Hospitable: Can I Use A PMS For Direct Bookings?

In this podcast, Liam introduces Andrew Shaw from Hospitable, a unique software beyond a PMS, focusing on messaging and automation for smaller-scale hosts. Andrew discusses Hospitable's mission, user-friendliness, and affordability, emphasizing its channel management across platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com.

They explore Hospitable's unique features, including automated messaging and the industry's first ChatGPT implementation. Andrew highlights the company's focus on enhancing the guest experience through natural-sounding interactions and automation, simplifying processes for hosts.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Hey, hey, everybody. Welcome to the new episode of the Boostly podcast today. I am excited because we've got very special guests. Often I see the question in Facebook groups all the time of what PMS should I go for. Or is there software that can help me automate? And help me with guest communication when I'm taking direct bookings.

[00:00:20] And today we're going to dive into that subject. So today I've got Andrew Shaw. So yeah, he's the director of Product of Hospitable, which is an epic piece of, uh, of software. Andrew, take it away. Please introduce what is hospitable and what does it do? Yeah.

[00:00:37] Andrew: So we're, I mean, we don't even like to call ourselves a PMS.

[00:00:41] We're I guess a channel manager at PMS. Sure. Um, we started mainly focused on messaging. So I think that's what people know us for best, uh, for best is the automated messaging. So we're, we're pretty good at that. Um, and then we do kind of everything else in that space. So operations, uh, smart lock automation, um, we say our mission is to gift host their time back.

[00:01:02] So basically that is our, our founding, um, founding and ethos is to do everything we can to give hosts our time back and then, yeah, I've been focused mainly on, on the direct booking side, like you, as you mentioned. So we've got kind of unique offering there. And then we've got some kind of secret projects cooking in the works as well.

How does it help the host?

[00:01:19] Liam: How does it help the host? What kind of aspects does hospitable cover?

[00:01:25] Andrew: Yeah. So on, on like the channel management side, uh, we're working with Airbnb booking. com VRBO. So we kind of help you just, you know, maintain your operations across different platforms. So that's, you know, it's, some of it is content management.

[00:01:38] Some of it is, you know, I want to have the same, you know, set up my greetings, my, my answers to frequently asked questions all in one place and not repeat those across, you know, every, every different platform. Um, but, uh, yeah, I think. I think where we get unique in that aspect is we're targeted at the smaller scale host generally, and we have hosts with over a thousand properties, but, our secret sauce is mainly focusing on hosts that are just getting started on their journey.

[00:02:04] They may never become a property manager. Um, I think our average host size is like two and a half, three properties. Um, most of them are owners, not, not operators in that sense. Um, and so we make different decisions. We try and be unique. Um, we try and, um, do things just a little bit differently in the industry, which I think generally focuses on the property manager side.

[00:02:24] Um, so we, we do, yeah, little touches. I think we're. Very easy to use and we have to be affordable at that range. So I think a lot of, a lot of hosts appreciate that we, we start pretty affordable.

Biggest win so far?

[00:02:34] Liam: What would you say has been the biggest win so far for hospitable hospitable as a company?

[00:02:40] Andrew: We've had a pretty long history.

[00:02:41] I've only been here for just actually coming up a few days away from, from a year with hospitable myself. Um, and. Yeah, thinking back through the history of it. I mean, one of the recent ones. I don't know if I can speak for the entire history. Um, we did, despite what you might see on LinkedIn from other people.

[00:02:59] We had the first chat GPT implementation in the industry. So, um, that is something where I think we were early on AI even before For the chat GPT wave and did a really good job, um, automating messaging. Um, and now we have, um, something that was just wildly popular with, with our, our hosts are you can just reply in the inbox on any channel and we'll generate it and I think over 50 per cent of those messages get sent without any editing.

[00:03:24] And that was just like the V1 for us of, of inbox. Um, and we've got all kinds of different improvements coming to that. I think it's going to. It enables you to do some really interesting things. And especially like going back to, you know, our, our focus on giving hosts their time back, we're trying to do zero set up, like really use AI to get to, you know, where you don't have to set up any of these features for them to work.

[00:03:48] And that fits also, yeah. Targeting, you know, small hosts that don't have a lot of time and maybe aren't professionals at this, uh, it really fits with, with our mission.

How does guest experience help  

[00:03:56] Liam: When it comes down to the guest experience, how does it help? A five-star review from, say, a guest. What is the difference from a guest's point of view?

[00:04:06] Does a guest know that the host has got this software connected at all?

[00:04:12] Andrew: Yeah, we, we try and make it as natural sounding as possible. Right. Um, and I think generally a normal reservation, you're going to have a mix of both automated and, um, you know, personalized communication, uh, coming, coming from the host.

[00:04:26] Um, but yeah, I, you know, our founding pain point. Was that the anxiety you get as a host when you know, you want to be fast to respond and you might be out with, you know, at a movie with your partner and you're still checking your phone, you know, during the movie, you can never get away from that. So, that anxiety was very real.

[00:04:44] For our founder, Pierre, not me. Um, and, and we just went from there. So we started expanding from there and how do we, how do we give the quality of life back to the host? And that does get you five-star reviews. And so, you know, you, you can iterate on your kind of. They kind of become your SOPs as, as a host, you know, you, you kind of iterate on what are the questions I'm getting, you're improving your answers to those questions as you go.

[00:05:09] And I think the guests can recognize that and appreciate that. And then you're automating things that, you know, the platforms, the OTAs are judging you on. So, you know, we help you automate your reviews. So you make sure, you know, you're giving out good sounding and yet automated reviews for every guest, unless you say, okay.

[00:05:25] Okay, this is a bad guest and we'll do a little bad review feature that you can, you know, mark up during this day. And that'll go out like the last 30 seconds of that, of that booking window on the OTA. So you're not going to get, you know, a retaliatory review, uh, in case the guest sees that and is reminded, Oh, they want to submit a review too.

[00:05:41] Um, so this is kind of the fun things that we've done.

[00:05:43] Liam: What are some of the new features and the new changes or the things that you're excited about coming along? Yeah.

[00:05:50] Andrew: So, um, I'm just, just dovetailing on your point about making an easy-to-start. I think that also fits in with how we work with Bosley.

[00:05:56] I think you guys are kind of more of the advanced option in this space for early booking sites. Right? We make it as easy as possible to spin up, you know, just a starter site to get you started to start experimenting because again, we're, we're at that smaller scale host into the marketplace where you might not be taking direct bookings currently.

[00:06:12] And you just want to get started. And that's where we'll just, we'll take all of that content that already exists and you've already spread across your other OTA channels, and we'll, we'll help you spin up a business in 15, 20 minutes. Flat. And then as you get good at that business, you start to invest in more advanced tools like Bosley.

[00:06:28] Um, and can start to grow a proper business out of it. Um, but that's the side I'm on, on the direct booking. So that's normally what I get excited about is, um, just what we're working on. So we just rolled out promo codes. That was one of our most requested features. I think the direct stuff that we're doing, the direct booking stuff is still a pretty nascent product.

[00:06:46] Um, that's, I joined the company basically to get that to market and I was just Florida. Again, going back to like them, we make unique decisions. We try to be different. Um, we wanted to take a different tack with direct booking and kind of be a hybrid and I think what we saw in the marketplace was a whole bunch of what we have as our direct basic offering, which is we're going to give you a site and we're going to.

[00:07:07] Plugin payment processing to it. And we said, hold on. There are a lot of things that the OTAs do that are interesting. And that was where we kind of came up with, okay, let's, let's try not, you know, throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's keep some of the risk management things. And so that's why we are the merchant of record for our direct premium offering.

[00:07:24] Which means we're protecting you from chargebacks, which is actually what I spent a good deal of my time on lately has, uh, that's, that's a whole interesting topic in itself, but then, yeah, giving you, you know, guest vetting protection, integrated built into the product for every reservation, giving you 5 million of damage protection with every direct booking reservation.

[00:07:40] Again, that makes it easy for a newer host to experiment with these things where they might have some anxiety about, you know, opening up their home and not having Airbnb or booking. com protections in place as well. we're going to meet you kind of halfway with with this hybrid option.

What is chargeback

[00:07:55] Liam: You mentioned chargebacks for people listening who might not know what a chargeback is, what is a chargeback and how does hospitable help with that?

[00:08:03] Andrew: Yeah, I think I would have included myself in that audience of not knowing much about it about 60 days ago. Um, yeah, we just started getting ours in and, uh, man, it's a learning experience. Uh, and I can't imagine going through that as a small-scale host. You know, um, these guys are sophisticated. Um, we're seeing chargebacks for fraud and, you know, we're working with a payment processor.

[00:08:24] Massive payment processor and like the fraud scores on a chargeback are minimal. So like, you know, like out of 100, it's a, it's a blocked charge from a credit card. We're seeing like 20, 20 fraud scores. So like very, very clean. They pass through guest vetting, they pass through this and we're still getting it.

[00:08:40] It's a, it's a stolen card or it's an unauthorized card. And so we're evolving to that, but all along the way. Our stance is that as the merchant of record, that's our chargeback. It's not our host. So our hosts get paid out. I'm dealing right now. We had, I guess, a ring of them that just did three chargebacks, about $6,500 across two different hosts.

[00:08:57] That's us. We ate. We ate that. That's a learning lesson for us. We keep expanding and growing. Our hosts didn't even know that this effort went to chargeback, so they got paid all the same and then again. Put yourself in the shoes of that small-scale host who just took a big booking. They're all excited.

[00:09:11] And then, you know, a week after they check out, you get a notification from the, from the credit card company that, you know, have to defend. The ability to get this payment that you, you thought was all locked up because that was a stolen credit card and, and, you know, we're using all kinds of different sophisticated tools and they're still getting through.

[00:09:28] And so no matter how good you think you are about this, you're going to be losing thousands of dollars. On bookings that you thought were already bankable, you've got this 90-day chargeback window. Um, and that's again, like, I, Pierre talks about this, our founder, he said, the happiest day was, you know when we got the first chargeback and we said, look at how valuable this is for a host.

[00:09:47] Yeah. You know, sucks losing a few thousand dollars, but we can stomach that aggregated across our entire direct booking business. If you're a single host, that might be the last track booking that you're willing to take. And you're out of the business and you're saying. I'm just gonna stick with Airbnb.

[00:09:59] Liam: Having a blast

[00:10:00] gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.