Hostmaker founder outlines European expansion plans
A VC-backed Airbnb management services company has ambitions to double the number of European markets it operates in ahead of a fresh injection of funding.
Nakul Sharma quit a high-profile job as director with the InterContinental Hotels Group in London to launch Hostmaker in July 2014.
Three years and around £7.5 million of venture capital funding later, Hostmaker is now London’s number one Airbnb management company and the largest VC-backed homestay hospitality management team in Europe.
Starting out with £50,000 of his own money and no entrepreneurial experience, Sharma sought to create a business that would essentially bring ‘Hilton-level quality’ to the homestay experience by supporting Airbnb ‘hosts’ in a number of areas.
In a nutshell, the company’s full-service offering covers everything from photography and writing the Airbnb listing to supporting the hosts with pricing and marketing.
“We walk a fine line between providing a few nice elements of a hotel experience that travellers appreciate while making sure that the unique home experience and identity of the home isn’t lost,” Sharma told BusinessCloud.
“For instance, we always welcome guests in person which provides a personal experience and also ensures a level of security and safety for the hosts.”
Hostmaker currently operates in London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona and employs a workforce of 150 full-time and part-time staff.
“We would be aiming to easily double the number of markets in the next six to 12 months and those will mainly be larger cities in Europe,” Sharma said, adding that the company may potentially expand to other UK cities as well.
“We’ve grown in confidence this year in our four markets and our customers have appreciated what we’re doing.”
According to Sharma, technology plays an important role in how Hostmaker delivers the hotel experience and how it ensures that operations run efficiently.
Thanks to in-house tech, the company has access to pricing trends and fluctuations across the tens of thousands of homes, ensuring that each home is priced competitively.
“We also have our own algorithms that take into account seasonality or local events which may have an effect on pricing, which are then analysed by our in-house pricing team.
“That’s one example where we are investing in tech to deliver more efficient pricing outcomes.”
Sharma has also outlined plans to possibly further enhance the guest experience with the development of a new app, which would provide travellers with useful insights about the home and the local area.