Hosting Hotline: Short-Term Rental Dreams vs. Mid-Term Rental Demand (Episode 346)

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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hello, listeners and welcome back to another great week. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

[00:00:03] Annette: I’m Annette Grant. And together we’re–

[00:00:05] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:00:06] Sarah: And this is the–

[00:00:06] Both Annette & Sarah: Hosting Hotline.

[00:00:08] Sarah: If you want to get your hosting questions answered on the Hosting Hotline, go to, and ask us. We love doing these shows, and if we don’t have the answers, we’ll tap into our network of experts who do. This week we have a question about branding.

[00:00:25] Questions: Hi, Sarah and Annette. My name’s Caitlin, my husband, Daniel, and I own Stay Old Town Road in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s four small, super charming historic houses on one property in the best tourist location in town. We got into hosting because we love travel and hospitality. We’ve always envisioned our guest avatar as a vacationer.

[00:00:43] Then we had a very different guest type fall into our laps, so we pivoted to host midterm stays for the film industry. At first, it just felt like a smart strategy to fill our slow season. We thought we could use the time we were saving while not hosting traditional guests to build up our social media and our website.

[00:01:01] We were finally going to start telling the brand story that we’ve been dreaming up. Now that we know how great these film industry guests can be, we’re wondering if we even need a brand. Should we lean into developing relationships with production companies instead? Is it a waste of our time and money to market these houses as the vacation rentals that we always thought they were?

[00:01:23] 100% occupancy for months at a time, and leases signed and paid by big companies like Netflix seem like a no-brainer, but we feel our hospitality dreams slipping away. Should we keep building our brand as a backup to fill time between productions knowing that we’ll be marketing nights that are few and far between? Or will that just make potential guests feel frustrated that we have such limited availability? What should we do?

[00:01:48] Sarah: I’m going to kick it off by saying this. I love the question.

[00:01:51] Annette: Yeah, Sarah will kick it. She kicked my plants the other week. I’m just going to put that out there, everybody.

[00:01:56] Sarah: Wow, you’re just telling everyone. Can we please give that a little bit of context, please?

[00:02:01] Annette: You kicked my plant. There’s nothing else they need to know.

[00:02:05] Sarah: People are going to imagine there being a pot, and I drop, kick it across a field. Everyone, actually–

[00:02:11] Annette: She gave it a little love pat. It was a little love pat because Sarah does help me with honey do list around my house.

[00:02:16] Sarah: Could you please tell them what I was doing?

[00:02:18] Annette: Yes. Sarah was installing an amazing planter on my wall. And I should explain to everybody that Sarah really is, I do have a honey-do-list for her because I’m not good with tools, and Sarah is amazing with them. And installing this planter was on her honey do list, and she was doing it. Actually, I’m a bad plant mom because I don’t even know the name of the plant, but it’s the ones that are long and that just keep growing.

[00:02:42] Sarah: I say it has a party in the back. It’s got like a rat tail.

[00:02:45] Annette: But she was just trying to scoot it out of her way, but she kicked it, and I don’t know. I’m not letting it go because I was acting as if it’s– my plants are very important to me. They’re like, I don’t have children. I don’t have pets, so they’re those. They’re my babies. And Sarah kicked my plant baby.

[00:02:58] Sarah: She was like, what would you do if I kicked your dogs? I can’t even say that. And I’m like–

[00:03:02] Annette: Okay. Kick a mother down. All right, back to Caitlin.

[00:03:06] Sarah: Caitlin, I do want to argue with you. You said something, and I’m going to loosely quote you. Do we even need to build our brand? And I know this isn’t answering your question straightforward, and we’ll get to that, but I do want us to all stop and remember that we are our brand and you should always be building your brand.

[00:03:22] No matter if the product that you have is shifting audiences, you, yourself and your reputation and how you care for the people that you serve, that is your brand. And so whether your website says travelers or film industry crew, that’s still your brand.

[00:03:38] I still think you can build it and be proud of it. Now, you might have different branches of your brand. You might have different sectors of your brand. Annette is going to have some suggestions for you or questions for you, but I just want to make sure that you know that just because you’re hosting film crew members for long periods of time, that all of a sudden that’s it. You know what I mean?

[00:03:59] There’s no brand around that. That is a special kind of stay and a special kind of accommodation that for some reason your properties are excelling at, whether it’s location or the fact that I know all your properties are smaller, but they’re close together, so crew members can be closer together.

[00:04:14] That’s incredible. And so maybe instead of hosting travelers, you’re going to host these really hardworking professionals, have comfortable stays on sets that I, being a past actor, these days are long and they can be grueling not just for the performers, but especially for the crew members.

[00:04:32] So you could be developing a brand and a service that is really specialized and really special. Also, maybe this is a season of life right now for these homes where that is the type of guest you are hosting. It might also change and pivot, so it’d be cool if you built your brand around knowing that this could be a season.

[00:04:53] Maybe it’s the next couple years, but then let’s say all of a sudden you’re not getting those calls from those really cool companies and you and your partner know exactly how to pivot because you’ve been ready for a backup for your backup in terms of who’s going to be staying at these properties.

[00:05:08] Annette: And you mentioned your hospitality dream slipping away. You can still infuse so much hospitality into these long-term midterm guests, so get creative there. But when you’re talking about your brand, talking about pivoting, talking about having these amazing guests here, this is something you might not be getting those Airbnb reviews.

[00:05:31] This is where you want to make sure you’re getting those Google reviews, enforcing your brand, because maybe it’s Netflix today, but it’s an independent film company tomorrow. And they’re going to want to see reviews from past guests. You could also be collecting emails from those guests of like, hey, if you want to come back or if your family wants to come back, this is still a time to be building– like what Sarah said, you are always building your brand.

[00:05:52] And who knows? Maybe you and Daniel are going to buy a coffee shop in a few years and you’re going to have all these people. They’re going to be the regulars at your coffee shop or catering or something else in the hospitality world. But if you can be creating those relationships with not only whoever is cutting that check, but the people that are staying in your properties.

[00:06:09] And then last but not least, I’m not exactly clear how much land you have. Can you put another dwelling and half of it is for the midterm stays, half is for the short-term stays, or if you are crushing it with these midterm stays and these film stays, can you use some of that cash to buy another property to do that short-term rental stay.

[00:06:32] So if this is allowing you to free up some of your time, where can we make that best investment? But I definitely think the brand is never, ever a waste of time or money. You should still be networking, looking for maybe that next deal where you can have a more of a short-term stay. But you really do. You’ve got to listen. We can’t create demand.

[00:06:54] And the demand is there for that. I think you need to strike while the iron’s hot because that short term rental, like you said, hopefully will be there after potentially this gold rush. I don’t know, maybe right now New Mexico’s the spot for filming. And who knows? Maybe somewhere else becomes a little more friendly. I know there’s a ton of cities are always putting out proposals because of tax advantages and things of that nature.

[00:07:17] So I think you’re doing a great job, again, striking while the iron’s hot there, and how can you continue. And maybe there are other services, like you said, that you could do, or maybe there’s other hosts in your town.

[00:07:27] Maybe the time investment is– maybe you start a meetup and you’re meeting other people that have real estate, and then you go into real estate deals with them, and then you help them get the film crews, or maybe you co-host for people, letting them know there’s a demand here.

[00:07:39] So I know you and your husband are smart people and you are going to continue to just pivot, build your brand, and create amazing experiences, whether it’s a midterm guest or a short-term guest. Great question.

[00:07:51] Sarah: We cannot wait to see what the next couple of years hold for you because, my gosh, if you’re already 100% occupancy, letting those checks roll in from big companies like that–

[00:07:59] Annette: Let’s charge a little more.

[00:08:01] Sarah: Congrats. No, that’s very exciting, and those places are so cute, and I just love that the film crew members get to enjoy those spaces. Again, if you want to get your question answered here on the hotline, we love hearing them. Go to Ask away. We’ll answer here on the podcast. With that, I’m Sarah Karakaian.

[00:08:19] Annette: I’m Annette Grant. And together we’re–

[00:08:21] Both Annette & Sarah: Thanks for Visiting.

[00:08:22] Sarah: Talk to you next time.