Corporate to Comfort: One Hosts Journey to STR Innovation and Family Balance

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In this podcast, Moneesha, founder of KVM Stays in Peterborough, UK, shares her journey from a demanding job to creating a flexible property business. She highlights KVM Stays' focus on high-end accommodations for contractors and business travelers, named after her family members. 

Moneesha emphasizes proactive strategies for securing direct bookings, such as contacting companies directly, using strategic advertising on platforms like Airbnb, and maintaining strong customer service. Key tactics include visible contact information on listings and regular follow-ups with clients.

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Timestamps (audio)


A peek into the episode

[00:00:00] Moneesha: If I were to say what would be one of the few reasons why we've been able to get so many direct bookings, it would be because we, we've been solid in being out there and contacting the guests and not waiting for the booking to come to us. We are being very proactive.

[00:00:14] Liam: Having a blast, gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee likes Bruce Lee cause it's so hard and the T is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes, don't write it just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you better book directly. Here are the words in the podcast. That's what comes next.

[00:00:30] Welcome back to the Boostly podcast, the podcast that gives you the host, your tools, your tactics, your training, and most of all the confidence.

[00:00:37] So you can go out there and get more direct bookings. We're going behind the host today with an experienced, uh, host, uh, She's a coach. She's got an amazing business here in the UK in a place called Peterborough for our listeners. And, uh, yeah, she's the founder of KVM Stays. You can check them out at KVM Stays.

[00:00:58] Co. uk. We've got the wonderful Moneesha here to join us on the show. So welcome along Manisha. Thank you for joining me.

[00:01:04] Moneesha: Thank you for having me.

The business elevator pitch

[00:01:06] Liam: So I know I've given you a bit of a drum up there, but tell me about your business, The Elevator Pitch.

[00:01:12] Moneesha: Okay. Um, so it started about seven years ago when, um, I just felt very, very stuck in my job.

[00:01:20] I enjoyed what I was doing, but I just felt I traded too much of my time for money. I didn't have enough time for my daughter. I just had my daughter and it was just becoming a bit too much. And that's when I thought, okay, could I do something else? My husband's At that time, bless him. He said, you like watching home under the hammer.

[00:01:38] Why don't you go into property? obviously Um, it was completely different to what I was expecting from watching Home under the hammer and then going to Property itself doing all the training. So that's how it started for me And me, my focus was always to kind of grow it in terms of profit rather than scaling it up because uh Oh A mum with two children, I wanted to make it work around me.

[00:02:04] I didn't want it the other way around. I had a very high-paying job before, but then I didn't have the time. So I didn't want to set up a business that takes so much of my time that I still don't have time for the family. So I've made it work around me rather than me working around the business.

How many units & what guess avatar?

[00:02:21] Liam: How many units are you currently looking after?

[00:02:24] And what sort of guest avatar do you tend to host?

[00:02:28] Moneesha: So we've got 21 units at the moment. We setting up one at the moment and we've got another two, uh, four in the pipeline that we're just setting up or signing contracts on some of them. Uh, our main avatar is always been the longest. So, looking for contractors in the area, that's what we focus on.

[00:02:47] Uh, when we first initially started, when we did a market research, we kind of identified there was no high end, so we started with high end, but still, the business travel is the contractor market. Um, but as everybody else kind of started jumping onto that, we started looking at maybe doing the mid-range rather than the low range, uh, and that's what we focus on in, in our area.

[00:03:09] And that works well for us because we have got the demand for that.

[00:03:12] Liam: When you say the longer stays, what would your typical length of stay be? And are there any, um, tactics that you use to attract those longer stays?

[00:03:22] Moneesha: So we have many things that we do within the business. So, uh, last time we were looking at it, there was like a list of over 30 different things that we do from a marketing point of view.

[00:03:32] Uh, but some of, uh, the very successful one would be contacting directly the companies that coming into the area. So. Working on those who are coming into the area and calling them out. It's a really good method as well because they are in need. But once they're in the area itself, that's very important.

[00:03:50] What's also worked very well for us is, um, I always say we don't list our property on Airbnb or We advertise. So you have to make sure that you're advertising your property. So you have to make sure. So for example, with your title, you have to be hosted by Boards and Scabium stays. Um, you have to make sure on your profile, you have got your number somewhere on your profile.

[00:04:14] Um, make sure your logos are across all your photos. Um, if you've got a picture, we normally edit the photo. So you've got a big frame in the background. We edit it. We have our contact details in there. So you have to make sure that you are positioning yourself in a way that people if they want to, can contact you directly.

[00:04:36] So these are some of the few strategies that. I think has been more successful than others and also has a good, so apart from having a call-out team, you also want a customer service team that does the repeat business booking. So if you have a person who knows what they're doing and do the repeat business, it's very important and you need to be able to track it because I think.

[00:04:59] A lot of people do it, but they don't track the activity of what they're doing and forget about, um, going back. So we have a free, free, free rule in our business. So when we're doing the repeat, we do repeat three days in a row, and then we do three weeks in a row, and then we do three months in a row, and we'll still follow up with constant email from an email marketing point of view.

[00:05:21] So I think. If I were to say what would be one of the few reasons why we've been able to get so many direct bookings, it would be because we, we've been solid in being out there and contacting the guests and not waiting for the booking to come to us, being very proactive.

[00:05:37] Liam: Why KVM? What, what, what, what's the story behind the name?

[00:05:41] Moneesha: So K is my husband's or Kailash, uh, V, uh, sorry, K is for my daughter. Cause it was my daughter's first. So my daughter is Kyra, V, which is my husband, home name, which is Vic. And then M is for Manisha. So it's, it's a family business.

[00:05:56] Liam: No, it's cool. And this is the thing that, um, I speak to hosts all the time. And if you're one of these hosts listening to this right now, she's going, I don't know what to call my, my, my business, you know, like, or you've just got a place on Airbnb and you realize you've got to have a brand behind it.

[00:06:09] It is a case of not worrying too much. It's, it's get something which means something to yourself and you're more likely, to market it well at the end of the day. So that's a cool, um, cool story behind the name.

The unit model

[00:06:21] When it comes down to the units that you manage, uh, sorry, or that you look after, are they management, are these rent to rent, what sort of model do you go for?

[00:06:30] Moneesha: So, uh, when we first started, we go, we went straight with the rent to SA model. Um, because, uh, when I started, I wanted to understand the property market 'cause it was completely different to anything that I knew because, uh, I was not born in the UK. I only came to the UK in 2009. So this was completely new to me as I was in the UK.

[00:06:49] So. Just knowing the property, the areas where to invest was, you know, something completely new to me. Um, but also I was in the education sector, so I didn't know anything about property. So for me, it was very important for me to get to know, uh, what I'm doing, but also feel comfortable because I think if you're doing a job for so long, like in my last job, I was there for like 10 years, uh, you feel very confident cause you know what you're doing.

[00:07:13] And suddenly you've been put in a completely different position. Completely different situation. You're like, Oh, I don't know if I'm very good at this. This is completely new to me. So I just felt I needed to invest in myself. I think that was most with the best decision that I could take at that time was to invest in learning about service accommodation, learning about property to make sure that I knew which strategy would work for me.

[00:07:33] So I didn't just jump into service accommodation. I've tried to learn about different strategies before I decide, uh, to go for service accommodation. So that's kind of where I started.

Who is on the team

[00:07:44] Liam: Who is on your team at the moment? Who is in your business day-to-day?

[00:07:48] Moneesha: Day to day. So we've got a marketing director who's also doing the operation directly, uh, who's also the operation director, and then most of our marketing and support team are all from the Philippines.

[00:08:01] So we have lovely ladies from the Philippines that cover the whole customer service side. And then I have an awesome housekeeper, head housekeeper. And she's amazing. Uh, she's like gold dust. I think my business wouldn't run as well as it is at the moment if I didn't have her because she's very consistent and she's somebody you can rely on, which is what you need.

[00:08:23] Uh, if you want to step away and not do the day-to-day running, it's very, very important to have people that you can trust. So that gives us. The right balance, because, uh, the operation director is from the Philippines, so they can control the hours there. And then the head housekeeper, who needs to be in the UK, reflects the UK time, so that works well.

[00:08:43] Liam: Thank you two for listening to this on the Boostly podcast. If there's somebody you know who's going to get value from this, please do share the Boostly podcast with them. You can come and continue the conversation in the Facebook group, The Hospitality Community. You'll find, uh, myself, Manisha and many of the other experts in there as well.

[00:09:01] So, um, thank you so much for listening. We'll see you on the next one. That's it for now. Thanks for having me. Bye-bye having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.