Veeve's rapid growth in 3 international locations
Veeve is a luxury short-term property management company company based in London. After finding their "secret sauce" with the urban London market, they quickly opened offices in Paris and Los Angeles. The company has built some of their technology in-house - a dynamic pricing and revenue management tool, a lead management system and their own booking platform - but leaves channel management to Rentals United. You can watch the full interview on YouTube or listen to it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast (US only). More stations: https://anchor.fm/secretsaucepodcast
|N of properties connected||+1750|
|Headquarter Location||London, UK|
|Tech Used||API + Rentals United|
Get multiple properties listed efficiently and accurately on all booking websites
Maintain competitive nightly rates with real-time update across all listing sites
Automate distribution to concentrate resources on business growth
Working with Rentals United allowed us to focus on what we do best, which is managing private homes. It really helped us scale.
182%INCREASE IN REVENUE
48%INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF RESERVATIONS
300%INCREASE PORTFOLIO IN 2 YEARS
Full Interview of Pierre Hubisz - Head of Sales and Business development at Veeve
Vanessa: What is it that you were doing before Veeve and what is your current position at Veeve?
Pierre: I used to work in a five-star hotel so I have very much a hospitality background. I worked in hotels for about seven years before I joined Veeve. I traveled the world a little bit, worked in France, Switzerland and then I joined…I went to London in 2012. I think I've always been super excited about creating memorable experiences for guests coming in and what they would take away when they go back home. So I started with Veeve in 2013.
Back then it was a very small company, there was about six or seven people in the business. They were really looking to grow at a fast pace and when they reached out to me I was really excited and intrigued by the project, especially the opportunity to create those memorable experiences. In 2016 we opened offices in Paris and in 2018 offices in Los Angeles.
My role is in key partnerships, how we distribute our properties, and making sure that we have the best visibility for guests looking to visit our cities. We are obviously on the likes of VBRO, part of HomeAway, and recently, since May 2019, we started a partnership with Marriott Homes and Villas.
Nearly 1800 luxury homes and 3 international offices
Vanessa: Tell me a little bit more about the offices. Now you sit in London, that's where the headquarter is. You have an office in Paris and an office in LA, correct?
Pierre: That's correct yes.
Vanessa: How many people in total work with you?
Pierre: It changes but now we’re about 60 people so it's about 10 times the size that we were when I started. It's been really exciting to see that growth and change over the years.
Vanessa: Great and how many rentals do you represent?
Pierre: In total we have about 1,750 private homes that we manage on behalf of homeowners.
“HOTELIFYING” home-stays and professionalising short-term rentals
Vanessa: Tell me a little bit more about the Veeve brand, since you manage on behalf of owners but what do you stand for? What is the brand all about?
Pierre: I guess our main goal is really to “hotelify” home-stays and really professionalize short-term rentals. What we have done and what we're doing is to source the best private home rentals and apply a quality hotel style service to it. Each home is unique, they have been designed by those homeowners. They're really looking after them, these aren’t investment homes, they’re usually privately lived-in homes. What they're looking for is for someone to look after those homes when they are out of town.
We're aiming to enrich their lifestyle obviously with the income that they generate and also enrich it through our partnership via a members club. This members club gives them the opportunity to attend events that we create.
Using Instagram to recruit owners in Los Angeles
Vanessa: How do you recruit these homeowners? Are they mainly luxury properties?
Pierre: I would call ourselves premium and high-end homes. There are many ways for us to reach out to those homeowners. Firstly, about 30% of our new home owners sign up through referrals. People might be referring their neighbors, their friends, their family after the service they have received from us. As you'd expect we also reach out to people online which is a must.
We don't want to see ourselves as only purely a transactional platform but we want really to inspire people. For example, in Los Angeles we find that reaching out to people by Instagram is quite a good route to go for. Some of our homeowners are architects, interior designers and they really take pride of their homes. I think seeing the same type of homes that are being managed by Veeve inspires them to be part of that club. We also reach out to people via direct mailing.
Creating stickiness with an exclusive home-owners members club
Vanessa: So it’s a kind of loyalty program for homeowners. I've heard of loyalty programs for guests but I've never heard of it on the other side, on the B2B side.
Pierre: Yes absolutely. We want to differentiate us from the rest of the competition by giving our owners a sort of club feeling. These are like minded individuals, they love travel, they love design, they love interiors and we’re getting them together as a group through events.
So for example last month, we did an event where we had an an art curator coming to one of our homes and that person talked to them about purchasing art and decorating your home. I think it was really exciting, I think our homeowners really enjoyed that.
We are, as well, looking at partnerships that we are signing with lifestyle travel brands. It's two things, first it’s how can they have some unique experiences in their own city and in a sense almost live like a guest. And, as well, through these partnerships giving them options to travel abroad and give them tailor-made experiences. So it’s a dual proposition: to enrich their lifestyles through the revenue that they generate but also giving them the opportunity to belong to a club.
Vanessa: So that creates stickiness, doesn't it? It’s a great idea. I love it.
Employing passionate “travel consultants” 7 days a week
Vanessa: You said “hotelify” your services. They’re not buildings so how do you provide hotel-like services for guests when homes are spread across the city? How does that work?
Pierre: Technology has helped in terms of service. We also have teams in the cities who are available seven days a week if guest need anything. They are travel consultants who know the cities really well. They’re all passionate about the cities. They know the best pubs, they know the best bakeries in Paris, they know the best restaurants in LA etc. We want to give a personalized service.
Also the standards that we set are hotel-style in terms of the quality of what we bring in the home. These are processes that we have developed along the years.
Scaling in a saturated markets: Paris & LA
Vanessa: You witnessed all that growth since 2013. How was it to open the Paris office? What were the challenges involved in doing so?
Pierre: We speak a lot to our guests and asked “When you come to Europe, where are you traveling to?”. London was the number one destination and then very close was Paris. Then we also found that the customers that were that staying with us in London were going to Paris too, and that's what give us the idea of specializing in “open destination” and starting with Paris.
Going abroad there were obviously cultural and legal differences. What has been really key for us is to find the right hires in those destinations, people that have the local knowledge. To be able to scale in those cities we needed people who can look after the growth of our portfolio, so really being in touch with homeowners, and obviously the operations. But the rest around the marketing, the distribution and all this has to be headquartered in London.
Vanessa: I know of companies that tried to scale internationally in Paris and stopped after a year because they didn't make it. So what would you say is the Secret Sauce for Paris?
Pierre: I would say for me the secret sauce is really to find the right type of properties. I think that's for us what was the most important. We have been really focusing our time and efforts on trying to find the best homes. We knew that there were clients coming and guests coming to London and to Paris as well so there was no doubt about the fact that people love Paris, people want to stay in Paris but it's hard for them to find the right type of properties. I think for us that was the key to a successful launch and growth in Paris.
Vanessa: How many properties do you have in Paris?
Pierre: Now we have just above 250 properties but growing at a fast pace so it's been a very interesting journey in the last three years in Paris.
Vanessa: And LA, what were the difficulties there?
Pierre: In Los Angeles it’s a little bit easier to find the rentals. I think in Los Angeles homeowners are probably more aware of the short-term rental business and many homeowners we speak would have done this business themselves before. They may just feel that it's quite challenging but they have a lot of knowledge, whereas we find that in Paris and London, they aren’t necessarily as knowledgeable about it. I think obviously the rental in the US has been going on for years and years. I think in Europe, especially in urban destination it’s a bit more recent.
Tech built in-house: dynamic pricing, lead management, booking platform
Vanessa: Can you tell me a little bit what has Veeve built in terms of technology? Do you consider yourself a tech-enabled property manager?
Pierre: Yes absolutely. What we have built: we have a dynamic pricing and revenue management tool. What we're trying to do is to maximize booking for homeowners and obviously trying to find the right quality of bookings as well. So looking at the type of properties that they have, the location, the quality of the properties, seasonality, any event that is happening etc. We have built that internally and we’re lucky enough to rely on seven years of data to be able to look at that as well.
Another thing that we have built ourselves is a lead management system. Enquiries come from different platforms and different sources. We manage those in one system to have the best and fastest response for those guests.
We have also built our own booking platform and we will be doing a re-launch next year with some new features which is really exciting so watch this space. And what we've outsourced to be able to really scale fast is channel distribution.
60% Enquiry-based bookings. The power of the personal connection.
Vanessa: Okay so let's talk about channel management. You say you had to build lead management tool and because you’re receiving inquiries. What's the percentage between inquires and instant booking?
Pierre: Around about 40% of people book instantly and the rest would be enquiring. I think what's interesting is that customers and guests coming to our cities really want to talk to someone. They want to have that local knowledge and obviously online travel agents, the likes of Vrbo or Airbnb etc. are trying to develop as much as they can in terms of sharing that knowledge but that does not to replace a local contact who you can speak to. And when people come and spend a considerable amount of money, they want to know who they're talking to.
The OTA sector is quite fragmented in Europe, you have a lot of different players. It's how you stand out and how you are able to provide that consistency in service. That's what people are looking for, they’re looking for someone they know they can trust. That often goes with having that first contact with our team to be able to understand “Who are you? What you do? What do your homes look like? What's in the neighbourhood?” A lot of people like to have that personal connection to create a really personalized experience.
Vanessa: What's your average booking value?
Pierre: On average at around 3000 GBP.
Matching the offer with the booking channels
Vanessa: Okay, so it’s definitely luxury. So inquiries, where do they come from? Which platform do you use to to market your luxury properties?
Pierre: We use different platforms obviously, the likes of Vrbo, Airbnb, Marriott Homes and Villas. The channels we want to work would be really linked to the segment of clients that are looking for homes. So a typical client for us would be a family coming from the US, they want to tour Europe, they want to visit Los Angeles and what they want is space, comfort and the opportunity to visit all the sites in London and when you come home to be relaxing on your balcony or your terrace. So that's the type of offer we have and we're trying to match that with the channels we work with.
We have about 15% of our properties that would be 1 bedroom apartments and those would be better matched with our corporate clients. So people who would be coming for work to one of the cities for a few weeks or a few months and looking for a place to stay. Our homes probably have more character than a service department, maybe a little more space and somewhere where they feel like they can settle in for a few weeks or a few months.
Vanessa: So you're also doing mid-term bookings?
Pierre: Yes absolutely. We do start as short as three or four nights but we have regularly people who would come for three or four months. It's the concept of what we offer. When you're moving in, all the bills are paid for, you just move in there, you don't have anything to do. We would send someone every week to change the linen and clean the property etc.
Leaving the distribution to Rentals United to focus on property management and expansion
Vanessa: How is your relationship with Rentals United going? Are your happy?
Pierre: Yes absolutely, it's going great! Managing those relationships with each platform individually is complicated and difficult. I find that working with Rentals United allowed us to focus on what we do best, which is managing private homes. It really helped us scale.
Scaling in other international urban markets
Vanessa: Your thoughts on consolidation, is Veeve up for sale?
Pierre: That's a good question, I guess that probably would be more question for my CEO but it's been a very interesting market and in general we've seen a lot of merging and movements. I think, we're looking out for all the territories and places that we feel we would be wanting to grow in. We’re happy with our focus on local urban markets so I could see us grow in Sydney and other places. Never say never, we will see how things are going but the first thing we're looking at for now is to have that opportunity to grow in other territories.
Vanessa: Are you're going to acquire, maybe in Sydney? Is that part of the the plan?
Pierre: All options are on the table. I think we really just want to grow since we're being quite successful in our current cities. We see that our guests have an appetite to stay with Veeve around the world but for now we just have 3 locations. So first step is to look at where we want to go next.
Vanessa: Wonderful thank you Pierre!
Pierre: Thank you very much, cheers.