Tina Villis

IS AIRBNB ALL IT IS CRACKED UP TO BE?

Christmas in July

For those of us in Southern Australia, July is generally the coldest month of winter, leading us to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’. These festivities emulate the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere winter. So that means hearty food like roasts, and warm drinks in front of fireplace. In that spirit we’d like to explore a ‘hot topic’, something that everyone is talking about world-wide, worth as much as $42billion, is captured in one word: AIRBNB.

Diamond Christmas Crackers
Airbnb; all it’s cracked up to be?

As many of you may have booked and stayed in a property advertised through Aribnb as a guest, or are thinking of using Airbnb to rent your property and become a host, I thought it was timely to discuss some of the opportunities and obstacles, as we ponder the question – is Airbnb all it is cracked up to be?

The word Airbnb is on everyone’s lips. Similar to Uber, Airbnb is part of the sharing economy, with the brand operating as a framework for those who actually possess the product. Airbnb simply facilitates contact between hosts and guests, although even this is changing. The undeniable truth however is how from the company’s humble beginnings it has continued to rampage across the holiday rental market, forcing the old hands to reconsider their operational models. It has spread so quickly that “Airbnb” has become a verb; people are saying “let’s Airbnb it!” When I talk to people about Australian Luxury Stays and explain that we provide short term holiday rental accommodation, they respond by saying “oh, you are Airbnb?”

Airbnb is still growing at a jaw-dropping rate at 100% year on year growth in Australia, leaving other major Online Travel Agencies like HomeAway well behind.

So what caveats should a potential AIRBNB HOST be considering?

  • The biggest issue is the limited ability to screen guests or in some cases, to even talk to them before they book. Yes, you can check guest reviews if there are any, or resort to searching social media for their footprint, but this is an unsatisfactory checking mechanism.
  • The massive growth of Airbnb equates to a saturated holiday rental market, which means that competition is rampant and occupancy rates lower.
  • Letting strangers into your home might not mesh with everyone; even if it sounds good on paper, the reality of the experience can be confronting.
  • Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst; a simple search reveals an abundance of Airbnb horror stories, however, these extremes aside, hosts must prepare for the inevitable over-crowding, cleanliness issues, unadvised parties and noise complaints from neighbours.
  • If you are reliant on an OTA such as Airbnb for your visibility, you are tied to their fate; you will want to keep an eye on relevant legislation and remain prepared for the wind to change.

 In turn what should an AIRBNB GUEST be considering?

  • There is always a danger online that what you see you might not get on arrival. A mild example might be a photo of a barbecue pictured in the listing not being present in reality. It doesn’t hurt to confirm with host.
  • Learn about your host before booking, and engage with them once you have. Courteous, effective communication should be your host’s first step to welcoming you for your stay.
  • Refund policies vary from listing to listing; for cancelling at short notice, you may be out of pocket even with extenuating circumstances.
  • There may be issues with an inexperienced host who has not considered safety precautions, for example, potential trips and slips, or the property lacking a fire extinguisher or fire blanket… or enough toilet paper for a full house.

The big thing to remember for both hosts and guests are the commissions charged by OTAs – as much as
5% to the host and 13% to the guest. 

The long term goal is the growth and encouragement of the #bookdirect movement, but of course not everyone has the facility and must rely on third-party listing sites. This will save you money whether a host or guest. As a host, your own website may be seriously worth considering. Guests of course are encouraged to do the research! Booking direct can make for significant savings, but also potentially a better accommodation experience as you interact with your prospective host.

At Australian Luxury Stays screening guests is one of our most important tasks; we encourage phone communication so there is the smoothest possible experience for both the guest and the owner, but we like to ensure that our guests are as comfortable as possible as well!

Meanwhile, the Airbnb band wagon is certainly trundling along despite the pitfalls. With over 100 million stays in 2017, it may be worth further investigating to decide if Airbnb is really all it is cracked up to be – for you.

If you are a property owner considering an Airbnb listing for potential income, we are happy to discuss this opportunity with you. Contact Australian Luxury Stays today!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas in July.

Warm Regards

AUSTRALIAN LUXURY STAYS TEAM

Tina Villis

WHY PET OWNERS MAKE GOOD TENANTS

I am still amazed at the number of property owners who do not allow pets in their rentals and it is a challenge for property managers to convince them otherwise.

No Pets!
No Pets, Smoking, or Rolling Skating Allowed

It is interesting that many landlords and managing agents have a blanket rule, a ‘no pets policy’. Being a pet friendly landlord reveals many more prospective tenants and the benefits can significantly outweigh the negatives. Property owners, please listen to the pet owners’ plight!

Given that the demand for pet friendly rentals has outstripped supply, should landlords be enticed to rethinking the ‘no pets’ policy? Most landlords fear expensive property damage by cats and dogs such as scratches on polished floors, but so can stiletto heels or footy boots. A well-managed pet rental can consistently have positive economic outcomes.

Allowing tenants to keep pets can be a positive experience for everyone involved.

  • Renters with pets sign longer leases and are less likely to move as it is may be disruptive to the animal. This means landlords can reduce advertising and vacancy costs.
  • It is uncommon for pets to damage a property and the cost of pet damage is reportedly less than tenants with children.
  • Research suggests that responsible pet owners can make excellent tenants, abiding by house rules and enjoying better mental and physical well-being.
  • Would-be tenants with pets are often willing to pay a higher weekly rent for the privilege of a having their pet come and live with them.
  • For similar reasons, pet-friendly properties tend to rent more readily, and pet-owning tenants move in as soon as they find a suitable property.

In researching the topic on ‘pet friendly’ I was surprised to see that there are websites in the holiday accommodation space such as Holiday Paws which are specifically designed for pet friendly holiday makers. This is indeed a contrast to the market for pet friendly long term rentals… and obviously a market segment only available to pet friendly properties!

Did you know that there are now pet-friendly businesses creeping into the market in Australia? Boarding kennels have always been a given, we now have pet resorts and even a pet hotel offering climate-controlled suites, day care, grooming and training for dogs and cats. There are dog and cat cafes popping up in cities around Australia with menus for dogs and cats. I had an experience with a ‘cat café’ in Adelaide, the MeowMe Cat Café about twelve months ago

A Taste of MeowMe Café

when I adopted a 6 week old kitten named Gracie.  I walked into the café around 7pm, had a coffee and ate an unusual green layered dessert. Once you have had a refreshment you are then allowed to join the ‘kitten party’ behind an enclosed glass enclosure – only 7 kitten searching bodies are allowed through the door at one time. Not sure how you choose one tiny fluffy bundle over another, however you need to fall in love with one and put your name on it! Adopters need to fill in an application form, you are then vetted as the perfect owner or not before being given the friendly acceptance call several days later.

The point of this story is that one day I myself may be looking for a rental property and I hope by then that property owners have come to the realisation that owners with pets make excellent tenants. I am an excellent tenant! It would be shame to be excluded from consideration, and the thought of having to give away a precious family pet is most distressing. I would be interested in communicating with anyone who has had to give up a pet to secure a lease as a tenant; leave a comment below or feel free to get in touch.