Air BnB is currently on a meteoric rise as an invaluable addition to the travelling experience. It was a matter of time before some bright sparks jumped in between the gaps in the property sharing platform and built a business in there. Those bright sparks are Henry Bennett and Paul Loram and their innovative information service, Your Welcome.
We won’t ruin the surprise for you but, in brief, their service provides a hotel conceirge, receptionist and tour guide in the form of an eight-inch tablet that will eventually sit on the coffee table of every Air BnB in the world.
We sat down with Henry to get the low-down on how Your Welcome came about!
1. What’s your pitch for ‘Your Welcome’?
Up to 40% of hotel revenue comes from everything other than selling rooms. Whereas the whole short-term let economy (Air BnB) can only sell you rooms. What Your Welcome is about is putting a portal into those houses and giving the host the ability to offer on-demand services, ticket sales and monetising their property as a whole instead of just the rooms.
2. How does it work exactly?
The host leaves a tablet out for their guests. As you walk in you’ve got a tablet with a ‘welcome video’ and then you can leave a series of recommendations like restaurants, taxi prices etc and then the hosts get a percentage of that revenue. So if your guests wanted to buy a ticket to the London Eye and your property is close, you’d sell London Eye tickets from the tablet. Guests will use the device to search and then we use that data to build an anonymised profile of the average guest in that house. What we do then is analyse that data and give it back to that host and tell them how to optimise their listing. What we’re doing is bringing hotel data systems to short-term ecosystem.
3. So you sign the guests up to the affiliate scheme?
We are the affiliate essentially. We’ve done deals with, for example, taxi providers so every time guests use that service we get revenue which we share with the hosts!
The other big thing this product does is enable hosts to record a series of instructional videos to their house. What often happens is that you rent your house out and then get a phone call that goes: “I can’t get the heating on”. If you leave a simple video, it means the guests don’t have to call you and you don’t have to get those calls.
4. How did you go about getting funding?
We came up with the idea and applied to a property-tech accelerator program. We did three months with their money and mentorship. We then had a demo day and we were looking to raise £400,000 and got offered just over three million in investment. Now we’re just about open up another round of fundraising. We’re hoping to be in about 1,000 homes in the next month. The next round of funding is to take it to Paris next year.
5. How much money could a host make with Your Welcome?
It’s difficult to quantify. By optimising their listing, that’s a day’s more rent. If it’s on a transactional basis and you’ve got three guests a week and all booking cabs, a restaurant and a gym pass – you’re going to be earning an extra 5/6% on their rent. If you use our data to optimise your property, you can get three days extra rent a year.
6. So how did you come up with the initial idea, was it because you were a host?
We just finished a mobile business and my house was being rented exclusively by American families in Southbank. People would come over and like the idea of staying in a really old house but weren’t so keen on the lack of practicalities. So I’d be on holiday and get a call about the back door, what I ended up doing was just leaving a series of videos on an Ipod Touch and then I could see their search history and they were looking up places to go. The opportunity would be to offer an informational tool crossed with an ability to monetise.
If you want to get involved with Your Welcome, learn more about them or even just see how it can heighten your Air BnB experience, be sure to swing by their website.