New sustainable travel platform challenges AirBnB
More intelligent is a new market for short breaks showcasing many of London’s most notable homes. Founded by Guy van der Westhuizen to challenge the status quo established by traditional booking platforms, the brand aims to distil quality from quantity and free customers from high booking fees. With homes ranging from £ 200 to £ 2,000 per night, Smarter aims to reduce noise and set a new standard as the first platform to select homes on both the basis of quality and service from management.
How did you come up with the idea for Smarter? Following my experiences of managing short stays over the past decade through my London agency, Ivy, and realizing during that time that the model operated by major SEO platforms didn’t really serve professionally managed portfolios, nor the guests, I thought of Smarter. As global travel took a break during the pandemic, I sensed a real opportunity to reshape the way high-end managers can market their homes and improve the way clients can find and book them. . It was also clear that with Smarter we had a great chance to improve our industry’s relationship with the environment, so we committed to carbon offsetting and applied for B-Corp certification.
How do you describe what you do to someone at a dinner party? I haven’t been to a dinner party since I started developing Smarter! When I do, I will tell them that I have started a new business that aims to change the game of short-term luxury rentals, for the better.
Travel is a saturated market. What do you think Smarter has that was not already available? Saturation is precisely one of the main issues that Smarter seeks to address. Essentially, we’re fine-tuning the choice. We distil the quality from the large amount of ads that populate mainstream sites. By “quality” we do not only mean the accommodations themselves, but also the quality of the service. This is really important because the element of service is often overlooked – you can rent the finest house in London but if it is not impeccably prepared the sheets are wrinkled or no one answers your call when you cannot. not operate the oven, then your overall experience will not be great.
Customers can be sure of very competitive value when booking their stay through Smarter, as our service charges are lower than traditional platforms.
What are some of the things that make a property suitable for Smarter? A wonderful location, comfort, style, a full and functional range of amenities, crisp linens, beautiful towels, all wrapped up in attentive and friendly management service.
What are your plans for the future? Our next move will be overseas, but we haven’t decided exactly what location …
What are some of the technological innovations that are helping you and your business get through Covid-19? They are not really new, but we would be lost without the ability to communicate easily and instantly. Slack and Google Meet are my favorites. I have had very productive face-to-face meetings from my office in London with people in Sydney, Los Angeles, Paris, Copenhagen and South Africa. I’m old enough that the novelty of how amazing it is has not faded yet!
What gives you hope right now? Vaccines and the unwavering desire to travel.
A commitment to sustainability is important to your brand and you fund carbon offset projects with a reservation. Tell me about this aspect of the business and why was it important? It may sound like a truism, but there will be no travel without a planet. The sustainability element of Smarter is there to meet our industry’s responsibility to the environment, which rests with all stakeholders, including our partner agencies, owners, service operators, guests and Smarter. himself. We want to minimize our footprint where we can, for example in the way living rooms are maintained (including eliminating single-use plastics and reducing waste), and offset the rest. Aviation will be the biggest contributor here, so we’ll be asking our guests to share their flight information, so that we can determine how much we need to offset to meet our carbon negativity targets. We have also founded a charity, the Stay For Good Foundation, which will fund sustainable development, carbon offsetting and environmental protection projects and which will receive 10% of the profits from Smarter.
What defines a perfect short break? A comfortable space, an inspiring design, the possibility to relax and have fun with family and friends.