Colleagues at Global Tourism Solutions (UK) have conducted a major pilot study designed to better understand the sharing economies impact on the accommodation sector in Wales and in turn that sector’s impact on local tourism estimates. The preliminary review, an outline of which is given below, will be of great interests to most destination managers, regardless of where in the UK they operate:
Peer-to-peer accommodation in Wales
Over the past few years it has become apparent that the peer-to-peer accommodation market, as represented by Airbnb, HomeAway and the like, is becoming increasingly significant as a source of accommodation bookings. This represents a challenge, as the traditional methods of collecting data about staying visitors – such as occupancy and bed stock surveys – are not collecting information on this market, resulting in a probably increasing gap in our estimates for the volume and value of tourism.
To tackle this problem, GTS (UK) Ltd, in partnership with twelve unitary authorities in Wales, have set up a pilot study to devise a robust methodology for evaluating the peer-to-peer market and produce volume and value estimates for the impact of this market in Wales.
Data purchased from AirDNA provided monthly figures for a range of variables including room and place listings, bookings, occupancy, and average daily rates. Historic data was available from 2016-2018, and the study will run until the end of 2019. A preliminary report has been prepared based on the January 2017-December 2018 data for the study area.
For that period the total number of entire properties listed on peer-to-peer sites grew from 2,921 to 12,377 (322%) while the number of private rooms grew from 1,617 to 3,014 (101%). The proportion of private room listings fell from 36% to 20%. For entire place and private room listings combined the highest growth rates were seen in Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and Conwy.
Of the available listings, an average of 78% in each month received at least one booking. The average occupancy rates for entire place bookings were 49% in 2017 and 56% in 2018. Across the whole study area there was a total of 73,983 booked listing nights for entire places in 2017 and 159,787 in 2018 – an increase of 116%. The highest growth was seen in Anglesey and Conwy, with the lowest in Cardiff, due to the capital’s early adoption of Airbnb and a relative levelling out of growth there.
Further research is ongoing to identify how much of the growth in the peer-to -peer market reflects an increase in accommodation capacity rather than merely a shift in booking methods. Once this additionality element has been identified we will start to evaluate the economic impact of the sector.
The study has so far backed up the anecdotal evidence that the peer-to-peer sector is of increasing significance in the tourism market. What has been particularly interesting is that the early positioning of Airbnb and similar as a tool for booking mainly individual rooms and mainly in cities is now very far from the real picture. In Wales at least there has been a rapid increase in importance of whole property rentals, and swift growth in the last year or so in rural, seaside and small town locations.
The full report is available from Cathy James, Director (Wales) of GTS (UK) Ltd firstname.lastname@example.org, who will also be happy to answer any questions about the project.