6 min read
by Ricardo Figueiredo, Co-Founder & CEO
Published September 16, 2021
| PARTNERS | BUSINESS |
The short-term rental accommodation market has its specificities. Flexibility, price, and proximity of contact with guests are factors that, if well worked, increase the quality of the tourist experience significantly.
In 2017, while managing a small local accommodation, I became aware of my guests' constant requests to store luggage before check-in or after check-out. At that time, it was clear that, if such a problem on a small scale inhibited me from providing an excellent service to my guests, undoubtedly many more prominent local accommodation managers would feel the same.
And that's why, in 2019, when LUGGit launched, we focused on finding local accommodation managers concerned about the customer experience. People who put in 1st place the way guests feel the entire journey from the moment of arrival to departure.
One of our first and most active partners is Time Cooler, which has been with us since the beginning (July 2019) and that we want to make known today.
TimeCooler is a company born in 2017 that currently has seven employees, and its main activity is the management of 40 local accommodation properties in Lisbon. With us, we have its founders, Elsa Luís and Rui Sousa, who will be able to give us some tips about the industry and its specific activity.
LUGGit: Hi Elsa! Hi Rui! Let me start by asking you how are you and your family are doing in these pandemic times?
TimeCooler: Hi! We're fine for the moment. Fortunately, none of us, nor anyone on our team, had the experience of contracting COVID-19.
L: Great to hear that. Tell us a bit of your story. How did you get into the local housing, and why TimeCooler?
TC: We started in local accommodation in 2014. The first apartment was just an experience we did to have a joint project
Our foundation is information technologies. Elsa was still working full time in this sector, and I (Rui), had already changed my professional path and was busy with my events company.
The decision was made without high expectations and taken at the end of the vacation. In September, we had our first apartment.
We enjoyed the experience, as, at the time, we had a very close contact with each guest we hosted. We would always pick them up at the airport in our private cars, which allowed us to be very close and to have a pleasant exchange of experiences on each booking.
L: If you could identify a significant change in your daily management since you started, what would it be?
TC: From the sixth apartment onwards, we had to hire an employee to help us with daily tasks, such as communication with guests, check-ins, quality checks, and maintenance. Perhaps that was the most significant change. It has ceased to be almost a hobby for a more serious business, which we started to look at more professionally.
L: Is today's guest different from the pre-pandemic period? If yes, why?
TC: The most significant difference is the advance booking. Nowadays, we quickly have 100% reservations today, 80% the next day, and 50% three or four days away.
We've always had very flexible cancellation policies, so we didn't notice much difference in this particular aspect.
We are also beginning to feel the demand for longer-term reservations by remote workers, who favor quiet neighborhoods over lively ones, more comfort and equipment in the units, and a great deal of attention to the speed and stability of telecommunications.
L: What tools do you use to help you manage? And why?
TC: As we mentioned, our base is information technologies, which is why our system was developed to measure, which allows us great flexibility and agility of processes, very agile change management, and the extraction of very personalised indicators.
For technical reasons, we use a channel manager that allows us to communicate quickly with the different distribution channels.
L: LUGGit is a tool whose main objective is to help local accommodation managers in the daily management of moments before check-in and after check-out. Can you tell us how we have contributed to this?
TC: The family nature of TimeCooler, which we tried to maintain despite the growth, sometimes led us to delicate situations when we tried to make check-ins and check-outs more flexible.
We see each of our guests as friends staying at our home and often create logistical problems with cleaning, maintenance, and even last-minute bookings.
LUGGit is a partner that came to give excellent help in this aspect of the business, allowing us to suggest your service with the comfort of providing a very valid suggestion and at the same time facilitating our logistical processes and also increasing the quality of the guest experience.
L: How do you see the future of local accommodation?
TC: Local accommodation is increasingly a valid and differentiated alternative to conventional hotels. It allows for a much more personalised and compelling experience of local customs. Moreover, it offers an easy dispersion in the territory, opening new tourist places where, until then, the implementation of conventional hotels was not justified.
In our case, as a large family of four children, we always prefer local accommodation, either for the simple reason that we can spend time together during the holidays or because, as traditional Latinos, we really like cooking and enjoying meals as a family something that, unfortunately, daily life is robbing us of availability.
With the increase in quality and professionalism that has been observed in this area, I believe it will continue to assume itself as an increasingly vital player, both in the tourism and business areas.
L: Thank you very much!