Around the world there are more than 10 million short-term rental properties on the market through platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. Former HGTV producers turned Airbnb Hosts Annie Sloan and Mikel Hubbard want to make those spaces shoppable with their new online marketplace The Host Co., which helps hosts create an online store to sell anything in their property — from the snacks in the fridge to the art on the walls.
In addition to enabling hosts to sell products already in rental properties, The Host Co. platform also allows short-term rental owners to offer additional services such pantry pre-stocking and connections to local artisan products for sale. Guests can make purchases before or during their stay. The technology is designed to work with all short-term rental platforms as well as other rental types such as boutique hotels, swimming pools, office spaces and even airplanes.
In results from owners trialing the tool, Host Co. reported that more than 40% of guests purchased an item when they stayed at a rental with a Host Co. store, and over 90% of guests at least checked out the online store.
The Host Co. makes a commission on each sale, and the hosts gain access to another revenue stream. “We are currently helping short-term rental hosts curate a value-add experience for their guests and make more money from every booking,” said Sloan in a statement. “Demand for our technology is accelerating at a rapid pace, and we now have a waiting list of over 1,100 additional hosts.”
The Host Co. also has piqued the interest of investors; the company recently announced an oversubscribed $1.85 million seed funding round, led by HearstLab with participation from The Artemis Fund and Untapped Capital. Sloan said the funding will be used to scale and expand the platform’s logistical capabilities, partner with more short-term rental hosts and further enhance the guest experience.
“On the heels of an incredible year for Airbnb, the short-term rental industry is exploding with tens of thousands of new hosts gearing up every month, primarily women looking to maximize their profits,” said Hubbard in a statement. “Our mission is to empower hosts to achieve positive financial and social mobility through the platform.”