My business partner and I have been friends for many years. We met in Washington D.C. as students from Ukraine and have been living in the United States for over nine years. We've had our share of different jobs, from dishwashers and pizza drivers to software developers and startup founders. But throughout it all, we've always stayed close and supported each other.
After the stock market experienced a historic rise during the covid pandemic, we decided to take some of our gains and diversify into real estate. We looked at several properties and ultimately decided to build a unique and luxurious round wooden cabin in the mountains. We call it Shenandoah Yurt, and it truly is one of a kind. Nestled in the serene seclusion of the Shenandoah National Park, the Yurt offers breathtaking views and modern amenities like a hot tub, wood-burning stove, and even archery equipment. It's the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature.
What sets your business apart?
At our business, we strive to provide the ultimate vacation rental experience. Our passion for nature and adventure has taken us to 49 states across the country, giving us unique insights into what makes a great rental property.
In addition, we use our knowledge of software and automation to streamline every aspect of our business. For example, our customer support team is augmented by OpenAI GPT3 Davincy-003, which allows us to provide fast and efficient service. And our cleaners can simply send an SMS with any item they need, like "tide pods" or "toilet paper," and a bot will automatically order the item on Amazon and have it delivered to their address.
Altogether, we have 19 in-house bots that help us run our business smoothly and efficiently. This unique combination of personal experience and technological expertise sets us apart from the competition.
What made you ultimately select Hostaway?
We demoed and trialed various vacation rental software solutions, such as Guesty, Lodgify, Uplisting, Hospitable, Smoobu, and others. After carefully evaluating each platform, we ultimately decided to go with Hostaway.
Three main reasons made us choose Hostaway over the other options: the flat pricing model, the API access, and the quick and helpful responses from the customer support team.
What Hostaway features are the most important within your business?
One of the most important features of Hostaway for our business is the high level of customization it offers. The platform allows us to tailor almost every aspect of the system to our specific needs and preferences. In particular, the WordPress plugin and the ability to add custom fields and notes per reservation have proven to be incredibly useful for us.
What have your results been?
The use of the WordPress plugin allowed us to create a unique website for our business, which we were then able to optimize using our prior experience. This optimization & SEO have been successful, as over 71% of reservations in the last 90 days have been booked directly through our website. While this may not seem like a lot, it is significant considering that our average stay is only 1.42 days.
Our average nightly rate over the last 90 days has been $809.11, which indicates that our guests expect a high-quality, 5-star experience. Hostaway's automated messages, guest portal, and timely billing have provided guests with a great experience.
Has Hostaway helped grow your business?
Yes, Hostaway has definitely helped grow our business. For one, their customizable features allow us to bill guests according to our own schedule (100% upfront). This has been incredibly beneficial for us, as it allows us to be confident in the validity and intention of each reservation.
Additionally, Hostaway's integration with our Stripe account for direct reservations is fantastic. We no longer have to worry about an intermediary managing our funds on their terms. Overall, the convenience and flexibility provided by Hostaway has been a major factor in the growth of our business. Without them, we would likely be stuck with a less efficient and less customizable platform.
Do you use Hostaway's API?
Absolutely! We definitely use Hostaway's API, but not for external software - we use them for our own in-house reporting and bots. For example, we have a bot that can automatically set the "scene" at our cabin by turning on the exterior lights and turning off the interior lights. In this case, the API is needed to determine which days are the "turnover" days.
How has your experience been with our support team and your account manager?
Vitaliy Hayda, Co-founder, Shenandoah Yurt
My experience with Hostaway's support team and account manager has been exceptional.
They have been extremely helpful and responsive to my requests and even implemented features that I suggested, which are now available to all users. I would give them an A- grade for their outstanding service, and I don't think there is another company out there that would receive such high praise from me. They truly go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
What are your goals with your business?
Our goal with the business is to have at least one yurt at each of the 63 US National Parks, as well as at popular ski resorts, national forests, and major lakes. We envision creating a fun and unique lodging experience for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. "Imagine if our yurt empire could IPO one day... just kidding, that's probably never going to happen 😉".
What advice would you provide to new hosts and property managers?
As a new host or property manager, it's important to remember that your opinion and approach to managing your properties should be at the forefront of your decision-making. Don't let external factors, such as limitations imposed by software or other companies, dictate how you run your business. Instead, seek a partner like Hostaway that offers a customizable platform and allows you to tailor your approach to meet your unique needs and goals. By staying true to your own vision and taking control of the management process, you'll be well on your way to success as a host or property manager.