Abode PR managing director Jessica Gillingham [Credit: Guestyval]

Abode PR’s Jessica Gillingham highlights her 2020 predictions

UK: ShortTermRentalz spoke to Abode PR director Jessica Gillingham to learn of her predictions for the short-term rental industry in 2020, her priorities for the next 12 months in terms of events to attend, and her latest Pillow Talk Media venture.

  • Please introduce yourself, Abode PR and the services you provide within the short-term rental industry.

Abode PR is a boutique public relations and content marketing agency and consultancy working with technology and enterprise property management clients operating within the global short-term rental industry. We are very specialist and unique in our expertise and have made it our mission to really understand the value proposition of the entire ecosystem, the needs of the different customer segments and how all of this translates into compelling stories for the media and their audiences.

We work very closely with our clients to develop their public relations strategies and execute their plans. Our core services include media relations, communications strategy, ‘thought leadership’ development, creating compelling content for inbound PR and consulting.

I founded Abode PR in 2016 after a long career in PR and marketing across various industries because I saw the transformation and potential of this segment of travel and hospitality. At that time, there were only a couple of industry events, many of the companies that we now see making headlines were either unheard of or unfounded and there were far fewer tech solutions available.

Fast forward to today – everything is constantly changing. It is a very dynamic, and therefore exciting industry to be part of!

  • What types of companies in the short-term rental industry are you currently working with and how are you helping to grow their presence within the space?

Our ‘sweet spot’ is the convergence between hospitality technology, proptech and enterprise property management so we work with companies that provide solutions through property management software, channel management, property automation, guest communication, guest experience, safety and security and of course property management. We have worked with some of the largest and most forward-thinking names in the industry.

Although my background was initially travel PR, Abode PR is predominantly a B2B public relations agency helping our clients create relationships with stakeholders by telling their stories.

  • From the events you have been attending this year, what would you say have been the key trending takeaways in the short-term rental industry this year and what is next for 2020?

This is an interesting question. I go to many of the industry conferences and 2019 has definitely seen a ‘maturing’ of the market in terms of discourse.

The obvious key themes have been around the convergence of hotels and short-term rental property management, issues around trust and responsibility to owners, guests and community and the increasing professionalisation of the industry on all levels. By that I mean in the solutions that are being offered to property managers to better streamline and add value within their businesses. The way a guest experiences a stay and the entire customer journey, and in the way the industry talks about itself and is positioned within the larger travel and hospitality vertical.

At the Skift Short Term Rental Summit this year – for what was really the first time – centre stage was given over in the majority to a new breed of property manager/hospitality providers that are really very new within the market but have so far successfully made the most of the opportunities to provide guests with what they really want. Great places to stay, exemplary experiences and a reassurance of trust.

A big theme (in my opinion) for 2020 will be around the further convergence between all ‘shorter-term’ hospitality lodging options. The guest is changing and the product is changing so the opportunities are growing. Sector differentiation does not make much sense in the long term, so increasingly serviced apartments (corporate housing), hotels, aparthotels, vacation and short-term rentals, co-living, co-working, leisure and business travellers will continue to merge.

When we talk about the ‘short-term rental industry’; increasingly we will mean the entire sector of short stays whether they are for three hours or three months. International Hospitality Media’s Urban Living Festival is really leading the curve on this and it will be interesting to see how the conversations evolve over the next year or so!

These are all really exciting and beneficial for the industry. Not only do they support the industry to continue to communicate its value proposition, they also provide opportunities for the industry to carry on that journey of maturation and professionalisation. All of these initiatives within the industry are win-wins for everyone – property managers, suppliers, owners, investors and ultimately guests.

  • Using your unique insider perspective, how do you think providers / hardware/software solutions can react to an increasingly fragmented marketplace and capitalise on emerging opportunities in 2020?

Firstly, the most compelling opportunity is the need to continue to ‘up our game’ collectively as an industry in order to professionalise on all levels. As we get better at this and at communicating our value proposition to guests, legislators, communities, investors and the asset owners – the greater and more sustainable will be the trajectory of growth.

Secondly, as I mentioned previously, is the obvious move towards greater convergence of all short-term lodging options. This convergence potentially opens up the market in ways that are really exciting for investors, managers and suppliers.

As always, the best businesses and those that add value within a market. The ones that continually adapt to the needs of the customer and translate solutions to the pain points and pressures that are inherent in an industry are the ones that will capitalise on the opportunities.

  • If you had to make just one industry prediction that you think we will have seen by December 2020, what would it be?

At the Skift Short-Term Rental Summit this autumn, Laurence “L.T.” A. Tosi, former Airbnb chief financial officer and founder and managing partner of WestCap, an investment firm active in the space, made the pertinent observation that the industry is ‘hard’. That’s why investors like himself are attracted to it.

It takes a special blend of skills, understanding and expertise to really crack this market – so my biggest prediction is that it those companies that really understand the complexities involved, and offer the best solutions will be the ones to succeed in 2020 and beyond.

  • What are the priorities for Abode in the next 12 months? Could you outline your PillowTalk Media venture and how it will benefit the industry as a whole?

We are really excited for 2020. Our small Abode team is continuing to grow and our client list is also expanding. Our priorities are to further hone our industry expertise and to work with more great companies doing brilliant work!

2020 is also big for us as we are launching PillowTalk Media in the new year. PillowTalk Media is a new industry platform for carefully curated insight, opinion, analysis and conversations on all aspects of hospitality technology, property technology and enterprise property management for the global short-term rental industry.

Our aim is to be a home of high-quality content for senior leadership about the companies, technologies and people powering the next wave of disruption in our industry in order to challenge, learn and drive forward discourse.

For more information, visit the Abode PR website here.

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