Skift Take

Happy Tuesday, folks! We're back after last week's 10th annual Skift Global Forum in New York City. It was quite the event: Notable speakers for me were Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Salamander Hotels CEO Sheila Johnson, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Happy Tuesday, folks! We’re back after last week’s 10th annual Skift Global Forum in New York City. It was quite the event: Notable speakers for me were Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Salamander Hotels CEO Sheila Johnson, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

While I was in New York (not renting an Airbnb), I heard about IHG’s Vacay SOS Program. The press release read, “IHG is saving your trips by giving any travelers who show proof of cancellation, 10,000 IHG One Rewards Points to welcome them back into the hotel “suite life” – and let them enjoy being a guest again.” The offer pertained to short-term rental cancellations and was open to the first 100 people applying. 

IHG used this opportunity to promote its own rewards program.

It took me back to Chesky’s response to Skift CEO Rafat Ali’s question on whether the hotel lobby had something to do with NYC’s tough new host registration law. To which Chesky responded by saying, “obviously they wouldn’t tell me how much how involved they were. But I have to believe that they were absolutely at the table.” 

One thing Chesky said that I have wondered about myself is whether the hotels versus short-term rental conflict is indeed a zero sum game. Chesky thinks not. 

“I never felt like for Airbnb to win hotels had to lose — the evidence of that is Airbnb,” he said. “We had approximately 400 million guest arrivals last year and yet last year, hotels had profits and revenue significantly higher than before we started.”

And this comment from Chesky felt more directed at the hotel lobby itself: “I always feel like there’s a win-win, that if you have challenges, you don’t have to treat people as enemies. You can sit across the table, learn what their challenges are and show that for me to win, you don’t have to lose.”

Skittish Scottish Short-Lets

A recent survey conducted by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers revealed that only two-thirds of short-term rental operators in Scotland have applied for the new required licensing, The Herald Scotland reported. Self-catering refers to accommodations equipped so that guests can cook their own meals.

Out of 1,367 respondents, a third of operators have not yet applied for a license. They cite reasons such as the complex regulatory requirements and high associated costs. Hosts face the prospect of exiting the market due to what they describe as the Scottish government’s burdensome short-term let licensing regulations.

Starting October 1, all short-term let providers, including self-caterers, guest houses, B&B owners, and those renting out rooms in their homes or while on holiday, must secure a license to continue their operations. Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for Justice, urged operators to obtain licenses and mentioned plans to evaluate application levels and implementation issues in early 2024.

More Pop-Up Hotels in the UK

British student accommodation provider Homes for Students has partnered with Lavanda, a property management platform. This collaboration supports a flexible living approach.

Lavanda’s role is to boost occupancy and rental income year-round, especially during university holidays. A key part of this strategy involves transforming student accommodation buildings into pop-up hotels during the summer, namely for about two months each year.

Remember when we wrote about how these pop-up hotels in student accommodations are on the rise in the UK by other operators such as Altido?

This flexible rental strategy benefits owners, investors, students, and local businesses.

Investors gain access to a variety of leasing options, making it easier to monetize vacant units through Lavanda’s property management system. Homes for Students manages 39,000 beds across 160 properties in 52 cities. 

Hyatt’s Vacation Rental Program

Hyatt is making a strategic move in the vacation rental market. The hotel chain will launch Homes & Hideaways by World of Hyatt by the end of the year. As part of this shift, Hyatt will also sell its vacation rental management business, Destination Residences Management, to Lowe. Lowe and its affiliate will operate it under the Lowe and Coral Tree brands. The upcoming Homes & Hideaways platform will showcase U.S. vacation rentals managed by Lowe, including seaside homes in Hawaii and ski chalets in Colorado.

Customers will need to be part of Hyatt’s loyalty program to book these rentals. 

EU Short-Term Rental Accommodation Sees Surge in Occupancy

In the first half of 2023, the EU recorded approximately 237 million nights spent in short-term rental accommodations booked via online platforms, an 18.8% year over year increase, according to Eurostat.

In the second quarter of 2023, guests stayed over 150 million nights in EU short-term rental accommodations booked through platforms like Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group, or TripAdvisor. This reflects an increase of 15.8% compared to the same period in 2022.

In April, guests spent 46.7 million nights in online platform-acquired accommodations, marking a 19.5% increase from April 2022. May saw an even higher figure, with 47.6 million nights spent ( up 22.6% compared to last year), and June rounded off the second quarter with a total of 58.7 million nights ( up 8.4% compared to June 2022).

The room night growth in the first half of 2023 represents an 18.8% increase over 2022, and it significantly outpaces pre-pandemic levels, which saw 193 million nights spent in 2019, reflecting a 22.6% jump.

In Case You Missed It – Sonder’s Board Changes

Sonder Holdings announced changes to its board, effective October 1. Tom Buoy and Simon Turner joined the board and Gilda Perez-Alvarado stepped down.

Tom Buoy currently serves as the president and CEO of Revenue Buoy, a consultancy specializing in various aspects of the hospitality industry. Prior to this role, Buoy was the interim CEO and board director at Radisson Hotel Group America.

Turner founded investing firm Alpha Lodging Partners to make investments, and to provide strategic and transactional advisory services to hospitality sector companies and investors. From 2008 to 2016, he served as president, global development of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where he was responsible for all global development and real estate transactional activities. Perez-Alvarado became Accor’s Group Chief Strategy Officer this week and was previously Global CEO of JLL for the Hotels & Hospitality Group.

In Case You Missed It: Airbnb and Ukraine’s MoU

Airbnb signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ukraine’s state tourism department to bolster incoming tourism in the post-war period. Mariana Oleskiv, head of the State Agency for Tourism Development in Ukraine, and Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, Nathan Blecharczyk, signed the MoU at the Consulate General of Ukraine in Munich. 

Oleskiv expressed gratitude for Airbnb’s support during the conflict and shared Ukraine’s intention to restore its tourism industry. Airbnb said it is committed to supporting post-war tourism in Ukraine. 

PS: Next up in our series state by state analyses of short-term rentals is South Carolina. Write to me with tips, comments, scoops and contacts.

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Tags: airbnb, sstrr

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