The current run of sharing homes and apartments for vacationers seems to have no end in sight. Carlos Villaro Lassen, secretary general of the European Holiday Home Association (EHHA), says it’s a given that tourism is going to continue to grow across the globe.
While a good thing can’t always last forever, the industry has gained substantial stamina in recent years through the EHHA, which has brought together core holiday rental players across Europe and the U.S. The union has helped provide solid footing for an industry that has transformed tourism and seemingly has limitless potential.
The EHHA, formed in 2013, has become the voice of the vacation rental industry with members like Kigo, TripAdvisor, Interhome, HomeAway, Novasol, Expedia and Airbnb. The association formed to raise the standards, quality and professionalism of an industry that has grown quickly but needed structure and, in some cases, to overcome criticism and doubt.
Guiding the future of vacation rentals
Kigo, which has become a trusted global platform for vacation rental managers globally, is teaming with EHHA to help navigate the present and future. Kigo’s addition to the EHHA, announced in June, is re-enforcement of the association’s purpose to convince travelers, lawmakers and real estate professionals that home, apartment, condominium and bungalow rentals are a viable business that enhances travel and tourism.
Lassen believes Kigo’s presence can elevate an industry that has endured criticism and skepticism, sometimes leading to stiff taxes and regulations or banning in some cities. Some headlines have overshadowed the positives of a home rental segment that has redefined lodging as an experience.
Kigo’s vacation rental technology adds credibility to vacation rental managers by providing a secure, professional environment for bookings.
“For some of the criticisms of short-term in cities, the solution is the high quality that Kigo is able to put into the property experience,” Lassen said. “Those happy times will make the criticism disappear. The attitude will change. That’s a reason why Kigo is part of the solution to some of the problems we need to address.”
Kigo will participate in the EHHA General Assembly on October 10th in Brussels.
Creating an environment that promotes industry growth
Fundamental to EHHA, Lassen says, is working with regulators and politicians to create an environment that promotes the industry’s future growth at all levels. This allows vacationers of varying means and tastes to afford and enjoy an unforgettable travel experience.
No longer, Lassen says, do travelers think of an overnight accommodation as a hotel situated on a commercial lot. Rather, tourists prefer their accommodations to be just as experiential as the attractions that brought them.
“What we’ve seen is an ongoing transformation, especially in Europe. It's not about renting a house, it’s about renting an experience,” he said. “I rent security, knowledge about the area where I stay, and experiences with the people living in this house or city or village. That experience and also the quality of the house, that it is not just four beds. It’s four beds with a quality bathroom, quality kitchen, access to knowledge about the local restaurants. That’s something that has been empowered by companies like Kigo.”
That ideology is being conveyed by EHHA to regulators and politicians to create regulations that promote growth. Lassen said that discussions are aimed to overcome negative perceptions and laws designed to ban vacation rentals, which are the result of a lack of education.
“We’ve actually had some situations where people don’t know if it’s legal or not legal to rent out properties,” he said. “Laws have changed quickly. In some cases (cities) ban it completely or impose taxes."
“The problem is there is a lot of misunderstanding about our industry. Sometimes, we become the scapegoat for other issues, like housing issues. In Paris, apartments have become quite expensive…so short term rentals are not making that much of a difference. What we think is that short-term rental model is the solution to many other problems that we have.”
Looking beyond peak season to meet demand
Vacation rental demand isn’t going away any time soon, Lassen says. In fact, as rents and occupancies cool in other rental segments and economists predict a slowdown starting as early as next year, the vacation rental industry has strength in numbers which ensures a competitive climate and affordability.
The vacation rental industry in Europe is estimated to have about 20 million available beds, compared to 11 million hotel beds.
“At the moment, we have more demand than capacity that we can deliver,” Lassen said. “Of course that’s for the summer season, but the summer season is also where the most money is earned and the basis for some of highest rents of the season.”
Property managers are looking beyond peak season to fill vacancies in the winter months with marketing toward business travelers, which opens additional revenue opportunities.
Also, as Europe learned with the last downturn, leasing out a home can provide some much needed income during tough times.
“The financial crises actually showed Europeans what it is to be in an area where the house prices go up and where people can’t afford to live in their own house because they lost their job,” he said. “The financial crisis meant that more people rented out.”
And travelers got the benefit of some budget accommodations.
Empowering industry professionals through technology
Lassen says vacation term rental management in Europe is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years. This is all the more reason that EHHA and its members should strive to work with cities, politicians and others to promote the business.
“Tourism will increase,” Lassen said. “That’s 100 percent sure. We need to regulate tourism in a way so people will increase travel, and that’s by using the existing beds where people live and the sharing idea of inventory and houses.”
Armed with technology, the industry is poised to manage more travel, whether it be for tourism or business, and gain the trust of travelers while erasing negative perceptions.
“Through information technology and companies like Kigo, property managers have been empowered,” Lassen said. “The property no longer has four walls and bed, it’s an experience. You have the pictures, communications, you’re not afraid about your money disappearing, there is a payment system you trust. We see this will develop over the years to come."
Get empowered to take your business to the next level. Register for a free demo of Kigo Marketplace!