Australia is a huge market for Airbnb, with NSW a particularly strong growth centre. It’s so popular, in fact, that a report released by Deloitte earlier this year found Sydney had jumped from 10th in the ranking of top cities for the platform in 2015, to 5th in 2016.
According to the report, NSW boasted 38,000 property listings on Airbnb in 2016, with 60,000 across Australia.
With those numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that a whole new genre of startups has emerged to support the growth of Airbnb and its competitors: the Airbnb management startup.
One of the latest to hit the scene is Hometime, founded by Dave Thompson, a former investment banker, and William Crock, who has a background in engineering project management.
The startup has created an Airbnb management and housekeeping services business to, as Thompson puts it, “make Airbnb stress-free”.
He explained, “Speak to any Airbnb host and they will tell you what a pleasure it is to share their home with others and that the financial rewards are significant. However, it can also be a full time job; five-star reviews are crucial when it comes to maintaining occupancy, and this is no easy task.”
Hometime looks to help hosts “put their Airbnb properties on autopilot” by handling each aspect of the hosting experience.
As Thompson pointed out, service is crucial to Airbnb, with guests often expecting a bed and breakfast-type stay, however the average host has neither the time nor the expertise to provide that kind of experience to guests, and that’s where Hometime wants to come in.
The idea came from, as you might have guessed, the founders using Airbnb themselves. Thompson said he ran into trouble when he attempted to manage his Airbnb listing remotely while on this honeymoon – there’s a lot involved in the process of receiving guests that’s hard to do when you’re not near your property, from simply handing over keys to cleaning, restocking supplies, and changing sheets.
Returning home, he went through the idea with Crock and they decided to leave their jobs and build on it.
Currently available in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, Hometime works via a host platform and a vendor portal for contractors who perform the various services offered by the startup, which are split across simple housekeeping or full management of a listing.
For the latter, the service starts with chatting with the host to understand what kinds of guests they want to accept – no pets allowed, for example – and how much they want to be earning, and then creating a listing.
Here, a photographer can come and take photos of the property, with Hometime then listing the property across various booking platforms, its ‘unique pricing data’ working to optimise the listed price at different times. From there, the housekeeping and maintenance comes in. Clients can choose to either have housekeepers change the sheets and towels, putting the dirty ones in the laundry basket, or using Hometime’s linens.
According to Thompson, service providers, or vendors, undergo police checks before being onboarded onto Hometime. Through the app they can accept jobs as per their own availability, while the host is able to check in on guests accepted and services performed through their own portal.
Thompson claimed the startup has conducted “thousands of services” across hundreds of properties around Australia since it launched in 2015, saying it has seen growth of 20 percent month on month over the past six months.
“We have found a lot of clients begin using us for our housekeeping and then convert to using Hometime for full property management once we’ve built up their trust levels,” he said.
The service has three pricing levels, with the fee for stand alone, one-off housekeeping services dependent on the type of property. On the management side, Hometime allows clients to pay a ‘shared success fee’ of 15 percent of a booking, or pay a monthly rate in exchange for having a property fully managed and getting a payout of a set rate each month.
Again, given the growth of Airbnb, Hometime isn’t the only startup offering these kinds of services. Among its competitors are MadeComfy, while UK outfit Airsorted also recently launched in Sydney, its first expansion market outside the UK.
The market is already significant and is sure to keep growing in NSW in particular, with the state government last month stating it will allow property owners to rent out private rooms and entire homes via Airbnb on a short term basis, as well as allowing short term rental of empty properties, such as investment properties.
Having raised $500,000 in funding last year, Hometime is focused on growing its service and expanding throughout Australia.
Image: Dave Thompson and William Crock. Source: Supplied.