Short Stay Summit 2022: STAA, VRMA and EHHA preview the event

UK: Ahead of the upcoming Short Stay Summit at Tobacco Dock London on Thursday 19 May 2022, ShortTermRentalz speaks to the leading figures of the three organising bodies of the event – Merilee Karr from the UK Short Term Accommodation Association [STAA], Kimberly Miles from the Vacation Rental Management Association [VRMA], and Viktorija Molnar from the European Holiday Home Association [EHHA].

Merilee Karr, chair, UK Short-Term Accommodation Association [STAA]

  • Why does the industry need a European event this year?

With our industry set to rebound strongly in 2022, it’s the perfect time for property managers to learn how to build their businesses to capitalise on the growth in the market.

  • What was is it about the first joint industry event in September that you valued the most?

Our industry is increasingly crossing into traditional hospitality, property and technology. The biggest takeaway for me for September’s event was learning how our industry is expanding and increasingly partnering beyond the traditional holiday lettings and short-term rentals. And, of course, meeting back up with friends and colleagues from across the industry for a drink together after a crazy two years was something really special!

  • What are the specific challenges you and your members face in your territories?

There are three big challenges for us operating in the UK. How we overcome the challenge of finding the resource we need to grow when there is a scarcity of talent at the moment The technology landscape is complex. Finding ways to navigate it and to find simple solutions for companies of all sizes is critical if they are to succeed. New regulations are already coming into force in Scotland and Wales and England is looking at it too. Ensuring that we have the right regulatory environment for responsible growth is crucial for the future potential of our sector.

  • What are the opportunities for more global collaboration?

Bringing together the industry across geographies is a great way to share learnings, and for businesses to expand into new markets. The Short Stay Summit is a brilliant example of how associations around the world are coming together to provide that opportunity for our members and the broader industry

Commercially, opening up the business travel market, which is a market worth $8 billion according to Skift. But we can only crack it by working together across the professional operators in our industry. As associations, we can help our members access these new opportunities with platforms like TrustedStays.

Having a clear set of independently accredited global standards will really help our sector grow in the face of increased regulation. There is a massive opportunity for our sector as we increasingly compete with hotels and the residential property market and having quality standards in place will give us a real boost.

  • What have the next two years got in store for the short-term rental market globally?

The next two years are all about the three Cs!

Firstly, customer preference. The pandemic has presented us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalise on changing consumer preferences to stay in high-quality, independent accommodation. If we can deliver on this demand, the growth in the sector will continue to accelerate.

Secondly, consolidation. There will certainly be acquisitions in the market but I see consolidation coming in many forms from partnerships to collaborations to technology integrations. All of these things will help the market open up to new growth in both supply and demand.

Finally, collision! Our sector is disrupting both the residential property space and the traditional hospitality sector and giving consumers the power to choose what type of accommodation they want, where they want it and for the amount of time they want it for. This democratisation is driving disruption and change and our sector has the opportunity to lead this.

  • What are you most looking forward to at this May’s event?

The CEO roundtables where industry leaders can discuss the challenges and opportunities behind closed doors. No doubt some exciting opportunities will arise by bringing so many incredible people together for a day. And of course the Innovation Drinks – likely to be the best social and networking event for our industry in Europe this year!

Kimberly Miles, executive director, Vacation Rental Management Association [VRMA]

  • Why does the industry need a European event this year?

The industry is continuing to grow and rebound as we emerge from the pandemic, and it will be an important opportunity to both connect and reengage. Delegates will learn about how to grow and thrive in the new economy, increase industry professionalism, and respond to new guest / traveller demands.

  • What are the specific challenges you and your members face in your territories?

– How to keep up with accelerated demand from guests / travellers

– Hiring and engaging a changing and younger workforce

– Increase in mergers and acquisitions [M&A]

– Regulatory challenges, especially in destination markets where more people are living year-round / permanently

  • What are the opportunities for more global collaboration?

We have a lot to learn as an industry, regardless of where we’re located, and the best way to do so is to collaborate. Events provide an important opportunity to get together, exchange ideas, share best practices, network, and find ways to grow and protect the industry.

There is more we can do in between events, such as virtual education, certification, accreditation, and networking touchpoints. It is important that all of us are promoting and highlighting the value of professionally-managed vacation and holiday rentals.

  • What have the next two years got in store for the short-term rental market globally?

– More year-round bookings; shorter stays; increased demand for urban rentals

– Increased competition; more big players in the industry; more smaller players being acquired

– More hybrid companies that do more than manage vacation and holiday rentals

– Guests and travellers demanding greater technology from their rental—from bookings and marketing to amenities and maintenance requests

– Companies wanting more data intelligence to inform their business planning, streamline their operations, and enhance their marketing efforts

– More legislative and regulatory pressure at a local level [in specific regions / towns / communities]

  • What are you most looking forward to at this May’s event?

After two years of the pandemic, I look forward to the industry coming together in full force to share what they’ve learned, discuss where the industry is headed, and explore how we can collaborate to grow the industry in Europe and throughout the world.

Viktorija Molnar, interim secretary-general, European Holiday Home Association [EHHA]

  • Why does the industry need a European event this year?

After the unprecedented years of 2020 and 2021, tourism is expected to continue to gradually recover in 2022. Many destinations are easing or lifting Covid-19 travel restrictions, which contributes to unleashing pent-up demand.

However, the war in Ukraine poses new challenges to the global economic environment and risks hampering the return of confidence in global travel. Even though it is too early to assess the impact, it is certain that the war will add further pressure to already challenging economic conditions, undermining consumer confidence and raising investment uncertainty.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] estimates that global economic growth could be more than one per cent lower this year than previously projected, while inflation, already high at the start of the year, could be at least a further 2.5 per cent higher. The rising oil prices and inflation are making accommodation and transport services more expensive, adding extra pressure on businesses, consumer purchasing power and savings.

The Short Stay Summit this year will give a one-of-a-kind opportunity for short-term rental players to reflect on current developments, exchange best practices, find an inspiration and common points to work together for a better future.

  • What was is it about the first joint industry event in September that you valued the most?

An opportunity to meet and greet the short-term rental colleagues in person again!

  • What are the specific challenges you and your members face in your territories?

As a voice for short-term rentals, the EHHA’s membership is diverse: it represents individual owners, nano-, micro- short-term rental property managers, entrepreneurs, property managers [SMEs], online platforms, and other business owners who cater to the rental sector. All of these groups were severely impacted by Covid-19 but struggled to receive access to support funds and programmes, which were often not built with a diversity of actors in mind.

Nonetheless, EHHA members are now playing a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic by providing offerings that are widely dispersed across European towns and regions [not just in city centres], and by funnelling the economic benefits of travel into wider communities by encouraging local spending and contributing income to short-term rental providers.

EHHA continuously engages with policy makers to support harmonised, proportionate, clear and justified regulation at all levels. We trust this will ensure the safe and sustainable growth of rental activity, such that it can contribute to Europe’s recovery, while providing authorities with the necessary transparency and oversight they need to enforce local rules. Unfortunately, too often local short-term rental rules continue to be unclear, unjustified, disproportionate, and, on occasion, contravene EU legal frameworks. Many are under constant review, not published in a central website, introduce different obligations for different categories of rental service providers, and even have different rules within any one city – creating a hyper-fragmented regulatory landscape that exacerbates legal uncertainty and poses challenges for effective enforcement.

This is why the EHHA stresses the importance of – and strongly welcomes – the EU-level intervention to help reduce regulatory fragmentation and increase legal certainty for all [short-term rental players, national / local governments and consumers]. The EHHA is very much looking forward to the European Commission’s short-term rental initiative which shall be published in summer 2022.

  • What are the opportunities for more global collaboration?

There are a number of opportunities for a more global collaboration. W. Edwards Deming, the US engineer, statistician and professor, who believed in a power of a system working together rather than bit and pieces working separately, said “When we cooperate, everybody wins”, so why shouldn’t we?

  • What have the next two years got in store for the short-term rental market globally?

Benjamin Disraeli, the former British Prime Minister, said: “What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.”

Thanks to open borders, cheap flights, internet connectivity, smartphones and much more, tourism was growing rapidly on a yearly basis and the prospects were even higher. However, crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine were indeed not anticipated. Navigating through these unprecedented times and working on a recovery of a more sustainable and resilient short-term rental sector which has clear, justified and proportionate rules across the EU is and will be of the utmost importance.

  • What are you most looking forward to at this May’s event?

Looking forward to a kick off global collaboration on a number of common topics and obviously participating at all exciting discussions of the Short Stay Summit!

The main event on Thursday 19 May will feature a vibrant mix of presentations from many high-profile industry leaders alongside fireside chats, panel debates and plenty of opportunities for networking.

A number of leading industry brands are sponsoring the event, including title sponsor Vrbo [part of Expedia Group], platinum sponsors Booking.com and Host & Stay, gold sponsor Styled Interior Design, silver sponsors Sykes Holiday Cottages, Beyond, CoStays, Awaze, Hospiria and UnderTheDoormat, and ruby sponsors PriceLabs and Guesty.

On the evening [Wednesday 18 May] preceding the event, the annual Shortyz Awards, organised by ShortTermRentalz, will be held near to Tobacco Dock at The Skyline London to celebrate the excellence demonstrated by companies in the sector.

Book your tickets for the 2022 Short Stay Summit at this link.