Nino Dubretić, Direct Booker: Digitalization of private renters is a prerequisite for survival

Quality accommodation, value for money, added value, digitalization and personalization are tourism trends that existed before the covid crisis, let alone now that market processes have been mentioned ...

Quality accommodation, value for money, added value, digitalisation and personalization are tourism trends that existed even before the covid crisis, let alone now that the mentioned market processes have only accelerated. Last year as well, the quality accommodation was much better filled and had a longer season, and it will be the same in the future. It is a market process, and those who will follow the trends will be competitors, while others will stagnate. Offering accommodation as a private landlord is a year-round business, for a long time now it is no longer just a turnkey guest.

In a conversation with Nina Dubretić, co-owner and director of Direct Booker, the leading regional agency for renting private accommodation, we talked about the current trends in private accommodation.

Digitization was imperative before the covid crisis, and especially today if we want to be successful. It has simply become the standard. Dubretić has the same opinion, emphasizing that digitalization is the standard of modern business, noting that it is not a partial, but a constant digitalization, because technology is evolving very quickly and must be "up to date" to remain profitable, but also competitive.

“We have gone from mostly manual to mostly automated business and from experience we can say that digitalization makes a difference, not only in reducing costs and increasing revenue, but also in increasing the quality of the business model and the possibility of expanding it. The mentioned benefits that digitalization brings to business have always been a "target" that would mean business progress, but in today's circumstances they are a prerequisite for survival. " - points out Dubretić

The Covid crisis has additionally shown that better quality accommodation, ie those who invest in raising quality, pass the season much better, with a longer rent and a higher price. What are your experiences?

"Yes, it turned out that better facilities worked better. And it is always in periods when demand is lower than supply, better quality accommodation is better, especially if it listens to market prices. In 2020, it happened that the whole year was like that, let's say "off-season" and better facilities profited. However, Croatia has a big problem in the context of external communication, which is quality accommodation. Categorization, with which we communicate to foreign markets, the quality of private accommodation as the most important condition for obtaining stars determined the square footage and we now have the following situations: 70% of facilities are 3 stars, which is branding the destination as quality, extremely bad. In these 3 stars you have a range of quality from the building which is the first row to the sea, whose impression of vacation is 6 stars and on the other hand in the same 3 stars you have apartments that have furniture from the former state but given the same size . The garages are 3 stars because they have enough square footage, and the Dubrovnik ridges (accommodation with a private island) is 4 stars… etc. There are countless examples. ”

And here I certainly agree with Dubretić, because we have total chaos with categorization on paper and the situation on the ground. If we are talking about branding Lijepa naša as a quality destination, then that is a big problem.

"The number of stars should communicate with the expectations of the user, and we obviously did not think about the user when passing the law on categorization. The general impression is the quality of the building, and in addition to the square footage, these are also the location, the quality of the decoration, the story (presentation and ratings) and the like. Landlords often ask me for investment and landscaping advice and I always advocate investing in a 5 star categorization. The conditions are easily achievable (there is not much difference between 4 and 5 stars) because they are mostly squares. It pays to sacrifice squares to become a 5-star facility, because there is not even 1% of them in Croatia. We have top facilities that tell top stories, have a location and the general impression that it is the top of the experience but due to the smaller bathroom the facility cannot get 5 but 4 stars. Too bad. Personally, I think so categorization as such needs to change into the most important thing she has to look at and that is the “user experience” - says Dubretić.

A crisis is always an opportunity for some. If we know that so far supply has grown faster than demand, then it is quite clear that those who have invested in raising quality will profit better, while others will lose more and more market share. In fact, landlords have begun to return to long-term apartment rentals to students or tenants.

When asked about the demand for private accommodation in Croatia, Dubretić said that the demand is growing, both due to the growth of tourism and the lack of hotels. However, the growth is unplanned and the existing categorization is being used to the maximum. "Corona has brought a big reset, so we can say that we are all starting from scratch. Now is the time for real change, and by that I mean reorganizing categorization. To primarily look at the general impression to determine the quality, because the guest does not buy an apartment for living, so the size of the accommodation is not so important to him, while everything else that makes the general impression is very important to him. - pointed out Dubretić.

The Covid crisis will bring us new trends. What trend would you highlight and how to embrace it in your business?

"The most important thing is to adapt to flexible cancellations and new market prices that are yet to be formed. You should also be prepared for a shorter "booking window", ie for last minute reservations. The emphasis on cleanliness and privacy will also be greater than ever. ”

Today, it is very difficult for an individual landlord to break through and get the focus of the guests, there is too much noise in communication and offers. This is where you jump in as a partner to renters with your services?

“About 40% of renters globally have entrusted sales management to a professional because they see it as an opportunity to earn more with less time investment. This is exactly our task, and the fact that 8.000 accommodation units have placed their trust in Direct Booker in different countries shows that we are doing our job well. ”

FREE WEBINAR / ACCOMMODATION BOOKING TRENDS IN 2021 / How to prepare for the season?

All the new trends and how to prepare for the 2021 season will be discussed at the free webinar: ACCOMMODATION BOOKING TRENDS IN 2021 / How to prepare for the season?. The lecture will be led by our interlocutor, Nino Dubretić, co-owner and director of Direct Booker.

Applications are required, and you can apply until February 17 via LINKA

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