Do you need to use AI in your STR business?

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In this podcast, Mark and Evan engage in a conversation about AI's impact on the hospitality industry, particularly in the realm of short-term rentals. Evan offers a key piece of advice to hosts: before implementing AI solutions, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of their own business. He emphasizes that AI relies on substantial data and suggests hosts manually optimize their operations until they manage around 30-50 properties.

The discussion delves deeper into the concept of AI, extending beyond simple tools like Chat GPT. Mark and Evan explore how larger companies utilize machine learning techniques to deliver personalized experiences. They also touch upon the importance of enhancing the visual appeal and user-friendliness of booking websites and platforms.

Looking ahead, Evan expresses his belief that AI will play a pivotal role in predicting guest preferences and providing tailored experiences in the future.

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[00:00:00] Mark: Do you need ai? That is the question. Uh, it's a question that I've been thinking about a lot over the last sort of couple of months, is when do we need ai? What is AI and uh, how does it compare to chat G P T if it does, and all those things. So I've been very fortunate to meet somebody over the last year that is leading the field in the world of hospitality, short term rentals.

[00:00:25] He's called Evan Dolgow. The name in itself fascinates me, and we're gonna dig into this in a second. Uh, we're gonna talk about all things ai, talk about Airbnb, how he called out Brian Chesky and everything else. You are about to see my mind explode on a, on a Zoom call. So we're about, we're about further being said.

[00:00:43] Let me pass over to myself and Evan. All right. All right. Welcome back. Good morning. Good afternoon, good evening. Welcome to the Boosty Podcast. We are here and we are talking about all things. AI to the left of me, as you can see on your Zoom screens, uh, is a fantastic Evan Dolgow, and he is just told me that there's only ever one, only one Evan Dolgow in the, in the whole world.

[00:01:05] Uh, so welcome, welcome, welcome. Just very quickly, just tell us the, the story behind the Sirnas. I like that as a nice, nice little intro.

[00:01:12] Evan: That's right, mark. Only Evan Dolgow on the planet confident in that taking 23 and me. Um, but yeah, it's an Eastern European last name. And then when my family came to America, I think they changed it to blend in.

[00:01:24] They didn't wanna, they didn't wanna stand out too much. So only Evan Dolgow on the planet.

[00:01:29] Mark: And, and where are you in the world right now?

[00:01:31] Evan: Currently I'm in New York City, but I spend most of my time hopping Behe between here and Miami. Um, the east coast is popping here.

[00:01:38] Mark: Um, obviously this topic is about AI and you are, um, been at the right place at the right time, making a bit of a name for yourself in this industry.

[00:01:47] After some fantastic talks in, uh, in Spain and obviously podcasts, et cetera, around around AI and al these last six, seven months, it has become the buzzword. And we are gonna crack on and talk about today about do I need ai and how is it going to impact this world of, of hospitality as, as we know it. So just, uh, before we get into that, just give us a little bit of background about, um, about yourself.

A bit about adaptive AI

[00:02:12] Obviously we've had you on the podcast talk chatting with Liam, uh, seems like a minute ago now. But just give us a bit of a refresher about AI adaptive, about yourself, how you got into this and, and all that good stuff in between.

[00:02:23] Evan: Absolutely Mark. Yeah. Thanks for having me. I know, uh, you got quite the following yourself.

[00:02:28] So happy to be here talking about this. And I, I get it because I come from the hospitality and real estate world where I was building real estate, I was selling houses, I was in hospitality school, and the last five years have been pivotal with this whole technology curve coming in. Everyone, everyone needing to adopt the best practice of this and that, and it's just the whole new world of something you didn't sign up for.

[00:02:50] But yeah, right now I'm the head of head of hospi, head of Predictive Hospitality. At Adaptive. What that means is how do we understand your guests a bit more and predict what they want before the stay, during the stay and after the stay. And the only way you do that is by interconnecting all of the dots, all the touch points of the digital touchpoints, the physical touch points, and then understanding how your guests behave and being able to optimize your entire business for those guests in real time across the entire booking funnel.

[00:03:18] You name it. I know that sounds broad, but I just want to give an all-encompassing approach to where we're heading here

Want to get into AI?

[00:03:23] Mark: when it comes to, let's say, AI adaptive, right? And let's talk about, uh, a single home host who is going right. I want to go all in on, on machine learning. I've got this one property Everson that's in Miami.

[00:03:38] I, Evan like, come on, let's do this. Plug me into AI Adaptive. What would you say to that person, first and foremost, and, and like, what would be the reasoning behind it?

[00:03:47] Evan: I would say you're a long way from ai, my friend. Um, cuz the reality is when you have a handful of properties, you don't need ai. You need to understand your business better than ai because AI needs to learn from you.

[00:03:59] And if you don't understand your business enough slash if your business isn't big enough to be gaining that much data, AI's useless. And uh, it's not a magic bullet to solve your problems. You gotta deal with that firsthand. The hard way, just like everyone else running your business the hard way like everyone else.

[00:04:14] And then once you're at scale, let's call it thirty, forty, fifty properties, then you can start to look at how to optimize it. With ai, somebody

[00:04:21] Mark: will naturally assume they mean that little thing that I've heard chat, g p T. But when you say ai, what are you really sort of. Ho in on when, when you're talking about this.

[00:04:30] Evan: Yeah. And that's what chat g b t has done to us. You know, it's like everyone's using AI now. I'm using AI for this. Sprinkle little AI on that. Um, no, I love chat G B T. It's excellent. It's helpful to get over those humps in the brain when you're brainstorming. Uh, but if you're young and you're starting new and, and you're motivated, Dominate your area with content.

[00:04:49] Use Chache BT to write 75% of things to do in your area, restaurants to visit. It can be an incredible tool. It's like almost having your own PR team at your fingertips. So definitely utilize Chache, bt. Don't run around telling everyone you're using AI because you're likely not. It goes much further on how the OTAs use ai, how e-commerce companies use ai, and I'm sure we'll dive deeper into that in a bit.

[00:05:12] Mark: Can you just give a like a little 60,000 foot view of what Sure. has specifically been doing with machine machine learning over the last few years.

[00:05:21] Evan: Sure. And it's, uh, we know here too. I use it often, even though it's ugly, it's personalized to me and it moves around for me. It works for me.

[00:05:30] I use it often. And, um, keep in mind they have many other websites under their platform too. Yeah, yeah. So, um, but yeah, it's, it's Amazon, it's your social media. Everyone's experience is unique to them in the sense that maybe the Buy Now plate, buy now location is in a different spot than it is on someone else's.

[00:05:48] The idea is they're constantly moving everything around on their website from featured properties to filters to pictures, because all of us wanna see different things. A family of seven in Beverly Hills is gonna wanna see pictures of pools and beaches when maybe a digital nomad needs to see pictures of urban units for themselves.

[00:06:07] The idea is that everyone's experience is unique to them, and the more you use it, computers can pick up things that we don't. So they can actually run their own AB test where they're, where they're automatically just moving everything around. And if it does something right, the machine learns that it did something right, takes the feedback and doubles down on it.

[00:06:23] If it did something wrong, it never does it again. And what that's doing is creating curated digital journeys for us on every website. That's a big technology company. Again, Amazon is doing this to us. You even pay more than other people. They're doing personalized pricing, not at the travel industry.

[00:06:39] Amazon is guilty of personalized pricing. Um, you have all the OTAs personalizing the content and the way their websites are structured. So the idea is that it's an expectation. It's a way to reduce the friction, increase the enthusiasm of your buyers, and spoonfeed them to the end zone and get them to book and spend more money.

What are host doing wrong?

[00:06:57] Mark: Very quickly, just talk to what hosts are doing wrong right now on their data booking site, and then secondly, give 'em a quick win and a quick fix of how they can, they can do this.

[00:07:08] Evan: Yeah, I just wanna give you a quick win before I even go down that route, as well as on stage at the book direct show in Barcelona.

[00:07:15] I was going through some of the best direct booking practices I've seen in place to increase conversion, and as I'm stepping down the stage, mark pulls me over. He is like, Hey, we already made three of those changes. While you were speaking. So that's what you want in a web provider here, in a platform where, where Bruce Lee's gonna make those changes immediately.

[00:07:34] Not wait to be passive, but they're gonna be proactive about it. And that was super freaking cool Mark, how you updated their website. Um, but yeah, I, I think what people are doing wrong is they're trying to reinvent the wheel or they're stuck on these old clunky platforms that don't fall in line with what we're used to today.

[00:07:52] So what I, what I mean by that is, 95% of, of OTAs have the same type of flow. Front and center is the, is the dates to put when and where you're traveling. Right? Under that are the featured properties, the recommended rentals for you, and everything. Below that is something else to click from a blog to amenities to cities.

[00:08:13] The idea is get rid of the words. I think that's proudy number one. When you have these chunky word blocks on your stage, on your, on your main page, it just ruins the entire experience. No one knows how to read anymore. Especially in America. I'm assuming in the UK it's probably similar. Yeah. I think the rest of the world is following America in the sense that we just look at the click pretty pictures.

[00:08:32] So the idea is front and center. Have the search bar right below that options to click below that more options to click, and then let your SEO guys have a field day.

[00:08:39] Mark: How, how do you foresee like the next sort of stage of all, all of this? Like how, how fast is this, you know, going to come where Literally.

[00:08:47] Yeah. Uh, it's every time you go on, it's something different. Like how, how, how, how far are we away from, from that sort of world right now?

[00:08:54] Evan: Yeah. I think we're a couple years from where AI really takes a play during the stay. But the idea is that the guest experience doesn't start at your front door. It really starts on your website, your website's, your digital storefront.

[00:09:07] And if you have a 360 degree view on what's going on in your storefront, you know how many people are coming in, what they're looking at, how they're behaving, and you can optimize that storefront to perform better. But through that, what you're really learning is how your guests behave. What's their purchasing power?

[00:09:22] What are their preferences? Do they care about kitchens, pools? Maybe they're looking at blog posts. Are they looking for things to do? And that's where I think artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning, will be able to understand what do guests want and begin curating during the stay touchpoints.

[00:09:38] Uh, if they're celebrating their anniversary, maybe on the TV it says Happy anniversary and strawberries are organized to be, are arranged, to be put on their, on their bed. If they have a kid, maybe a pack and play is gonna be set up beforehand. It's things like that that are really what I call pre predictive hospitality that are blurring the lines between.

[00:09:56] The, the Four Seasons and vacation rentals slash short term rentals. But until then, it's gonna be very clear that you're sleeping in someone's apartment until the machine learning starts to take those digital touch points and, and translate that into physical outcomes. So, um, I do think that's a couple years away.

[00:10:13] And then it's beyond. It's, it's the loyalty, it's the ability to not be a noisy marketer, constantly hounding your, your customers. How do you touch that? Every time you send us an email, how do you make sure that touchpoint is natural, it's organic. Um, so that's also personalization. So the idea is before this day, during this day, after this day, that entire guest experience is curated for each customer based on their purchasing power preferences, affinities.

[00:10:37] At Skill. I know it's a mouthful. Amen. And if I could leave everyone with just one final message for the next 18 months, it's that AI isn't going to replace humans, but humans that use AI will not only outperform those that don't, but they're gonna replace those that don't because they're gonna be that much more efficient and, and have much more velocity towards what they're doing.

[00:10:57] So definitely don't ignore what's happening.


[00:11:00] Mark: Amen indeed. All right. With that being said, we are coming up to 45 minutes, so a perfect time to put an into this. Evan, thank you so much for being part of this and we will see everybody back again in a few days with podcast. Thank you very much.

[00:11:11] Evan: Having a blast.

[00:11:12] Can I get it on the Boostly podcast? Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tees loose leaf, making up those rhymes. Don't write it just to it loosely.