Longer bookings are surely what anyone running a short term rental business wants? It’s almost the best of both worlds: The benefits of renting long term, with the income of a short term rental. But how to achieve this? I have 6 tips for you here with some ideas that you may not have thought of so please read on!
Longer bookings require creativity and reaching out to people who may not otherwise come your way. But they are perfectly possible to achieve with a bit of leg-work, communication, and reaching out to less obvious people.
If you think out of the box, there are plenty of opportunities for “long” short term lets. Think about people who’re on a short term contract in your area. Think about people who’ve been relocated because their new build house is faulty. Think about listing with a serviced apartment provider. These are all golden nuggets of opportunity.
I’ve used these all and to good effect. Let’s dive into the detail.
1. Make a list of all the possible businesses that may have the need for short-medium term rental services.
These can include (but are certainly not limited to):
They have whole departments dealing with relocations of people who have purchased defective houses. Often new build homes are defective and require the occupants to move out during the home guarantee period. These are ideal companies to contact and drop a quick hello message to. I’ve done this and secured an 8-month booking from them!
All you need to do is take a drive around the area you live in and check out all of the new build houses going up. You may have noticed that the builders are quote fond of advertising who they are.
Or you can research houses that have been built in the last 2-3 years. The key is they are still under guarantee because if they are, the construction firms may be obliged to relocate people, temporarily.
National or International Firms in your Area:
Major companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs, and putting people up in hotels for extended periods is expensive. Add to this the fact that if your property has more than one bedroom, you could well accommodate at least two of their employees, especially if these are not “executive” type people.
In the last year, I had many trade-people and sales reps who wanted a two bedroomed place to rent and do their own cooking, and they were all excellent guests, most of whom transferred to direct bookers.
In addition to trade-people or sales reps, there is also a huge market for “executives” or senior managers who require accommodation for a short period of time, so think about this in your marketing and presentation (especially photographs). Also, do the math – work out what you could save companies by calculating the price of a hotel stay and then calculating your price so you are still profitable. Even if the price is similar, company managers might still very well prefer the comforts of a spacious apartment to a small hotel room.
Get a list of all of the major companies in your area and email them. You could start with emailing the HR department, for example, as they may deal with these sorts of issues. If you email 100 people and end up with just one response, this might still be a very lucrative opportunity.
Public service organizations like major schools, hospitals, etc often have people coming to work for them for short periods. Some of our apartments are near a local hospital and we are ideally suited for them.
We started initially by getting bookings for doctors from websites like booking.com etc, but when we actually reached out to the organizations directly, we got longer, much more lucrative bookings with no OTA commission to pay.
The average stay of a traveling medical professional is 15-25 weeks which would be an extremely lucrative booking.
2. Look for opportunities for long term guests on Community Websites
Websites like gumtree.com and many other similar local websites (your local newspaper might also be suitable, and their website) are golden nuggets of leads for short-term rental guests (who like to stay for a while).
These are more and more ignored as the online world explodes, but people still read publications like local free newspapers, and the advertising rates are cheaper and cheaper, so use them.
I advertised in my local newspaper for £20 and this bought in over 100 leads and 3 stays!
3. Serviced Apartment Companies
As the short-term rental sectors have exploded, and because of the changing way in which people work, a great many companies have set-up as brokers of “Serviced Apartments”
These are useful for you for the following reasons:
- You’re not competing with hotels.
- Your potential customer base is extremely targetted.
- You get to trade on the brand of the Serviced Apartment Agency, so you benefit from a brand in the same way as a hotel does.
Of course, you have to provide a high level of service including things like weekly cleans, and other services that would be provided by Serviced Apartments, but the great benefit again is usually the minimum stay would be 30 days, and very often you will get people who stay with you for many months.
If I compare some of my apartments in Europe, the difference is often between a profit of £800 per month with a traditional let, and £2500 for a Serviced Apartment let. And of course, you have the added benefit of much less hassle, much fewer potential problems with neighbors. And, as the people will often be staying for months, they are highly likely to treat the property better than 1-2 night stays, as they’ll be there for a long time!
See this article Serviced Apartment Outstrips that of hotels in Europe on thecaterer.com for further interesting details and information.
4. Manage your rates carefully on existing channels
In addition to these new ideas, and “gorilla marketing” tactics to reach out to companies directly, don’t forget the benefits of giving a highly preferential rate on Airbnb, booking.com and Expedia (et al) for longer stay guests.
Guests who stay at my properties for longer than 2 weeks get a discount of up to 40%. Now, this doesn’t mean they get a bargain-basement price, we simply increase the base price so that a one night stay is very expensive, and a 2 week+ stay is lucrative but competitive.
If you find yourself with gaps in the middle of long stays, you can easily drop your prices to fill these and reduce “void” nights.
How to set this up long stay discounts?
There are basically two ways to do this:
- If you use a channel manager, you can have a minimum stay rate loaded which is x% cheaper than your base rate, and then another rate that is your base rate. For example, your minimum stay rate might be $£100 a night and your minimum stay rate might be $£100 a night.
- Use the promotional tools on Airbnb, Expedia and booking.com. This is personally how I do it. Why? because the OTAs like it when you use their promotional tools and they rank you more highly because of it.
5. Promote your local website and use the keyword “Serviced Apartments”
When you have your own website and can take direct bookings, this is nice, but don’t forget about the value of having blog posts (or just pages) with keywords that directly inform your audience about what you can do for them. This would be a big advantage of setting your site up on WordPress.
If you had a webpage with the Title: “Premium Serviced Apartments in Stratford upon Avon” as the title, and then a nicely written, useful page about what you can offer (500-1000 words), this should not take too long to rank on google, because although popular, the Serviced Apartment Market is by no means saturated.
6. Things to think about:
- Take care that you adhere closely to local planning regulations.
- Think about insurance. You may well need to have a higher level of insurance if you are a serviced apartment as well as public liability insurance, especially if you are a limited company or LLC, which bring me on to my next point:
- You may have to register as a Limited Company (UK) or LLC (US), etc if you are to do business with serviced apartment brokers. This may cause increased administration in the short term, but also can have a number of tax advantages in the long term.
I hope you found this article useful and that this article has helped you to see the wealth of possibilities over and above the traditional channels for short term rentals. If you did, please let me know by adding a comment below.
If you have other information to add, please also add a comment so other people can benefit from this information.
If you have any other questions about Airbnb, Short Term Rentals, Booking.com or Expedia etc, please checkout out our latest content satisfiedsleepers.com/blog here or email me at [email protected] or our contact page and I’ll be sure to respond.
To your success!