Here are some good best practices for vacation rental management companies when a hurricane is coming:
- Stay informed. Monitor the weather forecast and keep an eye on any evacuation orders that may be issued.
- Communicate with guests. Let guests know about the approaching storm and what they can expect. If an evacuation order is issued, work with guests to make arrangements to cancel or reschedule their stay. This is when travel insurance becomes very important for guests to have added to their rental contract.
- Prepare your owner’s property. Secure loose items, board up windows, and clear gutters and drains. If possible, move furniture and other belongings to higher ground. Pool furniture can be placed into the pool for safety.
- Have a plan in place. Talk to the owner and make sure you know all the contact numbers that are important if the property is damaged. Make sure you have the insurance information for the property. This may include having a backup property to rent to guests or working with a contractor to make repairs.
- Document everything. When you are taking photos of the property to update your website, you should take additional detailed photos of any valuable items and inventory of the kitchen. Keep records of all communications with guests and contractors. This will help you to file insurance claims and resolve any disputes.
There are some other best practices to prepare for unexpected weather events, like hurricanes, ahead of time.
- Have a written hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include specific steps that will be taken to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a hurricane. Every person on your team should have a good understanding of who is responsible for what in the plan. It is also a good idea to designate someone to head up “Safety” in general.
- Build relationships with local officials. Stay in touch with local emergency management officials and get their guidance on how to prepare for the storm. Make sure you know what the responsibility of local officials is and what might fall under the purview of state and federal agencies.
- Have a network of vendors and make sure to nurture these relationships. This could include contractors, insurance agents, and cleaning crews. Having a network of reliable vendors will help you to get the help you need quickly if there is damage to your owner’s property. This may also mean that your homeowner’s repairs are done first. You may also want to consider getting owner permission to rent properties to contractors who may need to stay in the area.
- Make homeowner insurance a mandatory part of your rental program.
In all of these items, your vacation rental management software should include functionality to facilitate your emergency planning. For example, in Barefoot, we offer unlimited amenities at the property level, so that you can record both important vendors and insurance policy information. We can also track the items in the home. We offer unlimited photos that can be stored at the property level, which do not have to be shown on the website and could be used for record-keeping purposes.
The Barefoot work order system allows for efficient communication with vendors via the vendor portal or via text. Tracking the progress and the charges for the work also is facilitated using the workflow functionality. Communication with owners can also be done right from the work order.
Finally using the owner and guest portals to keep everyone up to date on the current situation makes a complicated situation easy. There is also at your fingertips communication to owners and guests for emails and texts within the Barefoot system.
With some planning and partnership with your technology partners, both preparations for weather events and recovery make a difficult situation easier.
Barefoot provides an all-in-one solution for vacation rentals and those that act more like resorts, with access to industry-leading partners to extend their technology stack. Our technology assists the professional vacation rental manager acquire and retain guest, owner, and vendor relationships with industry-leading trust accounting. Barefoot is under continuous development, with a new user experience being implemented as version 5.0. Because we place and emphasis on knowing and delivering on our client's needs, we have a 95% client retention rate. For more information, please visit the Contact Us page.