AI-Driven Success: Streamlining Your STR Business Operations

In this podcast, Liam features Naim Payman, CEO of Guest Guru, discussing the evolution of the AI-driven tool designed for short-term rental hosts. Naim shares his journey from managing service departments to creating Guest Guru, a comprehensive channel manager.

The tool automates guest inquiries with a chatbot for direct bookings, although direct integration with Airbnb is limited due to email forwarding issues. Naim outlines future plans, including FAQs and review reply automation.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Today we are talking about all things AI and you're going to want to stick around for this spotlight series which is the mini-episode where we get to dive into people, businesses and systems, things that you need to know about as a short term rental host. Today on the Boosted Podcast we've got Naim Payman, he's the CEO of Guest Guru which we're going to be speaking about today.

[00:00:23] Honestly this is so exciting and this is something which I've had firsthand. Uh, trials of, and I'm excited for you as our listener to get used to this name. Thank you very much for joining me. Welcome along. Thanks for having me. So, first of all, where are you in the world? And can you give me a bit of history, of how you've come to, come to be in charge, of GuestGuru?

[00:00:46] Naim: Sure, yeah. So, um, I'm now living at the moment, which is where I grew up and back and forth between here and the UK. But AI runs not only in my blood but also in my name. So I don't know how my parents knew all those years back when they named me Natty. Here we go again. Um, so I started by managing service departments for various owners, and then I went into leasing entire blocks of flats, um, and subletting those, or as they call it in the US, arbitrage, without knowing that it was a thing, without knowing that there was a whole community of people who were doing this.

[00:01:22] And, uh, that grew considerably and, uh, in six months, we went from having five, six units, about 56 units and started, things started going pear-shaped. So I decided it was time to slow down and started developing some tech. So that was the move gets through, which. Um, it's turned into a full channel manager, product manager, system path manager, um, booking engine, and so on.

[00:01:49] And then, um, I kept, uh, working on that. Uh, once we started using it, we then had a lot of growth spurting in about 60 units, 150, 200 units, and then COVID hit. We lost about half of what we had and had to start rebuilding some houses about six, or nine months into the pandemic, I decided to start buying hotels because the prices had plummeted.

[00:02:14] And, uh, yeah, acquired nine hotels within nine months. And, uh, luckily we built the system in such a way that it can deal with multiple units. Setups. So we've managed both our hotels and our certain apartments from the same central login, centralized report, and then, um, uh, last year, uh, part of the wedding venue as well.

[00:02:39] After I got married, I said, it's for sale. I said, okay. So we've gone into weddings, with no tech kit for the wedding site, but who knows in the future,

What is Guest Guru?

[00:02:47] Liam: what is a guest guru? How can it help them?

[00:02:51] Naim: Yeah. So it's, uh, it's based on basically, which Uh, allows you to automate, uh, replies to the guest, um, inquiries. And, um, we, we've now also created a chatbot which you can embed on your Boosty website, um, and you can use for, um, direct inquiries or you could use for direct bookings.

[00:03:16] Um, we currently can't distinguish between information that can be released before booking and after booking, but we're working on that as well. Um, so hopefully at some point we'll be able to have a distinction. And you'll be able to use it both on the website as a sort of sales tool, um, but also following booking as a centralized information database for more specific questions that you're all about to share with guests.

[00:03:40] I've already paid for that part of the conditions.

Airbnb Integration?

[00:03:44] Liam: And can you now integrate with Airbnb? So if there are people who have got their listing on Airbnb, obviously that was one of the worries originally, um, why GuestGuru change hands in the first place, can you now work with Airbnb? Yeah, so you

[00:03:59] Naim: can't work directly with Airbnb because of the email forwarding service, which Jasper was using previously.

[00:04:05] But if you use one of the PMSs that we've integrated to, so Zubu, Gatsby, a whole bunch of others, then yes, you can use it with Airbnb. And what's more, is that… You're not limited to just using Airbnb anymore, but you can use it for BRBO, for booking. com, for your direct bookings and any other channels where you've got email communications coming and going in through your PMS or channel manager.

[00:04:28] Liam: That's amazing. So as long as you're with one of the partnered, uh, PMSs or ZVU, then you're able to connect to Not just Airbnb that they used to, but all of them, which is just amazing. And everybody knows, right? These days, when you've got an email that comes from, AI because it says, I hope this email finds you well, and all that sort of stuff, but have you still got it where you can kind of help with the tone?

[00:04:51] Can you still do that on guests?

[00:04:55] Naim: Oh,

How hosts use this in the future?

[00:04:55] Liam: amazing. Yeah. So that is, is one of the best features on it. How can you see this kind of shaping the, in the future? What are some of the things that you would like to do, or how can you see hosts using this in the future?

[00:05:10] Naim: We were working on adding all sorts of features to it.

[00:05:12] And more people start using it again. The list of desired features keeps increasing, but we've got things like, um, general FAQs. FAQs to different properties and then that information gets used in the answers. But we're working on adding a level at the company, a level basically where you can add FAQs that apply to all properties to make it easier to input data.

[00:05:38] I'm going to have that information. Um, hopefully at some point we'll also work on automating replies to reviews. So again, we'll have information from the listing, and I'm not sure yet whether we'll be able to match up the booking. And if we can feed information from the previous communications with the guests, that might be able to improve the accuracy of the replies.

[00:05:59] Um, on that as well.

[00:06:01] Liam: Nice. So exciting, exciting times ahead. One question.

[00:06:05] Naim: I was planning on buying this.

[00:06:08] Liam: Well, well, speaking of other ideas, as I said just before we went live, I was on a mastermind speaking to, uh, Dina from, uh, Keys to Kelowna, um, based in, in Canada. And she said that one cool idea would be, obviously, all the questions that it gets asked, it must know What the most common questions are, and if there could be a hint for guests for hosts, sorry, to know what are the top 15, 20 questions that it's getting asked and then or already prepare that answer, you know, because you, you just get chance.

Is it learning?

[00:06:39] I was going to get asked, can it, is it learning? Is it, is it doing things like that to what, what's the limitation, I guess? Um,

[00:06:46] Naim: it's, we haven't done any work yet on proposing FAQs, um, or proposing answers and the FAQ bit is that's the input you're talking about, right? So that I struggled to see how we can generate that without the host having any input on it.

[00:07:02] Um, because there'll be specific things about the listing or the way that the host does business, but we can, should certainly look at trying to extract some of the more common questions, um, and providing those as, uh, templates almost. I wouldn't guess, I couldn't possibly be adding the answers

[00:07:20] Liam: to that because Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:07:22] And, ultimately, I mean, as long as somebody, everyone listening to this, right, is probably a host of some degree. Most people are even going to have a, you know, if you're old school, got a handwritten guidebook, and in which case you can, it's probably printed. So you've got all the information already somewhere where you can then paste it into.

[00:07:38] The guest guru system, or they've got a digital guidebook. Again, they can just take the information, copy and paste it into, into the, or they've got a website or somewhere where you can just generally get all the information that you send to guests, even your emails. And I found it quick and easy to set up personally, because although I had to input that information, ultimately, it wasn't like I had to.

[00:07:59] Think, what shall I tell this? It was like, Hey, I've got all this information that I already sent guests. Let's just put it in. And yeah, the results were, were fantastic. Having a blast. Can I get it on the Boostly podcast? Bruce Lee like

[00:08:13] Bruce Lee. Cause it's so hard on the T is loosely making up those rhymes.

[00:08:17] Don't write it. Just do it loosely.