At PointCentral, we know there’s significant value in developing the right partnerships in the short-term rental space. That’s why we’re excited about our partnership with vacation rental software provider, Hostfully.
We’ve caught up with Lisa Luu, Director of Business Development at the company, to find out more about what Hostfully offers and how its leading technology supports short-term rental operators.
Hi Lisa, could you give us a brief introduction to Hostfully, what it offers the short-term rental industry, and what your role is at the company?
Hostfully is the property management platform known across the industry for helping short-term rental business operators earn more, and save hundreds of hours each week. Our award-winning software does this through automation features built specifically for operators looking to streamline their processes and keep staffing overhead costs under control. We also offer the most comprehensive suite of software integrations, which helps our customers build tech systems that are unique to their business requirements.
I’m a Director of Business Development at Hostfully, which means that I’m here to help potential customers figure out if our software is the right fit for their team and business.
How does Hostfully’s short-term rental property management platform support property managers in scaling their businesses?
It all starts with a robust tech foundation. Our back-end, which connects with the listing sites, communicates with integration partners and automates all the processes, is without a doubt the best in the industry. In fact, Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com each conducted their own review of our tech and granted us special connectivity status. From that tech foundation, our engineering team builds features that are tailored to vacation rental operators. We have many ex or part-time property managers on staff, which helps guide these decisions. But our most important source of ideas for feature development is our customer base. Through a portal, Hostfully customers submit ideas and collectively rank them by order of importance.
The last piece of the puzzle is outstanding customer service and support. Our support team isn’t outsourced, it’s staffed for 24/7 coverage and has a response time averaging 15 minutes, with a satisfaction score consistently above 95%.
How do Hostfully’s direct and reliable API connections with major listing sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) bring a next-level experience to your customers?
We have preferred connectivity partner status with Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. To get this status, we have to demonstrate that our connectivity with their site is consistent, fast, and reliable. So the immediate benefit to our customers is that they know their booking data will be synced in real-time. The less obvious benefit is with integration partners. Because our API is so streamlined, we’re able to sync back to the listing sites and OTAs more often, and more reliably. So if your dynamic pricing app wants to push a price update, it happens really fast and consistently with Hostfully. Finally, what a lot of customers might not know is that our special status grants us access to a higher tier of support with these sites. For example, if a client has a technical hiccup where their listings don’t sync well, Hostfully gets a quicker resolution through this hotline.
Could you explain how Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks boost the guest experience and how it benefits property managers?
Going from paper to digital guidebooks makes a big difference for guests. For starters, all the information about the property is accessible. On top of pictures, property managers can upload videos, GIFs, PDFs, etc. So if a unit has an AC unit that’s hard to operate, our guidebooks make it so much easier for the guests to figure it out on their own. Our clients have found that giving back this autonomy to travelers increases their satisfaction with their stay. Speaking of autonomy, our guidebooks load on any device. This makes local recommendations easier to check when the guest is outside the property.
For property managers, digital guidebooks are a game changer. You can cut down on repetitive guest questions by sending guests a link to their guidebook ahead of time — some guests open these 2-3 times before ever arriving at the property. By creating these communication flows, property managers can reduce the number of questions they need to respond to during stays.
We also offer the option of upsells, which is a great way to add a whole new income stream. And finally, in the last year, we’ve begun to offer the Viator integration. Essentially, a property manager can earn 7% of the ticket price for a recommendation through the guidebook if the guest books on Viator.
What role has technology played in the success of the company?
We built software that helps earn more and save time for our customers through automation. It’s normal we apply this same philosophy inward. Wherever we can, we use software tools to make our employees more productive, and reduce manual error. At first, we did this because we were a small team. But as time went on, we realized that software, technology, and automation meant we could keep providing great service to our customers and build new features while keeping prices low. Any customer that compares our features-to-price ratio to that of our competitors will see the impact technology has on our business.
As the short-term rental tech market becomes increasingly competitive, how does Hostfully ensure it’s always one step ahead? What’s your secret sauce?
This is one family recipe we’re totally fine sharing. Our secret sauce is our customer base. They tell us what they need to make their businesses better. We build the features for their needs. That creates a positive feedback loop since those new features attract new customers.
There’s a reason we kept growing through Covid, and this most recent economic slowdown. We build software that’s useful for vacation rental operators.
What excites you about the integration with PointCentral?
We love partnering with great software companies whose values align with ours. PointCentral helps property managers reduce time and money spent on repetitive tasks that don’t add to the bottom line. So far, our partnership has been great. We have solid and robust technical connectivity, with perfect reliability.
How would you describe the impact PointCentral’s technology has for your customers?
By automating check-in and check-out, and removing the need for keys, property managers don’t have to waste time greeting guests. The integration also helps our joint customers get more 5-star reviews since guests don’t have to stress about arriving at the property at a specific time with self-check-in. At the operational level, we love what PointCentral has done with staff access and the ability to apply, modify, and remove permissions in bulk. As a side note, we’ve had customers use their secure door access as one of their selling points when attracting second homeowners.
The hospitality industry has seen its fair share of challenges over recent years. Has Hostfully faced any obstacles of its own, and, if so, how have you overcome them? Any learnings to share?
We managed to grow even through the pandemic because we had a combination of a robust product coupled with more than one income stream (property management software and digital guidebooks.) The parallel applies to property managers. Never lose focus on the foundations: cleaning, guest experience, and streamlining your business. However, it pays to have multiple means of income, whether that’s through repeat bookings outside the listing sites and OTAs, referral income with local tour operators, or offering upsells to guests.
What does 2023 have in store for Hostfully?
Hostfully has a very ambitious product roadmap for 2023. Expect to see more mobile functionality as we wrap up our beta. You’ll also see more integrations come online in the coming months. And finally, we have three major new features that medium and large property management companies will find to be game-changing for their business. Stay tuned. It’s going to be another exciting year!
If you could give one piece of advice to property managers in navigating the ever-changing hospitality landscape, what would it be?
So many property management companies start off as solo operations and grow by adding staff to solve a unique challenge. This is like building a home one room at a time. It’s normal and a sign that things are going well. But this type of scaling eventually leads to disjointed processes or bottlenecks for future growth. Regardless of what happens in the industry, focus on streamlining and removing roadblocks in the business. You can do this in several ways, ranging from applying the maturity model for vacation rental businesses to empowering staff to be part of the process, and even hiring an STR consultant to review your processes.
To find out more about Pointcentral and Hostfully, listen to this webinar, where the teams share strategies for achieving maximum efficiency, security, and guest satisfaction. Simply register for the event to access the recording, here.