How To Utilise Guest Apps To Improve Your Guest Experience

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In this podcast, host Liam Carolan discusses the benefits of guest apps for short-term rental hosts with Sjeel Koster , CEO of Holiday Hero. The app, designed for vacation rentals and hotels, focuses on building brand loyalty by enhancing guest experience. 

Sjeel emphasizes the app's advantages over traditional house manuals, offering convenience, real-time updates, and adaptability for tech-savvy guests. The app facilitates group engagement, making it easy for friends or family to share information. 

Setting up an account for hosts takes only three to five minutes, integrating data from platforms like Airbnb. For guests, the app sends automatic invitations for a seamless experience.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Okay. So today we're talking about why guest apps are smart marketing tools and how you can benefit from them. So if you're a short-term rental host and you've ever considered, how can you improve guest experience, you're going to want to listen and help us, we've got a special guest here. Um, so.

[00:00:16] If this is your first time listening to this, you listen to the Boostly podcast, the podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and the confidence to go out there and get more direct bookends. I'm Liam Carolan, and today we've got, uh, Sjeel Koster. She's the CEO and founder of Holiday Hero.

[00:00:36] You can go and check them out at Holidayhero. com and we're going to dive into the business and, uh, and find out all about the app and, uh, and guest experience. So welcome along Shield. Thank you for joining here.

[00:00:47] Sjeel: Thank you so much for uh, yeah, letting me join this podcast.

A bit about Sjeel and Holiday Hero

[00:00:52] Liam: So let's start at the beginning.

[00:00:53] Can you introduce yourself and what is Holiday Hero?

[00:00:57] Sjeel: Yeah. So yeah, my name is Shiel and I'm the CEO and co-founder of Holiday Hero. Uh, Holiday Hero is a guest experience platform and guest app, and we focus on the vacation rental market and hotel markets.

[00:01:12] Liam: What problem does it solve?

[00:01:15] Sjeel: It solves, it solves multiple problems.

[00:01:18] Uh, I think there's a huge gap right now when it comes to, um, building your brands, uh, as a vacation rental owner. And it starts with a website, right? With Boostly. And then after that, what happens, right? You want to have as many touchpoints as possible with your guests. You want to make sure that your guests are engaged and loyal, but how do you create that loyalty?

[00:01:37] And I think, um, that's where we come in trying to help you build that loyalty by also having a brand after the booking is placed with a guest experience app. Um, so it helps you drag in your guests every time they come to your place and also try to book, uh, additional upsells, for example.

[00:01:57] So it also helps you with. Get satisfaction. It helps you with increasing your revenue and it helps you with making sure making sure that you get repeat bookings because your guests will be more loyal.

Whereabouts is Holiday Hero

[00:02:07] Liam: Whereabouts is holiday home based? Where do you serve? Is it worldwide? And uh, then we'll find out a little bit more about you as well.

[00:02:16] Sjeel: Yeah, we are globally and we are multi-currency and language, but, um, we will not focus on the Japanese or Chinese market. So, uh, that's that we will leave those out for now.

[00:02:29] Liam: Absolutely. And when it comes down to, uh, yourself, how, how did you get into this? Where did the idea come around from?

[00:02:38] Sjeel: So I can, I can brag that it was my idea, but like my co-founder, my other co-founders, Dennis Yalta and Ruud, they have all houses in Ibiza and also, um, how do you say, um, a boat here in Amsterdam and they rent them out.

[00:02:56] And, uh, with that, uh, comes a lot of responsibility and a lot of time that you need to invest. And they were like, Oh, this is an easy investment. We don't need to spend that much time. And then they had their first guests arrive, et cetera, et cetera. And then they were like, okay, with their technology background, this is something that we need to optimize.

[00:03:14] Um, this is something that we need to monetize, automate and digitize. And, uh, that's how they came to the idea of holiday hero. I think they contacted me somewhere last year, at the beginning of last year, and I was still working in a different tech firm. Um, my background is more into go-to-market strategies and growth, and that's also a passion, but I've always worked in tech, um, and especially had a very, um, high affinity with the hospitality tech because I worked at Lightspeed.

[00:03:44] Um, yeah, so that's, uh, they called me and they were like, feel, we wanna, we want you, you to run the show. And I was like, okay, let's, let's go for it. You know, I believe, in the idea. And, uh, yeah, now we're here. Fast forward. Um, yeah. Launched, uh, the products, uh, two to three months ago. Why

[00:04:02] Liam: have an app instead of a house manual or even You know, there'll be people listening to this.

[00:04:07] We've got hosts all over the world who've still got a printed guide inside their property. What is the advantage of the app? Well,

[00:04:13] Sjeel: it's, it's all about making your life easier and that you don't need to update it, right? If you have a printed PDF file, um, information gets outdated quite fast, especially if you inform your guests about local recommendations, which restaurants they need to go to or what activities, if these things don't exist anymore, you need to.

[00:04:34] Update your PDF file again, and then you need to print it out again, etc, etc. And, um, I think it's also more convenient to look at it more from the guest's perspective. What Is your guest's behaviour? What do they do? Where do they go? And, um, I think a PDF file, could be a solution. I'm not saying, you know, skip the PDF file.

[00:04:58] If you think it's a great way of working on it, leave it there on the table, because there will be guests that may be a little bit more elderly guests that like to have it printed out and have it there. But there are also these younger generations, which are very tech savvy and very mobile-first, that Are looking into more like these types of solutions where they're like, okay, you don't have it on mobile.

[00:05:21] You don't have it somewhere where I can just open it and I can check it and it will be updated right away. And I think it's really about accommodating this future, um, the future guests. Right. And that's where, where we're going. Um, if we like it or not, you know, it's, it should be mobile first.

Does it help with data collection?

[00:05:38] Liam: Does it help with any kind of data collection from your guests who use the app I'm thinking from a direct bookings point of view.

[00:05:45] Sjeel: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, um, the app works where it gets in the information from the main booker, of course, but we also have a feature where you can, um, ask additional information from the other guests. It's also an app which will help with guest engagement and group engagement. So we will also have features where, uh, we try to engage the group to, um, Have access to the same information on the gas tap.

[00:06:14] It always happens that, at least in my friend group, I'm the one usually that arranges where we're going and then the restaurants, et cetera, et cetera. And I always get these questions like, Sjeel, where are we going? Like, what's our budget? Da da da. And it would be, like, such, so, such convenient if I can just say, you know, everything is in the app.

[00:06:35] There's our travel itinerary, you know, you can all check it out there. All the local recommendations are there in there. And let me know if you want to book something and then we can do it as a group. Right. And that's something that the app accommodates.

What do you need as a host?

[00:06:49] Liam: If I was a host and I have decided, okay, I'm going to make the move to an app.

[00:06:54] What do you need, from me as a host? What can I expect from the experience and how much work, I guess, do I have to put into to get this app working?

[00:07:02] Sjeel: Yeah, it's really about, um, you know, time to host. So we're trying to make that time frame from, um, wanting to use Holiday Hero as your guest experience provider.

[00:07:15] Uh, the short as short as possible. So we're trying to keep it Up to three to five minutes to create an account and then you will have your guest app. And the way that we do that is that we work with information from, uh, providers that are already out there like Airbnb or booking, um, where we can easily, uh, um, you know, get that information about what amenities are you using?

[00:07:39] Like, what kind of pictures do you have? And then it only takes a few steps. to set up your account and then you have like your full guest app already ready. If you don't want to customize it or you say, okay, certain things I'm not completely happy with, then, um, you can still change it in the back office.

[00:07:58] Liam: That's cool. That's cool. And then if we flip that question around, so if I'm the guest of just booked, um, I dunno, Elaine's beach holiday hut. What happens? How do I, how do I know about the app and, um, how easy is, is it for me as a guest then to, to use?

[00:08:17] Sjeel: Yeah, as a, as a guest, it's, it's really about like changing, uh, the way that you inform your guests, right?

[00:08:24] I think, um, Even on the side of the host, it's like changing your behaviour and it's changing the way that you communicate with your guests because the app, the app will help save a lot of time because the guests will interact with it. What happens is that the guest gets an automatic invitation to either download the app or go to the web app link, and then they can access all the information.

[00:08:50] Um, if there's a step where it's, uh, it's more going into the check-in and like more crucial information, then we require them to do, uh, some kind of verification because you don't want anybody to just check into your home. Right. Um, so that's, that's how it will work. So even there for the guest, it should be as easy, um, as possible to just.

[00:09:14] Get the information without any friction. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.