Nassim Khadem Reporter

Nassim covers the accounting and tax rounds for BRW, as well as general business news. She previously worked for The Age newspaper covering general news, state politics and economics.

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Online holiday rentals rise

Published 12 December 2012 15:23, Updated 13 December 2012 05:03

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Online holiday rentals rise

Holiday listing: Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast

Many people are waiting until the last minute to book their holidays and online holiday rental site Stayz is expecting a surge in demand in January.

“January is by far our biggest month but it’s not our only spike of the year, with Easter and school holiday periods also seeing much activity,” Stayz Group general manager Anton Stanish says. (Stayz is owned by Fairfax Media, the publisher of BRW.)

He says based on inquiries and bookings so far, Stayz expects a 20 per cent jump in growth for January. He estimates there will be 800,000 inquiries for January 2013 compared with 640,000 for January last year.

The only thing that can change that prediction is the weather. “The best driver for booking is the weather,” he says. “Last year with all the rain leading up to Christmas, people were holding off making bookings.”

That’s why January also attracts the highest level of inquiries. “People are in the mood for a holiday when it’s holiday time,” Stanish says. “Often they come back from holiday and book their next one.”

He says while most people book in advance for summer holidays, with about half of summer bookings being made at least three months in advance, “a surprisingly large number of guests still leave planning to the last minute”. He says 20 per cent of inquiries for January holidays are made in January itself.

Stayz is the biggest online holiday rental site and its revenue rose 22 per cent over the past financial year but it declines to divulge the exact figure. It expects future growth to come from overseas visitors and in October partnered international travel site TripAdvisor. Last week it linked up with another global partner and one of the leading travel sites in Asia, Wego.

“Australians are becoming more and more comfortable transacting online,” Stanish says.

The number of Stayz newsletter subscribers has jumped 30 per cent in the past financial year to 630,000. The site now has 31,000 Facebook fans, more than 3 million inquiries (up 15 per cent in the past financial year) and more than 36,000 listings (up 18 per cent).

Mobile usage of Stayz is also up. Since releasing iPhone and iPad apps mid-year, more than 25 per cent of access to Stayz.com.au is now via a mobile device, he says.

Stayz has other sites including Rentahome, which has about 17,000, listings targeted more at the corporate market, for executive relocations and international inbound family stays. It also runs TakeABreak with 8000 listings in regional areas.

Stanish says some properties are listed under more than one brand, so it is not accurate to add the listings together to get a total number for the Stayz Group. He says its nearest competitor is HomeAway, with about 18,000 listings, and Wotif with less than 1000 holiday rental listings.

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