Coliving in the COVID-19 Pandemic: On Overcoming Challenges
Student coliving has been playing a significant role in the pre-pandemic world, especially for its benefits. This includes being able to go to school without using public transportation, communicating directly with friends, and doing worthwhile activities together in a social and lively environment.
As the COVID-19 pandemic badly affected the student housing industry, Rentalbee was forced to change its business model and expand to new markets and areas.
“Earlier last year, when the pandemic had just started, there were a lot of students who cancelled their reservations, while the others were forced to cut or pre-terminate their contracts in our partner properties because they had to go home to their homes,” said Patrick Llamoso, Co-Founder of Rentalbee Coliving Spaces Inc.
A portion of the property owners were not able to generate enough revenues to compensate for the operational costs of their properties, causing temporary closure or a halt in operations. Some property owners even decided to discontinue their partnership with Rentalbee to partner with competitors with the capacity to offer them fixed monthly income.
The situation prompted Rentalbee to revolutionize the student housing industry. The first course of action was to ensure that the spaces, especially the common areas in Rentalbee’s partner properties, were properly utilized. With different storage plans based on area size, these spaces were converted into “Beekeeper Storage Spaces”. Existing partner dormitories were also converted to fit the work from home setup, offering an environment conducive for young professionals.
Despite a lack of market knowledge in new areas, the company decided to expand its operations particularly to the Central Business Districts (CBD). The “Rentalbee Pro” spaces mainly catered to the working market – both individual professionals and groups of employees. Rentalbee also partnered with corporate clients such as employers for their staff housing. Lastly, the company provided accommodations as well to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who needed spaces where they could quarantine before going in or out of the country.
In spite of COVID-19 negatively impacting the company, Rentalbee overcame the challenges by coming up with innovative ways on how to continue generating revenues and expand to central business districts.
“Imagine not using public transportation and still be able to go to school, communicate directly with friends and do all these fun activities together in one controlled and curated environment. I feel that student housing, as well as coliving, would still thrive once we have some normalcy, as I believe more parents would still want their children to be closer to school and students, on the other hand, would want to be able to save time and money by avoiding the hassle of commuting. I can also feel that more students and postgraduates would want to have their own space where they can focus on their studies (given right now it is much difficult to focus because of so many means of distraction) which will make renting or moving out of your comfort zone (in their own house) might be an ideal solution. I’d like to add as well that I’ve noticed that more students are involved in organizations, so I think they would need more time to be near the university once face-to-face classes are back.” Co-Founder Patrick Llamoso stated.
After the drastic changes that were brought about by the pandemic, the future remains bright for Rentalbee. By turning adversities into opportunities, it is without a doubt that the company and its community as a whole will grow further.
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