Hospitality trends: The rising popularity of holiday homes
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Hospitality trends: The rising popularity of holiday homes

Hospitality trends: The rising popularity of holiday homes

Federico Cerimonia, the general manager of Sonder, a tech-enabled hospitality company, tells Gulf Business about the growing preference for holiday homes among travellers visiting Dubai

Federico Cerimonia, Sonder

The popularity of holiday homes has emerged as a key trend in the travel and hospitality sector, particularly in Dubai. Tell us about it.
With the travel industry rebounding and new traveller demands and expectations emerging, the serviced apartment (holiday home) sector has been doing well in the area of hospitality.

This category of accommodation falls into a market that will be worth $101bn in 2023, according to Euromonitor, making up 12 per cent of the total addressable global lodging market. Meanwhile, a recent report by JLL notes that the alternative accommodations sector – including shorter-stay serviced apartments and branded housing – has undergone a transformational shift in the past decade. The report concludes that it is now such a key part of the industry, the term ‘alternative’ should be replaced.

Dubai, in particular, has experienced a recent citywide surge in visitors and occupancy rates. Expo Dubai 2020 attracted over 24 million visitors, while the emirate welcomed 5.1 million visitors in the first four months of 2022, a 203 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2021. There are estimated to be 10,000 active vacation rental listings in the city, with great scope for further growth in this future-looking sector. Indeed, Dubai has quickly adapted to the trends and playing host to more tech-enabled, flexible, and smartly designed accommodations which modern travellers increasingly demand.

Tell us about Sonder and its holiday-home operations.
As a next-generation hospitality company, we are redefining the guest experience through technology and design. Our properties offer residential apartment-style units, with more space and flexibility than typical hotel rooms, and come with services such as housekeeping and 24/7 concierge. Guests can book stays from as little as one night through to several months directly in the Sonder app, with no hassle. High guest satisfaction and robust occupancy rates underscore the relevance of this fast-growing category among today’s modern travellers.

Sonder’s portfolio of Dubai properties, which includes Sonder Downtown Towers, Sonder JBR The Walk and the latest addition, Sonder Business Bay, which opened this month, welcome both business and leisure travellers.

What opportunities does the company offer owners and developers in Dubai?
In an increasingly complex and ever-changing world, property owners and developers, as well as hospitality operators, should ask themselves how they are future-proofing. By partnering with extended-stay operators such as Sonder, owners and developers can diversify their asset base with more flexible options for shorter lease-ups, cash flow advantage, handing over daily management responsibilities and significantly reducing operating costs.

Guests have ever-evolving needs, and the next generation of Millennial and Gen-Z travellers will be an increasingly important cohort in the post-pandemic years ahead.

We allow landlords to de-risk their trading business throughout the lifecycle of their assets. We partner on full residential buildings, thereby reducing lease-up times and costs while also eliminating vacancy risk. This also limits the day-to-day management and operating cost for partners across their portfolios.

Dubai is one of our biggest markets, but the opportunity for tech-enabled, flexible accommodation in the city is still large. By continuing to offer lodging options that are relentlessly forward-looking, offering visitors choice, freedom and flexibility, the city will remain one of the world’s premier destinations to visit.

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