Five questions for... Nakul Sharma, CEO of Hostmaker
Hostmaker is a property-management company with the all-embracing aim of bringing a five-star hotel service to homes.
What does your business do?
Hostmaker is a property-management company with the all-embracing aim of bringing a five-star hotel service to homes. It brings homeowners the right mix of short-, medium- and long-term lets, balancing travellers and tenants, to maximise revenues. We offer an end-to-end management service infused with hospitality expertise, proprietary technology and thoughtful interior design. We work with Marriott International, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Zoopla and more than 25 other travel partners to change the homestay and rental sectors.
What has been your company's greatest achievement so far?
This year we partnered with Marriott, the biggest hotel chain in the world, to launch a new home-sharing pilot: Tribute Portfolio Homes. It was initially London-based, but we recently expanded the pilot to Paris, Rome and Lisbon. Travellers can now choose between more than 340 properties across Europe, and can earn and redeem points through Marriott's loyalty platform.
What are your plans for hitting your targets this year?
Our key targets are focused on growth and expansion: we are doubling our markets to become the largest operator in Europe and have just made our first move into Asia, launching in Bangkok. Our initial work on developing our own technology where it mattered most pricing and operations is really paying off now, as it allows simple scalability, so we can hit the ground running in new markets each time we expand.
What has been your biggest challenge?
This rapid expansion across Europe and into Asia is exciting, but comes with its own set of challenges. There are discernible differences between each market, so we take our time researching and gathering local knowledge about each market, including laws and regulations, and recruiting a team on the ground before we launch in each new city.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give fellow entrepreneurs?
Focus on hiring and building the right team. Our relentless focus on what's right for our hosts, guests and employees is what drives us, day in, day out, and has really helped us to flourish. In hospitality, the classic service-profit chain approach rings even truer if your team is passionate and happy, they will make your clients and guests happy. We spend a lot of time on recruiting the right talent and we've grown our HR team significantly to support our growth.