At Open Air Homes, we do not accept instant bookings, even from guests with positive reviews. We expect guests to reach out to us with a respectful message before we would ever open our doors. In our experience, if a guest follows this format, they are likely to mimic our elevated respect for our neighbors. Vice versa, when a guest is told that they can instantly book a home, we have seen that they are less inclined to show this same level of respect.
Hotels vs Short Term Rentals - How the STR Industry Can Move Our Processes and Practices in Line With Hotel Standards
Night-time security staff is a key ingredient baked into the hotel chain operation model. Distance between short term rentals, though a challenging obstacle, should not stop property managers like Open Air Homes from addressing this shortcoming immediately. In order to reverse the expanding negative narrative that short term rentals are receiving in communities, our industry must address how we can be better neighbors. We can no longer wait for Airbnb to have all of the answers about vetting and preventing parties, and as hosts, we need to have a frank conversation about allowing guests to instant book.
Are Instant Bookings Inherently Bad for the Community?
On most booking platforms you are rewarded top placement of your listing if you turn on instant bookings. We believe instant bookings are Inherently bad for communities and we are asking the entire industry to take a hard look at our policies regarding this platform tool.
To be fair, companies like Airbnb do allow hosts to turn on parameters that permit guests with positive reviews to book instantly, but in our opinion this is not enough. Communities around the world are developing strict rental regulations for a good reason, and more strict measures need to be put in place to prevent bad actors from causing havoc in our communities.
Our company appears lower in search results on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO since we have turned off instant book. Thankfully, our focus on design, comfort and hospitality ensures that our homes are not only found, but with high occupancy rates across our entire portfolio of homes. Our 24/7 reservation team is trained on inclusion of all people, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation or age, but we will not tolerate allowing someone to book who shows signs of disrespect, and we have all guests commit to our Good Neighbor Pledge before booking.
City Councils Against Short Term Rentals
As we just saw with the city of Rancho Mirage in the Coachella Valley, there’s a growing trend of neighborhoods turning against short term rentals as they become fed up with loud guests and uncommunicative hosts. Instant booking threatens to deepen this anxiety for neighbors, allowing little to no time for hosts to ensure their guests will not be throwing wild parties or massive events at their home.
Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, Cathedral City, Indian Wells and Palm Springs have all laid out some pretty strong regulations surrounding short term rentals. At Open Air Homes, we welcome these regulations and feel that they work to firm up legal grey areas around shorter stays.
We have long been gearing our company towards focusing on 1-3 month long reservations that fall outside of these regulations, and while we sometimes disagree with how hard city councils are coming down on the industry, we believe it is a true indication that we have work to do in order to peacefully coexist in communities in the future.
Night Time Security is Critical in Quiet Communities
The hotel industry has one specific feature that currently makes them the safer and more secure option for communities: night time security on site, to prevent bad actors from causing noise violations or hosting parties. Night time security prevents late night, loud parties and overall prevents rowdy guests from causing a nuisance.
Many hotels around the world are situated next door to communities, and yet most communities would never point to hotels as a nuisance. However, this is not the wrap that short term rentals have received, and as an industry, we need to address the urgent situation involved with our lack of night time security of our homes.
We are committed to providing our neighbors with a safe and quiet community, and we plan to invest whatever resources are necessary to ensure that short term rentals can peacefully coexist with long term residents. By turning off instant book, relying on our trained team of agents available 24/7, and by stringently vetting all guests and making them pledge to be good neighbors, at Open Air Homes we are just getting started in terms of finding all of the ways we can become better neighbors.
This is just the beginning, and we will continue to invest in innovative approaches that change the narrative around short term rentals being inherently bad for communities. From TOT taxes to promoting local businesses in the community, we take being a positive member of the community seriously, and we are looking for the next batch of young innovators to help us solve the remaining problems we face.
Turning Our Challenges into Business Opportunities
Night time security is one of our challenges moving forward. As young entrepreneurs watch Airbnb go public this Thursday, my hope is that they look at the challenges we face in this industry, and create robust business plans that work to reshape the industry sore spots.
Airbnb going public helps legitimize an entire scope of workers who’ve built careers around this industry. Just like us at Open Air Homes, hundreds of thousands of service workers rely on the travel and short term rental industry to make a living.
America was built with an entrepreneurial mindset, and my hope is that a number of young innovators will begin to look at the challenges facing the short term rental industry, and build any number of potential businesses that could reach vitality within this ecosystem.
Just one of those businesses that we are actively looking to partner with currently is a night time security force, specifically trained to handle complaints at night. If this is you, we would love to hear from you. If you have other creative solutions to problems we face, we would love to hear from you as well.