in a property management platform to help them manage their due-diligence and offer their guests an elevated, hands-free experience. Integrated smartphone apps can help guests through a virtual ID check, and deliver a hands-free access key for their convenience. Owners can leverage a management partnership during the turnover process, too. They can have the property automatically assessed for cleaning needs and maintenance, and they can automatically outsource those job offerings to housekeeping teams and maintenance professionals. Properties can then be flexibly staffed based on the immediate needs, allowing owners to be anywhere in the world when the turnover takes place.
The best performing asset in the post-pandemic marketplace is flexibility. Short-term rentals are the closest an investor can come. People are exploring new locales with lower costs of living, traveling for a much-needed change of scenery, or testing new areas with their new freedom from office. Short-term rentals are designed for that post-pandemic movement. Anyone that has a rental offering—a bedroom over the garage or a state-of-the-art vacation home—is holding an incredible opportunity. With automated marketing, tailored guest offerings, and strategies for passive property management, every owner will be properly positioned to take part in the post-pandemic gold rush.
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