The Demand Solutions Blog

Are Short-Term Rentals The Pet Rent of 2020?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Oct 15, 2019 4:10:33 PM

 
“What about the liability?”

“What about noise complaints from neighbors?”

“What about the extra costs involved?”

“It will totally change the character of our community, and we don’t want that!”

To anyone who’s been involved in talking about short-term rentals (STRs), the above looks very familiar, right? They’re the most common concerns about the risks (and hassles) involved with allowing residents to sublease their apartments on short-term rental platforms.

Except that’s not where I first heard these concerns. Back in the late 1990s, hardly any apartment communities allowed pets, particularly dogs and cats, in their apartments. When I asked why not, I usually heard the same four objections.

Yet a few intrepid pioneers, sensing the growing importance of pets as part of their prospective residents’ lives, took a risk and started allowing pets.

I remember visiting one of those in the early ‘00s, Archstone South Market, at the edge of the financial district in San Francisco. I was touring and noticed there seemed to be a lot of dogs. So I asked the community manager whether that was true or it was just me thinking it was.

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Topics: property management, Change Management, Short-Term Rentals

CoStar Shoots for the STRs - Big News for Multifamily?

Posted by Dom Beveridge on Oct 8, 2019 8:20:46 AM

I must admit, last week's acquisition of Smith Travel Research (STR) by the CoStar group took me by surprise. And it wasn't just me - few observers of either the hospitality or multifamily industries expected it. As the dust settles after a seismic move, let's take a moment to think about some of the possible implications of this acquisition.

First, this is a big acquisition. Although not quite at the same dizzying heights of the 2014 Apartments.com takeover, $450m for a data company (i.e., not a product like an ILS that drives prospects to its customers) is extraordinary. But STR is no ordinary data company. It is not an exaggeration to say that STR is the foundation upon which property analytics are built in the global lodging industry. For decades, STR has been the gold standard for property performance and property underwriting. Nobody plays in this critical niche at the same level in multifamily.

For CoStar, who now have the habit of entering new markets with a strategy of going very big, the strategy makes perfect sense. Overnight they have become the uncontested, dominant force in hotel analytics. The merger on this scale creates many exciting opportunities, including a couple of potentially important ones for multifamily.

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Topics: Pricing, multi-family housing, Short-Term Rentals

Forewarned is Forearmed: NAA Maximize 2019 in Review

Posted by Jessica Mills on Oct 2, 2019 8:38:30 AM

Lately, we've been writing about the possibility of a downturn, and the impact that it will have on multifamily revenue management. It came as no surprise, then, that the changing economic tides appeared to be a recurring theme at last week's Maximize asset management conference in Atlanta.

Although the conference's audience seemed neither preoccupied nor unduly worried by the prospect of a downturn, it formed a backdrop for the program. From the keynote session where economist Ryan Severino assured us that while a downturn is coming it is not happening tomorrow, to individual sessions in one of which I was fortunate enough to be a panelist, there was a decided focus on preparing for the inevitable downturn whenever it comes.

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Topics: NAA Conference, Technology, Short-Term Rentals, maximize

Why Price Optimization Doesn't Happen Without Tension

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 24, 2019 4:31:43 PM

Do your community and regional property managers have such a great relationship with their pricing and revenue managers that there is no sense of tension at all? They never escalate an issue because they always agree? If you answered “yes” to either or both questions, then you are likely leaving money on the table.

At first blush, that probably sounds provocative at best and just flat out wrong at worst. Admittedly, in most situations, leaders strive to remove tension in the relationships that exist between co-workers who collaborate to create business success. However, pricing and revenue management (PRM) is different.

Lately, we’ve been writing a lot about PRM capabilities as well as pricing strategy, but even if both are perfect, the nature of inter-departmental relations still has a heavy influence on performance.  In my thirty years of experience in PRM (20 of that in multi-family housing PRM), I have found that a lack of tension almost always indicates one of two situations. Both are bad for maximizing revenue:

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Topics: property management, pricing and revenue management

Ten Questions Asset Managers Should Ask About Pricing

Posted by Dom Beveridge on Sep 10, 2019 8:26:00 AM

Recently we have written extensively on the skills that are needed to run an effective pricing and revenue management (PRM) organization.  We normally take the perspective of an organization looking to bolster its PRM capabilities - something that we feel companies should focus on after a decade of growth in multifamily.  But there is one important stakeholder group whose perspective we have not addressed as directly as the others: asset management.  

Through our industry connections and our growing roster of institutional ownership clients, we have come to pay more attention to the asset management perspective over the last year or so.  With regard to revenue management, asset managers have the often unenviable task of overseeing the revenue management decision-making of third parties, usually either management companies or software vendors.

In either case, an asset manager has to understand enough about market conditions and strategy to be able to evaluate a property’s pricing tactics.  They must resist getting into the weeds, of which there are many in the case of PRM, but still provide oversight. With this problem in mind, we recommend asking ten questions that will help you understand where your PRM opportunities might be.

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Topics: Pricing, Revenue Management, multi-family housing, pricing and revenue management

What Santa Claus Can Teach Us About Pricing Math

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 4, 2019 10:02:57 AM

I’m looking forward to the upcoming Maximize revenue and asset management conference September 23-24 in Atlanta. Kicking off the conference late morning on the 23rd, I’ll be presenting another session in a series of deep dives into the math behind pricing and revenue management (PRM).

This presentation series started a few years ago. I had observed that while conferences were including multifamily housing PRM content, they studiously avoided any math or equations in the presentations. I thought that this was severely limiting - restricting sessions to only “beginner” level material. Math lies at the heart of all PRM systems and software, so its omission from conferences felt like a significant oversight. 

I started by running a session at Maximize a few years ago that was designed for advanced PRM practitioners, sharing the stage with my colleagues and good friends Annie Laurie McCulloh and Rick Hughes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the people who attended the session were not those directly responsible for pricing. And I was even more delighted to find that they found the session valuable. My favorite quote of feedback was, “I’m not sure I understood all of it, but I’m really glad there are people in the business thinking about this stuff!”

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Topics: pricing and revenue management

Bridging the Business Intelligence Divide

Posted by Dom Beveridge on Aug 26, 2019 11:24:49 AM

Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of companies about business intelligence, and the ways that organizations attempt to deliver this key capability.  While there is a broad understanding of the need to bridge the gap between the business and IT organizations, the evidence suggests that the gap remains unbridged at many companies.

A recent article on the subject from McKinsey: “Analytics Translator: The new must-have role” suggests that the rewards are getting bigger, rather than smaller for companies who succeed in providing business leadership for increasingly critical IT-enabled analytics projects.  The logic goes that as data sets get bigger and data mining resources more sophisticated, firms will require a level of leadership that will ensure the maximum impact from their analytics.  

The point of the article is persuasive; however, we have argued for a long time that this requirement already exists.  In fact, it’s probably the biggest single reason why multifamily companies fail to reap the benefits of their business intelligence projects.  As we explained in our own white paper: “Creating an Analytically-Driven leadership Culture,” if business people are blue and IT people are red, then the best business intelligence resources are purple.  As both articles strongly suggest, purple people are among an organization’s most prized associates.

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Topics: business intelligence, Multifamily Trends, Technology

It’s the (Revenue Management) Strategy, Stupid!

Posted by Dom Beveridge on Aug 14, 2019 11:03:51 AM

You reach an age when everything reminds you of something in the past, often for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious. A few weeks ago I was talking to a seasoned pricing and revenue management (PRM) practitioner, and I found myself reminded of an old political slogan.

Most readers of this blog are probably too young to remember the 1992 US general election. But after Bill Clinton won it, it came to light that the mantra “It’s the economy, stupid,” had been drilled into campaign staff. The slogan was intended to remind them never to stray from the core theme of the campaign, which was the plight of the American worker. An overarching strategy begat an overarching message that dominated an ultimately successful campaign.

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Topics: Revenue Management, pricing and revenue management, Future

The 5 Top Attributes for Successful Revenue Managers

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Aug 6, 2019 8:18:00 AM

Pricing and Revenue Management (PRM) has been in mass-adoption in multifamily for more than a decade.  During that time, an industry talent pool has developed around the core technologies that companies use to manage pricing.  The systems are sophisticated, enabling better decision-making and returns at companies that have been successful in incorporating them into their business processes.

Yet our experience tells us that some companies integrate PRM systems and processes into their businesses more effectively than others. While companies may use the same PRM software, many don't get the same returns as other companies that use it. Much depends on the human skills that companies deploy to ensure that the system is configured and operating in the way that it should be.

Given our depth of talent and experience in PRM, clients frequently ask us what they should look for in a good pricing and revenue manager.  Our industry often places a heavy emphasis on multifamily experience when recruiting new associates, often for reasons.  However, there are compelling reasons to apply different rules to PRM recruits (the discipline of PRM came from different industries, like hospitality and airlines, after all). While awareness of multifamily operations can undoubtedly be helpful, it honestly is not the most important qualification for a successful revenue manager.

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Topics: multi-family housing, pricing and revenue management, business intelligence, Multifamily Trends

7 Reasons Why There Ain’t Nothing Like a Downturn

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 30, 2019 12:07:11 PM

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the core skills of Pricing and Revenue Management (PRM) and how those skills have diminished in the industry talent pool during the last decade. As I explained - using Warren Buffett’s playful metaphor about tides and skinny-dipping - it’s relatively easy to deliver growth in a generally growing market. Skillful, difference-making PRM professionals are adept in delivering upside even in less favorable market conditions.

Nobody likes downturns, but having been in multifamily PRM for more than 20 years, I can attest to the stress-test that they impose on PRM capabilities and practitioners. If your pricing managers haven’t been pricing for at least 10 years, then they have never dealt with a softening market. That’s true whether they’re internal employees, associates of your third-party fee manager or serve on the staff on a pricing services team that is offered by your pricing software vendor.

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Topics: multi-family housing, Multifamily Trends, Future