Pillow launch in San Diego to put Airbnb rentals on autopilot

Pillow, a tech-driven hospitality service, plans on June 23 to begin providing San Diego residents with a convenient way to turn their personal residences into professionally managed short-term vacation rentals. His pitch is this: list it and forget it.

The San Francisco-based startup competes with traditional property management companies, but caters to homeowners with technology that can dynamically price and list properties on multiple online services at the same time, changing rates to meet market demand.

Pillow also handles all the tedious offline tasks like cleaning, customer turnover and maintenance, even customer service and key exchanges. In addition, guests are covered by $ 2 million general liability insurance. For its problems, Pillow takes a 15 percent reduction in rental income.

Ultimately, Pillow aims to standardize the host and guest experience for a growing percentage of the population participating in the home sharing economy powered by services like Airbnb and HomeAway. San Diego is home to more than 12,000 short-term rentals and is the country’s fastest growing market, according to company data.

“We’re the Hilton or the Hyatt for short-term rentals,” said Sean Conway, CEO of Pillow, who grew up in San Diego and chose his old hometown as Pillow’s fourth city because of its appeal to businesses. holidays all year round.

A homeowner who signs up with Pillow can expect to go through a process that includes visiting a company representative who will take photos of the home, document the features and amenities of the property, and create an ad that will be promoted on Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. After that, the owner is off the hook.

“We put [the listing] on autopilot for you, ”Conway said. “But it’s transparent. You know who is coming in and you can see pictures of your accommodation between each stay. You could be across the world and know your home is in good hands.

“The pillow makes sense for hosts who want to use Airbnb to make more money, but can’t afford to be so convenient,” said Matthew Wong, research analyst at CB Insights, who tracks private companies and emerging industries. But Pillow’s pricing model presents a lot of risks and opportunities, he added.

For some, the most attractive feature of the startup will be a recurring paycheck. Hosts who plan to rent their properties for three months or more can skip the pay-per-reservation option and its 15% surcharge, and go the fixed income route instead.

With the latter choice, Pillow customers receive a guaranteed income each month, with the company determining the monthly rate using available rental data on neighborhood occupancy and prices. The landlord gets the agreed rate no matter what. However, either the pillow absorbs the cost if demand is worse than expected, or pockets the profit if the reverse occurs. Company estimates are typically between 5% and 10% higher or lower than actual bookings, Conway said.

Pillow is part of the trend for startups to expand to provide infrastructure for other tech companies disrupting traditional transportation and hospitality industries. Others in space include Guest, a customer management application for hotels; Auditor, an automated background check service; and Broken, a startup that rents hybrid vehicles to people who want to work for a ridesharing company.

Conway’s bet is that Pillow can piggyback on the maturing home-sharing economy, which he says will mirror the evolution of the eBay ecommerce company as a service run by mom and pop sellers. to one dominated by powerful sellers. Of course, its vision is conditional on colocation services remaining legal, which is not a given. For example, Santa Monica recently banned the rental of an entire home for less than 30 days.

San Diego, meanwhile, is still figuring out how regulate seasonal rentals. It is a matter of division that has created tensions between supporters and those who oppose living in a turnstile neighborhood.

“Over the next five to ten years, you’re going to see the whole sharing economy explode,” Wong said. Wong likened the boom to a gold rush. “Every time you have one of these big blasts, there will be these companies … that will sell the shovels.” “

Pillow is already online in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Seattle. It plans to start operations in San Diego on June 23. Those who wish to register can do so at Maisons-oreillers.com. The company is also organize an event for those interested in learning more about pillow and short-term rentals on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the Gaslamp Room in the Emerald Plaza building in downtown. More information about the event is available at The pillow blog.

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