How did you and your wife get started with Heartwood?
My wife and I are co-owners, I’m the numbers guy and my wife is a designer and architect. We started flipping properties in 2017, and we had a few short-term rentals in a duplex. We realized we could put our heart into these projects and see the customers enjoy what we’ve built. In the last years, we’ve focused purely on STR management in Colombia, South Carolina. We got started with Hostaway because we knew we needed the right tools.
We researched all the tools and were especially concerned about financials and analytics. Our previous tool didn’t have that, and I was looking for a single source of truth. When I saw how it worked, I loved how it had customizations and we’ve grown our property management side from 1 listing to more than 10 clients with 25 properties over the last 6-12 months. A lot of that is due to the fact that we have good financial reports, the ability to have an owner portal that we can use to share data with owners and give transparency to them. They can see what we do and it builds confidence and credibility, and they see how much we are doing for them.
We had 10 properties ourselves, and 1 managed when we started. Now we have a total of 35, but now we’re expanding on the property management side.
What challenges were alleviated when you started using Hostaway?
I was using iGMS at the time. They were an interesting one to start with, and sometimes I recommend it because it’s free. But as you scale, it’s not going to be a long-term solution. Their reporting was kind of a mess, to be honest with you. It only included some sources of truth such as Airbnb but not other channels.
We have to have all channels come together and create a single source that can be used to split and report to owners. We also looked at YourPorter, and due to a lot of recommendations we tried it and failed at the actual switch over and immediately knew we had to try something else.
We watched demos on Youtube and we knew Hostaway had some key features. One of the key features was the integration with PriceLabs. All pricing was set within Hostaway and then pushed to the channels so we got price parity. What I failed to see with some others was that they update Airbnb, but not booking or the website. Hostaway is that central hub, so I know that they push the prices to all the channels.
The other feature that is also important for anyone who is looking to scale their business is an integration with a task management system. Breezeway was that for us. And the integration is seamless, and we can assign the task to the cleaner and we know that every guest can arrive at a clean place. It removes all the hassle and frees up the property managers time. Breezeway also enables our maintenance requests.
What have your results been while using Hostaway?
Before we had task and cleaner management, we would spend at least 2 hours every morning ensuring that everyone was on track for their cleans and ready to go. Now, that process is completely gone. Those cleanings are assigned and that frees up 2 hours every day, 7 days a week. Now our only responsibility is to verify that people have checked into their cleans for the day which takes 15 minutes.
In terms of messages, the savings are huge. We send 4 messages to each guest, and for 30 properties it’s 120 messages - and being able to automate it. Often times we never have to send a manual message and we don’t have to interfere in that at all! We send more than 57% of our messages automatically. That’s saving us almost 60% of the time!
The other thing for people that are looking to scale beyond 20-30 properties is the ability to give assistants work within guest communication. Assistants can access specific information that allows them to answer on our behalf so that we can use our time on scaling the business. That’s a key feature for expanding your business.
The final great feature is the automatic reviews. I just gotta say, that’s been amazing because it frees up at least 10 hours a week and trying to remember who was a good guest. Now we just deal with the exceptions, and we can manually edit the reply. Those are rare. Instead of spending 10 hours per week, we do this a few times a month which is a huge time saver.
How was your support and onboarding experience with Hostaway?
Celeste has been a great account manager and our experience has been very very positive!
Celeste has helped us go from getting listings live and has continued to provide great support to us. It’s great having a person to speak to, rather than being passed from person to person. I get same-day responses and when I’ve brought issues up. For example, the implementation of the owner stays, Breezeway and Hostaway were able to work and resolve the issue within 24 hours. Not only did we get a quick response but also a quick resolution. That’s happened on a couple of different occasions.
The Hostaway team is there to help us and our business, and the support is great. The onboarding process was honestly great. We were onboarding with YourPorter before, and it was a mess. We had double messages sent out through Vrbo, we had double-bookings and it was a very very bad experience. Coming to Hostaway, Celeste held our hand through our process. No double-bookings, all of our channels were talking to each other, no additional messages and it was a breeze to turn off one system and move to Hostaway. It was a good experience for us.
Would your growth have been possible without Hostaway?
Growing 3x within a year would not have been possible without Hostaway, and continuing to grow would not be possible. You need Hostaway to scale, otherwise, you will be absolutely absorbed by operations that won’t allow you to focus on your business. We see ourselves growing to 100 properties in the next year and could never do it without Hostaway. Hostaway has been great for us.