A few years ago my brothers and I lost our mother to cancer. She was 67.
She was a unique person with strong beliefs and amazing courage, and she raised 4 kids almost by herself. By all accounts, that is no small feat.
20 years ago she decided to leave the busy life of the city and retreat to the countryside for a long due break. Having limited financial resources, she bought a half-acre estate with an old stone house built in the 1900s and a broken down barn and transformed it gradually into a beautiful stone manor surrounded by gorgeous gardens, vines, olive trees, brimful flowers, and stunning views. That was no easy feat either. It took her almost 15 years and a lot of personal work to finally create what she had envisaged when she first bought those old ruins. She lived just enough to make sure she finished the job she set out to complete.
When the 4 of us inherited the house, we thought it would be great to keep it as a getaway for our families and a perfect holiday retreat. However, two of my brothers live permanently in the Netherlands while my wife and I prefer her family’s country house because it’s much closer to the sea and perfect for our 3-year-old, so none of us visited often enough to make keeping it a viable choice. Selling was not an option either, because the market has been in a free fall since 2009 and has still not recovered. That left us one option: Airbnb
That left us one option: Airbnb
For the first year, our youngest brother lived in the main house and we rented out the small studio my mother built next to the house, where an old barn once stood. The first year we had 5 bookings, the next year we had 10 bookings, then 15. In the meantime, taxes for the estate rose, and we decided it would be best if our youngest brother moved into an apartment in a small town nearby and we rent out the house too. That year the Studio had 20 bookings and the Villa just 2. It was already mid-June and I could not understand why our 4 bedroom house was not selling as well as the studio, especially since we had priced it so competitively. It was time for some research.
Turned out, there were better places to list a large 4 bedroom – 3 bathroom house than Airbnb. There was a site that was targeted mainly towards families and large parties, and it was called HomeAway. Took the plunge and listed the Villa on Homeaway, and unsurprisingly bookings started flowing in, filling up the Villa for the summer.
Turned out, there where better places to list a large 4 bedroom – 3 bathroom house than Airbnb
August was almost over when I realized we had no bookings for the next months. The estate is close to the sea so perfect for summer holidays, but also close to a ski resort, mountains, gorges, conifer forests and other great fall and winter getaways and activities, so I was expecting at least a few bookings in that period. September came and things did not pick up. It was time to try something different.
Booking.com was always a hotel site for me. Never imagined I could find vacation rentals there, they had never marketed themselves like that. However, I thought I had nothing to lose and tried listing our properties there too. Turns out, that was one of the best decisions we made. Dozens of city dwellers found us on Booking.com and booked weekends and short excursions at our Villa and Studio, filling our empty winter calendar. After that, I was on a rampage. Tripadvisor, 9flats, Wimdu, Roomorama, I listed everywhere. Our calendar was packed, the estate expenses could finally be covered, and I was as happy as a clam.
Our calendar was packed. I was as happy as a clam.
Or was I?
Turned out, listing on multiple channels was not as easy as I thought. Whenever I had a booking from one channel, I had to log in to all the other channels and disable availability for those dates. Why did I need to do that? Because if I left the dates open, and someone booked the same dates from a different channel, I would have to cancel the reservation on one of the 2 channels thus lowering my host score (no one likes to book holidays and then have them canceled by the host). When a channel penalizes a host for such behavior, it means his properties start showing lower in search results, and the negative feedback by the disgruntled travelers does not help either. No one wants that.
Not before long, I found myself googling around to find a way to synchronize our calendars. There were various solutions out there, but most were designed for hotels and thus very expensive and difficult to set up. The few solutions for short-term rentals were equally expensive because they were targeted towards the vacation rental managers that manage dozens or hundreds of properties. I eventually found a few tools that were cheap enough for 2 property owners, but they turned out to be unreliable at best and left me trying to fill up their holes manually.
And that, dear readers, is how Hosthub (formerly Syncbnb) was born.
Out of pure necessity to solve my own problem, which judging from the hundreds of registration requests we have had in the past few months is anything but my problem. It’s a problem that hundreds of thousands of property owners all over the world who manage their own properties face daily, and even more, will face soon enough when they decide to list their properties on multiple channels. We even ran a survey on 1200 vacation rental owners and managers to corroborate our findings.
Together with Petros, my co-founder and Hosthub’s CTO, we set out to build the best solution for calendar synchronization available anywhere, and vow to solve a pain point that has been affecting property owners around the world ever since Airbnb became popular.
If you’re a property owner, and you manage your property by yourself, you can register for our free 14-day trial here. You won’t regret it.