The image above tells us something very clearly, doesn’t it? It’s easy to think that if we dressed in blue bodysuits, black braided wigs, black apron-thingies and painted our faces with blue triangles that we’d stand out from the crowd, right? But as the photographs above shows, that’s not the case if everyone’s doing the same thing.
If you’re running a short-term rental buiness, at time of writing (April 2020) the chances are that your business has been severly affected – or even closed down – because of social distancing and self-isolation. Some hosts will see it as the final straw and leave the business altogether but others will want to be back as soon as they can – bigger and better than before.
They say that the current virus situation is going to change many aspects of the future and yes, it most probably will – travel being one of them.
Is there still hope for your travel-related short term rental business? Absolutely there is but you’re going to have to work at it a little more than you might have done in the past.
The good news is that because many hobbyist hosts will simply give up, there’ll possibly be a lot less competition in your area. The not so good news is that the days of creating a nice listing on Airbnb or VRBO then sitting back and waiting for the guests to come flooding in are gone.
One way to ensure that you are one of the businesses that survive and gets stronger is by working to your strengths and even creating a niche to help you to do so.
Travellers in the last twenty years or so have become rather blasé. A place to sleep and shower might have been okay in the ‘good old days’ but we’re all a lot more sophisticated these days. You don’t have a business advantage because of your spotless hygiene, your supplies of bottled water for guests, your coffee making facilities, your fluffy towels, your make-up remover and spare toothpaste.
Hosts today all offer those things. We’ve all been well-trained in this leave-a-review society. Hundreds of TV channels, free wifi, local guidebooks, his & hers bathrobes … sorry, but those things are standard today, not extras. Or enough to make your rental stand out in the crowd.
Ask yourself why anyone would want to stay with you. Great views? Pet-friendly? Near the beach? Close to the airport? Historic property? Close to the art galleries? Handy for many local restaurants?
Oh, none of the above?
Well, if your rental has no natural advantages to give to an edge over others in your area, then you’ll have to develop one. Even in areas with great natural advantages, you’re not going to be the only one. If you’re close to the beach, for example, I’ll be willing to bet that there are several more accommodation options within a short distance from yours.
Of course, what you don’t want is a price war. Don’t reduce your prices in order to beat the competition, add value.
Whatever niche you decide to follow, there is probably a booking site that specialises in supplying accommodation for your targeted guests. But just because you’re aiming to attract your niche guests, it doesn’t mean that you can’t list on mainstream sites too. But marketing to a specific audience means that you have less competition and can offer the best to a tighter market.
Below are just a few of the niche sites you could list on.
- BoatFriendly – have boat, will travel
- Book Different – planet-friendly accommodation
- Boutique Homes – architectural gems
- Bring Fido – dog-friendly places to stay
- Bud and Breakfast – cannabis-friendly
- Corporate Housing & Short Term Rentals – for the business traveller
- Dream Exotic Rentals – luxury travels
- Freebird – for the over 50s
- Gay Homestays – gay accommodation
- Glamping Hub – luxury camping worldwide & includes floating homes, Aitstreams etc.
- GreenTripz – marijuana travel
- Handiscover – accessible accommodation for the disabled
- Hostwriter – collaboration and accommodation for journalists and writers
- Kid and Coe – tailored to the family
- Koshnb – experience Jewish hospitality
- MisterBnb – gay and lesbian travel
- Muzbnb – for the Muslim traveller
- Niche Escapes – various specialist homes
- Noirbnb – specifically for people of colour
- Pets Pyjamas – dog-friendy (UK)
- Pink Vacations – LGBT
- Rent Like A Champion – accommodation for visitors to events and sports
- SnowbirdSeekers – seasonal rentals
- Time & Place – luxury villas
- Transplant – for travelling nurses
- TripMPV – for sports teams
- Trips with Pets – pet-friendy accommodation and hotels
- Vacation Rental Guide – various specific niches
- Warm Showers – especially for cyclists
- World Sport Villas – skiing, surfing, golfing and more
- Xplorie – accommodation woth free events
There are many more sites catering to various niches and the above are just examples. By creating your own niches – or niches, you can obviously cater to more than one specialist field – you can list on several sites including the mainstream websites. By using filters for their requirements, guests will find you.
Remember too that most areas have their own dedicated websites that you can use to advertise your rental.
There are many other specialist niche ideas you may consider depending on your area / type of property / your own interests & personality. The facilities you have locally may also inspire you to offer themed vacations.
For example, we are English and offering short term accommodation in Florida – a state that has many British visitors. It’s easy for us to market to those British visitors by advertising that we have English tea (with teapot and proper electric kettle), that we can recommend where to get British beer, which bars show English sport on TV etc. etc. etc. You too have a niche that you can use.
If you’re in a quiet location, you’re a retreat or a place for relaxation and meditation. If you’re near wineries, you promote wine tours as part of your accommodation. Plenty of local restaurants attract foodies. A racing circuit nearby will bring you petrolheads. Discover your niche and play to its strengths.
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.