Case Study

Open API enabling third-party software

How a startup used the Hostfully API to build third-party vacation rental management software

Trey Spiller is the Director of Real Estate and Development at Cohost, a full life-cycle vacation rental management company (VRMC). Trey and his team of real estate professionals and software developers help investors find properties ideal for vacation rentals, manage them after the acquisition, and advise when it’s the ideal time to sell in a given market.

Cohost is one of a few complete life-cycle VRMCs operating in North America. What makes Cohost genuinely unique is its blend of real estate know-how and can-do entrepreneurship backed by powerful custom software. When Trey and his team advise investors, they don’t just do it on a hunch. They use troves of data points filtered in a custom dashboard that delivers powerful insights to their revenue-oriented investors.

Before Hostfully

A business model so unique, no tool existed to service it

Trey and his team are vacation rental managers, but also real estate professionals. For years, they’ve been helping investors acquire properties, operating the assets as vacation rentals, and advising on strategies. Cohost’s clients are generally sophisticated investors, which can be a double-edged sword. They know the ins and outs of investing and diversification, but they also ask pointed questions to justify the expense of hiring a vacation rental management. For years, the Cohost team got two types of questions from their clients:

  • Whether it’s better to rent the property long-term vs. operating as a short-term rental.
  • Detailed operational and performance metrics to assess if the expense of hiring Cohost is justifiable (and if its worth managing the asset for Cohost.)

With a small client base, answering both types of questions was reasonably straightforward. Compile the data by hand and present it to the client. However, as Cohost attracted more clients and the portfolio grew, coming up with those answers became time intensive. What Cohost needed was an internal finance and accounting analysis platform and an external dashboard where investors could see income vs. expenses, the work performed by the team when managing the rentals, and how the surrounding real estate market was performing.

Trey spent hours researching solutions. However, there wasn’t a short-term property management system (PMS) that blended real estate datasets with vacation rental metrics. As a true entrepreneur, Trey saw the obstacle as the solution. Instead of letting himself get bogged down with repetitive manual tasks, he would automate it all by building custom software.

After Hostfully

Custom software powered by innovative and open API

Trey needed two functions to power his vision: managing multiple vacation rentals through one platform, and importing rental and real estate metrics into Cohost’s software. Finding a management platform was easy, and real estate metrics APIs are fairly common.  The tricky part was importing vacation rental metrics.  Most management software has closed API.  But Trey needed those vacation rental metrics to show investors:

  • How many times Cohost communicated with guests (time cost savings)
  • Reservation leads fielded and converted by Cohost
  • Sources of bookings and occupancy rates
  • Income and expenses (by category)
  • Capitalization Rate, Cash on Cash, and Internal Rate of Return (this is where vacation rental and real estate metrics get converted into one result)

With all those data points meshing together, Trey could build his dashboard.  The result?  When clients log into their dashboards to look at their investments’ performance, they also see all that Cohost manages on their behalf.  If that wasn’t enough, Cohost’s dashboard also shows investors which type of rental – short vs. long-term – is more profitable. To do this, Cohost imports real estate metrics with the Zillow API. The algorithm then contrasts that data to the one pulled from the Hostfully API. It also compares estimated long-term rental prices in the area to the income generated by the property when run as a vacation rental. Finally, the Cohost dashboard can advise investors if it’s the right time to sell by using the Zillow and Hostfully APIs to illustrate the potential equity gain vs. continued operation as a vacation rental. 

The Hostfully advantage

Hostfully’s industry-leading and award-winning property management platform (PMP) is built on top of an open API designed by developers for developers.  Customers with Premium accounts can import and export their own vacation rental management data and create powerful custom software solutions unique to their businesses. Trey and CoHost showcase how the Hostfully API and its PMP facilitate custom software by importing vacation rental metrics. However, the open API can also communicate and exchange:

Standard and custom amenities

Custom fees, pricing data

Guest profiles

Cleaning jobs and work orders

Booking leads

Webhooks

Local recommendations (includes geodata)

Guest messaging

Photos

House rules

Reviews