As the online rental space heats up and become more mainstream, they present a potential to lure travellers away from traditional hotels with their proposition to provide guests real connections with their hosts as well as immersive local experiences in the destinations.
Business models like BeMyGuest are especially attractive to the “new millennial customers” between 30 and 45 years old, remarked Bhavana.
She said: “This group of people are seeking a differentiated tour and cultural experience because they are no longer satisfied with the usual hotels and sightseeing.”
Similarly, Roomorama, another Singapore-based short-term rental player founded in 2009, also observed a younger demographic among its clientile. Users are “savvy travellers” between the ages of 25 and 55 and are often looking for a “value-for-money and unique experience”, said Jia En Teo, COO and co-founder of Roomorama.
And unlike hotels, they can provide guests the comforts of a regular home with a full suite of amenities like kitchen, laundry facilities and entertainment systems, she pointed out.
In addition, Roomorama provides greater cost savings, according to Teo. She said: “Roomorama offers about 30 to 40 per cent savings compared to a typical hotel in the same location with the same standards.”
Nevertheless, such social stay models are unlikely to threaten the hospitality sector, opined these travel technopreneurs.
“We offer a new type of travel experience which is different from hotels, ” said Bhavana. “We want to see ourselves as an added choice for travellers and view it is a good opportunity for us and hotels to work together and learn from each others’ offerings.”
Teo agreed: “The concept of short-term rentals has a positive impact on the travel industry and we have made travel more accessible to those who may have been constrained by the lack of affordability previously.”
Opportunities ahead, but not without challenges
However the popular practice of vacation rental may still take time to permeate through the Asian market, given that Asians’ travel habits tend to be more conservative.
While Roomorama is currently more popular in cities like Beijing, Tokyo and Bangkok and Bali, Teo highlighted that one of the challenges they face is drawing awareness to this concept.
She said: “We have to convince Asian travellers that staying in a hotel-alternative can be simple, and very safe.”
Faud added that Asians do not like to host or stay in people’s homes, and “education is needed” to change that perception. But he also pointed out that there are many affluent Asians who invest in secondary homes, which then offer them the chance to monetise that property in such business models.
As for BeMyGuest, Bhavana said travellers today are more “experimental” hence they do not face much concern on this aspect.
There is no doubt that Asia is warming up to this peer-to-peer holidaying concept, and with that travellers can now exercise the option of seeking immersive local experiences which literally promises a “home away from home”.