When tragedy strikes, there is often an opportunity to learn, grow and make the best of a terrible situation. Such was the case for jewelry designer, Sharonah Lüderitz, when her mother had a severe stroke and treatment was an unexpected cost she swiftly needed to cover.
“We had to come up with an income that would pay for her treatment fast. Her apartment is on the edge of the old town center and has such a unique style, that it seemed to be the obvious thing to do.”
While renting the apartment saved the family from short-term financial disaster, sadly Sharonah’s mother didn’t recover and passed away shortly after.
After seeing the potential of the apartment as an additional revenue stream, around two years after her mother’s death, Sharonah found the strength to completely renovate the property. It is now known as Vintage Inn Tübingen, and careful décor decisions were made to maintain her mother’s distinctive character throughout.
“I love spending time there and my guests appreciate the authenticity of the place. The feedback I hear the most is that they felt at home straight away – which is the biggest compliment.”
Although Sharonah has help from her daughters to run the Vintage Inn, there have been a number of complications along the way.
At first, they were listing the property on several different sites, which lead to many stressful episodes of double bookings and calendar inaccuracies.
As well as this, they soon realized they had no way to advertise their place directly.
“With no URL to send inquiring guests to, I had to give them links to my listings and, on these channels, I was paying a big commission.”
From the early days, Sharonah and her family were conscious that having a website would be essential for marketing their new business, especially as Tübingen is not a typical tourist destination.
After weighing up different software solutions, Sharonah decided on Lodgify as it ticked all the boxes in terms of the most important features she was looking for. In addition, she was happy that she could test a free trial of Lodgify before subscribing.
What they liked most about Lodgify
Knowing already that a website was going to be crucial for her new business, this is one of the features that really stood out for Sharona and her family.
“Being able to set up my own custom domain from inside Lodgify saved a lot of time and hassle.”
On top of that, they were finally able to streamline all their channels and reservations into one place, thanks to Lodgify’s channel manager.
How they found the process of creating their own website with Lodgify
Diving into any new business venture and the various tasks it entails can be a daunting process, but Sharonah soon got to grips with Lodgify’s software and was especially impressed with the in-house support team.
“Like all new things, it took a little while to get used to. But overall, it was a really enjoyable process and the support team is AMAZING!”
How they got their first bookings
As someone who has only very recently set up their website, direct bookings are still a work in progress. That said, Sharonah finds that blogging is driving substantial traffic to her Lodgify-built website.
“I’m still in the process of getting my first bookings, as I am pretty new to Lodgify. But, I am in the middle of making flyers, as a lot of my guests have a connection to someone living here and my town is not a classic tourist destination. Blogging about local things to do and using social media like Instagram is really helping to drive traffic to my website and generate interest.”
How Lodgify helped them grow their vacation rental business
For Sharonah, finding a vacation rental software was not simply about achieving bookings – it was a much more personal story.
“Although a lot of my bookings still come from Booking.com, Lodgify gave me so much confidence to run my business – and the numbers show it. At the moment, I am nearly fully booked, months in advance of my high season.”
While there is much to learn as a newcomer to this industry, Sharonah has one top recommendation for beginner hosts: build a trusting relationship with your guests.
“I have been running this place for 3 years now, and nothing ever went missing. Sometimes people take a book but it sure as hell will show up in the post one day. Put trust out there and you will not be disappointed. I don’t even check my guests out, they leave the key and close the door.”