A message of hope and advice from our co-founder
Posted by Alex Anderson on June 26, 2020 · Guests,Hosts
After the lockdown comes the excitement.
For all of us, whether in the travel industry or not, Boris Johnson’s confirmation that the UK’s domestic tourism market was open for business again with effect from 4th July has triggered a frenzy of excitement.
For holiday accommodation owners, businesses and Airbnb hosts, this gives hope for an end to the bleakest revenue patch the sector has ever known and means they can start to plan for the future again, albeit with fingers and toes crossed, and a new set of logistical challenges to contend with as a direct result of the covid-19 pandemic.
For guests, many of whom haven’t left home since mid-March, it feels like a spell has been broken and rumours of massive booking levels for UK cottages tell of our desperation to be somewhere – frankly anywhere – other than at home.
Suggestions are that supply levels will be under pressure over the summer holiday period, particularly demand for cottages given the desire for families to have “their own front door”, rather than sharing facilities and being surrounded by hotel staff and strangers.
I share this excitement – whilst I’m lucky to live in a rural village surrounded by green space – a term of home schooling 3 children feels like a lifetime – but there are a few notes of caution based on the behaviours we are seeing, particularly from hosts and guests in the short-term rental sector.
- Given everything that has happened over the last few months, how much do you really know about your hosts or the property owners/managers? Amidst the likely scramble for properties around the UK it’s really worth doing that extra bit of due diligence to check they are who they say they are. Fraudsters will definitely be looking for opportunities.
- The same goes for the property; look for independent confirmation that the property matches the listing you have seen online, and above all ask the owners to confirm that the property undergoes appropriate professional cleaning between bookings.
- Protect yourself – remember that even though you might not be leaving the country, you are still going on holiday and it’s appropriate to buy travel insurance, even though covid-19 covers may be heavily restricted in the current environment. SUPERHOG membership will help you with alternative accommodation costs if a host cancels a booking as they can’t vacate the property for your booking due to (for example) a covid-19 diagnosis.
- It’s never been more important than now to be able to demonstrate that you manage your property (or properties) in a professional way, and top of everyone’s checklist will be your cleaning regime. Don’t scrimp and save here. Use recognised professionals and ensure that they have built in a specific approach to covid-19; both in how they handle themselves and how they clean your property.
If you use a managing agent, it is worth clarifying with them, who is ultimately responsible for the hygiene turnaround, as you don’t want it to be out of your control and put your neck on the line!
- Don’t overbook! Whilst it will be tempting to squeeze every last drop out of this shortened summer season – remember it is a long game. Your short and long term future bookings (as well as your wallet) may be at risk if you have a covid-19 issue at your property, so definitely enforce stricter than usual check-in/out protocol and timings and, if possible (I appreciate this may be difficult), try to have longer gaps between bookings.
You need to take every step you can to avoid any crossing of paths between guests, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure with turnaround times.
- Protect yourself – a few areas to think about here:
- Given the circumstances there are likely to be large numbers of first time “cottage bookers”; the difficulty of oversea travel means most people will be “staycationing” rather than jumping in a plane. So, do your research before you accept a guest, don’t auto-accept everything and make sure there is always a deposit in place.
- Financial protection – remember that as a host you are responsible for ensuring that your property is fit for purpose and safe to stay in.
There hasn’t yet been a chance for this to be tested through the courts, but if you are found not to have taken appropriate steps in this regard (particularly in relation to the spread of covid-19) you could be held responsible for the results of any accident or illness caused by the property.
Insurance of a property should be a given, but just as important is the ability for you to demonstrate a professional approach to the maintenance, cleaning and suitability of a property. Take these sensible steps, and by using SUPERHOG to certify that you have, you will be protected for up to £1m in such circumstances.
Hopefully the message is clear: the UK government tells us that the progress against covid-19 is positive, and we are right to be excited about that. However, proceed with caution in what will be a slightly different holiday world to the one that we are used to.
SUPERHOG is the ultimate trust, safety and protection tool for hosts and guests worldwide. By providing global ID checks and verification tools for hosts, guests and properties we are able to guarantee the successful outcome of every booking between SUPERHOG’s (to the tune of GBP1,000,000), on any booking platform anywhere in the world.
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