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Airbnb Has Stopped All Marketing Efforts; Here's What That Means for Hosts

[Updated: Apr 16, 2021 ] Mar 31, 2020 by Aly J. Yale
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If it wasn't already clear from the slew of layoffs happening across the industry, short-term rental businesses are hurting.

The world got just one more giant sign of that on Friday, when Airbnb effectively halted its marketing efforts -- all of them, reportedly.

According to Reuters, the short-term rental giant has put all marketing activities on hold indefinitely -- a move that will save the company $800 million across the year. Airbnb's executive team is taking a 50% pay cut to save cash as well.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a sign that the industry as a whole is in trouble. At a more granular level, it means hosts have two choices: Either up their marketing game or start thinking of exit strategies.

Moving forward as a host

Airbnb's step back from marketing doesn't just mean fewer potential travelers coming to the platform. It also signals a fundamental shift in demand.

That demand will likely continue its downward spiral as more and more municipalities issue shelter-in-place orders -- or even ban short-term rentals entirely -- in an effort to stave off further spread of COVID-19.

So, what are you to do, especially if your mortgage payments, bills, or even entire livelihood rely on that short-term income? You have a few options.

Take marketing into your own hands

If you've got marketing chops, there's no rule that you can't promote your property yourself. Use social media to reach potential travelers, or even switch up your listing and bill it as a "COVID retreat." This can be a good option if your property is located a little off the beaten path.

You can also use digital ads on Google search, Facebook, Twitter, and more to market your home (though be careful about spending too much on ads -- especially if you're worried about finances.)

Branch out onto other platforms

You can also look into Airbnb alternatives. There are several other short-term rental platforms out there, including some that market your listings across places like Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP), and Orbitz, as well as to frequent travelers like Marriott (NASDAQ: MAR) Bonvoy members.

Consider pivoting to longer-term tenants

If bookings have ground to a halt, It might be time to consider a strategy pivot. Instead of renting your properties to short-term renters, what about finding some long-term tenants instead?

With many Americans laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak, a lot of homeowners may be looking to downsize and reduce their housing costs. Your property could offer the affordable home they need, while also giving you steady, consistent income in an otherwise volatile market.

Think about selling your house

It's not the ideal solution, but if you're worried you might fall behind on your mortgage or need to dip into your retirement savings to stay afloat, it may be time to sell.

Despite what's going on in the world, people are still buying homes. They're just going about it in a more virtually powered way. If you do opt to sell the property, align yourself with a digitally savvy agent who can help you be successful in the current, socially distanced marketplace.

The bottom line

It's clear that change is afoot — both in the short-term rental business and in real estate in general. If you haven't already, start strategizing. Know how you'll pay the bills for the next few weeks and months, and most importantly, have an exit plan just in case. It could be what keeps you in the black if things go further south.

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Aly Yale has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends TripAdvisor. The Motley Fool recommends Marriott International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.