Interior Design Success Story: Host’s Financial & Emotion Return

Interior Design For Your Short-Term Rental
The Financial & Emotional Return On My Investment
A Success Story

By Ashley K. – Thefoxaframe.com @thefoxaframe
Hydaway/Effortless Rental Group Homeowner & Host

A couple years ago, my partner and I found ourselves with new job opportunities and the possibility of a new life adventure in Denver. After more than half a decade in the mountains, we were ready to make the move from Breckenridge, except for one sticking point – our home. We had purchased our A-frame a few years back, and maybe it wasn’t quite our dream home yet, but the last thing we wanted was to sell our one and only real estate investment. Still, we weren’t going to be able to pay Denver rent, let alone buy a home in Denver someday, without selling. Right?

Wrong. This is where the idea of Airbnb started to come into focus in a whole new way. Sure it was on our radar as slowly but surely over the years, Airbnbs had become our preferred way to travel, and we knew some local friends who had tried hosting with varying degrees of success. But could we become hosts ourselves? Could inviting guests into our own home seriously generate enough short-term rental income that we could pay our mortgage and hold onto our home? All while renting, living and working in another city? We decided it was worth a chance, why not find out. Let’s do this!

But wait, who was going to want to stay in our space? Now it had been working fine for us, but it was far from guest-ready. The thought of re-thinking the space so it was dreamy and desirable was, quite frankly, paralyzing. Where would I start? We had been living on hand-me-down furniture. It needed a fresh coat of paint and a deep clean. The kitchen needed to be updated and so did the bathrooms. The dollar signs started to flash before my eyes and I couldn’t imagine transforming our home into a self-sustaining business on my own. In a near panic, we brought in our friend Erin Deeley, founder of Hydaway, to take a look at the space. As a career creative director and stylist, she’s intuitive and thoughtful, but also a hard-hitter and we knew she would give it to us straight. We braced ourselves for her assessment and what she came back with was shocking. Yes, we needed to clean and paint, but with new furnishings and some creative styling, she thought we could be a competitive, standout short-term rental, in a matter of months. The construction and full remodel projects could wait (thankfully!); pragmatic staging, intentional styling and thoughtfully shot photography would be the solution.

Truthfully, we didn’t have the money saved to make this upfront investment in furnishing our whole house. But as a proud homeowner and strategic business woman, I know that sometimes it takes money to make money. And in an increasingly crowded, competitive Airbnb marketplace, I wanted to give my new business the best chance at sustainable profitability and long-term success.

So Erin got to work. She was super sensitive to our tight budget and timeline, bringing in a mix of high and low-end furnishings, old and new. Erin worked to make sure the home had optimal flow and function for guests, while still reflecting our tastes and who we are. She artfully highlighted the best attributes of our space, while quietly drawing attention away from what wasn’t so great – no reno work or major construction needed. She transformed our tired, hand-me-down interior into this playful mix of clean modern lines, cozy bohemian touches and a hint of nostalgia that nods to the 1960’s architecture. She also worked with us to professionally photograph the space, another crucial piece of the puzzle as these photos are literally the first impression we make on every potential guest. She helped me start to think about this home as not only a potentially profitable business, but a potentially powerful brand that I’d get to share with the world.

And I’m happy to report back, this was 100% the right move. We made our money back in less than six months, and that initial investment continues to pay dividends in every way. We engaged with Effortless Rental Group to manage the property, keep it sparkling clean, well maintained, occupied and priced right – and we’ve never looked back. Almost two years later, @TheFoxAFrame is a successful business and brand with occupancy rates and annual revenue that have consistently exceeded our expectations. And back in Denver, we’re in the process of purchasing our second home, a dream that would have never been possible without the success of this short-term rental. Oh, and I think it goes without saying, but I’m a total interior design convert. This value add in my life is an appreciating asset I’m holding onto.

 

My Takeaways

The Financial
When your space has that Instagrammable, share-worthy style, your listing will stand out, it will get you noticed. Period. It will generate more impressions, more interest and more clicks. That equals guests in the door and ultimately higher occupancy, nightly rates and total revenue. Invest in interior design and photography. In a matter of months, you can see the return on your financial investment. When you invest in your space, your guests will too.

The Emotional
This is the one I never saw coming. But I have to tell you, when I’m able to spend time at my house, it is a completely transformed space. The design changes the energy of the space, how you feel and how you live in it. Now it’s this magical escape that’s our very own. The fact that we get to share that feeling with guests, day after day, makes our investment totally worth it. And not to make it financial again, but honestly the value of that emotional connection regularly surfaces in better reviews, higher ratings, recommendations and even repeat stays. When you care about your space, your guests will too.

Build a Brand, Not Just a Business.
The modern guest audience in today’s connected world is looking for more than just a place to stay. Attention to the experience and brand you’re creating might take a little more time and effort, but it will inevitably translate to better engagement, overall guest satisfaction, customer trust and affinity. This is all crucial to lifting customer lifetime value and creating sustainable When you believe in your space, your guests will too.


The Fox A-Frame – Property Performance (May 2020 – May 2021)


Nights Booked – 292
Total Bookings – 80
Occupancy – 80%
Annual Gross Revenue – $78,679.68

 

The Fox A-Frame

Named one of Colorado’s best Airbnbs in 2020 by Conde Nast Traveler, The Fox is a charming retreat nestled in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado – a breath of fresh air, a world away. Ready to book your stay?

Thefoxaframe.com @thefoxaframe Ashley Kujawski, Host

Hydaway

Hydaway offers interior styling and brand marketing services to help the aspiring short-term rental owner build a profitable business, powerful brand and lasting success for their new or existing Airbnb. Ready to transform your space?

Letshydaway.com @letshydaway Erin Deeley, Founder

Effortless Rental Group

Providing homeowners in Colorado with the most trusted, comprehensive set of property management services while maximizing revenue. Stop stressing over managing a short-term rental by yourself. Get the services, resources, and support you need to succeed in this constantly changing world of short-term rentals.

Interested in a FREE property evaluation? CLICK HERE to fill out an inquiry form or call sales directly at 720.297.5905.

Dana Lubner featured on STR Success Stories Podcast

Effortless Rental Group’s very own Dana Lubner was recently featured on STR Success Stories where she had a virtual chat with Julian Sage (of Short Term Sage) about her personal story and how she joined her family to help grow Effortless to what it is today.

Dana also discusses how she was involved in not only growing the business but how to scale at a healthy level while also keeping the quality of the service they wanted to offer for their clients and guests. She talks about how she was able to help Effortless speed past the growing competition in Denver & what it takes to market and brand your short term management company. Dana shares what it is like working in an advocacy group hired by companies like Airbnb & VRBO and their efforts to drive initiatives forward with local regulators.

Check out the full podcast episode with Dana HERE!

Don’t forget to follow Julian and his entire podcast series Short-Term Sage HERE!

Effortless is Going Green!

Effortless is going GREEN!

As concerns grow about environmental sustainability in our communities, many of our travelers are now searching for more eco-friendly travel options. We’ve heard our guests loud and clear: Effortless Rental Group is going green at all of our vacation rental properties in Colorado!

Effortless Rental Group believes in reducing our carbon footprint which is why we are excited to announce our partnership with Public Goods. Public Goods will be providing our properties with high quality items such as cooking seasonings, salt & pepper, olive oil, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soaps, paper towels, toilet paper and coffee. All of which are sustainable, non-GMO, organic, eco-friendly, non-animal tested, free of harsh chemicals – and so much more! 

We also plan on implementing a reduction in single-use items in all of our properties, focusing on reusable or recycled items as much as possible. We believe quality is more important than quantity, which is why we’ll be advocating our owners to invest in products for their homes that are sustainable, eco-friendly while also providing an excellent experience for all of our guests.

Chemical cleaning products can be harmful to wildlife and human life, and we’d like to make a difference anywhere we can. We’ll be shifting to biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning products with Public Goods that are effective, while also following all CDC guidelines for disinfecting. This will decrease the range of harmful chemicals our guests are exposed to and lessen the amount washed into the environment during use.

Here are some easy ways you can make your vacation rental green:

  1. Help your guests reduce their plastic use by providing reusable options such as shopping bags
  2. Provide filtered water for guests so that they can refill their own reusable bottles
  3. Provide recycled or compostable trash bags for guests to avoid more waste at the landfills
  4. Make it easy for your guests to recycle. If recycling is an option for your home, make sure to be clear about what is recyclable and what is not.
  5. Vehicles are the leading cause of air pollution in climate change. Help your guests make better choices by recommending public transportation, rideshare programs or walkable attractions in your neighborhood.

 

Return on Rentals: A Virtual Event

Return on Rentals (ROR) is a virtual event with property managers speaking on technology and trends – putting you in the know and position you to win even in this uncertain time.

Meet property managers facing many of the same challenges you are and learn about products and systems they are using to keep their profits at their peak.

ROR is for you if…

You want to maximize your properties profits
You’re ready to be inspired
You miss connecting at conferences
You want to learn about new products, talk directly to the vendors, and hear the real story from PMs that have seen how they work

ROR is all about Return on Rentals.

The Return on Rentals event will showcase a variety of notable speakers covering a wide range of topics.

Visit the website here for more information.

Lubner and Landau – Podcast Series for Vacation Rental Host Advocacy

Dana Lubner and Matt Landau have been strong voices & leaders in the short-term rental industry. Both have been seeking more immediate ways to address current advocacy challenges in the space and drive forward some of the standards showcased in last year’s Good Neighbor Summit; a collaborative event that brought together Denver’s local vacation rental hosts and focused on ways to shape positive reform of unfair short-term rental regulation.

We’re extremely proud that our own Dana Lubner is joining forces with Matt Landau (VRMB) to “shift the narrative” and showcase the good side of the local hosting community. The new podcast will feature vocal participants: from public affairs and policy experts to leading vacation rental managers, as well as neighborhood advocates. The topics covered will be game-changing for the short-term rental industry!

For more information check out Short Term Rentalz post here.

The Future of Short-Term Rentals (in Question?)

Effortless Rental Group is Colorado’s most trusted hospitality provider, specializing in short-term rental and boutique hotel management.  Helping investors locate new real estate opportunities in short-term rental markets, using analytical data, and industry knowledge.

It’s no secret that short-term rentals have been a hot topic whether promoted, maligned, or somewhere in between.  This alternative style of accommodation has evolved into an industry disrupter and is fast becoming the preferred choice of travelers young and old.

Airbnb and Vrbo rentals across the United States have increased by 105% over the past three years propelled by a new wave of travelers looking for more unique and affordable hotel alternatives. Between July 2018 and May 2019, Airbnb added more than 1 million listings.  For comparison, Marriott added 46,101 new rooms between July 2018 and March 2019.  Seeing the outsized returns that short-term rentals generate, U.S. real estate investors both big and small have jumped into this new asset class purchasing 1.8 million properties with the intent to earn short-term rental revenue in 2018 alone.*(AirDNA)

On March 13th, the travel sector was gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Effortless Rental Group saw 87% of reservations cancel in a matter of hours as travel came to a standstill. Shortly after this new reality set in, we noticed a change in booking behavior, with guests reaching out for longer than the average 3-day stays.  This may be due to the fact that short-term rentals are perceived, and proven, as safer than hotels during this pandemic.  A new breed of traveler has been born; one that includes frontline workers, those looking for cozy quarantine spots, and most importantly, travelers who want to avoid a crowded hotel lobby at all costs.

After stay-at-home orders were lifted and businesses began reopening, there was a big uptick in demand.  Weekend getaways are now turning into week-long getaways, guests are even deciding to book for a month or two, now that “work from home” opens the opportunity to work from anywhere.  Travelers are wanting to escape city life to visit a nearby drive-to destination. This type of travel is expected to continue through 2021.  

Since the pandemic began, the percentage of bookings on Airbnb within 200 miles has grown from a third in February to more than 50% in May. Travel in a post-COVID world is shifting “from airplane to car, big city to small location, hotel to home,” Chesky said in an article from the LA Times.  Airbnb’s newest marketing strategy is “Getaway, without going far.  A journey close to home is just the break you need”.  We’ve observed this within our own booking data as a majority of guests reside in state.

Traveler needs are changing and that is nothing new to the short-term rental industry.  Although COVID-19 has created extraordinary circumstances, we’ve always demonstrated our ability to adapt and meet guest expectations.  Proactive communication of cleaning procedures reassures guests and helps demonstrate the full value of the services provided to them. 

Shifting travel expectations and behaviors present an opportunity for investors.  When stacked up against hotels, professionally managed short-term rentals often win out in cost, size, amenities and quality.  These advantages are historically amplified during economic downturns, making short-term rentals the most attractive option over the next year and beyond.

Colorado Vacation Rentals Offer Free Lodging in Colorado

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the hospitality & short-term rental industries are evolving with it.

Effortless Rental Group has partnered with Premier Vacation Rentals and a select network of property managers to offer lodging for people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Participants will qualify on a case-by-case basis and undergo a screening process including background checks. Read more about Premier Vacation Rental’s press release here.

Chris Bettin, founder and CEO of Premier Vacation Rentals said this in the Denver Post late last week…

“Though we operate as competitors in a normal business environment, this crisis presents a unique opportunity for us to unite around a common cause and support individuals in our communities who are in need of lodging during this crisis,” Bettin said. “It’s extremely rewarding to do this right now.”

All in all, the network of PM’s boasts approximately 500 properties across multiple markets. More property management companies are expected to join in on the program in the coming months.

Additionally, with travel activity declining in recent months, prices are being drastically reduced to guests that may not qualify. So now may actually be a great time to book & save money on a future trip.

Lastly, if you’re a guest that qualifies for the program, please inquire with Effortless Rental Group directly here.

Community Outreach – April 2020

Make Your Voice Heard:

3 Ways to Make Your Voice Heard and show how short-term rentals help support our families, jobs, local neighborhood businesses, and the City’s growth.

#1) Attend and speak at the next STRAC meeting:  

There are opportunities for public comment at these meetings and it is important for your voice to be heard.  We will be monitoring how STRAC will be accomodating public comment in the COVID environment and will share what we learn.

Upcoming STRAC (Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee) Meetings:

  • The April STRAC meeting has been canceled
  • Tuesday, June 9
  • Tuesday, August 11
  • Tuesday, October 13
  • Tuesday, December 8

#2) Speak at City Council Meetings:

Denver City Council meetings take place twice a month on the first and third Monday.  Each speaker gets three minutes to speak. All details can be found here.  If you are interested in learning more and getting involved please email milehighhosts@gmail.com. The Denver City Council is making decisions week by week during the COVID crises on whether to allow public comment, so please refer to their web page for that information.

#3) Schedule Coffee with your City Council Member:

Email milehighhosts@gmail.com and we will help you schedule a 1:1 appointment with your city council member.  They are happy to meet with you as this is part of their responsibility as representatives of us all. These meetings can be via phone or virtual meetings (e.g. Zoom, Facetime, etc).

Airbnb Listing Updates – Dos & Don’ts 2020

Airbnb posted an article titled, “It’s a good time to update your listing with these tips” about hosting local and extended stays and some warning about accuracy within the listing.  You can read the full article here.

Eric Moeller summarizes the guidelines below:

DO: Revise your listing title to mention that your space is great for a staycation, as a work-from-home alternative, or for families.

DON’T: Promote your space as “COVID-free” or “quarantine-friendly.” In fact, we’re requiring that hosts remove any mention of “COVID-19,” “the coronavirus,” or “quarantine” in their listing title.

DO: Highlight your enhanced cleaning routine in your listing description. While we won’t allow you to claim that your listing is coronavirus-free, you can share details about your cleaning methods. (Example: “Due to the coronavirus, we’re taking extra care to disinfect frequently touched surfaces between reservations.”)

DON’T: Use shortages of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other essentials as a way to entice guests. (Example: “Escape the coronavirus! Plenty of toilet paper here!”)

MHH: Best Practice Tips for Hosts – April 2020

How to make the most of the downtime…

It’s easy to want to wait for the dust to settle before doing anything, but who knows how long it will take for that to happen. Why not take advantage of this downtime and knock some things off that to-do list, such as:

  1. Deep cleaning
  2. Decor upgrades
  3. Maintenance projects and repairs
  4. Yard work and spring cleanings
  5. Safety inspections
  6. Give your listing(s) a refresh

What are you doing to keep busy?  Feel free to send us a message at milehighhosts@gmail.com