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Hosting Your Home - Airbnb host stories
54 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
Synta Keeling (under-represented host series)
Synta Keeling is an Airbnb superhost and lawyer living in Washington DC. Debi interviewed her two days after the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol. Synta was previously interviewed in 2016 by the NPR podcast "Hidden Brain" for an #AirbnbWhileBlack episode that dealt with bias with Airbnb hosts and guests. Synta lives in the Capitol View neighborhood which is almost completely African-American. She is a black Filipino woman herself and has a lot of insight into fear that many people feel. Synta explains that she bought her house and was facing a stigma of living on the poor side of the Anacostia river in Washington, DC. She couldn't find a roommate. Some friends recommended Airbnb, with guests being from out of town who didn’t have the built in stigma about her neighborhood. Synta describes DC as majority-minority. People would tell her that no tourists would want to be in her neighborhood because of its location. When Airbnb started to grow, hosts began to make a lot of money and more hosts wanted to join. She sometimes hosted foreign guests who arrived with bias. Most were wonderful, kind, and polite, but sometimes there were unfortunate incidents. One of Synta's guests was a young man from Europe. He was headed to somewhere in the south for a semester. He was very opinionated about Americans, just off the get go, complaining and asking about American flags, guns, etc. Synta is a lawyer, so she is able to have educated discussions on an academic basis. Her guest didn’t like her answer, a long discussion about the complicated cultural aspects of the US. She always suggests that her guests take the Metro because it's faster than the bus, but this particular guest took the bus instead. When he got home he looked like a ghost. He said at one point the last of the white passengers had left the bus and it was all black except for him. He was scared and alarmed that he might get hurt. He slowly realized they are just sitting there, they are not going to hurt me. By the time he got back to Synta's place he was clearly struggling with these feelings. As a host of color, encounters like this are inevitable. She emphasized that it’s no one’s job to teach us about bias and what to do, but she says if you take advantage of teachable moments, it can last a lifetime. It comes up all the time when you’re hosting. For some people it’s crushing to realize that they could fit into a racist mold. Synta's Facebook group often addresses racist reviews and she often helps hosts deal with them. One those Facebook friends got a review that complained about a guy hanging around the yard. It turns out that the guy "hanging around" was the host's husband, doing landscaping in their yard. The guest just hadn't met him yet. Another host had a couple of young women guests from France. Synta says its normally hard to get police to come out to their area, but the cops will do all kinds of things for Airbnb guests. The two women were trying to get directions to the hosts’ address and asked a cop. He said "you do not want to be in that area at all". The cop gave them a ride there. And then the host had to deal with the guests feelings, being there at night, hearing what the cop said. It turned out ok but the host offered to refund their money. The guests stayed but it was a rocky start. The difference between hosting and a hotel, Synta explains, is that your home is very personal. You need to step back and think about what might impact the guest. She makes sure people know where she lives, no restaurants nearby, all the potential problems so guests can make accurate decisions. Debi added that some hosts state on their listings what a guest will and won’t like about their listings. Synta also uses Airbnb as a guest traveler. She hates to read dense listings and suggests if you look at some hotel listings, they are less dense. Use captions on the images! Synta said 3-4 years ago the US government liberalized rules for Chinese nationals. All of the sudden, there was a giant tourism boom. Coming from a part of the world that is homogeneous compared with the US, it's made more difficult that their exposure to black people is just from movies, mostly bad. When guests arrive and see the host is black, there are cultural issues or opportunities. And that’s what hosting allows us to address. Debi and Synta discussed the Capitol insurrection, which happened on January 6, 2021, just two days before their interview. She said that it’s been crazy. She’s been to the Capitol building a lot says and said the Capitol police do not play around. She found it terrifying when there were three people in the line of succession in the building and for hours no one knew their status. Synta hadn’t been hosting because of Covid, but also there was a lot of back and forth in the host community about not hosting because this particular rally was going to happen. There was a lot of traffic about hotels not taking reservations, so they made Airbnb reservations. Debi added that Airbnb cancelled a lot of reservations. Synta said that because DC isn’t a state, you can’t bring the national guard, you have to wait for the federal government to act. She lives 2 miles from the Armory, which was mobilizing. Debi asked Synta about #AirbnbWhileBlack, and her interview with the NPR podcast Hidden Brain. They began by messaging her about discrimination against guests, but Synta brought up discrimination against hosts. They picked up on this and came to her kitchen for an interview. Synta told the story about a young woman Quirtina Crittenden who wanted to travel on Airbnb but was getting rejected. At her friends' suggestions, she changed her picture (she’s black) and shortened her name to her nickname Tina, and suffered no more rejections. She tweeted out this experience with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack that went viral. Synta told Debi about her own picture on her profile, and then about her brother’s. He’s a host too, but appears more African American. Synta is part Philipino. She had a photo taken with the two of them together, like a family photo, to reduce the unfortunate reality of adverse impact to his bookings. At the end of their interview, Debi asked how she could be a better host, to be more aware of things I could do better. Synta advised her: "when you get a booking, and you have a feeling, a gut reaction to decline, particularly if they are under-represented, ask yourself objective questions, whether you would react the same way if the guest is white. And if you screen your guests, be sure to ask everyone the same questions." LINKS: Synta Keeling's Airbnb listing Synta on Twitter and Instagram is @myneckofDC NPR Hidden Brain podcast on bias, with Synta Keeling Other interviews in the Hosting Your Home Under-represented host series: K Rhea C L Reed Anthony Gannt I want to give a shout-out to Feedspot, for inclusion in their article titled: Top 15 Airbnb Podcasts Thank you to Carla Chicarro of Lodgify for mentioning me in the post, 29 Women Who Are Making Waves in The Vacation Rental Industry Thank you all so much for the recognition and the attention! It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with this podcast, and with Host2Host. Debi
46 minutes | Feb 7, 2021
At Ease Rentals with Anthony Gantt (under-represented hosts series)
UPDATE! July, 2021: Anthony just won a $100,000 entrepreneur award! Anthony Gantt and the birth of At Ease Rentals: Anthony is a smart Marine Corps officer who saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He was changing duty stations (in military terms, “PCS” or permanent change of station) and when he turned in his reimbursement request, it was denied. Why? He had stayed in an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Anthony had made several PCSs before and never had a reimbursement be denied, and this really burned him up. So he began the process of getting the rules changed. We hope you will find this interview along with interviews with Kevin Rhea and CL Reed to be educational. He began the paperbound process of changing government regulations and had a breakthrough. After a surprising meeting with some government travel officials, he notified the military that he was going to work on a platform that would be an OTA (online travel agency, like Airbnb) for the military. This platform would be one that meets all the various rules for military and civilian government travel. It would allow federal travelers to stay in short term rentals if they so choose. And the other side of the platform works by inviting vacation rental managers and individual STR hosts to list on the platform. The result is his platform At Ease Rentals. Debi asked him about new hosts on his platform, and about safe travel. Anthony says that bookings are difficult for travelers of color. Hosts would often reply that the dates were not available. Frustrating. And looking out of place in a given neighborhood, for example. But of all the cities he’s traveled to, he finds Orlando to be the model for a good vacation rental experience. He feels that it’s not so much about safe travel as just having to deal with prejudicial bias. Debi asked if Anthony knows about Airbnb’s changes such as not showing the picture until the reservation is made. She also made the point that it seems like no other OTAs besides Airbnb seem to address the issues of discrimination and bias, and while Airbnb hasn’t cracked the code altogether, they at least make earnest attempts to solve the problem. Anthony spoke about his four daughters, teaching them to be proud and that the only thing that can bring us down is divisiveness. Anthony made the point that diversity just adds higher returns on the investments. From his standpoint, Anthony sees us as Americans first, like I’m American, African descent. American, Italian descent etc. He doesn’t really like the term like Black American. American first. What can I do to be a contributing member of society? We need to be the beacon and the role model for the rest of the world. Debi asked, how can we make guests feel more comfortable? Anthony's response: You can’t fix stupid. If I told you no green eyed person could stay in this house on the lake, you’d be upset. It’s like that. Everyone wants the same thing and be able to book a place without worrying about anything. Debi brought up Krhea’s comment that it’s weird when people say they “don’t see color”. Anthony said it would be like “I don’t see women. I see everyone as a man”. We just want to go to a booking platform and book. Debi mentioned her picture on her listing websites that says “all are welcome here, no matter your…..” Anthony recommends to look at stock photo site PEXEL. Stock photos of everyone. His point is, use these pix of diverse people with your listing, which is a GREAT idea. Anthony just got goosebumps. Wanting to reach different travelers, he went to groups on Instagram - black people travel a lot. Anthony talks about spouses of military being 95% women; he looked at their Pinterest and came to a realization of how to market: PINTERIST! Anthony talks about how hard he’s working on the company, and said he’s acting like it's one of the 20 hour deployments he knew of from previous military assignments, to work on At Ease while he's a full time marine. Deb asked about the meaning of “walking when black”. His answer was that you have different concerns depending on the situation, like if you're in a mall, high end store, there are eyes that automatically come to you about shoplifting. Traveling while black, you can’t wear sweatshirt and hoodie, and at work while black, is it ok to let hair naturally grow out or is is non professional or not serious. He went to a golf thing, one of the guys had an NBA mask, but none of them are basketball athletes, one of the ladies asked if they were from the NBA, even though most were not exactly athletic anymore... Talking to his kids: Anthony tells them to be aware of what's going on. If it’s negative, figure out how to get out of the situation. The one thing that can protect you is education. You have to be aware of the situations you’re in. Strive to be an American first, who happens to look like that. LINKS: https://www.facebook.com/ATEASERentals/ At Ease Rentals
51 minutes | Dec 6, 2020
C L Reed (under-represented hosts series)
C L Reed is one of the many hosts of color and an entrepreneur who has expanded from her first room rental to now hosting her own 3 properties and co-hosting several other Airbnbs. She shares with Debi how she initially got started via her daughter's prodding. C L discovered that her home was exactly in the right spot for skydivers, and she has hosted skydivers from all over the world. She found her niche and works it with professional skill! C L expanded into Facebook, which is how Debi and C L met. See the Links at the end of the show notes to join her Facebook groups. She also published a book: "Short term rental success stories from the edge", also at the end of the show notes. CL offers that as a Black host, she has not experienced overt prejudice. Her photo is on her Airbnb profile and she believes that if a guest has any issues with her race, they would self-filter and simply not choose her listing. When it comes to traveling, CL pointed out how vulnerable a woman traveling alone can be, and that women of any color must be diligent about their safety. She gives several examples. Add to that being of a minority race, the discussion expands into recognizing a basic inherent fear that Black people live with, of which White people are unaware. We appreciate her woman's perspective which brings additional depth to the conversation. Hear another Hosts of Color interview, this one with Kevin Rhea. LINKS: www.asuitecbnbs.com (951) 599-8123 (PST) California, USA Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ASUITEC/ Pages: https://www.facebook.com/groups/InlandEmpireSTR https://www.facebook.com/groups/PSSTVRCOMMUNITYNETWORK https://www.facebook.com/groups/strhomesharehosts Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asuitecbnbs Twitter: https://twitter.com/aSuiteCollab Tumblr: https://tumblr.com/asuitecollaboration Amazon: Author, CL Reed – Short Term Rental Success Stories From The Edge To Book A Suite Collaboration's Short Term Rental Listings: www.asuitec-bnbs.com www.ps-iluvubnb.com www.airbnb.com/h/ps-memories
51 minutes | Nov 15, 2020
Kevin Rhea (under-represented hosts series)
Debi Hertert of HostingYourHome interviews Kevin Rhea ("Krhea") of Portland, Oregon, a fellow member of Host2Host. Debi reached out to Krhea because he is one of the few hosts of color in the Portland area, and he is kind, candid, and willing to teach. Debi is starting this series on Hosts of Color to further her own and her listeners' understanding of the issues involved. Krhea claims title to being the proud father to a wonderful daughter, lucky husband to an incredible entrepreneur wife, cyclist and founder of Portland Velo Cycling Club, photographer, real estate investor and 20+yr resident of Portland, OR. Krhea says his wife is an impassioned traveler who has used Airbnb and VRBO a lot. In his previous career of performance shoe designer, Krhea traveled over 200,000 miles a year but always used hotels. A couple of years ago he and his wife visited a Seattle Airbnb and had a great experience. She had been encouraging Krhea for some time to consider having an Airbnb in their home, and with some "negotiating" after the Seattle trip, they remodeled their basement and began hosting on Airbnb. They instantly had bookings in the Portland west hills. Krhea describes his experiences with guests and Airbnb. As a host, he had no problems at all with any of his guests. Part of that might be that he made a point of having a picture of himself and his (white) wife on the listing so that guests could decide if they accepted that or not. He made a point of shaking everyone's hand when they arrived. He had nothing but great guests and connections with them as a host. But he gives us a tiny glimpse of what it feels like to be a black man traveling. As a traveler, he describes having car trouble and traffic, and having to call their host along the way to explain their late arrival. But despite the phone updates, upon arrival at midnight, he found himself unable to knock on their host's door, solely because of his color. Even though they had perfect guests, Krhea and his wife stopped hosting. Why? Several blatantly racial incidents were reported in the press that made them wonder whether Airbnb was doing enough to protect under-represented guests from these situations. His reaction was to withdraw altogether from the platform. Although Debi and Krhea didn't discuss the specifics, some high profile examples include a neighbor calling the police when a black traveler showed up at the Airbnb next door; A host canceling a reservation with "One word says it all: Asian"; and a research study that found a complete difference when various last names were used in reservation requests. Airbnb has tried for years to eliminate discrimination but it is hugely complex. Most hosts would likely be truthful in saying they are not racist, or feel racists. We may view our hospitality as being excellent, but is it enough to just feel like we are being welcoming? How many hosts have any idea of what goes through their guest's head when the guest has had a lifetime of bad experiences? We hope that this series "hosts of color" can be an opening for some hosts. The goal of the Hosts of Color podcast series is to help teach those hosts who are receptive, and possibly to reach some hosts who don't yet understand. Debi recognizes her own limited understanding of the universe of racial issues and is using these interviews to learn for herself. LINKS: Color of Change: This is the largest online racial justice organization in the country. Airbnb's "Project Lighthouse" is trying to eliminate discrimination, working with multiple groups such as Color of Change, AACP and others. Host2Host is the Oregon-based non-profit trade association "for hosts, by hosts". Hosting Your Home is the website for the podcast about hosting with Airbnb.
25 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
Debi and Rob vs the Pandemic
The pandemic and short term rentals in Oregon. In mid March, 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic began impacting short term rental reservations in Oregon. Airbnb saw its global reservations drop like a rock. For three months, the pandemic has basically eliminated the STR market. Debi and Rob Hertert of Hosting Your Home use this episode to talk about how the pandemic is affecting them personally and other hosts they know. Debi and Rob are very concerned about the small towns on the Oregon coast. The towns are desperate for money but cannot sacrifice the health of their citizens. Visitors can partially mitigate this conflict by spending most of their time at the vacation rental or outdoors. They can wear masks and distance themselves when patronizing businesses. When hosts look at their Airbnb income reports, they look at graphs that have mostly dropped to zero. Those who depend on the hosting income are in a very difficult position. The more debt on the home(s) the worse the problem. And in the pandemic environment, the home sharing type of listing sadly disadvantages hosts who share space within their home; neither party is likely to want to share the same space. Debi mentions Host2Host, the nonprofit trade association that serves the host community in Oregon. Host2Host now uses Zoom for weekly "virtual coffees" and for monthly educational meetup webinars. The myriad of financial victims is spelled out in countless other articles but Debi mentions here the groups known as "DMOs", or Direct Marketing Organizations. These include Travel Portland and Travel Oregon among others. They are (were) funded by a tourism tax that is levied in addition to occupancy taxes. So the far reaching travel marketing that brings tourists to Portland and Oregon isn't happening at anything like the previous levels. Portland uses the STR occupancy taxes to fund affordable housing. That has also dropped to near zero for the past three months. It all seems like too much. But - as Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO, said recently on an outreach call, people love to travel. They are reluctant to travel right now, but they will travel again. It will definitely come back if hosts - and Airbnb - can survive beyond the downturn. Just before we recorded this podcast episode, the civil unrest beginning with Minneapolis flamed into being and is cause for all of us in the hospitality industry to improve lives, lessen burdens, and share opportunities. Debi is going to try her best to learn more and share through Hosting Your Home. Links: Host2Host.org is the Oregon-based nonprofit trade association serving STR hosts. Membership is open to anyone. You can hear about how it was created: Host2Host is About to be Born! Airbnb's new cleaning protocol is a big change for STRs. Airbnb has over the years worked on inclusion. Their latest effort is "Project Lighthouse"
24 minutes | Mar 3, 2020
FabStayz and Drag Queen take over Portland!
We had an AWESOME photo shoot in Portland, Oregon directed by FabStayz founder Robert Geller, featuring airline flight attendant Danny Lee Cabrero as drag queen “Liquor Mini”, named after the little booze bottles on planes. It could not have been more fun! Robert was working on a publicity campaign for FabStayz and wanted it to be fun and attention getting. It worked! Danny visited 10 locations dressed in flight attendant drag, and photographer Carlos Camarena caught it all. The greater Portland area, with its supportive trade organization Host2Host, is the principal launch city for FabStayz. The PR campaign is soon to be released! Some highlights of the day: Michelle Boyle’s Tiny House Village in Sherwood, where Danny was definitely larger than life. Nectar, a friendly marijuana dispensary Blue Star Donut shop in Multnomah Village, where Danny’s blue dress was a color match and the donuts were delicious Danny doesn’t drink but still made a splash at the Sasquatch Brew Pub in Hillsdale Olympia Provisions Melty & Meaty food truck at Pioneer Courthouse Square Travel Portland’s Visitors Center Powell’s City of Books - the largest independent bookstore in the World! Sunset was at the eTukride at the end of the Tillikum bridge FabStayz’ mission is serving LGBTQ travelers by connecting them with hosts whom Robert terms “Fab Allies” All hosts list on his platform with the specific understanding of acceptance for all and fostering welcoming inclusive accommodations. FabStayz travelers know ahead of time that they do not need to explain or justify or do anything but enjoy being on vacation. When Debi asked Robert and Danny if they’ve ever been discriminated against during travels, Robert gave a nuanced answer that is helpful to understanding the issue. He also mentioned the site “Destination Pride” that gives travelers an acceptance measure of a city they are considering visiting. As FabStayz continues to evolve Watch for the addition of bed & breakfasts, inns and properties such amenities of spas and wedding facilities. Poised for continued growth FabStayz has been featured in over 40 articles, blog posts, tv podcast appearance. Not to be missed is the FabStayz demo video starring drag flight attendants Danny aka Liquor Mini and Esme Russell filmed on location at Tampa International Airport. Totally campy and so much fun! The demo video features launch destination: greater Portland, Oregon. You can also read about FabStayz press coverage. Making your listing more inclusive: Robert invites listeners to look at his listing and consider “stealing” his first few lines that include his pronouns (just tells prospective guests that you are aware of pronouns as an important issue) and include an image of a poster or welcome mat with accepting language. He correctly notes that most guests don’t read everything in our listings, so put it in as a picture! Robert and Danny met each other through a “chance” discussion that Robert had with his hairdresser, and everything just clicked. In addition to Danny’s work as a flight attendant, in his fun but important side gig as “Liquor Mini”, he has helped raise over $500,000 for the Wings Foundation to support flight attendants in need. He is now also the Resort Director for Vacaya, an international LGBTQ travel agency that leases entire cruise ships and resorts. In that job Danny gets to show the world the charismatic leader he really is! List of all links mentioned in the podcast: FabStayz LGBTQ listing site FabStayz 2019 podcast episode with Hosting Your Home Host2Host, the Portland-centric STR non-profit trade association Danny Lee Cabrero’s FaceBook page Portland Photographer Carlos Camarena’s podcast episode with Hosting Your Home Tiny House Village Nectar dispensary Blue Star Donuts in Multnomah Village Sasquatch Brew Pub in Hillsdale Olympia Provisions food truck Travel Portland visitors center Powell’s City of Books Robert’s personal listing showing example of inclusive language eTuk Tours Destination Pride, the LGTBQ international rating guide Wings Foundation Vacaya, the LGTBQ travel extravaganza provider
25 minutes | Oct 31, 2019
HYH-52 “The Airbnb Way” with author Joseph Michelli
What company comes to an author’s mind after writing bestsellers about Starbucks, Zappos, Mercedes and Ritz-Carlton? Airbnb! Joseph Michelli became highly interested in the company and authored a book "The Airbnb Way". Joseph identifies the ways in which Airbnb engages with customers and builds brand loyalty. He includes both the view from inside the company and the view from the individual hosts who provide hospitality to millions of travelers each year. “The Airbnb Way” is a unique publication that is overdue - few businesses have been as disruptive as Airbnb and much of their positive impact has been under-reported. Debi Hertert met Joseph virtually in 2018 as Joseph began work on his book. She introduced him to many highly experienced Airbnb hosts, some of whom are included in “The Airbnb Way”. Joseph reciprocated a year later, when the book was finished, by coming to Portland as the featured speaker at the Host2Host event “HostFest 2019”. In addition to being an author, Joseph is a TEDx speaker. A hundred hosts got to enjoy his presentation, and you can get a sense of his thoughtful voice in this podcast interview that took place the day before the event. Host2Host is a non-profit trade association based in Portland, Oregon. It serves the short-term rental hosting community with a goal of speaking with one voice for the community of hosts. Several hosts who are mentioned in the book also appear in HostingYourHome podcasts. One of these is April Brenneman who is featured in one of the very first episodes of the HostingYourHome podcast, "Josh's House in the Trees" You can check out the links below, including one for a trip giveaway to San Francisco that is good through December 16, 2019 Joseph’s business website: www.josephmichelli.com Book contest through December 16, 2019: This is a trip giveaway to San Francisco, no purchase necessary, at https://www.airbnbway.com Host2Host "The Voice of the Host" short-term rental website: Host2Host.org
28 minutes | Aug 26, 2019
STR Advocacy Done Well - with Mark Rockwell
Short Term Rental (STR) advocacy Short Term Rental (STR) advocacy is difficult and time-consuming. But if you want STR regulation that is informed and fair, you need to work. It's very easy for local government to spring into an over-regulated model, being saturated with negative news, so be proactive! There is no single regulatory model that works for every municipality or jurisdiction, nor is there a single model that all STR hosts will embrace. A city like Lake Oswego is completely different than a vacation destination resort area. The "Social Model" In his work in STR advocacy, Mark distinguishes between what he calls "social model" listings and "business model" listings. He used this language to help commissioners understand: He explained it as the difference between having the owner living in the home, earning money to offset taxes and maintenance, versus the owner being absent and expecting high returns. Lake Oswego opposition to STRs had two big concerns. First was the impact on long-term housing, and the potential for loud parties. Mark was frank about not wanting to live next door to a house that had loud parties all the time. He is also mindful that STRs, unchecked, can create financial incentives that would adversely impact long-term housing. He told the City they could mitigate both of these problems through his proposed requirement of having the owner live in the home. The written word is important The City planning bureau surveyed the entire City for their thoughts about short-term rentals. Surprisingly, a little over 50% of the responses were positive. Mark notes the even higher approval from those who have used Airbnb in their travels. I see this as a good sign. It shows that as more people use the Airbnb model of travel, they become less fearful of it in their home towns. All in all, the success Mark had in Lake Oswego, a wealthy and probably somewhat conservative city, shows that advocacy can work in what might seem like an unlikely place. One of the most important tips Mark brought up for STR advocacy is the need to be able to clearly communicate your ideas in writing. When he met with City officials he also left them with a document that explained his rationale and concerns. We will definitely follow his example and add this simple reinforcement when we meet with City officials. See the actual regulations at www.lakeoswego.city/short-term-rentals Mark is also a business coach and professional EOS implementer. You can contact him at Mark@CoachRockwell.com
33 minutes | Apr 21, 2019
FabStayz LGBTQ listing site, with Robert Geller
Debi Hertert of the Hosting Your Home podcast talks with FabStayz LGBTQ Listing Site founder Robert Geller, about his exciting, new STR platform. Robert has 10 years of experience with his gay travel company "Outings and Adventures". Through his personal Airbnb hosting experience and Airbnb travel, he saw a real need for a travel platform that would be respectful and safe specifically for LGBTQ travelers. He's inviting hosts to register, with the agreement that those hosts will be allies of LGBTQ travelers and make them feel welcome. Robert listed some impressive statistics for the volume of LGBTQ travel that are included below in the show notes. Robert expects the platform to be fully launched by June, 2019 in time for Gay Pride and the large amount of travel that goes with it. Hosts are invited to register at FabStayz.com during the beta version. FabStayz has a process for incorporating Airbnb listings into the FabStayz platform. Hosts pay a subscription price to FabStayz to be listed and attract bookings. 2:00 - 6:00 Robert talks about his gay travel company startup that followed a corporate job layoff in 2008. He started the company “Outings and Adventures” initially to offer activities for the LGBTQ community outside of a bar. They did paddle boarding, kayaking, tree climbing, sushi cooking etc. It morphed into the travel company and now they do things like a riverboat bike tour on the Moselle river!. He is also an Airbnb superhost and traveler. With “air quotes”, Robert said the first “adventure” wasn’t very adventuresome. It was attending the very first showing of the movie Sex in the City. He could only get 10 tickets, but those first 9 email addresses have grown into a travel company with 8,000 email addresses and 10,000 Facebook likes. 6:00 - 20:00 What was the origin of FabStayz? His experiences as a gay Airbnb host showed him the need for a hosting/traveling environment that is safe for both parties. His description of these experiences are compelling. He saw an opportunity to elevate the experience of the guest and host for LGBTQ travel. He knows that many LGBTQ travelers wait with anxiety to learn how the host might respond to an exploratory email such as “my partner and I”...waiting and wondering and worrying. Robert doesn’t want this to be the way it is. FabStayz is an LGBTQ brand, not a gay brand. Often a gay brand is hyper-sexualized, and FabStayz is not. Imagery, language etc on the platform speaks to everyone in the community, fun and uplifting. FabStayz is aligning with visitor bureaus and the LGBTQ chambers of commerce all over the country and are being well received. 20:00 - 25:00 An “Ally” is defined on the FabStayz website as a person who helps this cause. Debi mentions that crossing cultural gaps is difficult. Not everyone knows what to say or how to reach out. She asked about an educational component. Robert also points out that this is an opportunity for hosts to differentiate themselves to market to this community. He stated that LGBTQ travel accounts for $200 billion spent per year, 77% of the LGBTQ community have valid passports; and often travel to a Pride event outside their home community and stay an average of 4 days. 25:00 - 29:30 So how does FabStayz actually work? Robert describes how in beta, people can go to FabStayz.com and register there. The site hasn’t even launched yet but has support from the LGBTQ community of every ethnicity. Every "acronym" and ethnicity is represented on his staff, helping making decisions. What happens when you register? You are asked which platforms you are listed on, with Airbnb being the preferred platform to begin with. They discussed the possibility of direct bookings, as well as VRBO. 29:30 -32:00 When are you going to launch? Robert feels like they are just weeks away. Beta 2 is even more beautiful than Beta 1. For sure, Robert wants his FabStayz LGBTQ listing site to be fully launched by June, 2019 which is Pride month. It will be a great story to share around the world! LINKS: www.FabStayz.com
50 minutes | Feb 10, 2019
HYH-49 Meet Tyann Marcink!
Debi Hertert talks with her friend and colleague Tyann Marcink about how Tyann got started in the vacation rental hospitality business, and the many hats that Tyann wears. The two spoke in October, 2018 when Tyann participated in the Host2Host Vendor Fair in Portland, Oregon. So listeners will find a wealth of information about vacation rentals, coming from a person who has now spent 10 years in the business and who teaches it in bootcamp workshops. Tyann is also the Community Ambassador for the TouchStay Digital Guidebook product for short-term rentals. Right after this interview, Tyann Marcink spoke at the international Vacation Rental Management Association on the Guest Experience, because it's a passion for her and she knows what she's talking about! 1:45 Welcome Tyann! – She talks about being from a large midwest family and says she began writing a historical romance novel about the family moving from Germany in 1860. One of her brothers just moved into the 1872 rock house built in Missouri – he’s the 6th generation of their family to live in the house! How she got started, and how she copes 4:30 Tyann's hosting story starts in Branson, Missouri. Her aunt and uncle bought a small, 4BR house there to rent out, and did pretty well. Her parents saw the opportunity! They bought several houses there over a few years, selling their commercial real estate property to solely invest in vacation rentals. Tyann signed a contract to have a house built. She had her listing up with floor plans and photos from a model home. And four months (plus one newborn) later, the day it closed they had their first guest! It’s definitely a family affair: she and her family own 16 vacation rental houses and are building more. 8:30 Debi and Tyann talk about how Tyann manages her houses with all the other things she has going on in her life. The housekeeping business that she hires is the key, critical element because she lives a couple of hours away. She talks about the company, what they do, and answers Debi’s question about what it costs. She makes a special point of recognizing and remembering them. One of her housekeepers even makes sure the TV modes are set correctly. She sends him brownies. Vetting guests, security deposits, putting things in perspective 12:30 Vetting guests, security deposits, guest pictures. She may surprise you, but she has years of experience. 15:00 The rare guests who didn’t work out…Tyann’s electronic lock sends her notifications of when the door is opened, and that helped trigger some alarm bells in her head, so she gave a heads up to her housekeeping company. Cigarette and marijuana smoke inside the house, among other things. 20:00 So what happened when Tyann reported the cleaning costs to Airbnb? Debi knows that Airbnb is increasingly supporting the guest, versus the host, even in some egregious situations. But Tyann still says that in 10 years, she’s only had to bill guests cards for damage twice, and the marijuana people. Because of this experience, she stopped taking same-day bookings, which is often an alarm for vacation rentals. Tools of the trade 22:30 Using a Reservation Management System. Tyann avoids using Instant Book on more than one site to avoid double bookings. The Reservation Management System does update every 30 minutes. And she wishes she had used a system even way back when she had only a couple of properties – the system has automated emails that are personalized. There are many good companies providing these systems, with different prices. Tyann uses “Owner Reservations”. She recommends looking closely them to choose the best fit. This varies from a Channel Management System, which pushes out the rates to the various channels such as VRBO, Airbnb etc. These software systems do cost money, but she is a busy mom and business person and values her time. 29:00 So how does Tyann hold it all together? She manages 5 houses, is a professional photographer, has three teenagers, co-teaches the “VR Mastered” bootcamps, and is the Community Ambassador for TouchStay Digital Guidebook, a UK-based company that is now including community information in it's guidebooks. Tyann told Debi that in the case of The Little Elephant company, her line of room décor, she created the painted designs and taught a person how to do the painting, and that person now runs the little business for her. She and Alanna Schroeder of The Distinguished Guest have held three VR Mastered bootcamps. The sessions are 5 days long, only 25 people allowed, and it’s an intense 5 days of hospitality, newsletters, Facebook ads, Social Media, photography. Their participants have varied in experience from none to 10 years. Everyone learns at these camps. TouchStay Digital Guidebook 35:00 TouchStay – Tyann went through the history of the product and described the company as super ethical, and has a great Digital Welcome Book. It’s completely web-based, don’t have to download an app. And after it’s set up, the guests love it and the host can easily print it out and bind it to keep in the rental space. Troubleshooting tips for the TV, coffee maker, good restaurants etc all go into the guidebook. 40:45 Ask for help when you need it! Form a team, don’t expect perfection, value the team. People remember how you make them feel, even if they don’t remember what you said. Tyann spoke at the International Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) in Las Vegas in October, 2018, a week after this interview with Debi, along with Heather Bayer (Cottage Blogger), and Andy McNulty (Touchstay). The topic was the Guest Experience. The presentation was based on Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, and practical ways to include all five when interacting with your guests. See the links at the end of the show notes if you want to see what your love languages are. LINKS: Tyann's links: Love language quiz: tyannmarcink.com/love tyannmarcink.com bransonfamilyretreats.com missourihaus.com bookthebankhaus.com nattymedia.com littleelephantcompany.com loveofthegameart.com Other links from the interview: Andy McNulty, TouchStay Digital Guidebook: touchstay.com VR Mastered bootcamp workshops: vrmastered.com Host2Host Portland Oregon: host2host.org Owner Reservations ("Owner Res") reservation management system: https://www.ownerreservations.com/ Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA): vrma.com Heather Bayer, the Cottage Blogger: cottageblogger.com Alanna Schroeder, The Distinguished Guest: thedistinguishedguest.com
19 minutes | Jan 10, 2019
HYH-48 Next Door to Mexico
Debi and Rob stay with brand-new Airbnb hosts in Bisbee, Arizona, with the border of Mexico within sight. It was a delightful visit and great to see new hosts being instantly successful.
47 minutes | Sep 9, 2018
HYH-47 Guests with Guns
Download Episode! Airbnb Hosts love what we do - the hospitality, meeting travelers, interacting with happy people, and showing off our places. There are problems, ranging from rude guests, messes, animals, noise etc. But physical safety isn't a common part of the experience. This episode addresses two incidents around the same time in Portland involving guns. No one was physically hurt, but this is a good lesson about people who don't see guns as part of their world, and people who don't see the world without guns. 0:00 – 4:00 Introduction and discussion about the upcoming Host2Host.org Vendor Fair in Portland, October 20, 2018. 4:00-8:40 Dan Cohen has been a host for 2 years in the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland and instantly found he liked hosting. Dan has two listings that are short-term rentals. He enjoys the communications with travelers and providing hospitality. Wife Jacki, with Dan cater to people who are visiting children and grandchildren as well as those visiting Portland. They mostly get couples or single people. Dan is a co-host, helping out friends who want to be involved in short-term hosting but who don’t want to do the work. He takes care of 7 listings, managing the advertising and most of the cleaning. [At the time of the interview, Airbnb still had a specific co-hosting option.] 08:40 – 13:00 Dan finds a gun. Dan describes the situation he encountered while cleaning after a guest checked out. He and Jackie went in on a Saturday morning with their 6-year old daughter. After an hour or so, he noticed that something had been left on the nightstand. It turned out to be a gun in a holster. He has little experience with guns but wanted to disarm it. His daughter was still in the room on the couch. He removed the magazine and thought he’d disarmed it but didn’t know for sure. He went onto the Portland Area Facebook Site and posted a picture and asked for advice. He received instant response. Most responses said to contact the police. The guest who checked out was a woman and was a good guest (other than the gun) so he didn’t want to call and turn her in, but was just really concerned. After he called the police, he got an email from the guest saying that she’d left behind her gun. 13:00-17:00 Dan’s guest emails him about the gun: “I need to let you know that the nightstand by the bed contains my Celtic 32 pistol that I travel with for protection. It is loaded, with one in the chamber, it has no safety, so please be careful…I’m very sorry about this, we are almost home … I don’t think you can ship it, so I will need to come back and pick it up from you… I just remembered now or I would have called you earlier …if you can please keep it somewhere safe and I can arrange to pick it up next weekend, I would be grateful.” At this point, Dan began feeling angry because of her nonchalance. The police were on their way, and when the officer came in, he pulled back the sliding piece at the top and a bullet flew out. It was loaded even without the magazine. The officer seemed a little confused about what to do, and told Dan that he could either give the gun back to the owner or the police could do it. The officer then called the guest and spoke with her directly, and then took the gun and left, saying that the guest would come and pick it up from the police. 17:00-22:00 Dan emails his Airbnb guest. Debi and Dan discussed the response he got from the Portland Area Airbnb Host Facebook group. He was very impressed. Most were supportive, some argued for guns in support of the guest, but he began to feel more and more upset. He realized how dangerous the situation was. “Kathy – we are more upset and angry than you can imagine. We are not “inconvenienced”. We return forgotten items to our guests all the time. It’s part of our job. Yesterday morning, we all went into the studio together, Jacki and I and our 6-year old daughter. We were there an hour before I found your loaded gun. 24 hours later and I am still shaking. What if my daughter had found it? What if we were a statistic right now? Me dead, my wife dead, my daughter dead. Any combination of those things could have happened because of a scared, irresponsible, truly unforgivable gun owner who left a loaded gun behind with no safety, a bullet in the chamber, in reach of a child. Before you apologize for our inconvenience, please consider what you actually did. The risk you put us in, and the fear and dread we still feel…thank you for reading this, and I hope this wakes you up…. “I’m terribly sorry, it was irresponsible and I have never done that before. I am so glad to know you are all safe and definitely wanted you to know the second I had remembered. It definitely has been on my mind that not everyone has a comfort level with guns. My dad is a police officer and so my comfort level with them is different. I understand your side, and again I am terribly sorry.” 22:00-25:30 Dan’s recommendations: Debi and Dan continued discussing his feelings about this, and what he might do differently. He said the guest was an older woman, a real estate agent who might go into unsafe areas, lots of reasons to justify having the gun but no excuse to forget it where she did. He recommended that if anyone experiences this, they should not touch the gun if possible, call the police right away, and should ahead of time put it in their house rules disallowing weapons. Debi asked if it might make us less safe in some way? Dan still wants to put a house rule of no guns. And he thanked Debi for her work on Host2Host.org. 25:30-29:00 Another incident - Tamara Goldsmith: Debi wraps it up with Dan, but says that there was another incident about the same time, and begins a new interview, talking with Tamara Goldsmith, a Portland host and shop owner. Tamara renovated a church about 8 years ago to be her home, and converted part of the back to be an ADU in 2014. She and a friend wanted a big, odd place to renovate, and she and Debi discussed Tamara’s Airbnb, how far back off the street and quiet it is. She has one bedroom and can accommodate 4 people maximum. She has met lots and lots of travelers. 29:00-38:30 The cleaner had a gun pulled on her. Just a week after Dan's incident, she got a text from her housekeeper who said her employee got a gun pulled on her. It was a chaotic, confusing time and she tried to get back with her but couldn’t get through – she offered what support she could over text, but pieced together that her employee claimed she had a gun pulled on her and was not coming back. Tamara went over to the apartment, the guest was a young woman with her husband and sister and baby. It was the sister who pulled the gun and explained that the cleaner walked in on them. Tamara asked if they were aware it was 2 hours past checkout time, the guest wrongly thought they were checking out the next day, and Tamara showed them proof they were to check out today. Tamara said she’d help them pack up, the house was a wreck and the guest launched into the story in a defensive manner and that it wasn’t unusual in Texas for people to carry guns. Tamara tried to listen to both sides, and wrote to Airbnb the next day saying that the guest or guests’ sister should have a flag on their account for these actions. Airbnb responded with the policy “express permission must be stated before ever bringing a firearm into another person’s home”. The guest was out within an hour after helping them pack up. The Airbnb employee also recommended that Tamara also add “no weapons” in her house rules. Also Airbnb recommended the cleaners need to knock on the door loudly and announce loudly “Housekeeping”. Airbnb ended up terminating the guest’s account, and the guest contacted Tamara to ask if she could intervene. Tamara did think Airbnb's response was stronger than needed, as it was her sister’s actions, but it was Airbnb’s call. Tamara also told Debi that all of her cleaners are African Americans and told her that when you see a gun, you run. It really was humbling to Tamara. Debi mentioned that Airbnb recently sponsored Implicit Bias training for Host2Host, but this goes so much beyond that. 38:30-43:36 What to do differently? Tamara now reminds guests that their checkout is in the next morning. She sends a note the night before and says hope you have had a great visit, and about checkout at 10:00. She also has housekeeping knock loudly and announce they are housekeeping, and addressing it in her house rules. Debi discussed the cultural differences between Portland and other areas that have more guns. Tamara also expressed her appreciation for the Portland Area Airbnb Host Facebook group for the discussions there when she needed support. 43:36 Debi’s final comments, including reading Airbnb’s rules about weapons. LINKS: Tamara's Airbnb listing: https://abnb.me/EVmg/uzxl8Ba10N Tamara's shop: http://reduxpdx.com Dan's listings and his co-host listings: The Studio: https://abnb.me/EVmg/xve1WOxkeK The Laurel: https://abnb.me/EVmg/WUpoPOc3iK The Laurelhurst: https://abnb.me/EVmg/VOR9Ncv3iK Co-Hosting The artFlat: https://abnb.me/EVmg/h1coTYf3iK The Oasis: https://abnb.me/EVmg/z20EzXj3iK The Nest: https://abnb.me/EVmg/1TVAfxm3iK The Daydream: https://abnb.me/EVmg/Tj2hKFo3iK
32 minutes | Aug 5, 2018
HYH-46 “Smart Phone Photography” with Kati & Brian Greene
Download Episode! Kati and Brian Greene are two long-time travelers who produced an eBook of interviews with vacation rental industry “thinkers and do’ers”. Now, they have created a structured video course, teaching smart phone photography to vacation rental owners. There are good reasons to use professional photographers, but there are also good reasons to learn to take our own pictures to manage property updates and pictures of surrounding neighborhoods. Those pictures have to be good enough to blend in with the other professional pictures on our listings. And, it turns out, they can! 0-3:30 Debi describes how she met Kati and Brian, through a book interview. 3:30 – 9:00 The two are living in New Zealand but also Italy and France – they try to find longer term vacation rentals to base out of. They called themselves Superguests before Airbnb did, and are really into the guest experience. Their company, “overlooked2overbooked.com” provides photography training so that hosts can learn to do their own photography using cell phones. During their years of travel, they found that something like half of the sites they’ve considered staying in lacked good quality pictures. Sometimes they’d book a place on another continent and really wanted to see the photo quality match the quality offered in the written description. 9:00 – 12:45 Discussion of why hosts would want to learn these photography skills, in addition to using professional photography. Kati says is more about the photographer than the high-end camera tool. 12:45 – 16:45 Kati and Brian’s Course: Kati describes the content of the 3-hour video course, broken up in three parts. First is getting to know your phone camera, lighting, all the technical stuff, then walking through an Airbnb looking over Kati’s shoulder, then editing the pictures, selecting the right photos and how to sequence them. The videos are mostly 4-5 minutes, with the longest being 10 minutes. The course is $197. They have a second level, which includes phone consulting prior to the shoot, and Kati will edit up to 20 pictures because she knows that a lot of people might be uncertain about editing. 16:45 – 18:00 Brian discusses the value of learning these photography skills. One example is that you can also take good neighborhood photos, something you don’t usually get from your professional photographer, because it takes too much time. 18:00 Kati & Brian’s Book: They interviewed 28 people who they feel are resources in the industry – an hour of Skype interview boiled down after editing to 5 or 6 pages, which are the best 2 or 3 minutes of the hour. They plan on doing a podcast that will utilize the original full interviews. They interviewed Matt Landau, Heather Bayer, Wheelhouse, Andrew McConnell, Logify, Party Squasher, Erica Muller, and many others including lots of Airbnb experts. They asked a set of questions focused towards a hypothetical new owner. They didn’t want it to just be a list of companies. The book is being offered free on their website. 23:30 Brian noted that 70% of people don’t entertain the thought of hiring a professional photographer. But whether you use a pro or not, there is a value of learning to do this yourself, being true to your rental offering with pictures that are realistic and good quality. Most of the modern smart phones, whether iPhone or not are fine for taking solid pictures. They originally thought the course would focus on the actual details of the photograph, but have evolved to teaching about the emotional appeal of the pictures. In her wrapup, Debi laughs about not intending to do an info-mercial but found the course to be really useful and recommends it. (Debi has no financial connection with Kati and Brian) LINKS http://overlooked2overbooked.com/ And remember to check their free e-Book offer on the website
21 minutes | Jul 15, 2018
HYH-45 "Kim Boaz: Back to Basics Bookkeeping"
Download Episode! Kim Boaz is the owner of Back to Basics Bookkeeping in Portland, Oregon. Debi Hertert from the podcast “Hosting Your Home” talks with Kim in this short, upbeat interview. Many short-term rental owners who use Airbnb, VRBO, or their own website don’t consider their businesses to be large enough to warrant professional bookkeeping or CPA support. Listeners who frequent Facebook groups such as the Portland Area Airbnb Hosts know that questions constantly arise about occupancy taxes, income taxes, which IRS schedule to use, what are legitimate expenses etc. And people try to answer them as best they can, but if you are not sure about what you’re doing, a professional bookkeeper and CPA combination might be the answer. Kim has 20 years of bookkeeping experience, and has five short-term rental clients at the moment. She is also a business member of Host2Host, the nonprofit association with the goal of being “By Hosts, For Hosts”. 0:00-2:00 Debi introduces Kim, and then goes into a series of questions: 2:00 Why would a host want a bookkeeper? Kim: To be compliant with the IRS and the State; become sure of how your business operates What kind of trouble could a host get into? Kim: The most common problem is mixing business and personal income in the same account vs having a separate business account. And many people will report the gross income without including their expenses that would help them. How many Airbnb hosts do you take care of? Kim: Five hosts now. I’ve been doing Airbnb’s for 3-4 years, and have learned as we went along. I have also worked with CPAs who are also learning their way along. And, I have been learning hosts’ needs. 7:00 What are some best practices? Kim: Keep accounts separate; keep receipts (don’t throw away that paper receipt); and use some sort of record keeping software, like QuickBooks. If you’re keeping digital records instead of paper records? Kim: There are lots of apps out there to use to scan in receipts. 9:00 What about mileage? Kim: There is an app called “Mile IQ” that has a 14 day free trial and allows you to swipe left or right for business or personal as you begin a drive, and you get a monthly report. Hosts can only deduct either Auto expenses or mileage; you can only report one, not both. 10:45 Cost of QuickBooks? Kim: That has ranged a huge amount in the past five years, and currently has four different packages, from $20 - $60/month. But as a client with a bookkeeper who has the software, you can pay wholesale by using their subscription as the base. 12:14 What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and a CPA? Kim: A bookkeeper does the daily duties, tracks all the receipts, and enters data into accounting software. A CPA takes the information from the bookkeeper and prepares the tax return. There are some bookkeepers who are also Licensed Tax Preparers, but they don’t go through the more extensive training that CPAs do. 13:15: What would it cost someone to hire a bookkeeper? Kim: That also varies widely. It depends on how many accounts a client has, and how many transactions each account has. Typically, at the beginning there is a higher cost as the bookkeeper gets all the entries caught up for the year. What if you start out at the very beginning, with an Airbnb host who has just one listing? Ballpark? Kim: Getting them set up on QuickBooks might cost $250-$350. That would be to organize and set up, implement the Chart of Accounts etc. Then I give clients the option of the client doing the data entry, or me doing it, or some combination. If a host feels like cash flow is an issue, I go through baby steps with the client. 16:42 Have you dealt with any audits? Kim: Not as far as rentals are concerned, but I have been involved in other audits. If a client gets audited, their bookkeeper can join them. The more organized you look, for example if you have a system, the more they will leave you alone. 17:15: Any horror stories to share? Kim: No horror stories, but I’ve seen everything! I’ve been doing bookkeeping for 20 years. The biggest challenges are clients who bring a giant tote of receipts and haven’t filed taxes in several years. But I actually enjoy tackling these super-challenging problems. I work out a game plan with the client, set up the accounting software, all the steps needed to get back into compliance. 19:13 You wrote articles for the Host2Host website, correct? And do you have anything else you’d like to share? Kim: Yes. My biggest advice to hosts is to not be afraid to reach out to bookkeepers. And, I created a non-profit called All Star Accounting Professionals – the association has all kinds of professional members. Hosts are welcome to reach out to me via email with questions. 20:35 Thank you!! LINKS Kim’s articles on the Host2Host.org website (H2H.org members can read both articles, non-members just the summary): https://host2host.org/Linked-Content Kim’s business: www.backtobasicsbookkeeping.com Kim’s nonprofit professional association: http://allstaraccountingprofessionals.com/
40 minutes | Jun 29, 2018
HYH-44 Meet Matt Landau!
Download Episode! Matt Landau To many hundreds of independent vacation rental owners and VR managers, Matt Landau is the guru of the vacation rental market. He translated his remarkable experience in Panama into a valuable VR knowledge base that continues to expand within the large, virtual community that he has created. Matt’s experience, his sense for kind and appreciative personal relations, and his drive for professionalism make him a natural leader for other VR entrepreneurs. Matt talks with Debi about his background, creation of his VR community Inner Circle, and why he involved gang members in his vacation rental business. It was a triumph of conversion from a severe, dangerous humanitarian loss into a unique asset. Debi finds out how Matt found Costa Rica, Panama, New Orleans, how he got his start, what his mistakes have been. Despite Matt’s experiences and position at the center of the Inner Circle, he is a humble, genuine person who earns people’s trust honestly. Debi Hertert encourages Matt to share some of his experience with her audience. The following show notes are a full transcript, with time markers. LINKS: Matt’s heartwarming article in VRMB about the gang conversion https://www.vrmb.com/hope/ Matt’s Vacation Rental Marketing Blog: https://www.vrmb.com/ Sense of Place TV show (also can find via the VRMB.com site): https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=matt+landau+sense+of+place [00:45] Debi Hertert introduces the audience to Matt Landau, his “Inner Circle”, and his YouTube TV series “A Sense of Place”. [05:00] Finding Costa Rica: Using Matt’s Inner Circle members’ questions, Debi asked Matt about the “back story” – how’d he get started? Matt studied economics in school – but might not have been that enamored with the major. He chanced upon a story about a University of Richmond graduate who moved to Costa Rica and started an online travel agency, Costa Rica Vacations. Casey happened to be in Charlotte, VA when Matt called him, and agreed to meet. He made a 6-month job available to Matt in Costa Rica in 2006. Casey asked Matt to write a book for Costa Rica Vacations that would be informative for guests, and not be available from any other source. Matt traveled around Costa Rica to see the various partners that Casey worked with and was jazzed with the experience of traveling in the country, staying sometimes at vacation rentals, sometimes hotels and immediately knew he loved the vacation industry. [09:00] – Finding Panama: Everyone he met in that first six months encouraged Matt to check out Panama – coincidentally, Casey was at that time interested in possibly opening a branch of his travel agency in Panama, so they checked it out together. Matt started a blog “The Panama Report” which was one of the first Travel and Investment blogs for Panama, and he found a taste for the life. On that very same visit, he found the tiny historic district of Casco Viejo: Matt: “I met two gentlemen from Holland, Paulus and Eric who were running the only accommodations in all of Casco Viejo. It was called ‘Los Cuatro Tulipanes’ (The Four Tulips). And it was a revolutionary experience for me. I went into it nervous and uncertain and curious not only about the rentals but the neighborhood. And it just blew my mind and I decided that this was a neighborhood in which I wanted to live. Almost within the next 6 months, a series of events happened that I could have never planned but that ended up setting me up for where I am today. It was a combination of the travel agency that Casey was opening up doing really well, and needing to place people in the evolving historic district of Casco Viejo, and Paulus and Eric determining they were going to leave Panama for some reasons that are probably worth a separate day. And they said to me ‘we are going to shut this business down unless we can sell it to one person and that's you”. Debi: you had you had not spoken to them about it? Matt: “Not at all. I was helping them a little bit with their marketing after I had stayed. I was living in Panama in the downtown area but I just felt like it was an alignment of stars. And I found a small handful of business partners who were already involved in the neighborhood and on the real estate side of things and others were coming from the United States and we put together a little team. And next thing you know we are running a vacation rental business in Panama. It was the only place to stay in town and if you had come to Casco Viejo between 2009 and 2013 there was nowhere to stay but with us. We just learned everything on the fly. Fantastic and there was nobody to take our place.” [13:00] Birth of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog: Debi: and then while you were there you started the vacation rental marketing blog? Matt: “So that was a really hilarious pivot in all of this in that we learned everything on our own in very much the same way all our colleagues have. I felt like I had a really good notebook of information of stuff that worked because I keep copious notes and I structured it a little bit and made it into the form of an eBook. And it was essentially like the best ways to market your vacation rental business but I wasn't sure that vacation rentals were the right demographic to buy the eBook. So I made four. I've actually never shared this. I made four websites: HowToIncreaseHotelOccupancy.com; HowToIncreaseResortSales.com; Bed and BreakfastAdvertising.com and VacationRentalMarketingBlog.com. One page on each website; the same book for sale on each website with a different title. The same price. It was an ultimate control versus variable experiment. I pumped probably like 200 bucks worth of add words into that experiment. I was driving traffic from Google to these four sites to see which ones worked. And one of them blew the others out of the water: Vacation Rental Marketing Blog. I dropped all the others and I said okay I guess this means I should focus on the vacation rentals.” Debi: Holy cow! On my computer I have a file folder that says ‘The Vault’ Matt: “Yes! Those were the original documents; like How to Boost Occupancy. And I refer back to those fairly often to see if they’re still good or not, has the industry changed, and most of the advice was pretty solid”. Debi: Can I ask you how old you are? (35) So you started this when you were 25 years old? Matt: “Yeah – right out of college” I would say it's fearless but it's really what everybody in our industry does at the beginning. It’s just winging it. Debi: Honestly, all the dominoes falling in the right place all the right people came. The universe just looked after you beautifully! Matt: “and I think that's true. A lot of people got into this business. If it wasn't an accident it was some bit of alignment of stars adversity whatever you want to call it that brought this opportunity in front of them and they ran with it.” [15:30] “The Inner Circle” Debi: So what was your thinking when you started the Inner Circle? What was your goal then, and how do you see that you might have met or not met that? Matt: “Well, before the Inner Circle I was creating one-off Learning Materials eBooks video courses, guides, things like that and I realized that I was putting myself at a bit of a disadvantage because even if someone absolutely loved my work and purchased the book or the video course or whatever, I needed to go and create more in order to sell to them and that was like a bit of a spinning wheel. So I decided to pivot the business model instead of selling one-off learning materials to build a small fee, monthly membership Community where you would have access to all the learning materials that are created on a regular basis but also get this community element that has that's kind of proven to be so unique.” Debi: Have you been in a community like that before? (No) So you really didn't know whether or not it was going to go. Matt: “Virtually speaking, no. But guess where I was? Physically located in a community called Casco Viejo that was developing from scratch. We were solving our own trash problems, crime problems, we were dealing with like every type of neighborhood building challenge you can imagine. And I all the sudden start seeing all these overlaps. Like wait a minute, this is how we do it in real life, why shouldn't that work virtually? And what we have now I think in the Inner Circle is a very tight-knit Community. People who stand for the same thing but who happen to be located everywhere throughout the world. It's a cool thing to compare real life community building and virtual community building. It's a private community, so that kind of immediately rules out anyone who's not serious. The fact that you have to pay means that you will need to be committed to learning. It's one part learning materials, eBooks, courses, workshops. One part open forum - ask questions and get answers from people who have been through it before. And the Inner Circle membership also includes real life meetups. Last year we hosted 26. And you attended one yesterday and those are a chance to bring the virtual sides of our lives down to earth and actually meet each other in person and learn. That’s the value proposition but in general it's owners and managers who are serious and who want to grow. And it's a very small minority of the general vacation rental population but we're okay with that.” Debi: You also have grown immensely in the last few years. How many members are there now? Matt: “842 - not that anyone's counting” [ [18:45] From Gangs to Esperanza (Hope): Debi: Rick Oster wants to know why you started the charity with the gang members? Matt: “Necessity. This neighborhood that I had fallen in love with had a very serious problem which was prohibiting me and others
62 minutes | Apr 28, 2018
HYH-43 Mark Scheel’s “Colorado Airbnb Host Meetup”
Download Episode! Mark Sheel is a Google Android developer and Airbnb host in Colorado. He has long used Meetup.com to organize his large developer group in Denver, and leveraged that experience to create a 500-member Colorado Airbnb Hosts Meetup. Debi and Mark have been exchanging info and tips for the past couple of years. Colorado is an exceedingly desirable tourist destination, so it’s no wonder that there is a high interest in Mark’s group in Denver. This discussion can provide listeners with some ideas of how they might organize groups in their own areas. The show notes cover much of the conversation. Airbnb, if you’re reading, Mark wants you to listen to the very end (57:30) or check the show notes to learn Mark’s pet peeve about your calendar software! Links are included at the end of the show notes. 0:00 Debi updates us about Host2Host the Oregon trade association by hosts, for hosts. 3:00 Debi talks about how she and Mark met, and introduces Mark. 4:30 How Mark got started renting on Airbnb and progressed to own two ski condos that he rents out, plus occasional rental of his home in Denver. 13:22 Mark talks about his real profession as a Google Android developer and creating a 600-person meetup group in Denver. He then goes into starting the Airbnb Meetup group. He remembers being at the Airbnb Open in San Francisco in 2014. He was presenting at another conference with Android work, and took advantage of being there. He said he was blown away with the hospitality of Airbnb and its employees. So the next year, he attended the Paris Airbnb open and had such a great time there, he realized you couldn’t explain to people who weren’t there just how fabulous it was. He traded snowboarding tips with a host from the Middle East, who in turn shared camel riding tips with Mark! 16:50 On his way back home from Paris, Mark found himself a little melancholy over the prospect of not having any more contact with other Airbnb hosts for an entire year until the next Open, so he decided to create a local group. So – this begs the same question that happened to Debi the year before: how to reach other hosts when the Airbnb platform blocks it? This was November 2015. He was the only attendee at his first Meetup, and the next month he had three. Now they have over 500 members. He did have a stroke of luck, in that just then, Airbnb had scheduled a marketing event to recruit more hosts but a blizzard prevented the Airbnb employees from getting to Denver. Airbnb somehow found Mark and asked him if he’d take over MC’ing the event at a bar they had already rented, and of course he said “Yes”! Airbnb sent out emails to existing hosts and invited them to come to the bar to meet with Mark and the first drink would be on Airbnb. Ever since, they’ve had good attendance. Mark sends out a monthly newsletter with pretty good info about local and even international info. 20:00 Debi asked Mark what his membership requirements are, and he told her that anyone can join, and now he’s getting people to join from outside of Denver, probably for access to the newsletter and info in it. He does not have a Facebook account. He said that he finds leading the Airbnb Meetup to be so easy compared to his Google Meetups, because they can just talk. He just finds a venue, tells people they can have one free drink, and then the attendees can just mingle and talk. They do have some curated events and have had some very good speakers, covering taxes, legislation, bedbug-sniffing dogs, etc. 22:00 The site Denver.gov/STR is the repository for Denver short-term rental rules. Basically, you can only do short-term rental of your house if it’s your primary residence. You have to be licensed and include the permit number in your listing. Each host has to collect occupancy tax and two other taxes. All the hosts there are not opposed to the tax, but they want the City and Airbnb to work out tax collection to be done by Airbnb, so the hosts don’t have to do it. Denver also allows the host to rent their entire house, part time. Mark talked about a small part of Denver called Glendale that doesn’t currently have rules about short term rentals. 27:30 Debi asked Mark about an interview in the New York Times that he appeared in. Mark was contacted by Katie Benner, a reporter for the Times who at the time lived in San Francisco covering Apple and startups in Silicon Valley. She reached out to Mark in part because of the Colorado Airbnb Hosts Meetup Group. He laughs about having several hours of interviews with Katie that was reduced to only three sentences in the final article. During the interview, Mark encouraged Katie to contact Jill Bishop, another Denver host who has lots of great stories and was involved back in 2008 when Denver played an important role for Airbnb. That was the same time as the Democratic National Convention. Ultimately, Jill ended up hosting Katie at her home and there ended up being a great article in the Sunday New York Times. Mark knew the article was going to be printed on June 17, 2017 on Father’s Day and tells a cute story about the article and his dad. 32:00 Debi asked if Airbnb gave Mark any recognition over it and he said just some individual employees that he knows did reach out to him. He said Airbnb supports him when they need something, but not so much in a financial way and he doesn’t really need anything from them. He thinks that Airbnb’s “Host Clubs” sort of compete with other groups like his and he’s happy that his Meetup pays for itself. He finds the hardest thing is to find the venues – he knows that the best thing is to have a regular meeting day, like the first Monday of the month, but that just doesn’t work for his travel schedule. He tries to schedule them 6 weeks ahead. 36:30 So now he uses the same venue, Blake Street Vault, which he began using with his Google group, and the venue likes that he brings in 30 or 40 people on a slow Monday or Tuesday, and all of them have at least one drink (which the sponsors pay for) and a lot of them have food. Their latest sponsor is “Noise Aware” which makes a product that monitors noise level, without invading guest privacy. He reached out to this vendor through their website. Sponsors: Mark tries to add photos to each Meetup for interest [ed note: the photographs are private to the meetup, for members’ privacy]. He has a process to onboard new sponsors, where his group tries out the product first, and if they approve of it, they invite the sponsor to give a talk that’s 80% hosting advice and maybe a slide or two at the end that is about their product. Noise Aware got back to Mark immediately and is now one of their newest sponsors. Other sponsors include Slice, a Home Sharing insurance company; Wheelhouse, a dynamic pricing company; Notion, a Denver-based startup making home sensors; LockState, a Denver-based smart lock company; and Properly, the San Francisco-based company that produces software for managing operations such as cleaning. He really feels strongly about helping the sponsor’s businesses because the hosts end up having better tools. Debi wondered if the sponsors are able to get feedback from hosts – Mark has a private Slack group of 50 members and uses that group to validate products and has provided useful feedback to the vendors. Slice has been a great vendor and was one of their first sponsors. They have had some products that didn’t work out. They don’t use Facebook. 44:00 What does Mark get out of the Meetup? He describes the level of support and warm feelings that come out of the group. He says their primary engagement of hosts is at the Meetup face-to-face meetings, and then outside of the in-person meetings there is a limited amount of discussion on Meetup, but 90% of the online conversations are on Slack. He said there is a constant influx of new members. He is really excited at how well Denver is growing and thriving. He considers himself mostly as a matchmaker at the meetings and tries to direct the person to the expert that he knows will have the answer. 49:30 The two begin talking about expanding the Meetup into other areas outside of Denver. He’s mindful of his time commitment, and can’t put a lot more time into it. He gives a good rundown of how much time the Meetups take each month, and notes that he really enjoys that time spent. He knows there will be a payback eventually in the form of an answer or help when he might have a critical issue that he doesn’t know how to solve. 53:30 What is Mark passionate about in the Airbnb space? Airbnb Opens! He recommends everyone attend if another Open is in our future. He’s also passionate about smart homes. In his properties he has Google Nest thermostats, Google Home devices (some of his properties use those to turn the lights on and off, music etc). He uses smart locks and set them to the last four digits of the guest cell number. He uses Nexia as his lock provider, and the underlying lock is Schlage. (and he writes his own software for setting the codes). He uses Nest video cameras for his driveways and feels that these cameras have been very helpful in assisting good guest compliance with some house rules. 57:30 What Mark finds most annoying about Airbnb software? #1 Pet Peeve: in the calendar, if he has a five-day minimum stay rule, and if there are two days between stays, in the host view, it shows those days as available; but they’re not available, by rule. He wants the calendar to show the host the days that are not available if they are not available by rule – and then he wants to be able to easily convert them to be available without going through an elaborate configuration. 59:30 Debi wraps up the conversation. LINKS: Sponsors: Noiseaware: https://noiseaware.io Lockstate:
12 minutes | Jan 21, 2018
HYH-42 Host2Host is About to be Born!
Here is a fun, short talk from just Debi, about the new Host2Host association. It is a natural outgrowth of the Portland, Oregon community of hosts and the result of three years of community building through the 41 monthly Meetups Debi has organized, and the great success of the Portland Area Hosts Facebook group. Debi mentions in her talk that Portland has been told by Airbnb that we have the highest per-capita ratio of Superhosts in the world. It certainly could be that our community, which tries harder to support than compete, is better for all the communication and has learned to be even better hosts. Moving to a non-profit trade association allows us to afford a website and some other recurring costs, and do an even better job serving the educational and business connection needs of our community. A complete transcript is below, followed by some web links. If they don't show in your podcast show notes, please go to hostingyourhome.com and read them there! Transcript [0:34] Welcome to Hosting Your Home, this is Debi. Thanks for being here. Our podcasts are usually about hosting experiences. I love to interview local hosts (and host from all over the world) about their experiences and to help tell their stories. This week is a little different. This week you've just got me. I want to tell you about our new nonprofit organization called Host2Host. [1:04] You may know a little bit about me; I'm going to tell you a little bit more so that you’ll get the full scope of what we're doing here. My background: my husband and I have some vacation rentals on the Oregon coast, which I have been managing since 2009, as an ‘accidental’ vacation rental manager. I didn't know what I was doing and was very hungry for information and connection. I found Matt Landau’s Vacation Rental Marketing Group, and learned a lot from the Inner Circle there. At some point (I believe it's 2014) Airbnb came to Portland [and Portland began allowing short term rentals as a permitted activity, for the first time]; I had already been renting on Airbnb since 2010, so I was pretty familiar with the platform and their rental philosophy. After the wonderful exposure with Matt’s group and the Inner Circle, I wanted to connect more with our local hosts. As a result, I created a Meetup Group [through Meetup.com] This was in 2014 and the Meetup group has since flourished. 300 members at the date of this podcast. At some point we decided to create a Portland Area Host Facebook group, and that group has just gone gangbusters, with 910 members at this date] [2:40] I have always wanted to have a little conference here in Portland and after I started the podcast, I was interviewing some of our local hosts, I started asking them questions like: “What do you think? Do you think we could have a conference here? Do you think the people would like it? Do you think that we have the skills and the wisdom here to be able to share who we are and what we do? Before I knew it, we were organizing a fantastic conference that happened in April 2017. We were blessed with about 15 core committee organizers who have become fixtures in all of our development after the conference. The public response was overwhelmingly positive with around 140 attendees. We had educational breakout sessions and some fantastic speakers, keynotes and vendor support. It was just really, really, really fabulous. After the conference that it was obvious to us that our community wanted more. We started talking about how we could deliver, and if we could deliver. We reorganized the Host2Host Conference to support a Host2Host nonprofit membership group. [trade association] [3:56] Next month on February 12, 2018 we're going to be rolling out our full offering of Host2Host support services and membership to our local community and to the world at large. I want to tell you a little bit about what we have planned for that: We will have will have the education piece. You know that's really important to me, that's what I do and that's what I love. We will continue with having conferences and vendor fairs, classes, and meetups. Since 2014, we have hosted 41 monthly meetups! We will be having workshops. Our membership consists of people who have come to this business from all kinds of backgrounds. We've got professional photographers and lawyers and event planners. You name it, we've got it all. It's very cool to see these people coming forward to share what they know and help us organize into a group that helps to support our community. Our “Members Only” section will offer a variety of informational articles, such as: The importance of Photography Why Hire a Bookkeeper. Service Animals. Anatomy of a Lawsuit (oh my goodness!) and Insurance There are going to be many, many, more as we continue on. We will be we will be adding more as we grow, expanding in areas that I'm sure I can't foresee. [5:32] You also may have heard that in Portland we have had some issues with our city government. You also probably know if you're an Airbnb host or a host on any platform that there are advocacy issues everywhere in the world right now. Part of our energy is focused on advocacy, our own permitting process, politics and policy. In fact just yesterday I was invited to a meeting at City Hall with policy makers. It was was a fabulous experience! We want our local government to hear us as a group. We don't need somebody else speaking for us; we want to do our own speaking and be heard and seen for who we are which is, as you know: Members of the community; taxpayers; supporters of local businesses and neighborhoods. There is a there's a lot of work that can be done around that. [6:42] We also will have a Business Directory so that we can gather support from our local businesses and from Global businesses. Businesses are invited to include a special offer for members. I anticipate that not only will we have businesses that come to us because they sell to us but there will also be businesses coming to us, because of what we can offer them. We direct our guests with recommendations to our local businesses. Membership is going to go live next month with a Grand Reveal gala. We will be having that catered and we’ll have what we're calling fondly the VOTH Hour (Voice Of The Host) featuring a few short inspirational stories from hosts. Following our VOTH hour, a panel discussion will offer information about the organization and we’ll have Questions and Answers. The Portland Host Community is the focus for the face-to-face kinds of activities that we have. We expect that we will have people from all over the world interested in the online part of what we will be offering and we're purposely keeping our subscription rates ridiculously low. [8:15] I thought we should be charging more but honestly we really want to cover expenses. None of us are being paid, we are 100% volunteers, but we have a few expenses in hosting the website and various other things. The host membership is $50 a year. Small businesses with one to five employees will be $75 a year and The larger businesses over 5 employees is $195 a year. I don't know of any other other membership group that has such low cost and we want to make it available to everyone. We feel that the education of what we do is what makes our industry better and better and better. I can tell you that Airbnb tells me that our Portland Community per capita has the highest number of superhosts in the world. And I think that's because of our community and the way we interact with each other. I hope that you are interested in Host2Host.org and that you will check us out. Our website will go live February 12th and we would be happy to accept your membership. [9:51] If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. I'm available and I respond. You'll find the show notes as always at HostingYourHome.com. Leave me a message, ask a question, make a comment, offer your skills. Any of the above! Our next podcast will be back to our normal interview style. Take care, and have a great week! Oops I forgot a couple of things! Our website Host2Host.org - on and after February 12, 2018. You will get an “under construction” note if you go now. https://www.facebook.com/host2host/ [11:15] Website: Hostingyourhome.com Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HostingYourHome/ Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hostingyourhome/ Highly recommended vacation rental guru: Matt Landau: vrmb.com
43 minutes | Dec 16, 2017
HYH-41 "When Friendship is Your Business" with Bob Garner in Italy
Download Episode! Come to Italy and listen to Debi Hertert talk with Bob Garner about his beautiful, 6-apartment vacation rental in Le Marche, Italy. Dubbed “Casal dei Fichi”, 12 years ago this building was an ancient farmhouse where the family once lived on the second floor to make use of the heat rising from the animals living on the bottom floor. From this humble origin, Bob and his partner Ian created a hospitality work of art. They transformed the farmhouse into modern, spacious apartments with gorgeous views and amenities. A swimming pool and olive grove are on the property and every evening, Bob bounds up the stairs (if you are in an upstairs apartment) and knocks on your door to check with you about your day and what you might want to do tomorrow. There are countless villages, farms, wineries, castles, monasteries, and restaurants just waiting for you! In this discussion between two friends and colleagues, you will hear about Matt Landau, the “guru” of the Inner Circle, a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs who own and manage vacation rentals around the world. Matt’s group focuses on how to give the best experiences for guests, and at the same time, how to not be bound to the listing platforms. Debi mentions in her intro that Matt is filming a TV series titled “A Sense of Place”, and Casal dei Fichi is one of the stops. Debi is excited to see this when it comes out. Bob relates to Debi the story of how he and Ian decided to change from their lives of professional work in London to managing this wonderful vacation retreat in Italy, the (understated) process of rebuilding the farmhouse, and how they interact with their guests. You will hear some amazing numbers - like 50% plus repeat business, increasing to 70% plus this year...and summer stay requirements of 1 week minimum, Saturday to Saturday, and with many guests booking their stay for the next year, before they leave this year! Bob doesn’t really say it, other than to note a couple of times that he and Ian live on the property, so they can interact with guests, but these two people are SO charismatic and social, that half of the stay feels like getting to hang out with them. We’re not surprised that they have so much repeat business, they engage so fully with their guests that all become friends. It was a truly memorable experience, and being there for a week was so relaxing and allowed us to visit so many different places in Italy. Early during the week, Bob suggested we visit a local winery. And that we take an empty (5 liter?) bottle and have them fill it up. Which we did, and had wine for the whole week for $8 Euro. ! We also went to a fabulous restaurant with them and several other of their guests, and then went with just the four of us to their favorite restaurant on the coast. Wow. That was great seafood and a great view. We felt so welcomed and integrated to their living, as Debi says in the interview, it was very intimate. “Giving Back” often comes up with these stories of hospitality. Bob and Ian introduced us to Treedom, a company that facilitates donations to plant trees, which you will hear about in the interview. The goal is to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the thoughtful way that Bob has worked it out with guests and restaurants is an example for all of us to study. Debi goes on to say that all hosts can find something similar to do, and it helps the planet, makes the hosts and guest feel good, and may even help business. [editor’s note: We LOVED our stay with Bob and Ian and if we weren’t off to Florence with Bob, we would have been even more sad! LINKS: Casal dei Fichi website: www.casaldeifichi.com Trailer for Matt Landau's "A Sense of Place" series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T94C0EU4xx8 Link to Matt's Inner Circle: www.vrmb.com
28 minutes | Oct 23, 2017
HYH-40 "Sara Anselmi, Airbnb Host in Italy"
[0:45] In September, 2017, Debi and Rob visited Italy: Debi wanted to attend the Vacation Rental World Summit conference in Florence, and it was hard to convince Rob to join her. They visited Rome, the province of Le Marche, then Florence, Siena, and Pistoia. They mostly used Airbnb listings, as they typically do while traveling. Sara’s house in Civitanova, Le Marche, was one of the five. They spent one night there, on the Adriatic coast, and met Sara Anselmi, an architect and Airbnb host. As often happens, there was a sweet connection, this time with Sara and her husband Luca. The four (five including Sara’s rescue dog) shared a delicious lunch. They ate at a restaurant favored by Sara because the chef, named “Italia”, makes the food just like Sara’s mother did. They met as strangers and left as friends. **This interview took place in Civitanova, Le Marche, Italy. Sara and Luca live in Rome, and also have an apartment in Tuscany, which comes up in the interview. Sara refers to her Civitanova house just as "La Marche", and when she says "here", she is referring to the house in Civitanova. [3:22] Debi and Sara talk about how Sara got started hosting. Debi was staying in the house Sara grew up in. Sara bought a house just a couple of doors away, planning on living there and helping out with her parents, but her parents both passed away. Sara moved to Rome and five years ago began renting out the home she grew up in, on Airbnb. She maintains an office in the house and uses it for family and her own visiting, so prefers to rent it out short-term. [5:28] Sara’s second property is in Tuscany, and this one is really interesting! How would you like to remodel and take care of an apartment built in the year 1200? Sara talks about the various dilemmas they face with maintenance and them living in Rome and le Marche. She rents the Tuscany property as a single apartment, but the Civitanova property has two separate room listings. She talks about how she realizes that people would prefer to have an entire apartment for the privacy, and that all the guests at the Tuscany apartment are from outside Italy. [10:05] L'Eroica (meaning ‘the heroic”) is the name of a bike race held on the first Sunday of October, bringing all kinds of vintage bicycle lovers to Italy, and it is a wine and food fest as well. It was started in the ‘90s to save the crushed gravel roads from being paved. This event takes over the village where Sara and Luca’s apartment is located and the ride goes right by the house. Sara was clearly wishing that she could be in Tuscany to personally host her guests and realizes that she just can’t be there. [11:35] Debi pursued the question of long-distance hosting, which Sara does at both rentals. They talked about the rather difficult situation Sara has worked through in Civitanova with Roberto, her long-term renter who lives in the top part of the house. Having lost his job, divorced, and two children, he couldn’t pay his rent, so Sara has been teaching him how to do the house cleaning and the Meet & Greet of the guests, in exchange for sharing income from the rentals. It’s their form of co-hosting. She very honestly describes the many difficulties she has encountered. Debi said she admired how Sara has been trying to make this work on Roberto’s behalf. She maintains contact with the local social services and tries to improve his situation. [15:22] Back to Tuscany… there, Sara has been able to find a person who speaks five languages, lives 5 minutes from the property, and offers catering service! They don’t make enough income to pay off the debt from fixing the roof, but she feels motivated to buy some nice things for the apartment and keep the place very nice. Debi and Rob really want to visit this Tuscany apartment sometime! If you listen carefully, you will hear Sara mention going to the apartment 2-3 times a year, including going for the “Palio” that takes place in nearby Siena. [The Palio admittedly has nothing to do with Airbnb, but it is an insane horse race that takes place twice a year. The neighborhood whose rider wins gains great status until the next race]. [17:40] Debi and Sara talked about platforms, including Booking.com. Even though Sara gets more reservations from Booking.com, she finds Airbnb the easiest, mainly because guests coming from Booking.com are addicted to hotels, expect more services, and don’t understand the concept of home space versus hotel space. Debi really liked the home, having two beds, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a beautiful outside garden with table and chairs. [20:40] “Italy in One Region” – is the phrase Sara and others use to describe the province of Le Marche (pronounced Lay Mar’kay) – skiing, mountains, hillsides, ocean. Debi also recounts their hilarious adventure the day before when she and Rob missed a bus transfer and Sara helped translate with the bus drivers by phone. She was in Rome at the time. [25:30] Lunch! Debi wrapped up the interview with a story about lunch with Sara and her husband Luca, and one more (mis)adventure she and Rob had the next day... [editor's fun note (this would be Rob)]: My parents met in WWII. They were both assigned to the US Army's 70th General Hospital in Pistoia, Italy, which is about 20 miles from Florence. When we had lunch with Sara and Luca, we learned that the Americans had shelled the town of Civitanova and then occupied it. Sara's parents were unhurt, but had to move up to the attic while the Americans used the main house. The good thing was that the Americans had food, and shared it with her parents. LINKS: Sara's Tuscany house, Palagio Her bed and breakfast in Civitanova Vacation Rental World Summit: www.vacationrentalworldsummit.com
33 minutes | Oct 21, 2017
HYH-39 "Hostfully": 4,000 Guidebooks in 80 Countries (vendor series)
Every short-term rental needs a guest guidebook. But what used to be a dog-eared, 3-ring binder can now become a spectacular, highly useful web-based product, accessible on a phone. David Jacoby, Airbnb Superhost and co-founder of Hostfully, traveled to Portland to meet with Debi Hertert and "Home Share PDX" Meetup group to talk about his product. Before the Meetup, Debi interviewed David for the Hosting Your Home podcast. [0:01:34] Debi asked how David got started with Hostfully, and it turns out that Before Children, he and his wife went on a year-long, around the world journey, staying in 27 countries and 37 homes. It was 2010, so Airbnb had barely started, and none of their stays was in an actual Airbnb. Much of their trip was done via the couch surfing site. Deb asked if those were really couches… [0:05:39] After the trip, David and his wife moved to San Francisco and bought a single-family home and remodeled it for a mother-in-law apartment for their family. They started renting the space out when his parents weren’t visiting, and have hosted 200 guests in 4 years. He found that it was his personal experiences of hosting that led him to realize the pain of being in constant communication with guest after guest and answering all their questions that they had before arriving as well as their separate, unique set of questions while they're actually staying with him. But he also realized the pleasure of being on the flip side like hearing from them that they went to his favorite local coffee shop or his favorite brunch spot. “Sure, they went to Fisherman's Wharf and they went to Alcatraz but it was staying in my neighborhood and going to the local places that I recommended that really is what made their stay memorable and unique”. And he realized the lack of tools to help hosts be better hosts AFTER the reservation is made. [0:08:32] Debi asked David about Airbnb’s own guest guidebook, and about “You’re Welcome”, a similar guest guidebook product. David had interesting comments about both, and pointed out the fact that Airbnb’s app only works for Airbnb guests – but many hosts use multiple platforms. And he likes the “You’re Welcome” app a lot, but described differences with it and Hostfully. [0:11:15] It turned out that Debi had populated the Hostfully app, and had invited David to stay at her Airbnb while addressing the Meetup. Of course, she sent the URL to David and he loved it. He said it was the first time as a guest that he had received the Hostfully guidebook! Debi describes her use of the app and it being easy to use and to edit. David went into some considerable detail about it. [0:13:32] David said Hostfully launched about a year ago and now has over 4000 guidebooks in 80 countries. He said that Hostfully offers one free guide book for each listing. [0:14:16] Debi took the opportunity to quiz David about the politics of short term rentals in San Francisco. He went into great detail and said that the latest ordinance will likely mean that half, or over half of the current listings in San Francisco will be gone after the first of the year, enforced by an agreement with San Francisco, Airbnb, and HomeAway. The reason for the reduction is that the City requires hosts to live in the space they list, and currently many listings are not the host’s primary residence. [0:20:48] Transient Occupancy Tax is also very much a goal. Debi was curious about David’s involvement with the San Francisco Home Sharer’s Democratic Club. David is on the Board and described the origins of the Club. Debi and David talked about the very successful Vendor Show they put on in 2017. It was well-attended and one of the Airbnb Founders even stopped by. [0:26:34] Hostfully has written up the results of a study they did on hospitality, and it is available for free by going to hostfully.com/study There are a lot of tips there that all hosts can learn from. They surveyed over 50 rental management companies and studied the thousands of guidebooks that Hostfully supports. It’s a very cool opportunity to see what things like average check-in times, check-out times, amenities and info other hosts are providing. [0:30:25] Debi closes the Podcast by making some recommendations to listeners: Get the Hostfully app and fill it out; www.hostfully.com and download the hospitality study, www.hostfully.com/study David's rental listing is at www.airbnb.com/rooms/2049955
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