I started my serviced accommodation journey with Airbnb – and I’m now proud to be a Superhost, which I’ll talk more about in an upcoming post. I find the engagement on Airbnb to be excellent, and I’ve noticed a close relationship between Airbnb and Tokeet, my channel manager of choice, which provides a faster link between the two. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different pricing on Airbnb more than the other booking platforms I use (HomeAway, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Booking.com).
Since the start of 2018, and after a cracker of a summer, I think Booking.com has probably surpassed Airbnb in terms of volume of bookings. But for a full calendar – the holy grail for any serviced accommodation provider – my top tip is not to limit yourself to only one booking platform. We all have our favourites, and some are more user-friendly than others, but when you diversify you really do see the bookings increase.
Of course, a full calendar is no picnic, especially if you’re managing it yourself. I’d say the basic requirements of a serviced apartment are a welcome letter, a welcome pack, a few groceries, fresh towels, fresh bedding, cleaning products and a personal meet and great. Don’t forget, you’re not just competing against other operators in your area but against hotels as well.
You must be on your game in all areas – not just the meet and greet, which is essential for those consistent positive reviews. (It’s very easy to mark somebody down for a poor product or mistake if you’ve never met them.)
Payment policy and procedure is also something that should be carefully considered when comparing different booking platforms. Airbnb, HomeAway & TripAdvisor all pay within a few days of the guest’s arrival, which is great for cash flow and made it easier to put up with a monthly payment from Booking.com and Expedia.
Serviced accommodation is an incredibly powerful tool for anybody in property, whether you are an entrepreneur, a student, a professional or retired. It’s brilliant to know that in a matter of 24-48 hours you can create a business as a property owner. But it’s not just for the property owner, as subletting (known as rent-to-rent) has become another lucrative option.
Of course, my experience hasn’t come without its problems. Most serviced accommodation providers will have at least one “weekend party crew” tale to tell. In my case, the booking came through on the Monday for the following weekend. I received a few complaints over the weekend from my neighbours but it wasn’t till the guests had checked out that I got the full story of 25 guests, loud music and commotions on the stairwell. This is not unusual and has led to some local authorities in Scotland to push for more control and regulation in the sector. I’ll be watching both Edinburgh and Glasgow over the next few years as they look to stamp their authority, as London and New York have done. I can’t imagine it will affect us here in the coastal towns too much, as our authorities are keen for us to cater and attract visitors throughout the year.
What’s undeniable is that serviced accommodation is growing here in the UK as fast as anywhere else in the world. I for one am delighted to be a part of it.