We sat down with Agota Luksaite from Houseys‘ to learn more about their companies journey, what brought them to PriceLabs and their experience so far.
Richie Khandelwal [PriceLabs]: Thank you so much for taking the time to catch up today! To kick start here, can you tell us a little bit about Houseys? Give us the back story!
Agota Luksaite [Houseys]: It’s a pleasure to be here. My colleague, Tomas, and I started working on Houseys in the spring of 2017. Tomas was already managing some properties with other partners. He and I started communicating because I was probably the only person in Vilnius who used technology to work on short term rental. I had a background in hotels. My family owns a bed and breakfast, so I have been doing property management since I was fourteen.
We initially started as a business license in the spring of 2017, managing two apartments of which one was Tomas’s apartment. Initially, we were not interested in becoming a huge company. But then around the Spring of 2018 registered the company and we had about 40 properties then. By the end of 2019, we had grown to almost 80 properties!
In operation since 2017
In 2018, autumn, we applied to two startup accelerators. In Kaunas Startup accelerator Houseys got a special prize and drew attention of Cristobal Alonso – the head of Startup Wise Guys accelerator program. We then applied to a Startup Wise Guys SaaS accelerator and were accepted to participate starting 2019 April 1st.
It was a three-month program where we learned a lot, and we decided that we want to grow and scale not just in Vilnius and Kaunas but grow out to go to other countries as well. So we have Latvia and Estonia in our plan and the rest of the CE region as well.
In early 2020, we started to rationalize our portfolio because we wanted to get rid of the properties that were not fit for us. Now we’re kind of shifting a bit more to apart-hotels because that’s a lot easier to control and a lot more profitable.
Recently, we’ve started doing webinars to share about the technology we are using with Vacation Rental owners in Lithunia. We also had Fausto from your team do a webinar to talk about revenue management software.
Richie: Wow, that’s a lot of positive momentum and growth! So Give us a sense of how big the team is now, and what is the plan post-Covid?
Agota: Now the team is down to four people, excluding the housekeeping department. The plan is to first go to the seaside. We already launched our first apartment in Palanga which is one of the resort cities on the shore and in the first night got reservations for 1900 eur. The ADR there is about five times bigger than Vilnius or Kaunas, which is good. And we’re opening an apart-hotel in Kaunas. Honestly, what I think I will be doing after this call is putting the apart-hotel on booking.com.
Richie: That’s so good to hear! I’m excited. I’ve never been to Lithuania, but I’ve seen some of your properties, and they are gorgeous. So, my next question – you started the company in 2017. And then you came to PriceLabs in the spring of 2018. What brought you to PriceLabs?
Agota: It’s a funny story that we had with Anurag. I found PriceLabs in the autumn of 2017. We were trying PriceLabs from many different accounts. I was turning it on and off, and Anurag reached out to me.
What brought me to PriceLabs is I was just trying to learn more about revenue management. That wasn’t something that I knew as someone who studied it. I just had my background coming from this business. And since I was the one responsible for revenue in the company, I wanted to learn. I think it was in an Airbnb professionals group on Facebook that I found the keywords “dynamic pricing.” It wasn’t PriceLabs. It was just dynamic pricing.
So I started searching, and I found PriceLabs and some other ones. I began with PriceLabs, I liked it, and it worked for us. PriceLabs is the best dynamic pricing solution for Airbnb!
What we did is, we increased the revenue of apartments by up to 200%!
Richie: Wait, did you say you increased revenue of some apartments by 200%?
Agota: Yes! Because you know, when you have a large number of apartments, it’s tough to do it by hand. You have to know all the dates when people are trying to book, to manage your calendar. You need an algorithm. So, yes!
Richie: Interesting! So you tried us with a few different accounts before deciding to use us. What were you doing before using PriceLabs?
Agota: I was pricing myself through beds24. Since I’m someone who knows the prices and knows the market pretty well. I set up about 15 different rates for each property and dates to use that pricing, and discounts, and everything! It was a lot of work. It was daily work. I was using personal know how and it was hard 😀
Richie: Wow, I think it was less common two years ago, but now dynamic pricing is a reasonably well-known term in the industry! Do you know how much time you spend with PriceLabs now?
Agota: I’d say a few hours a week. I’m not doing pricing anymore. However, the time we spend on PriceLabs has considerably reduced since you launched seasonal pricing and occupancy-based pricing, which reduces the amount of work needed. But still, we log in two-three times a week, to see if there’s a 100% somewhere in a red color (availability metrics). Just to make sure we aren’t overlooking something.
Richie: I’m looking here, and your account is one of the more active accounts. In a month, you log in roughly 20 days. And you use us on an average 20 minutes a day and so over a month your team spends six hours on PriceLabs. This data is from the last 30 days.
Agota: This is nice to know, and we’ve had some reduced activity due to COVID. Do you have some statistics for the previous months also? That would be very interesting.
Richie: So we started capturing how much time people are spending on PriceLabs only recently but will be happy to share as & when you want to look at it. More on what you said, you don’t look at pricing yourself anymore. Who from your team handles it now?
Agota: So yeah, I’m just starting to give it away. It’s like the first two weeks since the new person, Martin, started working on it. His education is in finance. So he understands things quickly, and now he’s learning about the market.
Richie: Well, we wish Martin all the best and are here to help however we can! It’s been quite some time since you have been with PriceLabs, what has your experience been?
Agota: It’s a very, very, very positive experience. I find PriceLabs extremely easy to use and clear. I have even created multiple accounts for other people that are not yet under our management.
We’ve been in contact with Anurag most of the time, and he’s one of the founders. You know it can’t be wrong when you’re talking to someone who cares because that’s their company. But even now, when we reach out to your support team as you have scaled, we still get the same personal touch. Having a platform that does most of the brain work for you and calculates everything is pretty amazing.
Richie: Earlier, you had mentioned the benefits of using PriceLabs; You saw an increase of 200% in revenue.
Agota: Yeah. Up to 200%. And that’s the revenue of the owner after our commission. So it’s impressive. It was our pitch in the accelerator. Our pitch started with 200% >> This is how much we managed to increase the owners’ revenue.
Richie: Any advice for property managers, the ones that are now thinking about using PriceLabs?
Agota: Yeah, you can use our pitch! 200% – This is how much Houseys was able to increase their revenue by using PriceLabs.
Richie: I love it!
Agota: But honestly, if they’re already thinking of using PriceLabs, they’re on the right path.
If they’re not, they should start doing it because there’s no person probably in the world that can do things better and as consistently as an algorithm. You can have a lot of market knowledge, but it’s still difficult to apply without a platform.
So, yes, Get on it. Use every customization you can, learn as much as you can and enjoy. It saves so much time and energy and increases revenues.
So it’s blessed, blessed, blessed everywhere.
Richie: Wow. That’s quite something! Thank you for being such a champion! It’s been all so positive to speak to you for the last 20 minutes. I hope the Covid situation will end soon, and markets will start to recover! We are beginning to see some of it already! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today!
Agota: Thank you for supporting us! We are looking forward to growing together! We are starting to see bookings in the seaside regions of Lithuania, so we are looking forward to a recovery!