A woman sets up a bedroom for tourists in a rental house. The popularity of sites like Airbnb has led to supplemental companies cropping up as well. A woman sets up a bedroom for tourists in a rental house. The popularity of sites like Airbnb has led to supplemental companies cropping up as well. A woman sets up a bedroom for tourists in a rental house. The popularity of sites like Airbnb has led to supplemental companies cropping up to help increasingly harried hosts. (Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

Startups take the hassle out of renting your home

The booming vacation rental-by-owner industry is spawning a whole new crop of service companies.

Sites like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey offer ever-more avenues for owners to rent out their homes to make some extra cash. But with more and more properties available and strict requirements from the hosting sites – Airbnb penalizes owners who don’t respond to requests within the hour – the competition to find quality renters is fierce.

Now, the booming vacation rental-by-owner industry is spurring a whole new group of companies that aim to take the hassle out of hosting.

One such company is Guesty, an Israeli-based startup that focuses on tasks that can be accomplished anywhere. Most notably, it helps owners respond at lightning speed to customer inquiries and guest issues – ideal for property owners with several properties or without a lot of time.

The company, which bills itself as “your personal Airbnb assistant,” was founded by twin brothers Amiad and Koby Soto, who had listed several properties on Airbnb only to discover the trouble of the logistics.

Guesty also screens potential guests: Owners set up their preferences and availability on the company’s website, and Guesty takes it from there. Company representatives can also provide renters with codes to lock boxes and contact cleaning services on the owner’s behalf.

Another company called Proprly was founded by Randy Engler, an Airbnb property owner who found himself scrambling to book cleaning services and find someone to hold the keys to his place for late-arriving guests. His firm specializes in cleaning and key delivery, not to mention restocking essentials and providing welcome gifts for guests.

The company is based in New York City and currently services Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

San Francisco-based Pillow is a similar service to Proprly, servicing most major cities in California, as well as Seattle. In addition to cleaning, booking and guest screening services, they also help property owners create and refine their listings on the various rental websites.

EasyGuests offers cleaning, delivers keys and arranges transportation for Airbnb properties in New York City, Paris, London, Montreal, Miami and Munich. Packages range from the simple “Check In/Check Out” with key management with a cost of only $35 for daytime arrivals, to the “EasyGuests Platinum” program, which costs 18% of the rental fee but also includes booking and scheduling, price optimization and a laundry service.

If all you really need is a place to store your keys, simply try Keycafe. The Canada-based service turns nearby coffee shops into key storage locations. With a fob attached to your keys, you can remotely assign access to the keys using a smartphone, and be notified when the keys are picked up. It’s a simple solution not only for vacation rental owners, but also for people who want to let family and friends into their home while they’re away or save themselves from the occasional lockout.

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