As a vacation rental host or property manager, the cleaning guidelines you should follow, and how you communicate with your guests that your vacation rentals are clean and safe will be more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is cleanliness more important during COVID-19?
Cleaning has always been an essential part of running a vacation rental business. It is even more important because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Phocuswire, guest expectations towards cleanliness and sanitation have changed significantly due to coronavirus. Cleanliness and safety become top of mind over other considerations like price.
Cleanliness is also one of utmost priorities, especially when guests are deciding whether they should book a hotel room or a vacation home, and which vacation rental they should book if they go for the latter.
Therefore, it is important for property managers or hosts to follow guidelines to clean and disinfect their vacation rentals properly and communicate it with the guests. In this blog post, we have included the new cleaning guidelines from Airbnb, HomeAway as well as Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) for your easy reference.
What is the difference between cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation?
Different guidelines have used different terms when describing the updated hygiene practices, so it’s important to first clarify exactly what is meant by them.
Cleaning can remove germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. You can use soap and water to clean surfaces and remove germs. But this does not kill germs 100%.
Therefore, after cleaning a surface, you will have to disinfect the surface. Disinfecting is when you use chemicals to kill germs, like spraying with a bleach solution. To properly disinfect, the chemicals need to stay on a surface for a specific amount of time.
By cleaning first, then disinfecting, you can reduce the risk of infection.
It is also worth noting that sanitisation is not the same as disinfection. Sanitising refers to reducing the number of germs to a safe level, instead of killing germs 100%. If there are virus particles in the air and these particles settle on the disinfected surface, then the surface will be in a state of sanitised, but not disinfected. Therefore, when communicating with your guests, it is more appropriate to say that the property has gone through a disinfection process instead of “it is 100% disinfected”.
What cleaning requirements and guidelines have the channels required?
Airbnb has launched new cleaning guidelines, advising vacation rental hosts to take note of which items to be cleaned and disinfected and how to communicate clearly with guests.
If you are partnering in Airbnb’s Frontline Stays program, it is also important for any hosts and property managers to note that you are required to wait 72 hours between reservations including the 24-hour waiting period, giving you time to properly clean and disinfect all areas accessible to the guest, and an additional buffer.
Vrbo and HomeAway have also launched new cleaning guidelines for their homeowners and property managers. These new guidelines cover how to disinfect high-touch surfaces, how much time is needed between bookings to avoid back-to-back stays, and what antibacterial handwashes, cleaners and hand sanitisers for guests.
If you are a member of the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA), you may also be aware that the associations have updated and adjusted their cleaning protocol to include more rigorous measures in light of coronavirus. The downloadable cleaning guidelines are available both in English and Spanish. Its comprehensive guidelines covers the proper usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), what products, cleaning agents and equipment should be used, how to do cleaning for hard surfaces, soft surfaces as well as linens and beddings. It is a good reference for any individual hosts or property managers worldwide.
We recommend you to have a look at these guidelines and follow the steps necessary to keep your vacation rentals clean and safe. This will not only protect the guests but also your property and team.
How should you communicate with guests?
As mentioned above, cleanliness is now the major consideration when guests are looking for their holiday accommodations. For your vacation home to stand out, you need to show off your efforts in cleaning and disinfecting. Below are some good practices:
- Put the terms such as “Disinfected”, “Deep Cleaned” in your property name to catch attention. But do not say “COVID free” or “100% disinfected” as these may be misleading the guests.
- Highlight the efforts you have taken to clean and disinfect your properties in the descriptions. If you have adopted cleaning guidelines or policies, it is great to mention this in the description to reassure the guests.
- Show the photos of your cleaning staff and the cleaning process. A photo can tell a thousand words. It will definitely help you to earn the trust.
- Include anything you provide such as masks, cleaning detergent and etc. in the amenities.
And if you are running your own website, the above good practice of communicating your cleaning efforts still applies. Plus, you should also consider:
- Have a separate section or page on your website to detail your cleaning policy.
- Advocate this on your own social media together with the cleaning picture of your vacation rental.
- Prepare a map or a list of sightseeing places around the area of your vacation home, and upload it on your website.
- If you have a list of contacts such as food delivery or grocery delivery, it is also wise to share with your guests. (This can also be your upselling opportunity!)
- Be sure to have a contact us page for guests to easily communicate with you since things change quite rapidly in the coronavirus time.
In case, you do not have your own website but you are considering having one now, Your.Rentals has a special offer for any property managers running 10 or more properties. Do not hesitate to reach out to us!
And if you have a contact list of your old customers, you may consider to reach out to them and let them know your COVID cleaning measures, so that you keep yourself top in their minds when they plan for a vacation. It will also be a great idea to offer a discount to these customers. With Your.Rentals, you can easily generate promo codes and give out discounts to them.
Apart from the pre-booking stage that you want to highlight your COVID cleaning efforts, you should also show it off when your guests finally arrive at your property. You can highlight these efforts in your property information booklet and/or any other means such as door hangers, signs, or checklists on display. This not only ensures you communicate your great work in cleaning but also gives you an edge over your competitors!
COVID-19 will pass one day; however, we believe it will have a long lasting impact on travellers in terms of cleanliness expectations. To follow the cleaning guidelines and tips above, you will be ready to receive bookings when the tourism recovers!
*This content is based on publicly available information. Your.Rentals makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to this content provided for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.