STAA
Fiona MacConnacher, incoming chair of the STAA

STAA appoints new chair and vice-chair

UK: The UK Short Term Accommodation Association [STAA], the trade association for the short-term rental sector in the UK and Ireland, has announced the appointment of a new chair and vice-chair.

Fiona MacConnacher, public affairs manager for the UK and Republic of Ireland at Booking.com, has been appointed chair, while her deputy as vice-chair will be Leo Walton, co-founder of Superhog, the short-term rental risk management platform.

MacConnacher has been a member of the STAA board since early 2023, and previously worked for the Department for International Trade. She was also instrumental in Booking.com’s decision to become an STAA member.

Walton has been events lead at the STAA since early 2020 and was involved in creating Guardhog’s sister platform, Superhog, having begun his short-term rental career at Onefinestay.

Outgoing chair, Merilee Karr, founder of property management company UnderTheDoormat Group, became the first STAA chair when she co-founded the association in 2017, having recognised the need for an industry body that could be an effective advocate for the growing short-term rental sector.

In its own words, the STAA has since grown to become the holiday let industry’s most vocal membership organisation, responsible for campaigning on legal, regulatory and planning matters all over the UK. The STAA board is made up of industry leaders including Sykes Cottages CEO Graham Donoghue, Inline Policy CEO Shomik Panda, Host & Stay founder Dale Smith and policy leads from both Airbnb and Expedia.

The association also hosts the annual Short Stay Summit, which draws an international audience of property managers, as well as travel and hospitality technology companies.

Fiona MacConnacher, incoming STAA chair, said: “It’s a privilege to be able to help lead the STAA during such an important time for our sector. Recent rule changes mean the regulatory landscape around short term rentals is more complicated than ever, with great regional variations creating huge challenges for all of our members, from individual hosts right the way through to the largest property managers.

“We need to ensure that we keep supporting the industry and the communities they work in by encouraging policymakers to recognise the contribution the sector makes,” she added.

Leo Walton, vice chair of the STAA, said: “We continue to see huge changes and that’s not going to slow down. The profile of the industry and its importance to UK tourism is increasing, and we need to make sure that this message is heard in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.”

Andy Fenner, CEO of the STAA, said: “Fiona and Leo are tremendous assets for the association and we’re excited about what is to come. Their experience across tourism means they’re perfectly placed to help the association navigate an increasingly changeable regulatory environment.

“We’re also very grateful to our outgoing chair, Merilee, for all her hard work and dedication over the past seven years,” he added.

The STAA exists to represent the industry to policymakers, journalists and the general public, as well as improve standards through education and stakeholder engagement, and drive growth opportunities for members by creating a community of like-minded businesses. Its aim is to support the sustainable growth and continued development of the industry.

The STAA will host the Short Stay Summit at London’s Old Billingsgate on 24 April 2024, the day after the 2024 Shortyz Awards at Skyline London.

 

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