How This Aparthotel Business in Iceland Keeps Occupancy Rates of 90%
In 2014, Sölvi Melax, Founder and Managing Director of Heimaleiga, began renting out a few apartments as a side project while attending university. He was managing everything himself, from the cleanings and bookings to guest experience.
It didn’t take long for other property owners in the community to take notice. When a landlord called Sölvi and asked him if he could service other people’s properties, specifically his own in downtown Reykjavík while he traveled to Africa for three months, Sölvi got the idea to start his own property management business.
By the end of 2016, he was already servicing a few apartments and decided to launch Heimaleiga. At the time of its inception, Sölvi had around 10 apartments in his portfolio, but within a year he took over his first serviced apartment building and multi-unit aparthotel property – both based in Iceland. Today, Sölvi and his team manage over 160 listings, in 16 locations across Reykjavík. Three of the buildings that Heimaleiga manages specifically have between 30-40 furnished apartments each.
Once Heimaleiga reached 100 active listings, Sölvi realized that it was getting difficult to scale smartly. Every day issues kept arising, and he did not have the manpower or resources to address each problem head-on. He found himself spending too much time on things that did not matter to the big picture.
Because Heimaleiga manages multi-unit properties with multiple owners, catering to different landlords in one building created a complicated structure, and it was challenging for Sölvi and his team to organize their finances and manage revenue.
After attending a global short-stay accommodation event in London, Sölvi was introduced to other property management companies who were having the same issues. He realized he didn’t have to tackle his problems alone, and began to search for a property management software that could solve his pain points for him.
Heimaleiga experimented with three other PMS systems before ultimately turning to Guesty. Sölvi found that the other software available in the market didn’t meet his multi-unit needs – they were too focused on either traditional hotel management or single-unit short-term rentals.
“We couldn’t find anyone who was spending more time and resources on development and making property management efficient, especially for multi-unit property managers. Guesty was the clear choice,” said Sölvi.
Guesty’s Unified Inbox meant that the Heimaleiga staff could follow up with each other and easily communicate via one platform, improving internal procedures between teams whether locally based in Iceland or external ones abroad. “During COVID-19, we opened up an office in Bulgaria, meaning we now have more employees than ever before. Being able to manage our team members no matter where they are in the world has been extremely useful,” added Sölvi.
Financially, Guesty provides Heimaleiga with a system that owners can trust thanks to features including commission-based formulas for management fees, the ability to send a quote and revenue share tools – this in turn gives owners complete transparency over the finances related to their properties. And the Marketplace of partners has been invaluable in connecting Heimaleiga with some of the top tech solutions in the market, especially those supporting contact-free stays.
While prior to COVID-19, nearly 90% of Heimaleiga’s bookings came from OTAs, direct bookings have begun to play a large role in the company’s business. Guesty’s Multi-Calendar makes it easy to track reservation details, no matter the source.
When Sölvi began using Guesty at the beginning of 2020, Heimaleiga was achieving 90% occupancy. Today, the company is expected to grow the number of apartments by 25% before the end of 2020 and in the coming weeks, Sölvi plans to take over another aparthotel building, adding an additional 30 units to his inventory, for a total of 160. By summer 2021, Sölvi expects that the company will grow to well over 200 units thanks to the support Guesty’s features provide.
Guesty’s Automation Tools have saved the Heimaleiga team approximately 30-40% of time each week. With the time saved, Sölvi can focus on looking for new opportunities to expand his business and consolidate the market.
“By having Guesty and the structure it provides us, we can scale and grow our portfolio in an affordable way and can do it better than our competitors,” said Sölvi. “We are willing to take new properties on board because we know we don’t have to physically be on site to manage them. Guesty is constantly developing and as a company they are so focused on what they can do to help property management companies worldwide solve the problems we all face.”