How a property manager increased revenue by 25% in one year
Four hours from three major airports is the lakeside community of Prince Edward County in Ontario, Canada, surrounded by beaches and known for their wine region and culinary hot spots. Since 2009, when Richard Barrett purchased Sandbanks Vacations & Tours, they have been managing vacation properties in the area and providing guided wine tours to guests.
Today, Sandbanks manages 65 vacation rentals across the county and has been using Airbnb since 2016. Accommodations manager Galen Newman was interested in the platform as a way to expand their reach and attract new customers. The company was already using a property management system to distribute their listings. After seeing how easy it was to connect them through their existing software, they decided to try Airbnb using a single test property.
Within their second year, they increased to 20 listings. Currently in their third year, Sandbanks lists 45 properties on Airbnb. Within one year, the company has experienced a 25% lift in revenue across their entire business, attributed to increased short-stay rentals facilitated, in part, by Airbnb. Additionally, bookings through Airbnb increased by 72% from 2017 to 2018.
During the shoulder seasons when occupancy typically drops off, Sandbanks has been able to bolster their earnings by accommodating the increase in short-stay demand during the high season. Galen says Airbnb has made booking this kind of stay a more seamless transaction. “Airbnb is a master of the short-stay rental, and it has helped us manage these visits easily,” she says. “I love the ease with which you can change the rate, change the guests, and send a special offer. It makes it really easy to be fluid.”
In previous years, it was uncommon for property managers in the area to take reservations for less than a week’s time in high season. With changing traveler behavior, however, it has become a regular booking option for many property managers.
A leading factor to their success on Airbnb has been having someone on staff take initiative to optimize the platform’s capabilities. Galen says much of the credit for the growth of bookings goes to General Manager Gillian Fedchak, who made listing on the platform a priority. By focusing on property descriptions, adding new properties regularly, and being responsive to guest inquiries right away, they have been able to attract a new audience and diversify the types of stays they accommodate.
Special occasions and weekend getaways are common reasons for booking––reunions, anniversaries in the off-season, and visits from guests living in urban locations looking to escape the city. Galen says they have seen a broader age range of guests booking stays as well. “In the early days, it definitely was a younger demographic,” she says. “As time has progressed, we are seeing folks 40-plus on up to 60 and 70 having an Airbnb account and making bookings. It’s definitely a shifting market.”
When asked how Sandbanks Vacations defines their signature style of hospitality, Galen says they have built a reputation of providing high-quality homes along with friendly and responsive customer service. After almost 10 years in business, she says guests are familiar with them as a trusted hospitality brand in the area.
While they have long-offered wine tours throughout Prince Edward County, Galen says they recognize an opportunity to connect guests with more nearby experiences. Currently, they are developing partnerships with local artisans to provide new tours, enhancing both guest stays and the immediate community.