Barcelona Short Term Rentals

Another successful show ~2024

There have been hundreds of posts, images, and videos about the Scale Barcelona show earlier this month, all of which are well worth the money. There have been so many praises and congratulations on the educational content. All are valid and illustrate the need for a model supporting this academic goal.

Apart from dodging tomatoes from the “Anti Book Direct” presentation, I discussed the industry almost continuously for three days with tech and management companies. Understanding where the short-term rental industry is heading is essential for all involved, especially in uncertain times.

Take Aways

These are some of my most important takeaways and an offer to get involved on a data level if you are a professional manager/agency (see below).

  1. Industry Comparatives: There are a lot of conversations around industry standards and management of P&Ls and, hence, profitability. More are interested in Exit valuations but are primarily concerned with the increasing expenses and lower net margins. Data and industry standards are needed (see below)
  2. Tech Tools: Marketing, distribution channels and tech integrations: There are evident frustrations with the capacity to cross-integrate tool sets to improve management efficiency. Costs versus ROI comparisons are needed, and with data, we may see industry standards appearing on costs.
  3. AI: Very few people understand the future use of AI. As an overall deep dive into how it is changing world commerce and lives, this Gartner Report, will show the general future. In our industry, it will shake the foundations of VA work and create unique business intelligence opportunities.
  4. Legislation: Some people are still oblivious to the legislative challenges in Europe despite the noise from the industry. Again, it was highlighted at Scale, but this link provides background. Do not ignore this!!!!
  5. Exit Awareness: M&A continues as smaller players realise the challenges and successful middle-size players start their journey to acquisition, but they need to establish key metrics and KPIs. The lifestyle businesses are becoming a thing of the past for attendees. But where are the other thousands of managers at these conferences?
  6. PMS’s: No newsletter or summary would be amiss unless it mentioned PMS systems, the gateway to bookings and tech access. The main pro-management concerns are price escalation and distribution prohibition. Some big companies and a select number of smaller privately owned (but profitable companies) are now the challengers in Europe, and price and extended tech reach are the battlegrounds. It’s about time we had an industry-standard cost base—special thanks to Paul at Ownerez and Oliver at Wheelhouse for their market feedback (and great products).
  7. There are no surprises here, but within the last couple of weeks, and mentioned more than a few times, we witnessed Touch Stay acquired by Czech group itrinity (well done, Andy), Guesty acquire Rentals United (Well done, James and team. See the report here on HCH), and Boostly modified their pricing as the market changes shape (plus Mark Simpson made his usual excellent presentation). Other notable mentions are Rudy at Maveriks, who are just launching a shared marketplace, and Boom Now’s unbelievable stand interest in their AI-unified operational and management software.

Vacation Rental Tech Logos

What do these acquisition moves tell us? It’s hard for small companies to become global businesses, and it’s easy for larger firms to pick off those that may have plateaued and fear the investment route, further dilution, and challenging growth headwinds. Not surprisingly, it also shows that current and increasing legacy tech is of less interest to investors than volume RR with low churn to be successful at exit.

The big rollups appear to be pushing smaller tech companies to increase inter-company dialogue and even more integrations. Most industry people believe there are too many tech businesses. Still, those smaller companies focusing on support, intelligent development, and financially solid bases (read profit) will stand out as others push hard to realise the investments made through brutal sales tactics and strategic acquisitions. The new companies also have the advantage of incorporating new modelling, such as AI, on day one.

The main takeaway for professional management companies is No. 1 above (please let’s not gravitate to the term Professional Hosts, aka Airbnb PR). We see more focus on improving business metrics and gravitating from lifestyle returns to a healthy, livable income and value-led business model.