Behind The Host with Toby Dore

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 477. In this podcast we're going to be talking to Toby Dore, an exceptional host who is also a college professor, travel blogger and author of Hospitable Hosts. He is also the CEO of Cajun Stays which currently stands at 21 properties.

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Here's the audio for this episode:

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Timestamps (audio)

00:00 – Introduction
01:04 – A little about Tobys business and how he got into hosting
07:37 – How did Toby go about adding more properties?
14:51 – What challenges does Toby face travelling a lot?
20:15 – Where did Toby find his VA’s?
22:46 – What tech does Toby swear by?
27:20 – How did Toby get involved in Hospitable Hosts?
33:21 – Tobys plans for the future
36:57 – A little more about Toby

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Transcript from the Episode

[00:00:00] Liam: So welcome to another episode of behind the host. And I've got an incredible host all the way from USA with me today, his name's to Toby Dore. If I pronounced that correctly, Dore awesome. He's a college professor travel blogger author in the recent hospitable hosts book. He's the founder and CEO of Cajun Stays, uh, based in Lafayette, in Louisiana, in the USA.

[00:00:24] Liam: And, uh, yeah, I'm really excited to have you on the, uh, on the show today. And if anybody doesn't know, uh, Toby, please go and check him out on Instagram. The Cajun traveler and his business Cajun stays, which is, uh, incredible. I mean, the, the places you've been to Toby are absolutely amazing. There's photos on there, but welcome along.

[00:00:43] Liam: Thank you for being.

[00:00:44] Toby: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having

[00:00:46] Liam: me. So we've obviously known each other well about a year now because of legends ex training. Uh, thanks to Eric moer and Jasper rivers. Uh, awesome. Going through that, let's start just by telling us a bit about your business and, uh, a brief history of how you got into hosting.

A little about Tobys business and how he got into hosting

[00:01:04] Toby: Um, well, my background is a university professor. I was teaching, uh, athletic training in sports medicine and, um, I always had some type of side project going on and actually at the time, um, when I learned about Airbnb, it was virtually unknown here in Lafayette. It, it had really just started in its first year.

[00:01:25] Toby: In California. And I was running two music venues, um, and teaching five days a week at the university doing research on committees and then running booking like six bands a week. And, uh, it was really starting to wear on me a little bit. Um, after I did it for about three. And then a band from California, I told 'em that I was ready to drop everything and rent a car, and I wanted to drive to Canada and back.

[00:01:54] Toby: And, um, and so that's, that's how it started. They told, they told, I wrote it down on a cocktail napkin, Airbnb and Martha, Texas. And the next morning I woke up and I looked at it and I, I got on the internet and, and I kind of remembered the conversation. But, um, at the time I was reading a book called the joy of less, which is a minimalist book.

[00:02:18] Toby: It's one of the most popular minimalist books out there. And I was literally cleaning out my three bedroom house because I was living in a three bedroom house by myself. And, um, and so it all kind of just happened all all together. So I actually listed my house and one of the rooms in my house.

[00:02:37] Toby: Initially on Airbnb before I ever stayed in Airbnb. So they, they mentioned using Airbnb as I went along the way as a means of saving money instead of staying in hotels. And this is back in 2013. So, um, you know, I stayed in a, you know, about halfway through the. I was getting flooded with messages on my phone, cuz people wanted to stay in my spare bedroom, but these guys had booked out the whole house for two months and that, those were my were my second guess.

[00:03:11] Toby: And so yeah, about halfway through the trip. I booked a, uh, a dome concrete shelter off the grid in the desert of Texas. I stayed in a TP in downtown Portland in the backyard of the girl that was hosting, uh, just stayed in some. And that was Airbnb back then. It was mostly, you stayed in somebody's house with them or at their house while they were there.

[00:03:36] Liam: Um, it's very much more traditional how it started that side of things. Isn't it. And, uh, with, with that when you're away and you've just let out your. Or, or your room in your house or to, to these two guys, was there any kind of steep learning curves cuz having not stayed in an Airbnb yourself?

[00:03:52] Toby: Yeah. So, um, I had one couple that could come in from new Orleans, which is two hours away and they stayed one night while I was, um, I, I, I wasn't even around, so they had the whole house.

[00:04:04] Toby: And so these guys were my second guests and they were here for work. And it was amazing cuz they kept in touch with my dad and I think there was some type of plumbing or electrical problem. And these guys were literally like, um, they were setting up, um, air conditioning systems and freezer systems for, for a chain of, um, drug stores.

[00:04:28] Toby: So like these guys were handyman and they're, oh, by the way, we fixed this and we fixed that. And , so that was not the problem at all. And

[00:04:37] Liam: I mean, they, you don't get that very often. You don't get that very often with, with guests, but that is awesome to have somebody who's hands on and, and able to do sort

[00:04:45] Toby: stuff.

[00:04:45] Toby: But. And it was, it was so interesting because they had, um, they had two guys and it was a big house and they, they got to invite their families to come and stay with 'em, which they never got to do when they were traveling for work. But they had such a big house. Again, this is now you now it's happening all the time.

[00:05:04] Toby: But back then, Airbnb, they would've had to book four hotel rooms. And, uh, so yeah, it was, um, it, it really worked out well, the other interesting thing about it was. I didn't, it was two months had gone by, I was traveling around in a rental car. I had no idea people were reviewing me. And so when I got back to Airbnb got back home and decided I wanted to look into this further, I had all these positive reviews about the, from the people I'd stayed with.

[00:05:35] Toby: And, uh, you know, and I just saw it all at once. When I got home, I was like, oh, okay. They're actually reviewing me. I didn't even know how to process work. I was doing it all. Oh, I was doing everything on the app. I mean, I didn't have a laptop at the time, so it was interesting. That's

[00:05:49] Liam: awesome though, that you had loads of positive reviews and I guess a lot of people that stayed with you, but they hadn't been being reviewed then was that a case of just a discovery at that time?

[00:05:58] Toby: Um, I didn't know how the Airbnb worked. I didn't re I, I, I wasn't familiar with the system. I just wasn't aware that, um, uh, I mean, I had a feeling that they, you know, people would review the house, but I didn't know that that the opposite was happening, that they were reviewing me as a guest. Yeah. And it really.

[00:06:19] Toby: Made a huge difference. Um, when I got home and I unblocked the house, the guys moved out, they, they booked it for two months. And then man, and I took a trip to Europe, a backpacking trip and stayed in my first hostel mm-hmm and my entire world changed. I mean, that's when I, I, when I got back from that two month trip, I cleaned my office out.

[00:06:41] Toby: I had a home office, which I didn't need. I put bunk beds in it, put locks on the doors, rented this apartment that I'm in now and, and started living here in a little small one bed, uh, efficiency apartment. And, um, and yeah, it just, it just took off from there. And so that was, uh, that was a big part. Uh, I basically turned my house into a mini hustle.

[00:07:06] Toby: You know, that,

[00:07:07] Liam: that, that kind of, uh, experience that gives me goof response. Just hearing that you've spotted the opportunity as soon as you've stayed somewhere and you've come back and you've immediately taken action to, to make a few changes. You've, you've looked at the rooms going, you know what? That could be cash flowing for me.

[00:07:21] Liam: Let's let's change that around. People are gonna want to stay here. And like you say, even to the extent where you've moved out and then you can always let your entire home, which, you know, useful was probably better, more profitable and probably better for the guests to stay in the entire place than a, a single room.

How did Toby go about adding more properties?

[00:07:37] Liam: So, yeah, you, you you've done that with your first place. You, you know, you, you, you carried on being able to travel. Talk me through you're now at 21 properties. I, I saw on the website, talk me through how you started adding more and more properties and, you know, was that gradual or was that, um, you know, was

[00:07:54] Toby: that yeah.

[00:07:55] Toby: Um, another, another professor that I was friends with told me about this apartment and I said, look, I just need to find a small place. Uh, I don't need, uh, a three bedroom house. I'm looking for a place to rent. I plan on starting to travel a lot more. And he and his girlfriend kind of looked at each other and like we know the perfect spot.

[00:08:13] Toby: And, um, my rent has not gone up since that day, which is incredible. But, uh, and I haven't stayed here in over a year, but I, I rent at this place and then I let the owner of the house know, Hey, I'm when I'm traveling, I'm gonna put it on Airbnb. And so that was part of the, the, you know, they had to go through the lease and block that out.

[00:08:34] Toby: My next door neighbor. Um, was having his house repeatedly, just trashed when people would move in six months, they would move out and not say anything. Uh, then he was, he, you know, he had to find new tenants and he knew what I was doing next door. He lives across the street, but he owned a house next door to me.

[00:08:55] Toby: So we kind of were just like, I, well, why don't I just put it on Airbnb and you know, I'll manage it. And it was funny because I was like, what sounds good? 20%? Which like, uh, eight years later I found out, well, that's kind of the industry standard. That's that's exactly perfect. Isn't it? And it was like, and so within the first year of me knowing about Airbnb, I was doing owner management co-hosting and rental arbitrage.

[00:09:25] Toby: Yeah. That is incredible property. And, and to hear Jasper and Eric and, and Julie and them talk about that in the training and have these names for 'em. It was just kind of surreal for me. I was like, this is a thing. one

[00:09:40] Liam: thing I noticed. One thing I noticed from this is the fact that, you know, there's a few themes here that people listening could really pick up on, which is one, when you see the opportunity, go for it, you know, like you, you took action and you've gone for it straight away, but.

[00:09:54] Liam: The, you know, rental arbitrage for, for those in the UK is rent to rent. Uh, and the idea is that you're taking somebody else's property and you're letting it for more per night than you are for the cost of the entire monthly rental. So you're making a profit, uh, you know, while you're doing it. now the benefit to that.

[00:10:12] Liam: Cause some people would go, well, couldn't the owner. Just go that, just do that instead. Well they could, but then they've got the hassle of dealing with their cleans. They're dealing with the communication of the guests and this is where you've come in. And you've said right, for 20% of the income, I'll take that on.

[00:10:26] Liam: Um, or you're renting the property, like the one you've got now and you're making a. You know, it's paying for your rent and then probably giving you some profit as well, which is incredible. And the icing on the cake is actually, it's better for the landlord to have somebody who's looking after the place who knows they're running it as a business.

[00:10:43] Liam: And therefore has got to have the cleaner going in regularly, um, got to do the, the maintenance and that sort of thing. It's just, it works out better for everyone and of. The end result is you have happy guests come and stay and enjoy your properties, which is incredible. So, um, one thing I've gotta ask is Cajun states, where does the name come from?

[00:11:02] Toby: So the word Cajun comes from a town called there's a town called AKA D and it runs with Canada and my ancestors, uh, 200 years ago, they were refugees. They were deported and, um, and it was a political situation and they ended. Da, um, in south Texas and south Louisiana. And, um, the name of our region, um, uh, in this, in this area, which it's, it's a small part of the Southern west star part of Louisiana and the state of Louisiana it's called ACA.

[00:11:38] Toby: Um, and it, and it's named after AKA D in Canada. And, um, the there's so many different stories because it wasn't well documented, but basically they didn't pronou wanna pronounce Acadians because they're, Arcadians. In Canada. They're they're French speaking Canadians. And, um, uh, so they just said, we're just gonna call you Cajun Cajun.

[00:12:02] Toby: Um, yeah, and I I've had a lot of thoughts about changing my blog and just blogging about actually what Cajun is. Um, because in America it's known it it's spicy. S and yeah, that's all people know it's spicy food, but, uh, that's, that's exactly

[00:12:21] Liam: why I asked. I thought I can't not ask the question because that's such a, first of all, it's sticky and memorable.

[00:12:26] Liam: Do you know what I mean? Like, as soon as you said, Cajun stays, as soon as, uh, I knew you were coming on the, on the podcast, like instantly I could pitch your business because from the very first time I heard it, it's very easy to find and, and stuff like that. So I had just had to find out the, uh, the reason behind the name and it's, it's really cool for guests to have a place.

[00:12:45] Liam: Which you know, is celebrating the heritage of the region. Do you know what I mean? That's, that's awesome. So,

[00:12:51] Toby: so yeah, it's, it's getting a lot of attention. I just got back from a travel blogger's conference last week, um, up in, in Washington state and the next conference before the pandemic was scheduled for Lafayette.

[00:13:02] Toby: So we have 300 travel bloggers is now rescheduled for this coming October. So the place right before the pandemic was getting ready to explode, um, a lot of people have. Misperception that, um, new Orleans is where you go to experience Cajun culture and new Orleans is not in ACA, which is what I just explained.

[00:13:25] Toby: It's not even in that area. It's amazing city. Uh, I'll probably end up moving there one day. Um, but it, this is where real Cajun and the way the link, the link to that is that the tourism boards and the traditional chain hotels would not really. Push that the explosion of air being be here in Lafayette really happened at, um, you know, through local hosts telling their guests, oh wait, no, you, you don't want to go eat Cajun food in new Orleans.

[00:13:56] Toby: You need to go to Lafayette. And that happened through Airbnb. And so, um, and then the original name of my business, I'm wearing a t-shirt it was Cajun hostel. Yeah. And once we got to about 10, 12 properties and we were like renting out full houses, well, I hired a consulting company. We changed the logo and, and that's what became Cajun.

[00:14:19] Liam: What sticks out to me, there is just being authentic. You know, it's one of the things where people come and stay with Airbnb hosts that you don't get. If you go to a corporate hotel is you get the real story, you get the best places to eat. You get, you know, where to go and visit and you get the story behind every booking.

[00:14:34] Liam: And that's one thing that, uh, you know, Boostly and mark talks about a lot, but also there's a story behind every host. So, you know, it's, it's exciting. People go to Airbnbs because they. Different and unique and they know they're gonna have a different experience. Certainly. That's why I, I stay in them. And, uh, not only that, it's just great to have a kitchen.

What challenges does Toby face travelling a lot?

[00:14:51] Liam: Isn't it? Who doesn't want a bit more space when you stay in places. So obviously you travel a lot Toby and I noticed on your travel blog, that since you've been to over 50 countries, so when you're traveling around, does that, does that present any, um, you know, any challenges when you're traveling a lot to be able to run these, these property and your management company, who do you need on your team to be able to help you with.

[00:15:14] Toby: Um, my, um, this is a ma, so my virtual assistant, that is my reservations manager and guest relations manager. He's been with me for six years. And so that was another thing going through the accelerated program and talking about virtual assistant. Um, I about a year after, um, I believe it was a four hour work.

[00:15:37] Toby: We came out, you know, less than a year after I, I hired a virtual assistant. Like it was like that. And the, the crazy thing is I had four or five guys that I, I mean, I spent three days with him and I let 'em go. I let him go. And then I found this one guy, Alex, and he's been with me for six years. And so he is really the key and he's done everything.

[00:16:02] Toby: He's done bookkeeping, he's done marketing, he's done. Uh, but when we started to really grow, um, then we just let you know, what, what his favorite part of the job and something he could do when he traveled was to handle the reservations. So that virtual assistant is the key. And when I listen to people talk about, uh, when we were going through the accelerated program with legends X, Um, was, yeah, I'm thinking about the virtual assistant thing and I wanted to just stop and say, stop right now, everything you're doing and get on Upwork or get on virtual staff finder and don't do anything else and hire a VA.

[00:16:41] Toby: Even if it doesn't work out, you find a new one and just go through that process. Cause it is a game changer, whether you're traveling or not, it it's the number one thing that you need to do. If you you're thinking about managing. Even one property while you're traveling it's

[00:16:56] Liam: game changer. It's a game changer to have just staff on hand.

[00:17:00] Liam: Like you say, people are worried because it's virtual that they might not get the same kind of, um, you know, the same kind of help they need as if they've got somebody local. But is it different concept? First of all, the hours are very different. You can have somebody overnight a lot. Um, and not only that, it's, it's just a case of having somebody who's on hand.

[00:17:18] Liam: Who's happy to work pretty much, you know, the, the hours you need. So, um, have you got more than one now? Is there a few virtual assistant

[00:17:26] Toby: or, uh, yeah, so I've, I mean, I've, I've had dozens of. Uh, different virtual assistant coming in and out. But I mean, I, I mentioned I have the travel blog and, uh, I'm still teaching full time, but, but online a hundred percent online.

[00:17:41] Toby: And so I have, 'em doing different tasks. They're all not just working for Cajun stays. Um, I, so I have, um, three other virtual assistants right now in the Philippines. Um, and I'm actually going to visit them in a few, few weeks. Um, um, I, I'm taking a flight there in about 10 days, so I'm excited to do that and meet 'em in person.

[00:18:03] Toby: Um, but that's handle things like social. Yeah.

[00:18:07] And

[00:18:07] Liam: you're the first person, who's your saying before the call, you're the first person that I've ever met. Who's gone out there and met your, your VAs, which is amazing for them. It'll build, uh, you know, sort of it'll build a bond, but also. You know, that's, that's just a really cool thing to do.

[00:18:20] Liam: Go out there and actually, uh, spend some time with them. So that that's

[00:18:24] Toby: awesome. Yeah. And it's, um, and, and, and they do multiple different things. They work with social media. Uh, I have some with revenue management, so, uh, if we get in the tech stack, we'll, you know, like our pricing software. Um, so they, they do different types of things.

[00:18:42] Toby: Um, Alex mainly handles the reservations and then I am, I mean, of course I have a team here, so I have, uh, two managers, um, who split split duties. And then my housekeepers, basically I had my five housekeepers and, um, I require my managers always to, um, to continue to, uh, clean houses and, and be housekeepers.

[00:19:05] Toby: That's how they all started. So they started as housekeepers and I promote them as manager. I never went out and found and, and hired a manager for short term rental business. Um, some of, I always saw the ones that I did move into management. Um, and I took him out of housekeeping. That's when problems started to happen.

[00:19:26] Toby: And so I just made it a rule, you know, it's like, you're gonna two days a week. You're gonna go in and clean the houses. Uh, even though you're the general manager of the whole company and I have an operations, uh, manager as well. And so that's just a, a rule that I, I like to follow. Cause I do it myself. If it gets really busy, I mean, I'm gonna get on my knees and clean the toilet and cuz that's what, and they know that that's what I gotta do.

[00:19:50] Toby: Uh, if a, if a housekeeper quits, uh, if I happen to be in the country, Um, but yeah, so you, you gotta set that standard for, for, and it is just something that I feel personally, um, um, really strong about,

[00:20:05] Liam: Hey, that's leadership that is, that is just jumping in and doing what you need to do, but that is awesome to, to hear that you're willing to, to, to jump in and, uh, and, and get the job done.

Where did Toby find his VA’s?

[00:20:15] Liam: Because if you, if they see you doing it, they're much more likely to do it, you know, and they'll always think of that example. So, uh, you know, that showed us real leadership on. You mentioned the, the tech stack, um, briefly, I just wanna touch on, you mentioned Upwork. Where did you get your, uh, where did you find VAs?

[00:20:33] Liam: Was that through Upwork?

[00:20:35] Toby: Um, Alex was through Upwork, um, the two, uh, two of the. Virtual assistants in the Philippines were also from Upwork. And I just hire hired a general VA, um, after reading virtual staff finder. And, and, um, so this person, I actually used the, um, the company, um, virtual staff finder, um, and, uh, that.

[00:21:01] Toby: She's basically takes care of a lot of other thing, personal things, basically a personal assistant. Yeah. But, but is most heavily involved in, um, in the Airbnb business when she does other things. Uh, but she's, uh, yeah, she's basically a virtual assistant and that was the only one right now that I found through virtual staff.

[00:21:25] Toby: That's cool. So I really only have experience. I know there's a bunch out there. Um, it's just basically whether or not, um, you know, that you have the upfront cost to find for, with virtual staff find where Upwork you go in. Uh, I recently took the. Other three virtual assistant off of, uh, Upwork because, you know, they they've been with me a while and I, I pay, um, a flat salary.

[00:21:50] Toby: One of the best things that this virtual assistant, the new virtual assistant brought to me was, um, transfer wise was a, a way to internationally pay. And I, I, I didn't know about it. And I was paying, um, through Upwork, which is an amazing. I love up work. Um, but these people have been with me for a while and so I trust them.

[00:22:10] Toby: And so that was pretty cool to, to get all the virtual assistance up on, on TransferWise.

[00:22:15] Liam: That's such a top tip. TransferWise is such a better value way to transfer isn't there. And I know there's a lot of new, uh, potentially other ways for through crypto and stuff like that. But transfer wise is what I use with, with, with my VA.

[00:22:27] Liam: And, uh, also like you say, People listening just to be made aware of if you haven't ever been on Upwork, just punch it in, go online on network, and you'll be able to see how easy it is to, to find people, to, to help you with your business and to help it grow. And virtual staff finder as well. So we touched on the tech stack there.

What tech does Toby swear by?

[00:22:46] Liam: So what tech, and obviously I know, like you say, there's a lot of tech within your business. What piece of tech do you absolutely swear by? And think everyone should have it doesn't have to be, you know, something well known. It could be something, uh, You know, sort of that you just like about your business.

[00:23:01] Liam: Uh, but anything, I think,

[00:23:01] Toby: uh, one thing that surprised, um, when we were going through our training and you know that, um, Eric and Jasper, Julie, that, you know, that they've, uh, even though I've done this probably longer than they have, um, I think I've been hosting, like this was just a side project for me and they live this in.

[00:23:21] Toby: And whenever I brought that up to the whole group that I used, uh, time sheets, uh, used to be called TSheets mm-hmm , which is the, to, this is how my housekeepers and managers clock in and out. And so this is it's owned by QuickBooks and it's, um, and there's a GPS system. And, um, so that every time they get to the house, they clean multiple houses in one day, they log into that.

[00:23:48] Toby: And then when they weren't done cleaning that house, they log out. Uh, and so if you're paying by the hour, which I still do, um, that is one of the, the things that it's, it's not popular amongst the, um, the short term rental managers that, that I've talked to. So that's one of the unique things that I used.

[00:24:07] Toby: Um, what was that called

[00:24:09] Liam: again? Just

[00:24:09] Toby: so, uh, it's called TSheets, but, uh, I think they changed the name to time. and it's, and it's owned by QuickBooks. So you log in through QuickBooks. Um, so yeah, and then, um, but our PMs is, is, um, we were with your Porter. Um, Alex found, went out and I let him go out and found it cuz that's his baby.

[00:24:32] Toby: And that's what he does. And um, we thought about when gusty bought out your Porter and changed it to gusty for host. Um, basically they're marketing as people who have smaller companies, uh, you, you know, Guesty for host is okay. And, um, you know, he's just so comfortable with. Guesty for host and was with your Porter.

[00:24:58] Toby: And, you know, I left that decision up to him and I think that's critical. Another critical thing about, um, managing company, leading a company. It's like, you know, I'm not gonna force that. And especially if it's, it's a tool that he uses all day long, you know, and he wants to keep it there. One unique thing about our company, we manage 21 houses, but we have over 50 listings because we have bunk.

[00:25:22] Toby: And we have private rooms and we have a lot of private. We have three, four houses that are set up hostile style, nice with bunk bed. And it's not very popular in the United States, like it is, um, in Europe. And so we have a tremendous amount of listings and so, and then we're on four different channels. We do direct booking through our site.

[00:25:44] Toby: And so we are still able to do it with Guesty for host. Um, uh, even though, um, we it's been recommended that we should move up to the, to the Guesty PLA form. Um, it's still working for us, so we're not gonna champ fix anything that isn't.

[00:25:58] Liam: Like you say, if, if, if it works, it works. And, uh, ultimately a lot of people always ask the question, you go, you know, what, what channel manage, what PMs should I be with?

[00:26:06] Liam: And there's so many different ones out there. Every single one can help you to grow and you can grow to the size you want to grow. You can make it work for you. And if not, there wouldn't be so many different ones. So this is where people always say, you know, people get quite hung up on the different, the different ones.

[00:26:23] Liam: Well, it's actually pick one, make it work for you and grow your company and focus on your. And, you know, on, on actually making it a business and that's, that's such an important thing. So yeah, I really like that. That's that's really cool. So in terms of thet sheets or, or time sheets and, uh, and like you say, a PMs is, is just so important.

[00:26:41] Liam: So. We've talked obviously about the tech, we've talked about your, uh, your, your business. Let's talk about the book that, uh, has recently come out hospitable hosts, which you're one of the, uh, co-authors along with, uh, 39 other awesome, incredible, uh, hosts from across the world, including people like.

[00:26:59] Liam: Obviously Mark Simpson got mentioned him. um, Judy George, Jodi Sterling. And, uh, I mean, we, we, we were talking to Tia castle last week. We've talked to Paul Anderson. There's so many awesome, awesome people, uh, within this book. And obviously, you know, the entire thing is to inspire and Mo motivate people from across the world who are looking to get into the Airbnb space.

How did Toby get involved in Hospitable Hosts?

[00:27:20] Liam: So how did you get involved in that project and, uh, what, what does it mean to be a hospital.

[00:27:26] Toby: Uh, that was an interesting story because, um, I was chatting with Julie, George, and talking to her about my involvement with legends X and, um, and, and I'm in the process of, um, looking for an exit route and selling actually a one day selling the company.

[00:27:45] Toby: Um, and. I've Al I've also get asked quite often on social media and here in the local community. So, so when's the book coming out. When's your book coming out, writing a, a full book because people with the music industry I was in and teaching college and traveling around the world and having Airbnbs, you know, and, um, I don't really have time to blog as much as I'd like to.

[00:28:08] Toby: And so I had actually signed up for a book writing course with one of my favorite authors. and, um, it was quite expensive and there was a 30 day money back guarantee. And, and, and I thought about it for, uh, for a few weeks. And then I actually. Messaged Julie about it. And she was like, well, why don't you just do this instead?

[00:28:30] Toby: But you've gotta have a chapter written in four days. Wow. Yeah. And, and, uh, so I was really late in the game and, um, and, and, and so I was like, no problem. I literally sat down and wrote it in one sitting. And it, it, because, I mean, it's a lot, what we just talked about in the beginning of this interview. It, it was just very easy for me to, to write.

[00:28:53] Toby: I mean, I mean, it helps. They, these people talk about how they're, um, Hey, do everybody's gonna get to be a published author? Well, I mean, I am a published author, but it's scientific manuscripts for, for the university. Yeah. I, I have a few of those, but I mean, I really was interested in starting to write a book and so it was serendipitous.

[00:29:14] Toby: It just happened like at the timing was incredible and, um, yeah. And I'm really excited about it. And then to see some of the people that I went through, the accelerator program with legends X already on there, and they were excited to see me pop up, cuz I think I was the last person added probably. And so yeah, I'm really excited about, um, um, getting that out there and um, even expanding on the story, you know, it's not somebody asked on the Facebook group, what was your biggest motivation?

[00:29:47] Toby: Uh, for, um, being involved with this book chapter, and my answer was, was motivation to get down and start actually writing the full length book.

[00:29:58] Liam: This is the taster then. So we can expect big things from, uh, to Dior with the next book coming out. But J just hearing your story of how you got started. And this is the key thing about this book is everyone's experience is unique.

[00:30:11] Liam: Everybody, um, is their own unique genius and they've, they've created a business, creating a business is very personable. You know, like it's, it's a case of. How you've started your business. Like you say, having taken that idea from Europe, for the host and then bringing it across, uh, to, to L Louisiana, you know, that's that's so, uh, not everybody would do that.

[00:30:32] Liam: You know, that's, that's completely unique to, to, to you guys. So I was really excited to see you join the book. And, uh, obviously the book is now out. So if anybody does want that, it's worth going across to hospitable and, uh, if you're a host as well, it's worth registering your interest. Cause I'm sure there's gonna be more books.

[00:30:49] Liam: Um, Jody Sterling is, is the person who's, who's put this project together, which started off as an idea about six months ago and is now a, uh, a book that you can go and buy on Amazon. So, yeah. Cool. To, uh, to have that out.

[00:31:02] Toby: Yeah. So it's interesting. You brought up about the hostile situation. Uh, as far as I know, Airbnb has had two conferences and they had the one in France that got cut short and they had one in Los Angeles.

[00:31:13] Toby: And this is like 10 years ago. And I'm, I was sitting there with the top engineers and, uh, and they were all around a table. And I just remember. Saying look, I've got a house and I've got bunk beds, four bunk beds in two private rooms. And I want the Airbnb calendar when somebody books a bunk bed to block out the house, or if somebody rents my whole house, mm-hmm , I want 'em to bunk block out the beds.

[00:31:40] Toby: This is, and they all just kind of look and at, at each other, like, no one's ever asked us that before. take the mold. Yeah. That's how long I've been hosting. And you know, and now the question is, you know, how many places do you manage? Um, back then it was back then. It was how many reviews do you have? Yeah.

[00:32:01] Toby: And, and so, yeah, that when I was on that's how I met Jasper and got into legends, X was because, you know, I met him at a conference and it had nothing to do with Airbnb. And he was like, how many reviews do you have? And I was like, I don't know, about 2000. And he was like, I've never met anybody with 2000.

[00:32:18] Toby: You wanna be on my podcast and that evolved into getting into legends X years later. So, um, that's, that was a pretty interesting part of that whole story, uh, was with changing. Uh, I'm not allowed to have, uh, hostile world and because I don't have a storefront. Um, and I never wanted one. So it's basically, um, that's, that's my business model and it's, I think it's so unique how people have huts and tree houses and things like that.

[00:32:47] Toby: My business model is I have a hostile business, but totally run through

[00:32:52] Liam: Airbnb. I don't think there's any other industry, which is quite as, as diverse as hospitality in terms of making it what you want to make it. And. You know, hospitality is incredibly, uh, forgiven on the fact that you can put what you want out there.

[00:33:05] Liam: And you'll probably. You know, I always mention this, but the, the vibe attracts the tribes. What you put out there is, is the, the people you're gonna get, and you're gonna be able to create a business out of that, which, which is cool. So you've obviously, um, you know, you you've started off with, uh, one property.

Tobys plans for the future

[00:33:21] Liam: You've, you've scaled up to 21 properties, but like say over 50 individual, uh, listings or, or, or things to manage. And you mentioned a second ago that you, you know, you, you're very much focused now on your travel blogging, and, you know, you wanna move more into. How has the travel blogging helped you with, you know, with hosting, but also what is that plan for the future as well?

[00:33:45] Toby: Um, the idea has always been to integrate the two. So, uh, I've been to several travel bloggers conferences now. And the key there is, you know, you gotta work hard for two years before you start making income, you gotta develop a niche. And, um, and that's really something that I'm still searching for. Uh, what's interesting is that the two largest travel blockers conferences, uh, in the states right now, they were scheduled to be in new Orleans.

[00:34:12] Toby: Two hours away and in Lafayette be right before the pandemic hit. And everyone knew that, you know, my name tag, it had Lafayette, Louisiana. And so it was interesting. And I that's when I really got fired up about jumping into the blogging. Um, but of course that's when things changed and it, and, and eventually got me into legends.

[00:34:33] Toby: X was when all of our reservations got canceled. That whole situation kind of shut down with the blogging. Um, and so I really haven't really honed that craft yet. And so, because I had to save my Airbnb business and then what eventually happened with getting into legends X, then I doubled the size of my business um, because just, just by accident yeah.

[00:35:00] Toby: And, and it's interesting. I mentioned this a lot is, uh, there's part of the program, which is really valuable about how to market. To add more properties. I have never done. I've done zero marketing property marketing in my business, and I've got five houses right now. I don't have time to jump on. And so that's where the travel blogging thing.

[00:35:22] Toby: Um, has really kind of taken a backseat, but I have taken some photography courses. I've continued to travel. Um, the people that are travel blogging are travel blogging because they wanna be able to fund their travel. Airbnb has funded my travel before I even knew what travel blogging was. That was the idea behind me, starting Airbnb from the very beginning.

[00:35:46] Toby: Was to get additional income to allow me to travel. And then, you know, so the travel blogging thing, it's still, even though I created the blog several years ago, um, it's still something that, you know, I stopped posting and started focusing on photography and Instagram. Um, but now this year, you know, one of my focuses is to start writing that book.

[00:36:08] Toby: And part of that is to take snippets and add it into the, um, travel blog. And, and start posting. Um, I started a regional travel, travel blog, and then, uh, we'll just see what happens from there. But the Airbnb business right now is it's, it's exploding as it, most of us know, um, with the board. It's a good time to be in it.

[00:36:30] Toby: Yeah. Yeah. So, um, So, yeah, it's just a, it's a matter of time management and, uh, you know, if anybody else is in any kind of situation like me, I mean, I think the big answer we talked about already is hire another VA

[00:36:47] Liam: so yeah, it's, it is brilliant to see how, um, you know, optimistic and, uh, solution based thoughts, you know, that, that, that absolute resonate from your Adobe is, is absolutely amazing.

A little more about Toby

[00:36:57] Liam: So, Um, yeah, what a great way to, to really draw it towards an end. And just before then, what we like to do is just do a couple of quick fire questions. So these can be short or as long answers as you like, just a bit of fun. Um, so you've traveled a lot. Do you rather go to hot or cold places?

[00:37:14] Toby: Definitely warm places.

[00:37:16] Toby: Um, and, um, in Louisiana, between may and August, it can get into the hundreds Fahrenheit and 80 90% humidity. And so I'm gone and that's, you know, so 10 days from now, I'm I, I go to graduation and we, our professors, we have to attend our graduation and my flight leaves like 10 minutes later. nice. And so, and I usually come back.

[00:37:46] Toby: You know, when the semester starts again, um, teaching online, but I'm just picturing, I'm

[00:37:51] Liam: picturing like the hat spinning as you like buy and gone hat spinning as

[00:37:55] Toby: you like, my bags are ready and packed. My apartment I'm in is, is unblocked for being able to book. So I think that's another interesting thing with me is that, um, I'm still single.

[00:38:07] Toby: Um, don't have children and I've got a backpack. That's always. and so that was another thing. People here thought I was kind of crazy, cuz I would literally move from one house to another, like a half a mile away and then to another one with a backpack. And then when I was ready to travel within an hour of me leaving it, it gets booked the place that I'm staying in.

[00:38:30] Toby: Um, so yeah, that's, that's kind of different. I it's, I'm traveling backpacking in my own

[00:38:36] Liam: home. Always, always being prepared. So beer or wine on your travels.

[00:38:42] Toby: Ooh, that depends where I am and whether that place is known for beer or wine, but yeah, more. Yeah. I'm a beer drinker, uh, Louisiana, south Louisiana.

[00:38:52] Toby: It's beer country. Uh, even though we do, we do drink wine. It's it's, it's a big deal here. Craft beer here is amazing. Uh, I know a lot of places here in, in the United States. Have focused on, um, breweries and that type of thing. And we have a couple of great ones, but, uh, spicy food, Cajun food mixes with beer.

[00:39:14] Liam: Nice. Nice. Well, when you travel to the UK, you know, you have to, there's a few great breweries across the UK as well, so you definitely enjoy that. Um, and lastly, what would your top tip be for new hosts? People who are just getting started? What would the, uh, you know, the one bit of advice you'd really give.

[00:39:31] Toby: First, very first thing that I would do is look into your local, um, regulations and what's coming local laws. Mm-hmm um, you know, it, it hasn't been all that easy. The road has been there's something, some bumps in the road. Um, uh, I did, uh, fight a lawsuit with the city. Um, we had about 300 hosts at the time in Lafayette and I was the only one.

[00:39:58] Toby: Sued for back taxes, sales, and hotel tax. Um, I decided to rep represent myself in court without an attorney and one nice uh, yeah, my buddy, who was a lawyer for six years, he was like, I've never even been to court yet. You've already won a law, a case that's pretty. So, uh, so yeah, so that was, that was a rough time though.

[00:40:21] Toby: It was about a year and a half where, you know, I was studying to become an attorney, an Airbnb attorney. But yeah. Check out your local reg regulations and make sure you don't put all this time and effort, um, into starting a business and, and, and, um, realizing later, you know, they've, they've really cut really started to crack down on places like new Orleans and New York and things like that.

[00:40:48] Toby: Um, so yeah, and, and I, I think I know this is just two part answer, but yeah, definitely look into the virtual assistant aspect of it as.

[00:40:58] Liam: I can see how much, uh, that's helped your business and how powerful, uh, you know, just having a virtual assistant is just allowing you to, to travel and to, to, to do exactly what it is you wanna do with your time, which, which is amazing.

[00:41:10] Liam: And thank you so much, Toby for, for coming on. I've I've really enjoyed this is, is it doesn't feel as though, uh, you know, it doesn't, there's no effort at all when, when conversation flows like this. So, uh, thank you so much. So how can people get in touch with you if, uh, if they want to reach out to.

[00:41:26] Toby: Yeah, the best way is, um, my travel blog email, um, and that's [email protected] uh, Cajun with a C.

[00:41:37] Toby: I see some people spell it with a K out there. Um, so yeah, um, [email protected] is the easy way through email, um, with all the things I've gone got going on. I typically don't have my phone number out there, but, um, yeah, E you can email me through the blog or just. Amazing.

[00:41:56] Liam: Amazing. Thank you so much, Toby.

[00:41:58] Liam: So that's it for another episode of behind the host, uh, hope everybody listening has managed to get some tips from anything from, uh, you know, using, uh, Upwork or, uh, you know, sort of what is it called, uh, virtual staff finder to just take an action and going out there and, and doing it and, uh, you know, being able to travel while doing it, which is amazing.

[00:42:19] Liam: So thanks again, Toby. And, uh, we'll see you on the next one.


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