In August 2018, the vacation rental industry officially hit our TV screens as Netflix launched its brand new series, Stay Here. Presenters of the show are renowned interior designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate guru Peter Lorimer and throughout Stay Here’s eight episodes, they travel across the US, educating short-term vacation rental owners on how to breathe life back into their properties to increase their bottom line.
This series marks a changing point for our industry. The “Airbnb effect” of the last 10 years is not only having an impact on the way we travel, but it now extends to the television we watch.
As well as transforming tired properties into showstopping moneymakers, Genevieve and Peter also teach the owners invaluable lessons about running their boutique businesses successfully.
After watching Stay Here, we’ve put together this list of our top eight takeaways for vacation rental owners.
Warning: there are spoilers ahead!
1. The guest experience is more important than ever
A theme that repeats throughout each episode – the guest experience. Short-term rental hosts cannot expect to be competitive if all they do is open the door upon check-in. It’s made very clear in Stay Here that owners need to go above and beyond to provide a memorable guest experience from the very first moment. One of the ways in which you can do this? Provide a welcome basket or unique welcome gift for your visitors.
Example: In the first episode, we see owners Jeff and Jessica browsing Pike Place Market for local delicacies to offer their guests. Peter’s advice? “The rule of thumb is, whatever you’re charging for the night, take 10% of that and spend it on goodies.” So if you’re charging $300 a night, you’ve got around $30 to spend on a thoughtful welcome treat that your guests will love.
2. Social media has changed the way people travel
It’s no secret that travel and social media go hand in hand. But, had you ever considered to what extent your property plays a role in your guests’ photos and memories?
Throughout Stay Here, there are various references to making properties look more instagrammable. Even before renovating the property, designer Genevieve is already scouting out the best spots to create photo opportunities for incoming guests.
Example: In episode two, once the makeover is complete, Genevieve relaxes into one of the swinging chairs on Sharone’s Malibu beach house deck and proclaims “This is the social media moment”.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of your own website
Every reputable business you know of has its own website – and vacation rentals shouldn’t be any different. Besides listing on OTAs like Airbnb and HomeAway, having your own website provides travelers with a place to book directly with you – saving you both money on commissions. Your website is the one advertising space you are completely in control of. In addition to this, it’s the link you put in your Instagram bio, it will feature in your email signature, and it’s even the URL you will use on your business card.
Example: In episode six, once owner Alex’s marketing hook has been defined, Peter speaks to Lodgify about what are the three most important elements of a vacation rental website. They discuss that “great professional photography”, a “really good description” and reviews or “testimonials of past guests” are key for converting website visitors into vacation rental guests.
4. Owners have to build a brand to stand out from the crowd
When advertising anywhere online – be that on OTAs or even your own website – having a vacation rental brand is crucial. Not only will a brand form the basis of your marketing campaigns and dictate the color schemes used on your website or around your home, but it will also help your rental to stand out from your immediate competition nearby.
Example: In episode four, Peter sets up Yellow Block BnB owner Gordy with the unique “Yellow Block bagel” to serve his guests for breakfast. This will be a super memorable moment for groups visiting his property and will likely be reflected in his reviews.
5. Understanding the potential of your location can boost profits
There are so many factors that go into running a small vacation rental business, that owners are sometimes oblivious to how they can make the most out of their offerings. We already know that the experience guests have at your property has to be outstanding. That’s why it’s worth taking a step back and analyzing your property from a traveler’s perspective. What exclusive activity does your location offer that your competitors can’t? This can provide a great opportunity to connect with travelers who are looking to have an authentic experience in your region.
Example: In episode five, Paso Robles Wine Country owners Sonja and Curtis have a 66-acre property with a 40-acre vineyard and vacation rental. Besides transforming the “higgledy-piggledy” cottage into a boutique destination wedding stay, Peter helps Curtis come up with marketing ideas – such as selling a package to learn all about California wine from a Californian vineyard farmer or hosting a wine-tasting night on their very own property (instead of sending guests to neighboring vineyards).
6. Partnering with other businesses is a win-win for vacation rental owners
Building relationships and partnering with other local institutions can work wonders for your business. Cross-promotion is a very low-risk strategy which can easily grow your (and your partner’s) client base, push your brand out into the world and increase overall income. Vacation rental businesses have a huge opportunity to tap into the established local communities they form part of and encourage these profitable two-way partnerships.
Example: One of the principal reasons visitors flock to Hudson, NY is down to its quaint antique stores and independent art scene. So, in episode six, Genevieve has the great idea of furnishing the remainder of Alex’s property with items from local stores on “consignment” – meaning that guests at the Carriage House can shop where they sleep!
7. Recommendations go a long way
We know that more and more travelers are choosing vacation rentals for a “home-away-from-home” adventure. One sure-fire way that owners can help guests to have the best time possible is by sharing recommendations of their own favorite places with anybody who stays there. Preparing a local guidebook for travelers is both a thoughtful and helpful addition to any vacation rental. As you’ll already have plenty of suggestions for eating, drinking and so on, go one step further and include curated experience recommendations depending on your guest personas. This could be anything from music concerts to markets, grocery stores to theater shows and everything in between.
Example: In various episodes, part of the property makeover takes into account the need to communicate to guests what to do in the neighborhood. For the Seattle Lakeside Lovenest, it’s a hanging marine poster; for Yellow Block BnB an oversized blackboard; and the Palm Springs Time Machine even has a vintage-inspired pop-up TV screen.
8. Goals are the key to success
Any new business idea requires a business plan – fact. As part of this process, it’s wise to analyze your competition, define your ideal occupancy rate and work out clearly what you want to get from your vacation rental. By setting objectives from the outset, you have a realistic plan to adhere to, and to measure your success against.
Example: In each episode, Peter and Genevieve use data from AllTheRooms to determine how many nights the owners have to rent to achieve their goals as a rental business. For some, it’s as simple as covering the costs of the vacant property when not in use. For others, however, they’re looking to put their children through college with this new stream of income.
The Netflix series, Stay Here, is proving to be a success on our small screens – inspiring many aspiring hosts around the globe. We’ve certainly got our fingers crossed for a second season!