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Podcast - Into the Airbnb

Airbnb co-host of 6 houses in Greenville, South Carolina

Here’s a quick summary for you!

Listingwww.airbnb.com/h/openhearthgreenville
Vacation Rental Career (00:57)
First Airbnb property: 2018 Aug 
First Airbnb co-hosting: 2019 May
Currently co-host of 6 properties: 2020 Mar 
Owner of Airbnb marketing agency – www.bnbthesmartway.com
Key metrics (6:10)
Target minimum $160 per night / 65% occupancy rate
In average $3,500 – $4,000 per month in revenue (Assumed $170 / 75% occupancy rate = 3,888) (8:40)
In Greenville, you can get a 2bedroom house around $200,000 (7:10)
About bnbthesmartway.com (9:25) Run Facebook Ads to keep their Airbnb Search ranking up.
Software stack (11:15)Yourporterapp.com 
Turoverbnb.com
Pricelabs.co
Reasons why Renee is co-hosting instead of rental arbitrage (12:45)
How does she find co-hosts? (13:30)Networking
Member of BSI (Business Network International)
Airbnb tips (14:48)A comprehensive 5-6 pages checklist of everything that needs to be in the house 
Small things like ice cream scoop, snacks, water, soda, welcome message on the fridge, 25-page guide book. 
Extension cords wherever needed for guests convenience (eg. near a bed) 
Beach towels for pet owners 
Dog dishes, dog house.

Today’s guest is Renee. She co-hosts 6 properties at Greenville in South Carolina. Co-hosting here means she primarily runs someone else’s property and gets a 20% commission from revenue. She also runs a marketing agency for Airbnb hosts. It’s www.bnbthesmartway.com. Her listing is called “Open Hearth Cottage- 3 miles to Downtown + Furman,” is generating $46,000 in revenue (after paying a cleaning fee, service charge, and supplies). Considering that this type of property can be bought at below 200k, it is an impressive rental yield.

Renee  00:57  

Hi everyone. I’m Renee, I’ve been at Airbnb host since August of 2018. And I first discovered Airbnb and became passionate about it when I was in 2015. Right after I got married, my husband and I were having trouble affording a honeymoon and we were able to, someone told me about Airbnb, and we were able to find a place to stay. And I fell in love with the idea and knew that I wanted to do that one day, I had no idea it was going to become kind of my full-time job at that point. But later, we ended up buying a house. And when we looked for that house, I wanted to make sure that I had a space that I could separate from our living space and do Airbnb. So the house we bought actually had a built-out attic space with a separate entrance. So we could do a one-bedroom, one-bathroom listing from our home. That was an entire guest suite. It took me about a year to convince my husband and let me start but we did begin renting that place out in like I said august of 2018 And I rented that place until it just closed up for an interesting reason at the end of January of this year, but it had great reviews, we had really consistent bookings. And we did about 1200 dollars a month in revenue at that property, which was fantastic. As I continued hosting at that property, I began to learn a little bit more or wondered why my property wasn’t as high in the search rankings as it was when I first started. And why my bookings were slowing down about a few months into it. So I ended up developing an advertising technique that allowed me to keep my properties higher in the search ranking. So after testing that for six to nine months, I ended up offering that service to other hosts in May of 2019 Yeah. And so I ended up offering that to other hosts and started kind of trying to do that alongside my own Airbnb. So one day one of those clients that I did advertising for told me that She didn’t own any of her properties and that she was a co-host. I looked into co-hosting but wasn’t entirely sure that you knew it was going to be something I wanted to do. But she explained it well to me and really helped to train me. Her name is Laura meats and she has a course called co-host accelerator. And she really helped teach me how to be a co-host. And so what I ended up doing after that was in September of this past year. So just September of 2019, I decided I wanted to be a co-host and I got the first property that I managed in October and since then till today, I have done that with five other properties. So actually sorry, six other properties because now I don’t have mine. So I really had seven at one point that my original one is no longer listed. So I’ve had a lot of success with that I’ve been able to get a lot of great reviews and really replicate all that I’ve learned with my home into providing really comfortable safe places where people always say, you know, she thought of everything. And I was able to do that very affordably for my property owners. By furnishing everything, bringing it to my standards and I have a great cleaner I work with and we take care of everything for our owners. So that’s what we’ve been doing.

jaeseok an  

Interesting. You said you are co-hosting with other people and how does it work.

Renee 

So basically what happens is they end up signing a contract with me for at least three months, I get 20% of all the bookings and that is before the Airbnb fees are taken out. And that doesn’t include the cleaning fee. What happens is I helped to set up the property to the way I like it either by adding linens or by completely furnishing it from start to finish we’ve done that before. And then I list the property under my name on Airbnb as with me as the primary host. So really, I’m not technically the co-host, I’m technically the primary host and I’m managing it for them. And so I list that on there and, and run it just like I would any of my other listings and then I use YourPorter income reports to help me at the end of the month to separate out all of the income that I got from each property. And then they have a thing that allows me to show what’s my 20%. And what’s the 80% for the host. So in the first of every month, I send direct deposit checks to all of the owners with their 80% and I keep the 20%. I also purchase all the supplies and things or like small repairs I’ll handle as well. And then just deduct those from the final total that I give to my property owner. So it basically becomes very passive for the owner, where they just sit back and collect the checks while we handle all the day to day running up the Airbnb, and all the advertising. And it really allows us to present a solid brand to our clientele. They know that they stay in a Westbrook hospitality home, that it’s going to have a certain feel and a certain brand. So that’s really helped us keep guests coming back and has helped us get great reviews.

Jae Seok An 

I see when I had a look at the listing that you provided. I found that the occupancy rate for next month is 76%?

Renee   

Last Month.

Jae Seok An 

Right. And is it $200 per night on Average?

Renee  

Actually, in February, we were at 93%. occupancy. But I was a lower average nightly rate because we had a longer-term booking. Let me see it might have been March. It was looking really good until everything change. I guess my statistics are all editing. I’m here as they changed the other 76 was probably for this month before cancellations. Before cancellations. I think we were set to have 76% at 170 occupancy or average revenue per night. But yeah, that all changed. That is our goal with this property is at least $160 and at least 65% occupancy. 

Jae Seok An

So, right that leads to somewhere between $3,500 to $4,000 or even higher than that amount, which is Yeah, I think that’s a pretty big number considering the housing price in Greenville around $200,000 for 2 bedrooms,

Renee 

yeah, well the housing prices in Greenville are still kind of at the national average. But for us who’ve lived here a long time it is a little high. This house though the owner is doing very well on because she was able to buy it and really fix it up she actually did a lot of of the design in that house and we just came in and did a little bit at the end, but she was able to fix it up so she doesn’t have a lot of expenses in that house. So she’s doing really well with that. But yeah, the average price in Greenville is probably around you know, 200 to 250. Now, it used to be 130. But what I normally tell people is if they can buy between, you know, anything under, 200 normally we can make it work for them after my 20%. Where they’re coming out with a pretty good return on their investment. And so that’s another thing I do for my property owners is I do give them an estimate of what I think the revenue could be based on the comps in the area so that I can help them make the best decision moving forward.

Jae Seok An  

Well, so that means right let’s say the housing price is $200,000.and you’re making $4,000 per month, which means that it is going to be around $50,000 every year of the just gross profit.

Renee 

that’s the revenue Yeah, we gotta take out the 3% to Airbnb and we got to take out you know, that 20% that goes to me But yeah, the gross should be around there. These are all like I said, pretty new properties. Yeah. So um, we are working hard to get them up there. And a lot of them were really gaining steam before all this happened and I think they’ll go right back to doing well, afterward. Thankfully, one of our biggest seasons here is actually the fall, because we have Clemson football, as well as like all the leaves. So I’m really hoping that at least by fall, we’ll be doing really well again, and hopefully, I’m thinking everything will pick up again in July, though, um, you know, of course, no one can know,

Jae Seok An

what’s the service that you’re providing? Is it a software? Is it consulting?

Renee  

No, it’s basically we run Facebook ads in order to help people keep their search ranking up. So we have a one time fee for creating the ads and then we can manage it for free for up to six weeks, sometimes a little longer. And then after that, it’s a monthly fee to manage their ad. But basically what we do is we’ve determined that sending traffic through Facebook ads to your Airbnb listing shows interest in the listing and Airbnb will put you higher in the search ranking. So we create an ad for people’s listings that we run into That will help to keep that search ranking high. Just kind of easy explanation. And then every week on Monday, we send a report of their current ranking and how their ad is performing. And we work on making that better every week. So I’ve helped so many hosts you can see on my website “www.bnbthesmartway.com” you can see all the results that we’ve gotten for hosts. So we’ve taken people from not being on any of the pages all the way to page one or page 17 to page one. We’ve had clients in the UK, Philippines, Kenya and all over the US. So we do have free evaluations you can sign up for to see if it’s even a good fit for you but that’s one of the secrets to kind of keeping my places booked as keeping my properties high on the search rankings so that when people do come to Airbnb and look for a property I’m one of the first ones

Jae Seok An  

that they see awesome, understood. Are they paying for a fixed fee?

Renee  

A one time fee to me for ad creation and then they pay the face the advertising costs to Facebook. They don’t have to pay attention to regular monthly maintenance fee, we teach them how to take care of their ad themselves. Yeah. Or they can choose to pay us $35 A month after that initial free period, excuse me so that we can run it for them.

Jae Seok An  

Okay. And what’s the software that you’re using for you for running your Airbnb is that

Renee  

I use “yourporter.com” and “turnoverbnb.com” mostly, and that’s about it.

Yeah, I think that’s it. Oh, and I use “pricelabs.co“. I love Pricelabs. I used “usewheelhouse.com” before. And I switched to price labs in January and I’ve been really happy with them. They actually have a special pricing tool called coronavirus that they’ve developed an occupancy-based pricing system. That is, you know, what they recommend you turn on for right now to try to get some bookings and I have gotten a handful of bookings. But of course, I’m also looking more at that longer-term situation. So I use Pricelabs. So those are the three Pricelabs YourPorter and TurnoverBnB are the ones I use I’ve used you know, other things besides turnoverBnB, I used it like Google Calendar, but it’s just not quite as great as turnoverBnB. And my cleaners really appreciate the efficiency of turnoverBnB and the way it allows them to leave notes and checklists and things like that. So that’s what we’re using, but YourPorter is a lifesaver. They are my channel manager between VRBO and Airbnb, as well as my automated messaging. I do a lot of automated messaging for check-in information and things like that. I use their auto review feature as well for good guests. And it gives me my income reports that I use for accurately figuring out what I owe all of my owners. So that’s a huge software that I really love and I use a lot.

Jae Seok An  

Do you have any plans to buy or rent your own properties to run it without doing costing one day?

Renee  

Yeah, I don’t have the funds right now to buy my own and I don’t have the funds right now to do rental arbitrage and don’t have enough in the bank to cover what like three months If coronavirus happens so that is in the plans but it’s looking like it’s gonna be it’s been a lot of craziness in my personal life in the past year that has changed a lot of the plans I had so for now co-hosting is fine I really enjoy it and I’m making good money doing it. I think I sometimes saying co-hosts might do better than people in rental arbitrage and we have a lot less risk. So right now that’s the model that works for me I would definitely like to buy, but only once it’s wise to do so for me.

Jae Seok An  

How are you doing with finding the properties to co-host? Do you run Facebook ads?

Renee  

Just networking honestly, I’m a member of something called BNI business networkers International. It’s a networking group and they have found three of my six houses and the other, some just, you know, word of mouth, getting my name out there. I haven’t really paid for any advertising. Just people know what I’m doing. They’ll tell people and that’s just kind of how it’s spreading. I do want to start doing some local stuff. seminars with people and investors are especially people who are worried about the stock market now looking at a different way to invest, I want to do some seminars to educate them on this opportunity. But I haven’t honestly had the time I’ve been so busy setting up the leads, I do have and you can’t kind of outgrow what you have, you know, I need to make sure I’m taking care of everything I have. first, before I push too hard for acceleration. And then of course, with COVID, everything is changing, but I do still have several people interested. And later in the year, I’ve probably got three or four homes that are kind of pending to for sure. One investor is gonna buy soon, one investor that wants to buy one person’s gonna start July, and another house that probably before the end of the year will start as well. So I’ve got a lot in the pipeline. And yeah, just go from there.

Jae Seok An 

Tell me about your secret of getting 4.9-star reviews.

Renee 

So the thing is, well, first of all, we always have a very comprehensive checklist of everything that needs to be in the listing. We’re talking like five, six pages. So we’ve learned really well like math like every kitchen implement that I feel like is necessary because we don’t want to like Like, for example, it’s really easy to forget an ice cream scoop people would really appreciate ice cream. At least in the US people love ice cream. So things like that. We provide some snacks and water and soda, we provide like one water for each guest and then a couple of soda options. Half the time people don’t drink them, but they always appreciate seeing it. So it’s like a win-win. And if they do drink them, then we switch them out, I provide a little snack basket for each guest. I have a little welcome message on the fridge with all the rules I have a huge 25-page guide book to the area with everything you’d want to do with ours of the places the address and how far away it is from everything that took me like forever to develop that I put in all my properties. Another thing I have, it’s very easy and very cheap as I use these kinds of an extension cord, things from Target that have like three plugs and then two USB ports on them. Yeah, and I put those and I take a Velcro-like Velcro thing and I Velcro those to the nightstands or to the wall next to the bed or to the end table where it’s easy for people to plug their phone or computer and so right for an outlet, so I put like seven, eight of those in each house. So there’s no hunting for outlets. I’m always thinking of where are they going to charge their phone? Where are they going to plug it in? So things like that. What else do we do? We use white linens we make sure they’re very nice for them. We use makeup towels that are black. When I have houses that allow dogs I get some really ugly beach towels from Costco and I hang them next to the door and a basket next to the door and I have a cute little frame and it says you know these are dirty dog towels for dirty dog paws dog messes or any big mess and that saves my white linens and right that makes them feel comfortable. If it rains they can drown their dog paws. With dog houses. Sometimes I’ll put in a dog bed or something dishes for their dog are little treats for their dog as well. So just all those little touches. Oh, and then we put York peppermint patties on each bed and a little dish as well. So all those little touches really make people feel like it’s special and makes it feel like they’re right at home.

Jae Seok An  

Thanks so much for sharing. 

Renee

Nice to meet you. Yeah, thank you and have a nice day. You too. Bye.


If you enjoyed this episode, why don’t you check out Teri’s story and Umar’s story?