The travel and tourism industry has had an incredibly hard year. Not only were hundreds of thousands of bookings wiped away in a matter of days, but the entire serviced accommodation sector suffered a massive correction, with large numbers of properties falling offline and returning to traditional long-term tenants. Now that the forest fire has been largely extinguished, the rich landscape offers enormous opportunity to anyone prepared to sow some seeds. Those that are brave enough to enter at the beginning of the upward trend, like with each market correction, make the most money.
People would frequently question if they had missed the boat on the Serviced Apartment market in Belfast. Saying that they thought it was too late, and the market had already reached saturation (which I always disagreed with). Now is your chance to get in on SA supply at 2012 levels, with a tidal wave of pent-up demand simply waiting for the green light and waiting to make the lucky and daring investors some well deserved money.
Here are some reasons why now is the best moment to start your journey into the serviced apartment world.
The Safest Option
Following the pandemic, there appears to be a preference for SA over hotels, with SA bookings greatly outnumbering hotel room bookings. Does a self-contained unit with its own front entrance, kitchen, and cleaning supplies make people feel safer? Are people afraid of checking in at a hotel, pressing the elevator button, and having to go out or eat in a hotel restaurant? Because of the low cost, SA has long been a popular choice for families and groups, but are concerns about sanitation now prompting individuals to choose SA over hotels?
The premise of staycations has been established time and time again. Last summer was a gradual process, and it took about a month for confidence to grow for things in Belfast to really start back up. However, during the first weekend after the reopening, the entire city was completely occupied. Summer is also shaping up to be extremely hectic. Check it out for yourself. Try searching for any dates in Belfast on Booking.com or Airbnb. There won’t be much to choose from! The limits on entering and exiting the country cancel each other out in a way. When borders are closed, everyone takes a staycation. If borders are opened, locals will flee and international visitors will flock to the area, there is always a market in serviced accommodation.
There is a huge backlog in demand from international travellers waiting to come and visit. After the United Kingdom and Ireland, the United States is the third most visited country on our website. We’ve already had a number of daring Americans and Canadians sign up for events later this year. Consider Ireland’s international reputation for green open spaces. It’s ideal for those who have been incarcerated for the past year. The Fill Your Heart With Ireland campaign, run by Tourism Ireland, keeps the island in the forefront of people’s minds all around the world. Featuring all of our stunning countryside, coastline, and culture. Any Tourism Ireland social media account will include comments from people who are enamoured with the country and can’t wait to return.
We had some astute new clients who saw that travel will always be in demand and that Belfast and Northern Ireland would always be high on people’s travel wish lists. They used the shutdown period to remodel and prepare their apartment for SA, which they then entrusted to us to manage. We were making revenue for them even before the leisure restrictions were relaxed, thanks to business/essential travel that was permitted during the most recent lockdown. Things are busy right now, and they will only become busier, so now is the time to refurbish and give your property to us so we can fill it. Waiting till the summer or next year has a significant opportunity cost. It’s now or never!
There Is Less Competition. Higher Rates
When compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of SA properties available has drastically reduced. The pond is so much smaller now than then and filled with opportunity. Central Belfast Apartments is one of the biggest fish in the pond, and we handle a sizable portion of the city’s SA buildings under our well-known brand. The demand for accommodations in Belfast far outnumbers the supply at the moment. Our rates are continuously high, and we serve as a market benchmark. There’s no need for the market to compete on pricing like it did in 2019, when guests had so many options to pick from. Who knows when property numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels?
What About Covid?
I’m not sure if we’re entirely recovered from the pandemic or if more restrictions will be imposed at a later period. However, I am aware that our calendar for the remainder of 2021 is incredibly busy. The amount of SA stock on the market has decreased dramatically. Both the global vaccination rate and the relaxation of travel restrictions are noteworthy.
In terms of our brand, our personnel, and our portfolio, Central Belfast Apartments continues to expand. During the pandemic, we never stopped. Even if we weren’t able to welcome visitors! We made it through the previous year and have adapted to become even better now that we are no longer restricted. Having us manage your property ensures that it is cared for by a company that excels in the best of times and has experienced the worst of times.
I’ve spoken to a few other operators who switched to long-term rentals during the epidemic and are now debating whether they want to return to the insanity of SA now that they’ve experienced the relative peace of tenants. We are eager to get started and have the potential to manage more properties.
Belfast tourism has a bright future ahead of it, with significant potential for those ready to seize them. We’ll be here to help you on your journey.