09 Oct Short-Term Rental Popularity Increases with Netflix Exclusive “Stay Here”
Last month, short-term rental owners rejoiced as the industry finally hit big time media. Netflix launched a new, exclusive series starring interior designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate extraordinaire Peter Lorimer in “Stay Here.” This eight-episode journey takes the duo across the US, reaching a broad audience and teaching them about short-term rental properties.
So, what does this mean for the vacation and rental industry?
WARNING: There will be spoilers for “Stay Here” episode one. If you’ve already watched the episode, let me know what you think of the series in the comments below!
Episode One: A Seattle Houseboat
To understand the impact of the Netflix series, let’s first break down what the show is all about. The big picture idea is to take on one-star rental disasters and transform them into exclusive five-star experiences. The first episode dives into a unique and quirky rental that mirrors its owners in downtown Seattle, Washington.
Houseboats are known as the original form of tiny house living. Small and compact, they’re an ideal spot for a unique experience and a fun getaway. The problem with the current rental highlighted in the first episode is that the boat is a “claustrophobic money pit.” The owners of the ship knew that they had something unique to share with the world. However, they were clueless about how to capitalize on the venture.
Seattle has had a houseboat culture since the late 1800’s. Floating camps were built to help house the workers in the logging industry. Today, the tradition is kept alive through the stationary houseboats that line the docks against the Washington shoreline. With all of the thriving history, the small community is a pinnacle destination for waterfront living.
Out of the 5,042 total short-term rental properties in Seattle, only 27 are houseboats on the shoreline. In this small niche, the 27 properties brought in around $738,568 within a single year! That’s an incredible opportunity that not many rental owners can take advantage of. True originality is everything, but there are a variety of ways to make your space into a phenomenal encounter.
A little rough around the edges, the Aqua Lounge brought attention to itself for all the wrong reasons.
Determining Your Niche
Focusing on this concept immediately when working with a new brand or listing is so important that I’ve considered writing a separate blog post on the subject. Narrowing down and finding out exactly where your business belongs helps to create guidance. Whether you’re trying to become pet-friendly or create a romantic getaway like the couple in episode one, there are customers out there looking specifically for what you have to offer.
While there’s no harm in wearing many hats or being ready for any situation in general, tapping into and dominating a niche market will help your business thrive. A dedicated niche can enhance your customer relationships as well as increase your visibility within a smaller community. In focus groups, word of mouth is essential and helps to target even smaller, sub-groups within your main audience.
However, the most vital item to remember is to experiment! You may not find your intended audience on your first try. A niche is something that you have to dedicate a significant amount of time, energy, and capital into. If you’re not completely in love with the idea of where you currently belong, complete tasks that help you narrow your viewpoint. Find your business “why,” find out what motives you, and the money will follow.
I won’t get too much into now, but these are some tips when completing your personal “why” soul searching.
- Take a look into your past when things were going “perfectly.” If you’ve found yourself in a good place in your life previously, think of what similarities share these positive moments.
- “To Make Money” is not a personal “why,” and will fail as an answer to personally drive you to be your best.
- It’s not always about what you can achieve. Sometimes, a “why” already exists.
- Think about your top customers and what they’re like. Ask yourself why they choose your business over another.
- Get inspiration, but don’t steal! Using someone else’s “why” won’t benefit you in the long run.
The poor Aqua Lounge was all over the place. There was no rhyme or reason and a huge lack of focus for the owners. Once the couple was able to determine their why– being able to support their kids and the boat’s current expenses– they were finally able to get to work.
Getting Down Short-Term Rental Basics
Before even setting foot onto the boathouse, Genevieve and Peter got their first impression from the boat’s Craigslist listing. This was the couple’s first mistake. Craigslist is an excellent platform for specific purposes, but running a short-term rental business is just not one of them.
Think of it this way, how would you…
- Keep track of what nights your guests are staying?
- Contact guests while keeping a history of past conversations?
- Deal with money when mediation needs to be completed?
- See reviews on their past stays and how other hosts react to them?
Without an optimized rental site like Airbnb or Lodgify, It’s an incredible hassle and waste of time to keep track of all of these individual worries. The more you can automate and control passively, the easier your short-term rental business will be.
Pro-Tip: If you have more than 5+ units, it may make sense to have your own booking site because it’s a way to retain repeated guests and avoid paying extra fees associated w/ Airbnb.
More importantly than that, Genevieve and Peter noted that the pictures used to advertise were some of the worst that they’ve ever seen. It almost makes me wonder if some of the photographs were staged. Garbage and personal items were cluttered around the boat in each shot. While the rental could have been clean in its average daily state, advertising as such made for a horrible first impression.
Having the nicest short-term rental in the area is pointless if your pictures portray a story that showcases otherwise. I use the term “story” here because when it comes to short-term rental properties, you are weaving together a narrative. This is both through your words and visual impact. What you decide to display to guests and how you format your information makes all the difference.
For the houseboat, the listing was considered a money sink instead of a romantic getaway they wished to achieve. Even worse, they only had one guest the entire year that the listing had been available for business. This was on top of the money that they owed the bank for repairs the haul! With climbing debt, a lack of definition of space, everything was becoming one huge solidified mess.
Keeping Things Simple
Beyond everything else, on a houseboat or tiny house living, your space is vital. Genevieve’s choice to downgrade the size of the appliances was one of the best steps that they could have taken. Not only did it open up the place, but it also allowed them the space that they needed for extra amenities. During the show, the designer explained that while older appliances are okay for us to deal with, we can’t cut back when serving other people.
Think of it this way, if you’re a guest at someone else’s place, you probably want to be a part of a space that’s clean, well equipt, and meets your basic needs. Or, even if you’re alright with slumming it on someone’s couch, you probably want to treat your friends and family to a comfortable space and experience when they’re staying over. It’s all about the little things to keep things considerate while keeping it simple.
It’s pretty much the definition of being a Superhost and treating your guests to the best quality that you can while still remaining within budget. Both Peter and Genevieve spice up the living space in an incredible way, but at no point did the show tell the viewer how much was spent on renovations or decorating the space. When first starting out, it can feel impossible to drop a lot of your profits on improving your listing before you see the profits roll in. That’s why on top of my Airbnb Shopping list, I also have my Superhost Checklist available for you to use.
Keeping in-budget while offering something that feels like it’s the top of the line is the key to the game. The memory foam mattresses that I use are so comfortable for guests that I get messages and compliments on them all the time!
Pro-tip: This is the most budget-friendly memory foam bed in the market that maximizes comfort and affordability.
Capitalizing On Cornerstones
When you have a unique space like the houseboat, however, you don’t want to completely get rid of its originality. The main piece to focus on for the boat is the captain’s nook table. While some of the other walls were taken down, keeping the main table and using it as a cornerstone gave the space focus. When you first walk in, it’s the place that draws your attention. The designer showcased this spot by adding candles and a place for the owners to leave goodies.
Having a spot that draws attention is a perfect place to leave a physical copy of your Airbnb Guidebook as well as gifts for your visitors. Not only is it a place where they can get the answers to all the questions that they have, but you can also use it to showcase all of the local delicacies of the area. Peter goes into detail about an excellent point on how much to spend on gifts for your guests. It’s important that however much you spend, you keep to around a 10% limit.
This essentially breaks down to whatever your guests spend for one night at your listing, up to 10% of those profits can be used to treat them to something special. In the episode, the owners hit the hippest places in the Seattle area taking down Pike Place Market and looking for other Washington goodies.
Some ideas I’ve used in the past are:
- Face Masks
- Wine & Spirits
- Local Snacks
- Handmade Soap
- Pre-Paid Public Transportation Tickets
- City Maps / Guide
- List of Nearby Airbnb Experiences
Speaking of experiences, it was incredibly smart of the group to incorporate nearby activities to help them with their romantic vibes. By provided recommendations of a local oyster shucking class and adding romantic touches to the room it helped to tie everything together.
Learning How To Advertise
One last thing to touch on for this episode is the explanation of Pay-Per-Click advertising and SEO. Both are an important concept for your own personal blog and web pages, and not so much for your listing itself. However, it’s never a bad idea to start a website if you’ve invested in a highly personalized space. This way, you can advertise your listing further and link viewers back to your short-term rental site.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
In layman’s terms, PPC is a form of internet advertising. This mostly helps you to direct traffic to your website. How it works is that advertisers pay a publisher every time the ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers will bid on a keyword or phrase relevant to their target market. For the houseboat, it’s beneficial for the couple to focus in on words such as “Romantic Seattle Getaway” or “Romantic Seattle Houseboat.” Each of the two hones into the new niche that the owners are attempting to settle in on. In our current attention-based economy, visibility and profits go hand-in-hand.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization was the second form of advertising to be touched on in the first episode of “Stay Here.” SEO has been a hot topic in the internet advertising industry and is highly debated. The best ways to go about SEO are constantly changing with how search engines keep adjusting their algorithms. In our current era, artificial intelligence crawls and index different websites based on:
- Reliable Links
- Quality of Page Content
- How Long Users Stay on A Page
If you would like a more detailed blog post about these forms of advertising, let me know in the comments below.
Would You “Stay Here”?
Overall, the show has an interesting start and I can’t wait to sit down and binge through the rest of the series when my schedule allows. Honestly, just the opportunity to give more awareness to the short-term rental experience is amazing. Let’s be real, Airbnb is more popular with each passing year– but it still isn’t part of the mainstream experience. We’ll just have to see the true impact that this series has on the world.
So, have you seen the first episode? The whole series? Let me know what you think in the comments below or come chat about it over in my Facebook group.