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Vacation Rental Management Conference: Vacation Rental Technology: Self Check-in with igloohome’s Best Haputpong

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This article is part of our Rental Scale-Up vacation rental management conference series. This is an extract from our May 2020 conference: “How villa and holiday rental managers are navigating the COVID-19 crisis in Southeast Asia and Oceania.”

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Igloohome’s Jittida (Best) Haputpong

Jittida (Best) has been with igloohome since 2016 starting off as the Country Manager for Thailand. Today she manages a global sales team and in charge of expanding Igloohome’s distribution network around the world, driving enterprise sales and helping real estate companies transform their space through smart access solutions. Igloohome locks can now be found across 80 different countries around the world. Prior to Igloohome, she was a senior consultant at IBM. She graduated with a BSc in Economics and Law from Singapore Management University.

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Video From The 2020 Southeast Asia & Oceania Conference

  • igloohome is a preferred partner of Airbnb and Vrbo, and the company has 13 offices worldwide.
  • The company’s products include padlocks, keyboxes, keypads, and smart locks – but the key differentiating factor is that all of their products work without internet. The locks use a bluetooth communication to communicate with the igloohome app or dashboard, which is connected to a central server.
  • Igloohome’s clients have seen much lower demand in markets around the world as a result of the travel restrictions related to coronavirus.
  • Their properties are often being repurposed to long-term rentals or temporary housing for medical staff.
  • Best has also noticed a shift toward contactless technology – not only in the short-term rental sector, but also payment systems (contactless payments) and public transportation.
  • In the short term, Best sees an advantage for short-term rentals in that they usually don’t include much shared space – especially compared to hotels. People who want to travel but continue social distancing can stay in their own “bubble” at a short-term rental.
  • In addition, some markets are seeing growth in outdoor activities, like bicycle tours and hiking.
  • Igloohome’s products (and any self check-in product) can help property managers save money by decreasing the time and effort spent on the check-in process when guests can let themselves in without meeting a property representative in person. 
    • Even though these products come at a cost, the time savings mean you can recoup the cost of the product in a few stays.
  • Offering self check-in is also a big advantage for business travelers who want to arrive and depart on their own schedule and want an efficient arrival experience.
  • If you’ve been considering a contactless check-in experience, Best says there’s no better time than now to try it.

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Full Conversation Between Jittida (Best) Haputpong And Thibault Masson

Thibault:

Dear RentalScaleUp members. Thank you for joining us for this session. I’m now with Best Haputpong. She’s the VP of business development for Igloohome. Igloohome provides solutions for things like self check-in, as you may know now not only are platforms like Airbnb enforcing new cleaning standards, but they also really want you to provide things like self check-in, enabling guests to come inside your home without meeting anyone. Igloohome is Singapore-based but obviously has solutions for around the world. The products are available in different countries. And what’s what you’re going to be talking about is trends first because as you can imagine through their tools and their automation Igloohome is able to track data to see what’s going on. They’ve only been able to see the crisis, but also they can see the path to recovery.

Thibault:

We’ve been talking about a return on investment. You may have costs increasing now because you have to apply these new cleaning standards. So how can an automation, how can solution solutions like Igloohome help you out to decrease this cost? So we’ll be talking about why this is making practice more attractive nowadays. Maybe solutions like self check-in something to have on top of what you already had, maybe to attract just business travelers. Why is it important now? So without further ado, I’m welcoming Best. Best, Thank you so much for being here. And how are you?

Best:

Thank you for having me. And hi everyone. I am doing very well here out of Singapore. As you can see working from home like most of us around the world. Yeah.

Thibault:

So I talk about your solution, how we do home care and you know, see data, trends and, and enable self check-in. And it’d be for a lot of people whose self check-in tools don’t seem not familiar. So maybe to be more concrete what you could do actually looking at what the solutions, the products you have and then keep the switch to the trends and the data and the return on investment.

Best:

Perfect. Yeah. So I think you know, before us talking a lot about what we think let, let, let me sort of show you a couple of quick short presentation, I promise, on what Igloohome is like, what do we do and what, who’ve been helping hosts around the world do since 2016. So yeah, just give me a quick moment to sort of set up this so here we go. Igloohome. That’s how you spell our company name. We believe that eventually the world will no longer have keys. And so that’s our mission statement. My name is Best as I have been introduced. So we have started since 2016 here out of Singapore. And really how, what, what we wanted to do when we first started was we wanted to deliver innovative solutions to help homeowners and property managers around the world better manage their properties in a remote fashion without having to be there.

Best:

So, as you can see down at the bottom of what that means is over the years we have worked closely with a lot of our partners in the short term rental space to provide a seamless automated check-in/check-out process for guests. So that host can focus on other more important things in order to drive revenue from this business. We are located around the world. I mean of course you know, this is, as you can see here in our HQ in Singapore, that’s where we are in this little island. But that being said, we have teams that sit out around the world, you know, both for operations, sales and R&D and even customer support. So we are a very global company. Without further ado, this is essentially the product that we are offering to everyone that wants to buy one for their properties.

Best:

So starting on the left hand side where I use, you can see they are essentially a range of smart access solutions from a padlock to a key box to what I have here, to deadbolts and mortises, which are really mainly for your doors in order for you to allow guests and visitors or yourself to come in and go without having to carry keys anymore. And sort of a good thing about this solution and how it helps a property manager like yourself is essentially you have this mobile app or web dashboard that you could go in and generate new time-based pin codes, Bluetooth keys and send it to your guests or visitors. And they can just show up to a property without having to collect or pick up keys elsewhere and just go in. So they just need to walk up, type in the pin code that was given to them and boom, they’re in.

Best:

So a lot of guys in the industry have been doing this also. We’re not the only one, but what makes us sort of different is that we have this technology called an algo-pin. So it’s essentially a pin code technology based on algorithm and time synchronization. So what in short it is, this really means for a homeowner like you is you don’t need to connect a device to your home wifi or have connectivity on the lock itself. So one that means you can install them pretty much almost anywhere in your properties that may not have a wifi setup set up. And two, you don’t need to worry about the short and battery life on connected devices because these things can easily go up to one to one and a half years of use before you need to swap out for a new fresh pair of batteries.

Best:

Yeah. So well how we go a step further with, with the vacation rental space is we are integrated into a lot of these platforms such as Airbnb, Booking, a lot of other PMs where as long as you manage your properties to those platforms and you have one of our devices, we will automatically pull the reservation details and actually generate a pin code tied to that reservation and send it out to the guest or visitor so that they could come in, punch in that pin code for their stay. And then, you know, when they leave the pin code will automatically expire. It’s already been preconfigured. So that sort of helps. And we’ve been doing this since 2016 so it’s nothing new, but it’s been more or less accelerated because of this whole pandemic and the push for more contactless experience. Right. So in terms of, so in terms of you know, just a quick, quick, quick wrap up on that before we move on to the more interesting questions.

Best:

Essentially like what it’s gonna look like. Right. So if you have the the, the, the range that we have here, this is essentially on your door. As you can see this lady here, I will use her phone or she can also use a pin code to go in. We have a bigger mortis which is suitable for some of the Asia Pacific countries that have these kinds of locking mechanisms. We also have the key box, which has a lot of parts here, which is our by far number one, most popular best selling product. I’m on vacation rental because it is regardless of whatever door and locking system you have, you can use this. So essentially you don’t need to change anything. You know, you can convert your property into a rental property pretty much overnight just with one of these devices. So this is our key box.

Best:

You know, it looks in different settings and configuration and last but not least this is a padlock in case you have gates, garages that you also need to lock up that can really use the other configuration of locks. So, yeah, I mean, you know, that’s essentially here we are. I know today we’re addressing a very particular demographic across Asia Pacific as a whole. So of course that’s where we are very strong because this is where we are based. It’s a home ground. So let’s you know, chat about other trends and stuff and of course if this is of interest to you, happy to share more after to contact details. Yeah. And other venues. Yeah.

Thibault:

Yeah, thanks a lot the best because so do it to be clear to the Watchers, right. We are really about providing a value actionable insights in this conference. And I really thought, I mean I went out and contacted Igloohome myself. I thought, wow, we have to show what products because you want to be like, Oh self check-in. What is a self check-in? I think it’s very important just to illustrate this, I think new home being original actor, well, global actor, you say this

Best:

Regional focus, yeah

Thibault:

I think it would just make sense. Again, it’s not to push the products, but I think it’s really helpful to understand what we are really talking about, especially as I’m going to be talking more about the concepts and consequences. And I think what I really liked as well is to see the notion of there’s just this hardware, but also you showed the server, right? The Igloohome server. Can you maybe explain what, what happens, what kind of data is going through this?

Best:

So that’s, that’s very interesting, right? I mean essentially our, all, all our, all our servers you know, as, as, as encrypted as, as they all are essentially what it does, it enables our backend system to allow. A lot of hosts and home owners generate all these sorts of various time-sensitive pin codes. And it could be used to host, I guess it could also be used to let in short term visitors you know, to, to your house for whatever reason. So we, we do what we do. You I think in a way have a lot of understanding of the market and what has been majorly impacted as, as this COVID broke out back in March.

Thibault:

Yeah. Yep. Yeah. And what I found so very interesting as well in your last slide that was quite, again, it’s good to see it because like, Oh yeah, like the people you know, you know, making deliveries, which I’ll just see the deliveries have boomed as well. Right. But I’m not, I’m not sure if it puts food deliveries in a box like this, but you know what, I will tell a delivery person just leave this, this, I wait a couple hours and pick it up myself.

Best:

Exactly. Exactly. Perfect. Yeah.

Thibault):

So I was touching upon the, the, the, the, the home server for example, because it does mean that Igloohome is really, really well placed to see some trends. Right. So what have you seen more or less of during this crisis? And so how about this path of recovery? What, what are you seeing right now?

Best:

Great, great questions. And I think you know, just to kick off the whole trend, I think by, by no surprise everyone in this call and everyone around the world would know already, just given the announcement of all the government regulations that you know, one of the industries that are going to be severely impacted would be your international and domestic hospitality sector, right? So well we, what do we have seen especially with the customers with both you know, individual home or home owners and also the, the, the more like at scale property managers who are doing this for our business is, is that they suddenly overnight have very low demands on holiday homes or almost absolutely no more demand resulting in a lot of cancellation of future bookings. You know, which on our side we also have to accommodate and sort of see, see that disappear.

Best:

And I think we’re not actually back yet. You know, unfortunately you know, across, across the world, we’re still seeing data that reflects this trend that it would continue for quite some time, unfortunately. But that being said, I mean, interestingly, right, people are quick and nimble on their feet. They do, they do like to look out and see new demands and opportunities. So what we’ve been seeing is that a lot of the properties are getting repurposed. You know, either they’re being let out and sublet it or rent it out on a more long term basis, we are talking like a couple of months or, or they’re getting repurposed and given out to a facility manager who then would recontract it to essential services workers, healthcare facilities, especially those properties that may be located closer to a hospital or healthcare facilities.

Best:

Right? So we’ve seen, we’re seeing quite a number of those as well. So I think it’s very it’s sort of very interesting here. And you know, this, this, this as a tangent, right? We don’t just service the sort of a holiday home or short term rental industry as a whole. We also look at real estate and by real estate. I’m really talking about renting, buying properties, you know, so the more traditional sort of real estate business that everyone may be familiar with we also have visibility into those industries as well. Cause there are a lot of them are our customers on our platforms. And so what, what we see in that is that obviously everything came to a halt. You know, once the whole announcement came out, there was a lot of panic. No one wanted to do anything cause it was just too scary to do anything. But now that we’re all getting used to this new normal, a lot of them are starting to pick up in terms of activities. We’re seeing automation being used not just from hardware like ours, but also a lot of software services being layered on top to enable contactless delivery, contactless payment, transfer, ownerships, renting, leasing, all sorts of stuff. So I think that’s what we’re going to definitely see with vacation rental properties as well in upcoming weeks or months.

Thibault:

So that’s, that’s really interesting as well because Igloohome obviously is very involved in innovation and I think even a big initiative for a smart city, I think. Right. That’s what makes Singapore just very innovative.

Best:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You good, good, good point. I mean, I think, within the smart city initiative there is a lot of automation and, and budgets previously being dispersed to sort of, you know, improve a lot of what we currently see. It could be the transportation system, it could be a lot of the infrastructure side. So wherever there’s a touching point, something that has to be locked up, an access point, it has to be shared with as well. So, so we are, we are sort of in the forefront of driving the smart city initiative for all the countries that we exist in.

Thibault:

So you just talked about shared things, shared spaces. So so what, what do you think is going to happen? Shared spaces obviously is a tricky topic, right? You can imagine if you were, you know, if you were residents in the building I know I’ve seen this happen, I’ve heard this from different property managers in the world. Like some people are not very happy, residents are not very happy to have strangers in the building, in the shared spaces. It’s not just about wearing a mask, it’s also about like enabling things or making sure that people are, they’re not. So what about short term rentals? What about the villas? What’s, what’s gonna happen? What’s, what makes them a good format, for example, for us?

Best:

Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think just maybe before we had this session, right, you and I were talking and I think one of the point that we really agreed on is that once we sort of look into the near future of all relaxation of governmental policies around travel, I mean, of course no one’s going to be flying cross border anytime soon. But what, who picks up first would be the domestic travel industry, right? I mean, I think back within the global financial crisis, we observed more or less the same trend. People who would travel would still pick to travel locally or closer to home. And, and then the nature of these travel, the profile of these travelers, right, tend to be families or, or larger groups, or they tend to or if they’re friends or couples traveling, you know, if they’re not looking inward to travel, they may seek out more unique value for money options.

Best:

And that’s exactly where we, we, we definitely see these holiday home and short term properties benefiting the most. So, so, so, you know, one thing that they have that hotels don’t have is they actually have this advantage of not having a lot of common and shared facilities or amenities. And so for that reason, they’re able to adhere to this ongoing social distancing measure that we will see for sure, like continue into the next couple of months. So that’s definitely what we see. And I think, you know, having villas or holiday homes even you know, like apartments right there, allows you creativity and flexibility to make it a more unique experience to make it a holiday in a way as opposed to a more you know, a standard like hotel offering. Nothing wrong with that. I just feel that people would prefer a more unique travel experience and I think strategically short term rental companies, operators are best suited to sort of offer this experience. Yeah.

Thibault:

And and so it’s short-term rentals obviously are well suited for this kind of new demand of being together, basically being able to see your friends again together, but the small group, in a bubble.

Best:

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And yeah, no, no, no. I was just, Oh, it was, it was interesting. Right. Cause I think one of the trends that we’re seeing as well, especially out in the Nordics area where they’re living more relaxed and their regulation is, is that people are looking to do more outdoor activities. So we’re seeing a huge surge in bicycle rentals, in rentals of like kayaks or like water sports and activities in that area. So if you are, you know, an operator not just offering only homes and proper like bed space, right? But you look into other peripheral offerings to make their travel experience the best possible one. We, we, we have solutions that you could lock up all these stuff, but I’m sure there are also other solutions out there which can make this a possibility and a reality for you. So I would sort of look into that as well. Yeah.

Thibault:

So it’s, that’s a possibility to increase revenues for example. But and, and that’s a solution to do that. But of course, there’s this whole notion of decreasing costs, I believe. Right. I was checking a bit at the beginning of the year introduction that cleanliness standards for example are supposed to increase by new products. New, stronger products should be used. And maybe he knows we’ll have to spend more time. I don’t think anyone listening here is watching today’s kind of a first and who had before the crisis, a dirty place anyway because talking to professionals side of the industry, but still, you know, there are expectations and they are, that costs will increase. So how can self check-in automation happen? Any help if you decreased costs.

Best:

Yeah, that’s very interesting. And this is not a question that we’ve been answering just during the pandemic we haven’t answering since this is the beginning of you know, our product launched back in 2016 and they’re really short of it is, is you know, you don’t really see it, but like operationally you do spend, like a typical host do spend a lot of money and time in arranging check-in, checkout processes, handling an exchanging of keys. You know, whether they do it themselves or they outsource it to someone to do it or to get their neighbors to do it. There is still a cost competent that’s involved in that whole process. So, you know, decreasing operational costs by having one of these little devices in there. I mean, I think we ran a study early on when we first started offering this into the market that you know, one of these devices, not just, not just this one, like similar products as well.

Best:

You could easily recover the costs of investment within a couple of bookings and then after then on it just directly will benefit you in terms of the reduction in operational costs that you see. So that’s definitely you know, where, where I’m coming at. And of course, as we, as we go on to, to a more relaxed world as Tybault mentioned, right, like having, having check-in automated check-in, contactless check-in I don’t think this would be no longer like a nice to have. It used to be, some, I mean those of you who are managing this professional, you must know already on a lot of the platforms having a smart lock or having an automated 24 hour, 24 by seven check-in checkout process used to be required if you want it to be listed as a business ready a property.

Best:

Right? Because of the nature of business travelers as they come and go, whatever time, they’re not going to stay around and try to coordinate for key pickup time. But, but that used to be a nice to have, but now going into post-pandemic, it definitely would probably be more on the mandatory side. Make sure you have this so you don’t, you know, have a lot of people meeting different strangers just to pass on keys. So we do, we do see it you know, on both fronts that regulatory like the regulations would mandate for you to have a technology like this at the same time you know, don’t, don’t really worry about it, you know, make, make your own calculations about on our side. We have done this before in the past. We have helped thousands of hosts around the world do this, you know, more than that. But essentially you can recover the cost in just a couple of bookings. Yeah, you can, you can really do that. And then here on out, like it would just be direct cost savings to, to your bottom line. Yeah.

Thibault:

That’s really great advice, Best, and you also have this gem, I don’t know if to make it very so about, I would I will use an example, right? For my property in Bali we try to attract let’s say, you know fluent people or people of Singapore would come for a few days but still have to work, right? So obviously for my property I really wanted to make sure that they were part of what you just said. Let’s name it. Airbnb for example, to be part of their Airbnb for work collection you have to have self check-ins. And of course you have a desk and all kinds of things. Why they do that for leisure homes? Because I’m like, I want to be seen by people who might be booking and think I am booking, I will be working there.

Thibault:

So I wanna make sure that, in my case, I need to have the self check-in because I wanted to make sure that my place would be seen by people wanting a work-friendly place. So it was like something I had to do because of that. And now it’s been reversed. You have to have self check in first and then, Oh, because you have to have check in. Then you’d be shown by Airbnb with the label Airbnb for work, which gives you more visibility and more bookings. So this to you point, right, is it decreasing cost but also probably giving you even more visibility because of that.

Best:

Exactly. I think, that’s absolutely a great point. And I think for us, right, I mean, a lot of the, a lot of times the other side of the argument is, you know, we, we offer a lot of personal touch by, by showing up you know, walking them through all the amenities, you know, how to use the oven, how to open the laundry machine, so all these things. But you know, what, I think we recently published about the blog post on Igloohome on this as well. Is, is that we, we obviously don’t just get a smile on of you’re looking at automating property, getting it ready to be opened up again, post-pandemic. There are a bunch of other services or solutions that could help you. So, you know, if you do want to have the personal touch to sort of make you stand out from other, other bookings, you can, you can look into integrating or like using services such as AI chat bots, automated concierge services that can allow you to communicate with someone real time, even through video, you know, if you want it to authenticate, make sure this person was ready, who, you know, they, they said they were.

Best:

So it’s all, it’s all available. I mean, I think technology these days can enable you to do something without having to be there. And, and so, I really think you know, there’s no better, we’re not in a better time in history to, to be able to open up ourselves to this post-pandemic and stand a chance to be successful again.

Thibault:

That’s great advice. So Best, thank you so much for sharing all the insights today. You know, being, I think we’d be very concrete about what we are talking about, what can you do with it and from there what the trends are and talking about costs. How do you attract your property to all kinds of people? So if you want to do more about the products or understand a bit more or talk with somebody in the team, what can they do?

Best:

I am very contactable myself as well. We do have a website. It’s essentially www.igloohome.co Everything is on there. You can find our partners no matter where you are. I’m sure we’re there as well. If you can’t for any reason find us where you are located and you want to get in touch, you can run into me. That’s [email protected] or any email you see on the website, we’re happy. I definitely like to talk to you. Yeah.

Thibault:

Cool. Well thank you for sharing your, even your personal contact. I think the watchers would appreciate that, and I wish you a great day.

Best:

Yes, thank you. Stay safe everyone.

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