The Short Stay Summit took place in London recently, attracting industry leaders from around the world. Booking.com Senior Product Manager, Alberto Bernes, was at the event and shared his insights with us.
Click.: In your own words, can you tell us a bit about the Short Stay Summit?
Bernes: The Short Stay Summit is one of, if not the largest industry event in the UK dedicated to short-term rental accommodation.
Attendees are a mix of property owners, management companies, service providers and other industry stakeholders who are all looking to raise the profile – and results – of the short-term rental industry. Plus there’s a great selection of industry experts and influencers from around the world, all there to share their analysis and predictions for the future.
Click.: What was this year’s event like?
Bernes: There was an excellent vibe.
There have been other events since the start of the COVID-19 disruptions (including last year’s Short Stay Summit), but this was one of the first events I’ve been to since the start of the pandemic that really felt, for want of a better word, ‘normal’.
It was full of attendees eager to hear from the array of international speakers sharing their insights – both of which felt almost unthinkable even 18 months before.
Click.: Was there a key theme you took away from this year?
Bernes: During the pandemic, flexibility became a guest expectation, with travellers embracing – and even demanding – increasing flexibility in both what they book and the ways they book it.
But that move to flexibility does bring a number of benefits for short-term accommodation providers.
Whereas before people might have decided on a city to visit then simply looked for hotels in the area out of habit, we’re now seeing the market share for non-hotel accommodation growing as people really consider the options for where they want to stay.
Similarly, while people might once have sat down and made a formal decision about where to travel next, the rise of mobile phones has meant this can be done almost anywhere, anytime. That might be while out with friends, when they see an appealing location while watching TV, or simply while scrolling through social media, but they can have an idea and book it in a few clicks.
With that in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that mobile already accounts for around 60% of total bookings on our platform.
In fact, not only have the ways people booked changed, but the very concept of what a trip is could be changing too.
Click.: In what ways?
Bernes: Well, the lines between business and leisure travel are blurrier than they were pre-pandemic.
It used to be fairly clear cut – business travel was organised by your employer and was as short as required for the work. But now, many people are choosing to take some personal time on such business trips to make the most of the new area and see the sights. In fact, our recent travel trends survey revealed that 62% of global travellers plan to extend a business trip to add on time for leisure this year.
We’re seeing the same on the other side too, as people extend their leisure trips in order to work in a new location. After all, with remote working it’s possible to book a whole month, taking a week as a restful break then working during office hours for the rest of the time so you can spend your evenings and weekends somewhere new.
People are looking to do their own thing, in their own way. And this could be especially valuable to short-term rental accommodation providers.
Click.: Was there anything that particularly surprised you from the event?
Bernes: I’d say one thing was that despite ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic, there was still such a strong sense of curiosity, energy and positivity of the attendees. Maybe there’s a sense that things might continue to change a little in the short- to mid-term, but ultimately people remain hopeful for what the long-term holds.
This goes well beyond just on-the-ground concerns too. There were many questions from people asking about the potential impact of even long-term developments, like the rise of virtual reality, or the metaverse. Things they knew no one had an answer for, but were curious to hear their thoughts on.
It’s easy to dwell on the challenges travel could face in the future, but with such dedicated, passionate people leading the industry, it’s much easier to believe we’ll get through all of those too.
- Earlier this year, the 2022 Short Stay Summit took place in London, attracting short-term rental industry professionals from around the world
- Alberto Bernes, Senior Product Manager at Booking.com, attended the event – sharing insights on key topics during his fireside chat
- Topics of discussion included flexibility, mobile trends and the future of business travel