We invited Abode PR founder, Jessica Gillingham, to look at five short-term rental trends that she thinks will be impacting short stay specialists and accommodation businesses in 2021.
Jessica’s pick of five short-term rental trends for 2021
- More operational tech for owners
- Less physical contact with guests
- Hotel standards for your property
- Changing length of stay
- Quality assurances for guests
2020 has been an interesting year for the short-term rental industry. It all began positively with the industry set to build on its exponential growth and us all looking forward to the Short Stay Show back in March. However, as we all know – things took a different turn. Despite the uncertainty and undeniable challenges for many, we’ve witnessed record booking levels for operators in the popular domestic leisure markets, a greater emphasis on professionalisation, improvements in operational management and new business models emerge.
What’s clear, is that short-term rentals will continue to grow market share as the ‘lodging of choice’ for leisure and business travellers – even more so as guests become increasingly aware of social distancing and the lines separating work, leisure and living merge further.
Short-Term Rental Trend #1- Acceleration of operational tech
Most growth-oriented property management companies are pretty clued up on the different technology and SaaS products available to support bookings and marketing. The PMS and channel marketing solutions are well known and widely adopted by professional managers. However, technology that actually supports the operations of property management, the ‘optech’ if you like – is emerging as an essential tool. According to recent data published by McKinsey; we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks. Balancing this is a need to double down on creating efficiencies, reducing costs (time is money) and meeting increased demands for a more professional experience. There is operational tech out there that supports cleaning protocols, safety checks, keyless entry, managing team communications, property automation, occupancy monitoring, service optimisation and property care. For this short-term rental trend, take a look at companies like Operto, Breezeway and VRScheduler if you want to find out more.
Short-Term Rental Trend #2- Increased focus on frictionless, seamless stays
Prior to Covid-19, there was a view that creating a frictionless, seamless stay for guests was something that detracted from the personal experience and host/guest relationship that many assume guests want. However, what’s become apparent is that guests really do want to experience a frictionless, contactless stay and this doesn’t diminish the core reason they have picked a short-term rental in the first place. The global pandemic has only highlighted this shift. Many of the property managers that have continued to do well and grow throughout 2020 have done so because they’ve embraced the technology of keyless entry and contactless hosting in order to provide safe, secure and seamless guest experiences at a property level.
Short-Term Rental Trend #3- More ‘hotel-like’ short-term rentals
This brings us nicely to the third short-term rental trend and that’s the continued supply of ‘hotel-like’ short-term rentals. At the end of 2019, we saw the likes of Sonder, Lyric, Domio and Stay Alfred burst onto the scene with deep pockets and a business model based on rent-to-rent (masterlease). These ambitious companies had visions of turning multi-family dwellings into short-term rentals that all but looked and smelled like hotels (branded, standardised and tech-enabled concierge) but offered the convenience of individual homes. The concept of turning large property assets (regulations permitting) into ‘hotel-like’ boutique apartment rentals still has huge potential – witness the growth during the pandemic of both Casai and Jurny – it’s just the business model has been updated.
Short-Term Rental Trend #4- Greater convergence of short, mid and long lets
There’s a blurring of the demarcation between the long, mid and short-term rentals. It’s common now to see urban-based, enterprise property managers promising to distribute an owner’s property to marketing platforms that would typically be just for long-term rentals. The average length of stay is increasing in urban locations with more and more guests choosing to embrace the ‘work-from-home’ mandate and translating this into a ‘work-from-another-home’ choice or even ‘many homes’. Added to this – we are also seeing an increase in new partnership models emerging that are enabling traditional estate agents and institutional asset owners through outsourced expertise, to combine more profitable short lets with more stable, permanent renters. Increasingly, we’ll see the players merge and the lines soften between the entire ecosystem.
Short-Term Rental Trend #5 – Emphasis on quality assurance
Every year that I write a short-term rental trend or prediction piece about the short-term rental industry, I always mention that the industry needs to continue to pave the path towards increased professionalisation in order to move away from the issues that can plague the less well executed parts of the industry. This is important because it increases the trust in professionally run rentals which impacts on everything: from conversations with regulators to keeping guests feeling safe. During 2020, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on quality assurance issues of rentals that not only include cleanliness protocols, but also safety and security, standardising basic amenities and trade association membership. One of the biggest barriers to the growth of this industry in the long term, is both the volume and quality of new stock entering the market. Ensuring standards are raised and issues around proper property care are addressed, will go some way to encouraging an increase in good supply.
The future of the short-term rental industry is bright with new opportunities for businesses to change and grow over the next few years as well as for the sector to continue to mature. In many ways, 2021 is set to be an even more interesting and transformative year as we watch how the industry evolves.
This article first appeared in the Stayjam Playbook – a free digital magazine to help short stay specialists and accommodation businesses. Download your copy www.stayjam.com