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What Millennials Look For in Vacation Rentals

Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, encompassed 73m individuals in the United States in 2017. Further, China's millennial generation in itself, for example, is bigger than the whole population of the USA. A quarter of the world's population are millennials. With immense size comes big purchasing power. But who are millennials? Generation Y describes individuals who were born between 1980 and 1995. The term is often used to define a consumer group with certain habits and preferences. While of course individual consumer behaviours can differ greatly, certain overarching trends can certainly be observed. Millennials are known for their insatiable thirst for travel and unique experiences. Gone are the heydays for resorts and hotels with copy-and-paste rooms and offerings. Statistics and studies agree that Generation Y has taken a particular liking to Airbnb versus hotels. In 2017, for instance, 36% of American and Europeans who used Airbnb for accommodation were between 25 and 34 years old. The second largest group (23%) were between 35 and 44 years old. Moreover, millennial travellers are budget-conscious. Vacation rentals offer more value for money in terms of space. Additionally, most rentals are equipped with kitchens making it possible to cook and safe money. Ultimately, millennials are the consumer group you need to cater for if you want to grow your vacation rental business and successfully attract bookings. Therefore, it is important to consider what millennials specifically are looking for in short-term rentals and vacation homes. A multitude of studies have investigated the preferences of Generation Y. This helps us to draw below conclusions about what millennials are looking for in vacation rentals. Positive Online Reputation Former guests recommending you to friends and family can be an influential offline marketing tool for your

Short-term Rentals for the Chinese Market

Unless your vacation rental’s calendar is full every day of the year, you will be looking to increase bookings. There are a myriad of platforms out there to list your rental – such as the big ones like Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway or Flip Key. However, even though you are present on theses pages, are you really reaching all potential guests out there?  A lucrative market, which remains largely untapped, is the large number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad. From 2016 to 2017 the number of vacations Chinese citizens were taking outside the country increased by 7% to 131 million occasions, for example. With that comes a huge spending power. In 2016 alone it amounted to over USD 261 billion for Chinese tourists abroad. So how do you reach Chinese travellers with an interest in staying in vacation rental? CertiStay had an opportunity to speak with an expert in the Chinese market, Donald Kim. Donald is VP of Business Development at Cozystay, which operates a platform for short-term rentals targeting Chinese vacationers. 1. Donald, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about what Cozystay does? Hi, it is a pleasure to be here. I’m the VP of Business Development for Cozystay and I’ve been working with the company since its launch in early 2015. The idea started with Galen, CEO/Founder, who initially looked at providing student housing for Chinese students in North America and then decided for a model similar to Airbnb but targeting the emerging Chinese tourism market. China has surpassed USA and Germany for outbound travel and will be the largest market for the next 10-15

How to Keep Your Outdoor Spaces Safe

Providing some outdoor space can really add value to your vacation rental offering. However, they can also add some risk in terms of guests hurting themselves and for which you can be held liable. We have discussed liability insurance already on the blog. Read it here! Consider the example of someone using the swing in your garden. Imagine the swing's seat comes loose, the person falls and breaks their arm. You can now be held liable for this and the bodily injury they incured and if you do not have the right insurance this can be costly - costly enough to ruin your business. Therefore, it is firstly important to have appropriate liability insurance which covers you as a short-term rental host and secondly to do everything in your power to make sure your property is safe. With the help of Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Security Committee, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to keep your outdoor spaces safe for your guests. Read on to learn more... Pools and Hot Tubs Fencing off pools and hot tubs prevents unauthorized use and can increase child safety. Ensure all doorways/gates accessing a pool or hot tub are lockable, preventing unintended access by children. Small children should only use the pool and tub with adult supervision. Ensure all pool components, slides and other accessories are in working order and/or safe to use. Make sure the water is tested regularly and that chemicals are safely stored. Non-slip decking can reduce the risk of injury. Waterfront Access Young children accessing the waterfront should be under adult supervision. Ensure all water based equipment is in working order (canoe, kayak, power boat, etc.) and that personnel flotation devices

5 Ways to Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out

Get your short-term rental noticed on listing sites! As a short-term rental host, you are probably facing some competition. There are exceptions, of course. Maybe you are in a very special location or catering for a specific niche with a highly unique listing. However, the average location rental is a small mackerel in the big sea of fish of other offerings. So how do you get yours noticed? How do you make it the rainbow fish of vacation rentals with 100% occupancy and plenty of booking requests? Here are 5 easy-to-implement tips to make your vacation rental stand out on listing sites like Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. Get Picture Ready To get good pictures taken for your STR must be the most common advice to give hosts who want to improve their listing. However, I still see a lot of listings especially in the lower price segment with blurry, dark pictures. Photographs like that give me the impression that the accommodation is more likely to be a comfortable home for some supernatural beings than my family on holiday. Most smartphones are equipped with cameras fully capable to take good shots of your vacation rental. Make sure the bed sheets are crease-free, add some colourful touches (like bright cushions or a vase with flowers) and take the pictures during the day with as much natural light as possible. Professional pictures are of course preferable but can be costly. One tip would be work with local influencers on Instagram. This can be two-fold. As the first option, the influencer gets free accommodation for one or two nights in return for talking about the STR on his or her social channels (usually with images). As a second option, you

Interview with Yvonne Chan, Chief Insurance Officer for CertiStay

As the Chief Insurance Officer of CertiStay, Yvonne Chan is the go-to expert to answer any questions regarding vacation homes and insurance. Yvonne holds impressive qualifications such as Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP), Canadian Risk Management (CRM) and Canadian Association of Insurance Brokers (CAIB) designations. She has been working in the industry for over 20 years and specialises in modelling proprietary insurance solutions. Also read our interview with Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Secruity Committee. 1. Yvonne, thank you for answering some questions for us today. Could you briefly describe your background in the insurance industry? Today many young insurance professionals are graduates of a risk management program at post secondary institutions – many of my peers of my generation either fell into insurance by accident or it is a family business. I fell into insurance by accident when I was trying to figure out what to do after school. In my very first insurance job, I met a wonderful mentor who continues to be a mentor and friend to me to this day. She was knowledgeable and kind. However, she was a tough teacher, which I admired and wanted to emulate. My first job was with The Dominion of Canada Insurance Company, which was the oldest Canadian Insurance company prior to Travelers acquiring it. I was a Claims Assistant before being promoted to an In-house Claims Adjuster, adjusting homeowners’ claims. From there it was a natural progression to learning how to create insurance programs to meet the needs of different insured operations so that when there is a claim that the policy would respond. I went on to become a Placement Specialist with several global insurance brokers to continue to develop my craft. I

Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Instagram & Pinterest

It is no news that digital marketing is becoming more and more important for the hospitality industry. Especially social media takes up a huge part of it and mastering feels more complex each day. So which social media channels should you use to promote your short-term rental? All of them or just a selected few? We have taken the time to take a closer look at the four biggest social platforms. In our previous blog post we talked about Twitter and Facebook specifically. Find our expert guide Social Media for Short-term Rentals - Part I here. In this blog we are sharing some advice on utilising Instagram and Pinterest for your vacation let. Read on to find out more! Instagram After Facebook, Instagram is the second most popular platform of the big social media clients. Users flock to it to show off the holiday snaps, to get inspired as well as to keep in touch with friends and family. Big brands use Instagram to show of their products and offerings and many short-term rental operators have discovered it for themselves as well. For example, a 2018 report by Netbase found that the majority of public conversations around Airbnb happen on Instagram (40%). This is compared to other channels such as forums (16%), blogs (13%), Twitter (12%) or Facebook (5%). This means potential guests are on Instagram, but your competitors is as well. So how do you stand out, get more likes and create an impressive following on Instagram? It is a more or less an easy answer: provide content people are interested in. Outstanding Content Firstly, high-quality pictures of your short-term rental are a must. Most smartphones now take awesome photos, but make sure the lighting

Local Safety Regulations for Short-term Rentals

How to find out about laws and regulations in your area. Navigating local regulations regarding short-term rentals' safety and security can be a confusing minefield. With laws constantly changing on a national, regional and most frequently city level, hosts have to put in increased efforts to keep up with the latest requirements. Most of the time not fulfilling these requirements can mean not only putting the safety of your guests at stake but also risking being banned from running your Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. For example, as stated in an article by Justin Ford on VRMintel, "many localities around the United States [...] require vacation rentals to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, emergency exit lighting, and fire extinguishers in place." Additionally, some places also ask STR hosts to follow certain procedures in order to avoid health issues. These can, for example, involve linen sanitization or pool and spa maintenance. So where do you begin? Not to worry! We've compiled a guide on where to look for your area's safety and security requirements for your short-term rental or vacation home. Consult Your Local Government Firstly, your local government will be able to provide materials on what safety standards need to be fulfilled by STRs or even if safety inspections are required. However, which department of the government is responsible varies a lot. Generally, you will be able to obtain information from the city hall or the city's general website. At times, it is also worth checking with the housing department or the licensing department, since running an STR can be considered a business. For example, to obtain a Short-term Rental Licence in Denver the “STR must have an operable smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher”. Find

Interview with Steve Watt, Chairman, CertiStay Safety & Security Committee

As the Chairman of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay, Steve Watt can look back on over 35 years of experience in policing. Starting his career in Northern Ireland with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, he quickly established his career in police, law enforcement and private security training not only in Canada but internationally as well. A recognized expert on policing matters, he has been consulting for the Province of British Columbia and Public Safety Canada since 2007. With this impressive CV, there is really no better person to ask a couple of questions on how to keep your Airbnb and short-term rental safe and secure. Let's get started! Note: Short-term rentals are referred to as STRs. 1. Having summarised your experience a bit above, could you tell us about a highlight that stood out in your career? While there many are highs and lows in policing, my main focus has always been helping others; whether that was a police officer in training, the victim of a crime or someone struggling with life’s challenges. It’s all about reaching out and touching someone in a positive way. My role with CertiStay carries on that philosophy to ensure individuals and families can experience safe and secure business and vacation short-term rentals. 2. How did you become a member of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay? Happenstance! A colleague of mine introduced me to Wolf Worster in April 2017 and the rest fell into place after meeting with the CertiStay team. 3. Getting onto the subject of security in STRs, which are the 3 most important issues in terms of security to consider when setting up your Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway? There are two interrelated issues to