Managing Your Vacation Rental

Are pandemic-inspired changes here to stay?

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
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Despite the imminent promise of COVID vaccines, there’s little doubt that the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt through the 2021 rental season. As a result, many of our homeowners have told us that they intend to continue some of the measures they put in place this year as a result of COVID-19 into next year and even the foreseeable future. Even if by some miracle the virus has been completely controlled, which is unlikely, vacationers’ concerns about their safety will undoubtedly persist.


Many of us who have traditionally included linens for our guests did not do so this year. Merely laundering the mattress and pillow protectors, dish towels, and bedspreads/covers was challenging enough. And guests were more amenable to bringing their own knowing they were safe from contagion. It’s likely that many homeowners will continue to require their guests to bring their linens and towels in the future. Pandemic or not, providing linens is an expensive, environmentally harmful, and logistically-challenging amenity.


Many homeowners were forced to revise their cancellation policies this year due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. Whether due to direct health issues from the virus or to logistical or financial constraints, many vacationers canceled or postponed their bookings. And the vast majority of our homeowners took the high road and enabled them to, despite their normally stricter cancellation policies.

Going forward, we expect that most homeowners have since revised their policies and updated their leases to address pandemic-related issues. See our Blog post about Cancellation Policy Options.

Check-in/out times

Due to concerns about COVID-19, many homeowners increased the hours of their turnovers, asking their guests to either leave an hour earlier or to arrive as much as a few hours later than their usual check-in time. This, too, may persist through next season, regardless of the need for extra sanitizing or disinfecting. We suggest you be pretty aggressive about leaving yourself as much time as possible for turnovers – but then relent and allow your guests to access the home earlier if you are ready. This way, you are managing their expectations, taking some pressure off of you and your cleaners, and also availing yourself of the opportunity to provide your guests with an unexpected benefit.


We have harped on the importance of homeowner communication with their guests for years. But this year, with all the required changes, uncertainty, and anxieties, it became vitally important for homeowners to stay in touch with their guests. At a minimum, they needed to reassure them that the home would be fully sanitized and that their families would be safe.

Cleaning and clutter

Once the pandemic is under control, homeowners will not need to go to the same lengths to sanitize and disinfect their homes between guests. (Read our post about Cleaning during the pandemic.) For the 2021 season, however, it’s likely that vacationers will still feel some anxiety about the virus, and it will therefore be important to reassure them that stringent cleaning protocols are still being met in your home. Many homeowners heeded our advice and removed any clutter in their homes (including books, games, throw pillows, etc.) in order to facilitate cleaning. So, we expect that, while some homeowners will restore some of the items they’d removed, they may just opt for a more stripped-down look going forward.

Are you planning to continue any new procedures that you adopted this summer due to COVID-19 into next season or beyond?

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.