As a worldwide health crisis developed, San Francisco based HostWell, Inc. emerged as a leader in providing cleaning and sanitation services for vacation rental industry. In Mid-March when the Coronavirus Pandemic “Safe At home” orders began, the bay Area Short-term Management and Cleaning company implemented a 24-hour waiting period between bookings and adopted more stringent cleaning protocols to ensure guest and host safety.
Recently, Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com all announced new cleaning protocols and cleaning related policies. Airbnb’s new policy imposes a 24-hour waiting period between guests. The platform will automatically block out the night of checkout to prevent same day turnovers. If the new cleaning standards can’t be met, a 72-hour hold will be placed on the rental.
So, what does this waiting period mean for your listing? Most HostWell managed listings have a 1-night minimum stay requirement. In the past, this has been a way to maximize income and fill in gaps in a calendar. However, the waiting period changes the economics. It’s less attractive to offer a 1-night stay if it consumes 2 nights of availability. If you have a one-night minimum, you’re at risk of a 50% occupancy rate.
The matter is further complicated for listings marketed on multiple platforms such as HomeAway, VRBO, Expedia, and Booking.com since they don’t all offer the same “cleaning grace period” or multi-day discount pricing structures. While Airbnb may block out 1 night, that night may still be available in booking.com thus negating the value Airbnb was attempting to provide its guest customers.
In cities with residency requirements related to hosting such as San Francisco and Santa Cruz, many hosts rent rooms or spaces in their own homes which share common areas (or, at least, common HVAC systems). In these types of listing a 24-hour waiting period doesn’t solve the problem it was intended to solve. Unfortunately, as it appears right now, Airbnb’s policy will apply to rooms in shared homes as well as private whole-home listings. HostWell is working with Airbnb on refining its policy to be less punitive to “home share” hosts.
A home may appear clean, but not be sanitized.
HostWell has used EPA certified green, anti-viral, and anti-microbial cleaning products for quite some time (Peroxyl HDOX). These cleaning products come in 2 concentrations—one for general cleaning and disinfecting, and one for sanitization.
Most surfaces are cleaned with a general-purpose concentration and a greater concentration is used for kitchens, bathrooms, and other places that require sanitization. HostWell upgraded its cleaner’s masks from standard surgical mask type to N95 masks. We are proud that our pre-coronavirus cleaning protocols were close to meeting new recommendations so we had to make minimal changes to meet the new guidelines.
According to Greg Greeley President of Homes at Airbnb, “Homes have become a place of shelter, and the future of travel will also rely on a new comfort zone, with the privacy and benefits of a home away from home, without crowds or high turnovers. We are working with leading experts in health and hygiene so that our community’s trademark hospitality can incorporate official guidance and fulfill new personal preferences, with hosts and guests uniting to offer, manage and enjoy cleaner accommodations”.
What Does This Mean for the Guest? According to Skift’s US Travel Tracker for March 2020, the pandemic “will make people drawn to activities and experiences that involve less exposure to crowds, more control of their surroundings, and more assurances of cleanliness, at least in the short term.”
There are distinct benefits of short-term rentals for guests who want to mitigate their risk when traveling and want to know that hosts are taking their health seriously.
Short term rentals have the unique ability to mitigate risk for a traveler. Even a room in a shared space will be lower risk for a guest. The amount of exposure in hotels (lobbies, elevators, stairwells, or other shared spaces) is much higher. Contact tracing is also easier to follow. If someone is diagnosed, the line of exposure is easier to track.
Specialized cleaning companies, such as HostWell, that already have these protocols in place, can help reduce stress and additional work for a host. HostWell’s dedicated cleaning staff ensures adherence to the most stringent cleaning and sanitizing practices. All HostWell linens are professionally cleaned to the highest standards.