Short Stay Summit 2022: Dealing with the rise of flexible living

UK: Ahead of the upcoming Short Stay Summit at Tobacco Dock London on Thursday 19 May 2022, ShortTermRentalz finds out what impact the rise of flexible living will have on the convergence between, hotels, serviced apartments and short term rentals.

We speak to two industry leaders who will be participating in a panel discussion on this topic – Dale Smith, director of Host and Stay, and Will Parry, co-founder and CEO of ALTIDO.

• As the short term rental sector grows and matures, a broader property industry is emerging – what are the opportunities for developers and build to rent (BTR) operators to work more closely with the sector?

Dale Smith: We are certainly seeing the convergences of different property sectors, but I think it’s the hospitality thinking and the hospitality approach of the short term rental sector into the BTR market and the professional rented sector (PRS) that most excites me. As short term rental operators we feel we cannot only help BTR operators maximise the returns on their assets, but that we can help them deliver a hospitality lead service to their tenants. Ultimately creating better places to live, work, stay and play.

Will Parry: As a leading player in the short-term rental sector, we have witnessed first-hand, and capitalised on, the new opportunities that have arisen out of a maturing market. The landscape has fundamentally changed from when ALTIDO started working in this industry seven years ago and this trend is set to continue. The main change is confidence in our market and the attitudes of the larger industry players. Having previously been seen as a Plan B, developers are now actively working with the short-term rental market as part of their long term strategy. 

A good example of this is ALTIDO’s relationship with a developer in Edinburgh over the last three years. So far, we have supported them with three projects where they refurbished two old office blocks and one hotel into aparthotels. The developer has been delighted with the returns from the hospitality sector even with the headwinds of Covid. 

• What are the key changes in consumer demands that make it necessary for the property industry to adapt and introduce different methodologies?

DS: As Gen-Y and Gen-Z come through our doors, so will an expectation of on-demand services, at a high quality and for an inclusive pay-as-you-go style price. That’s where we see the PRS and BTR sectors moving towards in the future. A monthly all-inclusive price that includes everything that a tenant needs, including bedding and linens, core consumable and daily living items, scheduled cleaning and a community feel and culture.

We also think that these tenants will want flexibility as they become more transient, so no longer will they want an unfurnished apartment or studio for 12 months, but rather a fully furnished, all-inclusive place that they can stay in for as little as a few weeks or months.

WP: The most obvious change is seen in the world of work. The debate will continue to rage but already it is clear that for many businesses remote working is here to stay. This is fundamentally changing the way consumers interact with property. No longer tied down by a particular location, flexibility has become their number one priority. Previously there was a clear demarcation between a short-term rental stay and a six month plus long let. That line has been irrevocably blurred and the property industry has been forced to adapt accordingly.

• Is it now a case of thinking first about what sort of experience a consumer is looking for rather than trying to fit them into a specific type of accommodation?

DS: In the last five years our focus in the short term rental sector has been to improve the quality of the accommodation available in the areas in which we operate. We strongly advocate well thought-out interior design, and a high standard of guest service when it comes to cleaning, amenity and customer service availability.

We would, however, want to ensure that we cater for a wide enough section of guests, and not get too granular with our guest personas. That said, there is certainly a market for that, i.e. in providing very specific, niche accommodation to a very specific demographic of guest.

WP: Yes, but in the short term rental world this has always been the case. ALTIDO manages a wide range of inventory types and our reservations team work closely with our guests to understand the best fit for their needs. It is true that consumer behaviours have changed but new categories and consumer types have and will emerge – for example the digital nomad. It’s not the case that every guest has a totally bespoke need.

We recently joined forces with DoveVivo to become Europe’s largest living operator, underlining our belief that the modern consumer requires flexibility across a range of housing solutions. We have created an end-to-end platform where people can find a hassle-free and all-inclusive living solution for as long as they want, with whom they like, and connect with a local and international community enjoying tailor-made services.

• So what’s the secret to delivering a fabulous customer experience? 

DS: For us it’s about consistency of delivery and being able to do that at high volume. So, ensuring we have the right processes, procedures, training and infrastructure in place to consistently deliver a high level of service to our guests and our owners.

WP: People. No matter how much technology you have, people are what makes the difference between a good and bad hospitality experience. It’s essential to invest in your local operations teams on the ground and your remote support over phone and email. The modern customer expects a hyper-reactive service and things can quickly go sour if that’s not in place. We strive to provide a reliable and consistent service which builds loyalty and cements our reputation in the industry.

Host and Stay is a family run and family focused property management business that was born from a love and passion for property, and a desire to lead the change in an age old industry. With over 25 years’ experience in property investment across the north of England, it’s mission is to help more holiday home owners unlock the potential in their homes. 

ALTIDO is one of the largest short-term rental management companies in Europe, managing a portfolio of over 2,000 properties and rooms across four countries and over 20 cities. The company offers property owners a flexible management solution enabling them to optimize the value they receive from their assets. The company’s portfolio is increasingly diverse and includes apartments, townhouses, aparthotels, hotels, serviced apartments, in both urban and leisure markets.

The Short Stay Summit on Thursday 19 May will feature a vibrant mix of presentations from many high-profile industry leaders alongside fireside chats, panel debates and plenty of opportunities for networking.

A number of leading industry brands are sponsoring the event, including title sponsor Vrbo [part of Expedia Group], platinum sponsors Booking.com and Host and Stay, gold sponsor Styled Interior Design, silver sponsors Sykes Holiday Cottages, Beyond, CoStays, Awaze, Hospiria and UnderTheDoormat, and ruby sponsors PriceLabs and Guesty.

On the evening [Wednesday 18 May] preceding the event, the annual Shortyz Awards, organised by ShortTermRentalz, will be held near to Tobacco Dock at The Skyline London to celebrate the excellence demonstrated by companies in the sector.

Book your tickets for the 2022 Short Stay Summit at this link.