Online hospitality booking sites are getting more crowded and more competitive. Any newcomer has to find that one unique niche spot that will make them stand out and stay in business. There are many ways: providing access to hundreds of hotels, travel guides and information on local attractions, booking unique tours, or advertising vacation rentals.
When we hear vacation rentals, Airbnb, a rental advertising behemoth, comes to mind. As is true of Airbnb, the vacation rental market is increasing at a rapid pace and is expected to reach $193 billion by 2021. With that increase, any potential host has to advertise on multiple sites, a very time-consuming, inefficient and potentially expensive exercise. TravelNest, an Edinburgh-based software company, is attempting to streamline that process.
What is TravelNest and how does it work?
Doug Stephenson started TravelNest in January 2017, and he already raised millions to support its growth. Stephenson saw an opportunity to help rental hosts with their advertisements in the market that is increasingly more fragmented. That fragmentation is partly responsible for over 50 % of rentals being unused. As Stephenson stated: “This is a real headache for holiday hosts. Every property is unique, and there are hundreds of advertising and listing options”. TravelNest allows their users to list their rentals on major travel websites, such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, and Expedia, in one place.
Then it collects data from hundreds of rental advertising channels and uses its software to match the vacation hosts with advertising channels in the most optimum way to secure booking. That automation exposes the hosts to millions of potential renters that they otherwise would not have access to. For now, the company serves mostly the UK, but it has plans to go global.
Financial Support for TravelNest
Whether the TravelNest’s business model proves successful is yet to be seen. The company, however, secured financial support from Mangrove Capital Partners, Frontline Ventures and Pentech. As the sharing economy expands and becomes even more complex and competitive, more people will probably need the streamline processes and efficiencies that TravelNest provides.
Despite many restrictions on short-term rentals, renting out a room or house appeals to many travelers and they will not stop taking vacations, or looking for unique experiences, any time soon. It will be interesting to see how Stephenson’s company takes his model global and staves off competitors. As with any business, the competition will be forthcoming.