Our Advice to Airbnb & VRBO – Part 1


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Today we are talking about how the websites AirBnB and VRBO have completely revolutionized the travel industry and put hotels on notice that they need to step up to their competition. We find this phenomenon fascinating not only because we travel a lot but more importantly because we are consistently appalled by the interiors of the spaces being rented.

1. What exactly are these sites?

A. AirBnB History: The story behind how AirBnB got started is awesome. It was started by 2 guys in 2007 who were living in San Francisco. They couldn’t afford their rent and came up with the idea of renting air mattresses in their apartment during a time when a big conference was going on in town and hotels were scarce. They whipped up a website and called it Air Bed & Breakfast. After many attempts to target guests during events like the Democratic National Convention, increase cashflow thru bootstrap marketing techniques and putting their idea in front of angel investors and startup accelerators, they have become a $25 billion company!

B. How Does it Work? Airbnb is an online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Airbnb takes 3% commission of every booking from hosts, and between 6% and 12% from guests. You can now find a place to stay in over 192 countries worldwide!

C. VRBO History: VRBO was started before AirBnB in 2004 in Austin Texas. They are a little different in that their site doesn’t include home sharing and room rentals and isn’t doesn’t rely as heavily on reviews. They do however have 2 million rentals in 190 countries.

2. Personal experience

A. VRBO – Oxford Condo

B. AirBnB – Murray Christmas Reunions in Annapolis, MD, Rosemary Beach, FL, W. Palm Beach, FL

C. AirBnB – Rome, Italy

D. Chicago – Emory

E. Joann – experiences?

3. What we love about it

A. Price

B. Variety of options

C. Great for large events

D. Choose a host language

E. Immerse yourself in an area not suitable for a hotel

4. What makes us squirm – marketing of these rentals!

A. A picture says a 1000 words! Invest in the photography and styling!

B. What matters when marketing?

i. Paint colors

ii. Lighting

iii. Simple furnishings

iv. Interesting artwork – local to the area

v. Comfortable bedding

5. What renters want

A. Direct communication with owner or management company

i. Rome – calling us a cab/ Making restaurant reservations

ii. FL – Offering ideas for charters and pottery painting locations

B. Feedback from other renters

i. Guest book

ii. Reviews

C. A fully stocked kitchen

D. Necessities for at least 2 days – tp/paper towels/coffee/ trash bags/salt & pepper/ dish washing liquid

E. Extra towels, blankets and pillows – GREAT bedding

F. Amenities – bike, balls, cards, games, grills, pool toys

6. Our future in this industry – for years we’ve threatened to crash the medical services industry and start a design revolution in doctors offices. However, given our love of travel and our high standards in the hospitality arena, we feel like our advice is better suited for the vacation rental industry.

For Part 1 of our vacation rental advice column we’ve got some quick, valuable advice for all those hosts out there:

A. Our top fave 10 paint colors for a bright, fresh rental

B. Our top 10 Sunbrella performance fabrics for long lasting durability of upholstery

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