July 20, 2022

We are NOT an Airbnb Business, with Sarah & Annette from Thanks for Visiting


Sarah Karakaian and Annette Grant from Thanks for Visiting are here today for a lively discussion about the differences between vacation rentals and short term rentals, and the opportunities that exist to work together to strengthen and professionalize the industry as a whole. We often talk about the "bad apples" in short term rentals that give the professionally managed vacation rental industry a bad name, but rarely do we talk about the GOOD apples that run above-board businesses and understand that they are NOT just an "Airbnb business." Sarah and Annette are 100% good apples! :) 

We first met Sarah & Annette at VRMA International last fall in San Antonio in what was a very unusual encounter. This chance meeting become one of the reasons we started our podcast - tune in to hear the story!

CONTACT SARAH & ANNETTE
https://www.thanksforvisiting.me/
Annette Grant - LinkedIn
Sarah Karkarkaian - LinkedIn


CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE

AlexandAnniePodcast.com
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex nanny, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex. And

Annie Holcombe:

I'm Annie.

Alex Husner:

And we are joined today with two absolutely beautiful, amazing ladies that we're so excited to have on the show. We have Annette Grant and Sarah Karakaian from the podcast and rental business Thanks for Visiting. Welcome, ladies. Hello, hello. Good to see,

Sarah Karakaian:

we are happy to be here. Yeah, we

Annie Holcombe:

are so excited to have you. And I think just for our listeners, because you guys sit on more of the short term rental urban side of the business, and we're on the vacation rental side. Can you guys tell us a little bit about you and your business?

Sarah Karakaian:

Yeah, it's super multifaceted. So hopefully we can make it super clear. So you're listeners to understand together Annette and I, we met in 20. We still debate about this. We think it's 1818. At a city council meeting here in Columbus, Ohio, I had just moved here from New York City to to expand my real estate portfolio via short term rentals. And they were imposing some or suggesting some pretty strict regulations here. And Annette was there as well, You know, the same purpose. Yes. And she actually want you to take it from there with you had already had a podcast idea in mind.

Annette Grant:

Yep, I had a podcast idea. And mine wanted Sarah to be on the show because she was kind of instafamous. So I sat next to her coincidentally sat next to her. But had her as a guest on my show that never launched because I sat down with her. And it was kind of magical, being able to talk to another host with a very different background. At that point in time, I was partnering with a real estate developer. And so I didn't actually own the properties we were, we were doing profit sharing together. And Sarah was actually partnering with her husband, and they were purchasing the real estate. So when we got on the microphone together, it was amazing, because we had two different perspectives. Two different strategies, and so much fun. Hosting can be very lonely. And, you know, we had one podcast episode, and then we just were like, Hey, let's do this together. And then it was like going out for coffee and drinks and talking about all the laundry and cleaning all the toilets, and all the guests and all the things and it was just like, Wait, we've got to share this with as many people as possible because we were learning so much from each other. And you know, the quickest way for us to do that was through our podcast. And now we have an online community. We have a boutique, short term rental hosting business here in Columbus, we're buying real estate together. So it's kind of just the snowball effect of all things. Short term rentals.

Alex Husner:

That's so cool. And we're super jealous that you guys get to be in person together to so anybody here listening, be sure to go over to our YouTube channel, because they actually record in person for all their podcasts. And we actually just went on your podcast last week. And it's great. You guys have a wonderful setup. And it just I wish and I wish you were here with me when we were doing these, but go do what we can with what we have. So fortunately, now we actually we met you i We have to tell a story of how we met you. We told it on your show, but we'll make sure our listeners hear it too because we might not have even gotten to the point we are in podcasting if it hadn't been here. Yeah, we were at the vacation rental Managers Association, fall conference in San Antonio and Annie and I had just gotten there. And you went somewhere Annie I can't remember where but I was in the back. I went into the bathroom. And I saw net and Sarah there. And there. It looked like a like, like a beauty pageant exploded. Everywhere. This is in the lobby bathroom. And I'm thinking what in the world are these two girls to the bathroom? And one of you stood up and your shirt said "ask me about my podcast" and I said, Oh my gosh, you know, my friend Andy and I were thinking about doing a podcast. And so you started telling me about everything that you guys did. And I said hold on, I'm gonna go find Annie i She's gonna be run here somewhere. So I ran out into the hallway. And I said, Hey, you gotta meet these two girls I just ran into in the bathroom. And you looked at me and you're like, why are you gonna go in the bathroom, new bathroom. This sounds really strange. So anyways, bring it Annie in, and we all hang out in the bathroom there. And then we get to the lobby under the bar and you know, had a great rest of the conference just getting to know you guys. So it was interesting how we ran into each other there. And then again at the vacation when a Women's Summit in New Orleans ran into you are first night there as well. But it's just it's been a pleasure to meet you and to also I think you came into the scene at a really good time that last year is when VRMA started opening it up so that individual hosts with less than 10 properties could attend. And you two are the only ones we met that really fell into that basket but through you we've met a lot of people and it's just really opened our eyes to the short term rental Worlds. So we're excited to pick your brain about it today, we're here for

Annette Grant:

and we're super thankful. There's two things number one that you ladies took action and started the show, because we know so many people that asked us about us about podcasting and never had failure launch. So, so great the next time that we saw you, like, you're doing it, and it was awesome to see that. But secondarily, you also welcomed us with open arms being short term rental hosts, you know, I think we're here to rise, you know, raise the tide together. And so we just want to get that message to all of your listeners. And like we are here we are open books about the short term rental world, we want to work together with everyone in the vacation rental world, and just create a magic together. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

So I think that one of the things that I love, just first and foremost is that you guys recognize the chemistry and kind of the it was okay for you to come from different sectors of the business. And that's how Alex and I kind of met, I mean, I was I was in channel management, she was in property management, I had some general management, OTA, property management experience, but we had differing views on some things. So we weren't trying to, you know, get everybody to agree with one side, we wanted to share it all, and have greater conversation. So I love that you guys have that same sort of background, and may not be exactly the same part of the business, but definitely similar background. And so, you know, appreciate that. And it's exciting to see two women doing what we're doing kind of the other side of the equation. But one thing that we've focused on, and we found is that we've got a lot of listeners that are kind of from the short term rental sector, there are people that are just getting into it, they're thinking about it, they've been in it for a while. And I think just with the way the economy is they're kind of hitting panic mode. So they're listening to everything. And they're asking lots of questions, which is really, really great. But one thing I think we all recognize is that we have to get more education out into these newbies when they come in and make sure that from the ground up, they are set up for success, because there's a lot of people out there that will kind of I don't know what to say like snake oil salesmen, they will tell them, Oh, you'll make a million dollars, you'll be rich, you can fight you know, quit your job and sell your house and buy a mansion and do all these great things. And they're not really prepared for what the work is going to be the cleaning the toilets, the dealing with the guests at midnight. So I think together, we can have a good conversation and bring everybody into the fold to help educate. So with that I kind of wanted to talk about, you know, from your perspective, what do you think are things that people from short term rentals could teach the vacation rental side of the business?

Unknown:

We learned a lot going to VRMA in the fall. Like in that said, we there's there is this like these two words is vacation rental world and short term rental world, I actually come from the world of, you know, I guess traditional hospitality. I used to live in New York City. That's where I got my start sharing my home in 2010, or 11. And the reason I was drawn to is because I loved real estate, and then I was an actor, but between gigs I would work at restaurants and hotels. And there was a particularly long dry spell where I found myself at a hotel for about five or six years. And I moved around to a lot of departments. And I was like, Oh my gosh, with this whole new like Airbnb platform bringing this you know, this age old like it's very, you know, sharing a home is not new and Exactly, yeah, that's the message that Thanks For Visiting and then I try to get out to the short term rental world but the thing that I think the short term rental world or the more Metro markets can bring to the occasion rental world is the leveraging technology, we think we've learned we went a lot of vrma operators who you know, manage hundreds of homes and they're still very, you know, come to the come to the front desk and get the keys and like you know, that like, which also has a very nice has a nice touch too, too. Like yeah, there's a lot that we're learning from the older operators but anything else that you can do yes, I'm gonna say this I hope I don't like ruffle a lot of feathers. I think one thing that vacation rentals can learn from short term rentals leave us more than one trash bag and one roll of toiletpaper you know, for us and short term rentals. And you know, we talked about this on last show as being a little more generous with your calendar. You know, people don't want to stay Saturday to Saturday you can get people that want to do it but our amenities, we do not want our guests to have to go to the grocery store and buy supplies right when they check in. I still find that so prevalent in the vacation rental world where they give you like enough to get started. And then they're you're on your own and I'm like, Oh my gosh, it's they're spending so much money on these homes were like, we might have a you know, $100 a night, one bedroom and we're giving them all the toilet paper all the paper towels. It's like no problem. But you know, this $10,000 vacation home was like Well, one trash bag and one one roll of paper towels and I'm like, why? So I think that's one thing that we still get a lot of listeners who are hosts now. They'll go to the vacation rental and that'll happen. They're like, Oh my gosh, I the first thing I did when I got in when I checked in I had to go to the grocery store and buy something I like basic supply. So I think that's one of those. I don't know if that che is changing rapidly. But that is one thing, I still see that I'm like, oh, let's be a little more generous with that stuff and set the standard, because we think it should be like a hotel. You know, when you check into a hotel, you're not worried about if you're instantly

Alex Husner:

on vacation, right? We actually, it's definitely a really good point for sure. And so

Annette Grant:

I'm sure there's a numbers behind it. And I'd love her. Yeah, there

Annie Holcombe:

is I get a lot. A lot of emails

Annette Grant:

about that one.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. And also if we do too, and so I think that's a really good point that you bring up, because I wish I did know what the numbers were. I mean, if we were to give five grocery bags, you know, and more, you know, shampoos and conditioners and soaps with every unit, what would that look like from an economic standpoint? I don't know, I think it probably would be a lot. I mean, at scale, when you've got 500-1000 units, it's definitely adds up. But what's happening is people if they go and they stay in an Airbnb, where it's some, you know, more of a curated experience, curated experience like yours, and they're used to that, and then they come and stay with somebody that's more of the enterprise legacy kind of vacation rental company. And they don't have that, that's when they're very upset. And we do get those complaints sometimes. And we try and be very upfront with it, that we send out an email before guests arrive saying, what is included, I mean, it includes your starter pack to get started with things essentially, but Right. And in big units. That's it's tough, too, because I mean, a four bedroom condo, you'd have to have a whole box of group of trash bags, for somebody standing there for a whole week. So it is that's a challenge. But I think you're spot on. And I think it's that is one of the things that needs to be addressed. Because we don't want to set different expectations of when people book with you versus when they book with us, I mean, there should be a little bit more of a common ground and what those expectations are going to be.

Annie Holcombe:

And that kind of goes to the conversation of standards across the industry. And kind of like to your point, you know, when you go to a hotel, you know that if you go to a specific tier, you're going to get a specific level of service. But if you go to a hotel, regardless of tiers, you're going to get toilet paper towels linens. And what I found interesting is there's a lot of, there's a lot of regionalization, about those standards, even in the legacy vacation rentals. So I've got a lot of large groups, 500-600 homes in the Carolinas, that they don't provide linens, you still have to bring your linens, and there's a lot that are like that. Yeah. And that's very, very much in the Carolinas now in Florida. That's not the case in Texas. That's not the case. But it is very prevalent on the East Coast. And I've seen it in Martha's Vineyard in some of these other places where again, the average rent is $18,000 a week, and you're getting you having to bring your own stuff. And let's like, that's just shocking. But people are used to it be that they have, you know, people that have been coming every year. But I do think that it speaks to the larger problem of how do we create standards that do not cost too much on the you know, on the high end too much on the low end, but everybody can do it. And then that way, if you rent an urban home, or you are condo or apartment, and you go to the beach and rent a condo, your your expectation is pretty much the same.

Unknown:

Right? And I'll be completely honest, and and, and let everybody know, like, Yes, I don't know the economics of that for you know, your company. But I do think what you're saying, Annie is like, how can we meet in the middle, right, somewhere? So like, we're not too generous, because we probably have a lot to learn about the economics of it, you know, and then on the flip side, that hospitality and I do think as you know, let's say the younger generation is coming up. Yeah, that's, you know, where they're used to, like, maybe they're not going on the traditional, I think the traditional family vacation is still there. Yeah, this is kind of the difference too, but it's starting to, I think it's starting to switch over, where social media has really made it a thing to go and experience as many places as possible. Its not the Hilton every single time are the same vacation, rental home every single trip. So it'll be interesting, just to see how travel changes. Post lockdown, portlet. Yeah, with social media and how those traditional, say, going to the same place every single year, how that'll start to get mixed up a little bit. Anxious, not anxious, I'm anticipating that's going to be a pretty large turnover here. And one other

Alex Husner:

challenge that we have between professional hosts versus you guys being on Airbnb and being able to curate things and respond more easily the review side is a challenge for us, right? I mean, we've got so many listings on there, and we do have somebody that responds to them as best as they can, but not at the probably at the rate that you can with with a smaller amount and with the level of detail that you can with a smaller amount of listings. And last night my husband and I were looking at renting a condo in Gatlinburg, and so we're on VRBO. And it was funny, his comments on why he liked the unit and saying well look, look at how Look at how responsive the host was and look at the comments back that they made. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, I wish that we were able to do that at scale. And we were just talking to Steve Milo yesterday about this. I mean, like, it's at scale, it is a really tough thing. And that that puts the professional managers when you're in that size bucket, just at a disadvantage to what you're able to do. So

Annette Grant:

is there any sort of, and we'll be transparent about this? Is there any sort of automation that the larger, you know, companies could put into? into? Yeah, like that's, we do automation with reviews? So I'm just

Sarah Karakaian:

Well, we don't we don't want our responses. Yeah, we automate, leaving a review for in some cases, but

Annie Holcombe:

some channels have an auto responder to say, like, Thank you for your review, you know, something just very generic. And then if there's a, you know, if it's lower than, like a two or something, it'll give you an alert. I mean, there is some of those tools out there. I think, again, it's just, it's just getting it set up. And again, you want to be you don't want to be to the point where you're every review response is exactly the same. So I absolutely run the risk of being robotic in it. For sure. You know, to Alex's point, when we were talking to Steve Milo, just again, the some of the OTAs are really weighing that in review interaction. And when you can't do it at scale, and you can't do it in a timely manner. And you know, if you're busy and Susan, and staffing is a problem, you know, it might take you more than 72 hours to respond to something and they ding you for that. And it's like, well, you know, we're running a business here. So I think there's got to be some grace given on both sides of the equation to, to find, like you said, just to kind of meet somewhere in the middle on it, do you?

Alex Husner:

Do you solicit your guests? Or do you request from your guests on VRBO and Airbnb that they go back? And that they leave a review? Or do you let the channel do that for you?

Sarah Karakaian:

We so unlike your audience, don't you like we understand the importance of not leveraging just OTAs like and I think so. And Annette and I are really trying to champion these owner operators, I think that's our biggest audience are owner operators, too, to to really put their heart and soul into knowing that this is a business and so asking for a review, just like you would if you print a receipt or when you leave Lowe's, they always ask you like would you leave a sacrifice? Or if you if you had a great you know, experience in the store? So absolutely. Or it's like if you didn't receive a five star review, you know, what, what can we do to to improve this day? So whether it's a direct booking or on an OTA absolutely but it it has to be done delicately to where we're not forcing someone to? Yeah, have to say a certain thing I think that I've seen a few times where I just felt like bombarded by a request right?

Annette Grant:

You can get their temperature and especially if they've been if they've been corresponding with you and saying really lovely things about their stay throughout. You know, it's, there's other times you're like, oh my gosh, if you could please leave us a review restating this. That would be amazing. You know, you're kind of just yeah, you can you can read the room on on how Yeah, somebody's a good one or not, they are so important to short term rental hosts. And like you said, Alex, we know that when guests are looking to book they are reading those reviews. Oh yeah, we tell it's funny people ask us for advice all the time. We're like, okay, look for a super host. And they're like read the reviews. Look at the last like five reviews, that's probably the most important we I mean, obviously you need to like the place the right location price for you, right but that's something we tell everybody like look at the reviews and see what they're saying people and obviously with a grain of salt but but read through a decent amount of them to get a feel

Sarah Karakaian:

for what's going on. I'm gonna give my mentor Kate Bueller a shout out if you don't know who she is, she is the most amazing human in the world. And when I used to work at hotels, she would come in and train us on how to upsell either rooms or at the food and beverage, and we just had her on inside of our membership. And she said that if you know she's like if she goes to a hotel because that's the she she deals with hotels and so I like to learn a lot from the hotel model as well. And so she goes travel all over the world to five star luxury places. And it the importance of responding to a review to her and what she trains his team like there's money in responding to reviews, there is repeat guests there are there is getting that potential guests now become loyal to your brand, if you can make that a priority. So she either she's shopping for a restaurant or a reservation and she's like a GM can't respond to review within you know, 72 hours to you know, up to a week, she's like, I'm just not gonna dine there, or I'm not going to stay there because I want to be a part of an establishment that's involved in their in their day to day operations. And at scale. It's absolutely hard because actually one of our one of our team members works at a hotel as well. And she she's a general manager, she's like, Oh my God, she's like, I'm gonna like have a newfound passion to really be involved in that and responding to to those reviews. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

also as a great reminder for our listeners, and from even myself, I mean without I think we've got to just real We put an emphasis on the reviews. And we do. But I think we need to put more of an emphasis.

Annette Grant:

So this is this is what I think all businesses I was at a seminar years ago. And he was saying how you know, the retention, like if you go, let's say, you go on Amazon, or you go to a physical bookstore, and you go and look in the marketing and sales department, there are 99 books on sales and marketing and one on retention. Right. And so I was so focused on getting the new fast getting the new guests, and it's like, wait a second are the sales like, why once somebody's actually spent that hard earned money? Right? That's all of a sudden, we're like, on to the next. And it's like that retention, if we would like tip, even, instead of 99, like go, you know, 90% and pay a little bit more attention to that retention, and it will just skier it'll hockey stick for you. And that's something I want everybody to listen to is like, Wait, that money that's been spent, like, how can we because they're, they're going to do referrals, and it's gonna be less money for you to have to go after and get that new guest. So I just encourage everybody at whatever facet of business you're in, you know, we spend so much time and energy there. It's like, maybe the budgets to like, I know, Sarah and I, in our own business, we have our marketing budget, it's like, we really don't have a bucket or retention bucket of like, how is it a team member responding to reviews? Is it a team member just reaching out? are we sending thank you cards, you know, things like that our budget probably, you know, could use some readjusting to and the retention,

Alex Husner:

it's more of a more of a mindset on what's part of the budget just to how you're looking at that. But yeah, it's really good points. I'm curious, can you tell us a little a little bit about you how you decide which properties you're going to buy? Also, because we had been talking offline, and you said, in one of the strange things for you guys at vrma was that people weren't talking about buying, owning? Yeah, and I mean, that's just not what our model is. I mean, that's, it's like the opposite of that. But at the conferences that you guys go to, that's mostly what they are talking about. And, you know, on the finance side, and all sorts of different things, but talk about or tell us about which properties you've bought, and what goes into the consideration when when purchasing a short term rental. Yeah,

Unknown:

Sara, Sara is going to take this away and I want her because this was a huge takeaway for vrma Is there was no acquisition talk. And we she's gonna give a wonderful story of what happened after VRMA, after we talked about it, but when you're in vacation, rental management, like you have such a close relationship with the owner. So we would we would, our dreams are off market deals. And knowing the numbers already, so I'm gonna let Sarah take it away. And we would love for people to really, like dial in now and use this model of one property that we just purchased. Oh, I was like, I don't know what story shes talking about. So we went to the VRMA and I was like, that's just so interesting, like the tax benefits and the wealth building. And, and I guess, just coming at it from a real estate mindset, like I said, you know, my husband and I started investing in real estate in 2010. And doing the short term rental model, just we always want our numbers with long term numbers. And that's another thing that we do try to really preach to people who want to get in involved in the short term rental industry. But I went to the VRMA. And I was like, Oh my gosh, like these people are like, these operators are these managers are so close to amazing real estate.

Annette Grant:

And they know the numbers, they know all the data, they know if that house is kicking, you know what,

Unknown:

maybe they're licensed, you know, real estate agents, and they're getting referrals that are selling the property. And so I know there's Commission's involved there, I'm also a licensed real estate professional, and I get that. But then I immediately went home and we put a rider first right of refusal in our contracts. So now when I'm because we manage for other owners, and when if and when they want to sell their asset, we get you know, they come to us first and say would you like to purchase this on your home? And we did that? So if we I think we purchased that home in December. And one was VRMA in

Annette Grant:

October? Yeah. So it worked. It worked.

Sarah Karakaian:

I mean, it was so lovely for the owner, even in our market where it is a crazy seller's market, this owner really was just, she's like, I just need to go back to what I know, which are 401 ks and the stock. Yeah,

Unknown:

her family was growing. And she was like, I don't even have time to put it on the market or do the things and we were like, We will all do it. You don't have to do a favor, let us just buy. Yeah, there's no agent fees involved. Like we'll just have our lawyers do this with us. And I knew the numbers of the property. And so you ask what I'm buying to. And obviously, we'd like to stay around like the 20 to 30% You know, cash on cash return. But for us it's a property we can be proud of some property that our guests will be safe in. It's a property that will stand out. So we like the B plus A minus neighborhoods, A plus neighborhoods if we can find a good deal there. And it's not just Metro markets. So that's interesting too, is that I mean, I know work. You know, Airbnb is definitely setting the precedent from like 2010 on and bringing this to everybody but I manage a vacation rental about an hour from downtown Columbus. It's called the Hocking Hills area and it's actually quite beautiful. A lot of like, you know, it's Ohio, it's actually not flat there are caves and waterfalls, and it's very cool area and people are building a frames and tree house see houses? Hey,

Annie Holcombe:

a cave. Oh, wow. Okay, yeah, that's true,

Sarah Karakaian:

you know, and these people are 100% Direct book, like they might leveraged OTAs a little bit, but they because of Instagram and social media, they may not have to. And so land that just has like a wow factor to it or an idea that you have like a net. And I have some really creative ideas that were like, if we could just find some time to execute on them. Because people really do want those OMG moments when they travel. We're also trying to tell our audience, like Gone are the days of going to IKEA and shoving a couch in there and then finding things on the side of the road. And then you're gonna make yourself rich, like, I'm sad that even happened, but it did. But with the sexiness of short term rentals that we're seeing. Competition is fierce. And I think like you'd mentioned the whole, like people are concerned because there's talk about certain things in the marketplace. But I'm just wondering if it's just a sensible leveling out? Yeah, I think that's it. And it's just a sensible, like, Okay, so now you have to care about your customer service, and the guest experience and the quality of your product. And, you know, I just think the markets leveling out. And so now you just have to pay it, I

Alex Husner:

just, I would love to hear from some people that are new to the short term rental space that they're these new investors that are coming in, that it hasn't worked out for, because I feel like all we really care about are the people that are saying, oh, yeah, I'm making, you know, all this extra disposable income a month, and I just have technology do all the work for me, and I've got one person in market and I don't live there. And I'm like, I just it's hard to believe that that is working in every case. Because when we know it's it's not an easy business. And I think it's not working and reading some some of the content that's out there makes it seem like this is just a, you're just getting residual in income while you sit there and do nothing. And that's not the case. But it'd be interesting to hear in a couple like next year, maybe what happens to some of these investors when they realize that that income is the income is not there, and that they are running into more issues. Not that I wish them, you know, bad times. But just to hear the different side of the story.

Annette Grant:

Well, you also the thing that I think a lot of people maybe don't know the full, full picture of their numbers yet. So when Sarah was just explaining to you like what we look for also, you know, a lot of times if people are doing a short term rental and they hire on a manager, you know, those numbers at the end of the day aren't as inviting as if they self manage. So that's something different to like, what Sarah's saying, look at what the long term rent would be what it looks like to self manage, versus have a property manager or vacation rental manager. So you've got to run those numbers, so many different ways. And yeah, we that is why we are here, Sarah and I that is why we put out content every single day is because we do want to get louder about it is a lot of work. And it is it's great work. And it can be financially rewarding. But the passive income BS we want to like, you are the CEO of that home of that vacation rental company, no matter what even if you have a property manager, even if you have, you know, a turnover team and a maintenance person, you're still the CEO, and I don't care where you live if you're there or not. So that is the that is our reason for amplifying our voices.

Sarah Karakaian:

So the stories, we've stayed in the people's homes where like they're sitting on the side of the Grand Canyon at their passive income and sipping a margarita, and you know, their, their rentals are not great, they're not safe. They're not, they're not fun to be in, and it's just gonna come, it'll come crashing down sooner rather than later.

Annette Grant:

And I can actually tell you we have, we have some clients where we did not bring on some of them, we only have the host one of their properties, not the other and we have a conversation with them, the other one is not doing well. And they're like, we're gonna take it off a short term, it's not, it's not fit for it, it's not making the money, it's not worth it. And so I think what you're saying over time, once people really evaluate the time and money, I think a lot of them will fall off, like the shine, the shine will wear off, and then really look at their numbers and go, this makes more sense as a long term rental. Yeah, peel, peel it back off.

Annie Holcombe:

I've been engaging with a lot more individual hosts on LinkedIn, you know, and that what I do love about it is that they're, they seem to be contrary to I think what vacation rentals had the perception was not everybody wants to get into the business and not know what's going on. They're asking questions, they are engaging. And there's one gentleman that I've been talking with. And he's in Phoenix, and he's kind of hit that I'm concerned about where we're going. But I said, you know, have you looked at how many new units there are in your market. He doesn't have access to data like that. And so I shared it with him and he was like, oh, okay, you know, it's like they've grown like I think it was like 50% year over year in the amount of vacation rentals or short term rentals. And I said, you know, what are you doing? Are you on more than one channel? Are you you know, are you moving your restrictions around? You're in you're in Phoenix so I know there's golf courses like are you creating something sort of golf package you can put out there on social media, those type of things. He was like, I didn't even think of any of these things. And it's like, again, I think everybody thinks like, if you just put it on the that, that channel, right that that doesn't get business, you know, it's just gonna automatically come to you and to your point, there's so much work involved not just from maintaining the unit, but the marketing aspect of it and understanding that there's different guests at different times of the year coming for different things and you know, you need to engage in we talk about it all the time on our show, you know, with with different guests is the marketing aspect of it and engaging with your local DMO CVB Chamber of Commerce. And these hosts don't they just don't think that way. They're thinking like, well, I know the real estate agent that selling the units or they can help me get a guest that's coming in to look for to buy a unit and they're just not thinking big picture. Because they're not from the business. They're from banking, or you know, money management. So they had money to get into it, but they just don't have the business savvy on the hospitality side and what it takes to do it and

Annette Grant:

what you just said the unit the thing that makes it Sarah and I was like skin crawl. It's like somebody's like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna get an Airbnb unit. And we're like, Airbnb unit. Like, you're starting a hospitality business right now estate investor, like, that is the one thing we were trying to like, just, you know, we have to use Airbnb a lot, because that's we have to get people where they are. But we're like, okay, you're a short term rental. And you know, that's, that's one of our missions, too, is to just kind of change that language.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. See, that's it. I mean, you're speaking all the right language Exactly. To us. And that's why we want you guys to be vrma and just show that side of, you're on a different side of the industry, but you're on the right side of it, and you're maintaining the same fundamental, you know, goals that we all have to and certainly we do not we all hate that Airbnb has taken and just the brand of our industry and has become the Kleenex of the industry. We've been around for so much longer than Airbnb has as a channel. But and the advocacy side, I think is really important, too, that a lot of the new short term hosts that are coming in, they're not participating in any, in any advocacy efforts. I know you guys do, which is great. And that's, that's an important thing. Because at the end of the day, if restrictions come down, then nobody can rent anything. So

Unknown:

that was I mean, that's like we said, that's where we met. And that was I will be honest, that's actually where I'm headed after we get off this calls. I have never attended a city council meeting in my life befor that one. And I was like, and I will admit, Airbnb actually sent out emails to us asking us because I think it was more like the hotel industry was putting some lobbyists a lot of cash behind it to kind of put these restrictions in. So and that was eye opening for myself. And there were so many hosts there and I we Sara, you know on our show and our members like we're like, yes, if there's any sort of event where you can at least be present and show up. You've got to show up in your in your town, wherever that is, our mission at the end of the day is to level up what it means to be a host,

Sarah Karakaian:

you know that that word was probably mostly I mean, it's an Airbnb made it a thing, right. But like you said, we're, we're meeting them where they're at. But if we can bridge this gap between, you know, you call them professional hosts or, you know, Legacy properties, but to professionalize what you do as an owner operator, or as a manager of, of rental properties, then we all we all win. So we have to bridge this gap, we have to start talking from you know, owner operators to people who've been doing this for a very long time, because there's a lot of us your name in there. There's there's more independent owner operators on Airbnb than there are hotel rooms. I mean, that's a lot of people. And so we have to have these conversations, we have to come together, we have to really level this up and just meet some so that we can all benefit whether you're on the East Coast or in the middle of Columbus, Ohio. It's a good thing, but we just have to make sure that we're being sensible. Yeah,

Annie Holcombe:

I have a friend that I worked with several years ago. And she comes from OTA side of things. And she lives in a very, I'm not gonna say the destination I want to out her but she's in a destination where she ran for city council. And so she's on the city council now. And they're facing mass amounts of like discussions about regulations. And there's a big upheaval about, you know, they want to go super strict and the dependency for the vacation rentals in the short term rentals is so high that if they go to the super strict, it's really going to affect again, it's going to affect labor, it's going to affect the restaurants, it's going to affect the attractions, it's going to affect the amount of events that are coming to the area like all these things. And so her and I are getting together tomorrow to talk because she's just like, I just want to know what other destinations are doing before we go down this road. And I think you know, you come from a side of thinking like, I know what the city needs, but I think unless you live in a like destination like Alex and I both live in vacation destinations, we understand there has to be a balance there. The problem is the people that are making the decision ones are the ones that are, you know, they chose to live beachfront in a tourist community and now they're going to complain about it. And I always I've always I worked for Lady years ago and she would call these people "Againers", they have something to complain about again and again and again. And they show up at every meeting about something and it's the stop sign is the speed bumps, it's the whatever it is. And right now, the hot thing is just regulation on vacation rentals. I don't want these party houses. I don't want people staying in this building next to me. Well, you know, you bought a condo in a high rise that was zoned for vacation rentals, so low,

Alex Husner:

but it's not vacation rentals. It's the Airbnb business that's coming in the last couple of years.

Annie Holcombe:

But in our in our market, it's it's even vacation, right? A lot of times saying it's like there are vacation rentals, that

Alex Husner:

is the same thing. But it's absolutely because of Airbnb over the last couple years. That's what's made it so bad. But

Annie Holcombe:

it's the it's the whole it's the whole perspective on a bit. I mean, we had people complaining 10 years ago about the you know, building of these condos or building the attractions to right right to town. And so I think again, it's it's a larger conversation that every destination has to have. But if we don't get everybody on the same page to one, register their unit be legal about what you're doing right to noise ordinances and be a good steward of the of the industry, but also just to go back to being hospitable. Like is this what you want living next to you? Probably not so like, how do you manage that guests and the expectation of them coming in so that the people that live next door to it aren't going to be upset and it's just a huge problem.

Sarah Karakaian:

And it's not just like tough thing where I'm excited as a as a real estate investor and as a property owner, that I can use my property how I see fit, like, that's very important to my property rights. I hold them near and dear to my heart, but Airbnb makes it like, oh, you can sign up and host your home in seven minutes. Right? And all of a sudden, we have all these hoteliers or entertainment. People who thinking they can like just put their home on it. Yeah, that's also the problem. But you know, it's I also want to like welcome those people with open arms. And yeah, we're gonna like, change things. It's like, so proud of you love that you're doing this, come over here, you know, our podcast. And just know that there's, you're actually leaving money on the table? You think you were going to do this make millions of dollars? Unfortunately, that's not the case. But it can be if you do you know, if you do these things, if you are if you have some seasonality adjustments, if you change your you know, your your hero image on your listing, if you actually try to invite guests back, if you go on different channels, if you build a brand for yourself, like this could be a family business for you and your children, your children's children. So to have them really think bigger, like yes, I guess Airbnb roped you in here, but now they're you here, if all this sounds attractive to you, like the possibilities are endless, but we're gonna have to work together. Because, you know, I think, you know, Alex is right. In terms of these people opening up these condos, or these homes or whatever, and they're not paying attention. They're not they're not checking in, and it's trickling, it's like, all these areas. And of course, it gets bad press. Of course, if there is, you know, a big party and someone is hurt or killed. And that's going to make national news, right? That's not good for any

Annie Holcombe:

of us, right? Yeah. Yeah, I, you know, I when I was in management, we had a problem. And it was it was before Airbnb, but it was VRBO was the problem. It was all the owners that thought they could do it on their own. And they do. And so they were it was, it was a similar situation. It's just cycled over and Airbnb kind of like harnessed the power of those individual, those individual people. But I think, again, if people understood from the very first unit, here is the your starter kit, like just like a starter kit for a renter, here's your starter kit for renting. And these are the things that you should know.

Alex Husner:

And that's where I think anyway, we were talking about this at the executive summit, the National Association of REALTORS really needs to be present at these events with us too. Because, I mean, that's where it starts with, I mean, the person who sells you the property, they should be the one that's educating you, and we should be holding them responsible to say, Okay, let's work together.

Sarah Karakaian:

That's an excellent, we'll talk about that too. Just really quick. I know we're getting long winded here. But you know, you have to technically either have to own the property or you have to be a licensed real estate professional. But I this whole like loophole with the master leasing and the arbitrage model frustrates me because now they have part ownership because they have a leasing property and now they're able to just really scale so so fast, it gets out of hand for them. And then again, again, we just we find ourselves into problems and I'm here for capitalism I'm here for people to build their businesses. Yeah, it's just it you know, the whole realtor licensed real estate professional thing like I just want us to like check ourselves there as well in terms of like, you know, just being thoughtful with yeah, there's a you are leasing out property and a short term rental basis and

Annie Holcombe:

expectations need to be set from the beginning and the realtor has the opportunity to do that. Yeah, and not not I guess not, not give them false hope of where they're going to be going.

Sarah Karakaian:

Yeah, for that commission and that quick Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Alex Husner:

Side story. So last night I was on Facebook and a girl that I know was posting. She has a bunch of cars that she puts on Turo here, I mean, that's like her business. And she was complaining because there's been so much new inventory added the Turo that now she used to be like one of like, 30 cars in our area. Now there's 300. And they're driving the price down. Quality is bad. And I'm like, oh my god, this is Airbnb. All over from the beginning, it's just a different industry. And it's just rinse and repeat. But it's, it's, it's interesting to see, you know, how things evolve, and how that, it seems like a good thing to start. But then the issues come out. And it's like, oh, my gosh, the fundamental business of what you guys do, what we do, is good, but it's some of these channels that are trying to monopolize, and just make money on things that are ruining a good thing, a lot of cases, but

Annette Grant:

right now, and so that's why it's important for if you're, if you're gonna go into it, you just have to be the best. And then be be aware, when you do use your dollars, then to go on vacation, or wherever you're going for a business trip or vacation, visiting family, like, pay attention to your reviews, and make sure that your money's being recycled back to those responsible hosts. So we do, we do vote with our dollars. So, you know, I think that if we can just all be the best at what we do, and continue to vote wisely with our dollars. That's, that'll be helpful and then show up when it counts, you know, like, show up and, and have a voice

Sarah Karakaian:

and always been learning, you know, tuning in to your podcast, reading a book learning from owner operators or operation management companies that are around for a really long time and been around for a long time for a reason. Yeah, one thing we can all reinvent ourselves. We need to always be learning and adopting new practices and all that kind of good stuff. But if someone's just if it sounds too good to be true, it

Annie Holcombe:

probably probably is. Right. Exactly. Yeah, it's

Sarah Karakaian:

while you're sitting on a beach sipping margaritas, like, Yeah,

Annie Holcombe:

we all want that. Right. Yeah, correct.

Sarah Karakaian:

Right. It's a fun industry. It's super rewarding, but it is a lot of work.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely.

Annie Holcombe:

Well, we are. Thank you so much. We really appreciate great, great, thanks for visiting.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. That's great energy. We're so tell our listeners and tell us where are we going to see you next this year? Are you going to any other conferences coming up vacation home ones

Unknown:

we are we're gonna go to VRMA International in Las Vegas, so if any of your listeners we will most likely be wearing our Ask us about our podcast. Yeah. So

Alex Husner:

we've got to think of a funny

Annette Grant:

if anybody you can you can steal ours wasn't eligible. But if anyone sees us there, please come say hello. We want to hang out with you ladies. Hopefully, we'll do a podcast together. Absolutely

Alex Husner:

sure. But

Annette Grant:

we will be there. That's just one event that we're not going to miss.

Annie Holcombe:

Good. Great. And if anybody wants to get in touch with you and find out more about your podcast and your hosting, where can they? Where can they go?

Unknown:

The best place to go is thanksforvisiting.me and me

Annette Grant:

and a podcast and thanks for visiting you can anywhere you like to listen to your podcast, we will be there will show up. We show up every week on Thursdays we have new episodes.

Alex Husner:

Great well, we will include links in our show notes to be able to get right to the podcast and the contact the ladies directly. So thank you again for being here. You too are just a light of energy and positivity. And we're just thankful to to know you and call your friends now to if so much. If anybody wants to contact me and I even go to AlexandAnniepodcast.com If you're enjoying the show, please share this episode with your friends, family, dogs, kids, anybody. Leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning in. Bye.

Annette Grant:

All right, you got two minutes to spare.

Annette Grant and Sarah Karakaian Profile Photo

Annette Grant and Sarah Karakaian

STR SuperHosts and Co-Host Thanks for Visiting Podcast

As short-term rental owners and operators for 10 years and counting, Sarah and Annette founded the Thanks For Visiting podcast and their online educational platform to bring their diverse knowledge to hosts ready to grow their businesses.

Sarah and Annette met at a Columbus, Ohio City Council Meeting fighting for their right to host homes on Airbnb. The two shared a belief that the short-term rental industry needs hosts to be more hospitable. Every resource they’d come across in growing their own businesses was purely profit-driven, and “heads in beds” just isn’t their style.

They had to figure out a lot of stuff on their own and now they want to give you the behind-the-scenes look they tried to find when they started. Thanks For Visiting is like Hospitality Prep School for the Airbnb host. Sarah and Annette help you host with heart and improve your processes and systems all while generating insane profits.