A bad tenant and good advice led Mark Cavanough and his partner Samantha Alford to launch a holiday rental website they say offers bang for the buck and injects cash into communities.
Two years ago, Mr Cavanough, an Inspector with Fire & Rescue NSW, had “the tenant from hell” in the investment apartment he bought in Merewether in 1999. When he had the tenant evicted, a friend urged him to list the apartment with US accommodation holiday rental brokering giants Stayz and Airbnb.
But Mr Cavanough soon grew “frustrated at how I was being dictated to in running my property” and, after talking to other property owners, realised he was not alone. By the time Stayz phased out its business model of a fixed fee per night and yearly membership in favour of a 10 per cent commission, he and Ms Alford had done enough research to offer an alternative.
In 2016 they launched Travelling Frogs, a holiday rental accommodation website they say fosters a good rapport between property owners and their guests and supports regional Australia.
Travelling Frogs has three membership platforms with no other fees.
Mr Cavanough says local property owners and their guests currently give about $1 million per day to foreign-owned Stayz and Airbnb via commissions, with research showing property owners and their guests in Port Stephens pay $3.5 million per year to the two US giants, with those in the Hunter Valley outlaying more than $3 million per year.
The Travelling Frogs model, he says, offers old-fashioned customer service and aids property owners and guests to work together.
He says the money saved to both parties in commissions can be spent in communities – from the property owner hiring a manager and paying a cleaner to the guest having more holiday money to spend in their destination.
Ms Alford says Travelling Frogs supports tourism in areas that may ordinarily not be viewed as destinations, for example allowing farming or mining areas hit by industry downturns to diversify income via farmstays.
More details at travellingfrogs.com