Alterhome is a tech-driven hospitality company offering spaces built for short and mid term rentals across three cities in Spain (Madrid, Seville, and Arcos)
Richie Khandelwal [PriceLabs]: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us for a conversation today. To start with, Can you tell us a little about Alterhome?
Patricia González [Alterhome]: Thank you so much for having me here. I am excited to share our journey! We founded Alterhome about three years ago. Today, we handle about 180 short-term rental properties across three cities in Spain (Madrid, Seville, and Arcos). Our properties are mostly apartments, and we have some villas. We rent on a nightly basis primarily for touristic purposes, but we also do some corporate stays. We started with zero (0) properties, and we have been growing at a steady pace.
Richie: That’s terrific growth! Can you give us a little back story? What brought you into the world of Vacation Rentals?
Patricia: Well, I was already in this world. I have been doing this for about eight years. I was working for the UAE homeland security. But somehow, I was bitten by entrepreneurship. Along with a friend, my brother, and I, we created an Alterkeys platform. We were the Airbnb of Europe. Airbnb wasn’t very popular back then. We quickly accumulated more than 100K properties on our platform and then sold the company to a hotel chain, Room Mate hotel. They wanted to enter the apartment space, so we joined hands and started building the company together. It’s now called BeMate. After working on BeMate for some years, we saw a recurring need from property owners who needed professional managers to manage their properties. Also, we are entrepreneurs at heart – so Alterhome was born.
Richie: Wow, that’s quite an incredible journey! I did not know about Alterkeys, fabulous to hear this backstory. Coming to Alterhome, how big is the team now?
Patricia: We are about 50 people now, including the cleaning staff, technical team, operations, sales, interior design team. When we take a property, it’s not plug and play. We are very proud of our design team; when we sign a contract, our design team comes in to prepare and upgrade the property, thus helping us maximize earnings.
Richie: Fascinating! Shifting gears to PriceLabs, you have been working with PriceLabs for about two years. What brought you to PriceLabs?
Patricia: When we started with our first few properties, it was easy to manage prices. We were thinking, events are events – we will take the time to look for them, and then we just have to replicate the work for ten properties. It did not seem like much work. But as we started getting bigger, we made several mistakes because of the manual labor. Every time you introduce something manual, there is room for error.
Every time you introduce something manual, there is room for error. For example, we didn’t notice an orphan night with a minimum stay of 2 nights.
Patricia Gonzales, co-founder & CEO Alterhome
For example, we didn’t notice an orphan night with a minimum stay of 2 nights, and of course, these nights remained unsold. That alone is about $200 or whatever your nightly rate is.
Or, for example, last-minute discounts. We had to do these every day. It became substantial work. So initially, with ten properties, it was okay. But with the increase in properties, there was so much time we were spending updating rates with an error-prone process.
We made an excel file with macros and everything to improve. It was one step forward. So that we didn’t have to think about some things, but still, we were spending way too much time doing things that weren’t core.
We started thinking if there was another way. We even thought about building something, but it wasn’t our core. So we started looking out.
I had worked with hotels in the past, so I knew hotels have software for revenue management. But we were struggling to find something for our apartments.
We did demos with hotel revenue management software, but they were not for us. And, then I heard about your product, and I heard that it is a software specifically for revenue management of apartments. And I remember that moment distinctly. I said like, whew, okay, I have to check this out! I remember it.
Patricia Gonzales, co-founder & CEO Alterhome
After we finished our trial period, we realized it was a perfect match for us, and we’ve been using it ever since!
Richie: I am glad that we found you. Two years of using PriceLabs, what’s your favorite part about using PriceLabs?
Patricia: Well, my favorite part is the customization rules. You can set them up once and then forget about them. As a startup, automation is vital for us! I love that! When I saw the orphan night rule, I was like, oh my god, where have you been all my life.
Richie: I am sure things have changed since you first started using PriceLabs, who handles PriceLabs in your team now?
Patricia: I do go into PriceLabs, but we also have a revenue management team. We have five people now. They look at if seasonality matches or if some properties are not getting booked, or maybe something else needs a change.
Richie: That’s an interesting point. We sometimes hear from some prospects that revenue management software is not needed because they have revenue managers. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Patricia: I would say there are not many things that we could not do if we had to do without PriceLabs. We will find a solution, but it would mean working manually, and I mean, it would be terrible! I would lose many things, not only time and money but perhaps my sanity.
Richie: Haha! Well, I hope this convinces some of the readers. What benefits have you derived, or what advice do you have for other managers?
Patricia: Well, like I said.
I mean minimizing mistakes is an essential one for me. But also the saving in time and money that automating things represent. For us, it has been an enormous saving in time, and time is money. If you are planning on growing, you have to think of scalability, and manual things don’t help you.
Richie: That’s fantastic! But there is a learning curve to using software. How was your experience with our customer support team at PriceLabs?
Patricia: I am delighted. Whenever we reach out to the support desk, your team has been super supportive and super-fast, too, to figure out the issue. When we reach out, we don’t always know if it is your problem, the PMS connection, or something else, but we have you guys trying to do your best, and it makes us truly feel valued.
Richie: Thank you so much for the kind words. Any advice on what we should be doing to help you?
Patricia: Well, analytics is something that I would love because it’s something that we have to figure out on our end. We are trying new software and everything else. Managers need to understand the real information that is behind everything. So we make the right decisions, right. That is something that we, for sure, need.
Richie: This is something that we have heard from other managers, too, and we recognize the need! We recently launched Market Dashboards, which was a step in making data more readily available. We are also working on the analytics part that I believe will be very exciting. Still under the wraps, but you’ll hear soon from us. Anything else that you’d like to see from us?
Patricia: We’re starting to manage buildings. Buildings are like hotels where you have, like, say, 20 apartments. But they’re mostly three categories. I mean six apartments of each type. So I would love to handle every group as one. That, for me, would be very convenient. I have several apartments that are in the same building with the same characteristics and everything else. And I have to work on each individually. So I would love to be able to handle them.
Richie: That’s a good point! As you pointed out earlier Vacation rental work is a little different from Hotels and reverse is true too. We have already built some tools here and are improving them also. Our team would be happy to walk you through these!
Richie: Coming back to Alterhome, I know things are moving. I don’t know if you want to reveal it now. Can you share what’s next?
Patricia: Before Covid, we were about to sign two new buildings. So they’re still holding on for us, for things to get back to kind of normal. So we hope to be able to get those. We are also expanding to new cities because our model is working. Investors and VCs are interested in our model and our company. And so we will be opening in new cities as soon as possible, depending on the circumstances.
Richie: And are you going to be across Spain?, or are you going outside of Spain?
Patricia: We will soon be opening new cities and countries, in and outside Spain.
Richie: Wow, that would be fantastic! We wish you all the best in the journey. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and patiently answering all these somewhat repetitive questions!
Patricia: I was happy to take the time. Like I said before, we love working with the PriceLabs team!