How these Airbnb hosts are adjusting to the new normal

“We’re losing up to $ 11,000 in rent per month”: How these Airbnb hosts are adjusting to the new normal

When the pandemic hit, Christine Morra was forced to close her Blue Mountain Airbnb rental. We talked to him about adjusting to the new normal.

As said to Isabel B. Slone

Growing up, one of my dad’s best friends had a cabin on Blue Mountain; we spent many winter weekends there skiing with his friend and sons. My father passed away 10 years ago, but I still love this area because it reminds me of him. In 2016 my husband, Dom, bought our own cabin at Blue Mountain. It was built in the 1980s and we were delighted to renovate it together. Dom painted the entire house, created a front entry bench and redone the entire kitchen, painting the cupboards and adding dashboards. I’m a special education teacher in Toronto working with autistic students, and Dom is an account manager with a fasteners company; he sells screws, bolts, that sort of thing. We always joke that we just work in Toronto but live in Blue Mountain. We get up here whenever we can – any PA day, long weekend, the full two weeks of Christmas, all March break. I feel like I am carrying on a tradition.

I love that the area has something for everyone. We have two children: Xavier, who is 11, and Gabriel, who is 12. Gabriel is skiing, while Xavier always enjoys attending cooking camp at the local Loblaws. We made some amazing friends here thanks to Gabriel’s ski team. Dom and I were even part of a 24 hour ski relay with other parents – we skied 241 laps and raised money for Special Olympics and a local hospital.

In 2017, we purchased a two bedroom condo near our home at Blue Mountain. We paid around $ 400,000 and were planning to rent it out on Airbnb to help cover our mortgage and renovation costs. Two weeks after the sale closed, we got our first reservation. We named the property River Grass Retreat because it’s the kind of place you can retreat to after a long day of skiing, golfing, or strolling through the village. It’s contemporary with a rustic touch: there’s wood paneling in the main entrance, a fireplace in the living room, and bare Edison bulbs in the kitchen. We are Airbnb Superhosts, which means we have been recognized for our exceptional hospitality. To become a Superhost, you need to host 10 or more trips, respond to travelers promptly, and maintain an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5: We have had 263 bookings to date and currently have an average rating of 4.97 from our travelers. I keep our prices competitive so that we can keep the place reserved at all times. Our nightly rates range from $ 149 on Monday in November to $ 1,000 for New Years Eve.

Dom and I run the Airbnb on our own instead of using a property management company. We communicate with customers several times a day and make sure we are always reachable. We have an electronic lock so that each person who stays with us has an individualized code. We work with a mother-daughter team who clean the unit between each booking, and every Sunday we come to stock up on supplies like toilet paper and cleaning products. Dom usually takes care of repairs and keeps track of our business spreadsheets, while I’m the primary contact for guests. It’s the perfect concert.

Before Covid, we make around $ 10,000 or $ 11,000 per month from Airbnb during busy seasons – December to February and July to August. The rest of the year, we earn about $ 5,000 to $ 6,000 per month. On average, we had about three bookings per week. There was usually one guest on weekends, then two on weekdays, sometimes more.

In mid-March, when the province announced school closings, we started seeing cancellation after cancellation after cancellation – at least 20 stays canceled. On the Airbnb site, you can track your future earnings: For the month of March, we saw our projected earnings drop from $ 7,000 to $ 1,000 in a matter of hours. It was devastating. It has also affected our cleaning team, who rely on cleaning our unit three or four times a week. We went from being almost completely booked to completely empty.

Due to the Ontario Emergency Order, we can only rent to people who need housing, which limits us. Our only guest since the beginning of April is a man going through a divorce. He has to leave the family home every other weekend, so he has come to our house several times. We’ve had requests from people who just want to get away for a few days, but we haven’t rented them because we don’t want to break the emergency order. We all have a responsibility to do what we can: we don’t want to be fined and we don’t want to spread the Covid. When all of this is done, we want to be able to say that we have contributed to the solution, not the problem. Right now, we are using our savings from our Airbnb income to pay off our mortgage. We are stressed and worried, but full of hope. We still have our jobs to lean on and we know how lucky we are.

We could lease the unit long term, but that would only earn $ 2,000 per month instead of $ 5,000 or more; it doesn’t make sense financially. We’re also more protected when renting on Airbnb, because our travelers are bound by the terms and conditions and because travelers on Airbnb pay before check-in.

We still have a few reservations in June, July and August, and we don’t know what to do. If we cancel them, we could be penalized by Airbnb and lose our Superhost status. But if we don’t cancel them, we won’t be able to put the unit on the rental market. It’s quite a gamble at the moment. Are we waiting for the province to potentially reopen things and hopefully get some of the money we lost, or do we take a long-term tenant?

At the moment, we take the bet. We’re hoping Blue Mountain will reopen to some extent, and while we may not be able to attract as many people or charge as many as in the past, we hope we can earn enough to cover our monthly bills. Airbnb has offered some relief to hosts who have been affected by the pandemic. They have offered to offer a 25% discount on canceled reservations, but this only applies in certain circumstances. They also have a Superhost Relief Fund, which is up to $ 5,000, but they choose who is eligible to apply. I don’t know a single person who was chosen to apply.

In the meantime, we have started to come up with ideas on how we can create safe getaways for our customers once emergency orders are cleared. We’ve created a list of activities at a physical distance: Iwa Spa in the Village offers online yoga that our guests can do from the comfort of our place, and CrockADoodleDo provides curbside delivery and pickup for their yoga kits. painting on pottery. Gustav Chophouse and Burgrz in Collingwood have pickup and delivery options, and Jozo’s at the Blue Mountain Inn has promotions for $ 6 per day and curbside pickup. When things open up again, we’ll be ready to show people how they can climb Blue Mountain while having a good trip.

Our life is at Blue Mountain. It is our house. Even though many people only see it as a vacation spot, this place has a very strong sense of community. Not being able to contribute to this was such a challenge for our family.

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