TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based vacation rental bidding platform and information platform Vacation Remix.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
We are a vacation rentals marketplace that lets users make an offer on the vacation rental they like. We are a big believer in the concept. We feel that when a potential vacationer makes an offer on a vacation rental they "get committed" to the process and it also opens a line of dialogue with the property owner.
Our platform quickly facilitates the offers and counters automatically until a price discovery is finally made.
We also cater to property managers and owners looking to promote their rental properties. We have built a white label "Last Minute Travel Deals" platform and a Social Media Syndicator so that managers can gain more exposure for their properties and better book their expiring inventory.
The two principals are Brady Stump and Kelly Martin.
Brady Stump is an entrepreneurial marketer and manager. Prior to Vacation Remix, Stump co-founded a Christies International Real Estate office in coastal South Carolina specializing in luxury real estate.
He also served as partner and marketing director for JBS Industries and oversaw the manufacturing company's global expansion of 1,100% growth through global licensing and partnership initiatives with clients such as Union Carbide, Pepsi-Cola, and Coca Cola. Brady has a true entrepreneurial spirit and has launched, sold, and managed numerous web startups.
Kelly Martin is an accomplished web developer with a passion for art. His constant quest for innovation paired with his attention to detail prove invaluable in the web industry.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
I [Stump] was a part owner in a very successful luxury residential real estate brokerage and property management company in Pawleys Island, SC, and sold my stake in that company so that we could fund the start up operations.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Vacation rentals are emerging as an exciting and new way to travel, when compared to traditional hotel stays. Many times, vacation rentals are also a better value proposition when compared to their hotel counterparts.
Discovering just HOW GOOD this value proposition can be is exactly what we aim to solve. By creating a "make an offer" system, it solves a problem for both the user and the property manager.
The user discovers the bottom line number a property owner or manager will take. The property owner can use our site and platform to expedite the process of moving expiring inventory at a discount.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Vacation Remix website: We feel that our site has strong design elements and is very easy to use for those looking to make offers on vacation rentals. Users can even login with their Facebook or Google accounts.
White Label "Deals" Platform: This platform is built for property managers who want to offer its clients the ability to “make an offer” on last minute travel deals and expiring inventory. We have also created a few different widgets and banners so that property managers can better direct their website, blog or social media traffic to these pages.
Social Media Syndicator: Our team has created 55 (and growing each week) mini websites, blogs, Twitter pages and social media sites. All property owners and managers have within their dashboard the Social Media Syndicator where they can then post deals, specials or events and these posts are then syndicated out to all these sites, thus delivering more traffic, inquiries and bookings to them.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customers are those brokerages that have signed up for our services. Currently we have 26 rental brokerages using our services which represent nearly 1,700 rentals, 9 states and 5 total countries.
We also have partnerships in place with Instant Software (now part of HomeAway) and Barefoot Technologies as channel partners, which opens up our services to even a larger audience.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We tested the model initially by creating a very basic version of Vacation Remix and pointing some Google PPC and Facebook ads towards some properties we had in Colorado and South Carolina.
We knew as soon as we received several offers and a few bookings in the first 48 hours that it would definitely work.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The revenue model is somewhat of a hybrid – involving both a pay per listing as well as a pay per booking strategy. Our main revenue source is property managers who pay a flat fee to list their properties on our site and receive our additional web based marketing services.
Discounts are given to those managers who add multiple properties.
We also offer these same services for individual property owners, who pay the same fees as property managers as well as a flat 7% transaction cost for each booking.
We process the payments for individual property owners to protect both the user and rental property owner. For established property managers, we let them process their own payments that come through the system.
Our plan is to continue building out special features and services for property managers and owners. We think of the white label "deals" platform and the Social Media Syndicator like they are apps.
We want property managers to not be able to live without our Apps and special features that can be used from either our main site or integrated into their current offerings.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- "Make an Offer" concept.
- Design and usability of site.
- Custom"“travel deals platform" for property managers and owners.
- Social media syndicator.
- Large scale funding for rapid expansion of team.
- Expansion into B&B’s and boutique inns.
- Expansion into individually owned rental properties (and pay per booking model).
- Expanded Facebook integration.
- Expansion of additional web tools for property managers and owners.
- Expansion into long term rentals.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Larger competitors adopting our "make an offer" concept.
- Additional competitors moving into the property manager services sector.
In the real estate industry, you have many thought leaders that quickly want to reject things if they haven’t “seen it before” or if it can’t fit in a nice simple box.
We had several of these individuals, but for the most part, we have had very positive feedback on the website, overall concept and what we have been able to deliver to our clients.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our goal is to have 250 rental brokerages and 10,000 total rental properties signed up for our website and services within 12 months.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.