Former Villarenters boss helps property owners get the gravy

The new travel technology venture from former managing director James Marchant has unveiled its first product aimed at the holiday rentals market.

James Marchant, brother of upmarket online travel firm Black Tomato’s Tom, left Teletext-owned villarenters a year ago and set up Gravy Travel Technology.

Today it has launched its Sherpa software solution aimed at both independent property owners and lettings firms.

It offers them an integrated booking engine, customer relationship management functionality and a marketing platform and administration system. 

Funded privately, Sherpa has been developed over the past year and has been in beta testing since May.

Marchant said: “There are an estimated 400,000 holiday homes owned by UK nationals yet only 100,000 are available to rent, so there’s an already sizeable market with huge growth potential.

“Of the 100,000 that are available, the average annual occupancy is less than five weeks; the top performers are getting over 20 weeks, so the scope for improved occupancy is also massive.

“We are in business to help under-performing properties increase their occupancy rates and to help strongly performing properties and businesses save time and money.”

Sherpa provides a live availability calendar and booking facility and the ability for this to appear on partner websites.

It also automates much of the property owners’ back office functions like pricing, email confirmation and retention of customer details for future marketing.

Administrative and reporting feedback on the performance of various marketing channels and manages marketing through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

Marchant added: “Consumers are increasingly expecting to book holiday lettings in the same way as hotels and airlines, and that means seeing instant availability and transacting online.

“And by making it easy to generate and manage booking enquiries from multiple sources, Sherpa is a low-cost and effective way to gain incremental bookings.

“Many listing sites force consumers to email their enquiry to the property owner, which is both time consuming and clunky.

“Sherpa gives owners a much more professional online presence, which increases consumer confidence and translates into bookings.”

Sherpa is also offering clients a bespoke website for £4.99 per month.

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