USA: Andrew Beith, CEO Safely.com, discusses how to navigate the complex world of guest screening and post-pandemic insurance.
- Please introduce yourself, your company and the services you provide in the field of short-term rentals.
I am the co-founder and CEO of Safely.com, the leading technology and guest verification solution for the vacation and short-term rental market. I previously served as Founding Advisor for Rented.com and TravelPerk and co-founded HotelUpgrade to help hoteliers find and attract high-margin business travel with guest perks and upgrades.
Safely.com has covered over $ 50 billion in homeowner’s liability since launching in 2015.
- How has the pandemic affected your business? What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that you face today?
2020 has been a difficult year for all of us in many ways. The global travel industry has been hit hard – travel was halted almost overnight as the pandemic intensified. We had to cut costs wherever possible, as many companies did, and we were able to weather the storm. All this time, we have focused on our clients to help them where possible. We were also able to look from the inside and
review our processes and products, which has been of great benefit since the lifting of travel bans.
from home in a beautiful location for a few weeks if you can work and study remotely?
This gives homeowners a financial incentive to enter the increasingly lucrative short-term rental property market. The challenge is to overcome the barriers to acquiring homeowners and meeting the demand of travelers. It is estimated that there are about 30 million second homes in the US and Europe that are only occupied four to six weeks a year. These are properties that have never even been listed on Airbnb, Vrbo or Booking.
Interaction with other people
The fear of letting an internet stranger into your home remains the number one obstacle for homeowners when renting out their property. This is where our Safely.com insurtech solution can help.
- Why is guest security becoming such an integral part of short-term rental property management?
Most of the short-term rental properties are family-owned. They are special, they keep memories for a lifetime and emotional connections. Even those objects that are not related to personal relationships benefit greatly from individual insurance.
As mentioned, the main obstacle for a secondary homeowner to rent out their property is the worry about letting an internet stranger sleep in their bed. Property managers can alleviate these concerns by effectively screening guests to stop bad guests before they even walk through the door — by identifying sex offenders, criminals, and a small but dangerous number of guests who have already destroyed other homes. Comprehensive, analytics-driven guest verification solutions effectively turn online strangers into trusted guests. The end result: a contented and confident homeowner.
The manager / owner relationship is built on trust. Property managers must be able to protect the property assets of the owner. Guest security, along with insurance, is a way to build trust and build relationships with owners.
- Checking in guests is very ton. How can property managers ensure the right balance between security and non-discrimination?
It is imperative that guest screening is based on real data analytics. By that, I mean screening based on technology and data, not gut and social media surveillance.
Relying on Internet searches, telephone and e-mail, the manager can be subjective and judge guests by the messages they leave, how they look, how they sound, or how they write. Data-driven screening removes subjective factors by making the process objective. Eliminated the need for human decision making.
- Getting specialized insurance can be a challenge for property managers. What tips do you have for navigating this challenging area?
Obviously, no one wants to approach life with the worst-case scenario in mind. But, unfortunately, sometimes something goes wrong, and it is better to play it safe. In particular, when it comes to insurance against damage to your short-term rental property.
This is a tricky area. For example, we know that many owners rely on the $ 1,000,000 Airbnb Host Guarantee. This may sound great, but it’s called the “Guarantee” for a reason and not your personal insurance policy. Other OTAs may have some level of coverage, but this may be inconsistent.
Occasionally guests are given the option to purchase damage insurance when booking a rental, but that decision is up to the guest, not the manager, so there are gaps in coverage.
We suggest having the following:
● $ 1,000,000 commercial insurance covering damage to the home’s structure, contents, and personal injury. [covering accidents and non-accidents and eliminating damage deposit administration]
● Visitor screening to identify sex offenders, criminals, terrorists and bad guests who have already destroyed other homes.
● Travel insurance and cancellation insurance.
Top tip: Always check the fine print – before you find damage, especially exceptions.
- What are the benefits of using special personal insurance?
A specialized personal accident insurance product provides confidence in the unlikely but possible case that something will go wrong, because sometimes it does.
At Safely.com, we found that problems with short-term rentals are not as common as most people think. Only three percent of reservations lead to claims. A third of these claims are purely coincidental, another third are due to silly mistakes, which we call the result of “brain leave”, while only one percent of bookings are related to willful damage to property.
But when disaster strikes, having the right tools to cover losses is essential for a property manager looking to ensure owner satisfaction. Robust home, property and personal injury liability insurance eliminates friction between homeowner, staff, and guest.
Property managers promoting comprehensive vacation rental insurance are more likely to hire new homeowners and increase their income as a result. We are pleased to announce that managers using Safely’s Insurtech solution are reporting business growth of over 30 percent.
- You must have heard horror stories about insurance payments in your time. Can you share any highlights with us?
When to start?! There was a party in the house and one of the guests decided to go skiing from the roof. In doing so, they hit the power line and turned it off, and also de-energized four houses in the neighborhood. Surprisingly, the guest was not hurt.