Skol Apartments Marbella
How Lodgify's vacation rental software boosted this host's direct bookings to 85%
The story of Daniela Derin, owner and manager of Skol Apartments Marbella together with her husband Vincenzo, is probably the dream of many hosts, but also an excellent demonstration of how Lodgify is a software that adapts to the needs of all types of owners, regardless of the size of their business.
This Italian couple currently manages 90 short-term rental apartments with sea views in the center of Marbella, one of the most visited cities on the Costa del Sol. Our vacation rental software has helped them get 85% of their bookings directly through their website, but how did they get here?
Before the financial crisis of 2008, Daniela and Vincenzo moved between the hospitality and real estate sectors. However, after the collapse, the couple decided to try their luck with something they believed had a promising future: vacation rentals.
The sector was very different when we started. Nobody wanted to get into it, it seemed like a bore to them.”
Daniela and Vincenzo began their journey in this little world with a portfolio of 15 vacation rentals. However, within a year, the count had grown to 25, and three years later, after acquiring the portfolio of a retiring manager, the couple found themselves with 70 accommodations on their hands.
The enormous growth of their business in a short time made Daniela and Vincenzo realize that the management tools they had been using until then no longer met their needs.
Without a channel manager, it’s not feasible to be on several vacation rental platforms.”
The number one priority was to find reliable software backed by a capable company that would allow them to create a website through which to accept direct, commission-free bookings, as well as centralize the management of their business (customers, bookings, listings, channels, etc.) in one place.
After two bad experiences with software from our competitors, it was the third time lucky for Daniela. The owner of Skol Apartments spent an entire year researching and informing herself about vacation rental software until she found Lodgify in 2018.
I didn’t want to change software every year; that’s why I chose Lodgify.”
The recommendation from Matt Landau, one of the most important figures in the industry in the United States, was important, but so was the human factor: John, our VP of Sales, got personally involved in helping Daniela.
It was important to see that the Lodgify team is made up of serious and capable people. When you have a business like ours, you don’t put it in the hands of just anyone.”
Our template-based website builder was also a key factor. In the past, Daniela had a hard time trying to get a competitor’s booking engine to work on her website, and she didn’t want that to happen again.
What was it like building a website with Lodgify?
Daniela speaks candidly about the process:
It was super easy. I’m very good at what I do, but technology… I’m bad at it, honestly. If I can build the website by myself, anyone can do it.”
In fact, Daniela’s experience was so satisfying that even now, five years after starting with us, she still makes changes to her website from time to time.
For Daniela, one thing she particularly loves about Lodgify is that she now spends a lot less time working. Our software allows her to automate most of her daily tasks, which is necessary when you have to take care of 90 accommodations and their guests.
We’ve automated all communications with guests.”
The owner of Skol Apartments Marbella has also taken advantage of the flexibility of our web builder to add a FAQ section to her website, saving her from answering so many questions that she previously had to answer over and over again.
However, all of the above pales in comparison to the following: Currently, Daniela gets 85% of her bookings directly, saving hundreds of thousands of euros a year in commissions from platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com.
“Our clients, who are of a certain age, tell us that the website is very intuitive and easy to use. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
The success of Skol Apartments has also served Daniela well on a personal level, having been invited as a speaker to some of the most important events in the vacation rental industry, such as The Book Direct Show and Scale Rentals.
In fact, Daniela and Vincenzo’s business has attracted attention beyond our borders: recently, Skol Apartments was nominated for several awards at the prestigious Shortyz gala, held in London. We couldn’t be prouder!
What other tools do you use in your day-to-day?
“Revyoos and TouchStay.” – Daniela tells us.
Revyoos is a review aggregator integrated with Lodgify that can be embedded on any vacation rental’s website to display reviews from past guests to users.
Revyoos is great if you’re focusing on direct bookings.”
TouchStay, on the other hand, is a provider of digital welcome guides.
We have the TouchStay QR on the welcome letter… With it, our guests can see a map of the area, where to eat, where to dine, where to have breakfast, where to have a drink, where to shop… We usually recommend small local businesses.”
Daniela’s extensive experience in the vacation rental industry makes her an ideal person to ask what aspiring hosts should know before diving into the short-term rental business.
“People rely too much on OTAs” – she tells us. “We started out advertising on Booking and Airbnb as well, but it’s not good for them to be your only sales channel.”
When you depend on OTAs, it’s harder to build customer relationships.”
On the other hand, Daniela also recommends clearly defining your business goals:
Define your ideal customer and cultivate long-term relationships with them. Be very clear about who you want to work with and who you don’t want to work with. I understand that when you start, it’s difficult, but if you can, it’s worth it.”