2020 AirBnB trend - 6 tips to make your vacation rental stand out through awesome local recommendations.
As 2020 moves forward and as the world starts recovering from Coronavirus, it’s important to start thinking about what you as a host can do to make sure your rental stands out this year. Competition is going to be very high in the next 12 months as there are going to be far fewer people traveling, but the number of people hosting is expected to remain relatively stable.
Standing out and really catering to what your guests want to see and experience is going to be critical. Now more than ever, they are going to be relying on personalized local recommendations and guidance on what to do. Establishments which have been around for ages may have gone bust, and whatever your guests had planned or wanted to see may no longer be relevant.
That’s why it’s very important to provide them with the type of information and guidance they can only get from a local. Recommendations for places and activities which are still open, relevant, and safe.
Why local recommendations are so important
It is impossible to underestimate how much the hospitality industry has changed in the last few years, and how much this change will continue to accelerate due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The reason vacation rentals (AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO, etc.) have grown in popularity in the last 10 years is the same reason why the need for comprehensive local engagement is so important: visitors want to feel like they’re truly experiencing all a local culture and location can offer. Staying at a hotel, leafing through a travel book, and solely relying on yelp, tripadvisor, and foursquare to get suggestions on what to do and see isn’t enough any more.
This new generation of traveler values immersion instead of pampering. They value experience instead of optics. Going to places off the beaten path.
I can, from personal experiences hosting in Boston, conclusively say that the guests I’ve had who’ve been engaged and had access to all the tips, recommendations, and suggestions I put together generally had a much more immersive, positive, and fun experience. Avoiding all the “tourist trap” destinations (freedom trail, quincy market, etc.) and visiting restaurants, bars, points of interest, and historical locations which were recommended by locals ensured a more positive, rewarding, and immersive experience - which was visibility noticed in the number of reviews (a higher percentage of guests were leaving a review), and the average rating which they bestowed. I already had a pretty good AirBnB on all of my rentals, but the substantially increased volume of reviews really helped with visibility and getting my rentals ranked higher.
6 Tips on how to make your rental stand out with amazing local recommendations.
1. Start by making a list of places you love going to. Restaurants, cafes, bars, libraries, beaches, etc. When you need to unwind, where do you go? Last year I spent the first week of February in Miami. I had never been, and it was one of those places where I knew very few people. Both of the AirBnB hosts at whos rentals I had stayed at made sure to provide a pretty comprehensive list of recommendations both in the welcome packets they had placed in the rentals, and in the emails they sent before I arrived. Needless to say, I had a blast. I visited so many restaurants, locals, and points of interest which never would have popped up on my radar if it hadn’t been for them.
2. Keep your recommendations short and sweet. Give your guests only the most important information. For instance, if you have a taco place you love, just say “Felipes Tacos on Main Street. Try the Chorizo taco and make sure to add guac!
3. Make a list of black owneded restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Make sure your guests know of these places! It’s important to do your part in supporting the community.
4. Take guests off page one. I can tell you from experience that when I’m traveling and looking for something to do, I rarely go beyond Google’s page one. Because pretty much everyone stays at the top of their search results or yelp search, most people end up going to the same places, and other points of interest which may objectively be better, more rewarding, and more memorable may go overlooked. As a Boston native, for example, none of the best hiking, walking, and biking trails show up at the top of a google search. The things that I’d personally do are never displayed in an obvious place especially for people who are visiting for the first time!
5. Included in your recommendations should be tips and tricks for transportation and parking. Transit route, parking hacks (where to avoid getting ticketed, paying for parking, being in a high-traffic and potentially damaging area) are incredibly helpful!
6. Day trips and longer excursions. I can guarantee that within an hour of wherever you are - maybe an hour and a half, there is something fascinating to do or some adventure to be undertaken that takes at least a half day to do. Because it’s easier for most people when they’re planning to do a “bucket list” style itninerarny, they often don’t think about or overlook some of the more fascinating and interesting things to see. A few years ago I was vacationing in Greece, and like most people there I primarily saw and visited checklist type things. A local mentioned a beach (only accessible by boat) which had a series of interwoven caves and overhangs. I ended up renting a kayak and using it to reach this beach, and without a doubt, it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. If I hadn’t been told about this possibility, I would have missed out on something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
How guests choose what to do when visiting is changing...
In the last 10 years or so, most people who’ve traveled for leisure have relied on services like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Foursquare to give them recommendations and suggestions. However, these types of platforms have one inherent flaw built into them - they function as self-fulfilling prophecies. Visitors only go to places which are highly ranked and highly rated, rate them highly themselves, and help these establishments maintain the ranking which they already have. And since most people who are reviewing and ranking aren’t locals but visitors themselves, the cycle ends up being undoubtedly biased.
These reviews and rankings which they’ve grown accustomed to are less and less relevant, especially given the current circumstances. Even before COVID, there was a noticeable shift in how visitors decided where to spend their time and money. They relied less and less on ‘traditional’ review sites, and more and more on word of mouth, suggestions from locals, and community based recommendations.