For Airbnb hosts in Colombia with coronavirus cases increasing, how can you win with coronavirus and mitigate the impact on Airbnb rentals in Colombia? This is our mission.

For the past year and not telling for how much longer, no matter what city in Colombia you are in, no matter what season you’re in, you must treat it like the slow season.

You must now switch your mindset and start planning for the next few months. We’re going to try to attract some bonus bookings 1-3 months out, just as you would if you were planning for the slow season.

In this article, I’m going to discuss nine options in accomplishing the above and look at how you can protect your rental and guests from the virus including ways to boost bookings and explain how to manage possible future cancellations.

About the Author

My name is Daniel Rusteen and I am a location-independent digital nomad having lived in 50+ cities exclusively sleeping in Airbnbs (1,500+ nights) while remotely managing Airbnb properties and helping Airbnb hosts to be successful.

I run a personal blog – dannybooboo blog and have another website to help Airbnb hosts make more money – OptimizeMyBnb.

Daniel Rusteen, the author of this article

Daniel Rusteen, the author of this article

I come from the days before the Airbnb you know today. I started working at Airbnb in 2013. I remember countless conversations with residents of San Francisco, the headquarters of Airbnb, who had no idea about the company even when it was valued at over $10 billion and 7 years old.

In the eight years that have passed since I first heard of Airbnb, I’ve become one of the world’s best at everything Airbnb:

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

Apartment buildings near Santafé mall in El Poblado, Medellín

1. Defensive: Decrease Your Nightly Rate

Whether you’re connected to a smart pricing tool or not, you need to lower your nightly rate. Lowering your price on Airbnb is the single biggest thing you can do to influence your search rank in the short term.

If you are connected to a smart pricing tool, your prices are probably especially high because your occupancy might look okay, but you have to assume a higher-than-normal future cancellation rate.

That means, if you are normally aiming for an occupancy rate of 50% in the next 30 days and 30% in the next 90 days, you want to increase that by a factor of at least 50%.

2. Offensive: Proactively Inform Your Guests

The airline industry, like the vacation rental industry, is also feeling the hurt of coronavirus. I received an email from Avianca Airlines related to a future trip I’m going to take. They’re telling me about my options and what they’re doing to make sure I am safe during my travels.

If your future guest is getting their information solely from the scare tactics used by the large media organizations, you can understand they think the world is about to end.

Proactively message your guest and inform them what you’re doing to keep your home Coronavirus free and what they can do to stay healthy.

To help calm their nerves, you can briefly educate them on the true seriousness of the situation and how unlikely they are to get affected (hint: I’m still more scared of air pollution or McDonald’s killing me than coronavirus). Those at risk of death from coronavirus or serious illness are mainly the very old, and already ailing.

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

3. Offensive: Provide Safety-Promoting Surprise + Delight Features

With the informational message you’ll send your guest, add that you will be:

  • Providing a few N-95 filtration masks for them upon arrival
  • Adding special hand soap in the unit
  • Leaving an antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Purchasing an air filter

4. Offensive: Increase The Flexibility Of Your Listing

As Airbnb hosts, we actually have a lot of flexibility with our listings. During the slow season, you might apply a few of these flexibilities in order to increase your occupancy. Here is a list of all the things we can do to make our listings more flexible which means we’re increasing the pool of guests who can book our space:

  • Decrease the minimum number of nights
  • Select less restrictive cancellation policy (Flexible or Moderate)
  • Add or increase weekly or monthly discounts
  • Allow pets
  • Allow events
  • Allow smoking (you can select allow smoking and specify only outdoors with windows closed)
  • Increase the maximum number of nights

5. Defensive: Change Your Cancellation Policy

Airbnb has three main cancellation policies:

  • Flexible: Guest can cancel up to 24 hours before check-in for a full refund minus Airbnb fee’s
  • Moderate: Guest can cancel up to 5 days before check-in for a full refund minus Airbnb fee’s
  • For flexible and moderate, the guest will receive all funds including Airbnb’s fee if canceled more than 14 days before check-in
  • Strict: Guest can cancel up to 7 days before check-in for a 50% refund minus Airbnb fee’s
  • In all cases, the guest can cancel 48 hours after booking as long as the check-in date is more than 14 days in advance

You could change your cancelation policy to strict and encourage guests to buy traveler’s insurance. That way the burden will be on the travel insurance provider and not you as the host.

Any change you make to your cancelation policy will only affect future reservations. But remember, this makes your listing more restrictive. It’s the opposite goal we want, especially now.

Even if you change your cancelation policy to strict, Airbnb has, understandably, been quite flexible with cancellations related to coronavirus.

Airbnb has said that their Extenuating Circumstances Policy applies to any reservation where the host or guest had to cancel the booking in order to comply with restrictions implemented by the government or health authorities. This includes bookings in mainland China, South Korea and parts of northern Italy.

Also, guests traveling from a severely affected area are eligible to cancel their bookings for free. Also, flight cancellations qualify.

Our focus should be on attracting as many reservations as possible rather than punishing guests who may want to book your space.

5. Defensive: Do Not Cancel!

I manage a property for a pair of hosts in California. We received a booking from someone coming from China for a month in the future. I accepted. The host canceled right away citing the guests’ location.

Coronavirus is out. Governments, airlines, airports, everyone is aware of it. Even some places are checking temperatures to ensure you’re not sick.

Don’t overreact and cancel. Trust the measures already in place by governments and health organizations to detect and limit the further spread of the Coronavirus.

7. Offensive: Offer A Repeat Guest Discount

I send the following message two to my Airbnb quests two days after checkout:


One last message…I would like to extend a ‘friends + family’ discount to you. If you, or your friends and family, return to %city% then please have them reference your name and I will honor an extra 15% discount for any stays between November and February.

I suggest you do the same. But, I also recommend sending a message to all prior guest’s reminding them of this discount and adding an extra 10 percent+ discount for them and basically anyone they know.

Inside an apartment in Medellín with a view

Inside an apartment in Medellín with a view

8. Offensive: Re-Optimize Your Airbnb Listing For A Search Rank Boost

An Airbnb re-optimization is only needed when your occupancy rate is dipping. It’s a tool at your disposal and often results in near-immediate bookings.

If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at the back-end of your Airbnb listings, now’s the time.

You have much at your disposal in terms of rank-boosting changes you can make to your Airbnb, for example:

  • Changing your Airbnb title
  • Update your Airbnb description
  • Change your cover photo
  • Highlight one of your stellar Airbnb reviews in your photos
  • Go through your listing settings, update amenities, safety features, etc.

We have a separate article that looks at increasing your Airbnb search rank in Colombia.

9. Offensive: As Always, Focus On 5-Star Hospitality

You should always be doing this, but now that you have some extra time why not go over all of your Airbnb hosting processes to identify improvements.

  • Is your check-in and check-out process as smooth as it can be?
  • Have you create a digital guidebook for your guest?
  • Do your cleaners need a bit of extra guidance?
  • Do you have a message strategy where you’re communicating with the guest at the right times?
  • Are you providing Surprise + Delight features?

Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series

Medellin Guru now has a series of several articles about Airbnb in Colombia:

  1. 9 Strategies to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
  2. 15 Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
  3. 10 Airbnb Best Practices for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia
  4. 9 Tips to Attract Long-Term Airbnb Guests in Colombia
  5. 7 Strategies for Airbnb Slow Season in Colombia
  6. How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests in Colombia Before They Book
  7. 15 Ways to Increase Your Airbnb Search Rank In Colombia
  8. How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia? Is it Safe to Use Airbnb in Colombia?
  9. Airbnb Travel Itinerary for Your Airbnb Guests in Colombia
  10. How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide
  11. Why Airbnb Hosts in Colombia Should Consider A Pet Friendly Airbnb
  12. Airbnb Hosts in Colombia: How to Win with Coronavirus

RE/MAX Coffee Realty

Are You Looking to Buy a Property for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia?

Medellin Guru partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer real estate services to foreigners and Colombians interested in buying and selling properties in Medellín and Colombia.

Several Medellin Guru readers have asked about real estate and advice about buying and selling properties for Airbnb hosting. So, we partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer reliable real estate services to readers.

We decided to partner with RE/MAX Coffee Realty for services for buying and selling real estate for several reasons:

  • RE/MAX is the largest real estate company in the world and is a well-known brand for foreigners.
  • RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate companies in Colombia with 35 offices in four cities (Medellín, Bogotá, Cali and Barranquilla). So, RE/MAX can offer real estate services to readers in several locations in Colombia.
  • In Colombia, RE/MAX has over 350 real estate agents including more than 70 agents in Medellín. Also, RE/MAX has agents that are bilingual and speak both English and Spanish.
  • RE/MAX ensures properties are not overpriced by performing a study of market property prices known as an ACM (Análisis Comparativo del Mercado).

To use this real estate partner service from RE/MAX, just click on the button below.

Buy or Sell Real Estate in Colombia with RE/MAX

Fill out a very short form and RE/MAX offers a free consultation to provide information about the local market, current pricing information and tips for buying or selling properties.

Inside an Airbnb

Inside an Airbnb

The Bottom Line: Airbnb Hosts in Colombia – How to Win with Coronavirus

In this article, I looked at things you can do to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on your Airbnb operations in Colombia. Just as important are what not to do. We all have limited resources and we need to evaluate where to direct those resources for the maximum benefit.

I hope you enjoyed my contribution! To learn more about me send me a message on  Instagram. If you’re an Airbnb host, then visit my blog for Airbnb hosts.

Also, keep in mind becoming an Airbnb host in Colombia is not for everyone. And you can see all 12 of the Airbnb in Colombia articles I have written for Medellin Guru.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.