Industry

What Next for Short-Lets?

2020 has been a difficult year – full stop. The coronavirus pandemic has had wide-reaching consequences, affecting sectors well beyond the health and frontline industries: from hospitality to leisure to tourism, many companies are now struggling. But what about the short-let industry? Will the recent staycation boom be enough to create momentum in the sector?

It's been a tough time, but UnderTheDoormat have all the tips you need to weather the storm. We're looking ahead to a bright future for short-lets!

lockdown

Lockdown: A Testing Time for Short-Lets

In March 2020, the UK entered a period of severe restriction, with lockdown measures in full force across the country for a number of months. Many industries were hit hard by this change; and, unsurprisingly, tourism was one of them.

But whilst there were immediate consequences for the short-term accommodation industry – people were unable to book vacations in the way that they normally would, for example – there were other impacts. Lack of movement generally caused friction in the sector: homeowners found themselves confined to a single location, which meant there were fewer homes available for homestays. And, of course, the closing of borders had a huge impact – international and national travel are needed to ensure an influx of guests!

However, there were still some wonderful homes sitting empty during this time, which seemed a terrible shame. UnderTheDoormat partnered with a number of organisations to try to make the most of this with our NHS Homes initiative, which offered free accommodation to key workers during the pandemic. Thanks to a big combined effort, goodwill and generosity from everyone involved, we were able to open up lots of homes to keyworkers who needed somewhere to stay whilst carrying out their vital work.

hope

Reopening: Getting Used to the New 'Normal'

After months of social distancing, isolation and strict quarantining measures, things began to ease; and July brought with it a glimmer of hope, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that hotels and holiday lets could begin to re-open.

Not only were businesses and property owners delighted to be able to open their doors once more, but also – with restrictions still in place that limited overseas travel – there was a sense of excited anticipation around a staycation boom, as people who would normally take a trip abroad instead turned their eyes to the UK for a summer holiday. Indeed, soon after the reopening dates were announced, there was an immediate rush of bookings (at an incredible rate: one staycation was booked every 11 seconds)!

This boost to domestic tourism hasn’t benefited every part of the UK equally, however. For example, beachside locations – like Cornwall and Devon – have been flooded with visitors, but cities are taking longer to bounce back (even though London is a fantastic place to visit right now, as many attractions have re-opened yet it’s much less crowded than normal!). In addition, industry experts have raised concerns that this short boom will not be enough to sustain the sector until next year.

Merilee Karr, founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat and chair of the UK Short-Term Accommodation Association, issued a warning that despite the ‘uplifting reopening with the biggest staycation year on record’, as the nation approaches the end of the school holidays, it is expected that 'demand [will] soften and greater pressure [will be] exerted on businesses who weren’t able to generate revenues from mid-March through to early July – more than three months of lost income.’ Karr went on to state that ‘without foreign visitors or business travellers, and with regional lockdowns in some places once schools go back, there will be an inevitable reduction in demand. […]This combined with the impacts of the furlough scheme ending in the autumn could further jeopardise the future of many businesses in the sector.’

It's not only accommodation providers that are having to plan around this 'new normal', though: tourists and staycationers are also having to adjust how they plan for their holidays, and as such are looking for holiday accommodation with enhanced criteria in mind. Safety and hygiene are paramount - which is great news for the short-let industry, as homestays are typically seen as more secure environments. For example, when staying in a home, you can socially distance from people that are not from your household, prepare your own food, spread out around the house (and even choose to remain in separate rooms if a member of your party is feeling unwell) - the perfect set-up for a truly relaxing break.

In addition, if you choose an trusted provider like UnderTheDoormat, you can be assured that you will receive the highest standards of service and hygiene: we've proudly introduced a '10 Point Hygiene Promise' to ensure that our guests feel totally confident about staying in our homes, and we've also been officially confirmed as 'Good To Go' by Visit Britain ('Good to Go' is an industry-standard mark, which means that we have been independently approved as following government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, and have a risk assessment in place as well as processes to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing).

what next

What Next?

Though cities may not have seen the same rise in staycation bookings as coastal and rural areas have experienced, they are likely to enjoy a more sustained recovery: great news for short-lets in urban areas. As the weather turns cooler and students return to schools, less-urban locations may find things become very quiet. By contrast, the lead-up to Christmas tends to be a popular time for a city break, so London homestays could see a steady increase in bookings during this period. But how can homeowners make the most of this upward trend?

Whatever the location of your short-let, a great way to mitigate the after-effects of COVID-19 (as well as seasonal peaks and troughs) is to collaborate with partners – like Hospiria. A new-to-market technology and service package that caters for the specific needs of property owners and portfolio managers, Hospiria has been designed to help short lets bounce back: introducing you to a number of key benefits that will – in the short term – assist recovery after the pandemic, and, in the longer-term, increase growth in the competitive world of short-term and holiday rentals.

Diversification is undoubtedly important. Being listed on the most prominent booking platforms will help ensure your property is viewed by a multitude of people - but quality is crucial, too. To ensure the best combination of occupancy and rates are achieved, you'd ideally like to achieve a solid presence on both popular and prestigious channels, such as Booking.com, VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, the Expedia Partner Network and Homes & Villas by Marriott International. Hospiria can help you manage your presence on such sites, too, to make sure you're achieving quality as well as quantity: our team of experts monitor and adjust each platform for our customers in order to generate the best level of bookings.

If you’d like to learn more about how Hospiria can help you maximise occupancy and rates whilst cutting down on costly administration time, please feel free to browse the website or contact hello@hospiria.com to discuss your needs. We look forward to helping you!