The coronavirus (or COVID-19) has made international headlines as it spreads rapidly from mainland China to a slew of other countries. It is already impacting the hospitality industry and, of course, Airbnbs.
During growing epidemics like this, it can be easy to fall victim to scaremongering and panic. However, there are several ways that you can prepare both yourself and your guests for the possible spread of the coronavirus to your area.
So, what are my five top tips for getting your Airbnb coronavirus-ready?
- Keep your Airbnb clean and sanitary
- Advise guests of extra precautions in afflicted areas
- Screen guests with caution
- Understand travel restrictions
- Use the extenuating circumstances policy if necessary
Check out the rest of the article for more information on how to stay prepared as an Airbnb host during the coronavirus outbreak.
Keep Your Airbnb Clean And Sanitary
Obviously, practicing cleanliness is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself and your home from germs. In places like public areas, hotels, and Airbnbs, it can be a little more difficult to ensure that things are being kept as clean as you would like them to be.
The best thing that you can do as a host is to clean your Airbnb yourself whenever possible. If this is not possible, it is crucial to communicate with your cleaning staff and implement strict policies on how you’ll keep things sanitized in between stays.
Remember that not all cleaners are created equally. Lots of hosts opt for “natural” cleaners, or those that advertise being gentler than others. Unfortunately, most of these will not kill viruses (including the coronavirus) and only moderately affect bacteria.
These might be okay for general use, but to ensure the safety of your guests and yourself you should opt for something stronger. Cleaning appropriate areas with a dilute bleach solution will definitely get rid of any germs hanging around. Wipes such as Lysol or Clorox wipes make it easy to sanitize things like handles and faucets.
For more recommendations, be sure to check out my ultimate Airbnb cleaning checklist for a thorough list of everything you’ll need to keep your Airbnb sparkling!
Check Out This Rental Recon Article: Airbnb Essentials: 75+ Items Every Host Should Have For Guests
Advise Guests Of Extra Precautions In Afflicted Areas
As of right now, the coronavirus is not widespread in the US and only a handful of countries have very high numbers of people testing positive. However, things can change quickly during outbreaks and it is important to stay on top of the latest news so that you can best serve your guests.
If your area has a large outbreak of the coronavirus, your guests will definitely need to be notified. In some cases, guests may want to cancel their reservation, which is understandable.
If your Airbnb or your guests fall under Airbnb’s new extenuating circumstances policy dealing with the coronavirus, you are both eligible for fee-free cancellation (more on this below).
Rental Recon Tip: It’s always a good idea to make personal hygiene products available to guests, but this is all the more true when it comes to dealing with public health issues. Having things like hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and plenty of soap available will help keep everybody clean and safe.
Note that the US Surgeon General advises that wearing masks will not protect you from contracting the coronavirus, so it is not a good idea to waste money on them.
Screen Guests With Caution
As hosts, we always try to accept every single booking that comes our way. This is not only because it is how we make income, but a higher occupancy rate reflects positively in the Airbnb algorithm. However, there are times where we need to be a little bit more cautious with who we accept.
Guests coming from afflicted areas may need to be treated more cautiously. There are several travel bans in place between various countries and those with high coronavirus numbers, but not all countries with confirmed cases are covered by these bans.
For tips on how to best communicate with your guests, head over to my article with Airbnb message templates for hosts. If you have any questions or concerns on when you should and shouldn’t deny a booking, Airbnb support should be contacted.
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Understand Travel Restrictions
Most countries do not actively prevent citizens from traveling, but airlines and hotels might. These restrictions are in place to keep citizens of all nationalities safe and to prevent the spread of disease to uninfected areas.
Again, if your property or a certain guest comes from an area currently covered by Airbnb’s temporary coronavirus cancellation policy, you are both eligible for a booking cancellation free of charge.
This page contains the most up-to-date information on US government travel restrictions. For restrictions specific to other countries, their State Department websites should have the best information.
Use The Extenuating Circumstances Policy If Necessary
Airbnb’s regular cancellation policy has a section that allows for cancellations in extenuating circumstances. This is usually a pretty strict policy, and in some cases hosts and guests have found that cancelling (even during an event covered by the policy) has had negative repercussions on their account.
Airbnb has a new, temporary coronavirus-related extenuating circumstance policy in effect from now until April in most countries affected. This allows guests and hosts in affected areas to cancel bookings with no negative repercussions or fees that would normally be associated with cancelling.
If you or a guest fall under this new policy, it is probably a good idea to cancel that reservation. There is no telling how much faster or further the coronavirus will spread if people do not exercise the appropriate precautions.
Should I hire someone to clean my Airbnb?
The only way to answer this question is to ask yourself how much you value your own time. If you value the time you would spend cleaning at a lesser amount than what you would pay someone to do that task, then you should probably do it yourself. This is doubly true if you tend to have longer spans between bookings or a lower volume of guests.
However, if you find yourself hurrying to clean in between stays or wishing you were doing anything but cleaning, then it is likely worthwhile to look into hiring a professional. Not only are they thorough, but they also bring their own supplies which can save you a little money over time.
When is it okay to decline a booking?
The general rule is that you should almost never decline a booking if you can help it. Hosts should strive to maintain high occupancy rates for income, more reviews, and an overall better guest experience.
However, there are times when you can’t allow a guest to book with you. If you have extenuating circumstances, be sure to communicate this with the guest. When a guest has bad reviews (an overwhelming amount, not just one), this might also be a reason to decline them.
If the guest has already booked because you had Instant Book turned on, you’ll need to cancel the reservation, which does have negative implications on you as a host.