Jess Kelso is Director of customer Experience, for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, at Beyond. In the run-up to the 2021 edition of the Short Stay Week, he has accepted to answer questions about how he came to the industry and about how his company builds solutions for property managers. His colleague Marc Peckler has also recorded a 3-minute video where he explains what dynamic pricing is really about.
This article is part of our Short Stay Week 2021 series. Rental Scale-Up is the proud media sponsor of this European online holiday rental conference. Rental Scale-Up readers get a 20% discount on all available passes and tickets for the event, with the code RSUP20 .
Where does your passion for the vacation rental industry come from?
I’m an avid traveller and I love the idea of having an experience that is centered around being part of a community, and I didn’t feel like I truly had that until I started staying in vacation rentals. I like working in an industry that is fun and where people genuinely care about the experience they are creating for their customers.
I also appreciate that it is an industry where people can own and manage anywhere from 1 to 1000+ properties, this makes for a unique mix of people, ideas, and opinions, and I find that aspect of working in the industry incredibly energising.
What’s been your biggest aha moment when it comes to the vacation rental industry?
Managing a vacation rental is a lot of work! I always knew this on some level, but speaking with owners and agencies and hearing about what they need to do on a daily basis to keep their business running smoothly has been a real eye-opener.
In this business, you have to be ready to adapt to any challenge thrown your way. I think people who work in the vacation rental industry are some of the most resilient there are.
What did you do at work yesterday?
Not very glamorous, lots of meetings I’m afraid! But I love my job because I’m always talking with people – yesterday, for example, I worked with a customer on how best to leverage the data she can see in our platform to convince one of her owners to adopt dynamic pricing.
I then met with our Onboarding Team to discuss how we can use creative solutions to streamline the onboarding process (we are big fans of video messages!) for our customers. I also met with one of our key PMS partners in the United Kingdom to discuss how we can better serve the needs of our mutual customers.
What is a unique thing that your company can deliver?
Technically the product we offer is pricing, but I think the most valuable thing we give our customers is time back in their day.
By adopting our simple solution, setting parameters in place, and letting Beyond work its magic, we give our customers more time to dedicate to their owners and guests. We know that their businesses wouldn’t exist without these key people and keeping them happy is the ultimate goal. The additional revenue is just a bonus after that 🙂
How do the teams behind your solutions listen to the needs of the industry? How does it feed into your product development and marketing?
A little-known fact that Beyond started as a property management company! Our founders were looking for a solution to help them price the properties they were managing and realised that other managers must be experiencing the same challenge.
Even though we are a technology company, we know that nothing can replace face-to-face interactions with people in the industry. We constantly have members of the team on the road meeting with prospects and clients by participating in conferences. We talk about working with our customers as being part of a partnership, and we truly believe that. We have a Customer Advisory Board and dedicated in-house Product and Development Teams that are focused on iterating the product to meet the needs of our partners.
What are common misconceptions that property managers have? How can these misconceptions be detrimental to them?
We recently wrote a blog post on this very topic with our friends at SuperControl!
I think the most common misconception that I run into is that with dynamic pricing you lose control of your rates. It’s true that at first prices may appear to be all over the board since demand changes daily. But you get accustomed to spotting the trends and there are lots of parameters you can set, including minimum and maximum prices that can be set by season.
You also have the ability to set a specific rate over specific dates. You can set up the system to automatically adjust prices for gaps of availability between bookings to give the property the best chance of getting booked at the best price. Or alternatively, if you have a one-night stay available to sell because it’s between two reservations, for example, we can automatically increase the rate to avoid unruly guests.
So I believe there are instances where using dynamic pricing can give you control over things that may not have immediately been on your radar. I understand that shifting to dynamic pricing can be a big change for a business to make. But if our experience in the travel industry over the last 18 months has taught us anything, it is that nothing in life is certain. I believe that the people who have the tools in place to allow them to be agile and adapt rapidly to change will ultimately be the most successful.
What is the best question a property owner or manager can ask before making a purchase decision when comparing solutions like yours? Why?
I think the key question is “Am I ready to trust the process?”. Change is difficult in all aspects of life, and pricing is such a key component of running a vacation rental business. Sometimes, even when people know they want to embrace dynamic pricing for their business, it’s difficult to make the shift.
Understanding that things may happen a little differently than they have in the past and being ok with that is key. It’s also very important if you are running an agency and need to help your owners trust the process too. But when you are ultimately ready to take the plunge we are here to help!