The vacation rental industry has been particularly affected by the coronavirus epidemic resulting in cancellations and empty calendars. But, it is important to remember that the crisis won’t last forever.

Ask any expert, and they’ll tell you that travel will come back quickly and most likely faster than anyone expects. Travel and tourism is a highly resilient industry that has recovered time and time again from diseases and natural disasters.

So what can property managers do to prepare for the challenging road ahead and make sure that their businesses not only remain competitive but are also able to grow? Planning for the future is just as important as mitigating the damage.

To find out, we asked top vacation rental industry experts to reveal their predictions of the post-crisis trends that will define our industry.

The founders and CEOs of some of the world’s fastest-growing vacation rental businesses – Rentivo.com, City Relay, Smiling House, Guesty, Rentals United, Doinn and Abode PR – shared with us how they see the future of vacation rentals, including the challenges and opportunities.

Here are the top predicted post-crisis trends that will shape the future of property management businesses. 

Trend 1: Cleanliness will be more important than reviews or amenities

“Guests are going to look for more detailed information on property managers’ cleaning processes and expect immaculate spaces upon check-in.”

Vered Schwarz, Guesty

While there has always been a focus on cleanliness, the importance of property sanitising and disinfecting between guests will be progressively important. 

Even after coronavirus is no longer a concern, guests are going to look for more detailed information on property managers’ cleaning processes and expect immaculate spaces upon check-in as well as cleanings throughout their stay,” says Vered Schwarz, COO of Guesty, a  property management software with an end-to-end solution for property managers.

Noelia Novella, CEO of Doinn, a professional online platform service that brings local accommodation owner and managers in touch with the best cleaning and laundry services, reiterates how “Professional cleaning services and products will be a must and it will be clearly specified in the profile of the property“.

The majority of property managers shouldn’t have to make too many changes if they already have their cleaners pay attention to detail. Still, with the increased level of concern, this is a great time to reassess procedures and processes for the foreseeable future. 

TIP: Properly has created a very useful post on how to disinfect your short-term rental

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Trend 2: How managers communicate with travellers will need to be planned more thoughtfully

“Businesses that have used this time to strengthen and nurture their relationships with all stakeholders will be in a stronger position during the recovery phase.”

Jessica Gillingham, Abode PR

The experts we spoke with reiterated the importance of a clear and consistent communication continuing after the coronavirus epidemic. 

Going forward, businesses that have used this time to strengthen and nurture their relationships with all stakeholders and have been clear and consistent in their communication will be in a stronger position during the recovery phase“, says Jessica Gillingham, Director of Abode PR, a B2B PR agency for the global hotel and short-term rental industries.

Richard Vaughton, Co-Founder and Director of Rentivo.com, a Saas service for owners and managers providing web platforms and data-driven solutions, has these top marketing tips:

  1. Use social media to keep your following abreast of the developments and engender empathy while reviewing past marketing successes.
  2. Take a look at business intelligence tools to create actionable insights and focus on direct business.
  3. Be ready with your campaigns, which can also involve more traditional means of advertising as these businesses will also be seeking any income going forward.
  4. Email campaigns need a focus and correct timing and calls to action etc, so plan now and get it right for the breakout.

Trend 3: The fast pace of consolidation will accelerate even further

Short-term property managers that survive will be able to grow through acquisitions of other market players who will have been hit badly by the Corona crisis.”

Moriya Rockman, Smiling House

The experts we interviewed predict that we’re going to experience rapid consolidation once the coronavirus epidemic calms down. 

I predict that we will see significant amounts of consolidation (including larger property management companies acquiring smaller ones trying to stay afloat) which will result in more synergies and companies scaling as this ecosystem comes out stronger than ever before,” says  Vered Schwarz, COO of Guesty.

He is not the only one whose crystal ball shows consolidation as one of the most important post-crisis short-term rental trends. 

Short-term property managers that survive will be able to grow through acquisitions of other market players who will have been hit badly by the Corona crisis,” says Moriya Rockman CEO, CMO and Founder of Smiling House, a luxury property management company. 

The landscape of the industry will undoubtedly change. The crisis is set to reveal the sustainability of business models and the resilience of various industry players. 

Maxime Leufroy-Murat, CEO of City Relay, a short let property management company, thinks we will see the “Death of the small non-branded master-lease operator – but this will have a positive impact with local authorities.” 

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Trend 4: Property managers will advertise on a much wider range of OTAs

There will be less reliance on major marketing channels, and property managers will develop a niche focus if possible.”

Richard Vaughton, Rentivo.com

Another significant post-crisis trend that will characterise the vacation rental industry is increased interest in channel diversification. Property managers will focus on getting listed on a large variety of booking sites, including niche vacation rental sites, to increase their visibility. 

According to Moriya Rockman CEO, CMO and Founder of Smiling House, there will be a “diversity of markets: after suffering from being focused on one market, many property managers will be happy to join an alliance that acts globally, and that will enable them to refer their guests to other desired destinations.” 

As Richard Vaughton, Co-Founder and Director of Rentivo.com, points out: “There will be less reliance on major marketing channels, and property managers will develop a niche focus if possible“.  

Experts also highlight the importance of experimenting with a combination of short-term, mid-term and long-term stays to ensure that property managers’ business models can withstand future crises. 

I believe property management companies will be looking to diversify their portfolio and allow mixed-use for short-term, mid-term and long-term stays to ensure their business model can withstand future, extreme circumstances and maintain revenue stability,” says Vered Schwarz, COO of Guesty.

Trend 5: Understanding fine prints and planning cash-flow will be  required skills 

Deeper analysis of the data available to PMs to better predict opportunities and spread risk and better management of their cash flow to help them ride unpredictable events such as this crisis.

James Burrows, Rentals United

If the crisis has taught us one thing, it’s that having full control over your business is vital – whether it comes to understanding Terms and Conditions down to the very last detail or being in charge of your own cash flow. 

Richard Vaughton, Co-Founder and Director of Rentivo.com suggests: 

  1. Taking a closer inspection of your own guest T&Cs /OTAs and how they are applied 
  2. Reevaluating terms and conditions with owners as well as discussing how the business is legally described and commissions applied
  3. Taking control over your money flow and merchant accounts

Our experts also point to the fact that data can be of great help when it comes to crisis-proofing your business. 

James Burrows, CEO of Rentals United, the enterprise channel manager, proposes “deeper analysis of the data available to PMs to better predict opportunities and spread risk and better management of their cash flow to help them ride unpredictable events such as this crisis.

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Trend 6: Reduced amount of in-person interactions through technology and automation 

I expect you will see more property management companies move to automate the majority of the entire short-term rental process by using technology more and relying less on face-to-face interactions.

Vered Schwarz, Guesty

The experts we spoke with suggest there will be an increase in the use of automation and technology as property managers invest in specialised software. By streamlining their operations, distribution and guest communication, they can effectively reduce that amount of in-person interactions. 

I expect you will see more property management companies move to automate the majority of the entire short-term rental process by using technology more and relying less on face-to-face interactions. Just like everyone now uses an ATM instead of waiting in line for the bank teller or how we all order delivery, you’ll see property managers use similar technology because renters are going to prefer it. Things like keyless entry tools and automated check-in processes, to avoid key pickups, will become the norm,” says Vered Schwarz, COO of Guesty.

Trend 7: A boom in travellers choosing rentals over hotels for remote locations and/or privacy

Getaway destinations close to nature and niche luxury properties will increase and be much more desired after recovering from the lock-down in the cities.”

Moriya Rockman, Smiling House

Finally, our experts believe that following the coronavirus recovery, there will be an influx of bookings in the country/nature sector as people look to escape big cities. 

Getaway destinations close to nature and niche luxury properties will increase and be much more desired after recovering from the lock-down in the cities,” says Moriya Rockman, CEO, CMO and Founder of Smiling House.

According to Vered Schwarz, COO of Guesty, “I believe that coronavirus could lead to significant interest in short-term rentals. Taking into consideration that a long-term effect of this global health pandemic is that travellers might prefer more private accommodations rather than a room in a hotel.

This includes:

  1. Travellers looking for a “home away from home” in the rural countryside to escape their condensed, metropolitan city with their families for 2-4 weeks.
  2. Individuals looking for stays to wait out travel restrictions being lifted.
  3. Those looking to book 14-day reservations if they required to be quarantined after coming back from being abroad.
  4. Guests who might typically have been hotel-goers who are now interested in pursuing alternative types of accommodation. 

Short-term rental industry post-crisis trends: conclusion

The seven main short-term rental industry post-crisis trends to take away are:

  1. Cleanliness will be more important than reviews or amenities
  2. How managers communicate with traveller will need to be planned more thoughtfully
  3. The fast pace of consolidation will accelerate even further
  4. Property managers will advertise on a much wider range of OTAs
  5. Understanding fine prints and planning cash-flow will be required skills
  6. Reduce the amount of in-person interactions through technology and automation
  7. A boom in travellers choosing rentals over hotels for remote locations and/or privacy. 

Remember, we are all in this together and we’ll come out the other side stronger than ever before.

Follow our blog for more tips on how to prepare for recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

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