US: ShortTermRentalz spoke to Brian Hamaoui, vice president of Love Florida at CiiRUS Vacation Rental Software, about his company’s newly-created program, “Love Rentals” and the challenges associated with concentration in key U.S target markets such as Florida.
- What is the Love Rentals program and how will this be of interest to the short-term rental industry, particularly in the Florida market you are targeting?
Love Rentals combines the power of CiiRUS Vacation Rental Software with our teams and partners in the industry to bring units to the market the right way. We offer consultancy and services that begin with an analysis of the units which includes content, photo and pricing strategy to get the units published as effectively as possible to all the channels. We then back this up with our reservations and customer success teams to handle all customer inquiries.
The result is that Love Rentals and its property manager partners publish qualified, optimised inventory to the channels that are represented to the guests with accuracy. In addition to this, we are in the process of working with the large tour operators to improve the way they operate in the market, improve technology so that they can connect to the inventory directly and increase guest satisfaction when they arrive at a vacation rental in the Florida market, which will hopefully then result in more competitive rates over time.
- How has the CiiRUS Vacation Rental Software developed since it was launched and what is your overall mission for it?
In the beginning, it was more-or-less a calendar. The functionality was very limited when compared to all the things that CiiRUS can do today. People liked our product because of our intuitive user interface and local service, which gave us an edge on the competition at the time, but the software was very new.
Today, CiiRUS carries out a huge variety of functions to property managers globally. It is expected to manage every part of running a vacation rental property management company, from accounting to managing automated emails, allowing clients to run advanced reports on how their business functions, and building XML API’s with partners. As one of the leading property management solutions in the industry, it was built by, funded by, and continues to be one of the only vacation rental software companies owned and operated by a family group.
Our mission is to build exceptional technology that helps our property managers thrive while giving our guests the ability to access our professional inventory, enhancing their stay through our state-of-the-art guest experience technology.
- What is the “industry-wide problem” you are facing? What sort of challenges are we talking about that CiiRUS is seeking to address?
The vacation rental industry has been explosive over the last decade. It has gone from a “mom and pop” business that few have paid attention to, to an industry that is leading in hospitality and innovation; testing the boundaries of how travellers are willing to travel, stay and experience their holidays.
Although this is a very exciting time, it is also proving to be extremely challenging and fast-paced for travellers and industry providers alike.
The industry is complex, ranging from standard operational jobs such as hiring and accounting to more industry-specific assignments (such as licensing, changing industry regulations, taxes, housekeeping standards, and rate management).
There is also the necessary tasks of marketing and distribution, using traditional methods such as social media, web, and email, as well as channels such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com (all of which operate in very different manners). Not to mention managing the guest expectation and experience. Each one of these is a very specialised and a constantly changing topic as new and improved technologies are released.
- Why is the Florida market so crucial to you? What did you identify within it that made you think Love Rentals would be able to take off there?
Florida, more specifically Orlando, is known as the “capital of vacation rentals”. It is the largest, most concentrated destination for vacation rentals in the world, representing approximately 50,000 units with an average 75 per cent + occupancy rate. This means that we should also be one of the most successful markets in the world, when in fact we are not.
Since the early 2000s, our market has been in high demand; due to a lack of technology, our inventory managed by “professional managers” was consumed mostly by the tour operator market (Thomas Cook, Virgin and TUI to mention a few) who would allow us to book our homes in high volumes in exchange for lower rates.
Unfortunately, over time the rates have decreased, competition has grown, and costs of running a unit have risen leaving vacation rentals unprofitable for the most part. The added component is that many property managers are still unfamiliar on how to make their units truly successful on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com among others; this is where Love Rentals comes into play.
We identified that there is an issue in the industry and a need for software programs like ours to not just offer software solutions to our managers but to partner with them and offer them more than just technology. Our theory is that if we can help our managers be successful, we will be successful; we accomplish this by coupling innovative new technology with leading human resources in the hospitality and guest service industries.
For more information, visit the CiiRUS Vacation Rental Software website here.