The Boost Hospitality Podcast is back for another season! And we are now in Season 6! In this episode, I will talk about the world of Serviced Accommodation together with our very special guest, Jason Living.
Know more about Jason Living
Jason Living worked as a commercial planning consultant in London before. He also had a property in London that he originally bought but then moved out. Then he moved up to Yorkshire and worked in the Northeast. He then started buying investment property and residential properties to let out and built that up to a pretty significant scale. He became aware of people letting properties on what people call serviced accommodation. Now, he and his company have over 180 properties, which mostly are in the Northeast.
Jason sort of verge towards calling it short stay accommodation because he thinks it’s a more inclusive term. He thinks service accommodation has particular connotations about it, and some people will say to you “oh service accommodation is where that where it’s being serviced every day”.
How easy is it for me to get started and is there any rules or regulations or can I just simply start doing the research and get started now?
It’s surprisingly unregulated, and whether that will continue in the same vein, perhaps down. I think regulation, in some form, may well come. And it’s one of I think, to some extent, part of the hotel industry gripe about the growth in serviced accommodation is is that they are subject to much greater regulation. You are obliged to undertake inferences of fair risk assessment, that there’s no strict certification of anything that needs to go on.
So from that point of view, it is relatively easy. And in terms of approaching landlords, if some people I would stay because you’re approaching whether it’s a land that, from a rent to rent leasing point of view, you’re approaching the landlord, you’re preaching and letting agent, and you’re trying to sell them an idea that something maybe they’ve got no understanding of, and that can sometimes be a little bit challenging.
Some people find it easier than others just like any sales job, some people don’t have more natural, in terms of their aptitude for selling. They are selling a concept rather than a product. So that that in terms of regulation, in terms of barriers to entry, really, there aren’t any. One of the things that struck me in terms of getting out there and marketing is because you can immediately jump on the likes of Booking.com and Airbnb, you can start this with no marketing budget, because you only pay those guys, when you get a booking. Okay, you do pay and it’s a decent commission but to me, I hadn’t got an issue with that because I hadn’t got to date.
Most businesses these days, before you even open the doors, you’ve got to have a website, you’ve got to think about digital marketing, and yet more traditional marketing, you’ve whereas, with this, you can start day one, and just as your first step, get it on any OTAs. And I’m not saying that’s where your business starts and ends, that you can start with very little capital.
What is the most common mistake that you see people making in the industry?
I think one of them is probably depending on what their background is. I think if people have come from the hospitality side, then they probably don’t make some of these mistakes. But one of the big mistakes potentially coming from the property side is not understanding that you need to actively manage your pricing. And your pricing should be very dynamic.
For a rental property, you might have different prices for every day of the week. Typically within the hospitality industry, Sunday is always your quietest nights. So if your pricing by the night, Sunday needs to be your cheapest night. Friday and Saturday are probably your busiest nights.
But there are locations where your midweek market is stronger than your weekend market. And you’ve got to know your market. Your Monday might be one price, Tuesday might be a bit more. So it’s that initial pricing is you don’t just say right, it’s 70 pounds a night across every day of the week, every month of the year. You’ve got a different price for every day of the week. And the then what you’ve got to do is constantly review those prices. Probably at least every week to see what’s the demand in the area? What are my competitors doing?
Making OTAs work for you, not the other way around
One of the simplest things that you can do about serviced accommodation is to look at your calendar, go on Save Sunderland, go to what’s on in Sunderland.
And just box off the next three months or six months, and just look for any big events, any concerts, anything that’s big that’s coming into town.
The best example for this is a personal experience of Mark when he beat the OTAs back in 2018.
In 2018, Britney Spears play in Scarborough and it was announced on January. Being a bit proactive, I instantly close out any dates on our online travel agents (OTAs) via a channel manager.
So you guarantee to get a direct booking, and then what you do is put your rates up because there’s two things people do: they book the tickets and they look for an accommodation.
And then, all you have to do is assess it every week or every month from the closer it gets to the date. If you still got availability for those dates, you just start to slowly put the price back down to your normal rates is.
And then you start to open back up to the OTAs. Make these Booking.com, Airbnb.com work for you, not the other way around. So if you got anything that needs selling, last minute, put up those. And I can guarantee that you’ll get those bookings.
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