Industry Insights #10: Oliver Hannaford – HOST

Industry Insights Oliver Hannaford

With less than a month to go until HOST 2019, we thought now would be a good time to catch up with Event Director, Oliver Hannaford.

1 – What is Terrapinn all about and why did you decide to create an event for the holiday segment?

Terrapinn is all about spotting opportunities within industries that have been heavily and aggressively disrupted. We’ve had an eye on the short-term rental space for a while now, and this year was the right year to explore it.

This is a time where regulation can’t seem to keep up with innovation, and there is SO much information out there for people thinking about getting into the renting business.

As we know, the market will be worth $170B next year. It’s no secret that this is a result of internet and virality, Airbnb, and millennials being millennials.

This rate of growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon, so how do those property investors who are unsure of whether to play in the space really make the decision as to whether they will? How do they succinctly find out how to go about doing so? How do those who are already using these platforms understand that they are running a fully-fledged business, and connect with the industry they are unwittingly part of? How do those who have pre-dated the OTAs connect and network with the new generation of vacation rentals?

They need all the information in one place. That’s why we’re running this event.

2 – As far as we understand, the event wants to give an opportunity to industry players to learn how to grow their businesses. What do you think is the key aspect to having a successful holiday rental business?

Absolutely. At the end of the day, we’re here to help people grow their rental businesses and understand the essential elements of Strategy, Marketing, Tech, Regulation and Partnerships. It’s difficult to pinpoint one, hence a conference with so many speakers – each of their topics could be seen as a key aspect!

3 – Your event has an amazing call to action – it’s free! What made you decide against charging for tickets?

There are lots of events out there that can be very pricey. Some people just can’t justify the spend. We thought it would be unfortunate to exclude these people so decided to make this free. HOST is the biggest event of its kind in the world – why restrict the attendance?

4 – What would you say is the biggest advantage of participating in your event as a real estate investor? And as a company providing services related to real estate?

Real estate investors will be able to learn what a good buy-to-let investment looks like in this space. They can learn things like general strategy and fundamentals, how to be tax-efficient, through to hearing from companies who are dominating the master-lease space (like Sonder).

Real Estate investors should look at the Business Strategy & Growth theatre, and the Regulation, Finance and Tax theatre.

5 – In one of your industry statistics, it is clear that unique accommodation bookings are on the rise. What is the quirkiest accommodation you have ever heard of?

It’s a very interesting topic. Travellers want unique experiences now. There are some great hosts on the agenda. My top pick personally is Kent Lindvall who builds the most incredible treehouses in a forest in Sweden – each of them is inspired by something different, definitely check the mirrorcube and the birds nest

6 – In general, people now have more disposable income to spend on holidays, but do you think this is the only explanation for the incredible growth of the vacation rental market?

I think it’s quite simple. People used to stay in hotels when they went away but now they can have a home away from home, generally for much cheaper. The rise of online platforms and digitisation, in general, has resulted in those homes away from home to be much more mainstream.

7 – What should owners focus on when renovating or improving their houses? What are the most appreciated features of a holiday rental house?

Wow, this is a huge topic and one that we’re dedicating a whole theatre to next year. We have an interesting talk from Cornelia de Ruiter, Co-founder, Homewings on how interior decorating can boost bookings, but I actually think the most effective touch is leaving something nice in the fridge like a bottle of wine! People always mention the wine in a review…

8 – You must have learnt a lot about this industry over the last year. Have you picked up any interesting facts along the way?

Ha! The first ever recorded vacation rental was actually in France in 1624, when Louis the XIII built the Palais de Versailles as a hunting lodge [courtesy of Rentals United]. Unfortunately, we don’t have Louis the XIII as a speaker…

9 – As we know, travelling around Europe in an easy and free manner is one of the drivers of these numbers in terms of vacations, so how do you see Brexit impacting vacation rentals in the UK? Is it still expected to keep growing?

A really interesting point and one that Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality will no doubt be shedding some light on, she is speaking on the 31st October…Whilst there will be an obvious impact on the travel industry and inbound tourism, we know that Brits have historically gone abroad a lot. Brexit and the weakening of the pound has led to quite an incredible rise of the ‘staycation’!

10 – To conclude, what are the next steps for HOST? Are you thinking about expanding to other countries/continents?

If you’ve come across Terrapinn before, you’ll know we have a history of running events that focus on the future of lots of different industries, and we run them all over the world. We take a long-term view on events and they become brands.

Take for example our Aviation Festival (at the same venue as HOST), which has now been running annually since 2003 and now has an agenda laden with major airline CEOs.

HOST will be annual, and we are keeping tabs on the global markets to see where and when we’re going to have overseas editions…

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