Airbnb partner Alimama Spaces targets 500 listings
Local property technology firm and Airbnb partner Alimama Spaces is set to become a R100 million company.
This is according to Robert Manson, founder of Alimama Spaces, in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.
Founded in 2015, Alimama Spaces is a start-up company that offers accommodation through platforms such as Airbnb, Trivago and Booking.com.
Manson explains the R100 million figure is based on the assets that Alimama Spaces owns in South Africa, as well as its multi-year management contracts.
Last year, he told ITWeb the company was looking to expand beyond South African boarders to countries such as Mauritius, Namibia and Malawi.
“Alimama Spaces owns and manages over 203 listings on Airbnb as of 7 July 2023, and other booking platforms,” says Manson.
“Seventy percent of these listings are owned by Alimama Spaces – cementing our aggressive growth ambitions set three years ago to be the biggest Airbnb partner in Southern Africa.”
He notes the business is aiming for 500 listings over the next three years. “At that time, we will really be having conversations about listing Alimama Spaces on the JSE, depending on the regulatory framework and requirements at the time.”
Understanding clients’ needs
Manson explains that Alimama Spaces’ growth is due to latest technology trends that drive shared economy business models that help the firm to understand customers’ behaviour and provide them with exactly what they want, where they want it and how they want it.
“Alimama Spaces provides spaces on-demand, hassle-free. More importantly, we capitalise on Airbnb’s automated processes to drive digital operations enabling self-check-in, automated pricing algorithms that determine demand and adjust prices accordingly to drive high occupancy using predictive analytics platforms.
“Cloud computing is synonymous with my business model of spaces on-demand anytime from anywhere with no frills. Cloud computing enables my operations to scale up and down.”
According to Manson, the company now has 30 employees. “As and when demands arise, we supplement with additional staff from shared economy platforms like Sweep South. We are anticipating staff complement to reach 100 by the time we get to 500 listings.”
Describing how he started the company, he says: “Alimama Spaces was founded in 2015 with my main house and 10 other apartments as the first listings generating just over R100 000 in revenue per month.
“The business has grown to over 200 listings over the last eight years, generating a couple of million per month. This has been a humbling experience, yet so insightful with its own challenges that all SMMEs experience. To build a R100 million business in just under 10 years, taking off two years of COVID, has been thrilling and a high-risk, high-rewards adventure.
“Alimama Spaces still doesn’t and will never have offices. All staff members work from anywhere, anytime.”
He adds there are still many untapped opportunities in the major cities in SA where Alimama Spaces would like to have presence.
“African expansion to countries like Mauritius, Namibia, Malawi is also on my radar, and will play a critical role in growing this business over the next three years.
“What’s key is for the platform to continuously adapt, cater and scale as the business grows across different markets. New property acquisitions will at some point flatten and we will be on-boarding managed properties as the growth engines. After all, there is only so many properties one person can own.”
As to the challenges the company faced over the years, Manson says: “Like any start-up, the growth trajectory has had its own challenges, like a skills shortage, and different dynamics where Alimama Spaces has never had an office.
“All employees have been working remotely since the company’s inception. It was a culture shock for most new joiners even though it has been normalised now due to COVID. Fortunately, funding hasn’t been a major challenge for me, as the financial institutions have come to the party, especially if you are able to provide capital outlay.”
He believes trends that will disrupt the proptech sector include artificial intelligence powered by customer predictive analytics, virtual reality, augmented reality and the internet of things.
“However, there is still a lot of innovation that will continue to drive this industry. As a proptech entrepreneur, the key is to capitalise and take advantage of these emerging technology trends.”