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Your Newsletter Can Be An Asset In A Crisis

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Do you have a newsletter email list that you can use in a crisis? It is a valuable asset.

This was brought home to me this month as the Australian bushfires made the news and guests cancelled, or just stopped booking.  This has happened  across regions far from the areas affected by the fires.  Owners are trapped by the wave of negative publicity. If that is you, what can you do to get your bookings back to normal?

If you have an active newsletter to your list of past guests, you can use it as an asset in the crisis.  You can contact past guests, reassure them that you are unaffected by the crisis, and tell them you would appreciate their support.

This happened to me, twice!  The first time was after a bushfire ripped through our little town of wye River in December 2015, destroying 108 houses.  We lost a house, but another, our beloved Sea Zen survived.  The problem was the relentless negative publicity and people stayed away, even when the town reopened for business, there was no business.

2022 vacation rental conference

Our newsletter saved us.  We had been sending monthly newsletters to guests for years, including just before the fire, so we were top of mind with a large group of 500 loyal past guests..  In the 24 hours after the fire, I had 94 texts and emails from past guests saying they hoped we were OK, and sending their good wishes.
The hard part came in those weeks afterwards, when past guests didn’t know how they could help, or even if it was safe to come and stay. Some cancelled and bookings dried up.

The solution was to use our newsletter email list to tell our past guests that we were open for business and they could help us simply by booking holidays with us as normal.
It worked.  We were back to normal 85% occupancy within weeks.  The newsletter saved us from a very bad season.
Nine months later landslides from rain on the damaged soil closed the area again.  It was a rerun of crisis and solution.  Again there was negative press, again a pause in bookings and again I used the newsletter to reassure loyal guests it was OK to return and we appreciated their support.  Again our bookings went back to normal.  Other owners in the area were not so lucky, and it took them many months to recover.  We also did regional lobbying, but that is another story.

If you don’t have an active newsletter, you can still use your database of past guests to tell them you are still open.

If you don’t have an active newsletter, maybe it is time to start.  As I found it can help you in a crisis, it also can help you get far more owner bookings and increase your occupancy.
I recommend a newsletter to all short term rental owners.

To your success in short term rentals.

PS there are three chapters of actionable advice about newsletters in my book Vacation Rental Mastery



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One Response

  1. A question from Beth:
    Another very interesting newsletter and so relevant to our air BNB apartment on the south coast of NSW. Points taken – Thanks. One question- how do you collect the guest emails? on the evaluation sheet they do on departure?
    kind regards
    Hi Beth, I always collect the email before finishing the booking. For Airbnb and Booking.com, they hide the email address, but give the phone number. I just ask for the guest’s normal email address. I never give them my location and lockbox code without the email address.

    Over time, all addresses go into a simple spreadsheet, so it’s simple to send out any time. Just copy the emails from the spreadsheet into the bcc field of the email you send out to everyone at once.
    If you don’t have a spreadsheet of email addresses, it is a good investment to trudge back through all your past emails with guests and make up the spreadsheet. Slow but valuable.

    I also have a free Mailchimp account I use to make sending out newsletters easy, but it’s not necessary for a crisis. You can just use the records you have of past emails.


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My name is Rex Brown. I live in Australia, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I run two of my holiday rentals here on the coast, and another in inner Melbourne . They are all quite different, but they all run at high occupancy. They are the sandpit that I play in, running constant experiments about what works and what doesn’t.

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