Property and guest safety are foundational to delivering five-star guest experiences. The pandemic has made this clearer than ever for operators and their guests.
In a session of Breezeway’s Elevate Operations Conference, hosted virtually March 10-11, Justin Ford, Director of Safety and Certification Programs, Breezeway; Darren Pettyjohn, Co-Founder, Proper Insurance Services; and Mike Bayer, Vacation Rental Formula, discussed the growing emphasis on “quality” and how safety is a major driving factor in the guest experience, insurance and the regulatory landscape.
“We’re seeing claims on things such as handrails, bunkbeds and lighting,” Pettyjohn said. “Vacation rentals are experiencing unprecedented growth – it’s not just Airbnb and beach towns. Commercial liability is now being required in regulations for some jurisdictions.”
Bayer said that “Unlike most hotels that provide consistent spaces, vacation rental homes are unique with their floor plans, ability to meet fire safety codes, etc. Our industry needs to be part of the conversation when it comes to setting safety regulations.
“Hobbyist homeowners who are renting their properties need to take a closer look at their properties. Some did their own construction and maintenance, and work on things like decks and staircases, but was it done to code?
“They need to get ahead of the curve and not be stuck with playing catch-up when it comes to compliance.”
Ford said only some consumers understand where they fit-in on liability.
“Renters are not aware of what they get in terms of coverage once they set foot on your property,” Ford said. “The short-term rental industry has grown so fast that we’re not quite caught up with it yet. Operators need to show and promote to guests how safe their rental homes are. Include it in your marketing. Express to customers: We’re all about this!”
He approximated that 5 percent of jurisdictions are requiring inspections, a number that should increase.
Pettyjohn says he’s seen 114 regulations for the vacation rental industry at the local, state and federal level.
“You need to build coalitions and get to the forefront on the issues,” he said.
“Operators need to meet with public officials to show them what they are and can do to meet safety standards,” Bayer said. “Show them that this is not a ‘cowboy’ industry.”
Ford: Having a working smoke alarm is so important. Consider employing a safety manager for your properties – someone who has dealt with OSHA and who follows product recalls. Recalls are coming out all of the time that people aren’t aware of, such as related to cribs, kayaks, chemicals. Thompson Water Seal was just cited for chemicals that could explode – and a can of it might be sitting in your basement. Too many of my clients have a “it will never happen to me” attitude.
Petty recommended creating checklists for the property and including things like checking that trees, decks and swing-sets are not a hazard.