Finnish startup Hostaway has built a platform linking different holiday rental services, enabling hosts to manage their apartments on Airbnb, booking.com and 9flats.com already in the early version of the product.
Hostaway raised this month 111,000 euros seed funding from tech firm Sontek Oy for developing the product for the official launch, which is planned in a few months.
The problem Hostaway is solving was common for all co-founders of the company who were offering their apartments on Airbnb, but it is also growing fast as the sharing economy is having increasing impact on holiday rental market.
Offering the property on different platforms creates additional revenue opportunities for the hosts, but they constantly struggle on avoiding double-bookings. As the platforms’ algorithms penalise hosts for cancelling a booking they try to avoid cancellations at any costs. Airbnb alone has almost 2 million hosts around the world and they represent just 5 percent of all holiday rentals.
“I noticed the issues of using multiple sales channels myself, and it took a lot of time to ensure everything was updated. I wasn’t able to find a good solution for managing the business, so we decided to build one ourselves,” said Mikko Nurminen who first joined the team as an angel investor. Nurminen says he is seeing the amount of bookings through new channels rising and Airbnb brings only 40% of his bookings.
Short-term and vacation rental market has seen massive growth rates since Airbnb launched in 2009 and there is a plethora of competitors on the market.
“There are many large competitors offering short-term rentals that allow the hosts getting more bookings compared to using just one sales channel,” said Marcus Räder, the CEO and co-founder of Hostaway. “The market is consolidating. Traditional online travel agencies are coming to this market.”
Last year, Expedia bought Airbnb’s closest rival HomeAway for $3.9 billion, adding a vacation rental site to its cache of brands.
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Hostaway is not the only solution on the market, as the problem is obvious for millions of hosts around the world, there are also other companies trying to offer a solution, but so far none of them has gained traction as Räder says they have failed to solve the ease-of-use challenge.
Expanding the offering of my holiday home from Airbnb to 9flats.com was a few clicks operation, now am seeing whether the new sales platform can bring in additional revenue.
“Adding new sales channels isn’t as easy at it seems. It takes a lot of effort to get up on all sites, and managing several reservation calendars is a manual task prone to human errors. Too many hosts find themselves getting double-booked or selling at the wrong rates due lack of time,” Räder said.
Hostaway has integrated reservation calendars and promises to keep them up to date at the desired rates – saving time and increasing the revenues of the hosts.