You know the business landscape is changing when startups are creating an ecosystem of startups based upon them. We saw it with Facebook. I still think if Facebook didn’t make moves early on that frightened serious developers there would have been a lot more services companies built upon Facebook.
Airbnb is the latest startup that has companies building service businesses on top of them. This is a trend we should to pay attention to. One reason is to see if Airbnb makes moves to put these companies out of business. The other is that governments will use it as evidence that Airbnb host are becoming hotels in every sense but the name.
A recent startup built a top Airbnb is Superhost. Superhost helps Airbnb users renting out rooms and apartments manage the process from start to finish.
There are a growing number of individuals who have developed businesses around renting rooms to tourist by aggregating apartments and managing them either for themselves or on behalf of apartment owners who can’t fill the spaces.
This army of Airbnb host are undercutting hotel prices and offering a level of concierge not available at budget hotels. Providing advice, maps and guidebooks for how to get around the city and welcoming guest upon arrival.
The battle between hotels and Airbnb host has long been underway. Hotel and apartment building owners argue that these individuals are effectively hotels and must be taxed and regulated as such. Regardless of the legality of it, its a growing trend powered by Airbnb as its platform. These new services targeting hosts will be the weapons used in this battle of individuals vs established hotels.
Imagine Airbnb as Ebay or Yahoo Auction, a marketplace connecting sellers and buyers, in this case renters. There are a number of businesses that exist only on Yahoo Auctions and there are hundreds of companies, consultants and seminars focused on making Yahoo auctions sellers more efficient and profitable.
Superhost is the beginning of a similar eco system of service providers that are built for the sole purpose of making Airbnb users more effective marketplace sellers.
Superhost allows users to automate task around managing properties on Airbnb. Like updating the apartment availability calendar, responding to customer enquires and arranging for cleaning.
Managing this process part time for one apartment can be distracting. When you scale it up to 3 or 4 apartments as many power users have a service like this really makes a huge difference.
Using the platform now only requires giving Superhost 1% of your bookings. Its a introductory price, they plan to increase the percentage to 3% once they have proven themselves.
There are other companies similar to Superhost, like Beyond Stays which take a in-person approach to helping host manage their properties on Airbnb. Beyond Stays does everything from greeting guest to providing cleaning and photography to improve a spaces marketability.
I can see Superhost moving into surge pricing. Similar to the way hotels shift pricing depending on customer demand. Superhost and similar companies will provide a lot of value when they are capable of shifting pricing for host in real time based on market trends.
Another move we should expect from Superhost is managing the same property across multiple rental sites. So a host won’t be limited only to Airbnb. There are a number of companies that do the same thing for companies selling physical products across Amazon, Rakuten and Yahoo Auction. Enabling the sellers to have a omnipresence.
Startups that enable users to be more effective sellers on specific platforms like Yahoo, or Amazon and Airbnb are interesting. They are almost always small development teams and only require a understanding of the how existing users monetize the platform.
The earliest adopters are often handling lots of processes manually because companies like Superhost usually are late to the game. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and Superhost came to life in 2014.
These startups only require sitting down and gaining a deep understanding of how people make money on the platform and automating as much as possible. Superhost for Airbnb is just one example but their are many other companies and there will be many more in the future. Its a trend worth paying attention to, if not for Airbnb then the next marketplace platform.