Hostshare, a pioneering platform in the short-term rental market, is redefining the way hosts leverage their properties for mutual benefit and sustainable travel experiences.
Could you please tell us about yourself and introduce your startup, Hostshare, to our audience?
My name is Sean Wilkinson and I am one of the four co-founders of Hostshare. For those that don’t yet know, Hostshare is a huge travel hack for people who own or host short term rentals! It allows hosts to literally travel for free staying at vacation homes all around the world by simply utilizing last-minute vacancies across the platform.
What inspired the concept of Hostshare?
With all founders being owners of short-term rentals, like all other hosts, we would always be trying to figure out ways to fill the gaps in the calendar. But you can only fill so many! Between mid-week and offseason, you will always have a vacancy factor. When we came to realize that there are over 10 million STRs worldwide with an average occupancy of under 40%, we could hardly believe that all these beautiful homes sit empty over 60% of the year.
But what do you do when you are using all the tools available to fill your property with revenue nights and still have vacancy? This is what inspired the concept for hosts being able to trade their last-minute vacancies for vacations!
What motivated you to launch Hostshare?
The motivation for our team was multifaceted and largely fueled by personal desire for the product! We all agreed that being able to travel for free all for simply letting other hosts come and stay on vacant nights was a total win-win that we would all do in a heartbeat. We also got thinking at the major waste within the industry and how the lack of utilization for these assets was a shame.
Why should we go out and build another building when the others are only being used 40% of the time? Imagine the economic impact this also has on a local level. If these homes are empty, this limits how many people are in the community going to restaurants, shopping etc.
Lastly, we got really excited about how much this could enrich the lives of hosts worldwide by taking the cost barrier out of accommodations for them and their families. And when they do travel with Hostshare, because they are saving on accommodations, we hope this will give them the freedom to spend more locally!
Could you share the core vision and mission of Hostshare?
We are on a mission to eliminate waste and enrich lives!
Can you talk about the initial challenges and difficulties you faced while starting up?
Just like most startups, there is a lot that goes into just getting from 0-1. The first challenge was getting the right team on board. The two of us that conceptualized Hostshare did not have a background in tech and we quickly realized that this was something we would need to outsource. About 2 months in while we were trying to get a start on things, we found partners that caught the vision for the platform and had the experience to get us to our minimum viable product.
There were many difficulties around curating exactly how the platform functions as well. Lots of questions such as, “how do you make it fair when some hosts have mansions on the coast and others have studio apartments in tiny rural areas?” or, “I like the concept but can I block out dates in my high season?”. Thankfully we found a path forward for all concerns so far!
Who do you consider the primary audience for your services?
Hosts and STR owners aiming to maximize the value they receive from their STR.
What sets Hostshare apart from other companies in the same field?
There are other “home-swap” platforms out there (ThirdHome, Home Exchange, Kindred etc). On all these platforms, you are typically finding a swap with someone else sometime in the future. Along with that, most of these swaps are done with a primary residence.
What sets Hostshare apart is that all properties on the platform are already STRs and we only support last-minute travel. Being that they are STRs, that means you are not going to someones personal home, everyone runs their property like a business already so there are usually great photos, cleaning protocol, reviews, and amenities. And being that all travel is last-minute, this means hosts are not hardly ever giving up revenue with blocking out dates in the future!
Could you describe a typical day at work for you?
Everyday is completely different when you are a small team all wearing multiple hats! One day is full of meetings with various team members talking strategy, development, marketing, etc. and the next day we are at a booth at a trade show across the country trying to connect with others in our industry.
Where do you envision Hostshare and yourself in the next five years?
Our goal in the next five years is to be serving 10% of hosts worldwide giving our users a value of over $4B ever year in free travel.
What are three pieces of advice you would offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always question “the way things are done” in any industry. There often lies the biggest opportunities in my experience.
Define what your company does better than everybody else. If you are not #1 in what you do, then consider niching down further until you are THE best in that specific niche.
Get to market fast and start making revenue. You don’t truly know what people want until they use your product and tell you. You can spend a years building a product or a feature that people don’t even want but you are determined is needed for you to make it to market. Launch quick, get the data and adapt quick.
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.