As the hospitality industry still grapples with varying pandemic restrictions – the art of connecting, sharing ideas and doing business still needs to carry on (virtually of course). Oliver Hannaford, event director at HOST 2020, argues that the need for a forum in which to ‘meet up’ in a structured way is even more important than before. In this interview, Oliver gives us his views on current industry trends, tech adoption and the value of branding in property management.
PTM: As Event Director of HOST 2020, you have a broad overview of the short-term rental sector, which industry trends should we be looking out for this year?
I think without stating the obvious (cleaning standards improving, trust becoming more important than ever etc), we should be looking out for the return of what made our industry so special and vibrant initially. Whilst short-term rentals managed to catapult themselves to the masses over the last decade through essentially just undercutting traditional accommodation prices, we’ve seen the price-gap reduce significantly as more professional STR companies have emerged.
This year, we are sadly saying goodbye to lots of these companies, so does that mean the price gap will once again become more prevalent? Does that mean there will be more opportunity for the smaller players once again?
PTM: Why do you think it’s important to adapt to the current challenging conditions, shift the 2020 conference online and continue connecting virtually and sharing ideas? What opportunities and challenges does this bring to host the conference online?
Virtual is new territory for everyone but the industry still needs to connect, arguably more than ever, and come together to find a collective route forwards.
With it looking unlikely that we can have physical events (of this scale) any time in the next year, what other opportunities are there for 3,000 plus people to be in one place at the same time?
I think it can be quite confusing when lots and lots of companies are running virtual events in many different ways, so I guess the biggest challenge is initially convincing people that HOST Virtual is completely unmissable. In a sea of webinars and other virtual events, it’s important to make sure we’re still committing to being the biggest event in the short-term rental industry.
We’re getting to the stage now where everyone is starting to realise that Terrapinn is actually leading the way with virtual events across the major global events companies and this is a really exciting prospect.
We exceeded expectations with the physical launch, and I know we’ll do so with HOST Virtual, too.
PTM: How will hospitality technology help the industry to move forward and recover into 2021 and beyond? And do you think the pandemic has sped up the growth of technology in this sector?
The right technology will be absolutely integral to the recovery of our industry.
Simple things like being able to handle check-ins remotely are widely known to be desirable, but I’m not sure they are as widely put into practise. I have already seen this change over the last few months.
People are being forced into doing things which were always on their to-do list, but were maybe not that near the top of it. I think this can be a good thing. Whilst it’s a terrible situation that of course no one would ever wish to happen again, there can be some benefits to adapting and being pushed out of your comfort zone.
I’m not sure about the actual growth of technology as a result of the pandemic just yet, but I am certain that more activity has gone on with people evaluating their current partners and exploring other options.
PTM: Which parts of the industry, in your opinion, are now open for disruption and expansion?
Every part of every industry is always open for disruption and expansion…
PTM: What advice would you give property managers looking to grow their businesses? Are there any which you think are doing this particularly successfully?
The property managers I’ve spoken to over the last few months who seem to have had the most success are those who are regional and well branded.
There are no quick fixes to your geography, but everyone can work on branding.
Building a brand can seem so obvious and simple to those who are a bit earlier in their journey, but it so easily gets lost along the way once other pressures take priority. Anyone I’ve ever spoken to about this has always said that losing sight of your brand identity is one of the first steps to a failing business.
PTM: And finally….. when travel comes back there will be pent-up demand, describe your perfect holiday destination and what type of accommodation would you choose to book when we are able to travel more freely?
This is such a tough question! I mentioned a point earlier about people being forced into doing things that weren’t at the top of their priority list, and this is exactly how I feel about holidays… I’ve always wanted to drive around the Scottish Highlands for example, but there was always a sunny trip abroad that ranked higher. Now the sunny trips abroad are a no go, I actually did the Scotland trip last month!
When I can, I want to go with a few friends to a peaceful island where it’s sunny and we can constantly swap laying on the sand with dips in the sea. Perhaps I’d pair that with a treehouse (like The Hudnalls Hideout) and all the add-ons imaginable. A chef, yoga instructor, you name it – I want pure luxury on my next trip.
HOST: 4 – 5 November 2020 online: Following a year of unprecedented disruption, there has never been a more important time for the global short stay accommodation industry to come together to regroup, rebuild and recover. HOST 2020 has been designed to help rentalpreneurs and property managers with ideas on how to adapt, stay competitive and survive in a post Covid-19 world. Last year we saw HOST spark ideas, innovations and relationships. We all need these now more than ever. Tickets are free. To register for HOST, click here.