An exciting business opening

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 14 March 2018, 12:00AM

Airbnb has opened its doors to locals interested in being Airbnb hosts. 

Owners and couple, Justine Samu and Rocky Ata Matatumua, have extended their business through a joint venture with Asotasi – Le Property host Samoa. 

This joint venture offers a property and hosting management service for locals wanting to capitalise on being Airbnb hosts. 

While Airbnb is fairly new in Samoa with relatively modest listings, it is set to add a new dimension to the tourism industry by offering travelers a chance to have unique experiences staying at other people’s homes in faraway places. 

In February, Airbnb, in collaboration with the Samoa Tourism Authority, hosted a workshop for people interested in being Airbnb hosts. 

The couple, Ata and Justine, attended the workshop to learn how to utilise their family’s second home as an Airbnb lodging. At the end of the workshop, they realised that there was an opportunity for locals and Samoans abroad to earn some extra cash from their vacant holiday homes on the island.

“Basically, we are providing a full service for people who are interested in earning extra income by being Airbnb hosts, but who are not on the island to look after their houses or for people who are here but are just too busy in which case we do a co-host service.” 

“We found that there are people who are not particularly tech savvy or have access to as much internet as we do, to be able to market their property well.”

The property hosts say that they have travelled extensively around the world with Ata playing professional club rugby overseas and they often utilised Airbnb as their preferred method of the accommodation. 

Knowing what works and what doesn’t, the Asotasi Management team will use their experience to inform their service.

“We’ve travelled a lot and stayed in a lot of Airbnbs so it’s based on our experiences too and what we consider to be enjoyable experiences that keep people coming back,” said Justine. “We want to apply our positive experiences with Airbnb to homes here in Samoa.”

According to the Asotasi Le Property Hosts owners, they want to make it easier for you to manage your Airbnb property.

“We specialise in a beginning to end management service. We do the listing creation and the online maintenance,” said Justine. “We will screen potential guests and then we do a hosting service where we meet and greet and look after the guest and do house clean after.”

“It’s also important to finish off with customer reviews as part of marketing your Airbnb property. We want to support the local communities who have a house, a room or a faleo’o that they could rent out. These are all cultural experiences that tourists want that are affordable and accommodation owners can make some extra money.”

The beauty about being an Airbnb accommodation host, according to Justine, is they only target short stay vacations, which will appeal to homeowners who may not want to have long term tenants. Both Justine and Ata agree that their motivation is to provide a valuable service that they themselves would use. 

 “At the end of the day it’s someone’s house and they are worried and so we need to fully engage in conversation before they buy into it and that’s why we’ve targeted only short stay vacations.” 

“We are like real estate agents here but without the big fees,” said Justine. “The costs are based on a per stay basis. There are no signup fees and there’s only a cost if a guest stays in which we case we take a 20 percent commission if it’s a full hosting and 15 percent for co-hosting.”

Ata’s family is from the villages of Lefaga and Saleimoa and Justine’s family is from Falealupo.  The young family relocated to Samoa from Australia after deciding that they wanted a lifestyle change and working for themselves just made sense to them.

“We took out time in deciding what we were going to do in terms of employment here because if I wanted an office job, I wouldn’t have moved here. We moved here for the lifestyle and we want to be able to start off with something that helps our people and our country,” said Justine.

“Living in Australia, I felt like there were luxuries that were all of a sudden becoming necessities and I just felt like I needed to scale back. I was always complaining about how ungrateful my children were and I thought whose fault is that?” 

“And it was our fault because sometimes our love was just about giving them what we never had and you end up spoiling them. We needed to re-ground ourselves.”

With their combined professional experience in operations management and customer service, the management team from Asotasi has already secured clients overseas.

They are currently in talks with Martin Haus Institute of Learning about providing an element of customer service training to their hospitality students.

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 14 March 2018, 12:00AM

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