How the Top Property Managers Protect Against High-Demand, High-Risk Events

madison 02/01/2019

In the short-term rental world, there are certain days of the year that have property managers on their toes. These vary by location and depend on your local events calendar, but the stress they bring to your team is always the same. Your risk tolerance goes down, you’re on the hunt for potential partiers, and you pray to the hospitality gods that everything stays in one piece. That, or you decline reservation after reservation, fearing a huge rager in your unit. Ironically, it’s these high-risk events that bring in the big bucks — so what can you do?

Property management companies like QuickStay experience their fair share of high-demand, high-stress events. After one too many sleepless nights, we came up with a winning formula: combine a proper guest screening procedure with strict house rules and you will increase your revenues, decrease risk to your property and enjoy the highest grossing days. As the final piece of the puzzle, we monitor our properties. During the guest’s stay, we validate our screening process by using NoiseAware’s advanced noise monitoring system.

Ten years ago, technology like NoiseAware was virtually unheard of. The ability to monitor your property was reserved for high-end homeowners and overprotective parents spying on their teens. Since NoiseAware came into the picture with its “smoke detector for noise”, players in the short-term rental industry have been able to monitor their properties throughout guest reservations.

At QuickStay, we depend on noise monitoring technology to prevent disruptive and potentially harmful incidents. By using NoiseAware, we can increase our risk tolerance to book our suites during popular city-wide events. Unfortunately, we can’t fully trust our interactions with guests prior to check-in. That’s why we rely on NoiseAware to protect us from worst case scenarios.

Identifying & preparing for high-risk events in your city

Listing short-term rentals in a bustling city like Toronto can be very exciting. It’s a tourist hotspot, with hundreds of events and celebrations bringing in guests every day. But with an influx of tourism comes an influx of risk to your business — and property. If you operate a short-term rental, in any capacity, you have to figure out which events are high-risk in your neighborhood and city. You can probably list off the major ones without any research, but beyond New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day and Labour Day Weekend, you may have to go online to jog your memory. There are some surprising ones like Halloween, nearby music festivals, and cultural events that are more prone to partying and rule violations. Think outside the box!

For these major events, our team at QuickStay has developed a process to identify and keep tabs on high-risk reservations. We start off by reaching out to our guests and making sure that they have read and agreed to our house rules. On check-in day, we double-check that all of our NoiseAware devices are plugged in and connected. These sensors serve as our most valuable tools in keeping peace with our neighbors and building staff. For an extra layer of security, we send our team out to personally check in larger groups. They collect IDs and remind guests, in person, of the house rules.

What is high-risk?

Despite the anxiety and paranoia, a higher-risk reservation isn’t necessarily a bad one. It just means we have to set clear expectations from the beginning. A 21-year-old woman coming to the city from the suburbs should raise some red flags, but there’s no reason to outright refuse her. In a case like this, it’s important to get more details about the guest, her purpose in the city and who she’s traveling with.

To stay ahead of these potentially risky reservations, we first determine which of our properties face a higher risk. When making this assessment for your company, start with the higher occupancy units. Properties with more bedrooms and a higher capacity encourage more disturbances. More living space means more room for a party! A rambunctious group of teens is more likely to book a spacious penthouse suite for a New Year’s party than a studio apartment. You need to put yourself in the booker’s shoes.

What is risk tolerance and what does it mean for your company?

As a property management company that focuses on luxury short-term rentals, we only want the best and most respectful guests staying in our suites. When we accept a reservation, we make sure to assess its risk to QuickStay as a company. Before holidays and popular citywide events, this is especially important. There is a certain amount of risk tolerance we’re willing to take on after our thorough guest screening, but it’s all about finding that sweet spot. We set very specific house rules, which we ensure are accepted and followed by the guest. Our guest support team verifies guests and has them confirm their understanding of the house rules, building rules, and all local laws. Because we have these processes and NoiseAware to back us up, we are able to increase our risk tolerance and work with potentially higher risk reservations.

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Screening guests & setting expectations

Now, let’s talk safety — QuickStay’s #1 priority. To guarantee happy and safe experiences, we enforce our strict screening and security procedure for incoming reservations, prior to releasing the check-in instructions. Before staying with us, guests undergo a careful validation process where they provide and confirm details about their trip. We scan and analyze every reservation to flag for risks (i.e. a local phone number or a different name on the credit card). From inquiry to check-in, we assess changes to details in the reservation, giving our guest support team suggestions on how to respond. This helps us prevent parties, fraud, chargebacks, crime and potential damage to QuickStay and our suites. Thankfully, there are systems available that screen guests automatically, like Autohost.

Monitoring the reservation

During high-risk events, QuickStay’s safety and security team are on high-alert. Our zero-tolerance policy means we contact the guest immediately after the first noise violation — no funny business. While we want to avoid damage to our properties, we also care about the safety of our guests and the quality of their stay.

Once the device is plugged in, NoiseAware automatically sets a volume threshold. This threshold gives us the chance to spring into action if there’s a DJ mixer in the suite but keeps us from barging in on someone watching Jerry Springer a little too loudly. If there’s a violation, our monitoring team is notified via SMS. Noisy guests first get a warning message through their booking platform, then an SMS and finally, a phone call. They have to lower noise levels and acknowledge our message, otherwise, we dispatch our on-call security team to the suite. They’ve proven successful in quickly and effectively evacuating the unit. Violators are permanently evicted and removed from the premises.

What are the risks?

Nightmare Airbnb stories spread through the media like wildfire. You’ve heard it before: a seemingly good reservation turns into a 200-person party resulting in broken furniture and thousands of dollars in property damage. These horror stories are rare, but they can happen regularly if you’re not prepared, particularly on these special events. Even on a much smaller scale, a noisy group of teens in your short-term rental can create a major nuisance for your neighbors, building and therefore future guests. Being proactive, setting expectations, properly screening and having a plan to deal with noise violations can spare your company’s property, wallet, and reputation.

What is the reward?

With proper screening and monitoring via NoiseAware, you can bring in record average daily rates (ADR). A thorough and careful process gives you the flexibility to welcome more reservations by accepting some controlled risk. Take QuickStay New Year’s Eve 2018 as an example. For this single night, we received 150 one-night booking requests and confirmed 80 reservations. After strict screening and a reiteration of our house rules, we were left with 25 reservations, which ends up being a 16% conversion rate from our original inquiries. We had zero damage, zero noise complaints from neighbors and just seven noise alerts around midnight — all resolved within 30 minutes. By only hosting our ideal guests, QuickStay finished the year with the highest grossing day in the company’s history.

Growing with NoiseAware

Thanks to NoiseAware, companies like QuickStay can help reduce the negative stigma of Airbnb in local communities. By equipping our guest support team with the resources and knowledge to handle big, high-demand events, we’ve made it possible to bring in only the best guests, even during those risky dates. With this thorough process, we can protect our communities, neighbors, and buildings, while bringing in record rates and providing the most amount of value to our guests, clients and investors.

For more of the latest news in the short-term rental industry, check out NoiseAware’s blog.

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