Tansler, one of the vacation rental industry’s most promising startups has suspended operations. TANSLER, an anagram of RENTALS, was the closest to succeeding with a vacation rental bid-based marketplace allowing renters to “name their price” for vacation rentals. Property managers participate in a 24-hour Reverse Auction, and the first manager to accept the offer ends the auction and confirms the reservation.
Tansler was founded in 2013 by Jeremy Bernard, an entrepreneur and internet veteran who teamed up with other industry veterans, such as Ken Hamlet, ex-CEO of Holiday Inn Worldwide, an early investor in Tansler and Walter Buschta, former CMO of the vacation rental giant Interhome, who served as COO and who brought a beta release of Tansler online in the end of 2013. This triggered an overwhelmingly positive response in the marketplace and significant press.
Encouraged by this feedback, Tansler hired PayPal’s number two engineer, Troy Saxton, as the new CTO to elevate the product to a market-ready and scalable level. Previously, Saxton was head of payments and credit engineering at PayPal.
A month before the planned relaunch of the Tansler platform in 2014, Troy tragically passed away in a plane crash.
For the team at Tansler, it was a huge challenge to move on after this tragic loss, pick up the pieces and start all over again. But after persisting through several ups and downs, Tansler finally relaunched in the Fall of 2015 and raised $1.3 million in Series A funding to be applied to demand generation, product development and acquisition of supply.
Last year, VRM Intel interviewed CEO Bernard about the platform. “We have been conservative on our marketing spend and believe that a number of startups have been far too dependent on venture funded marketing budgets,” said Bernard. “Having built a startup during the first tech bubble, I understand that capital is not unlimited and you need to employ out-of-the-box techniques to build your brand.”
At the time, we asked Bernard about the challenges they faced. “For us, it was a ‘chicken and the egg’ issue,” said Bernard. “We strongly rely on user feedback, reviews and word of mouth. Naturally, that only grows over time. This also applies to data and our focus on improving the experience for both renters and PMs. That means bringing quality offers to property managers based on their occupancy and revenue expectations and guiding renters to creating “smarter” offers that are likely to be accepted. We had the primary objective of building awareness. Travel startups are always challenged by marketing as a result of the advertising goliaths like Priceline, Expedia and, of course, Airbnb. Additionally, hotels are now dipping their toes into the industry which brings more advertising dollars to compete against but also creates new opportunities for partnerships.”
Connectivity to property management software was also a challenge for Tansler at the time. Bernard said, “In my opinion, the real owner of the data (the property manager) should have the right to decide if the content should be shared, not intermediaries such as listing sites or PMS (property management systems), which merely serve as a platform for maintaining the data but have no right of the intellectual property.”
“We also needed to familiarize PMs with the product,” added Bernard. “Although Tansler is very simple to use and has been created to improve the booking process, the ‘reverse auction’ feature is somewhat foreign to many travelers that are familiar with traditional OTAs and vacation rental booking sites.”