Fetch My Guest is a California startup with a marketing automation platform for vacation rental managers that’s on a software-as-a-service model.
By Sean O’Neill, Tnooz
If you run a vacation rental management company, and you want to reduce your dependence on lead-generation sources like Airbnb, Flipkey, and Homeaway, and you want to view all of your digital marketing efforts in one place, than the premise behind Fetch My Guest must seem appealing.
It’s created by people who have been in the vacation rental business and who have an eye toward analyzing lead-generation patterns, discovering more efficient marketing processes, and boosting repeat direct bookings.
It works in conjunction with a vacation rental manager’s property management system (PMS) or alongside one if the manager’s PMS isn’t compatible with it.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
Fetch My Guest started as an internal business problem that needed be solved. Our vacation rental management company was too dependent on listing sites that were not working in our best interest.
We needed to find a way to lessen our dependence on these sites by communicating directly with guest through our brand and building stronger relationships.
Within a few months our business saw dramatic improvement in booking performance and office productivity. We decided to build a community around a service-oriented platform that rewards the efforts of professional host.
Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
Our team is comprised of respected industry contributors in hotel management, vacation rental management and technology. The team is lead by co founders, Vince Perez and Dede Harrington, with advisors from Yahoo! and the Blackstone Group.
Fetch My Guest has raised an initial round of funding lead by a former Blackstone Group executive in the hospitality division.
Estimation of market size?
Fetch My Guest is targeting the professional market segment that represents 43% of the $100B vacation rental market spend. Professional market segment is defined as two or more properties.
Direct competitors in the marketplace include Homeaway (Expedia), Flipkey (TripAdvisor), and Airbnb.
Revenue model and strategy for profitability?
Fetch My Guest current revenue model is a subscription model that gives access to the platform and branded meta site. As Fetch My Guest expands the business offerings we anticipate multiple revenue streams as we deliver on customer success.
What problem does the business solve?
The current listing site model is fundamentally broken. The incumbents continue to alienate the vacation rental professionals through aggressive attempts to monopolize their inventory. The end results are ever increased costs and loss of brand recognition.
Fetch My Guest Provides an “intelligent” integrated marketing platform that gives the professional manager complete control of the guest experience, resulting in more direct bookings — while dramatically reducing marketing costs.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
The idea evolved organically. As we saw our performance improvements, we understood that we needed to make the platform easy to consume. The important decision we made early on was to partner with API-focused booking systems.
Why should people or companies use the business?
Fetch My Guest provides professional vacation rental hosts a platform to showcase their respective brands to vacation rental travelers resulting in stronger relationships and more direct bookings. Professional hosts have been looking for an alternative to the incumbents for years. Fetch My Guest is that alternative!
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
Fetch My Guest promotes our clients destination through social media channels, unique content, local perspectives and stories on the professionals that will be servicing them during their stay.
We are also engaged with key industry thought leaders who are introducing our platform to their respective communities as viable alternative to the incumbents.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
We believe that 2016 is a pivotal year for our industry. In three years from now, Fetch My Guest will be the premier platform for the “service-oriented” professional. Some of the challenges we anticipate are traveler FUD from the incumbents, the continued push to commoditize, continued consolidation, and local regulatory issues.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?
In the case of vacation rentals, there was never an emphasis on lead performance as it relates to repeat bookings. Established professionals are now understanding the consequences of not being able to control the guest experience.
The results are too much inventory in the hands of the OTAs…and subsequently, higher marketing and operating costs. The hotels have a marketing infrastructure in place….we are now providing that same infrastructure to the vacation rental professional.
What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?
37Signals. We appreciate the focus on simplicity and value presented by their products. They are very focused on the customer experience.
Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup?
Several companies would find interests in what Fetch provides. Ranging from large travel concerns (distributors, travel agencies, booking sys) to CRM focused companies looking to add a highly focused vertical to their model.
Describe your startup in three words?
Disruptive. Focused. Motivated.
Fetch My Guest has create a Vine to illustrate its pitch.
We’re not vacation rental managers who can take the product out for a test spin with real data, so it’s difficult for us to judge how well Fetch My Guest has executed on its vision.
But we wanted to highlight it as an example of a likely growing industry.
Just as a variety of companies have sprung up to help hotels try to manage their marketing spends, reduce a dependence on third-party booking and lead-generation sites, and increase the number of direct and repeat bookings, it seems likely that the vacation rental sector will also encourage the rise of companies like Fetch My Guest.
There’s a problem here waiting to be solved, and eager customers willing to pay for a quality solution that’s well priced. We’re eager to see if Fetch My Guest is the one that breaks through.
Sean O’Neill is Editor-in-Chief of Tnooz. Before joining Tnooz, Sean was the future of travel columnist at BBC Travel, senior editor of BudgetTravel.com, and an associate editor at Kiplinger’s. He now lives in New Jersey, after having worked in London for four years. He’s on Twitter and is excited for #Rio2016.