HouseTrip is an online holiday rental marketplace that allows homeowners and holiday rental managers (known as ‘hosts’) to list and rent out their properties to guests. Headquartered in Lausanne, with offices in London and Lisbon, the privately held company has been ranked as one of Europe’s 100 hottest startups by Wired Magazine and as one of the 50 top websites for travel by The Times.
As of June 2014, there were over 330,000 property listings on HouseTrip.com making it one of the ‘world's largest providers of holiday rentals’. Listings are divided into different categories on the site when guests look for accommodation such as a flat, apartment or house. They can also select alternative property types such as a boat or castle.
Only entire properties can be booked on HouseTrip and no private bedrooms are listed.
The idea behind HouseTrip was sparked in Easter 2007 when Arnaud Bertrand and his wife Junjun Chen Bertrand were completing internships in London as part of their studies at L’Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. The couple decided that they needed a holiday, but did not want to stay in a hotel and found booking methods for holiday rentals difficult and complex.
The company was founded in 2009, and the original site launched in January 2010 with 200 properties. Over 20,000 people booked holiday rentals accommodation using HouseTrip during the first year of operation.
To date, HouseTrip has raised $60 million in venture funding from Index Ventures, Balderton Capital, Accel Partners and a collection of angel investors.
In July 2011, HouseTrip moved its administrative, finance, development and marketing teams to London with a second office established in Lisbon for customer service queries. It was during this time that the company experienced over 1000% growth as a business both in terms of listing numbers and guest bookings.
HouseTrip allows hosts to list their properties for free and simply decide which dates their place is available. This means hosts can offer homes the days they are out of town. For travellers this means the chance to be in a real home for short-term stays. It allows for hosts to list secondary or investment properties available for rent when the homes are unoccupied.
In order to create a property listing, hosts must complete an online profile and fill in details about their available rental. A minimum of three photos (including a photo of each bedroom in the property) must accompany all listings before they go live. Pricing is determined by the host, with a mark-up of between 10-20% added by HouseTrip . Users can charge different prices per night or weekly rates by using HouseTrip’s calendar tools. They can also detail guest restrictions in the property description (for example ‘no large groups’) and outline security deposits.
Once all details are completed, all listings are passed to the verification team based in Lisbon before the listing goes live. This team will verify photo quality, descriptions, perform fraud detection checks and liaise with the host in cases where information is lacking.
Guests are encouraged to review properties after the completion of their stay. Only verified, previous guests are permitted to leave a property review.
HouseTrip is currently one of the highest rated accommodation sites on the independent review sites Trustpilot and ReviewCentre with scores of roughly 9.4/10 and 4.6/5 respectively as of October 2013.