Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk#10 – Forever renters, Scranton, the lost 20 minutes and why buy Uplisting?

Being non-American, I always thought Scranton was a made-up place. A figment of some scriptwriter’s imagination of the kind of dull, dreary, suburban sort of place that would house a paper distribution factory. But apparently, it’s not just home to Steve Carell’s alter ego. It’s also now home to a desirable residence called Scranton Lace, a new luxury rental residence retrofitted from an old lace factory. And when the 32 luxury apartments came onto the market, a staggering 1,000 prospective residents put their names down.

Luxury but without commitment

Scranton Lace isn’t a one-off. It’s part of a growing trend of desirable rental communities attracting well-heeled residents. Residents today aren’t just the generation-rent millennials who can’t afford to buy. Renting is increasingly perceived as a lifestyle choice for a growing number of wealthy and older renters who want the flexibility, amenities, luxury, freedom, and choice that come from being more footloose and fancy-free. They want luxury but without the commitment. They want the gold taps, but it doesn’t have to be their gold taps.

The number of millionaires in the US renting their primary residence has quadrupled in the five years between 2017 and 2022. This move towards an openness to rent and the desire for hospitality elements to be part of a home is an interesting trend further highlighting a convergence of hospitality, nonownership, and real estate.

The most exciting thing about AI

One of the most exciting developments to come from AI is the ability to hyper-personalize everything from cancer treatments and dating profiles to wedding dress shopping and searching for the perfect vacation rental. With AI analyzing behavior and other data, the result is less guesswork, reducing time wastage and lowering frustration for a buyer/user.

We are already seeing this with the OTAs with less reliance on broad searches, and a move towards matching properties to consumers. Prospective guests can look forward to being served up the ‘perfect’ three-bedroom condo, just the right distance from the restaurants that they like, with their preferred taste in decor and the room/bed configurations that fit their particular version of a blended family. This type of personalized matching sure beats hours of scrolling through numerous ‘Three bedroom homes for a family of four’ that we’re currently used to.

The lost 20 minutes of data

How else can data be used to help buyers and sellers of hospitality make better/easier decisions? Frank Reeves, Chief Evangelist of SHR Group, talks about ‘the lost 20 minutes’ of data — the treasure trove of data amassed while a prospective hotel guest is on a hotel website during the deliberation phase. There is a digital breadcrumb trail left by every potential guest and, if harnessed effectively, hoteliers can use this data to identify patterns in guest behavior, uncover preferences, and craft personalized online experiences that build brand engagement and, ultimately, convert better.

So why did AirDNA buy Uplisting?

This acquisition took us by surprise in the STR space. Why would a data company buy a PMS? I’ve heard lots of theories on AirDNA’s motivation, the projected future success of the deal, and what it all ‘means’ for the industry. But this deal is pretty simple. As a private equity-backed investment, AirDNA will be under pressure to increase revenue and grow the lifetime value of its customers. Getting more customers is always good. But selling more to the customers you already have is smarter. AirDNA certainly has many customers and selling them tech that’s up/down the tech stack — especially if they are smaller managers/hosts who didn’t know they needed a PMS — makes good sense to grow revenue but also to lock customers in. That’s my take, anyway.

Short Term Rental Tech Index

Talking of tech. Abode is launching our first comprehensive Short Term Rental Tech Index next week. We’ve researched 100s of suppliers across guest experience, property management, revenue, security and more — all so you don’t have to….

Designed for managers, it aims to be a helpful guide that takes the frustration and guesswork out of research.

About me – I’m the CEO, and founder of Abode Worldwide, a public relations agency focused on raising the profile of technology solutions and operators, transforming the global lodging, hospitality and living sectors. We work across STR, hotels, multifamily, coliving, senior living and PBSA.

Pillow Talk is my ‘newsletter’ sharing musings, learnings, and insights about the pioneering lodging technology brands and operators transforming how we work, rest, and play. I hope you find this interesting. If not, there’s an unsubscribe button at the bottom.

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