Since 2007 (the birth of Airbnb), the vacation rental industry has been rapidly expanding in size and popularity not just within the US, but globally. With that, the need for trust and protection is now more important than ever. That’s where Superhog comes in.
You want to know you’re safe, protected, and will have a good booking – that goes for both hosts and guests. After all, we’re all strangers.
Who is that guest you’re hosting in your home?
Who is the host of the home you have booked?
We ask these questions but what do we really find out? We place our trust in the major booking sites, yet what they consider guest verification and protection is vastly different from company to company. Learn more about Airbnb’s background checks in our blog post.
To help you understand Superhog’s position in the short-term rental industry, our Co-Founder Leo Walton joined Deborah Labi from The Guest Innspector and the host of Techsplained, to tell you about how Superhog’s Know Your Guest technology is leading the way for trust.
What is the Techsplained podcast?
Deborah is the founder of The Guest Innspector, a consultancy that provides feedback and advice to help improve your business systems, your property and your guest’s experience.
The Guest Innspector consultancy led her to create the Techsplained podcast, which provides property managers with a resource to help educate them on the software and services available to them to help them run their business.
You can watch our episode with Deborah below or head to https://techsplained.podcastpage.io/ to see some of the other episodes and find out more about the tech landscape in the short-term vacation rental industry. We’ve also included the transcript below.
With so much software available in the short-term rental industry these days it’s increasingly difficult to keep up to date with what’s on the market and to determine whether it’s a maybe or a must-have for you and your business.
So meet one provider each week in a short interview learning what they do and what they offer so if you have around 15 minutes to spare it could prove to be a very good investment to stick around. So let’s see who and what is out there one by one with me Deborah Labi also known as The Guest Innspector.
Deborah: Hello everyone and welcome to interview number one with Leo Walton from Superhog. Hello Leo how are you?
Leo: I’m very well thanks Deborah! Thank you for having me on.
Deborah: That’s my pleasure! Now we are going to launch straight into it given that it’s only a concise 15-minute interview. Can we go straight to question number one, which is what your elevator pitch for Superhog is?
The Superhog elevator pitch
Leo: I like it Deborah, straight in, you’re pulling no punches are you, you see me in the elevator let’s do it.
I would say to somebody in an elevator, Deborah, Superhog is an integrated SAAS platform primarily screening guests and we’re combining that with financial protection and that financial protection includes embedded insurance, a virtual damage deposit and a chargeback.
As a business, our mantra is that prevention is better than cure and by using our toolkit you will reduce the incidences of damage, parties, and fraud from happening in the first place but also you know you have peace of mind of the Superhog financial protection if the worst does happen.
What is a SaaS platform?
A SaaS platform stands for ‘software as a solution’. This is key to what Superhog is doing; however, do you understand what software as a solution really means?
It may just sound like further jargon that doesn’t fully explain the ins and outs of what it is and how it works. It may be tricky to wrap your head around, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s break down how Superhog works as a SaaS platform.
- This is the process that the guest will go through to become verified. This includes biometric face recognition and ID cross-referencing along with a liveness test which allows Superhog to ascertain whether the ID is a) valid and b) whether it belongs to the individual. Our system then matches the information we’ve been given to that of the guest, including their name and email to check for any anomalies. With the findings, Superhog can raise flags to the property manager or host and tell them to not take the booking.
- The solution for Superhog is in the form of financial protection. This is the $5,000,000 guarantee (embedded insurance) in case something does go wrong with a verified booking. Our in-house resolutions team will be on hand to offer you the support to resolve the issue on your behalf.
Leo: We have our own data as well because we have global reach, we can tell you if a guest that is coming to stay with you has stayed with us in the past and had problems in a property somewhere else in the world and if they have, and they haven’t paid for their damage or they’ve been you know, negligent of their responsibility we will tell you again to cancel that booking and it will save you getting stung later on.
Deborah: It’s almost like a guest review…we’ve discussed this in the past, how do we actually review guests, and if they’ve got a black mark against their name are you going to pop that up?
Leo: Absolutely! I think as well a really important part of this and whilst that is true let’s not remember and let’s not forget the vast majority – the vast vast vast majority – of guests are great and you want to enable them to have a good booking experience. We don’t make this horrible process… there’s a very gentle process that takes them through the ID verification.
How does Superhog work?
Leo: The biggest thing that Superhog does is provide a deterrent. This is a strange thing because we built this technology and we have this clever software, but by just having a small blurb on your listing about the fact that you’re working with Superhog and its Know Your Guest™ technology means that you’ll be asked to present your passport, and your you’ll do a selfie cross-reference and you’ll be asked to verify your identity which will ultimately put off those bad actors – the criminals or the organized party like deliberate stag dos that are trying to pretend they’re not a stag.
Now, nothing wrong with stag dos, but if people are disingenuous about their intentions you want to curtail that behaviour and a screening process will put those people off.
Deborah: Yes, that’s great! let’s break down to the next step after guest verification.
Leo: Sure, yeah we have a range of financial guarantees that we offer to our clients. The first thing is, let’s ID verify this guest because that will reduce your exposure straight away.
The other side of it as well is that if they’ve been ID-verified, they’re more likely to pay for the damage themselves, which is really unheard of in the property management world!
This is my headline stat please, please remember this one, because I love this, we are able to get guests to pay for their damage 40% of the time just by emailing them and interacting with them.
And that’s you know, someone’s got drunk maybe and they’ve spilt red wine, they’ve got a bit carried away, they’ve had an impromptu party and then you just draw on their better judgment and say ‘hey you’re responsible for this you need to pay, you’ve gone through the Superhog verification we have your, you know we have your details’ and 40% of the time the guests are able to pay.
Now, in 60% of cases where they don’t pay, you obviously need proper financial protection to make sure that you’re not caught short, so we provide protection up to five million dollars for damage to property.
Deborah: Right, so is this like an insurance policy where the property manager either charges or incorporates your fee so that they’re then covered?”
Leo: Yeah it is definitely that that’s one element of it, but the other element of it is the fact that again you know it’s all through Superhog and its embedded insurance. It goes far beyond just a two thousand or three thousand dollar deposit you might want to take, Superhog covers you all the way up to five million dollars!
If significant damage to a property occurs, we have the ability to reimburse you for those higher amounts and that’s all wrapped into the price that you pay.
What solutions does Superhog offer?
Leo: It is a package: now you can obviously split it out and just buy the software from us, that’s fine. If you want to buy our full product because that’s going to give you peace of mind, you know the ID verification is obviously good and useful but you know you then want to make sure that you’re protected.
It’s a marketing tool because as you’re acquiring new properties and you’re speaking to landlords, you can sell the fact that you have taken the issue of trust and safety very seriously. These potential pitfalls in our industry, such as parties and criminal activity, Superhog shows that you’ve taken them all very seriously as a property manager and you can even include the product as part of the management fee.
Deborah: That all sounds like protection with a capital P! Now I just wanted to ask do you have any unique selling points? You’re doing something no one else is doing?
What is Superhog’s unique selling point (USP)
Leo: Well, I would say the whole thing is very unique wouldn’t I Deborah as you know. But yeah, just if you’re gonna pigeonhole me to specific things, then I’d say it’s incredibly cost-effective.
The reason for that is as I said earlier, 40% of cases we’re able to get a guest to pay directly that’s the best result for everybody right? The perpetrator of the damage pays the host for the damage that’s occurred, and we arbitrate – we help facilitate that to happen and that’s fantastic, or even better, doesn’t happen in the first place because we’ve reduced these with our preventative technology.
Can Superhog integrate with other software?
Deborah: Can you incorporate it into your PMS? Into your website? Is it white-labelled? Is Superhog written all over the place? How does a property manager use Superhog?”
Leo: So, there are three ways you can connect to Superhog.
You can either connect through your PMS, and we have most, if not all, of the major PMS’ already integrated into our system. If there is something we’re missing and you’re working with them tell us, and we’ll go and do an integration with them. So that’s the most typical way that a property manager will integrate with us.
What that does, put simply, is it means that the PMS pushes data to us that allows us to send out the links to verify the guests, those links are Superhog branded and the emails come from Superhog.
Leo: Another option is to embed our one-step link into your emails, which allows you then as the property manager to be the person that sends the email. This will not be Superhog branded, it doesn’t come from Superhog, the email comes from you with the Superhog link in it for the guest. Some property managers prefer that because it allows them to control the process a little bit more.
Leo: Option 3 is by far the most integrated solution, but obviously something that you only want to do if you’ve got the tech team to get it done, which is to do a direct integration to our system that then allows you to basically white label lots of elements of what we do if you want to control more of the process.
However, it’s not fully white labeled because if you’ve bought the financial protection from us as well as the verification, a guest needs to tick our T&Cs to say that they won’t trash a property, they’re coming with good intentions, so they are going to know that Superhog is involved.
Deborah: That’s all great! … Who is your ideal audience? Who’s your target audience? What makes a great quality manager?
Leo: Yeah so the great thing about the product I think, is that we can work across the industry. It’s applicable for PMCs but it’s also applicable for the channels, the OTAs as well.
The most common type of customer is a property manager because obviously, you know as a property manager, you have the most risk. You have the risk of losing your properties and losing the confidence of the landlords and the host. So really, Superhog suits a property manager of any size.
We also have a direct host product which is for people with one to three listings and then we go north of that and we have clients with a couple of thousands…there isn’t really an ideal size PMC for us, we can work with all creatures great and small.”
Deborah: PMC, property management company for those that don’t know. Now, I also think that actually even if you have one property you want to protect that one property, so it just streamlines the whole process in terms of verification and protection so I would say anything from one property up.
Leo: Yeah definitely, and I think at the end of the day you know it’s about our responsibility as the provider of the software to find a way to connect best to you, and that like I say, if you do just have one property, that property is going to mean as much to you as if you have 50 you know. It’s the idea that you don’t want risk, you don’t want parties.
Deborah: Okay now I have one question, just going back to the guest verification, one of my clients is in Spain and they have to send the passport information through to the police. Just out of interest, with this guest verification do you send it through to the police depending on the country? And what do they have to do with that information?”
Leo: Yeah, so we know [15:14] this is an increasingly common occurrence in Europe. It hasn’t happened anywhere else, as far as I know, I think it’s just in parts of Europe.
What we do is in the same way we’ve integrated with property management software companies, we also integrate with companies who do that task. So, because it’s a big job in itself just to connect to all the different local law enforcement agencies we just partner with software that already does this to make sure that at no point in a guest verification journey are they having to repeat steps.
Front and centre what we do is make sure that the verification is really simple and easy to complete you know, conversion of that journey is really important… so we just connect the technology so that it all happens in the background.
How much does Superhog cost?
Deborah: How much does your service cost?
Leo: Yeah, as I said when I was talking about USPs, I said very cost-effective didn’t I, so I guess I’m going to put my money where my mouth is.
There are a few different ways you can be billed, or you can choose to be billed. One is you can just have fixed per booking costs and they and they shouldn’t be any more than sort of $5 or, you can have a mixture of monthly fixed fees per property and booking fees.
So it’s about you as a business thinking about what works for you, if you have a lot of short bookings you might want the monthly line rental plus a small per booking fee and if you have you know, a couple of whoppers a month, then that that’s when the sort of more $5 option would be probably better, but we’ll go up and down on that, we’re happy to be flexible and we’ll give scale discounts as well.
It really depends what the property manager wants to get out of it and you know, realistically it should be coming in at them paying all in if they have a busy month of bookings, sort of somewhere between 16 to 20 a month.
Deborah: Wow okay, now, that’s great to have the flexibility you know, a studio versus a, you know, six-bedroom mansion and one night versus a month stay, so yeah, it’s great to have that flexibility.
Leo: Absolutely! You know we really adhere to that because we’re doing a piece of work for you and the work we’re doing is saying it’s testing and checking that that guest is who they say they are and they’re going to be a good guest, and so really the length of stay is slightly less relevant to us, because you know we’re endorsing you, we’re endorsing this guest by them successfully going through our verification and that is the piece of work that’s going to keep you safe.
Is there a contract to use Superhog?
Deborah: Okay great, okay last question. Is there a contract are you locked into working with Superhog?
Leo: Very relaxed just signed in blood locked in for 20 years
Deborah: You have to use Superhog and your children have to use Superhog.
Leo: We’ve actually had Deborah locked in for 10 years, she’s trying to get out desperately. No, flexible contract terms for sure. The standard contract length would be 24 months.
Deborah: Great okay, thank you very much Leo for your time and I’ll see you soon somewhere, next conference!
Leo: Yeah it’s never goodbye, it’s always I’ll see you down the road!
Deborah: Yeah next time. Thanks Leo bye!