Purchasing your first vacation home and beginning the process of renting it out as an Airbnb vacation rental property is bound to be full of lessons learned. A story that always sticks with me is one a now-client told me about when he first began renting out his vacation property in Florida.
One of his first guests was a family of four who booked the home for a week during Spring Break. He was managing his rental himself and at the time, his contract required guests to pay for their week in advance. Cancellations had to be done 48 hours before arrival for a refund.
Well, just 18 hours before the family was due to arrive, the mother of the family emailed him saying her son had caught the flu, and she wanted to cancel the vacation. This put the homeowner in a tough spot -- if he let them out of the rental, he was losing important income during a prime rental period. If he didn’t, the family would likely be unhappy, never rent from him again, and possibly give him bad reviews.
After a lot of stressing out over what he should do, he explained to the mother that he just couldn’t refund their money if they chose not to come. In the end, the father and daughter arrived as scheduled. The mother and son waited a few days until the son had recovered and then joined the rest of the family for the vacation. The owner was able to retain the rental income and the family (mostly) still got their money’s worth.
From this experience, my client learned two things:
- Offering travel insurance would have saved himself the stress and hassle of having to make this decision, and it would have allowed the family to cancel their vacation without losing their money.
- Working with a property manager to handle this would have been much easier for the property owner, who was also juggling a full-time job and trying to manage this situation from his apartment in New York.
If you’re a vacation home owner, there are a lot of benefits to working with your property manager to offer your guests travel insurance. Let’s take a look at how property managers can offer this to your guests.
Why Do Guests Purchase Travel Insurance?
There are many reasons why a guest might be compelled to purchase travel insurance, but there are a few of reasons that are particularly common. Trip cancellation and trip interruption are usually the main reasons guests choose to insure their investment in a vacation rental or trip.
Injury and illness are also incredibly common among domestic and international travelers. In fact, property managers report that of those guests who do file a travel insurance claim, 30 to 50% are because the traveler sustained an injury or became ill during the trip. Those with poor health insurance or a history of injury or illness are particularly vulnerable to the high costs of medical care.
Finally, a good insurance policy is particularly useful for guests during unstable economic times because most policies cover a job loss or the cancellation of the trip due to supplier bankruptcy or closing.
In addition to these reasons, there’s a litany of others that explain why travelers purchase insurance for their vacation rental trip.
Underlying all of the reasons why guests purchase travel insurance is a common denominator: The traveler purchases insurance with the belief that the policy will be paid upon filing a claim. If this key belief is violated, then the entire industry falls apart at the hands of angry guests and insurance distributors.
As a vacation home owner or property manager who’s looking to offer your guests travel insurance, you’ll want to make sure the insurance partner you choose to work with is fair and pays out on claims.
Why Should Property Managers Offer Their Guests Travel Insurance?
Unlike the hotel industry, the vast majority of vacation rental reservations require prepayment and enforce strict cancellation conditions. These conditions are highly variable, but in the strictest conditions, if a property is canceled within 45 days of the trip, the renter risks forfeiting his or her entire non-refundable payment.
As you can imagine, if a guest lost several thousand dollars due to cancellation and hadn’t been offered insurance, the long-term relationship with the vacation rental manager would be strained and could even lead to a bad review. To protect this relationship and the resulting revenue stream, more property managers than ever before are offering travel insurance to their guests.
Protection of the guest relationship is the number one reason property managers offer each guest a vacation rental travel insurance policy. An additional benefit of travel insurance that is important to property managers is the ability to earn additional revenue, which can help offset distribution fees incurred by third-party platforms, such as VRBO, HomeAway, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor.
While the additional revenue incurred might seem insignificant compared to the rental revenue, If you’re a property manager with just a few properties, you could add thousands to your bottom-line by offering travel insurance.
Even more importantly, offering travel insurance won’t cost your business a single penny! Most property managers offering insurance list the additional revenue as important or very important to their business.
How Do Property Managers Offer Vacation Rental Travel Insurance to Guests?
To offer travel insurance to guests, we recommend you start the process by reaching out to the travel insurance provider of your choice. Chances are good that the provider will be very responsive to your message given that you are going to help sell more policies!
In the response to your email, your insurance partner will provide you some instructions to set up your account and begin the process of offering travel insurance to your guests, which will vary depending on the insurance provider. If you are interested in beginning this process with Pablow, we would certainly be able to help you set up a personalized travel insurance website or direct you to a travel insurance provider that best meets your requirements.
After you have set up your travel insurance offering, there are a couple of ways you can effectively offer your vacation rental policy to guests. An easy first step is to include a link to your travel insurance website in your confirmation and correspondence emails with your guests. This is usually accompanied by a message talking about the importance of purchasing travel insurance in case something were to go wrong during their stay at your vacation rental.
A more effective tactic is to embed your travel insurance offering directly on your website during or immediately after the booking process. Keep in mind, though, that the insurance policy you offer your guests must be able to be sold after the original reservation, otherwise, you’ll be limited with retargeting options. This type of offering during the booking process will usually have the highest conversion rate since travelers still have their trip top-of-mind and likely spent a lot of money to book their vacation rental.
Different insurance providers will have different tactics they rely on outside of these widely available options, including online retargeting using banner advertisements.
Vacation Home Owners: Find a Property Manager
Once my client from the beginning of this article had been through the experience of trying to manage a tricky situation at his Florida vacation rental property, he knew he couldn’t manage the rental home all alone. He now says the best decision he made was hiring a property manager who could offer travel insurance for his guests.
If you’re searching for the perfect property manager for your vacation property, check out Rented.com. Rented works to match homeowners with top local property managers, including many that offer a guaranteed income model, so you make a set monthly income regardless of occupancy. Get started today by creating a free profile on Rented.com.
About the Author and Pablow
Steve Sherlock has been in the online travel industry for the past 20 years and has spent the last five in travel insurance. Pablow is a travel insurance technology provider and broker that specifically emphasizes the importance of offering post-sale insurance (i.e. after the original accommodation reservation). The company has developed simple-to-use technology that enables vacation rental managers to offer insurance to their guests.