Breaking the Mold: Unique Formats and Distribution Channels Drive Growth in Short-Term Rental Industry

Thibault Masson

short stay summit 2024

Industry leaders gathered at the Short Stay Summit in London to discuss the future of the short-term rental market. Key topics included guest-centric approaches, alternative distribution channels, and unique property formats.

The short-term rental market is witnessing rapid transformation, with industry players adopting new formats and distribution channels to cater to the increasingly discerning tastes of modern travelers. At a recent Short Stay Summit panel in London, hosted by Thibault Masson of Rental Scale-Up, prominent figures from the sector, including Graham Foulds (COO of Plum Guide), Enrique Planas (Head of Business Development Southern Europe at Holidu), and Juan Miguel Rivera (CEO of Otium Rentals), shared their insights on how these developments are being harnessed to drive growth and diversification.

Prioritising Guest-Centric Approaches

A key focus for short-term rental businesses is providing tailored experiences for guests. Companies are utilising cutting-edge technologies to ensure properties meet the highest standards and align with travelers’ preferences.

Plum Guide

  • Virtual Plum Test: Employs machine learning and AI-driven review analysis to assess property listings
    • Machine learning: Identifies Plum-design by analyzing millions of property photos
    • AI-driven review analysis: Reads hundreds of reviews to identify potential issues, like uncomfortable beds or street noise


  • Stringent curation process: Ensures high property standards, host reliability, and overall guest experience
  • AI-driven personalization: Improves customer experience by providing tailored property suggestions

Otium Rentals

  • Guest avatar identification: Helps cater to guests’ specific needs and preferences
  • Focus on direct bookings: Allows for a more tailored and guest-centric approach

Exploring Alternative Distribution Channels

As the industry evolves, property managers are increasingly encouraged to explore alternative distribution channels. By tapping into these channels, property managers can expand their reach to different demographics and markets, thereby increasing bookings and annual margins while better tailoring their offerings to guests.

The Importance of Research

Property managers need to do their homework to understand the value propositions, benefits, and drawbacks of alternative distribution channels like Holidu, Plum Guide, and others. This research is crucial as not all distribution channels are created equal, and they may cater to different guest demographics, marketing techniques, and booking patterns.

Graham Foulds of Plum Guide emphasizes that property managers who invest time in understanding the unique offerings of each channel will likely reap the benefits of higher margins on bookings and more satisfied guests.

Channels to Consider

Some alternative distribution channels that property managers can explore include:

Travel Management Companies (TMCs)
  • Handle travel arrangements for corporations
  • Offer access to a corporate traveler demographic
Travel Consortia
  • Collectives of host agencies, travel agencies, and travel advisors joining forces to increase their industry footprint
  • Facilitate access to a wider network of potential guests
Global Distribution Systems (GDSs)
  • Provide a centralized platform for booking airline tickets, hotel rooms, and other travel-related services
  • Increase exposure to various travel markets and demographics

The following examples illustrate how Holidu and Plum Guide present their value propositions to property managers:

  • Diverse portfolio: Showcases potential for bookings in various unique formats, rural destinations, and during low seasons
  • Sustainable tourism commitment: Attracts guests seeking eco-friendly stays and secure booking experiences, leading to higher satisfaction and repeat bookings

These features demonstrate Holidu’s value proposition as an alternative channel that can help property managers attract a wider range of guests with different preferences, ultimately driving bookings and satisfaction.

Plum Guide
  • Guests not shopping on other channels: Attracts bookings from guests who book for longer durations, travel multiple times a year, and during the offseason
  • Lower risk of property damage: Appeals to property managers looking to reduce potential costs associated with guest-related issues

Plum Guide’s value proposition highlights the company’s ability to bring in a unique clientele that not only stays longer but is also less likely to cause damage to the properties, resulting in higher margins for property managers.

By leveraging these alternative channels, property managers can expand their reach to different demographics and markets, increasing bookings and annual margins while better tailoring their offerings to guests.

Incorporating Unique Formats in Short-Term Rentals

As the preferences of travelers evolve, it becomes increasingly important for short-term rental companies to incorporate and promote unique formats to cater to this diverse market. By offering a variety of accommodation options, companies can attract various guest demographics and contribute to the growth and diversification of the short-term rental market.


Enrique Planas of Holidu explains that their company offers a wide range of unique formats in short-term rentals, including:

  • Eco-friendly properties
  • Rural houses
  • Tiny homes
  • Themed accommodations

These options cater to the diverse preferences of travelers and promote sustainable tourism. By providing these unique formats, Holidu is able to attract various guest demographics, meeting the demand for more personalized experiences and contributing to the growth and diversification of the short-term rental market.

Plum Guide

Graham Foulds of Plum Guide highlights that their company provides whatever format their target audience, the discerning traveler, desires. For example:

  • Aparthotels for business trips in New York or London
  • Beautiful city apartments for weekend getaways in Paris or Porto
  • Farmhouses in Tuscany or villas in Mallorca for special events

Plum Guide caters to the diverse needs of their guests, understanding that while they may be more affluent on average, their accommodation preferences can vary significantly depending on the nature of their trip.

Otium Rentals

Juan Miguel Rivera of Otium Rentals emphasizes the importance of understanding the specific needs and preferences of their guests in order to offer unique formats and experiences. The company focuses on providing upscale accommodations tailored to guests’ desires, ensuring each property delivers an exceptional experience. This approach caters to evolving traveler preferences and contributes to the growth and diversification of the short-term rental market.

By incorporating and promoting unique formats in short-term rentals, companies like Holidu, Plum Guide, and Otium Rentals can cater to the evolving preferences of travelers and contribute to the growth and diversification of the industry.

Embracing Industry Evolution: Adapting to Changing Guest Preferences and Expanding Opportunities in the Short-Term Rental Market

In conclusion, the Short Stay Summit panel discussion highlighted the importance of prioritizing guest-centric approaches, exploring alternative distribution channels, and incorporating unique formats in short-term rentals. As the industry continues to evolve, property managers and rental companies must stay agile and adapt to the changing preferences of travelers. By focusing on providing tailored experiences, leveraging technology, and understanding the value propositions of various distribution channels, property managers can better position themselves for success. Furthermore, embracing unique property formats allows rental companies to cater to a wide range of guest demographics and preferences, contributing to the overall growth and diversification of the short-term rental market.

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