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Houfy? I am interested in diversifying: Cannot keep all my eggs in the Airbnb basket

Hi
Those using Houfy https://www.houfy.com/:

  1. Would you recommend it?
  1. What are your objections?

Obviously Airbnb is not always what we as hosts expect and I cannot continue relying on them for most of my bookings.

We listed with them (and many others) but did not get any bookings. Their footprint seems pretty small. Do they have any listings in your immediate area?

In our area, air is dominant. Your mileage will vary. Things may be different going forward. We are not currently listing, and our bnb converted to LTR March 1 - lucky timing.

I think that it is best to have many channels, figure out what works, and build a direct channel over time.

I wouldn’t not recommend it, but I certainly wouldn’t list there expecting to see any great amount of traffic generated by it. For now it appears to be simply a platform that you can direct folks to when they want to book direct, I’ve never seen any advertising or promotion of it, outside of on here.

I don’t think they offer an XML connection to their calendar, so if you list on multiple platforms, and use a channel manager to keep things tidy, there will be a time lag when updating availability.

You can achieve similar, with more control, by building your own web site.

I’ve no idea where you are located, but in Europe the most popular alternatives are booking.com and homeaway.com. Tripadvisor Rentals is another, but we didn’t get much interest from them, you may and there’s nothing to lose listing with them for a bit.

JF

I have only heard to one person who has got bookings from them, so no harm in registering but don’t rely on it.

As a marketing/comms person I would not agree with @Jefferson’s advice that it is 'best to have many channels and figure out what works’ all that will achieve is for you to end up being a busy fool and waste your money.

The best way to understand how best to market your STR business is to;

1. Analyse your listing- what makes you different/better than your competitors - do you have anything unique about your place i.e. tree house, by a lake, historic building, unbeatable city centre location, near major attractions, furnished in a particular style (your offer).

  1. Do your research to see who your are competition are, what they offer and what they charge. (helps you work out what you can do that’s different/better and understand your pricing model)

  2. Understand which guests are likely to be attracted to your listing and where they come from i.e. families with young children on a budget, business travellers staying for one night, professional city breakers looking for upmarket central location (target market)

  3. Do your market research to understand which STR listing companies operate in your area who are likely to attract your target market (google for your type of place and see what comes up)

  4. Look at opportunities for third party marketing partnerships. For example if you attract ramblers contact Rambling Associations and offer them a discount, talk to your local tourist board about advertising opportunities, if you are near a university see if you can register to offer student accommodation etc etc

  5. Using your research put together a marketing plan to look at which listings channels you can use, what direct marketing channels you might want to use such as FB page, website, blog, which advertising channels you want to invest in to drive traffic to your direct marketing channels etc.

You can then measure which activities work best for you, their costs and then you can invest more in the ones that work best for you.

If you are going the route of marketing your listing directly then do make sure you have the time and know how to maintain the channels you use.

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Houfy only works if you promote your listing, so either by facebook ads, google ads or the like. I would suggest you put your own website together and promote that

Very interesting. Very.

There is one thing I think we may miss.

Let’s assume a million houses get listed on Houfy.

What will that do for the Google Beast?

It loves content. And it will not ignore it. Naturally Google will rank it higher than a single person to trying to maintain a website with fresh content.

I think Houfy depends on natural SEO. It’s no risk and could be great for the long shot.

BTW: I have a website with more than 50 listings we manage. But getting organic Google traffic is a mess. Not easy at all.

Regarding self promotion. Yes. That seems the way users use. But that’s not ideal. For me at least.

Thanks again for the insights. Appreciated.

In the years I’ve been familiar with Houfy it’s grown incredibly slowly. They say that’s by design, not that it helps you. Last I heard it was two guys who started it to manage their own properties and then invited others to join. They expect members to promote it for them. It has a real MLM/cultish vibe to it. “It’s going to be the next big thing!” As long as you don’t get sucked into working for the founders for a wink and promise it is indeed no or low risk.

That glacially slow growth was pre-Covid. I suspect covid won’t help Houfy or any other platform.

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PLEASE DON’T delete this!!!
I’m listed on Houfy and have got bookings directly and also directed potential guests to it. I do not think it is a scam and certainly not a cult and have great respect for the founders and creators. They are scrupulously honest about everything. They work with other online instigators/ writers of host helping programs that are sharing info in the book-direct movement. The Houfy calendar works fine and updates syncs every 3 hours with my other ota accounts. It’s garnered many new hosts during the lock-downs as hosts are desperate to find a way to have direct control over bookings and cancellations. If you look up my listing Tiny Tiki Retro Hideaway > the Houfy link is directly under Air at the top of the page. Thank you for not deleting this thread or my comment.

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Well said @gypsy - I’m on there but admittedly haven’t marketed my home much. I have worked on my own site instead, and been distracted with other things. I think it has potential to be a good site and everything has to start somewhere, just like Air did. I personally haven’t gotten any listings from it and I have only received three (3?) through HA/VRBO but I think you get out what you put in, to anything really, and I wish anyone well on this time to keep afloat.

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My last 2 bookings have been direct bookings via Houfy. One was a repeat guest who contacted me directly after being ‘match-made’ by one of the OTAs the first trip.

The 2nd was via local networking and although it ended up a covid-related cancellation, it will most likely be an ongoing relationship with a rancher just across the way from us who needs a place to put up his hunters, outfitter, and cook on an ongoing basis.

I absolutely would recommend it and have no objections. The owner replies to me directly any time I have had a question. It is super easy to import your existing listing/reviews so setting it up was pretty easy.

Happy to answer any questions.

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Houfy… SEO

You hit the nail on the head as to another benefit of using Houfy - they have links in the template for all your social media and VR web site and you control your listing copy. Your phone number can display if you want it to.

Sure, they don’t have nearly the reach the big OTAs have, but they still have a bigger reach than my site at 1 click a day at best. They have funneled clicks to my site per my analytics and the linkback and other keywords helps give your site a little help.

Really it’s like any other tool in your machine shop, we need a collection of them.

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@Helsi, Perhaps I was not clear? We listed on many sites. All were 100% free.

We tried Air, bdc, tripadvisor, misterbandb, vrbo, homeaway, golightly, and perhaps 1-2 more. Most take little time to create a listing. Much of it simple copy/paste. Bdc takes far longer to list with but they did get us a booking and a few inquiries.

IMO, you will not know if any of these will or will not provide benefit without trying. Again - there is No Cost involved.

The cost involved is your time to set up and maintain your marketing activity and channels. @Jefferson

You are much better focussing on marketing activities and channels that will give you the best return, rather than wasting your time (money) on those that don’t. If you do your market research and understand who you are targeting of course you will be able to focus on activities that will give you the best return. That was my whole point.

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@gypsy or any other Houfy host … is it possible to block same day bookings by default? I have scoured all my settings and just can’t find a way.

Is there not a Houfy forum?

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I think they have a FB page

RR

Hi Lone Star,
There must be a way, but I cant find it, go to say yes to Houfy on FB and the runners will help you quickly!

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I don’t have FB. I keep waiting for them to move it to their own platform. I have the question out to them. Will update with answer! Last time I asked a functionality question, the answer was ‘log out and back in again, this feature is built now.’ And it was.

@Cabinhost seemed to be our resident Houfy and FabStayz expert.

Here are a couple of her past, rather detailed, posts about it.

@LoneStar: It took me a few days to get a response to my questions; the owner who responded was very nice but it didn’t really fit my needs at that point.

Yes, he is very responsive and always has gotten back to me in a reasonable time, esp. considering the vast time zone disparity.

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