We presents an eCommerce company that has grown substantially for close to a decade by addressing one of the most significant challenges facing so many nations today: affordable housing. Launched in 2014 to help address Ireland’s lack of affording accommodations, the company has become a marketplace leader in Host Homes, providing medium-term accommodations that match up tenants and hosts safely and professionally. As this business has discovered over the years, there’s a high demand for these services and a large number of scale opportunities. A significant key to this company’s success has been to find properties that can be made available for rent, then create fair and uniformed conditions across each room listed at market. Their service includes the introduction of a rent validation check to ensure all rents are in line with current market conditions.
Rent Validation helps to provide a method to build trust between renters and hosts, and it fills a serious gap in Ireland’s rental market. With a large Average Booking Fee of $542, most of their guests stay on average 4.5 months or longer. Profits are closing in on $2 million and the company now enjoys 77% net margins in this lucrative field.
This company could become a very significant global player in this industry as the affordable housing crisis shows no signs of letting up. For several years now, there has been a massive shortage of medium-priced housing options, whether it’s homes to buy, apartments, townhouses, or condominiums.
In the United States alone, estimates are that an additional 7 million new homes are badly needed up keep up with demand, and that number is likely to rise as people who own a home continue to choose not to sell. Today, a growing number of people are housing cost-burdened, meaning they cannot find adequate housing in their price range.
Communities today are looking for smart and practical solutions, and this brand has successfully delivered on that. Let’s take a closer look at how they built this profitable operation.
The company addresses a serious gap in the housing market. Launched in June 2014, the company was created to provide affordable medium-term accommodations in host homes. In addition to introducing standards and conditions for each host homes they list, the company created an online booking system designed to be easy to use so a guest could select the room they like and book it on their own.
Their goal from day one was to maximize comfort and fair pricing within the rental market, and the owners understood how to tap into the many homeowners willing to provide accommodations at a price that was attractive to them. With those homeowners available to them, the company had no trouble finding interested tenants.
Today their typical customer includes foreign students coming to the city for an academic semester, professionals on work assignments looking for someplace to stay until they find permanent accommodations, and local professionals or students moving to the city.
Marketing reaches both hosts and tenants. To bring on hosts, the company has relied on PPC ads on Facebook and Instagram. New hosts are also brought on through organic search on Google and by word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied property owners who have worked with them in the past.
Organic traffic on Google and local rental websites have been the top lead generation tools for their guests. The company has optimized their website for SEO and have experienced great results. The same is true with the blog on their website aimed at hosts, and this program is helping to bring 30,000+ unique monthly visitors to their site.
As the need for affordable housing keeps increasing, demand for their services will only get stronger. But this company certainly has additional ways to scale quickly.
Their strongest option would be to expand internationally. With the affordable housing challenge confronting the United States, their service matching hosts and tenants could become just as in demand there as well.
The company could also focus its efforts on very specific markets where there is a serious imbalance between demand for housing and a lack of available units. There are also opportunities to expand their lead generation tools beyond organic Google search to include their social media accounts, email marketing, and other digital tools.
The company benefits from a 100% positive customer rating for their services, and has the advantage of being 100% remote and easy to manage.
The current owners work just 20 hours per week, focusing primarily on strategic development. An experienced team of 8 workers handles most daily tasks, including a team leader, senior customer service officer, four customer service agents, a marketing manager and a web developer. The staff works remotely, making this operation a very flexible one that is easy to manage.
The model this brand created for Dublin and the rest of Ireland can be applied anywhere in the world that has tenants in need of housing. Having a system that has drawn rave reviews speaks highly for their accomplishment, and so has their ability to attract first rate host homes and qualified tenants. Their ingenious solution to what has been a complex problem worldwide is an enviable model for others to follow.
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