“We were scared to death. I mean, whoever hears of a pandemic in 2020? It’s a word you hear from, you know, the early 1900s.’"
“2020 was expected to be another great year for beach house rentals. And then, boom. We were scared to death. I mean, whoever ever hears of a pandemic in 2020? It’s a word you hear from, you know, the early 1900s. In today's modern medicine, how does that happen?
And the first thing I thought of was, “Oh my God, do we have to shut down? Do we have to shut down any expenses we’re doing to have?” The answer was yes. We had laid off the entire staff, including my daughter, who had just come on as a new runway agent. We knew at least that way they would be able to collect unemployment. At the time, we didn't know about the extra $600 a week, which was like a golden umbrella for them. I mean, fantastic.
When March came, it was just Heather and me running the department, which was crazy. What happened was that people who had booked were calling to say “We don't want to come now” or “We’re still coming.” And then we started getting calls from people who hadn't booked, looking for rentals.
The next wave came in April, when the home sales market took off like wildfire. I mean wildfire. People started buying properties left and right. We were working seven days a week. Before all this happened, I would have slow mornings. I would get up at seven o'clock, have coffee, read the paper, listen to the news, and mosey upstairs to get my act together for the day, take my shower. In April, that was out the window. Slow mornings were a thing of the past. At seven o'clock, I got up, opened the computer, and was in front of the computer all day. My husband would go, “Are you going to take a shower today?” Me, “I don't know, we'll see.”
And on top of that, a friend of mine who lives in New York City came down to live with us after she lost her job in COVID downsizing. Around March 15, she called and said, “Sharon, I don't know what to do, it's just getting bad up here, things are shutting down.” I said, “Come here. You’ll be much safer down here.” She stayed in the front of the house doing her thing and I would be in the other part of the house doing my thing and we’d meet up at 5pm for happy hour.
At work, we were going crazy from mid-March until mid-May. I mean it was just craziness. When we’d have a cancellation, we’d fill it pretty quickly with a new booking. And then they would call and say, “I can't come now because, you know, New York, just put us in the quarantine.” So then we'd have a cancellation again. And then another booking. I mean it was crazy. We did like triple the work for, you know, for the same amount of money, but that’s the way it goes. We were so grateful to have the business.
Then the renters started coming in droves. We were fortunate that last year we had shifted to electronic door locks on the houses instead of requiring people to come to our office to check-in. So we already were set up for no-contact check-ins, thank goodness.
Renters were, understandably, curious about how we were making the houses COVID-safe. We all know that the cleaning crews are buzzing in and out every Saturday trying to clean all the houses on their check-out lists. To expect them to comply with all the CDC standards, like disinfecting every single surface in the house and cleaning every single dish, glass, pot, pan, and utensil in the kitchen, was just unrealistic. My husband suggested we hire a local contractor to spray an environmental mist in each house after check-out, to disinfect surfaces, all the surfaces. It’s environmentally friendly, kills bacteria on contact, and it lasts for nine days. Wow. Yeah. So we had them do it on every single check in. That worked out beautifully and it gave people a peace of mind. We were the only company that did that, surprisingly.
So it all worked out pretty easily. We had the no-contact check-in and the anti-bacterial spray. It was a slam dunk.
It’s a good thing we’ve got the system down because our season hasn’t slowed down. Our September was rocking, rocking. We've never had a stronger September and October. And here it is, 74 degrees on November 7th. 74 degrees for the whole weekend. So the town is hopping.
And we’ve booked more winter rentals than we've ever done before. We're in an area that is so perfect for the influx. New York is three hours away, Philadelphia two hours, Baltimore, D.C., two and a half. All these major metropolitan areas, easy day trip. We never used to see many New Yorkers because they would go to the Jersey Shore. But now we see a lot of people from New York. Now, a lot of people from Ohio and New Jersey as well. A lot of them are discovering this area.” - Sharon, Rehoboth and Dewey Beach #Delaware