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COVID-19 impacting Airbnb hosts, short term rental owners

Inside of an Airbnb in Colorado Springs.
Posted at 6:16 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 20:28:44-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's usually the start of the busiest time of year for Airbnb hosts and short term rental owners, but with COVID-19 still an issue some owners are getting creative in order to stay afloat.

With big changes to graduation ceremonies and people not really traveling right now things are looking a lot different for short-term rentals.

Airbnb Host Elliott Orsillo said, "I think I was adequately scared in February."

That's how Orsillo felt when news of the coronavirus first started to spread.

"We kind of saw the writing on the wall."

He shared that a big wave of cancellations came through.

"We're running at probably...two-thirds both on a booking rate and on an occupancy rate."

Ryan Spradlin, a short term rental owner, said he's experienced "somewhere in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 worth of cancellations."

However, since those initial cancellations, things have started to pick up again.

Spradlin said, "Everything got wiped out and then everything slowly came back. Obviously, this is graduation season so it's not coming back at the rates that we were expecting...May winds up being a month that's usually double and sometimes triple other spring months."

While the two men know that that won't happen this year they're trying to innovate during this tough time.

Spradlin said, "I have had longer-term people come in and rent the houses and then I've converted some of my houses to medium term rentals and rented to healthcare workers."

Orsillo said, "We've also flipped a lot of the units to more of a longer-term rental so whether it's finding someone that's looking for three, six, or twelve months fully furnished...that's helped kind of create some stability there."

Orsillo said another thing that's helping is that "people are...kind of getting sick of quarantining at home so neighboring states - we're getting traffic from them."

If you're a host struggling right now Spradlin suggests checking out the Colorado Springs Short-Term Rental Alliance group on Facebook for advice and support.