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

WEIGHING UP THE PROS AND CONS OF SHORT TERM/HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION – THE CONS

Just a re-cap, a SHORT TERM / HOLIDAY RENTAL refers to renting a furnished property on a short term basis, considered to be for a period of less than 3 months. In the previous post I explained The Pros in detail. Now it is time to turn to The Cons.

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THE CONS

  1. MORE MAINTENANCE AND UPGRADES
    When your business is managing short term/holiday rentals you will need to maintain the upkeep of the property to a high standard or you could receive negative guest reviews. Not only does this include things such as regular cleaning, maintenance such as running taps, blocked drains and paint fixes, it also takes into account changing technologies, such as Smart televisions, Foxtel, Netflix, Wi-Fi access and the like. Rental amenities will need to be updated every so often to include all the essentials and more for a pleasant stay – this can come with a hefty price tag.

    You may need to refurbish every few years or so as the guests who seek this type of accommodation from the higher socioeconomic bracket expect the highest quality fit-outs and all mod cons.  They are also prepared to pay at the higher end.

  2. INCOME NOT GUARANTEED
    This option may not suit you if you need a consistent rental income. Short term accommodation can mean an increase in vacancy periods, particularly where occupancy is seasonal.  This can be overcome if your accommodation agency has a good relationship with relocation companies, government agencies or global corporations needing furnished properties for their clients or employees all year round.

    While peak seasons are fully booked, off-peak bookings are scarce which will cause a drop in income. While rates can be adjusted to compensate for seasonality – raised for periods of higher demand and lowered for quiet periods – regular bookings and income are not always guaranteed.

  3. COMPETITION FROM SURROUNDING PROPERTIES
    Unlike the residential housing market where properties are swamped with interest from prospective tenants, the holiday rental or short term market sees many more homes listed than travellers/guests searching. Depending on location and availability there may be fierce competition between properties in the area.

  4. FINANCIAL OUTLAY
    If property management is outsourced, management fees will be higher to account for the additional hours associated with resolving more frequent bookings, scheduling housekeeping services, servicing and maintenance of equipment, management of supplies and so forth.

    There will be establishment costs depending on the owner’s requirements, including a full inventory, professional photography, refurbishing and redecorating advice and assistance.

  5. TOO MANY THINGS TO MANAGE

For some owners, short term/holiday rentals are a retirement-hobby vocation, for others it is a full time role. There are plenty of tasks to occupy time involved in every guest stay, from ensuring accurate calendar availability, facilitating a seamless booking process including ‘meet and greets’ and departures, not to mention arranging cleaners, gardeners and the rest – short term holiday rental accommodation can be hard work if you don’t have the right tools to do the job.

 

Finally, it is important to say that owners need to be aware of both the Pros and Cons to choose the option that best suits them.

Tina Villis

WEIGHING UP THE PROS AND CONS OF SHORT TERM HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION – THE PROS

In my previous post, I explained the difference between short term holiday rentals and long term rentals. Just a re-cap, a SHORT TERM / HOLIDAY RENTAL refers to renting a furnished property on a short term basis, considered as a period of less than 3 months.

THE PROS

  1. MORE FLEXIBILTY
    For owners who rent their properties short term there is a lot more flexibility as you can specifically block off calendar dates that you want to keep free for your family and friends without inconveniencing anyone. This option works if you own a holiday home and is also great for investors who live interstate or overseas and use their property for recreation or for business.
  2. LESS WEAR AND TEAR
    In general, short term rentals range in length from a few nights to a few weeks maximum so your property is always maintained in pristine condition.  As guests are staying for short periods, there is less chance they will be thinking about redecorating or re-arranging furniture. With regular housekeeping services, your property is monitored frequently, and any maintenance issues can be attended to immediately.
     
  3. HIGHER RENTAL RETURN
    There is superior rental return for the right property in the right location with a property management company specialising in accommodation. Fluctuating rates can be set over high and low seasons with set minimum stays. Peak periods ensure that you will receive maximum profits. In addition, seaside holiday homes can be subsidised with holiday rental income if the investor is seeking both a lifestyle and an investment.
  4. TAX BREAKS AND DEDUCTIONS
    Many short term/holiday rental owners are entitled to certain tax breaks or even deductible expenses because the property is not being leased long term. There are tax advantages associated with depreciation on furniture packages, for example, however be sure to check with your accountant regarding the rules and regulations on this option.
  5. ADDITIONAL INCOME, SAVINGS AND CAPITAL VALUE BENEFITS
    If you are away for a length of time such as on an overseas trip, you can receive extra income by offering your home as a short-term rental and having your property managed and maintained will provide you with peace of mind.
    Refurbishment of your property can also mean that the presentation is contemporary and inviting, with the additional bonus of increasing the property’s capital value.
    If moving overseas for a period of time, renting your property furnished will save on storage costs.
    If you have purchased a new property and are unable to sell your current home, the option of receiving income from a short term rental can be appealing, while you wait for the property to be sold.
  6. CONTRIBUTION TO THE SHARING
    This style of accommodation is becoming increasingly popular as it offers an alternative to a hotel or serviced apartments and it can be cost saving, accommodating more than one group of people.
    You will attract different clientele by aiming at the executive relocation market and overseas visitors.
    You will be contributing to the sharing economy which has an all-round benefit for the wider society by bolstering tourism and local cultural exchange as guests share in your community’s modern way of living and thinking. 

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Tina Villis

LONG TERM Vs SHORT TERM RENTALS – PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE

With over 15 years in the short term and long term accommodation industry and as part of our approach to owners, we explain the difference between both options. This sometimes leads to confusion when they start to consider the best option for the property and their circumstances.

Let me explain the difference between the two options. The following definitions are related to fully-furnished and self-contained properties – an area where Australian Luxury Stays specialises.

A SHORT TERM RENTAL (often referred to as a holiday rental) is renting out a furnished property on a short term basis, considered for a period of less than 3 months. We refer to the occupiers of short term rentals as ‘guests’. These properties are rented by the night or by the week, however this depends on the owners’ circumstances at the time and the property location.

Owners may offer their property for short term rentals for the whole year if it is purely an investment, or for the majority of the year when they are not using it themselves.

Short term rentals have become a popular alternative to hotels particularly in recent years with the surge of the sharing economy websites such as Airbnb, Stayz and HomeAway. Guests like the privacy, a larger place to work and play, and the option to soak up the ambience of the locality.

 

A LONG TERM RENTAL, unlike short term rentals, typically refers to a lease for 6 – 12 months and the occupiers are referred to as a ‘tenant’.  The tenants sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement, pay a bond and take responsibility for all utilities, such as electricity, gas and Wi-Fi if required. Rent is normally paid on a fortnightly basis and the owner is paid at the end of each month.

When owners decide to invest in a property for rental purposes, they need to understand their options in deciding what to do with their new property.

There are many options for owners and managers to consider when opting for short term or long term rentals. Often this decision can be made quite easily when the property itself is contemplated, including the location and the outcome the owner wishes to achieve.

However, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to these two rental strategies. Hold tight for the next two posts while the pros and cons of both types of rental strategies are outlined in detail.

 

#australianluxurystays #propertymanagers #homeowners #propertyinvestors #shortterm #fivestar  #longterm #luxuryaccommodation #highendproperties #allrealty