The UK’s largest flexible property management company, Houst, is expanding its Airbnb management service area into Kent to support the expected staycation surge this summer..
With question marks hovering over international travel, destinations around the UK are reporting record numbers of tourist bookings as Covid-19 restrictions ease. Houst has identified Kent as an area expecting one of the largest growths in tourism as staycationers rush to book British beach holidays this year.
Canterbury-based entrepreneur James Catto, who will take charge of the business’ operations in the county, explains that: “Travel has shifted from densely populated cities to quieter, more rural locations. In many of these locations, and in Kent specifically, there’s a shortage of hotels and traditional accommodation which is affecting how quickly the local economy can rebound from Covid-19. With hotels set to remain closed until at least 17th May short-term lets are the only way to help fill that gap and support local tourism”.
Houst manages guest bookings, whether for days, weeks or even months, on behalf of local property owners. Renting on platforms like Airbnb is known as short-letting, and can often result in a higher income than traditional letting. Houst is also designed for homeowners who may only be absent for a few months per year.
According to the latest available Kent County Council data there are over 17,000 empty properties and nearly 9,000 second home properties across Kent. The data confirms that the vast majority of second homes are located in the coastal districts of the county.
Tom Jones, Co-founder of Houst, is urging owners to put these properties to better use: “Making these properties available to rent on a short-to-medium term basis will allow tourists to discover new parts of Kent, showcasing the best of the county and bringing fresh spending power to local high-streets and businesses this summer”.
Airbnb has become increasingly popular in the last few years. But it has also courted controversy in some cities, with suggestions that a constant turnover of tourists weakens a sense of community.
Jones believes such concerns are valid, but not applicable to Houst: “We don’t want to replace residents with tourists. We’re interested in bringing guests – spenders – to Kent’s towns and villages where otherwise properties would be sitting empty. And holiday bookings are just one arm of our business; we also look for bookings of a few months or more, as well as longer-term tenancies, depending on the homeowner’s needs”.
Houst is expected to launch in Kent soon, and is looking for local entrepreneurs in other counties across the UK to help meet the staycation demand. More information can be found via the website at http://pages.houst.com/partner/jamesc