Navigating the Ever-Changing Hospitality Industry – and Why we Actually Love Hotels
I am the owner of a short-term rental company, and I’m not shy about my love of hotels. Especially boutique hotels.
I love boutique hotels for their unique personalities, small sizes, and personalized amenities. However, I do believe whole-home rentals reign supreme for extended stays, or what we at Open Air Homes refer to as Month+.
Let me explain.
On a recent episode of The Pivot Podcast (with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway), Scott Galloway mentioned what a number of us have experienced lately:
Hotel rates have increased significantly, while their service and customer satisfaction are way down.
This holds especially true in the luxury hotel sector. Travelers and consumers are often unhappy with hidden fees for parking, accommodation, and more.
In my opinion, this recent downturn in quality can be traced back to a few things:
- Hotels are having a hard time restaffing since the pandemic – in fact, a recent survey of hoteliers by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) reported that a whopping 97% of surveyed hotels are experiencing staffing shortages.
- They recognize that consumers have become used to a lower quality of service – and have been slow to rehire to the normal staff size pre-pandemic. In fact, hotel guest satisfaction has experienced an eight-point drop in 2022 alone.
- Hoteliers are focusing on recovery and not necessarily on guest satisfaction – the average daily rate for hotels increased by 34.8% from June 2021 through May 2022 alone.
This nosedive in service combined with soaring rates for a single night at a luxury hotel has consumers (especially “revenge travelers”) weighing other options for travel accommodations.
Newer hospitality options enter the market daily, and it may be only a matter of time before travelers vote with their pocketbooks. Despite the higher price tag that comes with a luxury experience, vacation rental properties seem to offer more amenities (fully-equipped chef’s kitchens, much more space, and unique features like private beach access) for less money.
Transparency is the Successful Short-Term Rental Hosts’ Superpower
As a full-service management boutique with a portfolio of 50+ properties, we’re admittedly dismayed by the bad press the short-term rental industry receives.
Open Air Homes values transparency in all of our processes, procedures, and product recommendations. We also believe that hosts need to build community and support one another in order to strengthen and improve the short-term rental industry.
Building trust in travelers is crucial – the more bad press our industry gets, the harder it becomes to operate successfully as a whole.
Hotels for Short Stays, Homes for Longer Stays
My theory is that we’re seeing the beginnings of what will become a significant change in consumer behavior: guests will consistently look to stay at hotels when it’s a one- to three-night stay, and look to book a home when staying for longer periods of time.
With the often hefty cleaning fees that come with renting a home, oftentimes renting a home for less than a week doesn’t seem worth the cost.
Plus, it may take time to get comfortable with a unique home. When booking a unique rental for a shorter period of time, guests may find themselves spending a chunk of their vacations learning how the home, its technology, or other amenities work.
What are Month+ Rentals?
Month-plus, stylized as Month+, is a term we’ve coined at Open Air Homes to refer not only to extended stay rentals, but the entire movement that’s emerged in recent years.
Simply put, a Month+ home is a whole-home rental that guests look to for a stay of at least one month.
Digital nomads, retirees, and relocating families and individuals are the primary renters of Month+ properties.
Our Month+ rentals are similar to vacation homes and subleases in that they’re furnished and move-in ready. They’re also similar to hotels due to our lightning-fast response times and 24/7 availability for guest inquiries.
With Americans everywhere rethinking work and travel, and prioritizing adventure, memorable experiences with loved ones, and a higher quality of life since the start of the pandemic, Month+ rentals have surged in popularity. If you can still capably do your job, why not do it from the beach? Or the desert? Or from whichever environment energizes you and speaks to your soul?
Focusing on Month+ Rentals
The majority of Open Air Homes’ properties rent for five nights minimum. While some properties are available for three-night stays, we have seen a very noticeable uptick in community respect when focusing on longer stays. Month+ homes are much less likely to attract guests who want to throw parties, and turning homes less often prevents wear and tear on furniture and the homes themselves.
As CEO of Open Air Homes, my focus has shifted to the future of hospitality and travel, and I’m especially interested to see how the Month+ rental market grows, adapts, and becomes a viable option for various demographics. We’re hopeful and excited for the future of travel and hospitality and are here to provide insight and honesty every step of the way.
CEO of Open Air Homes
Read more Letters from Brad here.