As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, we saw the travel and tourism industry nearly come to a halt. We watched universities close their doors for the semester. The class of 2020 graduated from their homes. At the same time, we forged a common appreciation for essential workers. We found ways to stay connected, even through screens. And most importantly, we remained resilient.
Throughout all of this, CollegeWeekends has kept our Owners in mind. We know this has not been easy for you. There’s plenty that could be said, but we want to take a note from Jim Ryan, President of the University of Virginia: We’re really sorry. As he said in a statement to his students back in March, “No matter how much we know this is the right thing to do, that we will work through this, and that we will emerge even stronger than we are—this is a loss. A real one, and in many cases a painful one.” Sometimes it’s best to acknowledge the hardships for what they are.
That said, we want to assure you that CollegeWeekends is still hard at work, and we’re eager for business to return to normal when it’s safe to do so. We recently launched exciting updates to enhance the experience for both Owners and Renters. We have a team of dedicated summer interns working remotely. And we have our sights set on a brighter future. Before we consider the future, though, let’s take a look at the past.
The short-term rental industry is historically resilient
The short-term rental (STR) industry has its roots in the boarding houses of the 19th and early 20th century. In fact, Wendy Gamber, history professor at Indiana University, estimates that “between one third and one half of nineteenth-century urban residents either took in boarders or were boarders themselves.”
While boarding houses became less popular over time, today’s popularity of short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfasts came directly out of the 2008 Great Recession, when both Airbnb and CollegeWeekends were founded. Not only is the STR industry capable of surviving economic turmoil, it’s known for succeeding under such conditions.
It’s impossible to know what the future holds, but it’s likely that travelers will be looking for more budget-friendly options once travel resumes, and folks will be eager to resume their favorite college town activities.
Recommendations for Owners of rental properties
Until the world is back on its head, here are some tips for Owners:
- Review state and local policies and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO)
- Review CollegeWeekends.com policy VI. Booking Modifications, Cancellations and Refunds
- Consider updating your listing’s availability and pricing, including the base fee and cleaning fee, add-ons, and dynamic availability.
- Clean your property using the CDC’s disinfection and sanitization standards
- Offer transparency, flexibility, and reassurance for your Renters
- Continue to promote your listing as you deem appropriate — we recently improved social media sharing functionality!
One day, hopefully soon, campuses and college towns will be abuzz with people ready to shake off the dust of social distancing. We’ll work together to make sure we are collectively ready for that day to come. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org — we’re here for you!
By Logan Murtha
Logan is a student at the University of Virginia, class of 2021