9Flats makes prepayment optional, allows cash for home rentalsNews / OnlineBy Sean O'Neil | November 26, 2014Share This article was originally published on It was the first to provide insurance for homeowners who rent out their homes.It was the first to introduce "instant booking," for hosts who prefer speed of closing a transaction over personally vetting guests.It was the first to introduce a discount for guests traveling with children.And now 9Flats, the Germany-based startup founded in 2011, is innovating once again in the peer-to-peer apartment rental rental space (which has been made famous by Airbnb, the better-capitalized creator of the market).Cash as an optionThis week it is launching Payment-on-Arrival as an option for hosts. If both host and guest agree, payment can be made on arrival rather than in advance.As of today, the feature is available for about 20% of the platform's properties.The deposit for the reservation is done electronically as usual. The size of the deposit starts from 5% of the total trip value and rises to 20% of the total value, depending on the host's settings.But the final payment can be in cash.And if a host isn't comfortable with carrying that much cash, he or she can use the "traditional" electronic advance payment option instead.Shifting toward true northThe past 12 months have been a year of change for 9Flats. The CEO stepped down a year ago and has been replaced by Roman Bach.The company moved offices from Berlin to Hamburg. Nearly every employee has been replaced or unnecessary positions have been eliminated.Most importantly, the company claims it is now profitable. That's good news for its backers, such as eVentures, Redpoint, and T-Venture.The company wants to boost its marketing to target professional hosts (i.e., serviced apartments) and business travelers as well as mid-career people with families. This will distinguish itself a bit from the hipster set marketing that is more common with its rivals.Already, the company says its most typical customer profile is the 40-something couple with kids, and they are doing home stays on a big holiday 1.3 times a year.It says it has more than 140,000 homes listed worldwide for rent.