Luxe Retreat Dromana

Australian holiday house rental according to Coronavirus…

Just under a year ago, I wrote of the important financial and social contribution short term holiday renting made to the Australian economy. Growth was looking great, innovation welcomed and the future was bright. What a difference the last few months has made to that positive outlook. Coronavirus has inflicted damage to our industry in ways no-one could have imagined, and shaken it to its very foundation.

The short-term rental industry, supports large property management companies and smaller ones like our own, plus mum and dad investors, or people who rent a spare room in their own home, as a source of extra income. Then of course there’s the huge global players who make it all come together, including Otas (On-line travel agencies), plus global technology and communication companies.

When it became obvious due to Australian travel restrictions, that guests would not be able to travel, the industry braced itself for mass cancellations, and they came thick and fast. Our experience from mid-March and for the following 10 days or so, was that indeed everyone cancelled! We listened to guest stories of postponed weddings, missed family holidays, cancelled reunions and rescheduled sports or cultural events and many other longed for experiences which would not be happening. Travel credits were negotiated or money refunded. Property owners were notified with the majority being absolutely understanding, whilst others were immediately financially challenged. The mixed reaction by guests and owners is of course perfectly understandable. We could at least take some small comfort from the fact that in southern Australian states, we were heading into the low winter season. Although in truth this paled into insignificance, when the overall threat to the health of the most vulnerable in our community was at stake.

The flow on effect globally has been massive. Last week, privately owned Airbnb valued at $48 billion dollars and with 7 million properties globally, announced a 25% reduction to their workforce. At a local level, Virgin Australia went into voluntary liquidation a week ago, with thousands of workers affected. Qantas our treasured national carrier, stood down the majority of its 30,000 employees from late March until the end of June, as international flights ground to a halt and domestic travel virtually non-existent.

What happens now to vacant holiday properties? What is the outlook? What are property owners deciding in the here and now but with an eye to the future? Good House Holiday Rentals is possibly a good litmus test of the varied decisions and outcomes the industry will experience. Some owners have decided to turn to traditional long-term renting, some are selling and others are undecided, but the majority are thankfully, here to stay.

This is not unlike what the overall Australian short term holiday market is doing. Domain data shows rental listings have surged in the past weeks, and that this is probably due to the influx of Airbnb properties. This is particularly so in urban Sydney and Melbourne, and holiday hot spots around the country, which were arguably already saturated with Airbnbs. Coronavirus has now tipped those who absolutely relied on Airbnb income, over the edge. A big shakeup of the industry has occurred and will continue.

What does this mean for property owners with houses in holiday hot spots like those managed by Good House Holiday Rentals? Will holiday house be rented again? AirDNA, an Airbnb data analytics company suggests, “When looking at the data, it becomes clear that there’s a regionality aspect of the virus’s impact. That is, urban cities seem to be significantly more exposed to fluctuations than their traditional leisure travel/resort-based counterparts”. Some good news I guess if you are not in an urban area. Holiday hot spots existed well before Airbnb, and many Australians have enjoyed and flocked to these areas. For some families, this has been an annual and generational tradition.

This forced cessation, has given our industry an opportunity to reflect, forward think and plan the next steps in support of property owner clients, future guests and in turn our businesses. What can we do at this time, to set our businesses up for success? It’s a time to learn and grow. At Good House Holiday Rentals, we have been working on improving our website content to make it more relevant and targeted, fine tuned our SEO, added helpful floor plans to property listings, getting real with our social media. Ongoing communication with our property owner clients is all more the important, and lots of little jobs and process improvement to make Good House Holiday Rentals ready to welcome back guests.

So what will the future of our industry ultimately look like? In Australia it seems restrictions will be progressively eased from mid-May onwards. In Victoria from midnight Tuesday 13th May, people can travel to visit friends and family with a limit of 5 indoors or 10 outdoors ie a small and tantalising step forward. But still no travel. Who knows what and when the next steps will be made, but clearly local travel will return before interstate, and international inbound travel is a long way off. Australians will be itching to get away, enjoy everything and anything. There will be a new appreciation for what is on our own doorstep without the need for visas, or complicated travel planning.

No matter how things pan out, at Good House Holiday Rentals, we are committed to responsible, respectful holiday possibilities. Our commitment is to bringing joy to guests looking to recharge, wind down and appreciate the simple things in life in a home away from home.

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