Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How new platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz might support New England development part 1

Inverell. 1904 heritage listed house available for short term stays via Airbnb
I tend to be something of a technology lagger. I have long used the web to source accommodation, but I hadn't used Airbnb or Stayz  to source accommodation until a European trip in 2015 inspired by the Rugby World Cup. Then I used Airbnb sourced accommodation because eldest was doing the bookings.

This trip was an economy daddy-daughter venture, the first joint holiday we had had since well before eldest moved to Copenhagen. For that reason, we shared a room in private homes that the owners had place on Airbnb  I was quite cautious about this, but it worked well. The interactions with the owners proved to be one of the fun parts of the trip.

Twelve months later, eldest and her partner put their own place in Copenhagen onto Airbnb. Now I was watching the process from the other side, getting a feel for what was involved in really making it work if you wanted to be an Airbnb host. It's not just a question of taking some photos, placing it on Airbnb and waiting for the bookings to roll in. A fair bit of work is required to both attract guests and then make them welcome.

Marsh House, Armidale. Built in 1863, this was the first house constructed in Armidale's historic Brown Street precinct.  
While I was now familiar with Airbnb and Stayz, I hadn't used these types of services in Northern NSW, the broader New England, until last year. Then visiting Armidale with a friend, we booked into Marsh House.

This decision proved to be a huge success. With approval from owners Hugh and Janey Fraser, were were even able to use the place to hold drinks for some of my local friends, something I had wanted to do as a way of catching up with multiple people on what was a short visit.

Glen Innes, the Bank Guesthouse c1874 available via Airbnb
Since coming back from Armidale I have spent enjoyable hours trawling through Airbnb and Stayz looking for places I might want to stay across New England from Newcastle to the border. I know that I am strange, but it has been fun

My first thought was the way it has widened accommodation choices in terms of price range, location and the nature of the dwellings themselves.

It used to be the case that you were limited to motel, hotel or a B&B. Now you can take a room in the family home or rent an entire historic house. You can accommodate one or sixteen. You can fish or use the vegetable garden while visiting local attractions. Your accommodation has become an experience in its own right. .
Walden Woods twelve minutes drive from Armidale CBD. You can access the well maintained home vegetable garden or go fishing for your supper. 
I recognise that these new accommodation platforms have created their own problems.

In popular tourist areas they have attracted properties to the holiday let market place creating rental pressures for those who live there. There are complaints from neighbours who object to the use of private homes or apartments for commercial purposes. Local moteliers can also experience difficulties.

I am more attracted by the opportunities.Too many of the new technologies have actually drained jobs and income from the North because they totally focus on economies of scope and scale, on cost reduction. The big get bigger, the rest are left out.

This has been a particular problem in inland New England. These new platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz provide a potentially potent weapon for fighting back, for the encouragement of economic development, for the small to develop their own niches.

In my next post in the series, I will look at how this might be done.

No comments: