US: Booking.com has partnered with cloud-based vacation rental management solution Futurestay to provide online check-in options for the latter’s partner properties booked through the platform, as a way of allaying customer concerns in the wake of Covid-19.
According to Philip Kennard, founder and CEO of Futurestay, the two companies began their automated check-in venture late last year due to their shared vision for a “seamless travel experience”, though the pandemic and subsequent drive for contactless check-ins had necessitated the roll out of the formal partnership.
Speaking to Phocuswire, he said: “With this technology, it’s not that it is new, it’s more along the lines of it’s now necessary. It’s almost table stakes at this point in time.
“I believe Booking and Futurestay are really pioneering on this in the short-term rental side. And I think we will see this accelerating through most of the alternative accommodations sector, just because this is the perfect time for travellers to stay in alternative accommodations, and they want socially distanced stays,” he added.
Futurestay automates everything from guest communications to bookings, pricing, payments and distribution for independent short-term vacation rental properties. Since its founding in 2015, it has worked with more than 100 properties in 120 countries, particularly targeting those in North and South America, and Western Europe.
The startup raised $2.4 million in a venture round back in May in a bid to enhance the company product, as well as to continue building its partnerships with the major OTAs. The round took its total funding to date to $6.5 million.
Meanwhile, Booking.com said in a statement: “Because we know travellers are prioritising health and safety measures when they travel, we are working with a number of technology providers – including Futurestay – to make it easier for our accommodation partners to set up online check-in at their properties, helping save them time and streamline their operations while delivering a more seamless guest experience.
“As a part of our commitment to rebuilding together, we will continue to focus our efforts on bringing our partners the tailored tools and technology they need to effectively respond to the evolving travel environment,” it added.
Under the terms of the partnership, any guest that books a Futurestay vacation rental partner property through Booking.com will receive an email from the online travel agency, which will lead them to an online check-in page. They will then enter their relevant ID information on the OTA’s app or website before being provided with instructions, such as a door code if a smart lock is available, to be able to access the property for their stay.
Kennard, who participated in a two-part podcast series for ShortTermRentalz on “2020: The Year of Change?”, said that Futurestay had grown its client base by 50 per cent on last summer’s figures following a surge in consumer demand for short-term rentals during the pandemic, before adding that 1,000 of the company’s partners would be using the online check-in solution by the end of this year, with that figure expected to reach 10,000+ in early 2021.
Booking.com’s inventory includes more than 28 million accommodations, of which 6.5 million are reported to be categorised as homes, apartments and alternative accommodations.