The guy with Vacation Soup I believe is in Denmark, but what he offers is for everyone globally.
I will give you one important piece of advice. If you want to sign up with a listing site and pay money…then by all means think about it. If you want to get your feet wet to learn about Houfy…then take the 10 minutes right this second and join. That is the best way to learn about it. And, I never mentioned this before on purpose…But if you are the first person in your area to even list, and complete your listing, you will receive the first year free whenever Houfy does charge. So…it is free for all of 2019. The owner of Houfy is still not sure if and when he will charge maybe something similar to Netflix such as $10 a month in 2020. But that year will be free for you too. Not sure when the offer ends.
Click on the lodging section (may be to the top left of your screen) and punch in your area. If no one shows up…then you will see a tab called “get started” - then click it and import your listing. Your first listing will come with a free year when there is a charge. Don’t even think about it…not sure when the promo ends as I didn’t really want to promote it. But it takes minutes to complete everything. As you can see from the poster above, she didn’t expect the import tool to work so quickly.
Houfy is not for those who are looking to list and who EXPECT a bunch of direct bookings right away. This is for people who want to diversify long term or just need a place for repeats.
Others who want everything handed to them should stick with the OTAs. It is more for those who are looking for alternatives that are growing and willing to support. Planting the seeds more or less. And for those where a guest can google search your property name and see that you show up on Houfy and they can book through a site with no booking fees
So Cabin, I’m all signed up and on Houfy. My listing is live and I am now working on Guides etc. A lot of reading involved and a steep learning curve regarding SEO’s but I can see this being a great thing for taking control of my business in the future. There are only 3 listings in New Zealand so a lot of potential still.
I am yet to work out a few little things like why the price doesn’t change for additional guests over 2 even though I have an extra person fee.
I need to put aside a lot of time to work on content for posts and guides but I will get there.
My next big task is to take the tutorials on Vacation Soup and get my website going with them. Taking my own payment via cc rather than PayPal is also on the list.
Thanks for spending time explaining theses sites. I can see these are going to be great for hosts in the future. It will be a long road but it is good to be getting in now and learning how it all works.
You just said it! You have to put in the effort if you don’t want another entity controlling your business. No stork is going to land on your doorstep. Any technical questions you have about how Houfy works can all be asked on the Houfy Facebook group. I cannot express enough how responsive the owner and his partner are. They take all feedback, and things are adjusted so quickly! Like I said…this is all in testing and development stage, and you are correct in joining while you help make a difference.
Vacation Soup also has technical assistance. And I too am trying to build a new website to replace my previous one.
Find me on Houfy and follow me, and I will follow you back.
I’ve joined Houfy’s FB page and have learned a lot from there. The developer is really responsive and helpful for sure.
I’ve already found you and am now following. Great content! A great way to learn what to add…read other people’s guides.
I need more hours in the day to do all the research and add posts etc.
Excited now to get my website ready.
@cabinhost - I’ve heard about Houfy, but I have built our own website and our villa has a unique name so it’s easy to find our website if you look for our villa name. I’m not trying to be obtuse, but if a potential guest can find our website and book directly with us, what is the advantage of listing on Houfy?
I know you aren’t being obtuse Piton. But good question. Guests may not always be able to find you on the OTAs in future. The search algorithms with Air and HA change all the time. I’m sure you have read the horror stories of HA outright hiding properties from searches during their A/B tests. And claiming they can do this even though you paid them $499 to list. It’s insane. If HA moves to a 100% pay per booking model, then they will have that right to show your property whenever they want. So if they think most Safari users wouldn’t book your property, they will only surface yours if it’s someone using Chrome, etc. Or what if Air delists your property with no explanation, no reason given…someone made a false claim for discrimination because you charged them for damages, etc. This is why it’s important for owners to now join other alternatives and help them to grow, instead of being at the mercy of sites that can show your listing whenever they please. The import tool allows you to import all listing info, including your reviews from either Air or VRBO within a matter of seconds…in case you decide to no longer do business with Air or VRBO. You can also sync the site with any new reviews that come in from one of those sites.
One major advantage is that Houfy is also a social site where you will be able to actively engage with your guests who join. They can comment on your guides, share them on social media, and guests can even write their own guides. You can write guides about anything you want: supplies, directions, arrival info, weather updates, etc. Plus, if a guest does join and “follows” you, (once notifications are implemented) - they will receive notification of every time you post about your area…long after they leave. Of course you could do the same with your own website and blog on that, create a newsletter etc. But Houfy makes it extremely easy for those who can’t dedicate the time now, to figure out how to do all of that on their own.
Another advantage to listing on destination sites like Houfy and Vacation Soup, is that these sites will eventually move up in Google, due to the amount of owners collectively writing about their destinations. Alan Egan touched on it above, and how these destination sites will become more interesting to Google. Plus, you have a lot of control over your own writing and how well you can possibly rank on Google. I understand writing isn’t for everyone, but if you can write an exceptional post about a topic that people are googling for your area…and your post is found on the first page of Google - visitors will click on your post and then see your listing there. This is more exposure to people who are thinking of planning a visit to your area, versus people who are only looking for accommodation on the OTAs. Even if you never write a post, if a traveler stumbles across the site through someone else’s post…then you will still have exposure as they compare accommodations.
Houfy will eventually be adding a real estate section (no middleman), and will include long term rentals too. So it’s definitely more than just a vacation rental listing site.
This is fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. Will be taking steps to implement.
For those folks who want someone to professionally create a website for them, the best priced one I know of is Red Starfish. They are outsourced to India as far as I know. Heard good things about them.
I’m still not convinced that the guests have a strong demand for a website like Houfy. AirBnB and Homeaway have key aspects many guests are looking for - Instant Booking, flexible cancellation policies, and “traveler protections” of some sort of another.
But it make sense to diversify as much as possible (within reason) and it sounds like Houfy has support from a portion of the owner community, so it’s probably the best non-OTA site to get “in bed” with.
Thanks again for taking the time to post such a helpful response!
Guests will able to instant book on Houfy. The difference is that you will get paid upfront instead of Airbnb holding your money. The funds will go straight to your bank account. If someone now is on Airbnb or Homeway, with a flexible cancellation and wants to import into Houfy they are welcome to do so. Owners create their own cancellation policy.
Houfy is also going to be implementing more payment options (than what the OTAs offer) in the future such as PayPal, various credit card options,and is looking into transferwise. Transferwise alone will be huge savings for both sides versus paying international credit card fees. So if a guest sees that an owner on Homeaway is going to bill them for the 5% international CC fee…then booking that listing through Houfy and using Transferwise - will likely be the much cheaper option. In addition to not paying service fees to the listing sites.
So really Houfy is going to offer listings, etc. similar in the same way that HA does, but with more options, and owners are in control of their policies, payments, etc. And it will be better because it is also a social site, and a site for real estate transactions with zero commisson. And more options like long term rentals, etc. are likely coming too.
Houfy is the site that owners have been screaming about to get built. If you are in the Say No Facebook group, you know every week someone new posts about owners banning together to create a site, so they aren’t at the mercy of the OTA rules (that are not in the best interest of the owner). It’s in high demand for owners. Owners can create their own destiny, but it will be up to them. They can either sit back and just do nothing as OTAs take more of their income, or be part of a site that they have been begging for. They don’t need to leave the OTAs…they can still use those too. But the changes coming with the OTAs aren’t going to suddenly be about charging less money, give owner’s more say so - it’s going to get worse.
As far as guest protection, their credit card gives them protection against fraudulent listings anyway. We know Homeaway doesn’t really offer any protection to guests, since the only way Homeaway’s “guarantee” will kick in, is only if the credit cardholder does a chargeback through their bank, and the bank denies the chargeback. The chances of the bank denying something like that is very tiny. So travelers on that site are paying a service fee for the privilege of using the credit card protection they already can use for free.
Now Airbnb…sure they have their protection of extenuating circumstances. The issue is that owners (with certain type properties) cannot run their business this way, and that’s why many want to leave Air and are seeking out alternatives. Just recently saw a post in another group of the owner losing $2,000 because Air was allowing anyone in the state of Florida to cancel for free. The guest was nowhere near any storms.
So a guest has the option to pay Airbnb up to 20% for the privilege of being able to cancel due to illness, weather, etc. OR they can book through Houfy (with zero service fees) and purchase their own travel insurance, or take the chances and not purchase it. Or if their own credit card offers travel insurance, then they’re covered anyway.
As far as damage deposits go, the guests are still protected if they use their credit card. The owner cannot just take whatever money and keep it. The credit card companies have specific rules where the cardholder must be notified of damages after they have occurred. And then the cardholder must give consent for their card to be charged. No matter what an owner has in their rental agreement about being given consent…doesn’t matter. If a merchant accepts a certain card, they must play by the cardholder’s rules.