February 20, 2014

Everyone loves a good vacation! It can be easy to spend hours searching for the perfect condo or home to rent for that coveted long weekend. Or maybe you're one of the lucky few who owns a vacation property and is trying to rent it out to just the right vacationer. How do you feel safe and comfortable with renting to or from those you don't know? Village startup SafelyStay has made that possible. They bring trust, accountability, and security to both the guest and host when renting a vacation home. Learn more about SafelyStay and it's awesome founder Andrew Bate below!What is SafelyStay?SafelyStay pioneered the first dedicated clearinghouse for the peer-to-peer vacation rental industry. SafelyStay powers instant reservations, and through a system of safeguards including identity verification, criminal checks, $1 million in damage insurance, and secure payments, makes instant reservations and global distribution possible for the majority of the vacation rental market.

Why did you choose to start this startup?

I know some really smart people who buy a beautiful second home, then leave it empty 320+ nights per year. These empty nights are extremely valuable, and trustworthy guests would prefer to stay in vacation home over a hotel. I needed to better understand why this $85 billion industry was so fragmented and inefficient, so began the journey of launching SafelyStay.

What were you doing before SafelyStay?

SafelyStay was founded while I was a student at London Business School during Entrepreneurship Summer School. Previously I was an Analyst for McKinsey & Company's Travel Practice where I specialized in yield and revenue management and loyalty programs. I also worked for Sentient Jet Membership, SwimAtlanta where I founded the adult swim team, Razorfish, The Wharton School, and Emory where I still teach a course on strategy.

Who is your ideal customer?

We are having the most traction with online travel agencies and global distribution systems who are amazing at selling hotel lodging -- a $300 billion market -- and would love to steal massive share in the fragmented $85 billion vacation rental market.

But companies like, Expedia, Travelport and others need the reservation confirmation to be instant, just like a hotel reservation. We make these instant reservations possible.What traction do you have?We power instant reservations for, the largest vacation rental metasearch engine with over 1,000,000 homes. We are also powering Travelport's entry into vacation rentals for its 68,000 travel agencies. SafelyStay won the industry's biggest prize for a start-up last year, the General Catalyst Innovation Award, and were runner-up for the Best Startup Travel Innovation of the Year at the 2013 PhoCusWright Conference.

What do you love most about being in the Village?

The people. We are all trying to overcome similar obstacles, and I think we all help one another to be more efficient...and successful.

Words of Wisdom from Andrew-

Unsexy is the new sexy.

While we would love to have a global supply of villas and vacation homes, being experts in insurance, payments, trust and security adds the most value to our industry, and is a great business model.

February 20, 2014
Karen Houghton