Hybrid business model: OTA + property management

Hostfully’s API facilitates a unique business model by managing data at scale.

Amber DelPiano is the founder of TheStella.com, a vacation rental management service and booking agency. Amber is a true vacation rental industry veteran. In the last ten years, she’s managed over 150 properties in the US through RestoreRentals.net.

What makes TheStella.com is its unique use of the Hostfully API. As we’ll see below, Amber hand-picks idyllic properties for management and acts as a booking agent through her stunning website, TheStella.com. 

Before Hostfully

Seeing opportunities off the beaten path

For years, Amber has been a regular traveler to the Mediterranean Coast, particularly the Adriatic Sea. During her trips, she goes off the beaten path to quintessential Italian coastal villages often skipped by most tourists. As Amber puts it, “tourists want authentic local experiences, but they don’t travel to the small villages where they can find them.

During one of her stays in an immaculate Italian family-run vacation rental, Amber’s love of the Adriatic combined with her experiences in the US short-term rental industry ignited creative sparks. Amber saw untapped potential all around her. What if she could market these authentic and high-end vacation rentals unknown to the average tourist? As Amber noticed, “some of these hosts with great properties don’t always speak English, which hampers their marketing efficiency on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo.” And while she’s at it, she could also use her in-depth knowledge of the industry to remotely manage the guest experience, communications, and seasonal pricing.

Amber’s idea had all the elements in place for business success: supply in need of demand. The only problem was connecting hosts with guests. What she found was that many Adriatic hosts with great properties often listed on non-English and hyper-local online travel agency (OTA) sites.  But they didn’t list on Airbnb, Vrbo, the other major vacation rental listing platforms, or operate direct booking sites.

After Hostfully

An online booking agency backed by a powerful open API

What Wydaho needed to solve access management was for the guest to receive a unique code for a smart deadbolt. Ideally, the unique code would expire at check-out so that no previous guest could access the property. After some research, Jim chose the following combination of devices and tech solutions for his properties:

Amber needed technology that could import listings from niche online travel agencies (OTAs) onto the larger platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com as well as her direct booking site, TheStella.com. Adding to Amber’s tech challenge was that some properties on TheStella.com would be manually-created listings, and not always imports from non-English OTAs. What if through word of mouth a property owner approached her but their properties weren’t on the OTAs?

Because the average property management software (PMS) on the market doesn’t use open API, it can’t handle that duality. All property information has to be manually entered into the PMS and managed from within.  This created a challenge for Amber.  Manually importing properties could be achieved through time and effort (either done herself or via virtual assistant).  However, it wouldn’t handle the challenges of multi-channel distribution.

After researching different options, Amber and her business partner realized what they needed was an API that could fetch data from the niche OTA, and import it into a vacation rental management software. That same software would then handle the remote management of the properties. This research eventually led them to the Hostfully Property Management Platform (PMP), a new generation vacation rental management system.  Because it’s built from the ground up on open API, the dream of the TheStella.com could now become reality.  Amber and her business partner got in touch with Hostfully and explained the vision. 


The engineering team at Hostfully created a custom integration to the PMP that would allow Amber to fetch listing information from the niche OTAs. Once that data is imported into the PMP, Amber can then customize the listings to cater to North Americans. The PMP then distributes them onto the major vacation rental listing sites, the original OTA it was pulled from, and TheStella.com.  When a reservation takes place, the Hostfully PMP blocks off the calendars on all platforms the property is listed on.

On Amber’s end, she created her custom booking agency site. Once that was complete, she activated Hostfully’s direct booking site widget to communicate with TheStella.com. With those elements in place, any property managed through the Hostfully PMP would also automatically import onto the TheStella.com. The rest of Amber’s business idea (remote vacation rental management) could be handled by the Hostfully PMP.

Visually, Amber describes Hostfully as the nucleus of her business: 

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. Amber and TheStella.com showcase how the Hostfully API and its PMP facilitate a booking agency business model. 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


Local recommendations (includes geodata)

Guest messaging


House rules