For South African property owners, the coming year is undoubtedly going to be a tough one.
Faced with rising interest rates, the escalating cost of living and a stagnant economy, many property owners are scrambling to hold onto their assets.
Arguably, however, there is a golden opportunity for owners to benefit from the downturn by offering travelers more affordable, ‘informal’ accommodation. Indeed, by turning under-utilised or vacant houses, cottages or rooms into attractive, self-catering spaces for paying guests, property owners can quickly start earning a passive income and truly make their assets work for them.
“Anyone can register their accommodation with an online aggregator, and be hosting visitors within hours,” explains Tom Williams, Chief Operational Officer at e-commerce travel specialists SafariNow.com. “Although there is a perception that only registered or ‘formal’ accommodation providers can use aggregators, this is simply not true – anyone can register if they have the right credentials…”
According to Williams, property owners can avoid the high costs and administration headaches associated with working through local rental agents by simply choosing the right online channels. One huge benefit, for example, is that listing with a major online aggregator immediately boosts your online visibility. In addition, aggregators give owners access to an established, and captive, database of trusting customers.
So how does one go about getting their property listed online?
Firstly, Williams recommends selecting one or two online aggregators, and using visitor traffic as a key factor in the selection process. SafariNow.com, for example, attracted 2,697,611 page views for properties in the self-catering market in January 2016.
Then, he advises property owners to find a way of standing out in the crowd and differentiating their offering.
“For example, package your accommodation with some sort of activity, such as a whale watching weekend in Hermanus, or learning to surf in Muizenberg,” says Williams.
When it comes to the practicalities of the actual listing, he says photographs and clear, but detailed descriptions are very important in getting noticed.
“Put some effort into taking attracting photographs,” he explains. “You can have the most beautiful holiday home to let, but if the photographs are poor, you will have a low success rate.”
He also recommends giving yourself enough lead-time to ensure that your accommodation is booked for seasonal holidays.
“The average lead-time varies between 10 days for spontaneous trips, to 40 days for more established periods such as Easter and school holidays,” notes Williams.
Reducing the Risk
For many property owners looking to leverage the rise in informal accommodation platforms and budget traveling, payment processes and fraud are major concerns.
To get around this, Williams advises property owners to use a local aggregator and one that facilitates the entire payment process – with minimal associated costs.
“You need to ensure that the aggregator will support and look after you if things go wrong,” he adds.
In short, turning your property into a steady source of passive income – with minimal risk and hassle – is all about finding the right partner. With a trusted online aggregator, property owners can ride the wave of budget travel and truly leverage their assets in the impending downturn.