Josh Haave has big ambitions for his new business based around short-term rentals, including those offered through Airbnb.
Haave, the co-founder and CEO of DC-based Airhostr, wants to capitalize on the inconvenience of hosting a guest when a property owner is away by doing the hard work on their behalf. Right now, Airhostr can take care of things like handing off keys, fielding guests’ emails and texts, dealing with a cleaning service and finding solutions to maintenance problems that may come up during a rental. The company is currently testing its services and has just a handful of properties under management.
Airhostr is experimenting with charging approximately 20 percent of the nightly price of an Airbnb listing, a healthy chunk of a host’s profits. That’s for a full-service management plan, Haave said, but it doesn’t include the costs of a cleaning or maintenance service. Haave said many people he’s talked to couldn’t rent their place on Airbnb without having someone to take care of the details for them.
“It all started when friends would rent their places on Airbnb, and they would go out of town and need someone to give the keys to their guests or they had trouble scheduling a cleaner,” he explained.
Haave, a 12-year DC resident, said he also offers a hotel-like concierge service, offering recommendations on restaurants and the personal touch that can yield higher ratings on the service.
“It’s fun to meet the guests at the door and help the homeowners,” he said. “It’s different than just leaving your key in a key box. The personal touch can lead to better ratings, more profit and I think it’s great for everybody.”
Airhostr plans to offer cheaper services, like a $25 fee to pick up and drop off keys for a client’s guests. (Haave said Airhostr, which just started up a couple of months ago, is still experimenting with price points and “a la carte” options for hosts.) He’s also offered the service to other short-term hosts who aren’t using Airbnb, including a person renting out a corporate apartment. Other arrangements are longer-term: One client is away for a year while Airhostr manages her space.
As for the thorny issues some Airbnb rentals have raised at co-ops and condos, as well as regulatory problems with agencies like DCRA, well, Haave said he wasn’t too concerned.
“Uber really went through it in DC with the taxicab companies and things seem to be working out,” he said, referencing DC’s issues with car services and the Taxicab Commission. “I think there’s going to be some butting of heads in the beginning, but I think more and more people are getting comfortable with the sharing economy. There are going to be some bumps along the way, but it doesn’t really concern me too much.”
Next up for Airhostr? Expansion, once the company’s worked out the details in their start-up city, Haave said.
“Right now, we’re just focused on DC,” he said. “We want to get it right here and scale out eventually.”
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-area_service_airhostr_wants_to_make_renting_your_place_on_airbnb_easier/8569
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