Just a year after launching its managed services for short-term vacation rentals, GuestReady has made its first acquisition and secured seed funding to the tune of £2.3 million.
The cash injection, says CEO and co-founder Alexander Limpert, will be used to expand into two more cities in the UK but where the real opportunity lies, is in Asia.
“Europe is a more mature market for home sharing and short-term rentals than Asia, where the market is growing relatively faster, and so we see good opportunities to grow our business there.”
Investors like Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Lastminute Group CEO Fabio Cannavale seem to agree.
The funds they lead, Impulse VC and Xponova and Boost Heroes respectively, are among those behind the recent funding round, along with existing backers Swiss Founders and Senn & Partners.
GuestReady, (startup pitch here), is one of numerous firms that have sprung up to provide managed services for short-term vacation rentals.
Competitors, which include the likes of Vacasa, Veeve and Oasis, to name a few, are positioning themselves in different ways.
Limpert argues that this is not a winner takes all market, but while there may be space for more than one player, he expects to see continued consolidation.
Indicative of this trend is GuestReady’s recent acquisition of Easy Rental Services, which launched three years ago in London and Paris. Limpert says:
“With this acquisition we are able to expand our portfolio significantly and cement our position as an industry leader. At the same time, we’ve strengthened out team with experienced people and improved our processes.”
Crucial to this business is operational excellence; Limpert says:
“For hosts the most important thing is that they feel their home is in reliable hands.”
GuestReady claims to differentiate with rapid response times and by ensuring that apartments achieve occupancy levels of, typically, around 85%.
Guest satisfaction is a top priority too and the firm is currently achieving an average rating of 4.8 on Airbnb.
Although there is no “official” relationship with Airbnb, GuestReady is in regular touch with its team and Limpert believes the service is proving useful.
“Around 70% of our hosts are new to Airbnb, so clearly we are helping to expand their host community. We also reduce friction and remove issues that individual hosts might encounter.”
Business travel focus
Early on in the game, GuestReady spotted growing demand for short-term vacation rentals from business travellers, who want a superior service, and this segment remains an area of focus.
Interestingly, however, business travel usage of Airbnb is growing slower than other channels like Booking.com.
“We’ve also started to take more and more direct bookings from corporates who had a great experience with stays at our apartments and would like to book again.”
Since launching in August 2016, GuestReady has prioritised two areas for growth.
First of all, it has developed a reliable technology platform – crucial if operations are to scale – that connects to the different systems from the likes of Airbnb, Booking.com and HomeAway.
“The system allows us to bring all bookings together in one place and then to efficiently manage the tasks that are related to these bookings, such as check-in, housekeeping, or cleaning.”
Secondly, the team has focused on growing its portfolio.
“We started with just a handful, but are now managing over 600 properties.”
Once the portfolio is large enough, Limpert says the plan is to introduce its own booking platform.
No doubt, where some of that £2.3 million in the most recent funding round will be channelled!