What is this Houfy site?
Many of you might wonder what Houfy is all about and why Houfy is any different then any other new vacation rental websites you see..
I will try to explain as good as I can in a short version .. I will edit this document once in a while.. to show you examples etc.
In 2014, I came up with an idea to create a "market-network", a social site combined with marketplaces. In Houfy's case this market-network is being made for "properties".
1) Marketplaces: You can buy/sell & rent properties using online marketplaces. (Think: Airbnb/Expedia/Tripadvsior/Booking - Zillow/Realtor) - To add your listing to Houfy: the process is really simple for Homeaway/VRBO & Airbnb listings: Try this link
2) Social Networks: Combining best elements of Social Networks to easy share local information around your property. (Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/Medium/Quora/Tripadvisor forums)
We are currently very much in the development stages. This project is large.
I wanted to create an Airbnb/Homeaway direct for owners to rent and a Zillow/Realtor to sell directly.. (The vacation rental part of our site is working quite well, with options to include direct payment through Stripe and Square)
- no commissions
- no hidden phone numbers/emails/websites in our messaging system
What is this social site?
For my rentals I thought it would be practical to have certain "Guides/Collections/Libraries" added to my listing, or links for my guests to review. Many guests ask me the same questions all the time: What can I do nearby? Where should we eat? When can we check in? What events are taking place? How do I get there? Who will welcome me? How practical would it be to just send a link.. In this case a Houfy link to a guide.
Most of us create "standard" e-mail replies to these questions. However: Many restaurants change/codes change/ things to do change; so: I thought of making a site where I can easily change/edit "my guides and posts/stories". (This is actually "a story" I am writing right now..- so also useful for Houfy - I am explaining you right now..)
What if your neighbor next door also lists on Houfy and does the same, adding guides/stories and you "follow" him.. and you see some restaurants he recommends which you did not, then we have an interesting site, where we share good local information. (You can just add his/her recommendation to one of your guides - no need to re-write anything) A lot more practical than Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram or Twitter.
These guides can be easily added to your listing on Houfy and improve SEO for your Houfy listing. (At a later stage we might show listings with guides higher up in the search results)
Some of our members have made some terrific guides for their guests to read:
FYI: Our properties are located in Breckenridge, Colorado. A small mountain/ski town with many, many restaurants, 100.000s of visitors & many management companies (all competing for google pg 1) and all sharing similar information..
How can I, with my site or in any way possibly compete with them?
This is why Houfy is interesting: next to our cottage we have restaurant a, b, c; to get ski tickets, you go to site xyz and to rent equipment go to shop a or b. Member M, who also has a listing on Houfy might suggest restaurant d, e, f as he/she is on the other side of town and suggests to rent equipment from store g or h. This will be much more useful information than given by the management companies fighting for the 1st spot on Google.
Imagine going to Breckenridge, staying at our cottage and having a perfect guide for where to eat/get breakfast/buy ski-tickets and rent equipment. My guests will not need to go to any other site (Google/Yahoo etc). The same will be true for Member M.
For real estate sales: it is exactly the same. Who do you use as a plumber/electrician/closing company etc. Is this 5-6% commission the realtor charged justified for the "showing" and "referring" to the notary or closing company? For us at Houfy: Real Estate for sale has pictures/a Price/sqft/ and some basic details.. very similar as to vacation rentals. How about 1 site for all? I will get back on this one.
All these posts/stories/guides are being indexed by Google and increase traffic to Houfy. 1 listing is 1 page for the Google's "spider"; 1 post/story or guide is also 1 page/url for the "spider". Writing interesting stories on Houfy will help you, your listing, other listings and Houfy. We currently have about 3000+ listings with 50000 + posts.. Houfy could become "known" for the place to look for good local information and hey, maybe to book direct as well..
Houfy will stay free to list your property. Once we get our members actively involved on our social site and we see serious activity on Houfy, we will start charging fees for certain services on our site (For example: adding a special and showing on top of search results or for "featured" listings). I have mentioned many times: our intention to share Houfy ownership as well as any news/activity we see. We do not have any secrets. Our main objective is to make Houfy work perfectly for you and for all of us.
Please understand: We do not have the Billions of $ needed to market Houfy. Asking you for certain $ a month will be "wasted" funds in my opinion. Houfy will have much more impact if you help us sharing local places around your property. Creating guides/stories/articles and sharing this information on social sites might be quite powerful. I strongly believe this syste might work in the long run.
Swapnil and I will continue working on Houfy full time to make the user interface perfect for all of us, vacation rentals, small hotels, for sale by owner, long term rent etc. Hopefully later in 2019 or in 2020 Houfy will get better "known" and we can "compete" a tiny tiny bit with the big players out there.. We are still very much in the development phase and need to grow our inventory with "perfect listings" (Updated pricing/calendars/pics etc.)
We will be "hiding" listings which our not acceptable to our "to be made" standards per April 1 2019.
Thanks T & S
Written: Jan 15th 2019 - Edited Feb 26, 2019
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