Beyond Airbnb’s COVID-19 policy, what are you doing, in the way of best practices, to make sure that you are being a responsible small businessperson for your guests, your immediate neighbors, neighborhood, and community?
Some things that you can do:
1. Create a notice, at the top of your description page, that tells your guests, present and future, that you’re aware of the COVID-19 (Novel corona virus), and that you’re doing something proactive about it. This is one that we use at The Epic WPB. Feel free to modify it for your needs.
We are as concerned about your health, and safety, while being welcomed into our home, as you are.
We already do extensive deep cleaning for every guest, but we are now adding daily cleaning of all doors, door handles, knobs, buttons, and other touch surfaces, in addition to before/after each visit..
In addition, our HEPA filter system, usually replaced monthly, is now being replaced weekly.
See our pandemic policy, below, now active, due to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of COVID-19 on 03.11.2020.
2. Create a Quarantine/Pandemic/Shelter-in-Place Policy, explaining to your guest what they can expect from you, at the end of your description. There may be situations where a government agency closes an area, and requires everyone to shelter in place. How will you handle that? Creating a policy allows both you, and your guests, to know what to do in the event that happens.
QUARANTINE/SHELTER IN PLACE/PANDEMIC POLICY
While it is highly unlikely that our area will be subject to a quarantine and/or shelter-in-place, during stated periods of public emergency, or preventative measures by federal, state, and/or local governments for pandemic protection, here are your responsibilities, and ours:
1. If you are coming from an area affected by a transmittable illness, and you are feeling at all ill, even if it could be allergies, or other non-related conditions, please CANCEL. Refer to Airbnb’s cancellation policies for the emergency event, to find out how to cancel, and if there are any waivers of your fees.
2. If a shelter-in-place is issued for our area by the authorities for a quarantinable illness, you will not pay for additional days beyond your booking, until said authorities release you. You will vacate within twenty-four (24) hours of the termination of a government-mandated shelter in place order, or resume paying the prevailing daily/weekly/monthly rate for your booking by booking a new reservation with us, subject to availability. While in shelter-in-place, you will need to provide cash or a credit card for food/beverage and other support services while you are in quarantine. You will abide by the owner/manager’s instructions as to where you can be on the premises, and any other rules/restrictions, during this time, as part of your conditions of occupancy. Failure to do so, can, at the management’s discretion, allow them to terminate your occupancy earlier, subject to government regulations at that time.
3. If, for any reason, a guest, in any of our units, is discovered to test positive for an illness that is actively under regulation by a governmental entity as part of an epidemic, or pandemic, we will shut down all affected areas on property, potentially the entire property, and cancel all reservations for them for a fourteen (14) day period, or whatever time period is prescribed by the authorities, then bring in deep-cleaning professionals to sanitize all of the affected units on property, as well as our public spaces. We will not re-open to the public until that is done, and no staff test positive for any communicable illness under governmental directives. We may, regrettably, have to cancel upcoming reservations at that time, under the Airbnb guidelines. We will notify you of such a situation. Refunds will be issued subject to the governing rules of Airbnb at that time, and our normal cancellation policies on Airbnb.
3. If other tourism businesses are shutting down for a period of time, to prevent transmission of the disease, do you really want to be inviting people into your neighborhood? If Airbnb allows cancellation for the disease, CANCEL bookings for the same time period. We are closing for four weeks. Granted, all of our bookings cancelled, save one, but, if bars, restaurants, parks, museums, etc. are all closed, better to ask them to come another time. I’ve offered discounts, in future, to guests. I ask them to inquire with me before they book so we can make sure that Airbnb gives them the proper rate for that stay.
4. Contact your neighbors, and tell them what you’re doing to keep them safe. You do business where they live. We bring in people from all over the world. Telling them that you’re proactively closing to avoid introducing any disease into the neighborhood provides a peace-of-mind that, when some group starts talking about how vacation rentals don’t belong in their neighborhood, you will be able to show, with testimonials, that your best practices go above, and beyond. If you live miles from your closest neighbor, it’s a different story than if you are like us, where our neighbors are all less than 12’ from our physical buildings.
5. Create a specific cleaning regimen that meets your stated policies - For viral contagion outbreaks:
A) Wear outerwear, gloves, and, if necessary, a mask, and eye protection, while cleaning;
B) Use cleaners that are labeled for use as virus-reducing agents;
C) Clean all cleaning equipment using virus-reducing agents. If you do multiple rooms, for different guests, clean and/or replace parts of your cleaning gear for each guest room, to reduce the possibility of transmissions;
D) Use HEPA filtration that eliminates or greatly reduces viruses. Change it weekly, or bi-weekly, rather than monthly. Use protective gear when you do;
E) Clean all regular-touch surfaces like wall switches, faucets, remote controls, etc. DAILY during any occupancy in a time of contagion. It is not adding extra housekeeping to do these surfaces, which take about 5 minutes, or less, per room, to wipe down. TELL YOUR GUESTS, in advance, that you’ll be doing this, in addition to your printed policy on Airbnb.
F) If guests share space with you in your home, specify what is, and what isn’t appropriate for them to use, or do, as a result of the government calling an epidemic, or pandemic, for the duration of their stay.
6. COMMUNITY - Participate in HOA, neighborhood meetings, community meetings, city meetings, and help encourage other vacation rental owners to establish best practices for these events. COVID-19 won’t go away overnight. Other illnesses may spring up. To avoid Vacation Rentals garnering a negative reputation for caring more about their bookings than the people in their community, you have to go above and beyond, communicate clearly, and participate in the decision-making process in the community about what best practices are for vacation-rental units in a time of crisis.
Thanks for taking this issue seriously, Brian. I am working on something similar. I think your statement is too long, though. I think many/most guests won't read it and/or integrate it into their behavior. I suggest making a shorter list of key points and refer guests to the CDC and Airbnb policy for in-depth, current, and official information. I also think Airbnb needs to increase the choices for prep time to at least six days. That would allow cleaning staff to let the apartment sit three days, which is the most time that the germs live on hard surfaces. The other three days would allow the apartment sit vacant after cleaning, in case the cleaner is hosting the virus.
It holds basic boilerplate. Thanks for the feedback. People will read. Or they won’t. There’s good content. The nanospan of attention is what it is. We can’t refer guests to the CDC. It has to be specific to our policies. The CDC isn’t going to talk about what to do in the specific case of something happening in this house, in this neighorhood.
As I understand it, this not being a germ, but a virus, that the three day rule may be more like the six day, if it isn’t caught by cleaning supplies. Assuming that it is also possible that you got it, or someone who works for you, while cleaning, the 14 day hold, after a positive person is in your house, seems more prudent, as, once it is being hosted, it can take that long to manifest, and/or pass to the point where you are no longer contagious.
@Brian1613 Do you have a lot of units/host a lot of guests?
I don't as I only have three rooms, normally for long-term guests. All my guests have gone back to their home countries and I fully expect the next few to cancel (the next two have already told me they would). I'm not expecting new bookings from travellers at all, but may get some from locals in need of a temporary home. I got an enquiry from one of these yesterday.
So, in short, I think it better to communicate directly with guests about this stuff when they make an enquiry, rather than put a lot of additional text on my already long listings. I guess this might be different for hosts in other circumstances.
The same as you. I find that being up-front with people, before they book, makes them understand you a lot better, and differentiates you from those around you, because, before they commit, they know where you stand, and what you do, and what you’re going to do. When they book, especially going forward, there is risk. Why should they have to wait until AFTER they’ve booked to know if you’re doing it right? You know?