Shampoo & Booze 19: Our Grand Designs, Why We Do This

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This week, we had the flu. Despite that, the business must go on! We had our renters self check-in, using our very helpful electronic locks and they had a great time even though we could not meet them. Getting notes like the one you see above is why we do this. To provide a fancy, cozy, quiet, get away for people who want to hang out in the country. They loved it so much, they booked the house for Memorial Day weekend. Sadly, they only booked 2 nights out of 3 for that weekend. But that really spurred Ryanne into action to change both Airbnb and HomeAway's holiday weekends to require 3 night minimums. Here is tutorial on how to do it for Airbnb (they don't make it easy to find). Here is a link so you can binge watch Grand Designs, a British documentary series about people building or renovating their own homes.
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  1. Omg guys I can't wait to see some before and afters of the place. Talking about weddings made me think of something. I used to do hair and we would travel to the bride and bridesmaids and do their hair at their hotels or b and bs. Another good network to establish may be with a nice salon in the area.

  2. I think one of your competitive advantages is that you have a flat nightly rate and do not charge for extra guests. Not having a pet fee is also a huge plus.
    Have you gotten a booking through vrbo since adding the cleaning fee? I noticed that some of your vrbo competitors have the non-refundable $59 damage protection fee in addition to the cleaning fee price.
    Congrats on the bookings for 2016! I have 102 which is the most I've ever had. My goal is to book 100 nights since peak ski season is only 90 days.

  3. First, I'd like to say "thank you" for taking the time to sort of, document your experience as you go. I love the podcast, have become an avid listener and relate, very much, to your philosophy on guest experience, being flexible and doing whatever you can to enhance your guest's stay.

    I live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee and own Vacation Side Travel, a full service travel agency selling mostly all inclusive vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean.

    Just over a year ago, I decided to lease a loft in downtown Nashville specifically for the purpose of renting it out in Airbnb. We've seen tremendous success and are currently in the process of adding two more properties.

    On a recent episode, you guys talked about the makeup issue which I wanted to comment on. Like you, we try to do everything at a five star level and this includes very expensive Turkish towels and wash cloths. For the first several months, just about every group of guests were ruining the wash cloths, towels and even some of the duvet covers, with makeup. At first, I tried providing make up wipes, individually wrapped, and left them in plain site in each of the bathrooms. Unfortunately, that didn't work.

    Another problem we had was the fact that we didn't have the ability to market to our past guests because Airbnb doesn't provide guest email addresses. So, what I ended up doing, was signing up for a platform which we use to have guests check in for their stay, virtually. As part of that process, not only do we have guests sign off electronically on just a few things, one of which is a note asking them to please use the makeup wipes provided for makeup removal, but it also gives us a chance to get guest email addresses and physical addresses but it also allows us to customize each stay. This really makes it feel like a five star experience.

    For example, we have an Amazon Echo in out units, Phillips Hue color changing light fixtures and smart thermostats. So, we ask our guests for their favorite genre of music, preferred indoor temperature, mood they prefer, fragrance they prefer and then we set the Amazon Echo to play that type of music, we set the thermostat to their preferred temperature, we use a wax cube and candle warmer to make the place smell according to their preferences, we are able to get the exact time they plan to arrive, depart, know whether they are flying or driving in, etc.

    Since I implemented this into our process, we haven't had a single make up issue, we're able to market to not only our past primary guests but to each person who stayed in our place. Most importantly, our guests really feel like we've gone above and beyond to customize everything to their exact liking.

    We have about 70 reviews now, each and everyone of them is five stars. We're the top rated property and in downtown Nashville and we're actually the only five star property listed on!

    I just thought I'd share how we were able to mitigate the makeup issue and how we were able to sort of implement a "rule" I'm a way that enhanced guest experiences. I'm like you and can't stand little notes everywhere or pages of rules.

    Keep doing what you're doing!

    Steven Talbott
    Nashville, TN

    1. Thanks for the thorough explanation. Some questions:
      --How much do you pay in rent, and how much net profit do you make on this apartment?
      --How did you get your Airbnb listing on
      --When you collect people emails, how are you marketing to people?
      --I'm sure many guests are from out of town, so how are you marketing to them if they live out of town?
      --When you market to people, what percentage respond to the marketing emails and re-book?

    2. Hi Jay, thanks for your questions. I'll answer your questions in the order you asked them:

      1. I pay an average of $2,200 in rent per month. After utilities, the cost is $2,500 per month. I've never booked less than a $5,000 month. I can give you the month-to-month breakdown if you want because it varies month-to-month. In June, for example, we'll clear over $18,000 for one two bedroom unit. I know that sounds insane but that's where Nashville is right now, especially during the CMA Fest.

      2. absolutely charges a commission and it's not cheap. However, my rates on are set at a premium. In fact, being on their platform has been great because I always get last minute bookings for crazy amounts of money. I can show you my business with them but we usually get bookings at $1,000 a night, stays are usually a single night. I don't know why but that's the type of booking we see from them.

      If you're asking how I got on their platform, I can talk about channel managers, which is how you get on booking, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Orbitz and many others. Personally, I use

      3. Email marketing works about how you would expect. I can't comment on my personal results because I haven't been collecting long enough to know. What I can tell you, is that I've listened to enough podcast and heard enough professionals and experts in the digital marketing Arena, to know that your email llist is everything.

      We collect birthday information, anniversary information and use that to send messages about coming again to Nashville for their celebration. Also please remember that I own a full service travel agencies so everyone wants to travel so it's not hard to Market to people who let you know about any sort of travel.

      4. I don't quite understand your question. 98% of guests are from out of town but I market to them in the same ways every other business markets to their customers. There is a service that I use that is specifically for Airbnb hosts where they market for you and they do it based on all sorts of data and algorithms and Market in all sorts of different areas. I don't know their exact formula but I know it works I can give you their information. It's super simple, you plug in your URL for your listing and they take it from there.

      I'm more than willing to share any and all information that I haven't any experience that I've gone through so please let me know what other questions you have.

      Keep up the great work I love listening to you guys, I love how laid-back you are and Keep On Keepin On!

    3. I apologize for any grammar or spelling issues. I was using talk to text while driving. Thanks

    4. By the way, today, we cleaned the loft for the guest's who checked in Friday. It was a group of 7 New Jersey girls celebrating a 30th birthday. They got makeup everywhere!

      My anger aside, it is a cost of doing business and I won't be making a claim against their security deposit, however, it is the very first time we've had the issue in over 8 months.

      Just thought I'd share. I might add that it should totally be the cost of doing business but it royally passes me off to no end! Lol

    5. Thanks for the detailed answer. It definitely shows the difference between renting in a destination urban setting VS renting in a rural vacation setting (us).

      Just curious:
      --How much do you charge per night? At $18k in month, that would be $600 a night?
      --Would you mind sharing the link to your place?
      --Did I understand correctly that you charge $1k a night on How often does that happen?
      --Are you worried that the apartment owner you rent from will catch on and either raise your rent, or run a rental business themselves?

    6. i hear you about the makeup. we also had a group of 7 women leave yesterday and there was makeup and pink hair dye on several towels. how i deal with it- pretreat makeup marks with oxiclean/detergent dissolved in water mixture with a toothbrush. scrubbing loosens the minerals of the makeup. then i washed them with bleach (mostly for that pink towel), they came out great, not a mark on them. it's extra work, but that's less $ on buying new towels.