Services like Uber and Airbnb have become pillars of the sharing economy, with users praising the ease and low cost of acquiring services through such services. The pillars of these platforms, in turn, are their rating and review features, with these functions helping to weed out the bad providers or guests. Despite this, when it comes to Airbnb in particular, some first time experiences do have the potential to ruin a person’s holiday and the chance that almost anyone can list up their room can be seen as a deterrent for some users.
For this very reason new add ons to Airbnb’s service, looking to quality and safety to the established platform, are starting to emerge. These add ons aim to leverage Airbnb’s enormous customer base and use their services to make the shared property listing space a safer and more controlled environment.
To give customers a bit more peace of mind while still taking advantage of the Airbnb service, add ons like ViY are leasing and managing properties from and on behalf of individual property owners and including them into the shared property space. Adelaide startup ViY is an added value boutique property service for existing Airbnb customers. For example, think of Airbnb as a supermarket wanting to get a range of quality supply chains – here ViY provides the quality and Airbnb provides customers with the space to find that value.
Looking at the disruption of the hotel industry, founder of ViY Matt Proctor said the new platform came about as he sought to find a way to merge the hotel and property sharing industries together.
“I thought if the hotel industry is going to change, what does that look like going forwards and how do you leverage what Airbnb is to take the greatest advantage of that? So it’s a little bit like the stalls that are being set up on Ebay and business being conducted through Ebay, we’re kind of like the same thing except we’re on Airbnb,” explained Proctor.
At this stage ViY has its own website and is also working on shortlisting app developers to make the platform available across iOS and Android devices. On Airbnb ViY has its own profile and is managing properties for owners on an exclusive basis. For instance rather than an Airbnb user connecting with an individual, through ViY there are an experienced board of directors, systems and processes including full-time professional hosts, similar to that of a traditional hotel, which ensures a higher quality and consistency of service from that of an individual.
Proctor explains, “ViY is different from a standard Airbnb property manager in that we are trying to create a hotel brand, ‘ViY’ hotels.”
Other aspects, including payment methods, instant messaging, reviews and ratings are exactly same as Airbnb and are all completed through the site. For boutique property owners all management and listing is taken care of by ViY. These individual property owners are picked out based on attractive locations, so homes around coastal areas, the snow and capital cities.
ViY is also aimed at people with an investment property that are looking to increase their return through an Airbnb listing and want someone else to manage the business side of things.
“We’re leveraging existing technology rather than creating anything new on that front. I guess it really is just about a whole heap of individuals trying to provide a service and then competing with a corporatised version of that,” said Proctor.
Last year Airbnb received a valuation of USD$25.5 billion, with over 60 million hosts offering up their properties on their platform. For ViY it’s all about plugging into that market to provide a higher quality service than existing hosts.
However, ViY is not the only plugin that wants to make a difference to the online property market. Other add ons include Guestify, a platform for on-demand front desk and housekeeping services for Airbnb customers. Like ViY each add on is all about enhancing the customer experience of an already well established global platform and tapping into that customer base.
Airbnb has also been looking into ways it can own more of people’s travel experiences. Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky has said the company has been testing a service for tourists to book add-on services. These add ons include restaurant reservations, art gallery tours, personalised meals and bicycle rentals.
ViY is currently running its pilot program as a proof of concept and listing up properties on Airbnb, all to be managed through the ViY platform. In the next six months Proctor said he will look towards an initial seed funding round to raise half a million dollars, which will go into the development of the smartphone apps.
For now Proctor sees ViY as a purely Australian-based startup that will effectively manage individual properties all around the country and provide much-needed income and services to owners and Airbnb customers.
“It’s actually being set up as a property trust, so if you can imagine that you’re running an accommodation business and you’re managing properties around Australia, you’re really well placed to take advantage of opportunistic property acquisition,” said Proctor.
“There’s an existing demand for that accommodation and I guess it comes back to the underlying theory that I have. I think there’s a whole heap of baby boomers that are looking to retire in the next five to ten years who are potentially sitting on holiday homes or investment properties who will be looking at those properties and saying, I’m not really getting a big enough return for my investment on this property anymore.”
Image: Matt Proctor. Source: Supplied