The short-term rental industry is at the cusp of cease or consolidate
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This week, we have a roster full of stories — from company shutdowns to acquisitions, the short-term rental industry is on the brink of consolidation and professionalization that industry insiders keep harping on. Plus the latest from corporate housing provider, Blueground.
New Year Bonus: Hope you aren’t busy this weekend — Skift’s much-awaited Megatrends 2024 is now live, and waiting for your read. But before you go, on the agenda today:
- Fractional Ownership Platform Here Folds
- AirDNA Buys Uplisting
- Blueground Enters Japan
- Airbnb a Bear?
Not Here Anymore
Miami-based Here.co, which offered fractional ownership investments in short-term rentals, has ceased operations. Launched in 2022, buoyed by the pandemic-induced interest in short-term rentals, Here aimed to allow everyone to invest and fractionally own short-term rental properties. But the macroeconomic conditions and higher interest rates forced the company to shut down – effective immediately.
- The company said it will list all the properties for sale. Upon the sale of each property, the net proceeds will be distributed to the respective investors after settling selling expenses, wind-down costs, loan repayments, and deferred fees owed to the manager, it said on its website.
- In its managerial role, the company will oversee the sale process, aiming for the best possible outcome for investors, acknowledging that market conditions will influence the sale terms. The objective is to sell all properties within the next six months to optimize value.
- Throughout this period, Here will continue filing necessary SEC reports for both Here and each Series until the completion of the property sales.
Here is the third company to cease operations in the recent past. The previous week saw Frontdesk, a property management company based in Wisconsin, terminate all 200 of its employees and suspend its operations. Despite securing nearly $26 million in venture capital, Frontdesk, which aspired to be a leading property manager in the U.S., faced a significant setback.
And in November, Cabana, a startup specializing in renting camper vans for vacations, actively sought potential buyers to avoid shutting down. Despite exhausting all attempts to secure additional venture capital, the company’s CEO, Scott Kubly, announced on LinkedIn that Cabana had ceased operations and initiated the sales process.
AirDNA’s Foray into Proptech Software
Short-term rental data provider AirDNA has expanded its business into property technology by acquiring Uplisting, a vacation rental software and channel management system. Uplisting, based in New York, synchronizes short-term rental listings across major platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com.
- The acquisition, undisclosed in terms of the amount, was completed in November, with AirDNA revealing the transaction recently. Uplisting’s automation features, including booking updates and guest communication, aim to streamline operations for vacation rental hosts and property managers. In 2023, Uplisting managed approximately $400 million in bookings, according to AirDNA’s announcement.
- Demi Horvat, CEO of AirDNA, told Skift that the acquisition of Uplisting signifies a move towards the operational aspect and presents an opportunity for AirDNA to assist operators in optimizing their properties.
- Horvat also dismissed concerns about a conflict of interest arising from an independent data provider acquiring a software and channel management provider — emphasizing that AirDNA’s core product has always focused on providing a platform for market research and investment in short-term rentals.
- Despite perceptions that AirDNA is primarily a data business, the company’s investment in a software delivery mechanism is to enhance the interactive and comprehensive experience for its enterprise clients.
Blueground Enters Japan
Blueground, a New York-based provider of furnished, flexible rentals for stays of 30 days or more, has entered into its first franchise agreement with Mitsubishi Estate, a real estate and hospitality company, to introduce its services in Japan.
This collaboration is part of Blueground’s partner network initiative launched in summer 2023 to expand its current portfolio of 15,000 apartments in 32 cities. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi Estate will establish a network of 13,000 furnished apartments in major Japanese cities, gaining access to Blueground’s technology, dynamic pricing model, Guest App, and dedicated implementation team.
Blueground aims to leverage Mitsubishi Estate’s understanding of the Japanese market and its own innovative technology to ensure the success of this venture. Founded in 2013, Blueground offers curated global furnished rentals for extended stays and recently expanded its partner network through the acquisition of Nestpick in May 2023.
A recent report from financial services firm AB Bernstein argued against a bearish outlook on Airbnb based on concerns about slowed room night growth and increased competition from Booking.com. According to Bernstein, the bear analysis overlooks several factors:
- Room Night Growth: While Airbnb’s room nights grew at an 8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2019, the focus on this number is seen as misleading. The report highlights that Airbnb’s 8.7% annual room growth from 2019 to 2023 outperformed the lodging industry, which experienced a 2% decline during the same period.
- Pricing Strategy: The bear argument emphasizes Airbnb’s 9% per year price increases as a reliance for revenue growth, contrasting it with the pre-Covid era when volume growth was more prominent. Bernstein contends that higher prices are a conscious strategy, contributing to a 17% CAGR increase in gross bookings from 2019 to 2023, surpassing the global lodging market by 14%.
- Comparison with Booking.com: While Booking.com has narrowed the room night growth gap, Bernstein points out that Airbnb’s 8.2% CAGR in the 2019-2023 period still exceeds Booking.com’s 5.6%. Airbnb’s growth was also compared favorably to the period of 2017-2019.
- Evolution of Airbnb: The report notes that Airbnb has evolved since 2019, with properties being “far bigger” due to the addition of more multi-bedroom listings. If assessed on a per-customer basis, Airbnb shows 10.4% volume growth, surpassing peers.
- Customer Base Expansion: The research indicates that Airbnb expanded its customer base at a rate of 10.4% per year, significantly outpacing Booking.com and Expedia, which grew customers by approximately 3%. This is attributed to Airbnb’s ability to fill the demand/supply gap, especially in the face of constrained hotel supply.
Bernstein dismisses the bearish arguments, asserting that Airbnb’s performance, particularly in terms of volume growth and adapting to market dynamics, positions it well for continued success and outperformance compared to the wider lodging market, writes Skift’s Dennis Schaal.
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Photo credit: South Africa's Ministry of Tourism and Airbnb have announced a partnership to regulate the country's short-term rental industry. Source: Airbnb Airbnb / https://www.airbnb.com