With the winter season approaching for many countries in the southern hemisphere, there’s no better time than now for property management companies in those areas to reevaluate their strategies to boost occupancy. That’s why we held a virtual event to hear from professionals from the short-term rental ecosystem in APAC for their advice on how to cater to new travel personas and capitalize on emerging trends during the colder months.
Throughout the event, Guesty’s own Managing Director of APAC, Yoav Tourel, caught up with Quirin Schwaighofer, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of MadeComfy; Emily Smart, Managing Director of Let Smart; Joan Bird, Vice Chairman of ASTRA; and Peter Bellingham, Director of Stockdale & Leggo to discuss marketing tactics that can help professional hosts drive direct bookings and maximize their rate strategies.
Kicking off the meetup, Yoav highlighted some booking trends we’re seeing for the winter season in Australia with reservation volume in 2021 being 210% higher than what we saw in 2020. Yoav then demonstrated different ways property management companies in urban areas can drive bookings by offering flexible cancellation policies, targeting business travelers, and preparing for travel bubbles by investing in region-specific marketing campaigns.
Quirin then presented the various marketing strategies his Airbnb management company MadeComfy has implemented to cater to new travel personas that have emerged. He demonstrated their 4-step strategy to drive guest demand during the low season that includes building the guest persona, diversifying your distribution channels, pricing smartly and utilizing technology to streamline operations. Through these tactics, MadeComfy was able to achieve 50%-70% occupancy throughout the course of the pandemic for their properties in urban locations.
Through her experience as Managing Director of boutique real estate and property management company, Let Smart, Emily shared her best practices for securing direct bookings and incentivizing return guests. She guided the audience through key features to have when building your own branded website and how to market your listings accordingly when it comes to highlighting unique property offerings, such as being pet-friendly or handicap accessible. .
Following Emily, Peter introduced the challenges Victoria-based property management company Stockdale & Leggo tackles in the winter time, along with strategies he has implemented to attract guests to their remote properties during the off-season. He emphasized the importance of delivering exceptional customer service and promoting their in-property amenities to keep guests occupied indoors such as open fire pits, pool tables, and more. Peter also mentioned the various rate plans they would implement at different times of the year and how they work with local businesses to offer special discounts to encourage return guests to book with them again.
Wrapping up the presentations, Joan described the impact COVID-19 has had on the short-term rental industry in Australia and how guest preferences have changed in favor of short-term rentals compared to hotels for their private living accommodations and self-check-in options. She also discussed how the Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Industry Association (ASTRA) can help short-term rental management companies become more professional and comply with new regulations such as the NSW Code of Conduct in order to grow their business in 2021.
As always, we rounded off the event with an interactive Q&A session featuring questions submitted by our audience. Here are some highlights (edited for clarity):
Q: What advice do you have for property management companies with listings in urban areas in terms of drawing in guests throughout the coming season?
Joan (ASTRA): Get involved with your local communities. Travelers that are going to the metropolitan areas are coming for a reason. It can be for family, friends, business travel, events, sporting clubs, and more. You need to build connections with them and understand what is driving them to your area.
Qurin (MadeComfy): Know your strengths and what sets you apart from your competitors in your location. You want to make sure to keep finding new travel personas to target and utilize data and technology to reach those audiences.
Q: What strategies do you use to attract guests to your rentals for local events, like the Fringe Festival in Adelaide?
Emily (Let Smart): We were able to attract many guests to our properties for the Fringe Festival as our listings are located close to the tram in Adelaide that goes directly to the city. We were able to leverage the fact that it was easy to travel there and back from our stays. We also had many return guests that come back every year for this event so we would promote to our existing client base as well.
Q: Do you anticipate the demand to book directly with hosts will continue even after COVID-19 is behind us and people feel more comfortable travelling?
Peter (Stockdale & Leggo): Direct bookings are here to stay. Once people understand the financial benefits of booking directly with operators compared to paying the OTA commissions, more people will book directly.