The Houst response to the coronavirus crisis

We’re providing updates on how coronavirus is affecting the homesharing industry, your property, and Houst’s response. We’ll update this rolling blog with new information as and when we have it.

UPDATE – MAY 26TH – CONTACTING HOUST

Due to Covid-19 we are operating a reduced service and prioritising urgent and critical requests. To help with this we ask that customers contact us through either of the two below methods:

Live Chat: The simplest and quickest way to contact us. A Houst team member will be available to chat from 7am to 6pm and then 8pm to 10pm BST. Live chat can be accessed here.

Email: You can email us either by using the form to the left or by emailing us directly on support@houst.com. We will respond to all enquiries within 72 hours.

UPDATE – APRIL 3RD – HOW WE’LL MANAGE MEDIUM-LENGTH LETS

As part of our response to coronavirus, in the UK we’ll be advertising for medium-length lets (one to six months) at all host properties, where calendar availability allows.

We’ll process these medium-length bookings slightly differently to before, and closer to how we handle holiday short-lets:

  • Our Pricing Analysts will optimise monthly rates.
  • We’ll complete a full guest verification check.
  • We’ll negotiate and accept bookings on your behalf, unless you’ve asked us to contact you first.
  • You’ll just need to digitally sign the contract once everything’s ready.

All listings will be live from Friday 10th April. If you do not wish to be listed for medium-length lets please let us know by opting-out here.

Long-lets with Houst

With a full-time team of seven Lettings Agents, we’re ready to help find longer-term (six months or more) tenants too. In fact, flexible letting – a mix of short, medium and long-term lets – could earn you more than just holiday-letting. Read more about flexible letting here.

To get listed for long-lets too, book a call or drop us a line on lets@houst.com. Together, we can develop a lettings strategy tailored to your property and needs.

UPDATE – MARCH 31ST – AIRBNB ANNOUNCE HOST SUPPORT FUND

Some good news.

Yesterday, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced a $250 million USD support fund for hosts affected by the coronavirus crisis. This announcement also included an update to the existing coronavirus extenuating circumstances policy, which previously refunded guests in full at the host’s cost. Here’s the details:

  1. If a guest cancels their reservation made on or before 14th March, with a check-in date of no later than 31st May, then they will receive a full refund.
  1. Airbnb will now pay you, the host, 25% of what you would’ve received for a cancellation based on your cancellation policy. For example, if you would normally receive £400 through your cancellation policy, Airbnb will pay you 25% of that: £100. To reiterate, the previous policy meant you would have received nothing.
  1. This will also be applied retroactively to any bookings cancelled since 14th March due to coronavirus. Airbnb will be in touch with Houst in early April with more information on any payments owed. Your Account Manager will then contact you with said details.

You can view the full video announcement by Brian Chesky here.

ANNOUNCEMENT – 20TH MARCH – THE HOUST RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

These are unprecedented times. The impact of coronavirus on global tourism, including short-lets, has been significant and well documented. Our highest priority is everyone’s health and wellbeing, and our thoughts remain with those in wider society most affected by this crisis.

We understand that this will also be an uncertain period for you, our hosts, too. Whilst we recognise that the next few weeks will bring challenges, we have confidence that our strategy is best-placed to protect your earnings with minimised loss of income.

Our strategy

Houst are taking the following five steps to protect host revenue and safeguard guest safety:

  1. Our in-house lettings team have started listing all Houst properties on Prime Location and Zoopla, and will be advertising for medium and longer-term lets immediately. Your calendar will remain open to short-lets.
  1. Our pricing team will reduce nightly rates for all properties on short-let platforms for the next six weeks to encourage bookings. Please consider lowering your minimum nightly price if you’ve set one.
  1. Our Account Management teams will be increasing the default discounts for longer-term bookings on Airbnb. You can adjust this on the calendar tab.
    – Seven days or longer: 10% (previously 5%)
    – One month or longer: 20% (previously 15%)
  1. We encourage you to complete any planned maintenance work now, and book in a deep clean if necessary. Save your available nights for summer and autumn if possible.
  1. Our housekeepers have been instructed to wear disposable gloves during cleaning, wash their hands frequently, and pay particular attention to high-risk touchpoints such as light switches, door handles and keys.

Longer-term outlook

This is a rapidly shifting crisis, and making accurate predictions is difficult. But we believe that there remain strong reasons for optimism:

  • After this crisis passes and travel restrictions are lifted we’re confident that bookings will recover quickly. It is possible that peak season may shift this year further towards autumn.
  • When this happens we expect a stronger than usual demand for travel – particularly business travel. A high demand and potentially low supply of homes could drive nightly rates higher than usual.
  • There is no reason to expect long-term damage to the homesharing industry. Airbnb in particular has seen a consistently strong growth rate, and guest numbers continue to rapidly increase.

Further information

For further information from our platform partners about extenuating circumstances and cancellation policies, please see the below links:

Please contact your Account Manager if you have any questions.

Best wishes to the whole Houst community.

Thanks,

James Jenkins-Yates
Houst CEO and Founder


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