4 tips to Surviving covid-19 with your Vacation Rental in the Bahamas.
Today is August 4th 2020 and we all know by now that the Prime minster of the Bahamas has placed the entire country on a two week aka 14 day lock down due to the spike in new cases of covid-19. This comes as another major blow to many including vacation rental host and there seems to be no end in sight. Here are a few tips that can help you survive this new way of life.
As if matters were not bad enough, it got worse. within one month we were taken for an whirl wind literally. The Prime Minster of the Bahamas with consultation decided to open the borders of the Bahamas since their closure in March 2020. After just three months of no tourism the Bahamas began to feel the pinch so a decision had to be made.
Unfortunately this open border policy meant that tourist can come to the Bahamas but at the same time it meant that Bahamians could also travel and we did. This influx of new guest to the Bahamas was a bit of a relief for certain small hotels and motels and for a few vacation rental host however with the travel in and out somehow covid-19 made it back in to the country.
This entry went unnoticed for awhile but then the numbers began to grow on Grand Bahama and a team was dispatched to check in to it. Then all hell broke loose. the numbers began to increase week by week and if that wasnt bad enough we got notice of a hurricane on the move.
Hurricane Isaias was bearing down on the Bahamas. This may have been seen as a ‘what now’ situation but actually it was more of a God sent. You see the word of a hurricane hitting the Bahamas forced many tourist to leave the country faster than covid-19 spread throughout the islands. So in essence no new visitors meant we could focus on healing ourselves.
So enough with what happened what can you do to survive not only covid-19 lock down but to survive the aftermath of no bookings in your vacation rental?
Establish an enhanced Cleaning Protocol
This is one of the first steps you should have already implemented in your listing. Showing that you have a new way of cleaning and ensuring that your listing is safe to stay will increase your chances of being booked.
This new protocol is beyond what you used to do. Wiping down surfaces with pledge just wont cut it any more. Now you have to carry our what is now being called a deep clean. Because persons are weary of touching surfaces you must ensure that EVERY surface especially items that are often touched in your vacation rental is cleaned and sanitized.
This means light switches, door knobs, remote controls and more. I wont bore you with details here but i will suggest you visit this link on Airbnb for their update on the enhanced cleaning protocol for vacation rentals. There is one specifically for the Bahamas.
In addition to the cleaning protocol check list you will want to advise your potential guest of your cleaning procedure. This will help to put them at ease, you can post this information on you vacation rental website where you gain most of your guest and other social media pages… more on this in a moment. If you need more resources there are a ton of websites out there but for now I’m only discussing Airbnb policies. You can read more HERE
Cast your bread upon the waters.
Ok not to get all religious on you but hey, we live in the Bahamas. So what does this mean? Simple you have to get on more platforms to advise persons that you are still open for business.
Most often in the past many vacation rental host would primarily stick to one or two sites that promoted rental units. Well now that is not going to help you. Okay yes we are back on a lock down so you will say whats the point if no new tourist will be coming here well thats fine but there is another way and its also another point that will be discussed.
Do your research and post your listings on multiple vacation rental websites. When you have done this take your listing to social media. Thats right social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. There are far more social sites but these four tend to get the best results for your listing.
Develop a page with the name of your vacation rental, this is where you can post updates to your enhanced cleaning protocol to deal with the issue of covid-19 concerns by potential guest. You see how that works? I would mention that you can also take it one step further and develop a website. This would come at a pretty penny unless you have that skill already but it sure would make things easier. You could then point links on social media to your website for more information and to pay you can then forward them to your vacation rental page on the secondary website to make bookings and payment.
Its easier than you think to develop a page and continue to post photos, updates, videos and text of what is going on in your country and what you are doing to welcome guest to stay at your rental. You cant do this with the vacation rental sites as once you info is in its almost static.
Seek new avenues and reach out to new people.
Okay I know this is what you were waiting on. Cleaning and having a social presence are a lot of work if you cant get anyone to stay at your especially if the Bahamas is on lock down and not accepting tourist.
Well here is a word for you. DOMESTIC TOURISM.
Yes this has been the key phrase being thrown around at the ministry of Tourism since the beginning of the pandemic in the Bahamas. Domestic tourism is what it says, having locals in the Bahamas travel within the Bahamas and because many of the major hotels are closed guess where they will be looking for a place to stay… Thats right all vacation rental sites, Facebook and of course Google.
… but I dont like Bahamians in my place they break things up. Okay that fine, you have an option. Remove easy to break items from the unit and accept locals or leave your unit empty and receive no bookings the choice is yours.
You will have to adjust for locals because being Bahamian means being extra sometimes but we do enjoy nice places. Work with the ministry of Tourism they have specials such as the 2 fly free promotion. Take some time and view their website for ideas and how you can participate especially if you are on an island other than New Providence. Visit My Out Islands.
Give your listings a make over.
Well you know every new beginning needs a make over. I’m not talking about your actual vacation rental but more so what you put out to the world. This means you need to upgrade two things on your listings and social media pages. Your verbiage i.e the information your post about your listing and your photos i.e what you allow your potential guest to see.
Updating your information
This may be a bit harder than you may think, after all we are all not poetic writers. During good times I would advise you to hire a copy writer who can use the right words to paint a picture of your listing with words but in this case you will have to do your best.
The key to your new verbiage make over is to use words that are descriptive and emotional. Instead of saying located in a quiet neighborhood you can write. Experience calm and ease in this friendly community. Or. Instead of stating all modern amenities how about trying something like, stay connected with your loved ones and easy of living with technology at your finger tips.
Keep this in mind, by taking your time to find the right words you can rebuild your listing to make it more appealing.
Lastly but not least, is to update your photos. Yes I know you probably heard this before well its because I wrote about it before some time ago. If you are not familiar take a read of why do I need Professional Photos. Not to reiterate that same story but there are some changes that you will need photographed.
Besides having new photos taken of your property, pay paticular attention to the installation of sanitation stations, hand sanitizer, actual soap and other rules on cleaning and keeping guest safe.
Your guest will need to see these items in your photos and within your wording. Another idea is to have photos of nearby beaches and outdoor activities that your domestic tourist may want to indulge in. You can do this yourself with a mobile phone but if your image are not up to par it may do you more harm than good. Unlike your verbiage it takes some skill to photograph a vacation home in a good light.
These few details can assist you in surviving the covid-19 pandemic with a new outlook on your vacation rental. Keep in mind that it may be a while before things begin to even resemble a normal life. The new protocols will become the new normal for a while, some say perhaps until 2025. This can be disheartening however by adapting to the new rules you can still be able to have your listing rented.
If you need help with your photographs you can contact me for a free consultation on what may be best for your listing.