Positive Results for Holiday Rentals

The Quarterly Stayz Group Accommodation Index reveals a positive industry outlook in the year ahead despite current consumer sentiment.

The national accommodation index conducted by Nielsen highlights that holiday property owners and managers reported an average occupancy rate of 30% between April and June this year.

The study of 900 holiday rental property owners across the country further revealed that respondents were hopeful for improvement over the next 12-months, with 38% believing economic and trading conditions would be slightly better or much better.

“The Australian tourism market has been impacted by a number of factors recently, including destructive weather, a high Australian dollar and poor global economic conditions. These circumstances combined with the colder winter months affected occupancy levels but property manager sentiment is positive,” said Kirsty Shaw, Stayz group general manager.

Conducted with market research company, Nielsen, the SGAI is a quarterly survey of holiday rental property owners and managers by the Stayz Group, the number one holiday rental website in Australia, bringing holiday-makers and property managers together. It looks at occupancy levels, insights and trends across the industry and confidence in the market. Respondents are comprised from the booming tourism market sector that comprises smaller properties, of which holiday houses and units make up the majority share. This segment has been underrepresented by other sources of travel data, and is a valuable barometer for performance in the tourism industry. The Stayz Group hosts more than 40,000 properties on their online portals.

In state occupancy breakdowns, Western Australia and Queensland both saw the highest occupancy rates of 39% and 36%. South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland had rates of 30%, 31% and 36% respectively, while Victoria and New South Wales had the lowest each at 25%.

“It’s likely that Queensland saw the highest occupancy rates as holiday-makers travel north to escape the cold weather during the winter months,” said Ms Shaw. “As the weather warms, we will likely see an increase in occupancy levels in more southern states. The strong economic activity in Western Australia continues to drive strong demand for accommodation.”

The SGAI also investigates the confidence holiday rental property managers have for the next quarter and ahead into 2012, to gauge the short and mid-term potential of the market. Those surveyed predict a slightly better Jul-Sep 2011 quarter, improving further through to Apr-Jun 2012.

Occupancy rates: Apr-Jun 2011 quarter:

• Nationally, property managers and owners reported an average occupancy rate of 30%.

• Western Australia and Queensland both saw the highest occupancy rates of 39% and 36%. South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland had rates of 30%, 31% and 36% respectively, while Victoria and New South Wales had the lowest at 25% and 29%.

• The average national number of confirmed bookings for Apr-Jun 2011 was 11 per property.

• 74% of bookings are online – in comparison to just 7% by phone and referral.

• Self-contained apartments proved the most successful, with a national occupancy average rate of 40% – 13% higher than holiday houses, cabins and cottages. Meanwhile, bed and breakfasts had the lowest national average occupancy rate of 25%.

• The majority of owners and managers surveyed (33%) saw no change in confirmed bookings compared to Apr-June 2010. Meanwhile, 24% noted that they had up to a 35% increase in confirmed bookings in comparison to the same time last year.

• The national average accommodation gross booking revenue from April to June 2011 is $4,553 per property per quarter. Self-contained apartments have the highest across booking revenue at $8,192. Holiday houses, cabins and cottages have $3,048 and an average of $2,214 for bed and breakfasts.

Occupancy rates forecasted QOQ (Jul-Sep 2011) and YOY (Apr-June 2012):

• The average national occupancy rate is expected to increase to 35% in Jul-Sep 2011 and increase to 38% in Apr-Jun 2012.

• Self-contained apartments are expected to see the most growth, with an increase from 40% to 50% in Jul-Sep 2011 and drop slightly to 49% for Apr-Jun 2012.

• Holiday houses, cabins and cottages are expected to increase from 27% to 31% in Jul-Sep 2011 and expected to rise again to 34% in Apr-June 2012.

• Bed and breakfasts forecasted to rise 3 percentage points from 25% in Apr-June 2011 to 28% in Jul-Sep 2011. Further, owners and managers are expecting to see occupancy rates rise to 35% in Apr-Jun 2012.

Economic Outlook

• The forecast improves significantly over the next 12 months, with the number of respondents expecting the economy to be slightly better rising to 29% and the number expecting conditions to be much better rising to 9%.

• The most significant factor that was cited to affect the economic and trading outlook was the economy. Of those citing economic conditions being a primary factor for conditions over the next 12 months, 65% said the Australian economy would be to blame. Meanwhile, 48% cited the attractiveness of more economical overseas holidays and 43% believed the high Australian dollar would be major contributors.

• Of those who forecast a poor outlook, 77% cited a weak financial expectation, stating that economic activity and currency factors would affect their outlook. 57% believed the increased cost of maintaining and running the properties would impact conditions, while 33% mentioned the increased number of holiday lettings in local areas.

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