Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast
How We Are Building Our Hospitality Brand
The episode covers various topics related to the short-term rental industry, including company expansion, the hospitality mindset, decentralization, building a property management brand, controlling the guest experience, optimizing technology usage, improving property quality and direct bookings, capturing guest information and marketing, creative content creation, and business success.
Short-term rentals offer more space and amenities compared to hotels for longer stays.
This is one of the major differences between the hospitality mindset in hotels and short-term rentals.
Hotels should adopt some practices from the short-term rental industry, like getting rid of front desks and focusing on concierge services instead.
The host with hotel experience suggests that this could improve the guest experience.
COVID accelerated the growth of the short-term rental industry.
While short-term rentals would have still grown, COVID amplified the boom that was already on the verge of happening.
Recreation aspires to be like Marriott in the short-term rental industry.
They aim to provide a high-quality hospitality experience and carefully select owners and properties.
Consistency across all properties is important for building a brand in the short-term rental industry.
Recreation focuses on providing a similar experience in different locations by defining standards for various aspects of the guest experience.
Maximizing existing technology before integrating new ones is crucial for property managers.
They should be cautious of subscribing to too many tech options and optimize processes to improve tech usage.
Guests are turning away from platforms like Airbnb and Verbo due to inconsistency in property quality.
This lack of consistency in cleanliness and maintenance is a major concern for guests.
Developing strategies to counteract Airbnb's influence is essential for survival in the short-term rental industry.
Overreliance on Airbnb makes businesses vulnerable to algorithm changes or shifts in how listings are presented.
Capturing guest information and enabling targeted marketing can help compete with Airbnb.
Technologies like Stafai can be used to capture guest information, and creating relatable and funny content could attract customers tired of inconsistent stays.
Creative content creation can drive engagement for hospitality brands.
Lauren Madwell with Bellums Cabin Rentals has been successful in driving engagement through creative TikToks and messaging, which could be adopted by other brands.
- Company Expansion and Vision
- Hospitality Mindset and Short-Term Rentals
- Decentralization and Growth
- Building a Property Management Brand
- Controlling the Guest Experience
- Optimizing Technology Usage
- Improving Property Quality and Direct Bookings
- Capturing Guest Information and Marketing
- Creative Content Creation and Business Success
Company Expansion and Vision
00:00 - 06:51
- The company picked up more properties in Washington as they focused on the rest of the country.
- Refining their message and improving SEO helped them expand their vision for the company.
- They are now more disciplined in the types of properties they pursue.
- There is concern about the short-term rental space and a potential decline in bookings.
- Minute's biggest misunderstanding is that they only provide noise monitoring, but they also offer automated communication with guests.
- Automated messages from Minute can resolve noise issues without input from hosts.
Hospitality Mindset and Short-Term Rentals
06:31 - 13:07
- The podcast hosts had previously worked together in the hotel industry and reconnected during the beginning of COVID.
- They started a brand together called Recreation in the early days of the pandemic.
- The host with hotel experience reflects on his expectations for the short-term rental industry.
- He had seen pain points between hotel property owners and management companies and wanted to create a profit-based management contract.
- There are similarities between the hospitality mindset in hotels and short-term rentals, such as providing a clean place, great guest communication, and creating a great experience.
- One major difference is that short-term rentals offer more space and amenities compared to hotels for longer stays.
- The host suggests that hotels should adopt some practices from the short-term rental industry, like getting rid of front desks and focusing on concierge services instead.
Decentralization and Growth
12:51 - 19:38
- Hotels should adopt a decentralized model and get rid of the front desk to avoid problems.
- Economic conditions forced hotels to cut staff, leading to self-directed guest experiences.
- The short-term rental industry is built on decentralization, which has both advantages and disadvantages.
- Cleanliness became a high priority due to the awareness of germs and strangers in shared spaces.
- Short-term rentals would have still grown, but COVID accelerated the process.
- The speaker started Recreation Rentals due to having nothing else to do during COVID.
- Real estate prices were already high before COVID, and it further increased demand for short-term rentals.
- Starting Recreation Rentals without COVID would have been slower and more methodical.
- COVID amplified the boom in short-term rentals that was already on the verge of happening.
- The speaker wouldn't have started Recreation by themselves and values partnership for strengths and weaknesses.
- One person is more visionary while the other is more focused on execution and tasks.
Building a Property Management Brand
19:14 - 26:06
- Starting a business requires learning and dealing with many unknowns
- Bootstrapped companies face challenges in allocating resources
- The podcast hosts have transitioned roles within their company
- Building a property management brand takes time and effort
- Recreation aims to provide a high-quality hospitality experience
- The hosts prioritize careful selection of owners and properties
- They could have grown faster by being less methodical but chose quality over quantity
- Recreation aspires to be like Marriott in the short-term rental industry
- Initially focused on Washington, they expanded nationwide for more traction
- Unexpectedly, they gained more properties in Washington during this expansion
Controlling the Guest Experience
25:41 - 32:32
- Controlling the experience by providing consistency across all properties
- Goal is to provide a similar experience in different locations
- Defined standards for linens, kitchen wares, towels, robes, technology, and internet speed
- Avoiding decision paralysis by having consistent standards
- Tech challenges are less in the short-term rental world compared to hotels
- Many players in the short-term rental tech space with good integration capabilities
- Need to be cautious of subscribing to too many tech options
- Maximizing existing technology before integrating new ones is crucial
Optimizing Technology Usage
32:05 - 38:42
- Maximizing existing technology before integrating anything new is crucial
- Companies often try to insert themselves between hosts and guests
- Core needs for property managers are accepting reservations, setting rates, securing homes, and communicating with guests
- Education about the tech landscape is important for property managers
- Connectivity issues and multiple intermediaries can lead to failure points in the booking process
- Constantly changing software is not ideal for a sound operation
- Optimizing processes and making small tweaks can improve tech usage
- Using project management software like Asana requires proper training and implementation to fully benefit from it
- Guests may turn away from platforms like Airbnb due to inconsistency on the property side
Improving Property Quality and Direct Bookings
44:00 - 50:35
- Guests are turning away from platforms like Airbnb and Verbo due to inconsistency in property quality.
- The lack of consistency in cleanliness and maintenance is a major concern for guests.
- Short-term rentals face similar problems as the hotel industry in terms of taking market share away from OTAs.
- Airbnb has become a verb and dominates the market, even if guests book through other platforms.
- The goal is to reduce reliance on Airbnb bookings and increase direct bookings.
- Listing optimization strategies include professional photography, filling in all listing details, and regular tweaks to improve performance.
- Pricing is crucial, requiring deep diving into market data and being granular with calendar adjustments.
- Bookings have seen a drop in the first quarter but are starting to pick up again across multiple markets.
- Overreliance on Airbnb makes businesses vulnerable to algorithm changes or shifts in how listings are presented.
- Developing strategies to counteract Airbnb's influence is essential for survival.
- Recreation Stays has launched a direct booking website that offers cheaper rates than Airbnb.
- Exploring technologies like Stafai for capturing guest information and enabling targeted marketing.
Capturing Guest Information and Marketing
50:12 - 57:12
- Stafai is a platform that captures guest information through a Wi-Fi splash page
- The company is hiring a social media manager to improve marketing efforts
- They realize the need to focus their message on both guests and homeowners
- Splitting the message has been detrimental to their success
- They aim to explain the value proposition for staying with them to guests
- When owners see this content, they are more likely to choose their services
- The company wants to develop a strong foundation and compete with Airbnb in the long term
- Airbnb knows that many people want alternatives, but they will try to retain customers
- Building a hospitality brand is important for the company's growth
- Airbnb's focus on unique stays and design can disadvantage companies like theirs that prioritize operations and customer experience
- Airbnb used to categorize properties based on criteria other than appearance, but moved away from it
- Consumers struggle with knowing what they will get when booking an Airbnb due to lack of education and consistency
- Consistent communication about what they provide is crucial for the company's success
- Creating relatable and funny content could help attract customers tired of inconsistent stays
- Lauren Madwell with Bellums Cabin Rentals has been successful in driving engagement through creative TikToks and messaging
Creative Content Creation and Business Success
56:46 - 1:01:52
- Lauren Madwell with the Bellums, Cabin Rentals is praised for their creative TikToks and Instagrams
- They are driving engagement by creating content that appeals to a wide audience, regardless of whether they stay with them or not
- The podcast hosts discuss how this approach to content creation could be adopted by other hospitality brands
- Listeners are encouraged to provide feedback on the episode and suggest future topics
- Starting a hospitality business requires understanding that it is different from a real estate investment
- Investing more money upfront in providing a great experience can lead to long-term profitability and guest loyalty
- Focusing solely on spreadsheet metrics may cause missed opportunities for success
- The hosts express their enjoyment of discussing high-level industry views and hope to do it again in the future