Having been voted “best country” in a recent global poll, it is no surprise that Germany has been experiencing peak tourism traction in recent months. And, also to no surprise, this ongoing traction has helped to create the perfect space for the Airbnb sector to fill. WelcomeWendy has blossomed alongside these developments in the short-term rental industry, working to make short-term rentals easier on the hosts, while also providing additional services such as platform marketing, cleaning, revenue maximization, and hands-on guest support.
And the company has a great story, too. Founded by an awesome brother and sister duo, WelcomeWendy is a business that grew from a passion. Here, we had the chance to sit down with Oliver and Leonie Lopp to discover more about how this family works together to manage properties for local hosts in the best country in the world.
Guesty:“Why Cologne & Dusseldorf?” Leonie Lopp: “Our family is based in Dusseldorf and we know the area very well, so starting there was a “natural” choice. Dusseldorf is also a hotspot for tourists – “längsten Theke der Welt“ / “the longest bar in the world” – and business traveller, since Dusseldorf fair hosts many international fairs and the city is the home of many big companies. Short-term rentals, especially Airbnb, but also other platforms like Booking.com or Expedia, have recently increased significantly and the need for property managers definitely exists. Cologne is the next biggest city and is pretty close by, so in order to reach more clients, we expanded there quickly. Now we are planning our expansion to other German and European cities. “
Guesty: “How would you describe the Airbnb market in these cities?” LL: “Both cities – Dusseldorf and Cologne – attract business travelers as well as tourists. Dusseldorf is famous for the Altstadt / old town and the Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany’s most visited sights. Both cities also serve as a starting point for travels to the “Ruhrgebiet” with its up-and-coming art scene (Villa Hügel, etc.) and football clubs (Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen). In addition, both cities have seasonal peaks with regard to tourism, such as Christmas time when the famous christmas markets and “Karneval” pop up. Business travelers mostly come for the fairs, such as the famous Drupa (Pulp & Paper) or Anuga (Food and Drink Trade Fair).”
Guesty: “How do you and Oliver (and how does WelcomeWendy) help the local hosts?” LL:“We offer full-service property management, ranging from key exchange, cleaning, and guest communication to maintenance (i.e., changing bulbs, etc.). Most of our clients hand us the key and only “deal with” their flat again when they get their payouts. If hosts are unsure about the income that can be generated with short-term rentals (as opposed to long-term “regular” renting), we also offer a stable income guarantee, where hosts receive a monthly payment that has been agreed on in the beginning, without any fluctuations in revenue.“
Guesty: “Who are your clients, exactly?” LL: “It’s mostly apartment owners that have long done short-term renting of their furnished apartment and have decided to hand it over to a professional manager. We are also helping some people who leave their own apartment on a regular basis, for work or to travel. We rent the apartment out while they are not home.”
Guesty: “What is your relationship with the apartment owners?” LL: “We are their partner that helps them keep guests happy and maximize their revenue without having any effort.”
Guesty: “Sounds like a good deal! Tell us about your first rental experience.” Oli Lopp: “I first used Airbnb while visiting Paris with my girlfriend. We found most hotels to be very boring and expensive and found a beautiful little apartment in Montmartre. Ever since, we have been hooked as both guests and hosts.” Leonie Lopp: “I first used Airbnb during a city trip to Amsterdam with three other girls. We thought it would be more fun to stay all together than taking 2 separate hotel rooms and then not having the advantage of hanging out all together.”
Guesty: “How did you two then start WelcomeWendy?” LL: “We offered up our own apartment during travels and loved to host and care for other guests. Over time, we were asked by friends to help out and, thus, decided to offer it as a real service for people all over Dusseldorf. Once we met more hosts, we saw that a professional company really can increase guest happiness and owner revenue by, for instance, taking care of cumbersome one-night bookings, after-hours issues, etc. It’s great to see that revenues of existing hosts increase by 26% after signing up for our service, while our service fee only stands at 20%.“
Guesty: “It is great! How have you two (and how has WelcomeWendy) evolved since?” LL:“We have steadily increased our team over the last couple of months. We put a lot of effort into making sure that the quality we deliver to guests and to owners is flawless. We have recently hired a former five-star hotel cleaning manager to make sure we hand over flawless apartments to new guests. The apartment owners also have still access to their flat to check it, whenever they like.“
Guesty: “How do you see the future of Airbnb and the vacation rental sites?” LL: “We are convinced that more and more people will jump on the “sharing economy” wagon and enjoy the unique, but affordable experience that professional short-term rentals gives them. It’s very exciting to be part of this global phenomenon and amaze guests with beautiful apartments and excellent service during their stay.”
Guesty: “What’s next for WelcomeWendy?” LL:“We are putting together small teams to expand within Germany to the major cities (Berlin, Munich, etc.) during the year. We are also planning our first city outside of Germany by year-end.“
If you’re currently a host (or planning to become one) in Cologne, Dusseldorf, or other major cities in Germany, you can reach out to Leonie, Oliver and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them to learn more here: https://welcomewendy.de/