In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Scott Shatford from AirDNA. He is a recent addition to Geek Estate Mastermind, and spoke at Inman Connect on a panel regarding short-term rentals (locked).
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Scott Shatford and I’m the founder and CEO of AirDNA, the world’s leading short-term rental data firm.
I launched AirDNA back in 2014 after a neighbor suggested renting out my place in Santa Monica while I was traveling in Southeast Asia. I quickly earned considerably more on Airbnb than I thought I would, so I started looking into short-term rentals as a business opportunity.
After doing significant research when I got back to the U.S., I realized that there was no information out there on the best way to find, optimize and manage short-term rentals to drive revenue. I put together an e-book, The Airbnb Expert’s Playbook, which has since been downloaded half a million times.
I saw the potential in helping homeowners like myself, small business owners, and investors get into the short-term rental industry. Drawing on the skills I’d learned from 9 years managing a business intelligence team at Korn/Ferry International, I wanted to plug the information gap with actionable, market-specific insights; so I designed an analytics dashboard — MarketMinder — that empowers the little guy to compete with the huge hotel chains.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Before AirDNA, data on short-term rental industry data was hard to collect and assess. Real estate investors and rental entrepreneurs had to manually trawl through Airbnb listings to guesstimate revenue potential or to glean insights on how they could improve their listings. Short-term rentals are an entirely new asset class for investors, and many are just figuring out how to monetize residential real estate via Airbnb.
By aggregating data on 10 million listings on Airbnb and Vrbo (HomeAway) across 80,000 markets worldwide, our tools help real estate investors identify up-and-coming markets and neighborhoods for investment, and forecast what a property anywhere in the world would earn as a short-term rental.
Those kinds of insights are what help enable our mission of democratizing the lodging industry. We make cutting-edge, property-specific data and insights available to help short-term rental entrepreneurs grow and succeed in their markets.
The evolution of Airbnb as its own asset class has made real estate investing more accessible to anyone with the right passion and know-how. Our data is helping support interesting use cases including rental arbitrage, private room hosting, and co-hosting models. More people than ever are becoming real estate entrepreneurs with less upfront investment than ever before, and we think that’s amazing.
What are you most excited about right now?
We are most excited about our data partnerships with vacation rental businesses around the world, and the increasing multichannel distribution of properties across Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. These two facets will enable us to have a complete understanding of the industry and consolidate our position as the most extensive and accurate data provider in the short-term rental market.
We also see a lot opportunities on the horizon. In the coming weeks we hope to launch a monthly short-term rental index, similar to a Case-Schiller index, so investors can understand the performance of Airbnb and Vrbo in a national market over time. We are also seeing a lot of real estate professionals clamor for address-level identification of short-term rental listings to use actual short-term rental revenue to drive increased property valuations. We don’t have a solution just yet, but something is in the works.
What’s next for you?
We just released a dynamic pricing tool, which tailors pricing recommendations based on market signals and individual property performance.
Users can upload their properties to compare them head-to-head with their competition and see daily pricing recommendations based on real-time market demand. By leveraging billions of data points into a machine learning data model, our dynamic pricing tools compare historical property performance with future market demand to deliver the most accurate, personalized predictions available on the market today.
Next on deck are some improvements to our property valuation tool, Rentalizer. We are adding more than 500k Vrbo listings into the algorithm (previously Airbnb only) to generate more comprehensive, matched property-level comp sets to enable more accurate underwriting. This is especially important in traditional vacation rental markets that are dominated by Vrbo.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I love collaborating with and supporting businesses that might have a totally different operational focus, but have the same mission as AirDNA — democratizing lodging worldwide.
And luckily, being in the travel and hospitality industries has allowed me to travel a lot and visit our Europe office in Barcelona. My wife Julia, a travel blogger, and my two kids keep me young by dragging me along with them on all sorts of adventures across the world.
Thanks to Scott for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).
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