Round-Up: Airbnb Crosses 5 Million Hosts, Opago Takes Over Staykeepers, Australia’s Legislative Leap in Short-Term Rentals

Uvika Wahi

Updated on:

Round-Up: Airbnb Crosses 5 Million Hosts, Opago Takes Over Staykeepers, Australia's Legislative Leap in Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb Hits 5 Million Host Milestone

Key Takeaways for Vacation Rental Managers:

  • Airbnb, the leading online platform for short-term rentals, has announced that it now hosts over 5 million hosts worldwide.
  • The demographic of Airbnb hosts is broad, with a significant percentage (approximately 85%) residing outside of the U.S. The leading host nations, following the U.S., include France, Brazil, Italy, the U.K., and Spain, per the platform. 
  • Over half of the hosts are women, and more than one-third are aged 50 or above.
  • Airbnb listings are diverse, ranging from traditional homes and apartments to unique accommodations like igloos, treehouses, and castles. Airbnb reports over 160,000 listings in the ‘Vineyards’ category alone as of September 2023. 
  • Airbnb reports that many hosts use the platform as a source of supplemental income, renting out their properties while traveling or during local events. The platform claims that hosts have collectively earned $250 billion since its inception. 
  • Airbnb has facilitated over 1.5 billion guest check-ins, connecting hosts and guests from over 200 countries.

About Airbnb:

  • Airbnb is a platform that allows individuals to list, discover, and book accommodations worldwide.
  • Hosts use Airbnb to rent out their properties, ranging from homes and apartments to unique lodging options like igloos and treehouses.
  • Guests can search for accommodations based on location, price, and amenities, and book directly through the platform.

Uvika’s View:

  • In 2023, Airbnb set an ambitious goal: Making Hosting Mainstream. The company aimed to increase awareness about hosting, simplify the process, and offer more robust support tools for hosts. Remarkably, they have managed to accomplish this.
  • Airbnb’s approach to increasing host numbers was strategic and well-targeted. By leveraging its vast customer network, the company converted 36% of newly available hosts from guests, effectively fostering growth from within its existing user base. 
  • This internal growth strategy was complemented by a broad-reaching public education initiative, the “Made Possible by Hosts” commercial series. This campaign underscored the unique aspects of hosting, setting Airbnb apart in the increasingly competitive short-term rental market.
  • In 2023, Airbnb launched the “Airbnb it” advertising campaign as part of their push to mainstream hosting. The campaign targeted occasional hosts, including those offering private rooms and guest houses, and was instrumental in driving double-digit supply growth across all regions. 
  • However, with increased listings came the challenge of overwhelming guests with choices. Airbnb proactively addressed this by introducing Guest Favorites, a feature designed to spotlight select listings. This not only helped guests navigate the plethora of options but also fostered competition among hosts, motivating them to continually improve their offerings.
  • Looking ahead to 2024, Airbnb’s ambitions extend beyond dominating the short-term rental market. With the recent acquisition of Gameplanner AI, the company has signaled its intention to become a full-on lifestyle brand. CEO Brian Chesky has expressed his desire to use generative AI to create Airbnb Concierge, a service that expands Airbnb’s offerings to include long-term rentals, car rentals, social networking, and payment services.
  • There is no doubt that airbnb has transformed the way people travel but also democratized the hospitality industry, empowering everyday individuals to become hosts. As the company continues to innovate and expand its offerings, it will be interesting to see how this impacts the short-term rental landscape and the broader sharing economy.

White Label Operations Provider Opago Buys Staykeepers Assets, Eyes Stronghold in Student Accommodations

Key Takeaways for Vacation Rental Managers:

  • Opago, a provider of flexible renting solutions and outsourced operations, has acquired the assets of Staykeepers, a tech company that previously operated in the short-term rental and purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) markets and entered administration.
  • The term ‘administration’ refers to a state of insolvency where a company is unable to meet its financial obligations. Staykeepers unfortunately found itself in this position due to various business challenges.
  • The assets that Opago has acquired from Staykeepers include all trademarks and Intellectual Property, CRM database, Sales and Marketing strategy, Technology platform structure and Road Map, and Operating model and Internal Process maps.
  • If you are a PBSA client, this change means that Opago now has a reliable system in place to rent out student apartments for short and medium-term stays, especially during holidays when these units might otherwise be vacant.
  • If you are a Build-To-Rent (BTR) client, this means Opago has a tried-and-tested system for renting out buildings specifically designed for rent. This system will help reduce the time these properties stay empty, especially during the initial period of filling up the building with tenants.
  • For guests and tenants, this means a better living experience. Whether you’re staying in a student apartment or a build-to-rent property, you can expect outstanding service throughout your stay.

About Opago:

  • offers flexible rental options and management of day-to-day operations for property owners and managers.
  • What does this mean? Well, Opago helps businesses grow by providing services such as cleaning, maintenance, making sure properties comply with rules and regulations, and looking after guests. These services are ‘white-label’, which means they’re provided under the client’s brand, not Opago’s.

Uvika’s View: 

  • Opago’s unique business model, focusing on outsourcing day-to-day operations like housekeeping, maintenance, and guest services, presents a compelling proposition for property management companies seeking to scale efficiently.
  • By assuming responsibility for these labor-intensive tasks, Opago potentially offers valuable insights into streamlining operations and optimizing resource allocation during periods of growth. 
  • This could prove particularly advantageous for companies navigating expansion phases, allowing them to focus on core business objectives while Opago handles the operational intricacies.
  • The timing of the acquisition, especially with regard to Staykeepers’ PBSA tech solutions, appears strategic given the burgeoning growth of the sector in key markets like the UK and Europe. 
  • A 2022 Savills report underscores this trend, highlighting a substantial increase in investment in PBSA, with €11.7bn invested in Europe during the first three quarters of the year alone—a 130% surge compared to the same period in 2021.

Western Australia’s STR Accommodation Bill 2024 Advances, Mirroring Worldwide Regulatory Shifts

Key Takeaways for Vacation Rental Managers:

  • Western Australia’s Short-Term Rental Accommodation Bill 2024 has been introduced in the WA Legislative Assembly today, marking a significant shift for the short-term accommodation industry in the region.
  • This bill is a response to the need for a balanced approach to managing the growing popularity of short-term rentals while ensuring there are enough homes available for long-term lease.
  • As part of the new rules, short-term rental property owners are required to register their properties before advertising and accepting bookings.
  • The Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Register, managed by Consumer Protection, is set to launch in mid-2024, with all properties required to be registered by January 1, 2025.
  • An important aspect of this bill is the incentive scheme designed to nudge property owners towards the long-term rental market. Property owners who switch from offering short-term to long-term rentals can receive a $10,000 grant. 
  • This incentive is part of a broader strategy that acknowledges the role of short-term rentals in the economy but aims to minimize their impact on the availability of long-term housing.
  • A critical element of the new legislation is the distinction between hosted and unhosted properties. In brief, a hosted property is one where the host lives on-site during the guest’s stay. 
  • The legislation also includes changes to planning requirements, particularly for unhosted STRA property owners who rent out their properties for more than 90 nights annually.
  • Owners must show compliance with these planning requirements by January 1, 2026, to remain on the STRA register.

Uvika’s View:

  • The introduction of the Short-Term Rental Accommodation Bill 2024 in Western Australia is a notable development, not just for the region but also as a trendsetter for the global short-term rental industry. This legislation reflects growing governmental efforts worldwide to regulate and oversee an industry that has witnessed massive growth, especially since the pandemic.
  • The requirement for property owners to register their properties before advertising is particularly noteworthy. It mirrors the STR Initiative in the European Union, which includes a unified registration process for all short-term rental properties through a new online system. This system is designed to simplify compliance and facilitate easier verification by local authorities.
  • In the UK, similar steps are underway. The Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism in Wales has also announced plans to implement a statutory registration and licensing scheme for visitor accommodation, including short-term rentals. Relevant government bodies in England are also considering a proposal that would require short-term rental properties to be registered in a specific system.
  • These examples suggest a global trend towards stricter regulation of the short-term rental market. It’s clear that governments are trying to find ways to better manage the impact of short-term rentals on their communities while refining tax and other obligations for this rapidly growing industry.
  • The $10,000 incentive offered by the WA government for property owners to switch from short-term to long-term rentals is another intriguing aspect of this legislation. This approach directly addresses the ongoing debate around the impact of short-term rentals on the long-term housing crisis. By incentivizing property owners to offer long-term rentals, the government is making a clear statement about its priorities.
  • It will be interesting to see if other governments follow suit with similar measures. Such incentives could significantly alter the landscape of the short-term rental market, potentially leading to a shift towards more long-term rentals.

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