In Houston, the short-term rental market caters to a number of different populations, but historically there’s been a significant emphasis on snowbirds – largely older individuals who live in the South during the winter months. However, as Houston continues to become more popular as a hub of industry and business, there’s also more interest in short-term properties catering to professionals. These visitors may spend a few weeks to a few months at a time in the area for business purposes, but their movements are less predictable than that of snowbirds.
For property owners, one significant advantage to increased business travel is that it introduces an additional, year-round audience for short-term rentals. In order to properly serve the needs of business travelers to the Houston area, however, property owners and managers would do well to take some cues from the hospitality industry. These part-time residents look for different factors when choosing an accommodation than their full-time counterparts, often resulting in the sort of hybrid situations made popular by Airbnb and the luxury condo industry.
The Growth Of Flexible Accommodations
When it comes to flexible accommodations, particularly for business travelers, no one has changed the industry more than Airbnb. Prior to the company’s advent, most frequent business travelers either had to stay in a hotel or just rent an apartment, with their company often paying for and furnishing housing in cities that staffers spent a lot of time visiting.
Once Airbnb took off, though, it became easier for business travelers to rent a furnished space for weeks at a time, for a better price than they would get at a hotel. Now, several years, on Airbnb has started launching projects designed for short-term rentals. This, in turn, is putting pressure on property owners to accommodate a different sort of tenant.
Of course, Airbnb isn’t the only company seeking to accommodate short-term travelers; the Marriott is also competing for business travelers. For the Marriott, success hinges on overall brand loyalty. Business travelers might spend longer trips at homestays, while vacationing and spending shorter trips at Marriott hotels, with perks shared between them.
If you’re a property owner looking to reach a larger short-term tenant audience, the hospitality industry can offer valuable insights. Though the particular short-term rental model we’re seeing today only emerged recently, these brands have been welcoming travelers for decades and they know how to attract out of towners to their properties.
As a property owner, one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal is not so much your own property, as your broader environment, so it’s always worth leveraging attractions to your advantage. Even if business travelers don’t want to know about local museums or concert venues, you can be sure they’re interested in amenities like restaurants, cafes, and even gyms. Easy public transportation is also a plus, though in the age of Uber, not as important as it might have been. Make yourself available as a resource for your tenants, or at least assemble a helpful guide to key services that tenants can reference. You’re the concierge of your own property.
Consider Common Spaces
Most business travelers aren’t looking for the sort of co-living arrangements increasingly popular with millennial urbanites, but since they’re somewhat uprooted during their time in town, many like to have access to a common space. You’ll notice this immediately if you visit hotel; the lobby is often where they place the business center, along with coffee and pastries, and other basic services. While you don’t need to provide a continental breakfast to short-term renters, creating a common space with a printer, a Keurig, and some seating can go a long way towards making tenants feel settled and even helping them connect with other business travelers.
Build A Business Brand
As a property owner, you likely don’t want to build your entire brand around welcoming business travelers, but as we all know, a brand can do more than one thing. A property that markets to snowbirds, for example, can also build a strong business brand – and would be wise to do so. Both groups are unlikely to travel with children and more likely to seek quiet accommodations. Essentially, the goal is to identify your property as designed around the needs of adults traveling without children, rather than families with children and pets. This approach will also help focus your brand, since “those paying a lengthy visit to Houston” isn’t really a coherent category on its own.
Another way that you can build a brand based on service to longer-term tenants is by ensuring that you can provide a consistent experience across units. Though business travelers may be moving away from hotels, most still seek a consistent experience from their housing. This is why hotels have done so well in this sector, as well as why Airbnb and launched their Airbnb Plus service – it’s all about providing a standard experience, broadly speaking.
Play Up Your Property Management
More so than other tenants, short-term renters are far less likely to be equipped with a basic toolbox or even a box of light bulbs, and they’re generally more likely to perceive a stressful situation as urgent. That’s why, for these tenants, property managers are a lifeline, so advertise your strategy. Highlight overall availability, what support the property manager is available to offer, and specifically how they are trained to serve visitors to the area. Just as you – or more likely your property manager – are there to point tenants to local attractions, your role is also to solve various common housing problems, much as a hotel would.
While the Green Residential team doesn’t specifically specialize in short-term rentals, we do understand the unique challenges associated with these situations. To that end, we can both advise property owners on the best ways to equip and market such properties, and also use our history as long-time Houston residents and professionals to support short-term tenants.
Greet The Next Generation Of Guests – With Green Residential
Property managers have always filled a role adjacent to that of guest services, but in today’s short-term rental market, this role is more important than ever before. That’s why, if you’re a property owner serving short-term tenants, you need the support of a trusted property management brand. Contact Green Residential today to learn more about how we can help your Houston area property thrive. Whether your tenants are staying for a month or for years, we know what it takes to help them feel at home.