posted on April 30th, 2020

How to host during COVID-19 

Business has almost certainly slowed over the last month and a half for many Turo hosts due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, so what can hosts do in this downtime to stay productive? The summer season will inevitably bring a surge in car travel — while vacationers will be chomping at the bit to hit the road and enjoy a change of scenery, they’ll also be reluctant to jump on a plane until things normalize further. Car travel, on the flip side, has the boon of being self-contained and thus carries a lower risk to social exposure during these uncertain times. 

So, as we wait with baited breath for shelter in place orders to relax, here are a few adjustments hosts can make to gear up for the imminent uptick in car travel. 

Optimize your listing for local trips

We’ve previously encouraged hosts to optimize their listings, and recently shared some new tips and best practices to cater to the emerging COVID-influenced demand patterns. Reducing your lead time, shortening your minimum trip duration to one to two days, and turning on Book Instantly are some quick ways to tailor your settings to these types of trips, but one additional lever you could play around with is pricing. 

Pricing competitively is a surefire way to stand out from the competition — a good rule of thumb some hosts have adopted is to reduce your price by 10–15% to see a meaningful bump in demand. And remember you can always discount your delivery price as well — delivery is a standout differentiating service that guests love, especially when their mobility is limited, so pricing it reasonably (or offering it for free!) will surely boost your attractiveness to browsing guests. 

Also, since many people still need access to cars to get to and from work, your car could be their saving grace. All-Star Hosts like Bill H. in Michigan or Saimah C. in southern California are discounting their cars for frontline essential workers, so offering a similar discount could be a constructive way for you to contribute to your community during this downtime. If you choose to offer a discount, submit your listing here — we may promote it within the community.

Clean & disinfect your car

There’s never been such a ubiquitous, society-wide hyperfocus on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. If you’re continuing to share your car during this time, be sure to disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like door handles, trunk latches, rearview mirrors, seatbelts, dashboards, etc. often and before every new trip with your car. Saimah does several thorough wipedowns with disinfectant between trips to ensure her guests’ safety, and All-Star Host Michael G. has been “giving our guests travel size hand sanitizers on the key chains and everyone loves it,” he shares. 

In this new world order where mindful disinfection is the expectation and will soon become the norm, hosts should get into the habit of frequently cleaning and disinfecting their cars. Soon, Turo will publish guidelines and recommendations for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of interior car surfaces without damaging delicate materials. Stay tuned!

Explore contactless check-in options

In addition to deep cleaning your car frequently, exploring contactless check-in options will help you cater to the evolving expectations around social distancing. Turo Go remote unlocking technology lets your guests find, access, and unlock your car via the Turo app and is a wonderful resource to empower hosts to offer contactless check-ins. While Turo Go is only currently available in select markets in California, hosts can use a lockbox to offer contactless access to your car. Before offering contactless check-in options for your guests, be sure to review the remote handoff check in/out guidelines to ensure you check all the boxes to stay safe and covered.

Catch up on maintenance

While many shops remain shuttered in many areas, auto supplies shops are open for business (online at least, if not in brick-and-mortar stores) so you can do some DIY maintenance in the comfort of your driveway to keep your car feeling fresh. Change your oil, rotate your tires, change out your spark plugs, or flush your brake fluid to keep your car in fighting form. Not only will doing some routine maintenance keep your cars healthy and safe, but also DIY projects are a fun and constructive way to pass the time. 

If you’d prefer to leave it to the pros while still cutting costs, hosts can also take advantage of the Turo Garage, a hub for maintenance deals and discounts from trusted Turo partners, including partners who offer contactless services.

Keep your car trip-ready

Take advantage of an opportunity to get out of the house and drive around your neighborhood — if you don’t use your car regularly, it’s recommended to drive every two to three weeks to stretch its legs and keep it healthy and engaged. Just like we need exercise, so does your car — driving it every so often at various speeds will help prevent dead batteries, flat-spotted tires, and other issues that can be caused by letting a car sit parked for weeks. You should also store it with a full tank of gas to prevent condensation from accumulating in the gas tank. Metromile has some helpful tips for safe car storage. 

Beef up your listing description

Get your creative juices flowing and optimize your profile to boost your rank in search results by beefing up your description. There’s no time like the present to polish up your listings for the eventual recovery. Here are some recommendations for improving your description:

  • Cover the basics: Share basic info like your car’s cargo space, backseat legroom, and your cleanliness expectations to address common guest questions.
  • Set the scene: How is your car best enjoyed? A weekend adventure? Big date night? Inspire guests to book your car by helping them imagine themselves behind the wheel.
  • Highlight unique features: List and describe a few of your car’s most attractive features to help guests get excited for their trip. Get creative!
  • Showcase your service: Explain how you’ll go the extra mile to make your guests’ trips comfortable and convenient. 
  • Inspire peace of mind: Share your regular car maintenance, cleaning, and sanitizing habits to help your guests feel safe and confident booking your car. 

Get ready to get back in business

As shelter in place orders start to relax heading into the summer season, people will inevitably be ready to hit the road to shake off months of cabin fever. With concern over virus transmission likely to continue, we expect an increase in car travel (versus air travel) as folks take a wait-and-see approach to how airlines make their comeback. Car travel, on the flip side, empowers people to enjoy changes of scenery while remaining socially distant.

When the world starts to emerge into the light of day once more, hosts can be ready to (remotely) greet wanderlusters with clean, disinfected cars and contactless check-in options. They can offer Extras to augment the travel experience. They can offer unlimited mileage so guests don’t need to fret about mileage limits. Car travel is about to see a resurgence — Texas All-Star Host Aubrey J. has already seen her car’s utilization go from -95% in March to +75% in April, so it’s already on the rebound.

The world will recover, though it may have a bit of a different texture from the pre-COVID world. Savvy hosts can get ahead of the curve by reading the evolving social and behavioral cues and adjusting their service accordingly.