Catering to modern and traditional check in methods for guests

Catering to Modern and Traditional Check-In Methods for Guests

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 575.

In this Boostly podcast episode, Liam Carlan interviews Lauren Madewell, from Auntie Belham's cabin rentals, about their successful short-term rental business in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Auntie Belham's is a well-established vacation rental market located just outside the Smokey Mountain National Park, making it a big drive-to destination for honeymooners, anniversaries, weekend getaways, youth groups, families, family reunions, sports teams, and more.

Lauren's father inherited 51% of the business from his cousin who had passed away, and Lauren joined the family business full-time in 2011, falling in love with it despite initially leaving to bartend and travel.

The cabins are rustic, cozy, and equipped with modern amenities. They offer guests personalized communication and hospitable services, making for a memorable experience.

There is plenty to do in Gatlinburg, including hiking, outdoor activities, and events like car shows and sports tournaments. The location is within a day's drive of 70% of the United States population, making it a popular destination for many.

Overall, Auntie Belham's cabin rentals is a successful short-term rental business that offers guests an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Smoky Mountains.

Here's the video for this episode:

Timestamps (audio)

00:00 – Intro
00:40 – Laurens intro
02:11 – How did you get into Hospitality
05:45 – Guest experience and self check in
09:02 – Outro 

Whilst you’re here

Follow Boostly on the following channels to get more tips, tactics and knowledge on how you can increase your direct bookings

Visual – YouTube

Audio – Boostly Podcast





Transcript from the Episode


[00:00:00] Liam: Hi, and welcome to the new episode of the Boostly Podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the trainings, and most importantly, the confidence for you to go out there and get more direct bookings. So my name is Liam Carlan and I'm the co-host of the Boostly podcast. Today we're going behind the host of an interesting and successful short-term rental host, um, and learning about their business.

[00:00:23] Lauren Madewell, and she is from Aunt Belham's cabin rentals, um, you can go and check them out. If you go to www.AuntieBelham., sorry, Auntie Belham's with an and you'll be able to go and see their awesome, awesome website. So welcome along Lauren. Thank you for joining us,

Laurens Intro

[00:00:42] Lauren: and thank you so much for having me.

[00:00:44] Liam: So let's get started by, uh, you just explaining, uh, where you are based in the world. Um, what kind of hospitality business, you know, who do you host? Is it, is it leisure, is it workers? And also how many units you've got. I know we talked briefly before we, uh, kicked off with this and I was pleasantly, uh, surprised.

[00:01:02] So, um, yeah, go ahead, fill it in.

[00:01:04] Lauren: Sure. So we are, we are in, uh, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and. That's the Smokey Mountain National Park, so just outside of the Smokey Mountain National Park. And there are two main towns here. This is Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. And, uh, same county. And, um, this has been a popular vacation spot for going on a hundred years.

[00:01:25] Uh, so we're a well established, uh, short-term rental, vacation rental, uh, market. Oh, who do, who, who's our ideal, um, customer base. So where we're located, we're within a day's drive of 70%. Of the United States population. So we're a big drive to destinations. So it's, it's honeymooners, it's, it's, uh, anniversaries, it's, uh, weakened getaways.

[00:01:50] It's, uh, let's see, youth groups and families and family reunions and sports teams. We have all sorts of sports complexes in town, and we are, there's always events going on, whether in the convention centers or just car shows. And so we, we, we service vacation.

[00:02:08] Liam: That's cool. That's really cool. And tell me about yourself then.

How did you get into hospitality

[00:02:11] So how did you specifically get into hospitality and what is your favorite thing about hosting? Oh,

[00:02:18] Lauren: so it's a, it's um, it's a slightly more dramatic entrance than most folks I think. I don't know. It's the vacation rental world is, uh, it's a mixed bag. But, so back in 2009, I was still in college in Georgia for air traffic controlling actually, When I got a call one day that, um, it was from my dad and his cousin who I'd, I'd always called Aunt Shannon, his cousin had passed away and she had.

[00:02:44] Left the business to him in the will, uh, 51% to him, the other 49% amongst family. He eventually, um, bought the, bought 100% of the company that was back in 2009 and, uh, he took over the business immediately. He fell in love with it. And he was working with a, uh, rubber manufacturing plant. He was a manager of a rubber manufacturing plant before, but he fell in love with vacation rentals and the people who were, who had worked here for so long that he just went full-time in Tennessee.

[00:03:15] My mom, uh, she kept residency in Georgia because our tuitions were, were paid for. Uh, so I finished school and once I finished school, I moved here and started working for the family business. So that was like 2011 I think. So I joined my dad up here. My mom wasn't here yet, and I, I did fall in love with it, but I was young.

[00:03:34] I was in my young twenties, so I did have to spread my wings and I bartended for six months and then I traveled for six months and then I begged for a job again. And so I have been full-time with Antebellum's for about nine years now.

[00:03:49] Liam: Let's talk about your, um, the cabins. What can a guest expect when they come and stay?

[00:03:54] What is. Be bells, uh, cabins, like, you know, what can a guest expect to get experience-wise from the Smokies when they come and stay? Hmm.

[00:04:05] Lauren: Uh, there's, gosh, there's so much to experience here. Well, first off, they're gonna get, so from the moment they book, it's communication, it's personable, easy here for you, hospitable communication, whether it's text message, email, phone calls, Airbnb messaging, whatever.

[00:04:23] And then, um, The day of their check-in, we shoot 'em out, a video that I made and it just talks about, Hey, you know, we try to be perfect, but we can't be 100% of the time. So if you have an issue, let us know. We've got people, we're gonna come fix it. Don't, don't not enjoy something during your stay when we can come fix it for you.

[00:04:43] You,

[00:04:44] Liam: you belong in the family of hospitality. And, and by having other hosts explain their process and what guests like about theirs, then people can take things and, and put it into their own business. And the one word that you, that you said there, um, was, was trust. You know, you really sort of said how you build that trust.

[00:04:59] And a couple of the ways that you've done that is first of all, by always having a clean. Cabin, which you know, is outstanding when people walk in. I mean, that's the most important thing about hospitality, isn't it? And then you mentioned that the video that you sent across as well, so that video, is it a generic video or is it a personalized one each time?

[00:05:16] How does that work?

[00:05:18] Lauren: Um, it's not personalized, so I just went up to a cabin. It's, it's really funny. It's like 50 seconds. It's totally funny. Um, You guys should check it out. It's, it's on our YouTube page. Auntie Bells Cabin Rentals are on our TikTok Auntie Bells, but. So it's just, I uploaded it to YouTube so that it was a simple link.

[00:05:38] Mm-hmm. So that I could text message it to them like, today's your checking day. You might enjoy this funny, helpful video. And there's the link

Guest experience and self check in

[00:05:45] Liam: when it comes down to that, um, that guest experience. One other thing that you mentioned was loads and loads people, and now doing self check-in, you know, contactless check-in, how has that changed in the time that you've seen, you know, since you've been doing this since 2011?

[00:06:00] How has that changed? So before,

[00:06:02] Lauren: Just before the pandemic, it was before Covid. We were 100% in-person check-in because we wanted to establish one. We're here, we have a storefront, we're here. Here we are. Human beings, not a voice on the phone, an actual person, like people that you know, um, and just answer all their questions and engage them like you can see if you might have to tell somebody that, um, that.

[00:06:29] I don't, where am I going with this? You know, like, like, hey, um, smoking outdoors, just a reminder that smoking outdoors only. Mm-hmm. Or, uh, please make sure to leave the key in the key box in case of emergencies. Or, um, hey, just a reminder, like past 10:00 PM no, no loud music. You know, you can kind of gauge that person and, and nudge them in the right direction.

[00:06:51] You get a feel for folks, um, or. An opportunity to give all sorts of local recommendations. And, and we have like mom and pop shops and restaurants printed up on a sheet that we could give to them if they're interested in it. But you can, you can gauge this person. And oftentimes my girls, you know, Southern hospitality, we just, they just end up chatting and having a good time with people.

[00:07:11] And so, It, it was precious and it was priceless being able to check in 100% of our

[00:07:17] Liam: guests. That's cool. Like you say, there's, there's benefits to, to meeting people and you, you get that feel for people and, uh, having this new system, you've now got the best outta both worlds. You know, you can, you can literally, um, do what that person prefers as their.

[00:07:31] Choice of check-in, which is cool. So, one thing, um, I'd love to dive into, and we'll go into the tech route first, just because you mentioned how you can, you know, verify people and, and do that cool stuff. Um, there'll be people listening to this who haven't, who hasn't set up those systems yet. What would you say in your experience, um, What tech do you use in your experience and in your business, which helps to, first of all, verify those guests and also more generally, what other tech do you use in your business, which helps you?

[00:08:03] So

[00:08:04] Lauren: we are, um, we are not a tech-heavy company. Mm-hmm. Uh, for two reasons. There's, there's so, there's so much tech out there, there's so many moving parts. Um, I don't want to compile this big chain of, of all sorts of, of different, uh, uh, tech. When our system's not broken, if there's, if I ever see a piece of tech that can genuinely make things more efficient, I'll be interested.

[00:08:32] But right now I feel like I have a system. We have a system that's not broken. Why introduce an expensive piece of tech that I don't, I can't see. I can't, I can't play it out of how it's going to offer me that much more time or efficiency or whatever. The reason being is we, we, the property management software that we use is called Brightside and.

[00:08:55] They do everything. They do reservations, they do direct integrations with Airbnb and vrbo and whoever else.


[00:09:02] Liam: Thank you so much, Lauren. Um, so that's, bye from, uh, bye From yourself. Bye from me. I know that everybody listening to the podcast, I know that there's a lot of places you can put your attention and we thank you for putting it.

[00:09:13] with Boostly Uh, we look forward to seeing you on the next one. Let's bye for. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast, Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tea,

[00:09:22] Lauren: is loose leaf. Picking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just

[00:09:26] Liam: do it loosely.

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