Improving the Rental Industry for Guests and Hosts; An Interview With HostGPO's CEO Jeff Iloulian - Public Goods Blog

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Improving the Rental Industry for Guests and Hosts; An Interview With HostGPO’s CEO Jeff Iloulian

Short Term Rental homeowners have a tricky business to operate. Not only do they have to source all the furniture, art, supplies, appliances, etc., but they also need to list and rent their properties.

HostGPO is on a mission to help rental hosts with access to quality products at the guaranteed best rates from brands like ours, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Helix Sleep, Brooklinen and more.

We linked up with HostGPO’s CEO Jeff Iloulian and picked his brain to learn more about this. 

HostGPO’s CEO Jeff Iloulian

Public Goods: How was HostGPO born? How have things gone since the original business plan was created?

HostGPO: HostGPO was born out of necessity. As a vacation rental host who’s helped manage hundreds of units, I was constantly struggling to find products that made sense. Whether that was furniture that wouldn’t fall apart after the first few guests or amenities that were luxury but didn’t break the bank. What started as a small private group of professional vacation rental operators (who faced similar problems as me) has now grown into an incredible community – we currently have over 100,000 collective vacation rental units in the US and Canada.

PG: Tell us a little more about your values, your story, and what you aim to accomplish for STR owners?

HostGPO: Our mission is to raise the bar for the overall level of the vacation rental experience. For hosts, this means making setting up and running vacation rentals easier. In turn, guests will be able to stay in better properties, have better stays, which will result in better reviews for hosts and so on. While “buying groups” (aka GPOs) exist in other industries (such as healthcare), we aim to create one for hosts that is uniquely tailored to our industry.

PG: What pain points did you aim to solve in the rental industry? 

HostGPO: This STR world has evolved so much over the last decade and with it the need for a community and a collective knowledge base. The space is full of smart entrepreneurs and business owners who are passionate about hospitality. Each vacation rental company has been reinventing the wheel every time they open a business and we are solving that. No more scouring retail stores for linens and towels, no more waiting for online Black Friday deals, no more haggling for bulk discounts with your local mattress store. Now, we hope that STR owners can save time (not researching for hours which amenities are best for a rental) and money (we have the guaranteed best deals with each of our vendors).

PG: How have things changed operating pre & post COVID-19? 

HostGPO: Covid was a really interesting time for the vacation rental industry. A lot of trends emerged, from average stays getting longer to new vacation rental destinations popping up. While many vacation rentals closed down in major cities for example, there was also tremendous growth in more rural areas. From our perspective, as demand and travel lowered, on average folks who had “nicer” units ended up winning bookings over traditional “value” units. This has catalyzed an already emergent and new industry standard: traveller expectations are higher and they want to stay in a quality unit.

PG: Do you aim to support other local businesses through the purchasing platform? 

HostGPO: Even though we are currently focusing on larger vendor partners with national distribution, we do partner with businesses who share our core values. One of those is championing local artists for example. We partner with brands like Society6 and DenyDesigns (an online marketplace offering an array of artwork from independent artists) because they’re a great fit for our industry. No one wants to rent a unit in Austin that has a picture of the eiffel tower on the wall! Creating curated, local stays is what true hosting is all about.

PG: Are you aiming to open up any new categories for purchasing in the future? 

HostGPO: Absolutely! We are always sourcing new vendor partnerships for our group and frequently take suggestions from our members. Because we guarantee that our deals with each vendor partner are exclusively the best in the industry, it does take time to find new vendors. The next big categories for us will likely be appliances, electronics, and services (like internet and phone provider deals).

PG: Where do you see the next five years for HostGPO?

HostGPO: I see HostGPO having the majority of professional vacation rental hosts and management companies in the US and Canada as members, expanding its international footprint to new geographic territories, and continuing to develop more effective technology solutions to streamline ordering.

PG: Are there any exciting things you are working on now that you can disclose? 

HostGPO: We have so many exciting projects going on right now it’s hard to keep track! My top three are the: (1) Williams Sonoma’s free interior design pilot program (2) co-branded unit set up boxes with some of our favorite vendors (hello, one-click unit set up anyone?) and (3) our line of HostGPO homes, where our members get to stay at in order to try our vendor-partner products and experience what an awesome vacation rental can feel like!

About HostGPO: 

HostGPO is the first Group Purchasing Organization (“GPO”) for the short-term rental industry. HostGPO helps their members save time and money by offering access to exclusive deals on furniture, supplies, and more from a curated group of vendor partners whose products are ideal for vacation rentals. Through their buying group, thousands of vacation rental hosts are able to combine their collective knowledge and purchasing insights into one source. HostGPO’s goal is to make vacation rental hosting better by streamlining ordering, lowering costs, and helping to deliver five-star experiences to guests by providing better quality products. HostGPO vendors currently include community favorites like West Elm, Standard Textile, RugsUSA, Brooklinen, Helix Sleep, Home Depot, Society6, and Public Goods.

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