Barcelona-based startup Lodgify is launching its product today, which aims to be the “Shopify of vacation rentals” according to its co-founder Naveen Sharma. Like Shopify, Lodgify allows small business owners to easily set up an online commerce presence – but this time the target is people who are renting out their homes to vacationers and short-term renters.
Lodgify has some existing competition in the space, thanks to MyVR, a startup that raised $1.4 million in seed funding and came out of Y Combinator in March last year. According to Sharma, Lodgify has some key advantages over MyVR, however, including a better user interface, an instant booking function powered by Stripe and PayPal, website templates that feature responsive design and integration with vacation rental listing sites 9flats and Roomorama out of the gate, with HomeAway coming soon.
Forr the same reason that Hotel owners don’t exclusively list on Booking.com and abandon their own website, VR hosts don’t want to list exclusively on Airbnb,” Sharma explained in an interview. “VR owners can increase their income by having their own proprietary website and by additionally listing on multiple booking channels, such as Airbnb, Homeaway, 9flats, Roomorama, etc. The problem here is that it is very costly and time-consuming to build your own website and manage all these listings on multiple sites manually. That’s where Lodgify comes into play.”
The Lodgify platform allows VR proprietors to combine site building with listing on multiple rental services (including those mentioned above and 20 more channels on the roadmap for inclusion by end of year) at once, saving them time and money with a platform offered on a SaaS basis for plans starting at $9 per month, with no additional fees for making bookings or setup. And while MyVR is a competitor in that vision, Lodgify’s focus is primarily on the UK and Europe, and the built-in “book now” feature is a key competitive advantage.
Vacation rentals are a growing industry, rising faster than hotels and on track to become a hugely important player in the hospitality sector in the next half-decade or so. Sharma says this represents both opportunity and challenge for Lodgify, as it attempts to evolve with the changing demands of an evolving market.
“We’ll have to stay on our toes and closely monitor travel and booking habits,” he said. “We’ll need to constantly develop features and functions to meet the needs of future owners and travelers. Especially our focus on mobile devices and analytics will steadily increase to match demand.”
While MyVR is a noteworthy competitor, it sounds like the vacation rental space is progressing at such a clip that it can support more than a few players. We might see consolidation down the road, but for now, a major European opportunity exists that the bootstrapped Lodgify has plenty of breathing room to capitalize on.