Growing together through STR

Welcome to our latest podcast episode!

In this podcast, Liam interviews Zev and Melissa Forrest from Xenia Stays, discussing their successful short-term rental business. They emphasize the value of direct bookings and creating their own website.

Operating primarily in Southern California, they share tips on working as a couple and leveraging their respective strengths. Zev's sales background aids in negotiation and guest experiences, while Melissa excels in hospitality and operational management.

Zev also offers advice on rental arbitrage, including researching local regulations and targeting properties within a reasonable distance. They express their love for hospitality, and eagerness to collaborate, and invite listeners to connect on social media.

Key Takeaways

  • Liam interviews Zev and Melissa Forrest from Xenia Stays, discussing their successful short-term rental business.
  • They emphasize the value of direct bookings and creating their own website.
  • Zev's sales background aids in negotiation and guest experiences, while Melissa excels in hospitality and operational management.
  • Zev offers advice on rental arbitrage, including researching local regulations and targeting properties within a reasonable distance.
  • They express their love for hospitality, and eagerness to collaborate, and invite listeners to connect on social media.

Here's the video for this episode:

Timestamps (audio)

00:00 – Intro
01:08 – A bit about the business
02:06 – Tips for working with your other half
05:42 – What advice would you have for someone getting into co-hosting
09:20 – Outro

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Transcript from the Episode

Intro

[00:00:00] Liam: Hey everybody and welcome to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tactics, the tools and the training, and most importantly, the confidence on how you can get more direct bookings. My name is Liam Carolan. I'm Mark Simpson's co-host, and today we are going behind the host of another successful and interesting, uh, the host who is gonna share some tips and some story on how their business got started so you can implement.

[00:00:25] Some of the tips into your business and, uh, we can all grow together, which is cool. So today we've got Zev and Melissa Forrest from Xenia stays. They've, uh, come from, I know it's virtual, but I still like to say they've come from California near la. And, uh, welcome to the Boostly podcast, uh, Zev and Melissa,

[00:00:44] Melissa: thank you so much for having us.

[00:00:46] We're really excited to be here and just honoured to be able to share, um, some of our knowledge with all of your viewers. Yeah,

[00:00:54] Zev: we're big fans of Boostly yes, big fans of Mark. And, um, it's a pleasure being, on the podcast with you guys and, and you as well, Liam.

[00:01:01] Liam: Hey, I'm looking forward, to seeing what you guys share today and, uh, I always pick up bits of knowledge and, and learn myself, so this is gonna be cool.

A bit about the business

[00:01:08] So, Melissa, let's start with yourself. If you can tell us where in the world, we know where you are, but where are your properties, what does your business look like? How many units do you manage, and who do you host? What kind of guests?

[00:01:21] Melissa: Okay, Liam. So right now we're sitting in unit number 11.

[00:01:26] We're in the middle of finishing this unit up and all of our units are located in Southern California around, um, la the outskirts of Los Angeles. And here we are in our business, um, is we're in a part of our business where we're no longer just saying that we're Airbnb. We have started our direct booking website and, uh, yes, and it honestly all to Mark.

[00:01:51] We were at, um, an event last year where Mark gave a talk and it. Hit home for us. And we came home and started that direct booking site and started promoting ourselves as genius days, not Airbnb or just str.

Tips for working with your other half

[00:02:06] Liam: I know people are gonna be listening to this. Um, Melissa and Zev, you, you, you work together.

[00:02:10] Uh, you're in the day-to-day operational needs of the business. So how do you, um, how do you cope with, with that, working with your partner? Any advice or tips that you can share, to make that work? Cause I know, um, if I and my half worked together, we, we'd end up. Uh, probably killing each other, to be honest.

[00:02:28] Melissa: So, so we hear that a lot. Um, I truly, I think number one is we, we truly respect each other and our knowledge we're very different people. The way I think is very different from what he thinks. He's very analytical numbers driven and he's amazing. In sales, I'm more. Hospitality design, uh, you know, running the operations.

[00:02:53] So we just sat down together and we analyzed, you know, what, what are you gonna focus on and what am I gonna focus on? And we're gonna stay in each other's lanes. So I'm not gonna overstep, you know, any decision he makes that has to do with acquisitions or, um, analyzing any deals. And he doesn't overstep in anything that has to do, with whatever I take care of.

[00:03:15] So, We just admire each other. We respect each other. And, um, and we just, um, yeah. Elaine, do you wanna?

[00:03:23] Zev: Well, I, yeah. Well, I, I think what, what it, what was really important was the prerequisite to working together. What helped was working on our mindset, working on personal development, working on, on building a business mindset too.

[00:03:37] Um, and, and, and as well as just getting to know each other personally, that strengthening our relationship. Um, Behind the scenes of the business helped before, uh, going full, full, uh, full speed ahead in the business so that we, we learned how to give each other feedback and how to take feedback, uh, both on the personal side, which then, uh, trickled down into the business side, giving each other feedback.

[00:04:02] Like if I had some feedback on the design, which I do a lot, um, she doesn't, she doesn't, you know, tell me to go away and let me handle this. We, we know how to do that with each other. And I think I think, um, I get it that a lot of people can't work together, especially live together, let alone, right? Mm-hmm.

[00:04:19] So I think what has strengthened our relationship, both it's symbiotic working together, has strengthened our relationship. That's right. And. Working together has also, and, and, and, and strengthened our relationships has then strengthened our business relationships. It's, you know, it kind of works together that way, which was a blessing as well.

[00:04:40] Liam: What skills would you say are the most transferrable skills from your, your background, which, Was in a similar area, I guess, property, but what were the transferrable skills that you brought with you that are important now when hosting in short-term rentals and ze, if we start with yourself and then go over to Melissa.

[00:04:59] Zev: Sure. So the first thing that comes to mind, I don't know if it, it's, it's, um, so, so to hosting, so cuz my background in our business is acquisitions, getting more properties, whether that's through buying more or. Are we doing arbitrage? We're reaching out for co-hosting. So I have a very big sales background.

[00:05:16] So what's helped me in growing our business has been the sales background, learning how to negotiate, learning how to speak with people, learning how to, uh, overcome objections or being able to provide solutions to people's problems. I guess that also could work with, uh, hosting as well. We take a look into what people are.

[00:05:36] The feedback that they give us, the problems that they have, and we try to, uh, cater to their needs as well to our guests.

What advice would you have for someone getting into co-hosting?

[00:05:42] Liam: What advice would you have for somebody who's looking to get started with more co-hosting, and more rental arbitrage? How can they find these leads, and what have you done in your business that somebody else may be able to emulate?

[00:05:56] Zev: Sure. So I'm gonna speak, uh, more so to the arbitrage side because that was, that was a bigger strength of ours. Mm-hmm. So, I guess are, would you wanna say like, the steps to it? Or, or, how would you wanna go about that?

[00:06:09] Liam: Yeah, if you were to break it down to, uh, I know it's, it's never as simple as a few steps, but break it down to, to a few steps that somebody would be able to follow.

[00:06:17] Zev: Of course. That's fine. So you wanna make sure that You first wanna see where you want to start the business, and we typically say that you want to start your first property within an hour, maybe two hours max, but more so an hour's drive from where you are if the city allows it. So the first step you wanna do is take a look at the city that you're in.

[00:06:39] Take a look at the neighbourhoods, take a look at the communities within an hour, within an hour's's drive, and you want to go on Airbnb. Well, first and foremost, you want to go onto the city website and you wanna check the ordinance. It's very, very important because everything you do thereafter if you don't check the short-term rental ordinance first, you will be wasting all of your time thereafter, everything you do after that.

[00:07:00] So first, make sure, check, gather the, the local ordinances for all the cities within an hour around you. Okay. Then after you get those down, you can then, uh, do a process of elimination, cuz most likely, some of them won't be friendly for short-term rentals, but the friendly ones, then you're gonna go and look at those and take a look at the numbers and a lot of seasoned hosts or people that are invested in this business go look at like Air D n A or, or Price Labs data.

[00:07:24] But you don't need that to get started. You can just go straight onto airbnb.com and you can take a look at the. Uh, properties within the community that you're looking at and you wanna look at the reviews. So you wanna see, you know, how much demand is there. And we could judge that based on reviews of all the properties.

[00:07:44] So if each property around there has about, call it an average of 30, 40 reviews, that must mean they've had about 60, 80, a hundred people stay at their property, give or take. And now you say, okay, great. So there's some demand there. Then you want to go in and see. What their calendar looks like. On each of those properties for a month or two months out.

[00:08:07] If the month, if the following month, let's say we're looking today December 1st, and, and we wanna look at for the whole month of December, if the month is, let's say, I'd say 50% or 75% booked, then it's a fairly great property. Um, it's doing well. So you want to average out all the properties you're gathering and make sure that they have a somewhat booked calendar.

[00:08:30] After you do that, go on websites that. Have properties for lease. So out here we have zillow.com, apartments.com, hot pads.com, and I, I always say treat this process now as if you're going out looking to rent a property yourself, just like you. We're going to go and move into a property and you look at all the properties and you start calling all the leasing agents or the property owners, or the property management companies, and you want to go and start pitching your business.

[00:08:57] And, um, You know, without getting into the whole pitch, you want to, um, show them like that you are a, a, what you plan to do with the property, you know, what kind of, what kind of business that you operate and the guarantees that you're going to give them and the solutions that you'll provide and how you differentiate yourself between, uh, running your business out of their property versus a traditional long-term tenant.

Outro

[00:09:20] Liam: Final thoughts or anything you'd like to share just before we bring things to a close?

[00:09:23] Zev: Um, Just if, if, for anyone listening to this, we truly, truly enjoy this business. We love hospitality. We love the folks that we meet in this business that have a passion for it as well. We love providing memories and great stays and homes for people to feel comfortable in.

[00:09:43] And with that we love. Um, sharing knowledge and teaching others, um, how to start this business, how to operate it in anything we can. So with that being said, we'd love to hear, from everyone on what questions they have. There's no stupid question. It could be something small or large. And, um, you know, give us a r give us a, a, message, on Instagram or one of our YouTube videos.

[00:10:07] Put a comment in there and we want to get back to you. We want to, to, to, to interact with everyone and, um, Yeah, also for the investors out there that have a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines and they wanna invest their money in into the short-term rental space, but they don't really wanna be in the operations of it, um, we are open to that as well and, and reach out to us on Instagram or any other platform as well to, to, to do that.

[00:10:33] Having a blast.

[00:10:33] Liam: Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast.

[00:10:36] Zev: Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tee is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loose.

Before you leave

Please go and rate, review and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify

Transcript from the Episode

Intro

[00:00:00] Liam: Hey everybody and welcome to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tactics, the tools and the training, and most importantly, the confidence on how you can get more direct bookings. My name is Liam Carolan. I'm Mark Simpson's co-host, and today we are going behind the host of another successful and interesting, uh, the host who is gonna share some tips and some story on how their business got started so you can implement.

[00:00:25] Some of the tips into your business and, uh, we can all grow together, which is cool. So today we've got Zev and Melissa Forrest from Xenia stays. They've, uh, come from, I know it's virtual, but I still like to say they've come from California near la. And, uh, welcome to the Boostly podcast, uh, Zev and Melissa,

[00:00:44] Melissa: thank you so much for having us.

[00:00:46] We're really excited to be here and just honoured to be able to share, um, some of our knowledge with all of your viewers. Yeah,

[00:00:54] Zev: we're big fans of Boostly yes, big fans of Mark. And, um, it's a pleasure being, on the podcast with you guys and, and you as well, Liam.

[00:01:01] Liam: Hey, I'm looking forward, to seeing what you guys share today and, uh, I always pick up bits of knowledge and, and learn myself, so this is gonna be cool.

A bit about the business

[00:01:08] So, Melissa, let's start with yourself. If you can tell us where in the world, we know where you are, but where are your properties, what does your business look like? How many units do you manage, and who do you host? What kind of guests?

[00:01:21] Melissa: Okay, Liam. So right now we're sitting in unit number 11.

[00:01:26] We're in the middle of finishing this unit up and all of our units are located in Southern California around, um, la the outskirts of Los Angeles. And here we are in our business, um, is we're in a part of our business where we're no longer just saying that we're Airbnb. We have started our direct booking website and, uh, yes, and it honestly all to Mark.

[00:01:51] We were at, um, an event last year where Mark gave a talk and it. Hit home for us. And we came home and started that direct booking site and started promoting ourselves as genius days, not Airbnb or just str.

Tips for working with your other half

[00:02:06] Liam: I know people are gonna be listening to this. Um, Melissa and Zev, you, you, you work together.

[00:02:10] Uh, you're in the day-to-day operational needs of the business. So how do you, um, how do you cope with, with that, working with your partner? Any advice or tips that you can share, to make that work? Cause I know, um, if I and my half worked together, we, we'd end up. Uh, probably killing each other, to be honest.

[00:02:28] Melissa: So, so we hear that a lot. Um, I truly, I think number one is we, we truly respect each other and our knowledge we're very different people. The way I think is very different from what he thinks. He's very analytical numbers driven and he's amazing. In sales, I'm more. Hospitality design, uh, you know, running the operations.

[00:02:53] So we just sat down together and we analyzed, you know, what, what are you gonna focus on and what am I gonna focus on? And we're gonna stay in each other's lanes. So I'm not gonna overstep, you know, any decision he makes that has to do with acquisitions or, um, analyzing any deals. And he doesn't overstep in anything that has to do, with whatever I take care of.

[00:03:15] So, We just admire each other. We respect each other. And, um, and we just, um, yeah. Elaine, do you wanna?

[00:03:23] Zev: Well, I, yeah. Well, I, I think what, what it, what was really important was the prerequisite to working together. What helped was working on our mindset, working on personal development, working on, on building a business mindset too.

[00:03:37] Um, and, and, and as well as just getting to know each other personally, that strengthening our relationship. Um, Behind the scenes of the business helped before, uh, going full, full, uh, full speed ahead in the business so that we, we learned how to give each other feedback and how to take feedback, uh, both on the personal side, which then, uh, trickled down into the business side, giving each other feedback.

[00:04:02] Like if I had some feedback on the design, which I do a lot, um, she doesn't, she doesn't, you know, tell me to go away and let me handle this. We, we know how to do that with each other. And I think I think, um, I get it that a lot of people can't work together, especially live together, let alone, right? Mm-hmm.

[00:04:19] So I think what has strengthened our relationship, both it's symbiotic working together, has strengthened our relationship. That's right. And. Working together has also, and, and, and, and strengthened our relationships has then strengthened our business relationships. It's, you know, it kind of works together that way, which was a blessing as well.

[00:04:40] Liam: What skills would you say are the most transferrable skills from your, your background, which, Was in a similar area, I guess, property, but what were the transferrable skills that you brought with you that are important now when hosting in short-term rentals and ze, if we start with yourself and then go over to Melissa.

[00:04:59] Zev: Sure. So the first thing that comes to mind, I don't know if it, it's, it's, um, so, so to hosting, so cuz my background in our business is acquisitions, getting more properties, whether that's through buying more or. Are we doing arbitrage? We're reaching out for co-hosting. So I have a very big sales background.

[00:05:16] So what's helped me in growing our business has been the sales background, learning how to negotiate, learning how to speak with people, learning how to, uh, overcome objections or being able to provide solutions to people's problems. I guess that also could work with, uh, hosting as well. We take a look into what people are.

[00:05:36] The feedback that they give us, the problems that they have, and we try to, uh, cater to their needs as well to our guests.

What advice would you have for someone getting into co-hosting?

[00:05:42] Liam: What advice would you have for somebody who's looking to get started with more co-hosting, and more rental arbitrage? How can they find these leads, and what have you done in your business that somebody else may be able to emulate?

[00:05:56] Zev: Sure. So I'm gonna speak, uh, more so to the arbitrage side because that was, that was a bigger strength of ours. Mm-hmm. So, I guess are, would you wanna say like, the steps to it? Or, or, how would you wanna go about that?

[00:06:09] Liam: Yeah, if you were to break it down to, uh, I know it's, it's never as simple as a few steps, but break it down to, to a few steps that somebody would be able to follow.

[00:06:17] Zev: Of course. That's fine. So you wanna make sure that You first wanna see where you want to start the business, and we typically say that you want to start your first property within an hour, maybe two hours max, but more so an hour's drive from where you are if the city allows it. So the first step you wanna do is take a look at the city that you're in.

[00:06:39] Take a look at the neighbourhoods, take a look at the communities within an hour, within an hour's's drive, and you want to go on Airbnb. Well, first and foremost, you want to go onto the city website and you wanna check the ordinance. It's very, very important because everything you do thereafter if you don't check the short-term rental ordinance first, you will be wasting all of your time thereafter, everything you do after that.

[00:07:00] So first, make sure, check, gather the, the local ordinances for all the cities within an hour around you. Okay. Then after you get those down, you can then, uh, do a process of elimination, cuz most likely, some of them won't be friendly for short-term rentals, but the friendly ones, then you're gonna go and look at those and take a look at the numbers and a lot of seasoned hosts or people that are invested in this business go look at like Air D n A or, or Price Labs data.

[00:07:24] But you don't need that to get started. You can just go straight onto airbnb.com and you can take a look at the. Uh, properties within the community that you're looking at and you wanna look at the reviews. So you wanna see, you know, how much demand is there. And we could judge that based on reviews of all the properties.

[00:07:44] So if each property around there has about, call it an average of 30, 40 reviews, that must mean they've had about 60, 80, a hundred people stay at their property, give or take. And now you say, okay, great. So there's some demand there. Then you want to go in and see. What their calendar looks like. On each of those properties for a month or two months out.

[00:08:07] If the month, if the following month, let's say we're looking today December 1st, and, and we wanna look at for the whole month of December, if the month is, let's say, I'd say 50% or 75% booked, then it's a fairly great property. Um, it's doing well. So you want to average out all the properties you're gathering and make sure that they have a somewhat booked calendar.

[00:08:30] After you do that, go on websites that. Have properties for lease. So out here we have zillow.com, apartments.com, hot pads.com, and I, I always say treat this process now as if you're going out looking to rent a property yourself, just like you. We're going to go and move into a property and you look at all the properties and you start calling all the leasing agents or the property owners, or the property management companies, and you want to go and start pitching your business.

[00:08:57] And, um, You know, without getting into the whole pitch, you want to, um, show them like that you are a, a, what you plan to do with the property, you know, what kind of, what kind of business that you operate and the guarantees that you're going to give them and the solutions that you'll provide and how you differentiate yourself between, uh, running your business out of their property versus a traditional long-term tenant.

Outro

[00:09:20] Liam: Final thoughts or anything you'd like to share just before we bring things to a close?

[00:09:23] Zev: Um, Just if, if, for anyone listening to this, we truly, truly enjoy this business. We love hospitality. We love the folks that we meet in this business that have a passion for it as well. We love providing memories and great stays and homes for people to feel comfortable in.

[00:09:43] And with that we love. Um, sharing knowledge and teaching others, um, how to start this business, how to operate it in anything we can. So with that being said, we'd love to hear, from everyone on what questions they have. There's no stupid question. It could be something small or large. And, um, you know, give us a r give us a, a, message, on Instagram or one of our YouTube videos.

[00:10:07] Put a comment in there and we want to get back to you. We want to, to, to, to interact with everyone and, um, Yeah, also for the investors out there that have a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines and they wanna invest their money in into the short-term rental space, but they don't really wanna be in the operations of it, um, we are open to that as well and, and reach out to us on Instagram or any other platform as well to, to, to do that.

[00:10:33] Having a blast.

[00:10:33] Liam: Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast.

[00:10:36] Zev: Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tee is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loose.

Before you leave

Please go and rate, review and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify

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