Ward, Hayden

5 Ways to Grow Business in a Challenging Environment

Working From Home on Your Property

Short-term rental and vacation rental property owners are facing unprecedented times. With travel restrictions around the globe, it’s making it difficult for owners to get and keep reservations. Working from home has new meaning for every industry including vacation rentals. If done right, you can make the most of this down time to ensure your business and property is ready to go when travel resumes.

Here are five ideas to help you make the most of your time.

1. Make Home Improvements & Upgrades

Spending time cleaning the inside or walking around the exterior of the property inspecting for improvements are large tasks that should not be overlooked. Going through your property and working on projects you have been putting off or haven’t had the time to do will help you in the long term. Not only are you reducing potential risks, but also maintaining a sleek and well-polished rental property.  

Take the time to scrub down everything including the outside of your property. Think about washing off your vacation rental to remove any dirt and expose any cracks or chipped paint that need to be repaired. Amp up the appearance of your home by cleaning the windows – inside and out. It helps illuminate your home with natural light and extend the life of your windows. Check for and fix wood rot, missing or damaged caulk to help reduce the risk of leaks during storms.

As important as the outside, clean and upgrade your indoor space. Go through every drawer and reorganize, completely clean out closets, and wipe down things such as fans and the tops of headboards. Document your cleaning process and use it as a marketing tool. Ensure that you have cleaning supplies such as disinfectant wipes and Lysol available for your guests in the future. For more cleaning tips, download our Simply Spotless Spring-Cleaning Checklist. 

In the midst of cleaning, try rearranging your furniture or adding more decor, such as plants. When redecorating, keep in mind the type of guests you want to attract. Are you looking for urban city goers? Create photo-worthy places in your listing, and add books or pamphlets that contain things to do in your area. Does your clientele consist of beachgoers? Designate a chic space in your property for sandy items.

2. Network With Others

The quickest way to grow your business is through networking. To say we are all in this together is absolutely true for the hospitality business. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to attend a cocktail hour or an awkward meetup to partake! With technology, you can simply join forums or Facebook groups specifically for vacation rental property owners or small business owners. It’s an efficient and easy way to build a sense of community and discuss problems you may be going through.

Think beyond the travel industry, everyone is wanting to help small businesses. Reach out to other local businesses in your area. Cross promoting other businesses in your city gives a completely unique local feature that your property offers. If you have a coffee shop or restaurant nearby you could see guests enjoying, don’t hesitate to reach out to them and work on creating a small promotion. Both businesses will benefit, and your guests will view it as an opportunity to live like the locals. Make it a goal to create long term relationships with these contacts and be intentional with your networking. Now is the time to get creative and think about new opportunities to get your name out and support others.

Another great way to expand your business is through your previous guests. Reach out to them to see what they enjoyed the most about your property, or if there was anything you could improve. With this small gesture, you could increase your loyalty retention rate and be exposed to new information.

3. Update Online Marketing Efforts

Routinely check your property’s listing. There are always improvements that can be made to further grow your business. Practice full disclosure marketing when updating your property listing; be straightforward and transparent. Every traveler respects an honest and truthful listing, including calling out the drawbacks like construction. Keep in mind that if you are not straightforward in your listing, your guests will comment on it. Having an up-to-date description can also help protect you in the event of that a claim is made. 

Display a portfolio of high-quality images of your listing. After making home improvements, take a few minutes to snap and upload some images of your property. Don’t be afraid to take a lot! Most listing sites will allow up to 20 to 25 photos of your property to be loaded. Studies have found that 80% of guests learn more about your property through the images you provide. Having these images on hand will also be beneficial for your insurance. Recent photos of the property in good state will also speed up the claim process, should you have damage.

Another excellent way to broaden your marketing reach is to create a social media account specific to your property. Use the same images you have loaded on your initial listing, and call out any benefits that your guests will receive if they lodge with you. Follow those who are interested in vacation rentals, travel accounts, or sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and booking.com. You never know whose interest you may spark.

Now is a great time to research other ways to advertise your property. With the targeting abilities of both Facebook and Google ads, you can efficiently reach the people you want to see your property and direct them to your website. Don’t have a website that is your own or may be out of date? Take a day to enhance your site or create one. There are plenty of free websites that will help you build the perfect site for your property. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; broaden your reach and expand to other sites.

4. Get Organized

An organized business is a productive business. Allocate time each month to sit down and define your vacation rental property goals. Put together a financial plan to make sure your finances align with your overall goal. Go through each line item, such as maintenance, electricity, WiFi, etc. Research other properties in your area to help reconfigure your nightly rate. This is also a good time to prepare for any outsource work. Organizing your planner for peak season will help you stay on track with your upkeep. 

Go through previous guests’ notes and jot down information that can help tailor your space to fit a certain type of traveler or create a one-of-a-kind experience for many. Making note of their average age, where they traveled from, what they enjoyed most/least, and the like will benefit your business in many ways. Create a file with this information so it is accessible at all times. 

With the information that you find, rework or create a guest manual. Include emergency plans, WiFi information, and checkout instructions. Keeping this up to date will ensure you are headed in the right direction when handling customer claims for your business. 

5. Ensure You Have the Right Coverage

You can never be too prepared when handling the potential risks that come with owning a vacation rental property. Don’t let your business suffer from a setback like a tree falling or pipes leaking. Make sure your policy protects you even when you are not hosting guests. Other policies like those from Airbnb or Vrbo will only cover you for the specific dates of the stay and if it is booked through that platform. Homeowner’s policy may deny claims if they find out you use your property as a rental as it’s considered business activity, which is likely excluded.

Cover yourself with vacation rental insurance and make sure your policy is up to date. Give yourself peace of mind that you are covered for any potential risks that come with having guests or inclement spring weather. CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance is a comprehensive policy designed specifically for your short-term rental business. Talk to a CBIZ representative today and start your free quote!

As we adapt to these uncertain times, we can make the most of this opportunity to grow and to improve our properties. Your productivity will pay off in the long run by networking with other businesses, updating your property’s online marketing, reviewing your insurance policy, and making sure you have all the right coverage, so you are prepared for when travel resumes.

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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About Us

CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.