Suzanne and Michael met in November 1993, and share a common passion for travel and adventure. Together they have travelled independently throughout Europe, The Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Africa and Asia. Some would say that they are true travel, food, wine and adventure aficiondaos.
In December 2017 Suzanne was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND/ALS). MND is a progressive, ultimately fatal disorder that disrupts signals to all voluntary muscles. This was when SuzanneStays was created.
SuzanneStays endeavour to provide world class accommodation and travel experiences for people with disabilities. We are talking to co-founder, Michael Rossiter, about the short-term accessible property rental market and why he decided to invest in this platform.
Stratacare: Can you tell us a little about SuzanneStays and where the idea for this venture came from?
SuzanneStays: We began shortly after Suzanne, my wife, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which is ultimately fatal and leads to muscle weakness, atrophy and eventual immobilisation. As Suzanne created her bucket list which predominantly featured travel, we were exposed to more struggles with Suzanne’s decreasing mobility. It became obvious that there are many variations to the term ‘accessible’ and ‘wheelchair friendly’ and from this we conceived SuzanneStays.
SuzanneStays has two arms to it. Firstly, we are an asset company that acquires and makes available properties that are inclusive for mobility-assistive technology needs and then we are also a company that coordinates property owners and services providers, matching these to the requirements of our targeted travellers.
Stratacare: What makes SuzanneStays different from other booking sites? Couldn’t we just request an accessible friendly room from any site?
SuzanneStays: We provide guaranteed inclusive accommodation and experiences. When our travellers enter a SuzanneStays property, there are no surprises, no issues about fitting a wheelchair into the lift or needing to navigate poorly fitted bathrooms etc. If booking with our accessibility ratings, then we can ensure an environment that is fit for purpose and comfortable for our travellers, without compromising the luxuriousness.
We also have a user-friendly website interface which can support assistive technology such as eye gaze equipment.
And our final distinction from the other sites, is that we have everything from accommodation, and assistive technology equipment all available to book through our website, its not just an accommodation site.
Stratacare: So why accessible accommodation instead of another platform like Air BNB?
SuzanneStays: Not only do we believe in investment with a meaning but after doing our research, we realised that the annual growth rate of accessible accommodation is at 2.2% in comparison to normal accommodation which is at 2.1%. This works out to be approximately 5.3 million rooms by 2032, so growing quickly is paramount to fulfil this demand on the market. As we are in an aging population and two in five people with disabilities are over 65, this demand only increases with time.
Stratacare: So you believe there is a target demographic for these properties?
SuzanneStays: In 2015, there were 4.3 million Australians with a disability, which is 14.5% of the Australian population. Around 3 in 5 of these people need mobility assistance with at least one daily activity. What people often forget, it is not just these people who need accessible accommodation, but the families, friends and carers that are travelling with them. 9.7% of families who have at least one child with a disability are households in the highest 20% of incomes, but aside from that, who is to say that none of these people deserve the right to a comfortable and relaxing holiday? Currently, average satisfaction of accommodation provider sites is sitting at 2.75 out of 5, and 2.8 for third party information providers. Surely these figures aren’t good enough for an Australian society that claims inclusivity.
Stratacare: What sort of projected returns can people expect from a SuzanneStays property?
SuzanneStays: We’ve done the expected forecasts for a rental summary of a SuzanneStays apartment at 26 week occupancy and after all the expenses, it can be assumed that over a 12 month period an expected return of over $40,000 whilst a standard rental with an occupancy of 50 weeks is just over $25,000 within the same period. We have created a calculator on our website so prospective investors can see what these figures look like on their property. It’s also the benefit of short-term rentals, although some say high risk, there is a greater financial incentive, especially when a platform like SuzanneStays does all the hard work for you.
Stratacare: So overall this is a worthwhile venture in your opinion?
SuzanneStays: Not just in my opinion, but in the research and the facts that have been done, we know there is a demand for this type of platform and accommodation. We have an entire community who wants and deserves better, with my wife being one of them. Only 45% of people who need accessible accommodation find that hotels are helpful at meeting their needs. Surely, this community deserves better, that’s why it is investment with a meaning. Not only with meaning but with significant returns, it just makes sense to invest in this growing market now. We are enabling those with mobility restrictions to have a better quality of life and we are allowing investors to optimize their returns, its really a win-win situation.
Be sure to check out the SuzanneStays website here to browse the first few accessible locations such as this Brisbane Riverfront apartment (pictured below).
If you are wanting to get involved, SuzanneStays are always seeking new properties to be listed. Click here to get involved.