Your guide to hosting & managing long-term stays with Airbnb
We’ve all experienced a lot of change in the last couple of years due to the massive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the most significant shifts we’ve experienced is the migration to working remotely, with more of the workforce gaining location flexibility that only digital nomads had enjoyed until recently. This new reality has created a growing demand for Airbnb long-term rentals offering Airbnb hosts and property managers new revenue opportunities.
Times are changing: guests are seeking long-term rentals, and here’s why
According to the researchers at Ladders, 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023.
As mandates are dropped around the world and restrictions are lifted, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a portion of the workforce who have proven that location independence is possible and productive will simply not be returning to the office.
The ability to work from anywhere has begun driving demand in the vacation rental industry with a return to business travel and remote workers flexing their flexibility by adopting the “work from anywhere” lifestyle.
Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, reported that monthly stays were their fastest-growing segment even before the pandemic and predicts that the demand will only get stronger as people continue to untether from their desks.
Exploring the long-term stay trend
As an Airbnb host or a vacation rental property manager, it’s natural to have questions about the ins and outs of this trend. So here are some facts to help you decide if offering long-term stays at your property is a strategy you’d like to embrace.
What defines a short stay vs a long-term stay?
Short-term rental: a short-term rental is defined as all or part of a unit rented out for 28 consecutive days or less in exchange for payment.
Long-term rental: a long-term rental is defined as all or part of a unit rented out for more than 28 consecutive days in exchange for payment.
Types of guests looking for long-term stays
Understanding what type of guests are booking longer stays will help you effectively capture and serve this growing market segment as a management company or Airbnb host.
- Gig worker – a temporary worker that works on contract to perform a specific task. Being a gig worker can demand travel for the duration of the job and allow the worker to work from anywhere if they can perform their work remotely. An example of a gig worker would be a photographer hired to shoot a marketing campaign in your area.
- Digital nomad– a digital nomad is a worker who has chosen to work as they travel the world. Their objective is to take on work that allows them complete flexibility. These guests typically don’t own a home or have a residence but live solely in rental accommodations, like an Airbnb, hostel, or hotels, allowing them to move around the world freely. Digital nomads are typically 20-30 years old and don’t have children making the nomadic style easier. A digital nomad guest could be a social media manager, content creator, or writer.
- Remote worker – a remote worker is a hired employee of a specific company offering them the stability of a guaranteed income with regular hours they must work. Their position may be completely remote, or they may need to report to the office from time to time, following what is now called a hybrid work schedule. These guests have a broader age range and could have a family with children and a pet that they are bringing along.
Examples of remote workers could be operations managers, accountants, or marketers. These guests will need to report to their employer and have a dedicated space to perform their work while staying at your rental.
- Business traveler – there are many reasons why guests will be traveling for business. Some of the reasons for these extended stays are a relocation or overseeing a project that may require them to find a rental from 1-3 months or more.
An example of this type of long-term stay would be a guest moving their family to your city but still waiting for their home to be ready or looking for their permanent residence during their stay.
The upside for hosts and property managers offering long-term stays
Offering long-term stays at your vacation rental property has tangible benefits that you may find attractive to your bottom line and your peace of mind.
- Lower turnover fees
- Guaranteed revenue
- Lower occupancy rates
- A great way to generate revenue during low seasons
- The freedom to adjust rates depending on the demand in your market, which is typically not allowed with traditional long-term rental properties
- Long-term renters are usually looking for the conveniences of home, giving you an advantage over hotels
- Less time spent on managing multiple bookings, such as meeting for check-ins
- Guests will require less novelty-type amenities that can cost extra money for you to stay competitive, instead choosing to seek out properties that are practical and comfortable for everyday living
Bonus: Choosing to offer longer-term stays may bypass local short-term stay restrictions that usually cap short-term rentals to 30 days or less. Please make sure to check the local laws in your area to avoid any issues with your rental strategy.
The benefits guests receive by booking long-term stays with Airbnb
We’ve put together a list of reasons why it’s becoming increasingly popular for renters to search for long-term stays on Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com rather than using a traditional real estate site that until now has been where renters would look for a long-term stay.
- Discounted monthly rates
- Peace of mind with cancellation policies
- Home away from home amenities like a full kitchen and laundry room
- Higher level of customer service with a dedicated host or property manager rather than a hands-off landlord
- Fewer fees and bills, ie. HOA, utilities, and insurance
The downside for hosts and property managers offering long-term rentals
As with anything, there’s always some downside. To give you the complete picture of hosting monthly rentals, we’ve put together this list of potential pitfalls you’ll want to consider.
- Potential loss of higher nightly rates
- Less access to your property to update it or use it yourself
- A greater need to screen guests
- Potential for renters to overstay (although this is rarely ever an issue, it’s something to consider)
Bonus: Keep in mind that if your place doesn’t book or has a cancellation, it will mean that your real estate asset will be sitting empty longer than if your property is advertised for short-term stays. This can make it more challenging to book up gap days, which could, in reality, be gap weeks. You’ll want to assess this risk by researching the demand for long-term stays in your area and ensuring that your marketing is optimized for attracting long-term renters.
How to set your vacation rental business up for long-term rental success
To be successful as an extended stay host or property manager, you’ll need to take these critical steps.
Administrative tasks for hosting long-term stays
- Enable the long-term booking option – with Airbnb; you can do this by adjusting the maximum trip settings for your listing. Check with each platform you advertise on, as they will all have their process for adjusting the maximum nights available per stay.
- Set up long-term discounts – Advertising to potential renters that they will receive a discount for a longer stay will help make your property stand out from other properties that stick with their regular nightly rate.
- Decide on your pricing strategy – First, you’ll want to look at comparable units in your area and see what type of pricing and discounts they’re offering. Then take a look at your yearly revenue and see how much per month you’ve made to ensure that you price your place to maintain your previous profit margins. You can also opt only to offer extended stays during your low season to ensure you have revenue coming in.
- Create your long-term rental policies & house rules – Long-term rentals require a change in house rules and policies. Guests who have a reservation that exceeds 28 days will need to cancel with you at least 30 days before check-in. If they cancel less than 30 days before their check-in, they will be required to pay the first month’s rent.
- Create a rental agreement for guests to sign – To avoid potential risks that can be associated with a long-term guest drawing up a rental agreement that clearly states your policies, cancellation policy, and house rules is a good idea. If you decide to implement a rental agreement, you’ll want to make that clear to your guests before booking that signing your contract will be an additional step in the booking process.
Make sure you’re offering amenities that will attract long-term renters
Renters looking for long-term stays generally have different needs than tourists, strictly looking for a fun time away. To attract the right guests, you’ll first have to advertise your reliable and blazing-fast high-speed internet and additional amenities conducive to a good working environment and comfortable lifestyle.
Amenities for gig and remote workers
- A dedicated workspace with a comfortable chair, desk, and attractive decor
- Alternative workspaces such as the ability to work on the patio or a desk near the main living space
- Essential office supplies such as pens, a notepad, sticky notes etc.
- Computer monitors, keyboard, and mouse
Amenities for digital nomads
- Decor that lends itself to being interesting backdrops for content creators – think “Insta-Worthy.”
- Consider having an all-white room that can be used as a “studio,” saving your guest from having to rent studio space.
- Purchase a ring light for video calls and recording video
Amenities for business travelers
- Pet-friendly amenities if you are catering to remote workers and their families
- Dishes for children such as plastic plates etc.
- Gym equipment such as spin bike, free weights etc.
- Free or convenient parking
- Additional linens such as bed sheets, blankets, and extra towels
- A fully-equipped kitchen with all the gadgets and tools your guests will need to cook dinners for themselves and possibly entertain.
Bonus: A coffee bar is always a win. Make your coffee amenities the best you can. Most people look forward to and savor their morning coffee, so do what you can to offer them a fantastic coffee-making and drinking experience.
Reword and optimize your Airbnb listings
To make sure that you’re attracting guests looking for a long-term stay, it will be critical for you to optimize your listings across all of the online travel agencies you advertise on to grab the right guests’ attention. You’ll want to show a picture of your property that puts your curb appeal on full display. You’ll also want to verify your internet speed to assure guests that they’ll have a reliable internet connection while staying at your property.
Make sure you list the amenities in the kitchen as well as put an emphasis on highlighting the best things about your community, including the conveniences and things your location has to offer.
Automate your processes to simplify hosting
To keep life simple, either as a host or a property manager, you’ll want to automate the operational tasks to simplify your life as much as possible, like collecting the rent each month, automated messages, and reminders that your guests might need to keep the property running as well as scheduling your cleaning services. Choosing a property management software to help you do this will free up your time and assist you in scaling your business faster and with more efficiency.
Update your digital guidebook
When hosting or managing a long-term rental, it can be easy to go long stretches without communicating with your renters, which could mean becoming less vigilant about checking phone messages or other types of communication from your guests. With a digital guidebook, you can add important information such as garbage and recycling pick-up dates giving you the peace of mind that you’ve proactively answered your guest’s questions.
In the recommendations area of your guidebook, we recommend adding places you might not have previously considered, like :
- co-working spaces nearby,
- churches or other religious locations
- public transportation information
- business networking groups
- children’s playgroups and activities
- childcare services
At Hostfully, we offer a digital guidebook platform that makes it easy for you to update your information and looks beautiful. It’s also easy for your guests to access your content on their mobile devices and desktop monitors.
Key sections included in the guidebook are:
- Arrivals – with all the information guests need for check-in
- Departures – with all the information guests need for check-out
- Recommendations – sharing the best restaurants, closest grocery stores, attractions, gyms, and more
- House Manual – with information about amenities and how to use appliances
- Custom Categories – here, you can include any additional information you’d like to share
Look beyond Airbnb for longer stay bookings
If you’re choosing to add long-term stays to your business model and want to get as many eyes on your listings as possible, you’ll want to consider putting your listings on multiple platforms.
List your properties on Vrbo
Listing your rental property for extended stays on Vrbo has definite advantages. Potential guests searching for a rental here are generally searching for an entire home or villa, which lends perfectly to offering those guests long-term stays or the option to extend their stay.
Boost your occupancy with niche sites focused on longer stays
We all know the three big platforms for listing vacation properties are Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.com, but looking to niche sites that advertise long-term stays can increase inquiries and boost your occupancy rate.
Consider listing your properties on Google
Not to be left out of the vacation rental boom, Google launched Google Vacation Rentals, allowing guests to search and book properties from the search bar. This works by simply typing your specific search terms like “Chicago vacation rentals.” The results will be a list of vacation rental options alongside a clickable map much like the Airbnb map. They will be listed directly above the heavy-hitting online travel agencies that generally appear at the top of the search engine results page.
Consider advertising discounted rates on your direct booking site
Having a direct booking site is another excellent way to promote extended stays and attract long-term bookings that don’t attract fees from online travel agencies. On your direct booking site, you can highlight your extended stay properties, highlight your amenities and even add content like blogs that share with guests why booking a stay for a month or more in your area is a great idea. You can also make it easy for guests already staying with you to extend their stay.
Working remotely is here to stay. Offering extended stays for your property can have real benefits with higher occupancy rates and less turnover. To be successful as a long-term host, you’ll need to cater to remote workers, optimize your listing, create a pricing strategy, and branch out to niche sites.