A Q&A with Lodgify co-founder, co-CEO and CFO Dennis Klett. The Barcelona-based startup launched to the public out of beta earlier this week. It was founded last summer by Klett, fellow co-CEO and CTO Marco De Gregorio, Gabriele De Gregorio and Naveen Sharma.
SUB: Please describe Lodgify and your primary innovation.
Klett: Lodgify is the easiest way for vacation rental operators to create a professional vacation rental website with a ‘book now’ function. It also enables them to manage all their external listings and reservations received from different vacation rental portals from one place. Lodgify provides all the tools vacation rental operators need to easily manage and market their accommodation business.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Klett: Lodgify is built for both vacation rental owners and managers with 1-to-500 plus properties. Our primary geographic focus is the U.S., and the UK and Europe.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Klett: We only have a limited number of direct competitors, in a very fragmented market, that do not offer a complete all-in-one solution. buuteeq is doing something similar to us; however, they specifically target hotels only, and not vacation rentals.
SUB: What differentiates Lodgify from the competition?
Klett: We differentiate by offering key product features that none of our direct competitors offer: e.g. a ‘book now’ function that lets vacation rental owners accept credit card payments for bookings, numerous mobile-friendly website templates, a custom page builder, multiple languages, and an advanced channel manager. Also, we focus a lot on UI and design and are trying to bring a more fresh approach to the industry.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Klett: Lodgify was founded back in June, 2012. We all still had jobs back then and made a very bold decision to focus full-time on Lodgify and invest our private savings into the development. Our first step was to open our office in Barcelona and to hire two amazing developers. We decided to go for Barcelona as it provides a great environment for startups, and is full of young and talented people. Also, it’s right at the beach…Berlin doesn’t offer that.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Lodgify? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Klett: The four of us starting Lodgify were flat-mates during our university studies in London. We all shared the desire to start a business of our own someday, and eventually the ‘aha’ moment came several years later, when we were asked to help out our parents to rent out their vacation properties. We couldn’t find an easy-to-use solution that covered our parents’ needs of quickly creating a website to showcase their properties and reducing the time and effort needed to manually manage their reservation calendars across different booking channels. So, we decided to build the software ourselves. We figured that our parents weren’t the only ones facing these challenges, and realized this software of ours would help others as well.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Klett: Lodgify is a combination of the words ‘Lodging’ and ‘Simplify.’ It perfectly represents our mission: making it easier for vacation rentals owners to manage and market their accommodation business.
SUB: You just launched to the public on Thursday. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Klett: Portals like Airbnb are bringing new renters into the market, and trends are currently indicating that more-and-more travelers are preferring to stay at vacation rentals rather than hotels. That is why vacation rental owners are in need of more professional software solutions. Lodgify’s all-in-one solution provides vacation rental owners with the services and flexibility to meet these growing customer expectations.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Klett: No. We are a bootstrapped startup, privately funded. But who needs initial funding if one has three developers who make up for a team of ten?
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Klett: Developing an all-in-one marketing solution that addresses all the important needs of vacation rental owners was a great challenge. It took a lot of brainpower and dedication to address all those specific needs, add them into one single solution, and evolve the product as customer requirements changed.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Klett: Lodgify is a scalable solution running on a subscription model with a fixed recurring monthly fee based on the selected features and number of listed properties. Our plans start from $9 per month. There are no booking commissions and no setup fees. Customers can simply pick a plan, create their vacation rental website and connect to booking channels with just a few clicks.
SUB: What are your goals for Lodgify over the next year or so?
Klett: The vacation rental industry will continue to grow rapidly over the next few years. Therefore, we will need to constantly develop Lodgify to meet the needs of future owners and travelers. A focus of ours will also be on mobile devices and analytics. Our goal is to make technology accessible to vacation rental operators, regardless of whether they are professional property managers or private owners. We want to help them grow their accommodation business and to simplify the management of it all.
Lodgify – www.lodgify.com