During our most recent webinar “Is mid-term the new short-term? Booking trends and tips for 30+ days bookings”,  Vanessa de Souza Lage, Co-founder and CMO of Rentals United and Pierre Becerril, Co-founder and CEO at Transparent discussed how incorporating mid-term into your short-term strategy can help mitigate damage and recover some revenue. 

If you missed it, you can get access to the recording of the webinar and presentation slides.

During the webinar, there were a number of great questions asked by attendees that our hosts didn’t have sufficient time to answer. As promised, here are the answers to those remaining questions.  

Pricing

What is the mark-up based on the long term rates, for doing mid-term? Is it a logical (good) approach?

For mid-term markups, it is important to first look at your costs: you will reduce cleaning, support and maintenance costs. We would then suggest doing a price comparison with other websites you are looking to advertise on. Alternatively, contact Transparent Intelligence who can help track your market and competitors. 

Rentals United’s Channel Manager tool can also help you set LOS rates for your properties on different channels. If you wish to speak with us about LOS pricing please leave your details here.

If I change my LOS in RU will this automatically change it on platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com?

Yes absolutely! As long as the channel accepts LOS pricing we can push it. The following channels partnering with Rentals United Channel Manager support LOS pricing: 

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Have you spoken to Beyond Pricing about pushing prices beyond 365 days for short term postponements?

Beyond Pricing is an automated dynamic pricing solution for Airbnb and other vacation rental sites. They utilize real-time market data to ensure their price recommendations to maximize revenue and occupancy for our hosts. 

Yes, Beyond Pricing says that you can push pricing past 365 days, all customers need to do is to email either their support team or account manager.

Do you have a recommended monthly discount that will attract guests?

Sonder, a large US property management company is currently offering 45% off all new bookings for more than 30 days. We expect they’ve done their research well. Other than that, we recommend you check your competition and speak to a data intelligence platform like Transparent Intelligence.

When you enter the price per night on the listing on Rentals United, it is better to have a higher nightly rate with a higher discount on weekly and monthly or better to have a lower nightly rate?

We would recommend testing. On the surface, discounts are a good incentive to encourage consumers to purchase a product. However, they may not be for every type of customer. Ideally, you would test this on different channels: speak to the channels and see what has worked for others on their platform. Both Airbnb and Booking.com highly encourage to show nightly rate discounts… and we’re pretty sure they do their homework regularly 🙂

Here is an excellent resource for understanding the difference between LOS and Discounts.

Channels/ Distribution 

Does your channel manager support Urbandoor or 2nd Address?

2ndAddress is a channel that focuses on business travel across the major US cities, they’re currently in the process of integrating with Rentals United and we are expecting to go live in June 2020.

Urbandoor was acquired by Airbnb back in August and have informed us that the integration between the two platforms is something they’re currently working on. As soon as they a fully integrated we will let you know. 

We have rentals in beach locations, so not cities, requiring mid-term rentals. Is there any specific advice for this situation?

Much alike to Urban locations we would recommend: 

  1. Target guests looking to book mid-term via setting a monthly price with an aggressive weekly and monthly discount (LOS pricing) on all major OTAs. Airbnb has reported an increase of 30% in longer-term bookings and we are certain this is true across the board. 
  2.  If none of the mid-term channels we mentioned (Spotahome, Homelike, Altovita, Housestay) accept your location you can try and find some by typing the following keywords  in Google: 

Apartments for rent in…; long-term housing in…:  furnished rentals in…: corporate housing in… : temporary housing in…; extended stay in…; furnished apartments in…; business apartments in…; corporate accommodation in…; full service rentals in….; mid-term accommodation in….; monthly rentals in…. Etc…  

3. We would then recommend checking their website popularity on similar web. This will give you an insight into the channels’ engagements as well as the top countries visitors come from, allowing you to identify the right target market. 

Do you think midterm travellers want to look for specialised midterm platforms (EX: Business vs Students/Urban vs Leisure)

For those types of travellers, we believe they are looking for specialised platforms. Staying in a rental for two or three months is a complex decision and people will spend considerable time shopping around for that perfect place. Mid-term websites offer reassurance, for example, Spotahome will personally visit each rental, create a video and write up their own description of the rental. This gives customers a sense of ease.

On the other hand, Airbnb has reported a 30% increase in longer stays and have a dedicated search page so there is a possibility to get long-term booking through short term websites but, it might be harder for traditionally short-term websites to tackle this too. 

Bottom line: Increase your marketing mix now, advertise on platforms that target specific types of travellers (business, students, etc), they most likely have access to a broader pool of travellers and can get you bookings from many different traveller types.

Do you see business/corporate travellers booking through web-based channels or are you seeing bookings via traditional channels like GDS?

GDS for those who don’t know put your vacation rentals in front of travel agents and corporate travel agencies. Historically, these agents receive higher average nights bookings. If you’re a large manager speak to Busy Rooms for GDS connectivity (we’re pending to finish our connection with them). 

If you’re a Rentals United customer or want to become one we have a connection with B2Book, a distribution engine that can get your rentals in front of travel agents worldwide.

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Content Optimisation 

What are the three top words and top sites that have the most impact for drawing attention?

We don’t currently have stats on what titles and description convert best but Transparent said they would analyse it as part of their mid-term report in May.

Here are some tips:

  • DO NOT use “Coronavirus” or “Covid-19” in your titles and description
  • TRY a title adding the distance to your nearest station / road / attraction
  • TRY adding in your top description “Come drive to your gateway!” (tip by HomeAway/VRBO)

Do you have the ability to have a live graph that we can share on our site in real-time to show guests that renting is happening and safe worldwide?

Currently at this stage, in most countries, there are very few short-term bookings and it is not safe to travel, so you shouldn’t encourage this. Vanessa our CMO thinks that would be a marketing faux-pas!

What we would encourage is hosting people who:

Need Rentals as an office– As companies across the globe are encouraging people to work from home, some employees may not have the ideal set up for it. Individual professionals are searching for work-from-home solutions that will allow for flexibility as well as self-isolation. 

Need Emergency Services– Some travel nurses, specialised doctors and members of the emergency staff require clean and comfortable accommodations so they can be close to their patients and keep a distance from their families for safety reasons.

Are Stranded travellers– Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, some travellers have been left stranded without enough notice to change their itineraries. Some may have even decided to delay their trip back home until it’s a lot safer to travel. These types of guests would require to stay at flexible accommodations for an unspecified amount of time. 

Technology

Which of your PMS integration partners is most friendly to mid-long term management? i.e. Corporate housing and month to month rentals that fall under traditional tenant/landlord regulations and may require an actual lease to be signed.

Hostfully (US) platform is well suited for this shift in stay length, as Hostfully allows for e-signatures for terms/leases within the platform.”

Rentopolis (Italy) together with software Shomi provide legal and fiscal advice to managers, assisting them with regulations and taxation for mid-term and short term. Digital contracts are available but managers in Italy will need to register them with the tax authority and pay certain fees.”

Bookfull (US) can support monthly rentals, such as corporate housing and 30-day minimum requirements, and help with long-term rentals. We integrate with DocuSign, so users can send signed agreements to guests/renters.” 

Res:harmonics (UK) reports having a lot of experience with clients with mixed portfolios / long and medium stay. No e-signing at this stage but contracts made between the manager and guest can be uploaded to the platform.” 

Guesty (Israel) fully supports corporate housing and mid-term 30+ stays. This includes the ability to support contracts, document storage and rental agreements.” 

Escapia (US & AUSTRALIA) can handle long-term rentals and allows for e-contracts via their Glad Contracts functionality” 

PMS Arkiane (France) allows management of mid/long-term inventory but contracts need to be signed outside of the platform.”

BookingSync (France) confirms that managing mid/long-term inventories will be technically and publicly supported by BookingSync within the next few days.” 

Estar Group (Italy) has LOS management so the Manager can set mid and long term price discount over the standard rate. They can facilitate contracts but as per Italian law the property manager will need to register the contract with the authorities.” 

LMPM (US) can do mid-long term rentals as well as real estate listings. E-signatures comes with LMPM as standard i.e. out of the box”

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Other Questions

Do you think that short-term is dead in the coming months?

From what we have seen it really depends upon which country your properties are located in and how severe quarantine confinement is there. With mobility being greatly affected across many countries it is difficult for most property managers to currently receive short-term bookings.

However, as countries begin to see the coronavirus curve flatten and decrease we expect short-term stays will once again accelerate starting with domestic travel, then business travel and eventually international travel. 

I know we are in the short-term business but will the hotels start lowering their price to be more appealing so they take more bookings than us?

Hotels are in the same boat as vacation rentals and will also be doing everything it takes to survive. We would suggest talking with a yield manager about your pricing options: 

Do you think flexible cancellation policies will increase the chances of getting bookings?

This has always been the case but now it is true more than ever. If you want to get more bookings, you need to risk getting more cancellations. Right now, everything in travel is uncertain. People don’t want to commit to a trip. They want the security of a full refund. You can attract guests by offering them a lenient cancellation policy that allows them to change their plans if they see fit.

Have you done any study on how long the total stop will last in Europe for travelling? When people more or less will restart the hospitality business? 

This is outside of our realm and it will be very country-depended. What we expect to happen is that domestic travel will resume first, followed by business and eventually international leisure travel will follow.

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