EyeforTravel North America 2017

October 2017, Las Vegas (USA)

Vacation rentals and the rise of the deconstructed hotel

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The market for holiday lets is booming and the provision of ‘perks in every city’ could be a winning card

Parker Stanberry, CEO of vacation rentals firm Oasis, could be on to something. “We’re supplementing the accommodation piece with everything you would expect from a hotel,” explains Stanberry, who likes to refer to the company he founded back in 2008 as a “deconstructed hotel”.

In other words, not only does Oasis provide services like check in and professional cleaning, renters can expect exclusive access to everything from the local health and wellness centre to private members clubs and the local yoga class, as well as insider tips on the surrounding social scene. “We are providing more than accommodation, far more that a just room to rent,” Stanberry says.

In other words, Oasis is offering perks in every city! And to date Oasis has 2,500 listings in 22 cities in Latin America, the US and Europe.

Differentiation counts

Worth $100bn in 2016 and expected to reach $170bn by 2019, according to a report by Research and Markets, today vacation rentals is big business. Among the well-known names are peer-to-peer market places like Airbnb and HomeAway, but there are also numerous lesser-known firms like managed rental companies Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Vacasa and, of course, Oasis, whose nearest competitor is Onefinestay.

In this highly competitive arena, however, differentiation is becoming increasingly important, and the findings of EyeforTravel’s latest report on the changing face of tours and activities, indicates that honing in on the experience could be a winning card. When consumers in France, Germany and the UK, for example, were asked what is most important to them when choosing a vacation, the activities on offer were ranked 50% more important than getting the lowest price!

“Our research shows that the experiential aspect of the holiday really matters,” says Alex Hadwick, EyeforTravel’s Head of Research.

As Stanberry puts it, the challenge when you rent an apartment is that while there may be plenty of locations out there to choose from, once you arrive “you’re kind of out there on your own”.

This is the gap that Oasis is aiming to fill by offering a fully curated in-destination experience. It does this by providing high-touch concierge teams in the markets it operates.

So, yes, while a renter may well find an Oasis property on Airbnb, booking.com or, for that matter, Google  - all channels the firm uses to market its product in various ways – when guests eventually book, the experience they offer delivers an edge. This is unlike peer-to-peer players, Stanberry says, where there is no curation, and nobody comes to vet the property.

Oasis, on the other hand, takes responsibility for everything. It represents the owners by creating the listing, arranging logistics and closing reservations but is also traveller facing – both in the leisure and business travel segment.

Leisure travellers today are demanding more quality, but for businesses, argues Stanberry, it’s even more important to keep travellers happy. And a peer-to-peer market place like Airbnb may just not cut it.

In fact, it is in the business travel segment that Oasis claims to have an edge. “The idea of sending your employees into a peer-to-peer environment is not something you want to do as a company. Maybe there is a better way to do it,” he says.

To meet the customer need, Oasis has been building partnerships with venues and businesses in the cities it operates [22 in Latin America, the US and Europe at the time of the interview]. Oasis is also talking to hotel firms. Says Stanberry: “It makes a tonne of sense for hotels to be looking in this [the vacation rentals space] direction”. Already, hotel players like Accor, for example, have been upping the game with the acquisition of the likes of Travel Keys, a private vacation rental platform.

So maybe, just maybe, Oasis could be up for grabs! Watch this space.

Parker Stanberry will be speaking on a panel in Las Vegas (Oct 19-20) later this year on the deconstruction of the hotel and the concept of ‘Hotel 2.0

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