Lodgify Lowdown

Lodgify Lowdown (April ’24): Airbnb on a Roll

Who’s ready for May flowers?

Chances are, April has kept you busy with taxes and travelers in town for spring break, the total solar eclipse, Coachella, or any number of other events. But before you gear up for the month ahead, let’s take a quick look at the most important industry updates from the past four weeks.

Airbnb’s latest updates unboxed

April was particularly eventful for Airbnb, which shared two major news releases and one policy update this month.

Sports, play, and the outdoors drive 2024 summer travel trends

Airbnb released a new report highlighting 2024 summer travel trends earlier this month. The first major trend: that global sporting events will be driving bookings.

The Summer Olympics are, of course, the primary catalyst here. Airbnb noted that Paris is the most searched city globally this summer, with the other host cities of Lille, Versailles, and Lyon trending as well. Listing views in the host cities are also an average of 11 times higher during the period of the Olympic Games than they were last year.

The German cities of Dortmund, Munich, and Stuttgart are also trending thanks to the European Football Championships. And in the U.S., the Copa América (America’s largest soccer tournament) is driving bookings in the host cities of Glendale, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Airbnb also noted that searches for its “Play” category—which features listings with amenities such as game rooms, sports courts, and trampolines—have more than doubled this summer, and searches for outdoor amenities have increased by 30% for families. Essentially, guests are seeking fun-filled stays and time outdoors this summer.

All of this should serve as a reminder to start preparing your vacation rental for the summer months, whether by adding a barbeque, water slide, or whatever makes the most sense for your space. And it’s never too early to start preparing for upcoming sporting and other events in your area!

Major disruptive events policy

In other Airbnb news, the company has introduced a significant update to its cancellation policy framework, with a new Major Disruptive Events Policy set to replace its Extenuating Circumstances Policy on June 6. This update will change how Airbnb handles bookings affected by disruptive events, such as natural disasters and other large-scale emergencies.

The new policy provides clearer guidelines about which events qualify for cancellation and refund, likely reducing the number of cancellations and providing hosts with a better idea of what to expect. Qualifying events include:

  • Government-declared public health emergencies and epidemics (not including Covid-19)
  • Government travel restrictions
  • Military actions and other hostilities
  • Large-scale outages of essential utilities
  • Natural disasters and other severe weather events (that aren’t foreseeable)

Being aware of which events qualify can help hosts prepare for potential cancellations and communicate with guests. Take a look at the full policy to learn more.

Home sharing for all

Finally, Airbnb announced that it will begin advocating for renter-friendly vacation rental policies.

More than simply a way to expand Airbnb’s host base, this is an attempt to help reduce the financial pressure on renters. As the company points out in its press release, half of U.S. renters are cost-burdened and renters earn significantly less than homeowners. Nevertheless, many cities across the U.S. have laws in place that prevent renters from sharing their space on Airbnb, which could provide a valuable source of supplemental income.

Airbnb plans to help change this by working with cities and states to advocate for renter-friendly policies. They’ve also donated $100,000 to the Flagstone Initiative, a nonprofit organization that offers financial assistance to help struggling renters and prevent eviction.

In the meantime, keep your eyes open for any changing laws in your area!

Your monthly rules and regulations roundup

The end of vacation rentals in Hawaii?

We’ve reported on the affordable housing shortage in Hawaii multiple times in the past year. Now, this chronic issue is coming to a head with the progression of two bills moving through the state legislature.

House Bill 1838 and Senate Bill 2919 propose to give county governments the power to limit land use in their communities and even ban vacation rental listings altogether. If passed, vacation rentals could be prohibited across entire counties in Hawaii.

Proponents of the bill hope that it will improve housing availability for local residents, who continue to struggle with the impacts of last August’s wildfires. Bill opponents, on the other hand, argue that it will eliminate jobs for property managers, contractors, and cleaning service providers as well as reduce the housing supply for visiting families and traveling medical professionals.

Who will have their way? We’ll find out more after the committee session on May 3, which will determine whether the bills will progress to the governor’s desk for approval.

Edinburgh festivals present a battle for…beds?

Numerous festivals, including the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, bring millions of visitors to Scotland’s capital every summer. The problem this year: There aren’t enough accommodations.

According to the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), this is largely due to short-term rental regulations.

Around 1,800 vacation rentals have applied for a license since the city implemented its new licensing scheme last October. However, as few as 105 full licenses have been granted, drastically reducing the supply of vacation rentals and driving up prices.

Now, the ASSC is calling on the government to build more houses rather than relying on vacation rental regulations, which are hurting STR businesses’ chances to earn supplemental income and forcing many to shut down altogether.

Industry events galore

April also saw various industry events come to fruition, including the VRMA Spring Forum, the Shortyz, the Short Stay Summit, and the NorthWest Vacation Rental Professionals (NWVRP) Annual Conference.

We were lucky enough to attend both the Shortyz and the Short Stay Summit in London last week. Neither of these events disappointed, offering invaluable opportunities to network as well as share with and learn from our partners and customers.

Lodgify also served as a sponsor at the Short Stay Summit, where we had a booth and offered free SEO consulting sessions and product demos (not to mention awesome swag and cupcakes). Plus, our very own VP of Global Sales James Begley contributed to a panel on revenue management!

Lodgify at the Short Stay Summit 2024
The Lodgify team at the 2024 Short Stay Summit

If you missed these events, don’t worry: May has even more conferences in store, including the Scale Show, the Book Direct Show, and the VRMA Executive Summit. We’ll be attending the first two of these—come check us out if you’re in the area!

See you next time!

That’s a wrap for now! We’ll be back in a month with more updates from the STR industry. In the meantime, make sure your vacation rental is prepared for guests traveling for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and graduation ceremonies!

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