The holiday rental market has grown considerably worldwide over the last five years. In Barbados the market for short term rentals has also become more competitive. Whether luxury or budget, there is a demand for well-priced and good value for money accommodation at all levels.
On a property management level, this means that efficiently maintaining the property and managing running costs is essential. This allows the owners to be flexible with their rates in order to remain competitive, while still achieving a good net yield from their rental revenue. Traditionally, vacation rentals in Barbados are staffed and this cost can account for a large portion of the running costs to an owner. With the evolution of the rental market and many new guests trying vacation rentals, there is a need to manage this balancing act of providing what the guest requires while doing so efficiently. The key to this is ensuring that we have excellent knowledge on what guests are looking for with regards to staffing.
For smaller apartments not in the luxury segment, many guests often find the traditional staffing levels intrusive. They expect the unit to be thoroughly cleaned before their arrival, but do not want or expect staff to come to the property during their stay as is often the norm in other markets. As a result, it is recommended that owners reduce the frequency of staffing at these smaller properties. Blue Sky Luxury (BSL) provides temporary staffing for housekeeping service once or twice a week from our Smart Staffing pool. This way we can provide the staff that is required by the guests and the owner can access staff on an as-needed basis. For longer stays, it is recommended that housekeeping cleans the unit at least once per week. This allows the housekeeper to keep an eye on the property and report any issues which should be drawn to the owner’s attention.
For luxury apartments, a housekeeper is provided for a minimum of three days per week of stay. These properties tend to be larger than their non-luxury counterparts. Guests may also require additional services such as those of a cook, chef or butler, and these can be provided as an additional service. BSL maintains a full roster of trained temporary staff for accommodating guests’ needs and are thus able to provide them in a seamless manner as needed. This enables owners to provide expected levels of service while not having the overhead associated and the owners are not burdened with retaining permanent staff.
Villas form the core of the holiday rental market in Barbados and possibly have the greatest expectation of staffing levels, but even here the influx of new guests has challenged these expectations. Many villa owners are weighing the benefits of eliminating or reducing the number of permanent staff at their properties to suit the changing needs of these new guests who desire more privacy and less frequent service. During the winter months (between 15th December to 15th April) however, rates tend to be approximately 50% or more higher than the summer months and owners tend to provide staffing as part of their rate. The reason for this is supply and demand as we have many more guests wanting to escape the cold, winter months. With the additional revenue achieved during the winter months, owners choose to offer staffing as part of their rate. From the guests’ point of view, paying higher rates not only allows them to have a regular housekeeper but they also enjoy the benefits of a cook or chef to cater their meals.
Luxury Properties & Estates
Guests staying at our larger luxury properties and estates continue to expect exceptional, full service as delivered in other luxury hospitality outlets throughout the world. It is not just about the physical accommodation, it is about service and experience provided. Many of these guests tend to come year after year and build relationships with the staff, who often become like an extended family. Most of these properties will have permanent housekeepers and gardeners. If required, BSL can cater to the elevated requests of the guest in-house, be it temporary butlers, chefs, or other specialised staff. The staff is drawn from a pool of experienced, well-trained professionals and are comprehensively vetted by BSL. This saves the owner on staffing costs, but still provides confidence in the level of service.
Property management dictates that we keep our finger on the pulse of market trends and listen carefully to what our guests require across all property levels we manage. This allows us to review costs, so that we can advise our owners on how to maximise the revenue received from their rentals. We are innovative in finding solutions to ensure that guests have the experience they are looking for, while at the same time providing staffing solutions that are economical for our owners. At BSL we are building on our core group of temporary staff, implementing annual training and working towards rolling out new temporary staffing software which will improve our ability to match our owners’ staffing needs with guests’ requirements. The short-term rental market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the holiday accommodation, we are committed to following trends, and evolving in order to be successful.
Table 1 provides a sample of staffing required for short term rentals.