Of course, it’s still too early to tell. But the signals are all there that people who provide short term rental accommodation are going to have a pretty hard time in the next few months … or more. Hosts are already bleating about how their ‘businesses’ have been destroyed by the current medical emergency that’s sweeping the world.
People have been told not to travel. They have been told that even going away for a weekend is risking things too far. (Except, that is, in Sweden to date. It will be interesting to see how that country compares to the rest of us in the months to come).
So it seems that for now at least, the travel industry is pretty much at a standstill. So what are Airbnb hosts going to do?
There are quite a few of us who, over the years, have been trying to persuade new hosts that relying on Airbnb income for the finer things in life is a mistake. But I’m not gloating, I promise. However, things will have to change.
It’s okay, we’re not living in some Stephen King short story. The apocalypse is not upon us. Things change all the time, they always have. They always will and what matters is how we react and adapt to those changes. And we can. We have to.
We might have mortgages and property taxes to pay and were relying on our Airbnb income for that, but at least we have our property from which to earn money.
Our society is at a stage where we might have to rewind twenty or thirty (or more) years. But a different twenty or thirty years ago – a time when we have most of the conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to but when things don’t just land in our laps. Yes, a time when we have to work a bit. A time when we’re not pampered and looked after. That’s not so hard is it?
Bear in mind that there are a lot of people who ‘host’ on Airbnb who really just jumped on the bandwagon. (They thought that STR was a bandwagon, you see). They bought or even rented property. They crammed as many beds in as possible and they ignored such niceties as STR insurance, local licenses and so on.
So the good news is that they’ll disappear. Competition in your area will decrease. But you still have to get guests. How?
As we all know, Airbnb is doing what it can to put hosts in touch with people who need accommodation because of the coronavirus plus other measures. Read about them here. Yes, it’s unusual for an advertising platform to offer help but Airbnb is doing so. I can’t think of any other offhand.
But people will still need accommodation. People will still need somewhere to live. You can provide this. Yes, you can make more money if you’re doing short term rentals, you’re also doing more work. If your rental is a separate place, you can rent it on a long term basis (insist on a lease) knowing that you are assisting and not abetting the housing crisis.
If your rental is a room in your home, believe me that people have had lodgers, ‘paying guests’ and B & B guests for hundreds of years.
If tourists are no longer coming to your area, or if you’re in a location that doesn’t have a tourist trade, then there are still people looking for accommodation. True, the chances are that you’ll no longer finds them by creating a website listing then sitting back and letting the popularity of Airbnb do the work for you.
There are students, people who are temporarily working in the area, people visiting relatives or friends, remote workers, travelling nurses / musicians / entertainers / construction workers / et al, people who are househunting in your area or who have to leave their homes temporarily for repairs or other work, artists & writers, people who live on boats which are in dry dock, digital nomads, temporary teaching staff, freelancers … there are many, many more. As I write, many people have been told to work from home. And they’re getting used to it. We might find that a number of those people will want to continue working remotely – and why should they do it in their own home and not yours?
Find some of these people. Spend some time networking with local businesses, schools & colleges, hospitals, places of entertainment, real estate agents, event organisers – again, the list goes on and on. If I’m going to be harsh, get off your backside and find the people who can send you customers. Restructure your business and your attitude. Be one of the business survivors.
Although there is one lady who has put it far better than I ever could…
Queen Elizabeth ll, speaking to the nation, said (and it applies even if you aren’t British);
“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.”
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.