Short term rentals were the most resilient property type during the pandemic

Property Reporter
18th February 2021
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The short term rental sector has proven to be more resilient than most accommodation sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, according to newly released data from an ongoing pilot study.

Trade body, STAA, believes this suggests that short term rentals will be fastest out of the blocks when the hospitality sector reopens.

The tracking study, the first of its kind - set up between STR, the provider of premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for global hospitality sectors, and the UK Short Term Accommodation Association and its members - compares how short term rentals in London have performed against other accommodation sectors including hotels, hostels and serviced apartments.

Looking at data for the 12-month period between December 2019 and December 2020, it shows that occupancy in short term rentals, compared to the other accommodation sectors, proved to be more resilient after the March lockdown was implemented, was quicker to recover when the market reopened in late Spring and reached higher levels of occupancy during last year’s peak in October.

For average daily rates, short term rentals proved more resilient again. Whilst seeing a steep decline from April it managed to maintain rates from August till the end of the year, which is important in helping businesses recover as well as preserving and growing jobs in the sector across the country.

According to research conducted in November 2020 with STR's Global Traveler Panel, when guests were asked about their attitudes towards different types of holiday accommodation before COVID-19 to how they feel now, short term rentals and small hotels (<50 rooms) were the only two categories of accommodation where there was a positive net interest (the difference between ‘more interest’ and ‘less interest’) now than previously – short term rentals had a +11% positive and small hotels +5%. Serviced apartments were -4%, B&Bs/guest houses -15% and larger hotels (>100 rooms) -30%.

Merilee Karr, Chair of the STAA and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, said: “Whilst we all know how tough a year 2020 was for the whole of the hospitality and tourism industries, we now have to focus on making the most of the opportunities to recover this year. It is very encouraging to see that short term rentals have shown the highest level of resilience to the unprecedented restrictions the industry has had to bear.

"The encouraging signs are that customer confidence in booking short term rentals is positive and, with staycations likely to be the focus for 2021, whether Brits travel to the seaside or explore cities such as London or Bath, we hope to welcome them to a variety of beautiful homes when they venture out for their much needed holidays later in the year.

“Much of this confidence, I believe, can be traced back to a significant change in consumer preferences that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last five years, we have seen a mushrooming in demand for the ‘home from home’ experience that short term rentals offer customers but now, with the added requirement for social distancing and high standards of cleanliness and safety, it seems that customers recognise that short term rentals are better placed to deliver this than other types of accommodation.

"We sincerely hope that all sectors are able to recover fully so that the UK can resume its position as one of the best-loved and most visited destinations for tourists, international travellers and business travellers, as well as for UK staycationers, and if the short term rentals sector can help to accelerate that recovery then it’s a win:win situation.”

Patrick Mayock, STR’s VP of research & development, adds: “It’s no surprise that 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for all accommodation providers. Our pilot study in London did, however, reveal somewhat of a bright spot for the year – the resilience of short-term rentals. The London findings mirror results from other pilot markets where STR tracks data for the sector, in which short-term rentals experienced less severe dips and faster rebounds than comparable hotels.

"Being able to report on all accommodation types gives unparalleled visibility into such performance patterns and other market dynamics.”

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