|By||http://e27.cohttp://e27.sg/2013/01/15/short-term-rental-site-2012-and-2013-year-in-review/||| Jan 15, 2013 | Featured|
Personally, one of the biggest industry disruption over the last few years is the short-term rental space. Pioneered by Airbnb, short-term rental websites which allow homeowners to list their properties for short-term rentals have managed to help homeowners earn extra income and generated thousands of jobs.
In Southeast Asia, while we were slow to pick up the trend, that did not stop players such as Roomorama or travelmob from setting up their businesses to ride on the trend. While short-term rental websites might be illegal in some countries such as Singapore, 2012 has no doubt been a great year for these companies. To quantify this, we spoke to Airbnb, Roomorama, travelmob and 9flats.
How was 2012?
Airbnb: Airbnb has grown incredibly fast in Southeast Asia in 2012. In 2012, total nights booked on Airbnb increased 400% in Indonesia, 275% in Thailand, 547% in Malaysia, and 345% in the Philippines.
Roomorama: 2012 has been a pivotal year for us as our main goal was and still is to consolidate our position in the B2C space of the short-term rental industry (as opposed to peer-to-peer). To do so we merged with Lofty.com and subsequently raised an undisclosed amount of money from VCs. The result is that we are now capable to grow our inventory at a much faster pace than ever before and empower Roomorama users with the fastest and most seamless way to book professionally managed short-term apartments and villas worldwide. In terms of results, 2012 was a pretty good year for us. We have grown our inventory to 80,000 units and we expect to quadruple this number by the end of 2013.
travelmob: 2012 has been fantastic – we publicly launched travelmob in July 2012 and since then, have made tremendous progress as a company. A couple of milestones: We’ve hired a solid team, we’ve closed our seed round of funding led by Jungle Ventures and Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Accel Partners, we announced a distribution partnership with Wego and of course, we launched several new features to further enhance user experience on the site. We have also seen growth across all metrics: our listings have increased by 415% in just a span of a few months and we’ve seen thousands of nights booked on travelmob’s properties – from corporate retreats, to honeymoons, expat relocations and even patients on medical treatments.
9flats: We don’t share numbers due to the intense competition but we are very pleased with the overall development in 2012 where we’ve seen healthy growth.
Focus of 2013:
Airbnb: Our community of hosts and travelers in Southeast Asia is growing rapidly, and we’re increasing our focus on the region to make sure we support that growth. We want to connect with our users and determine how to make the Airbnb experience as good as possible for them, while also continuing to grow the business. I’d say we’re bullish about all the countries in Southeast Asia, but Thailand and Indonesia in particular have shown themselves to be strong markets for us.
Roomorama: We want to be THE one stop shop for professionally-managed short-term accommodations that Asian travelers think of when booking a place to stay. In 2013, we will introduce instant bookings, to replicate as closely the hotel booking process that consumers are used to. By doing so, it will make booking an apartment or home on Roomorama will be as quick and seamless as booking a hotel room. We also expect to grow our inventory to at least 300,000 units by the end of the year, which will offer our users more options across the globe. Lastly, we are releasing our iPhone app in a few weeks and the Android app will soon follow. In terms of Asian expansion, we will announce significant partnerships with local players in the region in the next few weeks.
travelmob: We continue to focus on leading the social stay marketplace in Southeast Asia and intend to expand to the rest of Asia Pacific in 2013. With Asia set to be the fastest growing travel market by 2013, a study by travel event organizer ITB Asia said travel bookings in Asia Pacific will hit US$357 billion this year. We believe intra regional travel forms a big part of that given the rising incomes among middle class groups particularly in China, India and Southeast Asia.
9Flats: We are going to focus mostly on Europe in 2012, where our core strengths are. The acquisition of istopover has given us significant inventory in Asia as well, but most of our marketing effort will remain in Barcelona, London or Berlin where most of our hosts are.
Airbnb: We don’t focus on imitators, we simply focus on making Airbnb the best product possible. Travel is inherently global. When people use a service like ours, they don’t want to only connect to a regional network, or a network that’s dedicated on providing listings only in a few markets. They want a global network and amazing destinations all over the world. That’s what Airbnb provides in a way that no other service does. Airbnb is connecting Southeast Asia to a vibrant, growing community of hosts and travelers all over the world, and that community has no competition.
Roomorama: We focus on B2C type of listings as opposed to Airbnb’s peer-to-peer offerings, and further, most of our properties are in the mid-range to higher end. Wherever there are opportunities and potential for growth, there will be competition, and we think this is healthy for the market and the industry.
travelmob: For us, we’ve always maintained a regional dedication to building Asia Pacific as a destination for global travellers from Day 1. We continue to be committed to the region and to building solutions and services that cater to both travellers visiting APAC destinations as well as for property owners based here. Our mission remains: to lead the social stay market in Asia Pacific.
9flats: As you know we already opened our Singapore office in 2011 with Wei Leen at the helm. At the time we were extremely pleased with Singapore as a location to build our presence in south east Asia. We even contemplated to move part of our development team to Singapore. However we discovered that the burden of intercontinental communication across times zones made this not as feasible. We like to remain focused and nimble.
While short-term rental stay might be illegal in some countries, especially in Singapore where permission to sublet your property to visitors has to be sought from the authority, that did not dampen the growth of the industry. From the various responses by the main players in the short-term rental space, AirBnB is very bullish about Thailand and Indonesia, Roomorama also expects a huge inventory boost in the new year, travelmob has plans to expand beyond Southeast Asia into APAC, while 9flats focuses less on this region due to operational challenges.
While short-term rental stay is going to become more popular and common, people would not even realize that it is not legal. It is up to the government to either embrace this new trend, or to give these short-term rental websites or the property hosts a bad time.