Year over year, the use of short stay/visitor accommodation and corporate housing continues to increase. For example, in the UK, London visitor accommodation is booming, in particular for short stays.
As the VRM community looks to better manage short-stay accommodations, technology that helps to manage inventories and growth, as well as improve the ability to connect with clients remain vital tools.
For instance, the use of tablets can help individual owners, short stay operators and property management companies sell more than just space. The trend continues to develop, as evidenced by the recent news that YourWelcome, which has installed its tablets in more than 2,000 properties, in over 23 countries, recently secured £1m in new funding.
Henry Bennett, Founder of YourWelcome, discusses with Arrival the trend of short-stay accommodations and the growing role of technology for helping vacation rental managers better compete.
In your opinion, what are the driving factors for the growing increase of short stay/visitor accommodations and corporate housing?
Bennett: I believe it’s a combination of three things. The first is an increased public understanding of what short stay rental is. The sector has, in the past, felt like a niche industry, but with the likes of Expedia now listing hotels alongside serviced accommodation and villas, customers now get a sense of the huge range of accommodation open to them. Secondly, Airbnb’ profile and marketing budget has really helped customers understand the benefit of staying in accommodation with kitchens (and other benefits), compared to that of a normal hotel room. And third, the profile of the industry has exploded due to the huge increase in funding it’s received in the last couple of years.
In what ways can technology play a valuable role in helping to manage inventories and overall growth?
Bennett: The hotel sector has access to a huge amount of guest data, for example guests sign up to loyalty programmes and have to hand over passports to check in. In the vacation rental sector, there is relatively little data available to owner / operators, with OTAs controlling the guest bookings. Technology will democratise the availability of data, handing more power to vacation rental operators and ultimately reducing their dependance on OTAs.
Likewise, in what ways is technology helping to connect with clients more effectively?
Bennett: Tech is empowering owner operators to increase occupancy, guest experience and pricing. Having recently exhibited at VRMA Western, there was an impressive array of tech solutions to aid vacation rental operators solve these keys issue. The challenge, as always is getting these solutions to seamlessly work together.
Based on the news of YourWelcome raising £1M in new funding, what does that mean to customers and potential customers moving forward?
Bennett: Vacation rental operators, can now for the first time, take advantage of revenue streams that were previously only available to hotel chains. YourWelcome enables owners and operators to up-sell a range of services during a guest’s stay, including late check-outs, mid-stay cleaning and luggage storage. In addition, YourWelcome’s partnerships with local on-demand services, guests have easy access to food delivery, attraction tickets and taxis allowing vacation rental owners to monetize guests ‘in-property’ spend.
YourWelcome provides a data-driven approach to customer experience. Owners no longer need to guess what their guests want, because they can see what people are actually searching for on the YourWelcome tablet. If you know what people want, you can give it to them.Our recent deal with HomeAway is a great example of how partnerships are making a difference in this market.
What will be the biggest value points of this deal to customers?
Bennett: Firstly, being associated with the biggest brands in the sectors, gives our product validation. From the guests’ perspective, we will have access to their name and also check in/check out dates, allowing us to personalise the content displayed on the tablets. This allows custom offers and recommendations to be served. For example, a guest is likely to want to purchase different items at the start of the trip (e.g. tourist tickets), whereas airport transfers are more appropriate in the final days - this will hugely increase the transaction conversion rate.