The resumption of rural rentals in Spain is a sign of hope for Airbnb

MADRID (Reuters) – During a surreal summer in Spain, Perla Requejo saw such demand for the Atlantic coast apartment that she was unable to rent on Airbnb during the lockdown that she listed for it another and increased his daily rate.

Airbnb host Perla Requejo is at the property she rents to vacationers on Airbnb in Sanxenxo, Spain on December 7, 2020. Perla Requejo / Handout via REUTERS

As bookings and rental rates have plummeted in Barcelona and Madrid, two of Airbnb’s biggest markets in the world, rural or coastal areas and some small towns are showing new life after Spain imposed some strictest restrictions on coronaviruses.

With people keen to avoid crowded city centers, data suggests that customers will now pay more to stay in such places.

“In the midst of a pandemic … I began to receive requests for information about the first house. Everyone was just waiting to see if they could travel in the summer, ”Requejo said.

The resilience of rentals far from major cities has helped Airbnb, which achieved 40% of its revenue in Europe last year, weather the crisis better than expected.

As the company gears up for one of Silicon Valley’s most anticipated stock quotes on Thursday, a central question for potential investors is whether this will support future growth.

About two-thirds of people who have rented apartments or houses to tourists in Spain have moved them to the residential market, according to a study by the real estate portal Fotocasa.

But in the cool, hilly Galicia region of Requejo in northern Spain, there are now 20% more vacation rentals recorded than in January, according to a local tourist rental association, and the bet shows signs of success.

The average price of a night in the local towns of Ferrol and Ourense rose 28% and 9% respectively in the third quarter, according to AirDNA, which analyzes data on vacation rentals.

Bypassing the coast towards France, San Sebastian, a surfer’s paradise, saw its daily rates soar by 76%, while in Barcelona, ​​on the eastern Costa Brava, prices have fallen on average by 18%.

Airbnb says 32% of Spaniards polled at the end of September took advantage of not being tied to extended offices and travel to work extra days remotely.

Requejo says some of his guests worked remotely during their stays, and fellow Galician Margarita Orduna was overwhelmed with requests for her property in Ferrol, some from people who wanted it for the whole month of August.

“There was more demand than in previous years,” Orduna said.

Requejo, who did not calculate the drop in his total income this year, said: “We cannot recover the bookings we had in April, May and June.”

But with the pick-up in summer, “even though everything was very difficult, we managed to save the season”.

For a graph on vacation rentals in Spain Vacation rentals in Spain:


Some in Europe have made Airbnb their livelihood and expect a recovery in tourism.

Extensive restrictions in March surprised Airbnb host Roberto Cubas as he saved up to buy a third apartment to add to his luxuriously furnished portfolio in Valencia, eastern Spain.

“It was terrifying. I had to do yoga twice a day and meditate a lot so as not to go crazy, ”said Cubas, who nevertheless intends to overcome the ongoing crisis.

Bookings fell 60% at seaside Valencia in the third quarter, but unlike Madrid and Barcelona, ​​rates rose slightly in the third quarter and are flat compared to a year ago.

“People are desperate to travel because they are stuck at home, so they will get on the plane as soon as governments allow it,” Cubas said.

Vacation rental website HomeToGo found that 63% of Spaniards plan to book vacation accommodation next year.

Although most landlords who have moved into the residential market have done so indefinitely, around 15% have taken on a fixed-term tenant and plan to resume welcoming vacationers when the situation improves, Fotocasa said.

Cubas believes Airbnb hosts who have stood their ground will be rewarded.

“When everything starts to move again, fewer of us will share the pie,” he said.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Alexander Smith

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