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Collecting email addresses with Arthur Colker of StayFi
Episode 393rd April 2023 • Direct Booking Success Podcast • Jenn Boyles
00:00:00 00:35:55

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How can you collect all your guests’ email addresses, not just the booker?

Today I speak with Arthur Colker who founded StayFi, the innovative solution for short-term rental owners and managers who want to collect all of their guests’ email addresses and not solely rely on the online travel agencies like Airbnb.

We talk about:

  • How StayFi started
  • How hard it is collecting guest data for marketing purposes
  • The dangers of solely relying on online travel agencies
  • Learning from the giant hotel brands
  • Using your wifi network with StayFi to collect your guests’ data
  • Building your own brand
  • The software and hardware needed
  • Integrating your digital guidebook and review process
  • Using texts along with emails
  • Email marketing and your brand voice
  • Lean into your strengths
  • What direct booking success means to Arthur

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CONNECT WITH Arthur Colker





Ep#39 - Collecting email addresses with Arthur Colker of StayFi

Jenn: Hello, and welcome to the Direct Booking Success Podcast. I'm your host Jenn Boyles. Today I have Arthur Colker of Stayfi with me. Arthur, thanks for joining me today.

Arthur: Thanks for having me, Jenn. It's been a long time coming. Yes,

Jenn: I know we've been talking a long time, so I'm glad to be sitting down with you today and so many of the people in my marketing health Facebook group and my clients, you Stayfi.

it's always something that comes up, so I'm really excited to be talking to you. So let's start with who you are. Let's get into your background and why you started Stayfi.

n consulting business back in:

Property management business with 200 properties in five cities in the US. and he came to me and he said, Arthur, you know, we have this booming brand. Our guests love us, but we're 90 plus percent Airbnb and VRBO bookings, which is a story I think we've heard a lot, especially people that started the business post Airbnb existing because they kind of got into.

As like, oh, there's this giant opportunity as opposed to some of the legacy brands that have been operating in these traditional markets for, you know, 20, 30 years. Right. they just kind of hadn't thought about branding or how to reduce their dependency on those channels. So he hired me to come up with a, their brand cuz they didn't really have one, a consumer facing one.

And then how they we're gonna go to market with. And when I looked at their business, I thought, you know, it's really hard to establish trust with people that have never stayed in your properties before or heard of you. You know, the big OTA spend. Billions on marketing and advertising and have a lot of trust with consumers.

If you're just offering, you know, short-term rentals in Boston and New Orleans, it's like, why would I book with you? I don't know who you are. So I said, the lowest hanging fruit for you are gonna be people that have stayed with you before because they love the properties and trust you. Right? That's the biggest issue.

And this industry is definitely trust with consumers that they're gonna get what they booked. and then I said, so let's start looking at people who booked with you and market to them. And they were like, We don't have any data of who those people are. Right, right.

Jenn: There's a big fly there in that, in that

Arthur: situation.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they're like, well, we don't really have their emails. You know, maybe we have some fake email addresses, like a few random ones we've collected, but there's no strategy to collect it, and then definitely no. Strategy around how to use it. Right. so initially I just said, let's find something that will just help you collect data from guests in a legally compliant way where they're opting in and all that good stuff.

and so initially I thought, let's do something with the wifi, because we already see that in other types of hospitality locations, coffee shops, hotels, airports, we've all logged in, you know, seen the Starbucks branding on the captive portal and put our information and off to the races on the wifi. And then when I went to go, One of those products.

It turns out they didn't work in short-term rentals for lots of reasons. So I thought, hmm, this is like an interesting opportunity to potentially look at if we could develop something ourselves. And that's kind of how the idea for Stayfi was born. So I initially built the first very basic version for this company, which they still use today.

and then I quickly learned about the rest of this wonderful industry and that there. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of operators that also were in the same situation, that had very little data and not really a sense of how they would once they had it market to those folks. So that's kind of the angle that we approach, this industry from about how to collect guest data and then how to effectively market to those folks.

And that's really what Stayfi was built to do for our customer.

Jenn: And it's, you almost must be really thankful for Airbnb and Expedia the rest, HomeAway for coming along because prior to this, yes. Booking direct, you know, direct bookings was how you got your guests, you know? Exactly. Then this industry sort of opens up and all of these OTAs come out of the woodwork.

They make it difficult for people to continue in that way. also bringing in a whole new breed of people who are looking at this as this amazing, new way to make money, but that you don't own your guest's data, and so they've created. This hole for you to fill,

Arthur: haven't they? Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I mean, Airbnb and VRBO and those players have made the short-term industry, rental industry grow much faster and enter markets that they didn't operate in before, especially urban markets.

Right. So, I mean, obviously they've brought a lot of value because they've brought so much new demand, and I think that's why we've seen Airbnb. . I mean the percentage of bookings that are done through Airbnb is rising every year as a share of total bookings just because their guest brand is so strong and we hear so many people say, I booked an Airbnb, and that's amazing cuz it's bringing so many new guests.

But the question is, you know, what do we do with that now? And we just can't accept the status quo that, you know, we're just gonna subsume our brands to Airbnb and let them take all the credit for all the amazing guest experiences that we're creating for folks all around the world.

Jenn: And did you create this on your own?

You saw that need with mm-hmm. . When you were working with that client, did you create, go and create this on your own? Were they sa, were they, supportive or were they thinking that you were a bit out there?

Arthur: Yeah, no, I mean, I told them like, I think, you know, we can't really buy this product, but it's really not that hard to build a very simple version that just collects an email address and sends it to MailChimp, which was the original product.

and so I hired some developer, you know, part-time to build the MVP, the minimally viable product that we could go to market with. and so that's, I told them, if we build it, would you buy it? And they said yes. So it's obviously good if you're building a software product to already. Your first purchaser that's willing to pay a subscription for it, just so you know like, Hey, this is a revenue producing idea and I can get it off the ground with at least one person.

hase it. but that was like in:

renters for a while, and then obviously things came back very quickly and swung back in the other direction. So that was just a, a rocky time to start a business in the hospitality industry.

Jenn: Definitely. And a lot of people got, mixed up with that, didn't they? Mm-hmm. opening right then. you know, and even the people that were, established still, it was a rocky time for us all.

And then came the boom where everyone went, Hey, We can work and live from everywhere. Let's just open our homes up and buy new places, and it went a bit crazy. Then did you see your business rocket as well?

Arthur: Yeah, and I think a lot of people came out of that experience. Recognizing the dangers of being dependent on one or two channels for all their bookings, just because they realize that the end of the day, like even the policies of these platforms, you know, they can change overnight and you can not get refunded or all sorts of things can happen, right?

Or you don't control the algorithm. You can get banned. Like there's all sorts of punitive measures these platforms can take that may or may not be justified, right? So, I think people realized why having an brand is important and why building that connection with your guests is also important so that they appreciate the value you're providing and that 99% of the value is not created by Airbnb.

They have a great platform to find and discover listings, you know, no better place to go look at every listing that's available in a market, right? but at the end of the day, they don't deliver the experience, right, so they shouldn't get credited with the wonderful time you had at a short-term rental.


Jenn: that's a great, I wish you could do that as a commercial and we could put it out there worldwide because that's exactly right. You know, that pandemic came along and there wa, it was horrible. But the silver lining was that I think a lot of people woke up and went, oh yes. This is why , we need to be looking at our direct and our guests and getting their details so that we can bring them

Arthur: back direct.

Yeah. I mean, we know, I. . Obviously the hotel industry is very different in some ways than short-term rentals, but I don't think, you know, we can learn a lot of lessons from those giant brands and, you know, reasons why they have loyalty programs. Why they always stress booking direct. I mean, their relationship with OTAs is very contentious.

Mm-hmm. historically, like some of them like intercontinental, i h g. De-listed from booking, then re-listed and they're in these, you know, endless protection negotiations with those platforms on fees, right? Yeah. So I mean they understand the value and like the kind of consumer they get through there, but there's a reason why they're investing tons of money and developing their own brands.

Mm-hmm. . Cause they understand like that's the best. Long term customer acquisition strategy because the lifetime value of somebody that books direct with you is a lot greater than somebody who is constantly fishing in the OTA pond and then booking with your competitors or other people in your market.

Jenn: That's right. That's right. So if anybody has been under a rock and maybe not understanding what Stayfi is about and how it sort of works, let's start with the basic level and then move up. Mm-hmm. .

So how do you describe Stayfi for somebody who's brand new coming across?

Arthur: Yeah, so the objective of Stayfi is to, one, introduce your direct booking brand to every guest that stays with you, and then B, collect marketing information from them.

What you do with that, it's another story we can talk about in a minute. and the way we capture that and introduce your brand is through the wifi system in your property. So the same process a guest goes to at a hotel Starbucks airport where you select the network. Something called a captive portal.

Loads on their device, which you brand through our tool. So you have your logo, your image, your text allows you to collect things like name, email, phone number. Then the guest connects to the wifi. You have their information. They get redirected to, let's say your website or your digital guest guide. So that way we're introducing the brand, not just to the booker, but to the whole group of people there, because everyone's gonna join the wifi.

And then we'll also capture information from them that you can use for marketing. So that's the main goal, branding and data collection. and that's what really our first product was that we came to market with. .

Jenn: Okay, so let's move on now. So say we've got the, we've got the, the software and the hard work.

Cause there is a router, isn't there, that has to come

Arthur: along with this? Yes. So we sell something called an access point, which is similar to a router. It actually plugs into a homes router and it broadcasts a new wifi network in the property. So let's say you have 10 properties, right? That you manage for somebody else and they all have their own.

Spectrum Router, right, with its own password and network name. When you add STA i's Access point to each router. Each Stayfi access point is gonna broadcast a new guest network that has the same name in every property. So like, Brand Guest network, right? Mm-hmm. . So you tell all your guests, join Brand, guest network, and they'll get the splash page for that property, which could be unique, it could be the same for all of them, but the nice thing is, is you can keep the homeowner, which is what we call it, network running.

So like all the TVs and thermostats and pool pumps and all that stuff that you don't wanna touch or mess with. And it's. You can stay on the existing network. You just tell guests about the new network to join that's also branded and the same in all the properties. So it's really simplified the guest experience cuz you just tell guests, join this one network and it will work on all the properties that you operate.

Jenn: That's what I was just gonna ask is if, you know, if you've got 10 or 15 properties or however many, to go to a different one, you don't want to then have to put your details in again, so it'll

Arthur: just. Yes. And it's actually really cool because if, you know, the stay device, they broadcast this guest network, which gives you the splash page.

And there's also an admin network, which is just like a normal password protected network. If you join the network in one home and then you go to another home, your phone just joins the network. It's the same network to your phone. so once you've logged on the wifi one, place your devices work everywhere across your portfolio.

That's great. That's

Jenn: a real selling feature, isn't it? Like that's, yeah, it's like going to I think in, in England here, there's an estate agent, and if you go to any of their offices, it's the same sort of thing. Your phone just will Yeah. Just works. And who doesn't just love typing in your details over and over and over again to get wifi.


Arthur: So that's, One time and you're good for 30 days on the guest side. So guests only do this one time per device typically. So we don't make them come back every time and like put it back in. Cuz once we've collected it, we don't need to keep bugging them. Right?

Jenn: Yes, that's exactly it. Once you've got it, they can go on their merry way and connect.

Okay, so let's go a little bit deeper now. So now we've got the guest data. what are we gonna be

Arthur: doing with. Yeah, so there's really two options once you've collected it is we integrate with a ton of third party marketing tools. So if you love MailChimp, active campaign, constant Contact, Clavio, HubSpot, Salesforce, , whatever tool you wanna run your marketing at, we, I think you have like 30 now.

we'll just send the data to your preferred tool, right? Because we don't want to make you do. Outside your wheelhouse and if you're already running marketing out of this tool, like just keep using it. Right? And then we have the option to use our marketing tool. We have a instance of campaign monitor within Stayfi, so any Stayfi customer can get a STA campaign monitor account within Stayfi that's already integrated.

and it's actually discounted versus what you would pay directly. And campaign monitors just a full service email marketing tool, just like mail chamber, the ones I mentioned. Mm-hmm. , where you can do automations, you can send great newsletters, you have all the pre-built templates you can put Yeah. You know, newsletter.

That's, that's

Jenn: great. Like if you're starting out and you don't know which one to choose, here's one that's already there for you. are, are, are something still are

Arthur: set up already? . Yeah, so I mean we have like templates in there that are a little special for short-term rentals. And then we also have, you know, we're available as part of using our tool is like we are your, the way it works with campaign monitor is that instead of going to them, we're tier one support and we obviously, we only have one type of customer, which is short-term rental operators, right?

So the support you're gonna get from us in terms of. , what should I do? Will we have an article about, like this, how you set up an welcome email automation so every time the guest joins, you know, they'll get the welcome email from you. So it's, you can think of it as like, we've taken this email tool that already does all the great things and then we've kind of made a version of it that's designed for just our industry.

so you don't, you are not running into a bunch of superfluous stuff that isn't relevant to what you wanna do. Yeah.

Jenn: And that's helpful cuz it's just niche down. Exactly. Great. Okay, so campaign monitor is what you're using there. now what about, texting? Because we, you know, we're starting to get into more, texting, sending people the, the, the open rates even greater than email.

Email's amazing. Which we know, cuz you're going right into someone's inbox, but texting just, you know, knocks it up a level, doesn't it?

Arthur: Yeah. So, I mean, texting is kind of, , you have to be more careful just because it's a more, I would say, invasive channel, right? Because mm-hmm. , you're gonna be right on somebody's phone, so you, you know, spamming people.

Not good, right? We have to be like careful cause it's such a powerful channel. so really there's kind of three ways to use texting within state five. So just like how we have campaign monitor, we have our own texting tool, but the texting tool's all created by us. So we've designed it completely from the ground up.

And there's kind of three campaigns that you operate. One's called a welcome campaign. So when someone logs into the wifi and provides their phone number, you can automatically trigger them a message. And what we've done with this is we provide these things called merge fields. So you can dynamically insert content based on which property they're in.

And the two main fields there is we have a digital guidebook link and a direct booking link to the listing. So let's say you use Touch Day Folio, Hostfully Guidebook, something like that. You can make it so that every time the guest logs into the wifi, they receive a text from your company with the link to the guidebook for that property automatically.

Cuz we're kind of just inserting it dynamically depending on what home they're in. And that's a great way to get those upsells. You know, information about the property so they don't, don't bug you right to the hands of not just the booker but everyone there. Cuz most of the time with these products that we see for guest engagement, like a guidebook, people send it to the booker in their, you know, p m s automated flow.

Like, oh, two days before check-in, here's our booklet. but that's only going to one person. But what if you have eight people staying there and maybe. , two of the people arrive before even the booker. Right. So we wanna make sure that we're getting that information in the hands of everyone in the property.

Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And then it's gonna make those other products you're paying for even more valuable because now you're distributing them much more efficiently to everyone there. Yeah. outside of the, we have a review collection campaign. So you can program a text message like six days out, let's say, from joining the wifi, or it asks the guest to rate you at a five stars.

If they rate you five stars, we let you push them to Google, Facebook, or own website to leave a five star review. And if they lay, leave less than five stars. , they can leave private feedback, but then you can see it within our portal. So that way we're just directing. You know, if you wanna up your Google reviews, you can turn it on and just start sending those five star reviews to Google for however long you'd like.

Switch it to Facebook or then maybe do it on your direct booking website. and that way you can also start gathering reviews from the non bookers that are staying in your property. I love

Jenn: that. I didn't actually know that you did that in stay fi with reviews, and I'm asked so much about having a, a process to collect reviews and to then use them in your marketing as well.

So I love that you're using that and that you're, once you've got that five star review, you're pushing it to, to Google or your website

Arthur: or whatever. . Yeah, exactly. And then finally you can just send a text message to your subscribers. And I've actually seen, Tyann of Branson Family Retreats do some really cool texts recently where it's like she had a cancellation, you know, last minute and she texted everyone saying like, Hey, you know, this home, we had a last minute cancellation.

You can like, you know, contact me to get a great rate to book it this weekend. So, or launching new properties I've seen is a pretty common one I feel like. Threshold to send a text message to your subscriber is a little higher than what you do in an email, right? Used to be like some timely alert or reason why you're like, Hey, I need to reach out to everybody right now to provide something of like great value.

not just like, you know, oh, it's spring break's coming up. Maybe book a place. I feel like that's more an email type of marketing piece there. Definitely.

Jenn: Definitely. And it would be interesting to know if Tyann actually got a booking for that when she sent it out.

Arthur: Do you know? I asked her. No, she didn't get a booking for that, but I know she has gotten bookings for some of the other things, so, , her text list is still pretty small.

So I think, you know, as it grows, the chance of success, increases of course. Right.

Jenn: It's a numbers game, isn't it? Yeah. But I think you're right. When we're, as text is coming in, we have to realize that there's gonna be times we could you be using it, but a lot of the times an email might be better because then those who receiving it can open it in their own time.

You're. , it's almost interrupting their day, getting a text, isn't it? Mm-hmm. .

Arthur: Yeah. So I mean, the unsubscribes, if you abuse it, are gonna be through the roof, right? Because nobody likes getting it. I mean, I know personally I get like so many annoying spam texts here in the US so you know, you just gotta make sure that you, you know, what is it?

Like, keep your powder dry and then use it when it's really gonna be valuable for. Yeah.

Jenn: Yeah. I don't get many here in the uk. so yeah, I can imagine though. I find that texting seems to be almost more of a company thing now, and I'm using WhatsApp for friends. Yeah, friends. Don't send me texts

Arthur: anymore.

It's definitely a u non-US thing is definitely very WhatsApp, which is interesting. And also we cha we, I've upgraded the texting, so like if you're a Swiss company or a UK company, your texts are not being sent. Swiss slash UK number so it doesn't look weird. Like when we first launched it, we just sent everything from us numbers.

It would look busy, weird when some ski Cha Swiss company was sending, you know, us, you know, texting us numbers. So we've definitely improved that for our non-US customers to make it look authentically from them. Right?

Jenn: And if people text you back on that number,

Arthur: what happens? . we have a thing called autoresponder.

So the purpose of our text marketing is to be one way. Mm-hmm. . So we don't wanna develop a new communication channel for you where you have to manage conversation somewhere else.

Jenn: no, that would be horrible. But I'm just thinking about somebody who gets this text and they think, yeah, oh yeah, I'm gonna do that, or I'm not gonna do that.

And they start to text you

Arthur: back. Yeah. So it is definitely, you wanna put a link or like what the call to action is in the text message like you. Email this thing or go to this link to book it. And then if you do text back, there's an autoresponder you set up that says like, Hey, this is, you know, not monitored, contact us, X, Y, Z.

Right? Yeah. So you just make sure if anyone texts you, you send them back some useful information about the best way to contact you.

Jenn: Yeah. Cuz that would be pretty horrible for the guest or the potential guest to be setting texts and

Arthur: just some unmonitored inbox. Yeah. Yes. And never

Jenn: hearing. Great. So what's new for Stayfi?

What's the newest stuff coming out of

Arthur: you? Yeah, so I mean, for us the, what we're really focused now is integrations with property management software. Mm-hmm. . because we really want to be the platform where we unify data across all the different tools to do this type of repeat marketing. so right now we've integrated with seven property management software.

Not only are you able to use all the data we collect through wifi, but if you have any guest data, in your property management software that can be used for marketing things like emails, for instance, real emails. We have a process to screen the emails, so we like remove all the garbage Airbnb emails. We run them through another tool called Zero Bounce that validates that they're real and then we'll import them in another list.

mail tool, oh, I already have:

So that way you kind of get a jumpstart on your email marketing, especially you've never done it before. Well, then you can also then start supplementing in more data from hopefully doing wifi collection as. Yeah, and I

Jenn: do know some people, there was somebody I was working with the other day who's been around 15 years and the email doesn't, you know, the email program she's using doesn't go back as far, so she wanted to go back as their 15 year anniversary of thousands of guests later, I think they've got six.

They've got, it's a glamping side. I think they've got six, pods on their, on their land. So she was trying to go back. So she had all this paper and she was manually inputting these email addresses, knowing that a lot of them were really old, but she had this big 15 year anniversary and she wanted to like tell everyone about it.

yeah. So I can imagine how amazing that would be to have a tool like that when you're starting. That you can just sort of scrape all those emails right outta your p m s and you don't have to sit there manually importing them,

Arthur: especially when, most of the time, 80, depending on where your bookings come from, most are gonna be garbage and not usable, unfortunately.

Yeah, yeah. Depending on they're gonna be like, yeah, like. 2, 8 75 at Airbnb, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Right. It's not a, it's not a real thing.

Jenn: No, that's not, that is not at all. . Great. So more, integrations. That's what we're gonna hear about from

Arthur: Stayfi. Yeah. More integrations and then just kind of, I would say, giving you more options in the.

Accessing the wifi flow. So you can imagine right now you hit connect to wifi. We send you to your website, you know, we're gonna launch something where you can give them options. Like, I want to go to the website, I wanna see the digital guidebook. I wanna book a tour. You know? So we start letting you have more options about letting guests see other.

You know, things that you wanna advertise and then letting you present that to guests in other ways as well. So really just tightening up that experience so you can market whatever it is that matters to your business right now to guests in an efficient way.

Jenn: Yeah, and I was actually gonna ask you about that, about upsells.

You know, once somebody is in your, in your wifi network, if you're able to send, sell, send them to an ad or something that they can they some kind of amenity that they could buy or purchase.

Arthur: Yeah, I mean right now it's really, you have to use. How do I say this? It's all possible, but it's like self-directed.

Like I need to go create this email automation that after eight hours in the property, I'm gonna send this upsell thing. For us, it's more about how do we structure it so that when you sign up for Stayfi, it's like, I wanna send a welcome email and then I wanna send another email 10 hour, like 10 hours later, and.

you know, here's the things you need to fill in. So it's more like, these are the tactics and strategies rec we recommend, and this is how you turn it on, as opposed to somebody going to the email tool and fiddling around and figuring out themselves. So it's more about, I say productizing those ideas that we see a lot of people wanting to do so that they're like just.

You know, turn on a switch and put in your text and brand and it will just be working for you as opposed to like constructing yourself, which is definitely possible. And we have a lot of people that do that. but we just wanna make it even easier and more accessible. I'd say, especially for the owner operator.

Like when we work with people that have 500 cabins, they typically have like more than one person whose job it is to do marketing. but we have so many customers that are in this sub 10 listing category where it's all really themselves. so how do we make it easy for someone like that to do all these cool campaigns and tactics without having to be an email marketing expert?

Right? Which we can't expect our customer to. And I was gonna

Jenn: ask you also about how many, how many units, how many properties sh should you have to make this work, to make it worth the wild? So having one unit or one property,

Arthur: it works just as well having, yes, we see a lot of cusp. I'm surprised. So like when I started Stayfi, I did not think that we would have so many one.

Property operators. but then when I think about it, like if you have one property and you own the property, especially, right? If you get one repeat direct booking in a year, it like pays for Stayfi like 10 times over, right? So the like success metric is, you know, And you're probably gonna get a lot more than that too, if you have a great property that people love.

So I'd say that it's totally possible to have great success with one property. I see a lot of people with one property, they're leaning into a strong theme or something interesting about the home. Yeah. You know, not something so cookie cutter. And then also, it's actually easier to create a personal relationship with guests.

In an automated way when you have one or two properties because you're sending everything's in your voice. Yes. It's not in the brand voice cuz you're not, you know, cabins for you with 500 amazing cabins, which we love. But you are, you know, Tim and Sally and you're a married couple and this is your second home which you rent out and you like self-manage it, right?

Mm-hmm. , then you could talk to the guests about your story, who you are. and you have that more personal hospitality feel. And I find that can be even more effective to create those, you know, reasons why, you know, oh, I love staying at Tim and Sally's home. I'm gonna book it again next year on the shore or wherever you are.

so I encourage people that are smaller to write in the first person really. And also, yes, definitely. And even if the email is automated, like I'm sending an email after logging to the wifi, I'm gonna write it even plain text from. and any response will go to me as a person, not as a brand. And then you're gonna create those relationships where people may just email you like, I do wanna come back.

So they don't even need like a direct booking website in that case, because a lot of the interactions can just be. Over email where people are telling you, oh, I love this home. We're we want to come back in six months. Like, do you have availability? And so you're creating that conversation with guests even if you're not speaking with like the big brand voice of larger property managers.

Mm-hmm. , no, I think it's

Jenn: their superpower. Mm-hmm. , I think, you know, owner operators, it's their superpower that they can be so much more personal and I have to say, If I am booking a short-term rental, the last couple of ones I've stayed in one was, last weekend with somebody who is an owner operator. It was personal.

I stayed with a company with:

Mm-hmm. , and it's the superpower against, Airbnb and things like that, because that is just a portal, you know, and, you having your own voice and whatnot. I just, yeah. I love what you're doing at Stayfi. I really do.

Arthur: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, lean into your strength, right? Don't you know every brand, like big brands, they have strengths too.

It's like we have standards, we have 24 hour communications. We have, you know, there's so many things that larger companies can lean into when they don't have the one-to-one personal touch. And those are what, how we help those brands as well. Right? You know, it's all, they have standards, they have a lot more selection.

Right. So it's like we have, if you have 150 homes in a market, . You know, if you have that one-to-one communication, you're not gonna have availability every time somebody wants, right? So we just let people, you know, really find what your angle is for your brand and lean really into that strength because your weakness and strengths are gonna be different depending on your size and what your like operating model is.

Jenn: Yeah. And another thing that I think is really great with Stayfi is that you are, and we touched on this at the beginning, but you are a book direct product. there are a lot of products out there that we use in sort of our tech stack, if you will. but that they, you know, they're always, you can use us with the Airbnb, you can use us with, you can do this, you can do that.

And Stayfi is really supporting those with direct book.

Arthur: Yeah, I mean I, I love property management software. We work with a lot of them. They're great products. They can have great direct booking websites, but their most important relationship is with OTAs because at the end of the day, like channel management is why people, you know, wanna use that software cuz it's about distribution and standard pricing and availability and one calendar and all those things are really important and.

Encourage people to use multiple channels. Like when I, if I talk to a customer and they're like, we only listen to Airbnb. I'm like, well, you probably should also list on VRBO and another channel if it's in your market, right? Like, we really advocate, you know, not to be dependent on one channel, which means not only building your direct booking business, but diversifying the channels here.

Are listed on just because that will increase demand and maybe you can drive higher prices and have lower, you know, have higher occupancy. Right? So we're all about diversification of channels, including the direct channel. and then of course our product doesn't need to interface or interact with OTAs at all.

So we don't need to build an API connection with any of those players, so we really can. For brands and really push this book direct, initiative without having to like be beholden to other, you know, constituencies that are important to some other people's businesses, which is fantastic, but just not what we do.

Jenn: Yeah. Well, I think that leads us perfectly into my question, that I ask everyone at near the end of the interview. What does direct booking success mean to you?

Arthur: for me. I find, for our customers, the ones that I see as successful are the ones that are articulating. A brand voice that's like fully fleshed out to their guest.

So I don't like to look at like, oh, you're at 5%, you're at 50, you're at 80%. I mean, that's cool. That's great. That is the ultimate goal, right? but I just wanna make sure that you're on that journey. To getting to that place. So I like to see people that have that fully developed sense of what their brand is.

And if I ask them like, what does Second Home stay stand for? They can tell me what their brand is about. I think that's the most important thing, is to view yourself not as an Airbnb operator, which a lot of people unfortunately do, but to view yourself as the CEO of this brand. And these are just channels for you.

So that's just the. Thing that I'm evangelizing amongst all of our, industry is just don't view yourself as an Airbnb operator and then figure out who you are and what your brand is gonna be. Cuz that's, that's definitely the coolest thing to be building is your own brand, not somebody else's.

Jenn: Spoken by a true marketing brand guy.

You know, we can see your, your background coming out there, but yeah, that's really, really true. Well, thank you Arthur, so much for coming on today. where can listeners connect with

Arthur: you? Yeah, so you can go to I know we're gonna have a promo code, in the show notes, and then you'll provide after, which is awesome, that you can use to get a discount off Stayfi.

And then Stayfi is also available really anywhere in the world. so in North America, we sell and ship the hardware that I mentioned before. outside of the us we help you purchase the hardware from another distributor and then program it on your account. so you know anywhere in the world if you're interested, you can come to Stayi and then we, point you in the right direction depending on where you are.

And you can always book a demo with us on our website. So on our demo page we have a booking calendar and so if you have questions, dunno how to get started, you can always book time with us and we'll walk you through the process. Great. That's a great help. Thanks Arthur. Awesome. Thanks.