Bidnstay: The Hospitality Matchmaker for Late Deals

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In this episode of the Boostly Podcast, Emma Johnson, founder of BidnStay, discusses her platform that auctions last-minute accommodations. BidnStay lets hosts set a silent reserve, enabling guests to book by exceeding this reserve, thus helping hosts fill vacancies and boost revenue. Emma focuses on direct engagement with hosts for meaningful connections and outlines easy integration with property management systems via TXGB for effortless listings. 

She elaborates on marketing efforts, especially targeting cyclists and leveraging social media to enhance visibility. Inspired by her own experiences in holiday accommodation management, Emma saw the need for an efficient system to fill last-minute vacancies, leading to the creation of BidnStay during the pandemic.

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Timestamps (audio)


[00:00:00] Emma: So now that we've been concentrating really on getting the technology right and, and user testing it. Now we need to onboard hosts. So that's where, and my preference is to onboard hosts directly rather than going and bringing on agents, which will supply. Stop quite quickly, but I really wanna be working with those hosts directly.

[00:00:22] If they're gonna put in a really low rate, they're not gonna get the booking. So they have to beat that silent reserve. As soon as they do the booking's taken, the property's removed, it's done, and it's all automated like that. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast, Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tee is loose leaf.

[00:00:40] Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you are better. Put direct. Um, here are the words in the podcast. That's what comes next.


[00:00:49] Liam: Welcome back to the Boostly podcast, the podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence.

[00:00:55] So you can go out there and get more direct bookends. This mini-series on the Boostly podcast focuses on services and. People that you need to be aware of as a host. And today we're diving into something a bit different, something which is going to help you as a host potentially fill some of your calendars and just find out about this service.

[00:01:15] So we've got a special guest. We've got Emma Johnson from, she's the founder of BidnStay. Uh, thank you for joining us, Emma. Hi Liam. Hi everybody. So Emma, fill us in.

[00:01:24] What is BidnStay?

[00:01:26] Emma: So BidnStay, there's two elements to it. And the main element is its unique ability to auction off last-minute accommodation.

[00:01:34] So the host sets a silent reserve, which is automatically calculated. So they might say they want to reduce the price by a percentage throughout that month. And that can be on a sliding scale. Um, and then that becomes a silent reserve. A guest comes along and all they have to do is beat that silent reserve.

[00:01:54] As long as they beat that silent reserve, they get the booking. So the host increases their occupancy and their revenue. They get a booking that they might otherwise have not got. And then the other side of the business is promoting that direct booking process.

Why has BidnStay been founded

[00:02:10] Liam: What is the reason that BidnStay has been founded?

[00:02:14] Emma: Okay, so I came into it, we converted the farm into holiday accommodation, and I would sit there thinking that place is empty in that place is empty this weekend, how can I get them to let the very last minute because the weather looks good, sun shining. I'd rather have people in there than it's empty making no money say.

[00:02:33] It's, uh, I'm a runner and I was out running in the morning and I thought I just need to be able to auction this off and have a place to auction it. So I started, um, auctioning it in, um, on eBay, but going on social media and letting my network know that we'd got some accommodation going to the last minute on eBay and took a couple of bookings through that.

[00:02:56] Something for this. I think there's a market for this. Um, so yeah, that was, that was one way. And yeah, so that's, that's kind of how it came about. It wasn't until the pandemic that I threw myself at it and I thought, do you know what? I'm going to do a raise. We're going to build this. Let's see if we can make it happen.

[00:03:13] So

[00:03:14] Liam: diving back into the product, how does this work? So I'm a host myself. Many of the people listening to this are hosts. Uh, what do they need to, to do so, to come and. List their properties.

[00:03:26] Emma: So currently we've just carried out an integration with TXGB, which is linked to a number of their PMSs. So, um, for the like of, um, anytime bookings and, um, book a letter as well, uh, there's, there are loads that they're linked to.

[00:03:41] So all they have to do is if they're not a member of TXGB, they can sign up for free and there's a small commission to pay on any bookings that are placed. I think it's around two and a half per cent. To THGB, um, but as far as it goes with the THGB connection, it is just ticking that box with us, then send all of the details and they can list with us.

Any plans for other people to list

[00:04:05] Liam: If they're not with those people at the moment, are there plans for, um, is there any way for other people to list at the moment? Um,

[00:04:12] Emma: yes, so they can list on the book direct side. We're currently really marketing to cyclists who have just started building out. I mean, this is all very new. We've just launched in the last six weeks.

[00:04:23] So it is very new, but the, um, the cycling side. So if you've got a good area for cycling, um, or you just want to drive direct bookings, then we've got the booking side as well.

[00:04:34] Liam: How does this work then for a guest? So how do you get guests to use, um, BidnStay? And, uh, where do those guests sort of find out about, um, your, your offering?

[00:04:46] Emma: So we just, um, we've just started marketing it because we've been spending the last 18 months, two years building out the tech and we've built all of the technology from, from scratch. So we're now starting to grow our social media presence. And we're in talks with a couple of companies about getting flyers into their, well, we're actually in talks with a wine company and also a cocktail company.

[00:05:08] Um, to get flyers into their boxes that they send out. Um, so we're trying to get into households. So that's the sort of key areas that we're looking to market this at the minute.

For concerned hosts

[00:05:18] Liam: What would you say to hosts who are concerned that they'll get a lower rate than what they'd like? Is this more for the gaps that they've got in their calendar?

[00:05:28] Or could it just be advertised sort of ongoing for the minimum that they'd kind of want for that period?

[00:05:34] Emma: Yeah, no, so it is. It's really for the last minute and sort of gaps that they haven't been able to fill. Also cancellations. We've seen a rise in cancellations, so it's perfect for them. We're looking for everything in the next 30 days when we're looking at that auction side of the site and the BidnStay site.

[00:05:52] Liam: Is there any risk of guests sort of going on it and just trying to local across a lot of properties and stuff like that, or do they go on genuinely just looking at, um, the, the dates, which are, um, you know, the dates, which are available and given fair rates. Um,

[00:06:09] Emma: if they're going to put in a really low rate, they're not going to get the booking.

[00:06:13] So they have to beat that silent reserve. As soon as they do, the bookings taken, the properties removed, it's done and it's all automated like that. That's cool.

[00:06:22] Liam: That's cool. I think this is something personally, which could go big because you see a lot of the tips and tricks on places like TikTok and Instagram Reels, where they're saying, Hey, if you want a place to go, you know, go and check out this, this website.

[00:06:34] And, um, BidnStay. Uh, sounds like somewhere where they could easily do it. It might be worth, um, you know, social media, the reels and stuff like that could be perfect for this, especially if it's recorded as if it's a secret, you know, like I guess somebody to go, you know, Hey, I've just found this awesome website.

[00:06:51] Don't tell anyone, or there's a great way to promote it,

[00:06:54] Emma: isn't it? Definitely. I need to, um, spend some more time on TikTok. We're doing quite well on Instagram. We're starting to gain some traction in there. Website visits have gone up nearly 20 per cent month on month over the last couple of months.

[00:07:07] We're starting, to improve our traffic. And, um, yeah, TikTok's gonna be the next thing, I think. I need to get better at being on, um, being on camera.

Biggest Challenge

[00:07:16] Liam: What would you say is the biggest challenge for BidnStay? At the moment, where would you say, your time is having to be put into and, and things that you're, you're going to look to overcome or something that you have overcome.

[00:07:29] Yeah. So now

[00:07:30] Emma: we've been concentrating really on getting the technology right and, user testing it now we need to onboard hosts. So that's where, and my preference is to onboard hosts directly rather than going and bringing on agents, which will supply. stop quite quickly, but I want to be working with those hosts directly.

[00:07:52] And so that's my main target, um, bringing on board as many hosts as we possibly can. And so that's going to be more integrations as well, other than just TXGB. And

[00:08:02] Liam: with those hosts, how does it work? How do you make your, um, income? Is that from the host side of things or do the guests pay a kind of booking fee?

[00:08:12] Emma: Yeah, so we're either looking to charge at just 5 per cent commission, or they can pay 150 for the year and that enables them the use of our technology and that's, that's it. We're keeping it as low as we possibly can.

[00:08:26] Liam: Awesome. Awesome. And so it's it could be the price of one night, realistically, and then they've got the option to be able to sell all of their nights throughout the year that they need to, um, to, to pay.

[00:08:37] Send out there. So I'm sure there's going to be people off the back of this, um, thinking, Oh, I, I've got some dates, especially as we record this, um, we're coming up to January and January tends to be one of the slower months, doesn't it? Where there are, there are some dates available. So, um, I know, I know hosts are going to be excited about hearing this.

[00:08:55] So, Emma, thank you so much for joining us today on the Boostly Spotlight series. Uh, thank you too, for listening to this. If there's somebody, you know, who can get some value from this, all you need to do is share that with them. And, uh, come and follow us more in the ly co community, which is the hospitality community on Facebook.

[00:09:13] Um, or go and check out the book Direct Playbook, which if you go on Amazon, the book Direct Playbook, you can go and see 101 Ways to Increase your Direct Book. And thank you so much for spending your time with us. We'll see you on the next one. For now, having a blast. Gonna

[00:09:28] Emma: get it on the Bruce Lee podcast.

[00:09:30] Bruce Lee. Like Bruce Lee. 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it. Just do it loosely.