B2B, B2C, Short-Term Rental, Hospitality, Travel
So what does it look like to build a startup from nothing to one of the leading short-term rental industry startups? GuestBook was a product development and full travel tech startup company, cofounded by our founder and CEO Jeremy Mays. A short-term rental property management software platform that aimed to streamline operations for hosts and property managers of Airbnb-style rental accommodations while providing ease of access, communication and amenities to consumer travelers.
We walked GuestBook through multiple iterations of web development, mobile app development for property managers, consumer facing app experience to drive loyalty and repeat visits and used complex content marketing strategies to drive brand awareness in a crowded industry and organically increase their rankings in the major search engines.
The development aspect of engagement spanned multiple development projects including a mobile app for property managers, a mobile app for the staff of those property managers to coordinate tasks such as cleaning, turnovers and restocking, and a consumer facing guest app to improve the coordination and accommodations of their trip. In addition to the mobile app for property managers, we also buit a full fledged web application that allowed them to manager their business from their laptops as well as their pocket while they’re on the go.
Our agency resources and founder were involved from (2015 – 2019) the onset of the brand, to product development and design and most importantly customer acquisition through all aspects of digital marketing, design, development and growth.
Mobile App Development
Full Stack Development
The GuestBook Host App.
The GuestBook host app was designed to serve as the mobile command center for short-term rental property managers on the go. Key features included: A full dashboard that updates every time managers receive a booking on the booking websites where their properties are listed, notifications when their property has been cleaned by their staff, along with a full job report, extended views of all upcoming reservation and where they came from (Airbnb, Homeaway, Booking.com etc).Because operations and communication is key to a successful guest experience at a property, other features were considered when designing the host app to make it easier for guests and hosts to be in contact during the period leading up to their reservation, during the stay and post trip communications:
A unified inbox and messaging system so messages from guests don’t get lost, The ability for hosts to earn extra revenue by allowing guests to extend their trip with early check ins and late check outs, and for managers of multiple properties a centralized console to manage multiple properties from one app for efficiency, without having to log into multiple websites or mobile apps of the booking sites.
Imagining a data rich, functional web application dashboard… and then reimagining it again.
Over the years, the primary operating hub for property managers was the web based dashboard as we discovered that most managers had a central office from where every facet of their operations was controlled. Often times these property managers had somewhere between 25 – 150 properties under management and needed a centralized dashboard that gave them rapid insights into which properties were occupied, what guests needed attention, how much revenue was being generated per property and across their operations, and how their operational team is performing.
The web app took on many shapes and iterations as we worked closely with property managers, to understand the features they needed for effective operations, profitable businesses, informed owners and happy guests.
A robust dashboard, making it easy to see a smapshop.
A Multi-Calendar to easily track bookings across all properties and all booking platforms.
Operational Management Tools. To easily track and ensure all properties are turned-over, cleaned and prepped in between each stay.
Team Coordination. Most operations of 10+ properties need a full team of people to manage the business an operations, we created team access with permissions and views that correspond to their roles inside of the organization
Property & Global Settings. The business is the same, but from one property to another, there are nuanced differences that must be managed individually. For example, some properties allow early check-in and late check-out and other properties require a 1 day buffer in between each guest. The differences are infinite and must be managed from a central hub.
The evolution of the GuestBook web app user experience, functionality and user interface over a span of 3 years.
The second component of the GuestBook platform was a mobile app for cleaners and service staff.
You can’t manage tasks from a spreadsheet.
The GuestBook pro app was created and integrated into the platform for more robust cleaning, task and turn-over operational management. Every checkout that was scheduled during the booking process, would automatically create a cleaning job and assign it to the cleaner responsible for the property. This job would show up on the cleaner’s app dashboard and send appropriate notifications to the clean to ensure the job was never forgotten or missed.
Each job is attached to workflow that created the perfect coordination between the cleaner and the GuestBook property management platform to help the cleaner understand when, and who was staying at the property, what information needed to be coordinated back to the property management system, such as status of the unit, whether the guest had created any damage during their stay and if supplies at the property needed to be replenished.
The final piece of the puzzle… A consumer facing mobile app and secure web-page to enhance the quality of guests’ trips and increasing profit margines of hosts. Providing access to essential information, upselling extended stays and connecting the guest directly to the property manager for support and communication.
Building a responsive prosumer (Professional Consumer) website that appeals to property managers in a crowded space and engages leads beyond a simple request for a software demo.
Besides showcasing the power of the software and the robust features, it was incredibly critical to continuously educate possible clients for staying power in a crowded marketplace of other emerging brands and fledgling startups all competing for a finite set up eyeballs and decisionmakers.
We did this through effective content marketing but creating industry leading, interactive and educational documents designed to enlighten these prosumers on better ways to run their operations, the broad scope of the short-term rental industry and how to effectively manage growing operations. These content marketing efforts resulted in top organic positions in search engines and thousands of leads being generated on a given month. More importantly, it spawned a race in the industry (We remained the first and the best) to develop quality content as the main source of lead generation and sales.