As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, short-term rental hosts might be feeling the impact. The ongoing conflict has caused the loss of approximately 5,000 lives and forced 1.5 million civilians to flee their homes, resulting in a humanitarian crisis. Alongside these grave consequences, the conflict is also having an impact on the travel industry, causing disruptions and cancellations in regions outside the Middle East.
With safety concerns on the rise, vacation rental hosts are understandably worried about the effects it is having on their business. However, there are ways to navigate this situation, and in this post, we'll provide practical advice and resources to help you minimize the impact on your rental income.
Stay Updated and Follow Government Guidelines
The first step to navigating this situation is to stay informed and follow the guidelines set by your government. Check official websites regularly for any updates on travel restrictions, safety measures, and business regulations. Your government may also offer financial support or tax breaks for businesses that are affected by the conflict.
The current conditions in areas of conflict remain complex. It’s essential to keep up to date with local travel advice via local news outlets and international outlets like the Access Coordination Unit.
Here are also some advices from local governments to their citizens who might be affected:
- In the UK, you can follow the foreign travel advice and the security policies in this official website.
- Spain has created a bidirectional communication channel to provide updated information to the Spanish business sector on how the impact of the conflict is evolving. Additionally, a mailbox has been set up to process inquiries from affected companies through the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In France, considering the increase, throughout the national territory, in the Vigipirate security Plan to the level of Emergency Attack, heightened vigilance is recommended for all French residents or visitors in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa. On this official webpage you can follow the last minute news regarding the conflict and the measures taken.
Updates can be found on the Israeli Home Front Command website, or by calling 104 — both of these services are only available to those currently in Israel.
Offer Flexible Booking Options
We recommend checking in with your guests about their plans and talking about cancellations. If they do intend to cancel, ensure that you go about canceling the right way so that your listing is not negatively impacted.
Host-initiated cancellation rates are an essential factor in determining your search ranking on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb or Vrbo. Too many host cancellations will cost you and negatively impact your listing, so you should always aim to keep your cancellation rate low or close to zero. To ensure that you are not penalized for a cancellation, we recommend doing one of the following:
- Have the guest initiate the cancellation through Airbnb, Vrbo, or wherever your guest booked your property.
- Simply refund a portion or all of the booking total without canceling the reservation.
- If you do cancel your reservation as a host (or if you have done this already), make sure that you reach out to the OTA to let them know that this was an unavoidable situation in response to a natural disaster. Most OTAs should not penalize your listing for this type of cancellation, however, their final “ruling” on the cancellation is up to them – aka out of your control.
- Consider providing guests with an alternative solution by encouraging them to book a different time frame. You can offer incentives to entice your guests to secure accommodations on alternative dates in the future. This approach aims to foster flexibility, giving guests the option to reschedule instead of canceling their booking. It not only addresses immediate concerns but also helps maintain a positive relationship with guests, showcasing your commitment to accommodating their needs even during challenging times.
Consider Targeting Local Guests and Diversifying Your Offerings
While the conflict may affect international travel, it is important to remember that domestic travel may still be an option. Consider targeting local guests who are looking for a change of scenery or a short getaway. You can also diversify your offerings by listing your property on multiple platforms or by offering long-term rentals to digital nomads or remote workers. By adapting to the changing market, you can increase your chances of generating income despite the conflict.
Review Your Safety Measures and Insurance Coverage
Finally, it is essential to review and update your safety measures and insurance coverage. Make sure that your rental property is equipped with all the necessary safety features, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits. Also, review your insurance policy to ensure that it covers damages or losses caused by conflicts.
How to help?
Below, a list of organizations calling for peace and helping the victims of this war:
- The International Red Cross provides assistance during times of crisis. “In our role as a neutral intermediary, we are ready to visit anyone detained so we can check on their well-being and provide news to their loved ones,” the group says.
- AFMDA is helping those injured in Israel.
- Anera, a nonprofit with no political or religious affiliation, is on the ground providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. “Our staff serve in their communities, navigating the politics that constrict progress to get help where it’s needed most,” the group says.
- The United Nations remains a neutral organization aiming to help broker peace.
- Oxfam partners to provide people with essentials like clean water, food, and soap.
- Doctors Without Borders provides immediate medical aid during humanitarian emergencies.
External conflicts are understandably causing concern for short-term rental hosts in Europe. However, by following government guidelines, communicating proactively with guests, diversifying your offerings, and reviewing your safety measures and insurance coverage, you can navigate this situation and minimize the impact on your business. Remember to stay updated on the latest developments and resources available to businesses affected by the conflict, and most importantly, prioritize the safety and well-being of your guests and yourself.