5 Factors to Look Out for When Choosing Arbitrage Properties

If you are thinking about expanding your vacation rental business you might find there are many aspects that you need to bear in mind. In this blog post, our Team at Zeevou have synthesised five factors to look out for when choosing arbitrage properties.

1. Customer Segmentation

First of all, you need to know who it is that is going to be staying in your property. Will you be targeting:

  • Corporate executives,
  • Contractors,
  • Family visitors,
  • Tourists,
  • Traveling nurses,
  • Or academics?

Each of the abovementioned groups has certain requirements which should be considered while thinking of adding a property to your portfolio of vacation rentals.

2. Amenities

For each segment of your customers, you have to provide certain amenities. However, there are a few facilities which are guaranteed to always be welcome.

Parking

Having a private parking space in a safe and secure corner is always counted as an added value for the majority of your guests, especially for local tourists and those who are on a business trip.  

Internet Access

Nowadays, the importance of having internet access is equivalent to having a bed or a bathroom in your vacation rental. It is quite essential to be able to provide Wi-Fi internet access and to ensure that the signal is strong enough to enable guests to use their mobile phones. If a guest is to complain about something, you’d rather have them complain about not having a bed and a mattress, than about not having internet access or having a poor signal.

Room Size

Size of the room is one of the factors to look out for when choosing arbitrage properties. With regards to the size of the bedrooms in the property, make sure it has enough space for a double bed to fit, and ideally additional space for a foldable bed.

Common Spaces

Check the sanitary facilities.  Make sure there are enough showers and bathrooms for the maximum potential occupancy of the property. As regards the kitchen and common areas, there should be enough sitting and working space for at least half of the guests to be able to use them simultaneously at any given point.

3. Location

Depending on the customer segmentation, you need to think about different factors when trying to select a good spot. You need to try and predict the buying pattern of the guests who are going to stay at your vacation rental. Each segment has specific requirements.

Proximity to Public Transport

One of the most important factors for tourists is the Bus Stop and Metro Station accessibility. In addition, being in the main zone of public transportation is also vital for them as no one wants to stay in outer zones of public transportation when time is at a premium.   

Proximity to Tourist Attractions

The further away from tourist attractions the property is located, the less popular your vacation rental would be. Tourists are in the city to spend time visiting attractions, not to look at underground tunnels and other bus passengers.

Proximity to Central Business Districts

If you are trying to target business travellers, try to see what areas of town are likely to attract them. You need to be located in the vicinity of the central business district; there is one or other areas with high concentrations of offices.

The Average Age in the Neighbourhood

Considering the average age in the area is quite important as you may otherwise find yourself located next to a retirement home. In this case, you risk facing heightened complaints from neighbours about the noise caused by frequent check-ins and check-outs.  Therefore, it is better to avoid districts which are exclusive to one specific age group.

Seasonality

Depending on the location of the building, the flux of your customers may vary throughout the year. This seasonality may lead to fluctuations of the income that you are generating from the rentals. A building close to the sea has the highest occupancy rate in the summer, while the one close to the mountains is appropriate for skiing resorts, and would thus be most popular over the winter months. A centrally located vacation rental offers the best accommodation for the tourists. Location bears a direct impact on the seasonality of your business.

4. Operations

Thinking about your ability of serving your guests to an appropriate standard down the line is one of the factors to Look out for when choosing arbitrage properties. Will you be able to

A. Find a local cleaning company in the vicinity of the property?
B. Manage the check-ins and check-outs remotely, either through meet & greets or via a self check-in mechanism?
C. Check the property for damage shortly after each check-out?
D. Find maintenance personnel who are able to respond promptly when required?

5. Does the Deal Stack?

Similar to every business owner, you need to check whether the income is likely to be higher than costs associated with renting the property as you are considering adding to your vacation rental portfolio. Below you can find a list of items to take into account, which we will go into in more detail in upcoming blogs by Zeevou.  

  • Rental level
  • Predicted bills
  • Insurance costs
  • Turnover costs
  • Upfront investment
  • Software costs
  • Staffing costs
  • Nightly rates
  • Occupancy levels
  • Seasonality
  • Return on investment
  • Return on risk

Let’s See What Happened at HOST 2019!

HOST 2019 brings together the latest developments in the vacation rental and short let business. It creates a vibrant event packed with valuable new approaches, insights, and technology. Zeevou at HOST 2019 provided the interested ones with an opportunity to explore The Direct Booking Revolution.

Zeevou at HOST 2019

HOST 2019 is a great way to stay up to date with the latest trends. The protagonists of the industry are all over the floor of the event. It gives visitors, exhibitors and speakers an excellent opportunity to create new connections for collaboration. Here one learns from new developments and shares valuable ideas.

Zeevou had the opportunity to present its revolutionary approach at booth #54. The location is right next to the main stage of the event and the bar. It was certainly clear that all participants were eager to see what each one of the booths is about. As a result, Zeevou aimed to give participants an as complete as possible experience of what the revolutionary cloud-based software is all about. Probably through live demos, one-on-one explorations, and a warm invitation to grab a coffee or tea, Team Zeevou extended its core values of hospitality and service. For participants, Zeevou became more than a magic trick, but a real solution to their everyday encounters in the vacation rental business. It truly brings to the market a revolutionary approach and redefines what it means to host.

As for the aftermath of the event, it is sure that Zeevou will continue to expand its network. Hence Zeevou continues to build on the connections to bring an ever more pleasant experience to the guest and the host.

Is VAT Applicable on Cancellations and No-Shows?

Is VAT applicable on cancellations and no-shows?

UK government put into effect a policy regarding VAT charges for non-refundable deposits of canceled or no-show bookings on 1st March 2019. This came as a surprise to many short-term rental managers, affecting their accounting and revenue-related calculations. But VAT and Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme (TOMS) complexities should not deter you from tracking the tax rules of the hospitality sector. Besides, Brexit and the UK withdrawal from the EU make TOMS not applicable anymore in the UK thereafter. So one needs to consider all these factors when devising a sensible approach to tax accounting.

How have non-refundable deposits been treated to date?

HMRC used to follow a policy of exempting vacation rental businesses from paying VAT on non-refundable deposits received through canceled or no-show bookings. This exemption was justified by the fact that there was no direct connection between the non-refundable deposit and the supply of the items and services provided for the guests.

How are canceled bookings and no-shows to be treated going forward?

An article dated January 4th 2019 on the BDO UK website states:

“HMRC has confirmed a new policy that VAT remains due on a deposit, even if the customer does not use the goods or services for which it was paid”.

https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/insights/tax/vat-and-indirect-taxes/vat-to-be-chargeable-on-all-non-refundable-deposits

So this means that as a vacation rental manager, in case of cancelled or no-show bookings, you will now have to pay VAT on non-refundable deposits. The article goes on to say that the change will primarily affect the hospitality industry,

 “which will soon be unable to recover VAT charged on cancellation or ‘no show’ charges…”

https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/insights/tax/vat-and-indirect-taxes/vat-to-be-chargeable-on-all-non-refundable-deposits

How does VAT on cancellations and no-shows affect my vacation rental business operations?

UK governments implemented the VAT on cancellations and No-shows on 1st March 2019. Most noteworthy, if you have not considered this new VAT policy, be sure to take it into account in your business plan.

1.  First of all, review your cancellation and no-show policy, and check its terms and conditions.

2. Also, ask your accountant or VAT counselor for advice on how to change your accounting procedures accordingly. Most probably you will need to include non-refundable invoices from canceled bookings in your accounting system or software.

How can I minimise the disruption on my business?

Each time you face a new VAT policy, you need to review the way you operate your vacation rental business. Hence, this time HMRC’s new policy regarding charging VAT for non-refundable deposits of canceled or no-show bookings is going to add to your accounting workload. From now on, you will have to include the invoices for those types of bookings in your VAT declaration.

Luckily there are solutions available. While drawing up invoices is time-consuming work, accounting software such as Xero is a handy solution to the problem. You find it probably even more advantageous to entrust the operation of your short term rentals. You need an all-in-one channel manager. A channel which integrates with an online accounting program to make your tax life hassle-free. Zeevou is an easy-to-use online platform that automates hospitality management. At the time of booking, Zeevou generates a beautifully designed draft invoice for every customer. Even if the guests do not use the services you provide for them, you have the invoice in your database. If knowing more about how Zeevou can help hosts seems interesting to you, please click on this link.

Airbnb Custom URLs

Airbnb Custom URL

Airbnb hosts are starting to be told that they can employ custom URLs as Superhosts. Airbnb enables eligible hosts to take advantage of this opportunity to create an airbnb custom URL for each of their listings. However, the airbnb Superhost can create only one URL per listing and it is valid only so long as their Airbnb account is active. This also means that airbnb can remove it anytime they decide to do it.

Therefore, Airbnb’s long listing URLs that look like anonymous addresses, and do not make any impression on guests, will eventually be replaceable by ones using the airbnb.com/yourlistingname format, unless someone else has already used that particular name. This functionality was supposed to be released in the fall of 2018. As a matter of fact, that never happened, and Airbnb has still not announced an exact date. According to hosts, emails from Airbnb claim that the final release is coming soon and you can use airbnb custom URL.

Setting up your own custom URL Steps

Setting up your own custom URL is relatively easy.  Before starting the process, bear in mind that you are eligible to create only one Airbnb URL per listing. So if you have three listings, you have to make sure you choose three URLs which direct people to each listing you host.

On every listing page, you will find the following items: Amenities, Accessibility features, Title & Description, and Custom Link.

Click on Custom Link and then click on “type your link”, shown in a different color similar to the picture below. Please be aware that you only get to do this once for each listing, so you should make sure to read the terms and conditions of Airbnb Custom URL Policies in detail first.  

Alternatively, you might receive a message on your dashboard stating: Promote Listing by a Custom URL. In this case the message will guide you through the steps. 

Are Airbnb’s Custom URLs of any use?

What are the pros and cons of using Airbnb’s custom URL? Does an Airbnb’s custom URL improve your SEO?

The advocates of Airbnb’s custom URL say that it will help your listings rank higher. It looks much nicer to have a short and memorable link that can be printed on your business card. you can use it to promote your listing and direct more guests to it.

Opponents of Airbnb’s custom URL criticise some of its features.  First of all, the opportunity seems to be unreliable. The existence of this link depends on Airbnb policies; which means it can be suspended if the host loses the Superhost status, or if, for any reason, Airbnb decides to discontinue it. Similar problems have been experienced by entrepreneurs setting up a business through Facebook.  Secondly, the opportunity does not benefit all Airbnb hosts. Getting Airbnb’s custom URL is exclusive to Superhosts on Airbnb. While some plus members of Airbnb already have a custom URL, the others have to wait for the new announcement.

Finally, the custom URL does not affect ranking on search engines.  When someone clicks on a custom URL, they are simply redirected to your Airbnb listing’s main URL. There are many tutorials on setting up a domain name for your Airbnb listing, which claim to give a personalised character to your vacation rental business and you can google to find also how Airbnb URL Shortener works, but at the end of the day these  benefit Airbnb to grow.

And in reality, that’s all it does. The main advantage of using a custom URL seems to be the fact that you get a memorable link that you can share with family, friends, and regular guests. If you are looking for a memorable URL to spread around and help Airbnb strengthen their position in the marketplace and earn more in commissions, this seems to be a great way to go!

However, you may wish to consider setting up your own website to increase direct bookings of your vacation rental business instead. In this way, you will be able to charge your guests more and at the same time offer them a discount, as there’s no middle man that needs a share of the pie!

Increase your Direct Bookings.

A number of channel managers and property management systems for vacation rentals and serviced apartments also offer booking engines. Zeevou is an easy to use online platform that automates hospitality management. One of its aims is to decrease hosts’ dependency on OTAs and listing sites by driving direct bookings. Vacation rental managers setting their website up through Zeevou can use their own domain. The rich SEO tools offered help maximise the chances of showing up on top of search results. Zeevou creates a beautiful, SEO-friendly, modern website which expands visibility and increases the hosts’ profits. If you are interested in knowing more about how Zeevou can help hosts, please click on this link.