A property investor and media executive from Leeds has launched a new platform dedicated to sharing valuable free education for investors, hosts, and property managers in the short-term rentals industry.

Holiday Cottage Handbook (HCH) has been set up by James Varley, 38, who runs a portfolio of short-term lets in Yorkshire. Mr Varley has worked across the media spectrum during his career and spent the last decade leading corporate communications for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 organising committee.

The HCH platform includes an e-book, website, podcast, newsletter, and social media channels. It offers free education to investors, hosts, and property managers, and is a central hub for people and businesses with a vested interest in the short-term lettings sector. HCH also offers consultancy services for aspiring investors and those who wish to grow their portfolios.

“Our goal is to build a community for everyone interested in the short-term rentals sector – from investors to property managers, listing platforms to lenders, and mortgage brokers to tech platforms, plus all the other businesses dedicated to the industry,” said Mr Varley, who recently moved from Doha to South Milford, midway between Leeds and York.

“We will build the community by sharing valuable free education, starting with our comprehensive e-book, which is almost 50 pages long and a valuable resource for hosts and property managers. In addition, we will share information, tips, and trends from our website, weekly newsletter, podcast series, and social media channels.”

Father-of-two Mr Varley launched HCH after his own experience of investing in holiday rentals.

“When I started investing in property, I found copious amounts of information about buy to let investing but nothing very structured about the short-term rentals sector. The growth of the industry – not to mention the amount of interest in our platform – suggests there is a gap in the market for education, tips, analysis, and insight. It’s a gap we hope to fill as we aim to grow in tandem with the industry itself.”

The short-term lettings industry contributed £27.7bn to UK GDP in 2021, sustained more than 500,000 jobs, and boosted the UK Exchequer to the tune of £4.6bn. Over recent years, the sector has exploded thanks to a range of factors, including government legislation, the rise in popularity of online travel agencies like Airbnb and Booking.com, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which encouraged many people to take staycations. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of Airbnb listings tripled in the UK, from 76,000 to more than 257,000. More than 15m people used a holiday let in the UK in 2022, with the figure expected to rise to 16.5m in 2023.

Mr Varley said: “More and more people are becoming interested in the short-term rentals sector – from dedicated property investors to people letting a room in their own home to earn extra income during the cost-of-living crisis. Every day, people are seeking information about how best to utilise platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com, what legislation they need to be aware of, and general tips for providing an excellent guest experience. These are the people HCH will cater for.”

Mr Varley also wants HCH to be an advocate for the short-term rentals sector.

“Short-term rentals help people, businesses, and the wider economy. As an industry we need to be better at explaining the benefits of holiday lets and similar properties. They are having a positive impact on nearby businesses, helping to employ many people, and boosting the economy – both locally and nationwide.”

For further information about HCH, visit www.holidaycottagehandbook.com.