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Insight - is technology driving the professionalisation of short-term rentals?

A new report into technology’s involvement in the booming short-lets market has uncovered key tech trends being adopted by property managers.

Rentals United, a Barcelona-based ‘vacation rental channel manager’, has published The Global Short-Term Rental Tech Report 2020, with the findings based on the largest ever survey of short-term rental technology.

In total, 959 professionals in the short-term rental industry responded over a period of eight months.


With the holiday and short-term rental industry continuing to mature, and competition heightened as a result, Rentals United says property managers are becoming increasingly driven to improve their use of technology.

As a result, they are adopting more and more software solutions to help them stay ahead of the game. The survey found that it’s now commonplace, for example, for professional property managers to automate certain operations, distribution, marketing, revenue management, guest communication and other tasks. 

The report revealed that there are four core areas in which property managers use additional tech. These are channel management (57%), payment providers (51%), accounting tools (40%) and keyless entry solutions (33%).

Meanwhile, emerging technologies include 3D tours (17%), chatbots (13%), home automation solutions (12%), noise control devices (9%) and voice concierge services (3%).

For larger property managers with over 100 properties, the survey revealed that some 74% use an external channel manager in conjunction with their PMS (property management system), which is often built ‘in-house’.  

One of the firms that took part in the survey was premium Airbnb management company GuestReady, which has built its own tech stack including proprietary property management software. It sells this to other property managers but uses external channel management for its own services.

Alex Limpert, chief executive of GuestReady, said: “The solutions that we don't see externally as being suitable for our needs, is everything that comes after the booking. The technology that is more operational related to running the on the ground operations including task management, payment processing and the relationship with the owners. We have now built everything in-house except channel management which we choose to outsource as there are some really good solutions like Rentals United and we are happy to work with them on distribution.”

James Burrows, chief executive of Rentals United, said the demand for tech innovation in the short-term rental industry is continuing. He believes that the report underlines ‘our understanding that the winning models of the future technology providers will work similarly to SaaS platforms by providing enterprise-level, open-source platforms allowing developers to contribute to the code which will, in turn, increase the investment and the growth of the industry’. 

The Global Short-Term Rental Tech Report 2020 provides an analysis of the landscape of current and planned technology use in the professionalised short-term rental industry. You can download the full report for free here

We previously looked at how GuestReady had passed the milestone of $1billion (approx. £778 million) assets under management and also covered its purchase of Airbnb management company BnbLord in April 2019.

Despite its rapid growth in recent years, it’s been a difficult few weeks for the short-lets sector, with major Airbnb manager Hostmaker collapsing and Airbnb’s planned float potentially put in doubt by the spread of coronavirus.


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