Want to stay in the best houses in the world? It could be cheaper than you think
Some business ideas are developed after experiencing poor service, but for Doron Meyassed, it was a surprisingly brilliant stay in Tel Aviv that planted the seed for Plum Guide: the luxury homestay platform giving Airbnb a run for its money.
It was the little touches that made him think; the incredible collection of coffee table books, the cocoon shape of the living room, fresh fruit appearing every day in the fridge.
As an avid vacation planner (the kind that uses spreadsheets) and “die-hard” user of the homestay site, Meyassed was frustrated that he landed on his dream place by chance rather than by certainty.
What the founder of Plum Guide discovered was that “there were many, many hoteliers and there was no light on their artistry”. In 2016, research began to uproot the best stays from the “depth of mass market platforms”. Only 3 percent of households in each destination are selected.
They must first pass the “Plum Test” of a “home reviewer” which rates vacation homes on more than 150 criteria: from Wi-Fi speed and decibel levels in the bedroom to higher qualities. subjective such as the feeling of space.
The result is “the science behind the perfect stay,” and it’s a winning formula according to Plum’s growing success. With sales at 90% of pre-pandemic levels in August 2021, the company says it is overtaking the resumption of international travel, which only regained 26 percent of sales.
Why has luxury travel rebounded faster?
The number of Google searches containing the word “luxury” topped the word “inexpensive” for the first time around the summer of 2009, and they have drifted away since, Meyassed points out. The pandemic appears to have accelerated our desire for quality in travel and other aspects of life.
“I think what’s going on is that now something so precious has been taken from us – the holidays – and we’ve kind of taken it for granted,” he says, “people now really want s ‘ensure that there is no chance in their journey; they do not want to take any risks.
Cue Plum, where there is no chance of being ripped off or disillusioned by the tightly controlled owners. It aims to be the Michelin Guide for second homes to its public of urban creatives.
How affordable is a Plum stay?
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a beautiful ‘tree house’ in Shoreditch, or a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower? The only catch, of course, is the cost.
This remains one of the biggest communication challenges for the brand, explains Meyassed. “The typical person sees this beautiful photograph and is drawn to the amazing houses and has a ‘maybe not for me’ feeling.” But with three price points, a Plum stay can be more affordable than you think.
London’s cheapest one-bedroom apartment costs around £ 100 (€ 119) a night, rising to £ 8,000 (€ 9,500) for a huge townhouse in upscale Chelsea. Meyassed envisions the rungs in terms of opportunities, imagining how far people would stretch on a honeymoon, for example.
Where is Plum going next?
With a funding injection of $ 9 million (7.7 million euros) earlier this month, Plum Guide is on a mission to expand its Michelin reach.
“The first feedback we get from customers is, ‘you’re not where I’m going,’” says Meyassed. Being so meticulous, it takes time to expand their quality operation, which includes 500 destinations in 26 countries.
However, plum homes are opening up quickly on the east and west coasts of the United States, as well as in European summer destinations like Ibiza, Mallorca, Florence, Puglia, and Venice.
Although the demand for country cottages means that they are also branching out into more rural areas of the UK.
With industry research showing that travelers are increasingly willing to pay to make their trips more sustainable, do they have an eye to become greener? “I’m embarrassed to say we left that out when COVID-19 hit,” Meyassed said.
Previously, “we would start thinking about what we test at home, as well as offering customers the option of offsetting their trip. Having indeed emerged from ‘survival mode’, sustainability is now back on the agenda.