Special Report – “decimated, smashed and challenged” by the COVID crisis, short term rentals bounce back, Byron Bay leads the way

Byron Bay short term bookings had an “enormous spike” following the easing of travel restrictions in NSW. Wonder why?

It was like a car smash in which the driver and passengers were battered and bruised but managed to escape the wreck, hobbling  away with a new resolve to make the most of every day – because you never know what will happen next. I’m referring to COVID, of course, which hit the Australian travel industry head-on in March, steamrolling bookings, sparking record cancellations and leaving many businesses hanging by a thread.

But as revealed in this special report – based on interviews with seven of Australia’s leading property managers – the short term rental industry is emerging from the wreckage in some ways stronger than before – and there’s a sense of optimism as bookings increase, especially to leisure destinations. More 

The Jumbo Jet – Get on Board, Last 747 Flight for Qantas Looms

People get emotional about aircraft and the looming retirement from the Qantas fleet of the workhorse Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet has got a few people a bit teary, so  Qantas is running three one-hour  flights of nostalgia for aviation buffs and customers. The 747 has been serving Qantas since 1971 and is a true icon of Australian skies. Tickets go on sale July 8, cost $400 in economy and $747 for business class. The final 747-400 in the fleet will depart Sydney for its last flight on 22 July as QF7474. Destination unclear. 

Book direct campaigns having impact in SA says former Expedia boss

Government and tourism industry campaigns encouraging consumers to book direct with accommodation providers rather than Online Travel Agents appear to be working, according to the former Managing Director of Expedia Australia, George Ruebensal.

Ruebensal now operates  Karawatha Cottages in McLaren Vale, a food and wine region 45 minutes from Adelaide and says online direct reservations now account for 90%  of his bookings post-COVID compared with 50%-60% previously. More 

Webjet flags potential acquisitions as it seeks to raise EUR100m

#Webjet had a monthly cash burn rate of $15 million for the June quarter and “nominal” revenue in April/May yet says it sees opportunity in adversity and is open to buying other companies despite the global travel slowdown almost certain to extend well into 2021. Optimistic.

MD John Guscic said the business is raising a further EUR100m – some of which may be used for acquisitions – while revealing its online travel business generated “nominal” revenue in April and June. More 

Registration on the way for NSW short term rental industry

ASTRA Chairman Rob Jeffress

The NSW government will introduce formal registration of short term rental properties in the first half of next year, the The Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Industry Association (ASTRA) believes.

Chairman Rob Jeffress today said legislation governing short term rentals and a code of contact in Australia’s most populated state was originally due to be introduced on October 1.

“We spent about a year and a half working with the NSW Government More 

Bain Capital agrees to buy Virgin Australia, hard work begins

Bain Capital has entered into an agreement to buy Virgin Australia, Australia’s second-largest airline, which entered voluntary administration on April 21.  

Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Paul Scurrah said: “This is a great day for Virgin Australia and a huge milestone as we move forward with Bain Capital.

“It was always the goal to bring our airline out of administration More 

Qantas announces 6000 redundancies, capital raising of $1.9 billion, & grounding of 100 aircraft to “rightsize” business for new normal

Qantas today announced a total operational and staffing overhaul –  “rightsizing” all aspects of its operation to reflect anticipated long-term reduced demand.

It’s part of a three year strategy to “guide recovery and return to growth in a changed market”.  All details contained in following media release: More 

Border Wars: Andrews’ SA Tourism Sledge Backfires after Vic COVID Surge

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who last week lampooned South Australia as a tourist destination, looks like a fool this morning as COVID cases in Melbourne spike causing other states to issue a travel warnings to the city.

Andrews had taken offense at South Australia’s decision not to admit Victorians (in addition to travellers from NSW and the ACT) without a 14-day quarantine as an insult. More 

Qantas cuts international flights, situation a “mess” – Flight Centre

Graham Turner, Flight Centre

Qantas has cut all international flights except to New Zealand until at least October, prompting Flight Centre MD Graham Turner to say the situation is a “mess” and will “only get worse” for tourism.

Australia’s largest airline confirmed the move after Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said it’s likely the Australian border will remain sealed for the rest of 2020. More 

Short Term Shift Continues as Sydney Vacancies Hit 18 Year High

The Airbnb gravy train is off the rails due to impact of COVID-19. Investors continued to shift their short term rental properties to the long term market in NSW, Australia’s largest state, through May with vacancies in inner Sydney hitting an 18-year high, “a trend that’s likely to continue.”

The Real Estate Institute of NSW revealed that long term rental vacancies in Sydney increased for the third consecutive month and now sit at 4.1%, up 0.3% from April and 1.1% from March as COVID-19 disruption continued to impact the residential rental market . More 

Kohler Rips Into Federal Govt for Wanton Mistreatment of Tourism

Respected economic commentator Alan Kohler has slammed the Federal Government for its short-sighted fiscal abuse of tourism businesses on two fronts – first by shutting the industry down and then not providing any targetted support.

“The Federal Government began shutting down Australia’s tourism industry on February 1, when it banned the entry of people from China, but that was not accompanied by any financial help for the businesses or workers affected,” Kohler wrote in the Weekend Australian. More 

COVID-19 Makes Australian Skiing Even More Expensive in 2020

Thredbo ambassador Torah Bright – smoking!

Thredbo has become the first Australian ski resort to reveal its pricing for season 2020, increasing the cost of a daily lift ticket by 20 per cent to $159 a day.

Sounds outrageous at a time of hardship and unemployment for many, however the steep price hike is no doubt down to the fact that Thredbo, like all Australian ski resorts, will have to limit the number of guests it allows onto the mountain this year, although there’s no clarity on what that number will be. More 

Closed Borders Could Equal Domestic Bliss says Analyst

Dransfield Hotels and Resorts believes increased Australian domestic travel due to closed borders could more than compensate for the dearth of international tourists caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“Estimated domestic replacement in hotels could be considerably higher than the loss of international nights in both the cities in both the cities and regions – by some margin,” the company said. More 

Australian Hotels Hit Record Performance Low in April

STR reports that April 2020  was the worst month ever in terms of performance for Australian hotels. “The absolute occupancy, ADR and RevPAR levels were the lowest for any month in STR’s Australia database,” the company said.

  • Occupancy: -72.7% to 19.9%
  • ADR: -33.1% to AUD119.87
  • RevPAR: -81.7% to AUD23.85

“Melbourne and Sydney saw year-over-year occupancy declines of 65.0% and 73.7%, respectively.” Occupancy is being supported by returning travelers forced to quarantine for 14 days.

Opinion: AFTA Needs to Reset after Westbury Loses it, Leaves in Disgrace

The spectacular and sudden immolation of CEO Jayson Westbury’s career speaks to bigger issues at the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, which looks badly out of touch with the modern world.

Westbury resigned yesterday after saying TV host Tracy Grimshaw “needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” for negative coverage of the intransigent stance many agents are taking on the enforcement of cancellation fees. More 

Travel Plays By Its Own Rules with Damaging Results

How can you offer refunds when you’ve already spent the money or need every available dollar just to survive? That appears to be the dilemma facing some of Australia’s leading travel companies with the industry coming under sustained attack for its “read the fine print” approach to clients during the worst pandemic in 100 years.

Two companies – Flight Centre and Intrepid Travel – have hugged  recent headlines and encapsulate the brand risk in putting business cash flow first and customer needs second, especially when recent history shows that this strategy is doomed to failure in the court of public opinion. There is no way you can hold back the tide. More 

- Sydney, November, 2020 - 

Work is under way on Short Term Thinking, the first Australian event focused on short stay accommodation.

It will be an action-packed day where all sectors of the industry can meet, learn and network, setting up their year ahead with new relationships, contacts and prospects.

Space has been blocked for mid-November in Sydney. 

While a  lot can change between then and now, we're confident we'll be able to run a flesh and blood event with live streaming for those who can't make it.

Because final capacity is understandably uncertain at this point, please register your interest to be put on a non-obligatory wait list and also receive the latest updates. 

At the moment we're looking for foundation partners - please call event producer Martin Kelly on 0414 774 978 to find out more.


Travel IQ is a content, marketing, research and strategy consultancy for travel businesses.

It helps travel companies improve positioning, communications, stakeholder engagement and public relations through content-led strategic initiatives.

Typically, Travel IQ develops a multi-tier approach including stories/blog posts, newsletters, media releases, white papers, reports and events - all designed to better connect business with their customers.

Often, clients have neglected their marketing communications, so Travel IQ works with them to create credible positioning and messaging to ensure a solid, relevant platform before embarking on outreach.

Travel IQ is run by Martin Kelly, who has a strong background in travel, journalism, communications and marketing.

He is also a respected travel industry analyst, contributing to Phocuswright's regional research reports while representing them as a speaker at events in Australia and overseas.

For further information please email martin@traveltrends.biz

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