The hottest topics at the 2023 Short Stay Summit
UK: The Short Stay Summit returns for 2023 on 27 April [the day after the Shortyz Awards] at a brand new venue – Old Billingsgate in central London – and with a fresh-looking agenda.
The Summit, the fourth event of its kind, is again being run jointly by the three largest associations that represent the industry in the UK, Europe and the United States – the UK Short Term Accommodation Association [STAA], the European Holiday Home Association [EHHA] and the Vacation Rental Management Association [VRMA], respectively.
‘Maximising the opportunities available to the short-term rental industry’ has been unveiled as the key theme for this year’s event.
Having been revealed last month, the agenda features a plethora of prescient debates, conversations and topics revolving around investment, merger and acquisition [M&A] activity, regulations, innovations in technology, guest experience and much more.
At 12:25pm BST, STRz editor Paul Stevens will lead a session on ‘Be a Leader in HX [Host Experience]‘ on the workshop agenda, focusing on owner operations and management, including what the future holds for those looking to transform their business and how people, process and technology are key to achieving success. He will be joined in conversation by: Vanessa de Souza Lage, founder and CEO, Sustonica; James Cassidy, senior director, partner success, Vrbo, part of the Expedia Group; Andrew Martyn, CEO, Your.Rentals; and Louise Birritteri, CEO, Pikl.
Meanwhile, Boutique Hotel News [part of the International Hospitality Media portfolio alongside STRz] editor Eloise Hanson will moderate a panel on ‘Beyond Leisure‘ at 11:20am BST. The conversation will focus on how business travel, government stays, and film and entertainment are all important segments for driving growth in what has traditionally been a leisure-driven market, and the expert panel will consist of: Merilee Karr, chair, STAA, and founder and CEO, UnderTheDoormat; Marcos Isaac, CEO, The Apartment Network; and Mark Harris, director, Travel Intelligence Network.
Among the highlights elsewhere, the main stage agenda features a fireside chat interview between UK STAA chair Merilee Karr and Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia for Business at Expedia Group, followed by a discussion [10:35am BST] on navigating the next wave of inflationary pressures, the cost of living crisis, revenge travel and regulatory headwinds. Dr. Wouter Geerts, head of research at Skift, will be asking questions to: Joss Croft, OBE, CEO UKinbound; Vered Raviv Schwarz, president and COO Guesty; and Demi Horvat, CEO, AirDNA.
Two of the most highly anticipated sessions taking place later on will hone in on the current investment situation and what investors are looking for in terms of profitability, scalability and resilience [hosted by Simon Lehmann of AJL Atelier], ahead of a Q&A with Touch Stay CMO Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies and Amanda Cupples, GM for Northern Europe at Airbnb, and how the home-sharing platform is expanding supply through innovation.
The workshop agenda is similarly eye-catching, whether you are keen to learn about how company valuation works prior to mergers and acquisitions [M&A] in an invite-only discussion, the “demystification” of ESG [environmental, social, governance], or whether regulation should be seen as a threat or an opportunity.
Here is what some of the speakers said about the key topics they are looking forward to discussing:
Sally Henry, vice president of business development, EMEA, Key Data, said: “The data for European markets is looking more promising than the US right now but all eyes at the Summit are going to be on interest rates. Whether they stay high or rise will be the biggest determinant of the increasing nightly rates and occupancy numbers we’ve seen in the UK so far this year.
“Revenue per available room [RevPAR] was under pressure in January and February but, in a sign pricing power may be returning, showed renewed strength in March. When it comes to making predictions for the rest of the year, it’s still very difficult because growth is so finely balanced and we’re yet to see the big booking seasons bring the real state of the market into focus.
“The economic headwinds challenging the industry mean that property managers are going to have to navigate carefully to balance demand against rising costs for owners,” she added.
Will Parry, CEO, ALTIDO, said: “Regulations will be front and centre in the minds of many Summit attendees from within the UK, following soon after the government announced a potential register of short-term rentals. In the last twelve months, Scotland, in particular, has faced significant headwinds with new licensing schemes across the country, while more local authorities overseas are ‘cracking down’ on the number of new lets permitted in specific regions, with Venice just one of the latest examples.
“This ever-hot topic will feed into discussions on how property owners and managers can educate themselves on regulatory change and best manage what’s to come,” he added.
Mark Simpson, founder, Boostly, said: “After a period of massive pressure on profits due to high inflation and rising operating costs, one of the hottest topics of the event is inevitably going to centre on how property managers can cope with an uncertain economic climate. The marketing talks are always well attended, but this year there’s going to be a surge in hosts looking for ways to diversify their distribution channels and market their properties more effectively in order to drive profit.
“Naturally, direct bookings will be a part of that conversation,” he added.
Marcus Rader, CEO, Hostaway, said: “The hottest topic at the Summit will be the economy. Everybody says there is uncertainty in the air, but we’re seeing record numbers in the short-term rental industry almost everywhere we look.
“The question on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen next. I’m following the numbers and predicting a Roaring Twenties for the 21st century. Remember where you heard it first,” he added.
Jeremy Gall, CEO, Breezeway, said: “The hottest topic is the actual work of being a short stay operator. Expect a lot of chatter in the halls around AI and ChatGPT and automation; managing labour challenges for the real, onsite work to be done to create the guest experience, and a weaker economic outlook putting more pressure on margin to do this work efficiently.”
Check out our exclusive interview with new STAA CEO Andy Fenner here ahead of the 2023 Short Stay Summit.