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Hosting in the Time of COVID-19

 

With scientists warning that the coronavirus COVID-19 won't be going away anytime soon, it has become clear that we need to learn how to live with it, and this includes while traveling. At misterb&b, we know how important travel and connection are for the global LGBTQ community. We also recognize how resilient LGBTQ travelers are. So how can we all host and travel safely with the virus still spreading throughout the world? Here are some ideas for hosts to adapt to this “new normal”. They include plenty of cleaning, enforcing new house rules, respecting physical distancing, and editing your listing slightly.

 

 

1 - Clean, clean, clean. And disinfect.

 

How can you keep the virus away, even with guests staying at your place?

The secret is simple: clean and disinfect. Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces and lowers the number of germs and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. In order for guests to feel comfortable and safe booking your place, they need to know that either you or your team have cleaned and disinfected the place according to COVID-19 guidelines. This is why we have established a new cleaning protocol for you to follow. Based on this protocol, we offer you two options to adhere to (see below). If you adhere to one or the other, travelers will be notified of your efforts to guarantee their safety, making them feel confident enough to book your place.

 

 

Cleaning Protocol

Based on the public advice issued by the WHO and the official guidelines published by the CDC in the US, we have established a cleaning protocol that we recommend hosts to follow between two stays:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after the cleaning, with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand wash with at least 70% alcohol.
  • Wear disposable gloves at all times when cleaning and disinfecting, and discard them after each cleaning.
  • Make sure your place is well ventilated during the whole process, especially when disinfecting and using chemicals (open all windows).
  • First, clean surfaces using soap and water, then use recommended disinfectants (for instance in the US EPA-registered household disinfectants). 
  • Diluted household bleach solutions and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used if appropriate for the surface. Make sure your bleach is intended for disinfection and is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
  • Practice daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, thermostats, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. Leave solution on the surface for at least 1 minute.
  • Don’t forget soft surfaces: for carpeted floor, rugs and drapes, clean with appropriate cleaners. If possible, launder items as appropriate.
  • Avoid sharing electronics. For touch screens, remote controls or keyboards, follow manufacturer’s instructions. If no guidance available, consider use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol.
  • For linens, towels and other items that go in the laundry, wear disposable gloves when handling them or wash hands afterwards. Do not shake! Launder items as appropriate, possibly using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers. Place a bag liner that is either disposable or can be washed.
  • Empty the vacuum cleaner after every cleaning. Disinfect the vacuum cleaner, along with other cleaning appliances like the washing machine.

 

 

What are the options offered by misterb&b for enforcing this cleaning protocol?

In addition to cleaning instructions above, the CDC also recommends a 24-hour period before entering a space occupied by a person who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Combined with studies relating to how long the virus can survive on surfaces, we offer hosts 2 options:

 

For entire places:

1 - Hosts agree to follow the cleaning protocol and also agree that misterb&b imposes a 24-hour period between two bookings by blocking their calendar accordingly.

OR

2 - Hosts won’t/can’t follow the cleaning protocol but agree that misterb&b imposes a 72-hour period between two bookings by blocking their calendar accordingly.

 

For private rooms:

1 - Hosts agree to follow the cleaning protocol and also agree that misterb&b imposes a 24-hour period between two bookings by blocking their calendar accordingly. They also agree to wearing a mask/face covering at home when necessary, and intend to practise physical distancing at all times.

OR

2 - Hosts won’t/can’t follow the cleaning protocol but agree that misterb&b imposes a 72-hour period between two bookings by blocking their calendar accordingly. They also commit to wearing a mask/face covering at home when necessary, and intend to practise physical distancing at all times.

 

 

To opt for one of the other options, go to “manage my listing”, “edit listing” and then “Covid-19”. Once you have selected one of the options and agree to commit to it, a special badge will appear on your listing, informing travelers that your efforts will guarantee their safety.

 

We have also established special guidelines for guests which they will need to approve before being able to book a place.

 

 

2 - Enforce new house rules

 

How can you limit the risks inside your home?

More than ever, be sure to follow COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from local health authorities and make sure your guests do too. Also, you can enforce new house rules such as:

  • Contactless handoff of the keys. Now could be the time to invest in a lockbox.
  • No handshaking, no hugging, and no kissing upon arrival. We know it sounds unwelcoming but it’s safer.
  • Make sure you provide hand soap, sanitizer and tissues for the guests, as well as disposable paper towels and disposable masks if you can.
  • If you experience a loss of smell or taste, feel unwell, have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and follow the directions of your local health authority. Contact misterb&b to cancel all bookings until you’re recovered. Of course no penalties will apply (we’ll just need a note from your doctor).

 

If you host in a private room, we have additional suggestions:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly (see below)
  • Avoid sharing items (glasses, bottles, plates, food, drinks…) and electronic devices (remotes, keyboards, …). If you do, clean and disinfect before!
  • Don’t share hand towels with guests in the bathroom or kitchen
  • Respect physical distancing at all times. If it’s not possible, wear a mask/face covering inside your home and make sure your guests wear one too.
  • Be mindful at all times, and try to limit touching surfaces with your hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, doorbells, light switches or handles (see cleaning protocol).

 

 

 

Reminder for keeping hands clean:

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (Sing “Happy birthday” twice in your head).
  • Always wash immediately after removing gloves
  • Hand sanitizer: if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, use a hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol. If hands are visibly dirty, wash with soap and water.
  • Additional times to wash your hands include:
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After using the restroom
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • After contact with animals or pets
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

3 - Reassure guests

 

How can you offer them peace of mind?

Inform your guests you are going above and beyond to minimize any risks, and keep the virus away from your home. Update your listing description and highlight these efforts when you reply to a booking request.

Also, we have created a special badge for hosts who agree to follow our respective cleaning protocol, or who agree to a 72-hour vacancy period between 2 stays (see above). Their listings will stand out in the search results page in the coming months with a special badge. A note will also be displayed on their listing page, certifying that they have agreed to offer travelers the greatest level of safety concerning Covid-19.

 

4 - Offer more flexibility

 

Have you considered adopting a flexible cancellation policy for the time being, to make guests feel more comfortable booking your place?

More than ever, travelers expect flexibility in terms of canceling or rescheduling their stays. That’s why we recommend you update your cancellation policy from “Strict” to “Flexible”, for the time being. We believe it will give travelers more confidence to book your place. In case they need to cancel, their refund will be much better.

Also, listings with a flexible cancellation policy are very easy to find: we have added a new filter in our search pages under the “reservation policy” section. Guests can filter listings with a flexible cancellation policy in just one click, making it more likely for them to find your updated listing. So, go to “My listings” and then to “Booking Conditions” to adjust your terms.

We just introduced a new "Very Flexible" cancellation policy: based on what we've learned from the last couple of months, this new policy will enable your guests to enjoy a 100% refund up to 24h before their arrival date. We only apply a $10/10€ cancellation fee. This policy will make your place the perfect fit for travelers worried about how the health situation will evolve in the coming weeks and months.

Tip: if guests are considering canceling their booking, you can offer them the possibility to reschedule their trip to a later time, why not with a small discount.

 

 

 

5 - Offer longer stays

 

Have you thought about offering a weekly or monthly discount?

One way to mitigate the risk of infection is to limit the number of guests who stay at your place. Offering a discount for longer stays is a great way to achieve this: a significant discount after one week or one month is an excellent incentive for a guest to stay longer. Go to “My listings” and then “Pricing”. You can also extend your “minimum stay” to several days to limit the number of guests.

 

 

6 - Remain agile

 

Why not accept last minute booking requests?

With travel so uncertain, travelers are more likely to make last-minute decisions. Make the most of it and be ready to accept last-minute bookings! Go to “My Listings”, then “Booking Conditions” and check the “Reservation Preferences” at the bottom of the page. Set your “notification time” to “Same day” and set the time until when travelers can book your place for the same day. Important: make sure your place is ready at all times, cleaned and disinfected for possible last-minute guests.

 

Do you have more ideas and suggestions on how hosts should adapt and prepare for when travel with pick up again? Please let us know via email here.