HostPlatform developed by HostAStay was officially launched recently at the inaugural Short Stay Summit 2019 - a power-packed event organized with a mission to empower the short-stay industry.
The travel landscape has evolved substantially since the entry of Airbnb in 2008 and has opened up new revenue streams for enterprising individuals, attracted property investors and created new jobs such as ‘hosts’. As the short-stay model continues to boom, large online travel agencies (OTA’s) such as Agoda, and Booking.com which traditionally only featured hotels, are now listing short-stay properties.
Being an enterprising individual himself, Founder and CEO of HostAStay, Jordan Oon shares his experience as a professional host with the Founder of LW Media, Felicia Soon on the boom of the short-stay industry.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" – Helen Keller
1. Tell us about your background, and how you became a start-up entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur at heart, I have been active in the startup scene since 2010. My passion is to be a leader who empowers young and determined individuals to attain success. I believe in 'humanizing technology' such as utilising the ability of technology in shaping a better way of life; and my objective is to make this into a reality.
Along my journey, I was fortunate to have met my mentor Dato’ Sri Dr. How Kok Choong J.P. and under his guidance, I established the multi award-winning IT Solutions company, TH3 Holdings (TH3). While creating solutions for all our external clients, I continued to search for a problem big enough that I could solve with technology.
The idea for HostAStay finally landed when I tried renting out my first investment property which was vacant for almost 2 years! Airbnb entered the scene, so I decided to try it out, but I did not have time to manage the unit myself. I was so frustrated looking for a host* that I conceptualised HostAStay - a simple search tool to find hosts in the area of your unit.
*Hosts are individuals or corporations that manage multiple short stay units.
2. Share with us more on HostAStay?
HostAStay connects home owners to professional hosts, while our self-developed (in house) short stay management system, HostPlatform eases the day-to-day operations for hosts and allows them to concentrate on providing excellent hospitality. Notably, HostPlatform is the only platform to integrate all major online travel agencies (Airbnb, Agoda, Booking.com, Ctrip, Expedia). This system effectively eliminates double bookings.
3. How can HostAStay complement and elevates the existing short-stay ecosystem?
Handling one or two units is simple enough, but to convert from being a part time host into a full time profession requires handling many more units, while maintaining high occupancy and quality services. This leads to the placement of units across multiple Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), managing the bookings and reporting financial results to the owners of each unit. With higher booking volume, more information to aggregate, and more stakeholders involved, management issues arise including double booking and payout transparency.
This is where HostPlatform comes in. Seamless asset management and higher profit margins are no longer a dream, and venturing into short stay businesses has never been easier by integrating technology into the equation. HostPlatform is a subscription based short-stay management platform featuring three main powerful tools: HostConnect, HostManage and D.O.R.A.
HostConnect HostConnect is a Centralized Reservation System equipped with a direct Application Programming Integration (API) that integrates with the world's top 5 online booking sites - Airbnb, Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia and Ctrip. Hosts gain full control of their online inventory in one interface, ensuring double bookings do not occur as unit availability is updated in real time across all booking sites. In addition, its Pricing Synchronization feature also allows hosts to modify their unit rates with full visibility of their listings across multiple bookings sites with just a few clicks.
HostManage HostManage enables hosts to manage multiple short-stay reservations at their own convenience. With its built-in Multi-Calendar View, hosts can browse through all bookings and arrange schedules easily. The tool comes with an Internal Booking Engine that synchronizes offline with online bookings, and ensures zero overlaps within the same unit. In addition, hosts can better plan for their future promotions with the Monthly Performance Analysis that generates performance charts of every registered unit.
With D.O.R.A, the Dedicated Owner Revenue System, hosts will no longer need to worry about generating payout reports manually. The revenue system will automatically generate reports for all registered units, clearly listing breakdown of revenue, operational expenditure and payout. Respective homeowners can easily gain access to the monthly payout of the units that are linked to them, having transparent reports right at their fingertips.
HostAStay strives to be synonymous with ‘responsible tourism’. The human touch cannot be replaced when checking someone in, and hosts should focus on providing the best experience possible. HostPlatform allows them to do just that by eliminating tedious tasks. With this system in place, the short stay market will be more transparent and convenient where quality is also emphasized.
4. What are the challenges you face for HostAStay?
The Malaysian tourism is growing. Hence, the expansion of our platform is timely although it comes with its own set of challenges including language barriers, different visa requirements and fluctuating currencies. We need to assess and understand the pros and cons for short-stays. There should also be implementation of taxes and requirements in engaging building operators for consent.
5. Any message to those who stood by you?
For a two-year company, I would consider HostAStay a successful company. We would not have achieved as much without the support of my co-Founders, team, family, business partners, investors and also the supporting clients.
As my mentor Dato’ Sri Dr. How Kok Choong J.P. always says, "It is not about how successful we are, but the value can we contribute to society."
6. What is your advice for young entrepreneurs?
Take things slowly, and step-by-step. Understanding why you are doing each step (however trying) as each point of time is a learning curve, and will prevent you from wasting time in the future. It is unproductive to work two years in, and find you have to solve the same problem you encountered previously!
It is a good idea to engage a mentor who will be able to guide you on the path towards success. One of my favourite quotes is by Helen Keller, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much". Spend your time carving your dream and build a team of like-minded people. A dream is only possible with people believing in you, and by listening to the people who have always supported you.
7. Where do you see HostAStay in the next 5 years?
HostAStay's mission is to be synonymous with responsible tourism. Our team is dedicated to enabling travellers to travel like locals, while benefiting the local economy and environment. While empowering the industry as a whole, we endeavour to be the leading homegrown short stay management company in Malaysia and throughout Southeast Asia.
Article by Felicia Soon
Images Courtesy of SUPPAGOOD PR