Archives for posts with tag: roomorama

The Housing Board investigated 184 cases of short-term leasing in public flats last year, a 73 per cent increase from 106 cases the year before.

It also received around 45 complaints about suspected cases from 2012 to last year.

Violators may lose their flats and get fined if they are found guilty of renting out spaces for less than six months.

Private home owners are not exempt from the six-month rule. They can be fined up to S$200,000 (US$158,995) and be jailed up to 12 months.Singapore HDB

The authorities say that such short-term rentals are banned as they might disturb neighbours in residential estates.

An Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman added that most residents prefer “familiarity” and not to live among “transient strangers”.

Read More‘Honey Look!’ at One of the Worst Tourism Ads Ever
But that has not stopped more online advertisements offering these short-term rentals, which span a few days to months, from sprouting.

Roomorama’s co-founder Teo Jia En, 32, told The Straits Times that her home-rental portal has more than 500 listings for Singapore properties, an increase of about 30 per cent compared to last year (only 192 on the website …if we are not wrong)

Turochas Fuad, 39, chief executive and co-founder of travelmob, a similar website, also noted an “increased adoption of hosts and listings” across Asia Pacific, though he declined to provide numbers for Singapore.

A search on travelmob turned up over 500 local listings, and another portal, Airbnb, has more than 1,000.

Many of these listings are for short-term rentals, and most appear to be of condominium units and rooms.

The URA looked into about 2,100 unauthorised uses of private residences last year, up from 1,300 cases in 2011.

These numbers include both short-term leases and unauthorised conversions of private properties into dormitories or boarding houses.

But owners and tenants, many of whom sublet their homes to help pay their mortgage or rent and to meet new people, said that they have not received any complaints from neighbours.

“They are very supportive,” said a 40-year-old business owner who has been renting out a room in her Novena condominium on Airbnb since June 2012.

She has had 13 bookings so far, with guests, usually tourists, paying S$110 each night and staying for three days on average.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving your living room,” said a 29-year-old marketing manager who started subletting the master bedroom in her four-room Chinatown HDB flat last December.

Apart from tourists, some of her guests are students or those here on work attachments who stay for weeks.

Visitors prefer renting these spaces rather than staying at hotels as they are often cheaper and include access to amenities such as a kitchen.

For example, one can rent a room in a Chinatown flat for S$35 a night or S$230 a week, while a hotel room in the same area might cost about S$150 a night.

Teo said: “It allows them to live like locals, which is unlike what they would get in a cookie-cutter hotel.”

While Fuad said that most travelmob guests prefer to stay in the central area for convenience, Teo noted that Roomorama’s most popular rentals are in East Coast and Bukit Timah.

“They prefer a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre,” she explained.

Asked whether they help to enforce the short-term rental rules, Fuad replied: “We do state in our terms and conditions for our hosts to understand their local laws before they list on our site.”

“The onus is on the home owners to make sure they are in compliance,” added Teo, noting that licensed serviced apartments advertise on her website.

Source : http://skift.com/

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Get ready for the next glut of travel startups: The allure of the vacation rental market is calling.

If you search AngelList for vacation rental companies, you can compile a list of nearly 100 companies ranging from Rentini (“A blend of Airbnb and HomeAway spiced up with Vayable”) to Pinocular (“Kayak for vacation rentals”), and BookingPal (“Next generation vacation rental management”).

Some of the startups, such as Turnkey Vacation Rentals, have attracted funding from high-profile investors.

There are definitely plenty of reasons to be excited about the potential of the vacation rental market, which is transforming the lodging industry.

Market leader HomeAway notched $280 million in 2012 revenue, and just partnered with Expedia, and this has the potential to help make vacation rentals even more mainstream than they are becoming today.

And, there is talk about Airbnb, with its peer to peer rentals, generating a $2.5 billion valuation.

These developments, coupled with a new report from PhocusWright that pegs the U.S. vacation rental market alone as a $23 billion industry, are stoking the imaginations of the next batch of entrepreneurs looking for good startup ideas.

But that seemingly huge $23 billion number may be a little misleading because that vast majority of vacation rentals owned by individuals as second homes are still booked offline.

While professionally managed properties are transitioning to online booking, a huge swath of vacation homes are owned by individuals who may have not have much interest in transacting business online, especially if it brings increased scrutiny from tax authorities.

There are some parallels between the vacation rental, and tours and activities markets.

PhoCuswright estimated that the tours and activities sector was a $27 billion market in the U.S. in 2009.

Both markets — tours and activities, and vacation rentals — are highly fragmented, and despite the very enticing sound of their respective market dimensions, there are huge portions of the tours and activities, and vacation rentals markets that aren’t addressable by the current crop of startups.

In both tours and activities and vacation rentals, there is plenty of potential, but it may take an extended period for the markets to take shape to the extent that there would be substantial pool of customers looking for solutions.

There has been a substantial shakeout among tours and activities companies, particularly the peer-to-peer variety, and with more vacation rental startups drafting business plans as we speak, there may be bitter disappointments in this arena, as well.

It will be the challenge of vacation rental startups to help accelerate online adoption by vacation rental owners, but like the many of tours and activities that have crashed and burned, the vacation rental startups may find some heavy lifting there.

One silver lining in the vacation rental startup trend is there does seem to be a relatively high percentage taking a business-to-business tack, offering marketing services and software for owners and professional property managers rather than merely going after consumers.

Still, big players, such as HomeAway, are offering both B2B and consumer services for vacation rentals, so there will be very tough competition for the ever-growing number of startups.

Following is an Infographic on key findings from the PhoCusWright vacation rental study:

PhoCusWrightInfographicVacationRentals

 

Source : http://skift.com

A Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), also known as Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), looks after the promotion of a territory and its key constituents: accommodations, restaurants, attractions, events, transportation, guided tours and any other retailers catering to travelers in some shape or form. Less than a year ago,

Troy Thompson wrote a must-read piece on his blog, titled 3 reasons why the DMO will not survive. It certainly struck a nerve among travel industry peers, in great part because it highlighted a reality among DMOs which is that many are not adapting to the fast-evolving environment in which we now live.

While I don’t believe DMOs will die anytime soon, at least not a majority of them, I do however strongly believe there is a serious need to rethink their business model and role within the travel ecosystem at this point in time and moving forward. Here a five important reasons why I feel their model is broken.
4 Key Disruptors
Today, destinations are facing a much different reality with traveler behaviors and decision-making processes shifting like never before. This is due in great part to four important disruptors shaking the foundations of the industry.
1. The collaborative economy

Also known as the peer-to-peer (P2P) movement, we are know seeing individuals taking steps to creating their own travel ecosystem. Many have heard of AirBnB, HoweAway, Roomorama, Wimdu or Couchsurfing, yet there are countless sites now enabling people to rent out a room, a sofa or the whole apartment or house, either through home-swapping schemes or via transactional sites. Vacation rentals are one of the hottest segments in the travel sphere, with listings increasing both in the key markets as well as emerging economies, demonstrating its universal appeal. But while this opportunity (or threat, depending on your point of view) is often associated with accommodations, truth is it impacts every aspect of the travel experience once at the destination:

Roomorama
Transportation: Through sites like GetAround, Parkatmyhouse or Zimride, folks can share a ride, find a place to park or even rent out your own car to someone else you may need, i.e. RelayRides (see video below)

Restaurants: New platforms such as Cookening allow locals to host travelers to a home-cooked meal, thus bypassing the traditional restaurant scene, while tapping into the “do it like local” vibe that is a growing trend worlwide. Then there are review sites such as Yelp,

Chowhound, Foodspotting or Forkly that will also connect with user reviews about favorite spots to eat & drink.

Experiences: Are you familiar with the concept of “greeters” in a city? Born in New York City during the 1990s, we are now seeing more and more of these volunteers show you around the city, in particular in France and withing French-speaking Europe. Then you have services such as Vayable, Uniiverse, or GetYourGuide that basically address the core of your trip, that is: the experience once at the destination. Would you prefer to hop on a classic 3-hour GrayLine Tour by bus, or spend a couple of hours with a local who will share his or her favorite spots?

Thus, the collaborative economy presents as much potential as it is a threat to the DMO model right now, since none of these new players will tend to become members and partake in marketing efforts for the destination. It is also hurting accommodations who do bother to follow regulations yet get bypassed by these new and aggressive competitors.
2. The rising importance of UGC and social platforms

Social media and the incredibly fast adoption rates of smartphones and tablets by today’s travelers have made the information-seeking process much faster and complex. Conversations about a future, ongoing or past trip are taking place simultaneously on numerous platform, for example when someone checks-in on Foursquare while connected on Twitter, or by taking an Instagram pic that’s automatically shared via a person’s Facebook’s feed. Leading DMO have embraced sophisticated tools to monitor the chatter, with an active presence on all key platforms: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, Linkedin, Foursquare, Tripadvisor, Facebook, Twitter, not to mention various forums where a brand may be mentioned, i.e.

WikiVoyage, Google Reviews, etc. But a majority of destinations are struggling with this challenge, where monitoring these conversations is a daunting task, let alone trying to chime in and engage with potential travelers or those at the destination having questions or complaints.

 

Screen-Shot-2013-07-12-at-11.04.16-PM
Travel planning is dominated by online resources
Source: Tripadvisor, TripBarometer, March 2013

As for user-generated content (UGC) sites, their importance keeps growing, surpassing the age-old influencer that parents & friends were traditionally. Indeed, more and more studies and research tend to demonstrate that we trust peer reviews or reviews from strangers more than those from friends or colleagues. Yet, few destinations incorporate a tactical plan with Tripadvisor, for example, as part of their digital marketing strategy.
3. The dominance of OTAs in the distribution system

Here’s a question for you: Should a DMO have a booking platform on its website? When was the last time you ever went to a destination’s web site and booked your accommodation from there, perhaps along with your flights and some attractions or activities to complement it all? Never, that’s right… Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but this example highlights another age-old question: what should the role of the DMO be in the distribution system right now? Big hotel chains, and independent hotels in particular, are struggling against the ever-growing dominance of online travel agencies (OTA), in particular Expedia and Booking.expedia

But since many travelers start with a destination in mind before they shift over to the accommodation options, how could the DMO steer more bookings towards hotel members directly, rather than onto third parties?

The region of Eastern Townships, in the province of Quebec (Canada), recently inked a deal with Booking.com to become their de facto booking option on their destination site, figuring “if you can’t beat them, might as well join them”.This won’t help more small property owners getting transactional, but the gamble here is to bring in more marketing power and spotlight to the destination and beef up the transactions. Will it work? Too early to tell, but we’ll be monitoring closely.

4. Mobile, mobile, mobile

The last major disruptor is the omnipresence of mobile, through smartphone or tablet devices. In June 2013, it was esteemed that more than 40% of all online research for travel came from a mobile device – up from 25% at the end of 2012! Yet, the greatest challenge this brings to the DMO is in the real-time access, how we can engage with the traveler while at the destination. Of the six elements required to make it as a digital destination, one is often under-looked: the need to have a separate mobile site for travelers at your destination. We tend to forget that our behavior at the destination is much different than while at home or the office, researching and planning the trip. So why should the site be the same?

A great example of a travel destination that went mobile is Singapore, with its Handy project. By providing smartphone for a small daily fee, the destination is giving value with what travelers seek out the most: wifi connectivity, unlimited local and international calls, and apps answering most sought-after queries, i.e maps, translation, currency, showtimes, transportation details, etc.
BONUS DISRUPTOR: Who’s the client?

At the end of the day, all these new technologies have created an open forum where information becomes readily accessible, yet curating it all is the utmost challenge and opportunity for the DMO. But in order to properly answer this need, the DMO must first answer the most basic question: who’s the client? The traveler or the member, constituent or political representative?Because you see, this is where the biggest problem lies (at least in Canada). Most, if not all, DMOs get their funding in great part from government, and in variable proportions from a membership. Hotels, for example, might pay in some instances an amount according to the number of rooms, which can mean substantial amounts on a yearly basis, in the tens of thousands of dollars. Just for their membership.

Other cities or regions will collect a tourism tax, but only with registered members of the Chamber of Commerce or Hotel Association for that area. This explains why, when the DMO seeks to build a marketing and communications plan, their ultimate client is not the traveler, but their member. Sure, there are exceptions to this model, but it is a very common one across the country. So if you pick up a brochure once at a destination, will you see everything it has to offer? No, you’ll see what all the members have to offer in that city. This was fine up until a few years ago, but with the above four mentioned disruptors, how long can this go on without creating dissatisfaction with travelers?
One thing is for sure: The DMO will need to adapt or die, and its business model will certainly need to be revisited to take into consideration the changing landscape of the industry.

 

Source Frederic Gonzalo : Senior marketing and communications expert & speaker with 18 years expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, I provide strategic planning, social media & mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach me at frederic@gonzomarketing.biz

Short-term vacation rental websites are fast gaining popularity worldwide as more travellers are cosying to rental apartments or homes in place of the traditional hotel experience.
These emerging online models are founded on a simple concept – providing a platform for travellers seeking a place to stay and owners with a spare space to connect.

Based on individual requirements and preferences, whether it is to rent an entire apartment or house, a private room in somebody’s home or a shared space on the living-room couch, be it for a night, a week or a month, guests can search for a place that suits them best and connect with the host from there.

Vacation home rental websites enter Asia
Hailed as the pioneer in the holiday rental apartment scene, Airbnb introduced its online peer-to-peer concept in the US in 2008 and has since expanded to more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

While well-known in the western market, Airbnb has been a bit slow to foray into South-east Asia but it has since made up for lost time by expanding its operations into Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore late last year.

As this wave of short-term vacation rentals has finally caught on in Asia, Asian players are now seeking their share of the pie with their local offerings. Competition is heating up with similar online rental platforms popping up to wrestle for this emerging market in Asia.

Travelmob, a Singapore-based startup that entered the vacation rental scene last July, operates similarly to Airbnb but sets itself apart as an Asia-Pacific specialist by offering regional content to a global audience.

Travelmob co-founder Turochas Fuad said: “We are a very Asia-versed service and product. Being based in Asia (makes us) the experts here, be it with the place, culture, or people.”

According to Fuad, the number of room listings in their website has grown by 200 per cent since the start of the year to more than 14,000 properties. He said the site has been gathering “amazing response” with several thousands of nights booked every month, ranging from corporate retreats to honeymoons and expatriates relocating to a new city.

Meanwhile, the US-based vacation rental site of HomeAway has just announced in July its acquisition of a majority stake in Travelmob to accelerate its expansion in Asia-Pacific.

Another Singapore-based player, BeMyGuest, which was launched in October 2012, offers a similar suite of services as Travelmob but provides local activities and sightseeing tours across Asia in addition.
Bhavana Gupta, marketing director of BeMyGuest, said: “Apart from accommodation, we also offer authentic activities that are less commonly known to tourists like prata-making or Chinese tea-appreciation classes to give them a taste of the local culture.
“These unique experiences will appeal especially to the second-time visitors because it is unlikely for them to have done these before,” she added.

Who are the short-term renters in Asia?
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.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”.

Source : http://www.ttgasia.com/

Short-term vacation rental websites are fast gaining popularity worldwide as more travellers are cosying to rental apartments or homes in place of the traditional hotel experience.
These emerging online models are founded on a simple concept – providing a platform for travellers seeking a place to stay and owners with a spare space to connect.
roomorama home page
Based on individual requirements and preferences, whether it is to rent an entire apartment or house, a private room in somebody’s home or a shared space on the living-room couch, be it for a night, a week or a month, guests can search for a place that suits them best and connect with the host from there.

Vacation home rental websites enter Asia
Hailed as the pioneer in the holiday rental apartment scene, Airbnb introduced its online peer-to-peer concept in the US in 2008 and has since expanded to more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

While well-known in the western market, Airbnb has been a bit slow to foray into South-east Asia but it has since made up for lost time by expanding its operations into Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore late last year.

As this wave of short-term vacation rentals has finally caught on in Asia, Asian players are now seeking their share of the pie with their local offerings. Competition is heating up with similar online rental platforms popping up to wrestle for this emerging market in Asia.

Travelmob, a Singapore-based startup that entered the vacation rental scene last July, operates similarly to Airbnb but sets itself apart as an Asia-Pacific specialist by offering regional content to a global audience.

Travelmob co-founder Turochas Fuad said: “We are a very Asia-versed service and product. Being based in Asia (makes us) the experts here, be it with the place, culture, or people.”

According to Fuad, the number of room listings in their website has grown by 200 per cent since the start of the year to more than 14,000 properties. He said the site has been gathering “amazing response” with several thousands of nights booked every month, ranging from corporate retreats to honeymoons and expatriates relocating to a new city.

Meanwhile, the US-based vacation rental site of HomeAway has just announced in July its acquisition of a majority stake in Travelmob to accelerate its expansion in Asia-Pacific.

Another Singapore-based player, BeMyGuest, which was launched in October 2012, offers a similar suite of services as Travelmob but provides local activities and sightseeing tours across Asia in addition.
Bhavana Gupta, marketing director of BeMyGuest, said: “Apart from accommodation, we also offer authentic activities that are less commonly known to tourists like prata-making or Chinese tea-appreciation classes to give them a taste of the local culture.
“These unique experiences will appeal especially to the second-time visitors because it is unlikely for them to have done these before,” she added.

Who are the short-term renters in Asia?
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”.

Source : http://ttgasia.com/

Spring is prime season for wedding and graduation-related travel, as well as a great time to start planning summer vacations. If you’ve already chosen your travel dates, booked your flight and are now looking for the perfect accommodations, you may want to take a second before pressing “Book Now” on your favorite hotel chain’s website.

While a lot of hotels charge for standard amenities such as in-room Wi-Fi and parking, there are plenty of hotel alternatives such as inns, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts, which typically provide these for free. According to TripAdvisor’s Trip Barometer, travelers consider the following when booking accommodations:

• 86% of travelers seek free in-room Wi-Fi.
• 80% want a free breakfast.

At hotels, things that aren’t on the bill add up too. When you account for customary hotel tips as reported by CNN Money, tipping can add up to $50-$75 or more for a week’s stay.

Choosing to stay in a hotel alternative can save you big bucks on your next vacation. When you compare the cost-savings on amenities, in addition to perks such as a fresh-made breakfast each morning and complimentary wine tastings or happy hours, it’s really a no-brainer.

Check out the Hotels vs B&Bs infographic for more cost comparisons, including an average night’s stay at hotels vs. B&Bs in New York City, Miami and other popular U.S. destinations. You just may find it’s time to kick the hotel habit.

hotels-vs-bed-and-breakfasts

Roomorama-LogoShort-term rental site Roomorama kicked off its fourth year with the launch of instant booking feature, iOS app and strategic partnerships. Looks to add 300,000 property listings to its inventory by year end.
Singapore-based short-term rental site Roomorama celebrated it’s fourth anniversary yesterday with four key announcements. The business-to-consumer focused short-term rental service mentioned in an earlier interview about their focus for 2013. The official announcement yesterday provided more insights.

Instant booking service

Focusing on the mid-range to higher end properties, Roomorama’s first in the market instant booking service hopes to closely replicate hotel booking processes to enable customers to book their accommodations with ease. The feature, scheduled for launch in conjunction with the iOS app in February, will cut down the need for users to require approval from the owners before securing their bookings.

iOS based mobile app

Users are able to book their choice of accommodation on the go with the new Roomorama iOS application that is currently waiting Apple’s approval on the App Store. Expected to be released in February, the app also contains a unique “Take me home” GPS feature that allows users to save their rental destinations so that they can also navigate their way home. The app also allows property owners to easily list their properties all through the app. Roomorama is also planning an Android version in the future.

Collaboration with Wego

With the strategic partnership with online travel search engine Wego, Roomorama’s property listings are now available on the search engine.

Partnership with Airizu, China’s largest short-term rental site

Roomorama’s strength has been in the North American, European and Asian market. The partnership with China’s largest short-term rental site Airizu will see users users from both services be able to see cross-listings between the services, being mutually beneficial for guests from both sites. As Airizu currently only list domestic properties, the partnership with Roomorama will provide Chinese guests a wider access to accommodation options.

Roomorama currently lists 80,000 properties in over 5,000 destinations worldwide. The company hopes to increase its inventory by 300,000 by the end of 2013. For Asian properties listed on Roomorama, Tokyo, Bangkok and Beijing come in as cities with the most listings. The top five nationalities booking via Roomorama in 2012 were Americans, Italians, British, Australians and Singaporeans.

Source : http://e27.sg/  — web Innovation in Asia

roomorama Indeed, the Thai capital ranks second behind Japanese capital Tokyo, according to information released by Roomorama.com, the US-based short-term home rental site.

Bangkok has been one of the top three Asian destinations since 2011, and in 2012 was followed by Chinese capital Beijing.

Roomorama’s co-founder, Jia En Teo, said that Bangkok is the top destination in Thailand chiefly because it was the first Thai destination to be featured on the website.

According to Roomorama.com, the heavy focus on Bangkok is due to a large number of guests travelling to the city for business or leisure. These travellers are often looking for alternatives to hotels, especially when they are staying in the city for over three nights and desire all the comforts and facilities of a real home.

The website is now planning to feature alternative Thai destinations, such as Koh Samui, Phuket and Chiang Mai, as these locations are typically the most popular places for visitors in Thailand.

Teo commented, “Koh Samui and Phuket will certainly gain in popularity as we get more villa options for travellers who are tired of the large resorts”.

In addition, Teo stated, “Top five destinations worldwide this year [2012] are New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney, while those in 2011 were New York, London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome.”

Further information released by Roomorama shows that the top five nationalities booking rental homes via the website were American, Italian, British, Australian and Singaporean.

With Asian cities climbing the rankings as desirable travel destinations, and as a result becoming more expensive, both homeowners (hosts) and travellers (guests) will see better value in offering a space for rent or renting a space whilst travelling, according to Roomorama.

PhoCusWright Inc, a US-based travel market research company, reports that the worldwide vacation rental market was worth US$105 billion in 2012, up from $85 billion in 2011.

According to Teo, Asia accounts for less that 20 percent of the 2012 total, because it is not yet well infiltrated. However, she added that this low saturation in the Asian vacation market gives Roomorama an excellent opportunity for expansion.

Teo stated, “Asia is becoming more affluent and savvy. Travellers are looking for ways to have a unique yet affordable travel experience. Asian travellers also seek comfort and reliability”.

To meet the need of Asia’s travellers, Roomorama concentrates on professionally managed properties in the mid to high-end market, for knowledgeable and confident travellers who are seeking a valuable, yet unique and comfortable experience.

With regards to properties available on Roomorama, Teo stated, “We have small, local property management companies that manage anywhere from 50-500 properties. By partnering with them, we’re able to grow our listings quite quickly while ensuring high standards of quality and reliability”.

At present, Roomorama has over 250,000 registered users benefiting from the website and this number is forecast to more than double in 2013.

In addition, properties featured on the website increased by 30,000 in 2012 to a total of 70,000. By quarter three 2013, the number of properties on Roomorama is forecast to rise to 100,000 in over 5,000 travel destinations worldwide. Asian properties on Roomorama make up 28.5 percent of the total number, including 7,000 in South East Asia. In comparison to other South East Asian countries, Thailand has the most properties by far with a total of 2,500 which is expected to double by mid-2013. It is followed in the rankings by Indonesia and Malaysia.

To sum up, Teo stated that the short term rental market is still in its infancy but it will expand to become a strong rival to the hotel industry.

source : http://www.bangkokpost.com

Serviced apartments in the Asia-Pacific region have been experiencing a reversal of fortunes since the global financial crisis (GFC) in late 2008 pummeled the sector.

Demand continued to rise last year and the uptrend is widely anticipated to spill into this year. Cheaper rates charged by serviced apartments – 15 to 20 per cent lower than before the GFC – are helping to fuel both business and leisure arrivals. Simultaneously, business travel, the core market for branded serviced operators, is growing at a robust pace within Asia as foreign direct investment continues to stream in and companies continue to extend their footprint in the region.

Frasers Hospitality’s group director of sales and marketing, Joanne Ang, forecasts that bookings for the group’s serviced apartments in Asia-Pacific will grow by 15 to 20 per cent by end-2012.

Jia En Teo, co-founder and COO of Roomorama, an online booking engine that specializes in non-hotel accommodation, expects to also “more than triple the number of travelers from Asia using our service in 2012”. Roomorama has 100 primarily unbranded serviced apartments in Asia-Pacific in its system.

“Awareness among Asians about the concept of serviced apartments and their brands is growing,” said Teo, attributing it to the presence of prominent players such as Ascott, Frasers Hospitality, Far East Hospitality and Oakwood Asia-Pacific, which have shaped the industry in the region.

“In Europe and the US, fewer brands occupy the serviced residences sector and, as such, the concept is not as well-known outside the major urban centres,” she said.

Market sources
China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia are the main source markets for serviced apartments in the Asia-Pacific region, according to industry members interviewed.

Housing staff who have been relocated or have been assigned short-term projects still constitutes the bulk of corporate business for branded serviced residences. However, according to a Global Serviced Apartment Report 2011-12 published by The Apartment Service Worldwide, serviced apartments in the region are being increasingly used by corporate clients for extended stays of over a week but under a month.

Ang said guests at Frasers’ properties in Asia-Pacific stay for three to six months on average and 80 per cent of bookings come from corporate firms, with the exception of properties which can accommodate shorter stays. However, Frasers also sees an increase in stays from guests working on projects, as well as leisure bookings.

The increase in leisure guests at serviced residences can be attributed chiefly to the premise that serviced apartment rates can be as much as 30 per cent lower than rates charged by hotels in a similar category. “More leisure travellers perceive them as good value-for-money alternatives, especially if they are staying for more than three or four days in a destination with a large group of friends or family,” said Roomorama’s Teo.

But while awareness of serviced apartments is rising as a whole, marketing intermediaries and corporate travel managers believe many multinational companies as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises based in North and South-east Asia are still deeply unaware of the advantages in using this accommodation. Many still use hotels to house employees for a month or more.

In fact, few firms in Asia issue clear guidelines on when serviced apartments should be used.

“When it comes to travel policy, I have not come across a clear definition of when (business) travellers should use serviced apartments versus hotels. Most clients who use both hotels and serviced properties tend to make their decisions based on which property offers the lowest logical rate at the time of booking, rather than other criteria,” said Mike Orchard, senior director, CWT Solutions Group, Asia-Pacific, Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

For serviced apartments to become a top-of-the-mind alternative for corporates seeking extended and long-term stay accommodation, Orchard advises operators to focus on certain industry sectors.

“Consulting, project-driven organisations, and firms in the mining and financing industries are prime targets as they tend to have a higher proportion of long stays,” he said.

Serviced apartments should also consider integrating their reservation systems with that of the GDSs to gain more traction with corporate clients, suggested Orchard, while highlighting areas of interest close to the serviced apartments such as facilities, activities and services in nearby areas.

He said: “It’s about getting the message across that serviced apartments offer more than a box standard (hotel) room.”

To nurture demand from the leisure market, serviced apartments have to focus on educating consumers, said Teo. “Highlight the innate advantages that serviced apartments bring within the marketing collateral – for instance their ability to offer travellers a ‘home away from home’, and the opportunity to experience living like a local,” she said.

Building blocks

More units are opening and operators are stepping up their game to win over more guests to serviced apartments

Serviced apartment operators are intent on widening their presence across Asia-Pacific as the region continues to prosper amid a global economic slowdown.

Optimism among operators remains high, as demand from the corporate sector, the core market for serviced residences, continues to climb (see above), and as more leisure travellers use this accommodation in place of hotels.

Robert Hecker, managing director, Horwath HTL Asia-Pacific, said: “There is still room for growth and lots of opportunities in the Asia-Pacific serviced apartment sector, especially out of Australia.”

“There are lots of intra-regional business activity, and more individuals and businesses now view serviced units as an alternative to hotels. Demand should remain strong, and this will continue to power the growth in supply.”

Singapore-based Ascott, the largest branded serviced apartment operator globally, plans to open more than 40 serviced residences with over 8,300 apartment units in first- and second-tier cities in China, alongside major urban centres such as Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

Ultimately, the chain hopes to achieve 40,000 apartment units worldwide by 2015, effectively doubling the size of its current portfolio. Over 70 per cent of these are expected to be based in the Asia-Pacific region.

Tony Soh, Ascott’s chief corporate officer, said: “In China, which we have earmarked for aggressive expansion, besides expatriates and foreign tourists, a rising number of domestic business travellers are staying at our serviced residences.”

“In India, the shortage of international-class accommodation presents opportunities for Ascott to tap unmet demand from both foreign and domestic tourists.”

“Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines also have significant potential for serviced residences due to increasing foreign direct investment and tourist arrivals.”

Frasers Hospitality, another game changer in the Asia-Pacific serviced residences sector, currently operates 35 properties in Asia-Pacific. This year, the firm intends to open properties in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, Beijing, Gurgaon (New Delhi), Melbourne and Perth.

Plans are also underway to determine the feasibility of opening further properties in Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as in emerging destinations including Cambodia and Myanmar.

“Frasers is taking calculated and strategic steps to ensure that we expand our footprint across Asia and the Pacific in a sustainable manner as we capitalise on current trends, such as the growth in demand for serviced suites, while developing a better understanding of our current and potential customers, and developing new ways to engage them,” said Jastina Balen, director of group branding and communications, Frasers Hospitality.

Oakwood Asia-Pacific, a smaller branded player in the region, has several projects in the pipeline, chiefly in China and India. By the end of the first quarter, the chain is scheduled to open Oakwood Premier Guangzhou, its sixth property in China and also its first luxury brand in the country.

In China, with the opening of Oakwood Premier Guangzhou, Oakwood will offer almost 1,500 serviced apartments in six key cities, namely Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“China’s economic development has led to an increase in business activities and corporate expansion of many multinational and large-scale domestic companies, generating an increasing demand for serviced apartments especially to accommodate senior executives,” said Caroline Leong, marketing director, Oakwood Asia-Pacific.

In addition, the company hopes to manage nine more properties in India by 2014 in major urban centres including New Delhi and Hyderabad. Currently, the company manages 25 properties in China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan.

One of the main priorities for serviced residence operators expanding in the region is ensuring that service standards remain consistent. A way to achieve this is to step up employee training, something operators said they were focusing on.

“Operations-wise, we endeavour to live up to our promise of offering the Oakwood Gold Standard of service by placing a priority on training our people – motivating and empowering them to fulfil our residents’ and clients’ needs,” said Leong.

Rising affluence and a broader range of travel experiences mean Asians are now more discerning than ever. Serviced operators have acknowledged this attitudinal shift, and are adapting to meet the evolving needs and desires of Asian travellers.

Ascott, for example, will be rolling out a series of consumer-centric initiatives designed to make guests feel more at home. “We want to redesign the experience guests have while staying in Ascott properties through the insights gained from our improved reservation and property management systems,” said Soh.

Frasers is adopting a similar strategy. Balen said: “Based on data gleaned from our customer relationship management system, Frasers is hoping to roll out customer-centric programmes and products that will better meet the needs and desires of our existing and potential clients in the near future.”

A good article from Ed Perkins
Tribune Media Services

With Christmas and New Year’s Days falling on Tuesdays, many of you will also be taking the two Mondays off from work, meaning two successive four-day weekends and an 11-day period with only three working days. A vacation clearly beckons. But travel suppliers can also look at the calendar, and many hike their rates for what they expect to be top-demand times.

Every year, Priceline posts a report on the “best” and “good” days to fly during the holiday season, based on its own airfare database. This year, the only “best” day to fall within the holiday period is Jan. 1; going into the holidays, the closest “best: are Dec. 16 and 18, too early for many of you. “Good” days give you a somewhat better choice, including Dec. 17, 19, 20, 24, 25, 27, 31 and Jan. 2. Not surprisingly, weekend days before, during, and immediately after the holidays are neither “best” nor even “good.”

Priceline’s conclusions are generally supported by Hotwire’s TripStarter data showing fares actually paid, but the charts do not provide the daily detail that Priceline does. Still, fares to many popular winter destinations increase dramatically. Last year, fares to a handful of warm-weather destinations went up strongly during the last half of December, with some more than doubling. And, over the years, these year-to-year patterns track very closely. Hotwire’s data show that hotel rates follow the same patterns.

Rental car companies can really gouge visitors at some popular destinations. Last year, CheapCarRental reported that agencies hiked rates for the cheapest available car during the Dec. 23-28 period, compared with January rates, by outrageous increases of 268 percent in Miami, 216 percent in Orlando, and 194 percent in Honolulu, with increases of 70 percent to 135 percent in Boston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego.

The big question, of course, is how to avoid price gouges and full occupancies. Beyond the frivolous answer of “stay home,” you can sometimes avoid the worst gouges. Here are some suggestions:

— If you can, try to find an airfare to fly on one of Priceline’s “good” days. Bending the vacation schedule a day or two can have a big payoff on airfare.

— Avoid the most popular warm-weather destinations. The year-end holiday period is the busiest time of the year in many destinations — among them Hawaii — and is a very busy season at many others. Airlines and hotels command top dollar. But business travel generally comes to a complete halt during the holidays, so many big-city hotels that normally cater to business travelers are hungry to fill rooms. Some just cut rates; some offer packages that include shopping deals with entertainment: A quick Google search came up with Nutcracker-hotel packages in more than a dozen cities this year, and that’s just a start.

— For hotel accommodations, take a look at vacation rentals as well as ordinary hotels (www.roomorama.com). Although most price seasonally, you may find a bit less gouging.

Include air-hotel, air-car, or air-hotel-car packages in your searches. Most big airlines and the big online travel agencies put together packages that can often come to a lower total than arranging the individual parts on your own. On a quick test, for example, I found that an air-rental car package on Allegiant from Eugene, Ore., to Honolulu for the holiday week added $372 more than airfare for a one-week car rental, compared with the best car-only deal available on Expedia for more than $600. In times past, I’ve been able to find air-hotel packages to Hawaii or the Caribbean during the top holiday season when the hotels all showed out of available rooms.

Also, consider Europe or Asia. Although airfares to such blockbuster destinations as London, Paris, and Rome show a minor spike for mid-December, they’re well under summer levels, and hotel rates are generally low.

Clearly, you can’t totally avoid gouges and still travel to an attractive destination. But you can at least minimize those gouges — and still have a great vacation.