News & Views

Aptenex Limited (Rentivo)

Richard Vaughton - Aptenex Limited (Rentivo)
Richard Vaughton - Aptenex Limited (Rentivo)

A PKF Francis Clark client is taking on the vacation rental dominance of the massive OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) by creating an online reservation and marketing tool for smaller operators to use.

Torquay born serial entrepreneur and investor, Richard Vaughton, has been working in the holiday rental marketing and management business for the last decade.  He has been an owner of a significant rental property portfolio and CEO of a Finnish scientific supply company and now heads up Discovery Holiday Homes offering a wide selection of holiday homes, self-catering apartments, cottages and villas to rent worldwide.

Richard’s wide experience in the holiday rental market alongside knowledge of managing currencies, mainstream banking transactions, merchant facilities, online commerce, mobile and non-bank digital transactions has led him to launch Aptenex Limited (trading as Rentivo) to provide a better online tool to smaller vacation rental businesses who are struggling to compete with the giant OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdviser.

Rentivo is a vacation rental marketing platform that provides software as a service to home owners, managers and rental agencies to help streamline their online marketing and business workflows. Its vacation rental software allows home owners and agents to build their own websites, integrate enquiry platforms to other rental websites and list their website on its main platform.

He said: “The global vacation rental market is growing fast and we are seeing more properties become available but being marketed by fewer but much larger businesses.  Small hoteliers and others with properties to rent are signing up with the big vacation rental corporations because they think there is no alternative and they are paying out far more in commission than they need to.

“The problem with the big names entering traditional domestic markets and picking off the lowest hanging fruit is the huge difference in the micro-economics involved and the total imbalance between the costs of operating a country cottage in a mature economy such as the UK and a short stay city centre apartment. The fixed overheads of the former far excel those of the latter.

“The trend of instant booking is not only sucking money out of the sector it is destroying its personality and the traditional relationship between visitor and owner. The speed that the sector is evolving requires each manager and owner to adopt their own strategy.  This will be based on the economics of the situation, their geography, technology, knowledge, personality and adaptability.

“Rentivo is designed to assist property portfolio managers take back financial control by creating an online toolset that allows them to compete effectively.  This includes ditching their legacy software and introducing real-time synchronized data, effective data exchange, financial management and booking management systems, integrated payment systems, increased response time, a multi-language facility, bespoke design and new marketing opportunities.

“Provided we can change owner/managers perceptions and convince them of the possibilities we will have created a marketplace for a unique product at a pivotal moment in the development of the sector.”

Rentivo currently employs four people but Richard Vaughton envisages staff number to rise to around 20 over the next few years.  All the product development including software, graphic design, multi-media and marketing has been undertaken in-house and the business is about to announce a crowd-funding package which will enable the final phase of development.

Richard has been advised by PKF Francis Clark for more than 20 years in his various business entities including international laboratory supplies, a licensed servicing business and various holiday letting companies and he is a great admirer of the firm’s ability to field whatever expert is required to solve a problem.

PKF Francis Clark partner Sharon Austen said: “Richard’s varied business ventures have enabled the Francis Clark team to involve a range of specialists over the years, most recently to secure EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) clearance for Aptenex to assist with the forthcoming fundraising. It’s always fascinating hearing about Richard’s ideas, and we very much look forward to helping him grow Rentivo.”

Richard Vaughton added: “PKF Francis Clark have been consistent in the quality of their advice and their responsiveness.  I’m impressed with their ability to understand and interpret issues that affect us as both a local business and one with a considerable range of overseas activities and interests.

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