As more countries loosen travel restrictions, here’s how you can welcome guests back safely.
The week of September 21st was one many of us had been waiting for. Colombia reopened its borders to international travelers for the first time after a five-month lockdown—the longest lockdown in South America.
The Andean nation joins a growing list of countries that have reopened their borders after months of restricting travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
With travel restrictions around the world being lifted, many property owners are eager to welcome back international guests. Travelers, in turn, are looking to vacation rentals as a way to travel safely while maintaining a level of social distancing not available in large hotels.
As we work together to limit the spread of the virus, it is essential that property managers provide renters with a sparkling environment that allows for good hygiene and social distancing. To ensure your guests are safe, satisfied, and ready to book again, follow these steps to help prepare your rental property for visitors during COVID-19:
1. Enhance the cleaning process
CDC evidence suggests that the virus can live on contaminated surfaces—like a countertop or lightswitch—for hours or even days. To keep your guests safe and healthy, it’s more important than ever to clean and sanitize rental properties to keep the unit spotless between stays.
Here are some key rules to follow when cleaning and sanitizing your rental unit:
- Wait 24 hours before cleaning. To minimize potential exposure to respiratory droplets, wait up to 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. During the 24-hour waiting period, open doors and windows and use ventilating fans to boost air circulation.
- Wear protective gear. This includes disposable gloves and masks, as well as eye protection to avoid splash hazards.
- Clean and sanitize surfaces. Clean hard surfaces with soap or detergent to get rid of dirt, grease, and dust. After cleaning, spray the surface with an approved disinfectant and wait a few minutes before wiping it down with a fresh cloth or paper towel. Make sure you get all areas of the unit, especially high-touch areas like door handles, chairs, and workstations.
- Clean soft surfaces. Use suitable cleaners to remove dirt and germs from sofas, rugs, and other soft surfaces. Whenever possible, machine-wash items at the highest recommended heat as specified by the manufacturer.
- Clean all dishes. Clean plates, glasses, utensils, and cookware whether or not they’ve been used.
- Wash linens at high temperatures. Wash sheets, mattress covers, towels, and blankets at the highest manufacturer-recommended temperature. Be sure to clean and sanitize laundry baskets and hampers once you have finished.
- Dispose of cleaning supplies and protective gear. Throw out gloves, masks, paper towels, wipes, and other disposable cleaning supplies. Wash reusable cloths and protective outerwear at the highest manufacturer-recommended setting.
- Wash your hands. Before and after removing your gloves, be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds (about the length of singing the “Happy Birthday” song) with soap and water each time.
To minimize the risk of infection while ensuring units comply with advanced cleaning guidelines, we recommend having your unit cleaned by a professional cleaning crew. Cleaning professionals will likely be trained and more experienced when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing vacation rentals according to stringent COVID-19 hygiene protocols.
To attract potential bookings and give guests peace of mind, describe your enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols prominently on your listing.
2. Introduce self-check-in and check-out
Contrary to popular belief, listings that offer self-check-in and check-out often are reviewed more highly than those requiring an in-person greeting and key handoff. Now, as we battle the global pandemic, offering self-check-in and check-out is vital for promoting safe social distancing.
To allow guests access to your property without an in-person meeting, consider setting up a key lockbox or an electronic lock with a pin pad. Before and towards the end of their stay, be sure to send your guests easy-to-follow self-check-in and check-out instructions. Consider leaving your visitors a video message demonstrating how to open any tricky lockboxes or operate any difficult amenities. Clear communication is essential to a smooth check-in and check-out process, so be sure you’re available to answer any questions over the phone, text, or email.
3. Stock up on essentials
You can promote safe practices and good hygiene by providing guests with basic supplies and thoughtful amenities. Stock your rental property with plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, disposable wipes, toilet paper, detergent, and cleaning supplies according to the number of guests and the length of their stay.
4. Optimize for long-term stays
In the age of COVID-19, travelers are taking longer trips and booking stays that last a month or more. Encourage long-term stays by giving special pricing on weekly and monthly stays whenever possible. Make sure your space is set up to accommodate long-term guests by providing amenities like cooking gear and access to laundry facilities. Consider providing a house manual with instructions on activities like trash disposal, recycling, and any special care instructions for the property or plants.
5. Make your space work-friendly
With more travelers working remotely, it’s imperative to offer fast, reliable internet with sufficient bandwidth for video conferencing. Also, consider providing a basic, laptop-friendly workspace equipped with a desk and powerstrips.
6. Offer a flexible cancellation policy.
In these uncertain times, travel disruptions have become more common. To demonstrate understanding and flexibility, consider updating your cancellation policy to give visitors the option to cancel their reservation closer to the date of their stay. To encourage future bookings, invite guests to choose between a full refund or a higher-value credit to be used towards a later reservation.
At Lifeafar, the health and safety of our guests is our first priority. As we prepare our Colombian and Portugal properties to welcome international travelers, we’ve updated our standard cleaning process with stringent hygiene and sanitation protocols. We’ve also introduced more flexible cancellation policies to support current and future guests and are providing dedicated support from local hosts for visitors impacted by travel restrictions.
To learn more about what Lifeafar is doing to keep you healthy, happy, and comfortable, read our COVID-19 update or get in touch with one of our team members. And when you are ready to travel again, browse our rentals to find your next destination.
We look forward to seeing you soon.