It has been described among the biggest potential disruptors in the travel industry and there is evidence to show that the short stay sector has already blossomed over the past decade with no signs of slowing. Its value is obvious. In London alone, official data from City Hall has acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to Jul-2018 generated GBP1.3 billion.
Now, new research highlights that as the vacation and short-term rental industry continues to mature and competition heightens, property managers are becoming increasingly driven to improve their use of technology and are adopting more and more software solutions to help them stay ahead of the game.
The Global Short-Term Rental Tech Report 2020 from Rentals United, a channel manager and technology solution for the short-term rental industry, shows that it is now becoming commonplace for professional property managers to automate certain operations, distribution, marketing, revenue management, guest communication and other tasks.
The report’s findings, based on a short-term rental technology survey with almost 1,000 professionals from within the sector, indicates there are four core areas in which property managers use additional tech.
These are identified as being for channel management (57%), payment providers (51%), accounting tools (40%) and keyless entry solutions (33%). Emerging technology use is also evident and includes 3D tours (17%), chatbots (13%), home automation solutions (12%), noise control devices (9%) and voice concierge services (3%).
The report also identifies that for larger property managers with more than 100 properties, 74% surveyed use an external channel manager in conjunction with their PMS, which is often built ‘in-house’.
James Burrows, CEO of Rentals United, predicts that as tech innovation continues to enable the short-term rental industry to grow at pace, in the future, “we will see more third-party providers – many of them VC-backed – entering the space, targeting enterprise property managers and solving their needs”.
Meanwhile, ahead of its Short Stay Show, a leading event for the short stay hospitality and accommodation industry that take place in London in Mar-2020, e-commerce platform Booking.com has asked its partners to reveal the trends that they believe will take the industry from strength to strength in this new decade, and beyond.
Unsurprisingly, technology is expected to play an important role, but so to will a rise in business travellers taking advantage of this accommodation offer. Other trends will be the need to deliver immediate responses to requests (perhaps using technology again to automate menial processes) and an increase in build-to-rent properties adding much-needed lodging options in busy cities attracting travellers to less typically ‘tourist’ parts of a city.
Booking.com believes 2020 will see travellers put key aspects of their decision-making process even more firmly in the hands of technology. “Smart, trusted tech-led recommendations will connect us to a myriad of new experiences that might not otherwise have crossed our path, while also saving time (as well as screen-time) and enabling us to max out every minute of ‘now’ while on vacation,” it explains.
This in particular, it says, will be “music to the ears” of the almost six in 10 (59%) people who say they “want tech to offer them ‘wildcard’ and surprise options that would introduce them to something entirely new in the coming year”.
And just as LCCs in the airline sector have increasingly warmed to the strong returns the business travel market offer, so too could the short stay accommodation sector. Like the airlines, the industry will need to adapt to accommodate the business traveller properly.
However, it is acknowledged that many providers will have to develop much more robust processes to engage with this audience and to satisfy companies due diligence and duty of care programmes, alongside the new wellbeing programmes that many are adopting.