Airbnb has revolutionized the travel industry, enabling users to rent properties all over the world directly from other users. However, the service is most useful for participants looking to rent out or move into a place for a couple of days, and since each property is managed by the individual user, the experiences are very inconsistent. Flatbook is the new Montreal-based startup that wants to bring hospitality to the sharing economy: the company manages apartments for owners who will be away for a significant period — such as over the summer — and offers users extra services that they would be unlikely to find in an Airbnb flat, such as pre-ordered groceries and an iPhone to help visitors avoid roaming fees.
Flatbook is a subletting program which manages users’ properties for them while they are away. They guarantee to pay the rent and utilities for leaseholders, including international students returning home for the summer, and homeowners looking for an adventure. They then rent out the property in short bursts to visitors who want the authenticity and savings of staying in an apartment but may have been put off by the inconvenience or inconsistency of Airbnb properies.
Leaseholders who are away for a minimum of two months can apply to be part of Flatbook by filling in a simple online questionnaire. If accepted they will benefit from free storage, USD 10,000 damage protection and the assurance that someone is looking after their place while they are out of town. Flatbook specify the price per night according to what they think the going rate is and they retain any profit earned after the user’s rent and bills are paid.
Flatbook currently offers properties in over 30 cities around the world and expects to grow massively this summer. It is currently accepting applications from renters as well as landlords wishing to outsource their property management. How else could the service set itself apart from the competition?