Twin brothers Amiad and Koby Soto set up Guesty to help those letting vacation rentals get the most out of the likes of Airbnb.
It all started from high rental bills. But Guesty was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, not London.
The design of the property management software, made for those who let out their homes via the likes of Airbnb and HomeAway, is rooted in the fact that the twin brothers who founded it have used similar platforms before.
Co-founder and chief executive Amiad Soto explained: “The rent in Tel Aviv was really high. We both liked to travel and while we were away we were trying to recover some of our losses in rent via Airbnb. We realised that Airbnb could not be so successful without a management service.”
For two years, Amiad and his brother Koby were on the ground property managers, arranging for keys to be picked up and making sure the space was clean for the next visitor.
But with a background in website development, “since we were kids”, they soon realised that they could put their skills to a more scalable use.
Koby studied web development during his time in the Israeli Defense Forces and Amiad had moved away from programming while he was exploring the world, mainly the USA. That’s when he said he realised the need for an app like Guesty.
It stores a user’s listings, reservations and guest details on a single dashboard, allowing them to sync information from all their booking channels – bringing data from Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com or other vacation rental platforms, and their own websites, into one place.
It has a calendar option, a guestbook feature and allows users to customise their version of the programme. For all this, it charges between 2-5% of each booking, based on the number of listings it helps users manage.
The idea is that users can manage their businesses, easily, from anywhere with a WiFi connection.
“After about six months we realised that we had a competitive advantage,” said Amiad.
“Instead of trying to compete with these property management businesses on the ground, we thought we would give them applications to make their service easier. We focussed on what we were good at and set up our platform as a solution.”
The size of the business has quadrupled each year since 2015. It now spans 65 countries, with registered properties “from Hawaii to Japan”.
Amiad added: “We are pretty much everywhere now, we are an international business and we see ourselves as a key leader in the urban sector of the short-term rentals market.”
He calls Guesty an ‘end-to-end platform’ and says it is that way so that customers don’t have to deal with multiple companies.
“A lot of the players in the market have been property managers themselves, but what distinguishes us is that we are really technology focussed,” he added.
“Our vision is to make the most simplistic and automated programme possible.”
Now, Guesty wants to expand into different markets, but Amiad was keen to stress that the cloud-based platform won’t lose its edge. “At the same time [as expansion] we want to improve our product in existing markets and establish our market leadership.”
He described the company like a property management version of customer relationship management tool Salesforce. “We are trying to become the tool that everyone goes to when they think about property management,” he said.
But Guesty understands there’s going to be competition in a growing marketplace.
“The more successful a market becomes, the more players want to get a bite from the table,” said Amiad.
“It’s very segmented,” he added. “It’s becoming harder over time to get the amount of features people need. I believe in the next few years there’s going to be a consolidation of the three or four big players. A flooded marketplace might be pushed into integration.”
Guesty also recently crunched its data, from 1,900 short-term property managers, to work out the main needs of customers in its marketplace. Owners, it found, faced challenges keeping up with communication, separating the work from their personal life, collecting reviews from guests and answering inquires before guests lose interest.
They are all things Guesty hopes to help its customers with. Another of its differentials, as it looks to stay one step ahead, is payment processing. It claims its “seamless” service makes the transaction easier for both the customer and the host.
Handling the billing for property owners may help it stand out from the market in a competitive world, but will help Guesty it continue to grow by four times each year?
At the very least, it’ll be sure to help the Soto brothers pay their rent.