PriceLabs Integration

Tweaking the minimum night stay rules and changing the nightly price for special occasions would be time-consuming and almost impossible if you want to do it manually. Consequently, any vacation rental owner needs to arm herself with dynamic pricing tools. Zeevou, the specialist property management system, is honored to announce its integration with PriceLabs.

PriceLabs is a web-based revenue management for vacation rentals. By setting the best rate for every night, there is no more need for wrestling with the calendar and rates for hours on end. PriceLabs integration with Zeevou helps you  with: 

  • Dynamic Pricing
  • Automated Price Pushing
  • Updating Direct Booking Rates
  • Updating Channel Rates
  • Preserving Channel Pricing Rules
  • Controlling Minimum Length of Stay
  • Checking Occupancy Levels

By integrating with this dynamic pricing tool, pricings are calculated automatically and you can send those to the channels. You are free to choose your own last-minute discount scheme or any other kind of customisation. You just need to click on the edit customisation link to override your own customisations for a listing, group, or account level. Please read this link for further information.

How are the price recommendations calculated in PriceLabs?

Besides all the automation that Pricelabs provides you with, you can customise settings too. For example, you can set the lowest price and the highest price and the recommendations will not go below or above those, or you can also set last-minute discounts to override PriceLabs recommendations on specific dates. To know about pricing in more detail, please read this interesting article.

The combination of the information over which you have control and some analyses that PriceLabs provides you with are two parts of the algorithm. PriceLabs estimates a base price for the listing for the first time based on its current performance.  After setting the base price, PriceLabs applies the historic demand trends (seasonal, weekend vs. weekday), future supply and demand data (occupancy levels and prices for vacation rentals and hotels for future dates), and how far a date is (last-minute discounting, etc.). Altering the base price results in the reduction or increase of the price recommendations.  

Using PriceLabs with Zeevou is easy:

How should you set up PriceLabs in Zeevou?

  1. Enable PriceLabs in Zeevou
  2. Sign up for PriceLabs or log in to your existing PriceLabs account.
    Once logged in to your account, click “Connect to your Airbnb/PMS account” and select Zeevou.
  3. You need your Zeevou Username and Zeevou API key.
  4. Go to Zeevou Set -> Pricing Module Integration, and copy your username and API key.
  5. Return to PriceLabs, enter your API details, and click “Login.”

The Importance of Dynamic Pricing

What Is Dynamic Pricing? 

Dynamic pricing has emerged as a variation for fixed pricing and is taking precedence over fixed pricing in some industries. Hospitality, travel, public transport and retail are among the industries which have realised the importance of dynamic pricing to set flexible rates for their products and services.

With dynamic pricing, one can calculate the optimal price for their. It is an automated process that changes the price based on supply and demand. However, in order to calculate pricing, dynamic pricing applies a more advanced analysis of data rather than just taking into consideration supply and demand. Adjusting the prices according to the competitors’ is one way to determine optimal pricing. It can also be altered by the rate of a website’s viewers who have been successfully converted into buyers. If this rate is low, the decrease in the price is an alternative dynamic pricing method.

Nowadays e-commerce is the biggest fan of dynamic pricing. Apart from large companies like Airlines and Amazon, vacation rental owners are also aware of the importance of dynamic pricing to find the highest possible price that does not deter potential consumers.  

Strategies of Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic pricing might apply one of the following strategies: 

  • Price can differ based on locality and geography, meaning that the supply and demand for different items are different in different places. 
  • Price can differ based on time. Different items can be discounted on special occasions on the calendars of different nations and cultures.
  • Competitors’ pricing is useful to check if the price you set is too low or too high.
  • Prices can be adapted due to the peak of demand and the inability to supply. 
  • Pricing differs due to different behaviors shown by customers. For example, provided that the customers visit the site after filling a survey or it is the third time they visit the website in a day, the price can be discounted.  

Why is Dynamic Pricing Important in the Vacation Rental Business?

As a vacation rental owner, you need to set competitive pricing. 

Knowing the nightly price of similar properties helps compare your prices with those of your competitors’. Searching and tracking the ever-changing nightly prices set by your competitors is very demanding if not impossible. In addition, prices vary constantly with the anticipation of special events and different holidays. If you need the knowledge of the competitors’ pricing, the trends and the implications of special events and occasions, then a dynamic pricing tool would be more than helpful to you. 

 As a vacation rental owner, you need to change your rates regularly.

You might have noticed fluctuations in the rates of accommodation of various kinds both as a guest and a vacation rental owner. This is because of holidays and special events taking place on the calendar. As a vacation rental owner, you need to set different rates for your property for different occasions. Obviously, you do not sell your vacancies with the same price on different occasions. Instead of fixing your eyes tirelessly on the calendar, you just need to apply a dynamic pricing tool. It can watch out for the changes and do the job for you.   

You need an accurate minimum night stay algorithm.

In order to maximize your occupancy, you need to set exceptions for the minimum night stay rules. You can fill the vacancies in the availability calendar. Vacation rental owners do it manually whenever they expect the vacancy of their property between two bookings unless the cleaning and maintenance fees become too high. Dynamic pricing helps automate minimum night stay rules to maximize your profits. 

Zeevou and Dynamic Pricing!

Dynamic pricing tools help you tailor your revenue by maximizing the occupancy of your properties and recommending the best price per night. Zeevou has the privilege of integrating with Beyond Pricing and PriceLabs. These two data-driven pricing algorithms increase your revenue and vacation rentals occupancy all through automation.   

If these integrations look interesting to you, please follow our next two blog posts or contact Zeevou Partner Success Team now.               

5 Factors to Look Out for When Choosing Arbitrage Properties

If you are thinking about expanding your vacation rental business you might find there are many aspects that you need to bear in mind. In this blog post, our Team at Zeevou have synthesised five factors to look out for when choosing arbitrage properties.

1. Customer Segmentation

First of all, you need to know who it is that is going to be staying in your property. Will you be targeting:

  • Corporate executives,
  • Contractors,
  • Family visitors,
  • Tourists,
  • Traveling nurses,
  • Or academics?

Each of the abovementioned groups has certain requirements which should be considered while thinking of adding a property to your portfolio of vacation rentals.

2. Amenities

For each segment of your customers, you have to provide certain amenities. However, there are a few facilities which are guaranteed to always be welcome.

Parking

Having a private parking space in a safe and secure corner is always counted as an added value for the majority of your guests, especially for local tourists and those who are on a business trip.  

Internet Access

Nowadays, the importance of having internet access is equivalent to having a bed or a bathroom in your vacation rental. It is quite essential to be able to provide Wi-Fi internet access and to ensure that the signal is strong enough to enable guests to use their mobile phones. If a guest is to complain about something, you’d rather have them complain about not having a bed and a mattress, than about not having internet access or having a poor signal.

Room Size

Size of the room is one of the factors to look out for when choosing arbitrage properties. With regards to the size of the bedrooms in the property, make sure it has enough space for a double bed to fit, and ideally additional space for a foldable bed.

Common Spaces

Check the sanitary facilities.  Make sure there are enough showers and bathrooms for the maximum potential occupancy of the property. As regards the kitchen and common areas, there should be enough sitting and working space for at least half of the guests to be able to use them simultaneously at any given point.

3. Location

Depending on the customer segmentation, you need to think about different factors when trying to select a good spot. You need to try and predict the buying pattern of the guests who are going to stay at your vacation rental. Each segment has specific requirements.

Proximity to Public Transport

One of the most important factors for tourists is the Bus Stop and Metro Station accessibility. In addition, being in the main zone of public transportation is also vital for them as no one wants to stay in outer zones of public transportation when time is at a premium.   

Proximity to Tourist Attractions

The further away from tourist attractions the property is located, the less popular your vacation rental would be. Tourists are in the city to spend time visiting attractions, not to look at underground tunnels and other bus passengers.

Proximity to Central Business Districts

If you are trying to target business travellers, try to see what areas of town are likely to attract them. You need to be located in the vicinity of the central business district; there is one or other areas with high concentrations of offices.

The Average Age in the Neighbourhood

Considering the average age in the area is quite important as you may otherwise find yourself located next to a retirement home. In this case, you risk facing heightened complaints from neighbours about the noise caused by frequent check-ins and check-outs.  Therefore, it is better to avoid districts which are exclusive to one specific age group.

Seasonality

Depending on the location of the building, the flux of your customers may vary throughout the year. This seasonality may lead to fluctuations of the income that you are generating from the rentals. A building close to the sea has the highest occupancy rate in the summer, while the one close to the mountains is appropriate for skiing resorts, and would thus be most popular over the winter months. A centrally located vacation rental offers the best accommodation for the tourists. Location bears a direct impact on the seasonality of your business.

4. Operations

Thinking about your ability of serving your guests to an appropriate standard down the line is one of the factors to Look out for when choosing arbitrage properties. Will you be able to

A. Find a local cleaning company in the vicinity of the property?
B. Manage the check-ins and check-outs remotely, either through meet & greets or via a self check-in mechanism?
C. Check the property for damage shortly after each check-out?
D. Find maintenance personnel who are able to respond promptly when required?

5. Does the Deal Stack?

Similar to every business owner, you need to check whether the income is likely to be higher than costs associated with renting the property as you are considering adding to your vacation rental portfolio. Below you can find a list of items to take into account, which we will go into in more detail in upcoming blogs by Zeevou.  

  • Rental level
  • Predicted bills
  • Insurance costs
  • Turnover costs
  • Upfront investment
  • Software costs
  • Staffing costs
  • Nightly rates
  • Occupancy levels
  • Seasonality
  • Return on investment
  • Return on risk

Airbnb Custom URLs

Airbnb Custom URL

Airbnb hosts are starting to be told that they can employ custom URLs as Superhosts. Airbnb enables eligible hosts to take advantage of this opportunity to create an airbnb custom URL for each of their listings. However, the airbnb Superhost can create only one URL per listing and it is valid only so long as their Airbnb account is active. This also means that airbnb can remove it anytime they decide to do it.

Therefore, Airbnb’s long listing URLs that look like anonymous addresses, and do not make any impression on guests, will eventually be replaceable by ones using the airbnb.com/yourlistingname format, unless someone else has already used that particular name. This functionality was supposed to be released in the fall of 2018. As a matter of fact, that never happened, and Airbnb has still not announced an exact date. According to hosts, emails from Airbnb claim that the final release is coming soon and you can use airbnb custom URL.

Setting up your own custom URL Steps

Setting up your own custom URL is relatively easy.  Before starting the process, bear in mind that you are eligible to create only one Airbnb URL per listing. So if you have three listings, you have to make sure you choose three URLs which direct people to each listing you host.

On every listing page, you will find the following items: Amenities, Accessibility features, Title & Description, and Custom Link.

Click on Custom Link and then click on “type your link”, shown in a different color similar to the picture below. Please be aware that you only get to do this once for each listing, so you should make sure to read the terms and conditions of Airbnb Custom URL Policies in detail first.  

Alternatively, you might receive a message on your dashboard stating: Promote Listing by a Custom URL. In this case the message will guide you through the steps. 

Are Airbnb’s Custom URLs of any use?

What are the pros and cons of using Airbnb’s custom URL? Does an Airbnb’s custom URL improve your SEO?

The advocates of Airbnb’s custom URL say that it will help your listings rank higher. It looks much nicer to have a short and memorable link that can be printed on your business card. you can use it to promote your listing and direct more guests to it.

Opponents of Airbnb’s custom URL criticise some of its features.  First of all, the opportunity seems to be unreliable. The existence of this link depends on Airbnb policies; which means it can be suspended if the host loses the Superhost status, or if, for any reason, Airbnb decides to discontinue it. Similar problems have been experienced by entrepreneurs setting up a business through Facebook.  Secondly, the opportunity does not benefit all Airbnb hosts. Getting Airbnb’s custom URL is exclusive to Superhosts on Airbnb. While some plus members of Airbnb already have a custom URL, the others have to wait for the new announcement.

Finally, the custom URL does not affect ranking on search engines.  When someone clicks on a custom URL, they are simply redirected to your Airbnb listing’s main URL. There are many tutorials on setting up a domain name for your Airbnb listing, which claim to give a personalised character to your vacation rental business and you can google to find also how Airbnb URL Shortener works, but at the end of the day these  benefit Airbnb to grow.

And in reality, that’s all it does. The main advantage of using a custom URL seems to be the fact that you get a memorable link that you can share with family, friends, and regular guests. If you are looking for a memorable URL to spread around and help Airbnb strengthen their position in the marketplace and earn more in commissions, this seems to be a great way to go!

However, you may wish to consider setting up your own website to increase direct bookings of your vacation rental business instead. In this way, you will be able to charge your guests more and at the same time offer them a discount, as there’s no middle man that needs a share of the pie!

Increase your Direct Bookings.

A number of channel managers and property management systems for vacation rentals and serviced apartments also offer booking engines. Zeevou is an easy to use online platform that automates hospitality management. One of its aims is to decrease hosts’ dependency on OTAs and listing sites by driving direct bookings. Vacation rental managers setting their website up through Zeevou can use their own domain. The rich SEO tools offered help maximise the chances of showing up on top of search results. Zeevou creates a beautiful, SEO-friendly, modern website which expands visibility and increases the hosts’ profits. If you are interested in knowing more about how Zeevou can help hosts, please click on this link.

7 Top Tips On Scaling A Serviced Accommodation Business

How To Grow Your R2R Serviced Accommodation Business

Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business is not an easy task. You may have successfully set up a handful of units, and are keen to replicate your success. Now what? Short of cash? Perhaps not, read on to find out how you can fast-track your growth.


How it all started

Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation BusinessA bit about me… My first encounter with property management was 2.5 years ago, when I attended the Serviced Accommodation Masterclass with Touchstone Education. Prior to that, I had no property experience, and worked as a sales manager for a large corporation. Moreover, I was fed up, couldn’t see a future in it and felt like a slave to the job, which a lot of people reading this will probably relate too. This is why I invested in my education.

Where I am today

Forward the clock 2.5 years, and I have 37 Serviced Accommodation units, with a mix of Rent 2 Rent, managed properties and some properties that I own. Repeatedly, the biggest question people always ask is “how did you scale so fast?” I answer that it’s down to the strategies and techniques I use to keep my running costs and set up costs low. Also, by focusing on a certain market, I also minimise operational costs. Finally, this means I am maximising my profits, which in turn allows me to invest in more serviced accommodation units.

I’m always clear when I train people: I’m not an all-round property expert, but I am an expert in this particular strategy. I 100% believe it’s the best technique to generate a quick cash flow. Many people want to use property management to get out of their day job, or to increase their cash turnaround. When buying properties, this can take time and the gains from a buy to let property may only be a couple of hundred pounds per month, so you would need quite a few of them to make it worthwhile. Rent 2 Rent and serviced apartments, on the other hand, allow you to get your operation up and running and start earning money fast. This will allow you to scale back other activities and focus on the things that really matter to you.

Fast-Track Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business

1. Never Pay A Deposit

This is a deal breaker for me. If a landlord makes me pay a deposit, I will walk away from the deal. What sense as a business owner does it make to have money tied up, doing nothing? None! You have to remember, you’re the one offering the great deal to the landlords, not the other way around. You need to know how to position it correctly to them. Once you do that, you will never pay a deposit again. Not paying deposit means that your initial outlay cost is cheaper, and you can therefore use the deposit money to set up your next unit.


2. Never Pay Rent Upfront

In fact, you should always get 1-2 months’ rent free, again, if you know how to position it correctly. My goal is to always have money coming from bookings before I have to pay the landlord anything. You need to get into the mind-set that you have this amazing offer for the landlord. Once you know how to sell the deal, it’s easy to get 1-2 months’ rent free. When you have saved yourself 1-2 months’ rent, and also saved on the deposit, you can use this cash to set up further units.


3. Don’t Pay Upfront for Furniture

Without a doubt, this is the most expensive part of setting up a serviced apartment. But there are multiple ways you can do it in order to be more cost effective:

a) Lease Furniture

There are many companies out there who will let you lease furniture. This means you pay them a monthly fee instead of paying £5-7K upfront to furnish your property. Again, this helps with the cash flow and avoids high initial costs, leaving you with further money to invest in more units.

b) Furnished Apartments

There are lots of apartments out there that are already furnished, and in a pretty much in turn-key condition for use as a Serviced Apartment. You could add a few soft furnishings to put your own design stamp on them. I have multiple apartments which came fully furnished, and have only spent £200-300 on soft furnishings before taking them live for bookings.

4. Correct Power Team

It is VITAL if you want to scale your business to have a solid power team around you. Having the correct cleaners, maintenance, and guest relations teams means that you will not get dragged in to the nitty gritty of operations. If you are both running your business and worrying about cleaning and maintenance, you will not be able to focus on scaling up.


5. Managing Director/Operations Manager

I hired an operations manager when I got to 4 properties. I quickly realised that I was terrible at systems, organisation and did not enjoy that side of the business. What I was good at was bringing on new properties, doing deals with landlords and constantly sourcing new business opportunities. As I had zero concerns about the operations side of the business thereafter, I was able to focus on growth and scaling the business.


6. Bookings

You may be able to scale your Serviced Accommodation business and build up an impressive portfolio of serviced apartments, but the bottom line is that if they are not full, you will not generate a profit from them. You need to make sure you are setting up apartments in the correct areas, where you know there is a demand for your target market. Do not go mad and set up properties all over the place, then run them half empty. Start in one area, systematise operations, fill up your units and duplicate your success elsewhere.


7. Focus On Direct Bookings

Running a Rent 2 Rent Serviced Apartment business means you need to watch your margins. Paying 15% to Booking.com is a hefty chunk, and if you service the apartments every 2-3 days your operations costs are going to be high. I usebooking.com as a lead generator, but always try to convert the current guests in the apartment to a direct booking so that I don’t have to pay a 15% commission to online travel agents. I only focus on the contractor market, where most of my bookings will stay from anywhere between 3-18 months, with no booking fees and 1-2 cleans per week. This keeps operation costs low, which maximises my profit.


I hope these tips help. If you want to connect please do so on the following:

Scale Your R2R SA BusinessGrow Your Hospitality Business

Scaling Your Serviced Accommodation Business with Gordie Dutfield