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Future of Proptech 2019

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R A C O N T E U R . N E T 15 Commercial feature the potential for short-term rentals with companies like UnderTheDoormat pro- viding the assurance and brand quality they need. "They can earn effortless income, knowing a responsible, accredited company is looking after their most important asset when it would other- wise be empty." Scaling quality for property managers UnderTheDoormat is a leading pro- vider in this sector in London, and now beyond, as it offers its technology and routes to market to smaller high-end property management companies across the UK. "Within the next couple of years, we'll operate more than 1,000 homes in London and at the same time we're going to grow geographically by offering part- ner companies across the UK and Europe the ability to distribute via our technol- ogy," says Ms Karr. "We already have our first partner companies in London, the Cotswolds and Luxembourg, which is only the beginning. For those who have found the whole proptech proposition scary or too time consuming in the past, there is now an insured, luxury, managed proposition out there for them to enter the space." For more information, please visit www.underthedoormat.com ust ten years after it was founded in 2008, Airbnb's annual revenues broke the $2-billion mark. The explosive growth of the home-sharing market has made short-term rentals seem commonplace, yet the sector is still in its infancy. PwC predicts that by 2025 the home accom- modation industry will be worth $330 billion in Europe alone, five times its cur- rent size. However, this growth will only be achieved if the industry can overcome "Airbnb anxiety", the questions guests ask themselves when booking: "Will the home be clean? Will it be safe? Will it even be there?" Merilee Karr, chief executive and founder of UnderTheDoormat, a London-based luxury short-term rental company, sees this as the next big chal- lenge for the industry to crack. "The holiday homes industry has been around for many years, but the emer- gence of short-term rentals in cities is a new phenomenon. Many hosts are still learning how to do things properly. It's very rare to have a serious negative issue, but the publicity they receive can undermine a market with a lot of poten- tial growth," she says. Ms Karr, who chairs UKSTAA (UK Short- Term Accommodation Association) and has led the creation of the world's first accreditation scheme for the industry, is a believer in practising what UKSTAA is preaching. UnderTheDoormat was created five years ago with the vision of providing the quality of a hotel in the comfort of homes. This meant verifying everything from the quality standards of each home, to cleanliness, health and safety, and accurate online listings. "It's striving for consistency all round. It's not just customers wanting a qual- ity stay, but it's homeowners wanting to know customers have been suitably vetted too," says Ms Karr. "Where we are succeeding is by being the intersection of property service and tech; having a SaaS [software-as- a-service] platform, but with a service layer around it that ensures quality in a sector that hasn't always reached those expectations." Alternative to peer-to-peer The idea for UnderTheDoormat came from Ms Karr's personal experience, having organised many holidays and trips, but often finding it difficult to find suitable luxury accommodation, a quality home from home. Moving beyond Airbnb to hotel-quality home rentals Airbnb opened up a whole new market for letting out an empty home. Now UnderTheDoormat is raising the bar by professionalising fast-growing property technology for short-term rentals "The people with the nicest homes need assurance and they are often second-home owners or retirees, fre- quent business travellers or families with international roots, but they will only consider renting them out if there is a way to do it properly. They want the assurance and capability of a profes- sional company to fully manage their home for them," she says. Five years on and now one of the first companies in London to work with Homes & Villas by Marriott International, UnderTheDoormat is enjoying a snowball effect of uptake on both the homeowner and guest sides, which not only vali- dates Ms Karr's analysis of the sector, but reflects the continuing growth in short- term rentals in the UK. "Despite the visibility the sector has already achieved, the big wave of growth is yet to come," she says. "High-end homeowners and corporate property companies are just starting to realise annual growth in home accommodation market by 2025 in Europe alone 30 % $330 bn J A beautiful three- bedroom family home in London available on underthedoormat.com s proptech creating job losses or opportunities? I recently participated in a panel organised by Reading Business School and was asked this very ques- tion. It's something that comes up time and time again from profes- sionals working in the property industry who fear the adoption of proptech could displace their jobs. Technology enables us all to do certain jobs much more efficiently and more easily, and empowers us with the information we need to make better decisions. In a world where we are busier and more stressed than ever, we use apps and our phones to manage our finances, to-do lists, search for products and services, and more. So we now expect the same at work. Proptech companies exist to address a frustration or an ineffi - cient process. Intelligent systems are being used to automate mun- dane tasks, streamline and manage workflows, and provide valuable business insights. The industry often has multiple parties or teams involved in a pro- cess, whether it is the sale of a prop- erty, or the management or main- tenance of a property. As a result, it can often be difficult to manage and keep track of progress, causing delays and errors. Proptech can improve produc- tivity, efficiency and reduce frus- tration by providing professionals with the right tools, giving them more time to focus on the peo- ple side of the job. Real estate has always been and will continue to be a people industry. While some tasks may be displaced, resources can be effectively reallocated to other pressing issues which are being identified through technology. With more than 700 proptech companies in the UK alone, accord - ing to Unissu, identifying the right supplier can be a full-time job. There has been a dramatic increase in heads of innovation and digi- tal transformation hires as com- panies focus on putting a digital transformation strategy in place to ensure effective adoption of prop- tech across their organisation. Large real estate companies are also moving away from a head of IT role, which typically looks after the technical infrastructure of the company, and hiring chief technol- ogy officers instead. We are also seeing a rise in techni- cal roles, such as data scientists or analysts. JLL, for example, employs more than 300 data experts and that number is growing. With the number of proptech com- panies in the UK increasing and investment in proptech at an all- time high, attracting talented pro- fessionals is high on the agenda for startups in this space. Working in proptech is a great opportunity for graduates ready to develop their careers and take on more responsibility than may be possible in the early stages of their career development in a corporate. Startups tend to be run by young leaders willing to coach ambitious individuals. As startups grow, so do the people and the career opportu - nities which can make it extremely rewarding for those early employees. Proptechs are also actively hiring experienced real estate professionals who can bring knowledge of their sec- tor, valuable insight and networks. In addition, professionals from other industries are transitioning into proptech. Some 28 per cent of the candidates placed by LMRE, a leading recruitment consultancy in proptech and Innovation, are from a different industry, in par- ticular fintech and hospitality, as two industries focused on cus- tomer success and the implemen- tation of technology. So to answer the question, I believe jobs will evolve and certain tasks will be displaced. However, proptech creates a lot more career opportunities and far more fulfill- ing jobs for all. McKinsey estimates that by 2030 the trend of invest- ment in information technology could create 20 million to 50 mil- lion jobs globally. 'Proptech creates a lot more career opportunities and far more fulfilling jobs for all' A O P I N I O N Sammy Pahal Managing director UK PropTech Association

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