Can AI-powered tools help property managers do a better and faster job at creating and updating their listings? In an exclusive demonstration for Rental Scale-Up, Srin Madipalli, co-founder of Listify.ai, shows and explains how the tool he’s created can enhance the work of people who have to come up with listing titles, listing descriptions, and area details. We go through a live demo, talk about the pros and the cons of AI content generators, and consider who in the vacation rental industry would benefit the most from his innovation.
Srin Madipalli is a serial vacation rental entrepreneur. After founding Accomable and selling it to Airbnb, he’s now co-founded, with Luke Webster, Listify.ai.
Srin Madipalli, what makes you a good person to be talking today about vacation rental content or to be talking about creating a vacation rental tech company?
I’ve worked in this industry for a number of years, primarily as a serial entrepreneur. So my first startup was a company called Accomable, which eventually got acquired by Airbnb in 2017. I then led a product team at Airbnb for a number of years leading a new category of inventory rollouts. Just over those years just saw lots of things, lots of opportunities, but also just lots of gaps where the market can better help property managers market their listings to the wider world. I left Airbnb in 2020, and I’ve been working on this new startup for the last few months trying to help property managers with AI.
Who is Listify for?
Srin: Listify is an AI tool for anyone that manages a property listing on any platform. So what our product does is that it helps make the generation of copy really easy. What is central to most listings is writing copy, so what our AI does is make that much easier for you.
Demo: How Listify.ai created vacation rental and Airbnb listing content
Is Listify improving the quality of descriptions or replacing copywriters entirely?
The whole idea is that we are enhancing and amplifying the work of the copywriter. A copywriter should never be replaced by AI, but what an AI can do is help that copywriter generate many more listings. So instead of one per day, that copywriter can just be so much more productive. It’s not even just quality, sort of numbers of output, it’s also the quality of output. If you are writing the same thing all the time, it’s very easy to start duplicating language and as you know, probably from sort of booking days, duplication of language is penalized on Google search.
How does it save time?
As it’s generating the framework and it’s generating the fundamentals of that listing copy, the copywriter’s job moves more to just finessing the copy and finalizing it, rather than drafting it from scratch. Hopefully, that allows larger numbers to be done. Also, the AI has built-in randomness, so every time you hit that generate button, something new will come up, but saying the same thing. There are limits, there are only so many ways, one sentence can only be phrased so many ways, but a paragraph or a full listing can be phrased in a numerous number of ways and doing that manually just takes time.
It is really important that listing copy is refreshed, that is something that improves visibility on Google. Search engines on the big travel platforms also value listing copy that is kept fresh, relevant, and also time-specific. So let’s say it’s October time and your copy mentioned something about the run-up to Christmas, that just makes the listing sound more relevant and it’s more relevant to the time that our guest is booking. So if you can make the copy more adapted to the time that the guest is in, that’s going to help get bookings too.
Let’s talk about machine-learning and models. How do you make sure that the output is good? How do you train your tool so that the output is great property descriptions?
That’s a great question and it’s a really important piece to this, that the output for it to save time has to be good quality. So what we did was, there are two steps there, one we use the platform called GPT-3, which is one of the world’s most sophisticated AI’s for the generation of natural language, so that’s the foundation, is GPT-3. Secondly and equally as important, Luke, who is my CTO and I, built our own finetuning model on top. So we analyzed thousands and thousands of listings, to create a training set of great examples for listings on Airbnb and other platforms, in order to teach the AI as to what a good listing looks like.
That’s also what makes us unique as well, there are other AI writing tools out there that are a bit more general, which some of which you’ve mentioned, which are great tools, but this is the first one that has been dedicated purely to vacation rentals and trained on the vacation rental sector.
You’ve been trialing the service with property management companies. What has been the response so far, how do they see it?
We have a handful of pilots and this is our first week on public launch. The response has been great, we have been very engaged with these early users and have sort of taken their feedback to improve the product rapidly. But the feedback’s been great, we are finding out that for the majority of our pilot users, their first step in their workflow for building a listing is to go to Listify and generate the first draft of the copy using the tool.
One of our early users, they manage properties, I’d say in the thousands on average, they have said that a third of the time has been reduced on generating a listing and if you are having to do thousands of these a year, you can imagine that compounded again and again how much of a time saving that has been.
We’ve had other property owners where it’s been less about the time saving, but more about helping creativity. When you are having to do 10 to 15 listings a day, it just gets really difficult to write something new each time. So helping their writers focus on creativity and not have to do the same thing has been a great value proposition as well.