How Regan attracts Insurance Stays and has grown her niche

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In this podcast, Liam introduces Reagan Sonnabend, an expert in insurance bookings for short-term rentals. Reagan, founder of Corporate Rentals Austin transitioning to Corporate Rentals USA, discusses the benefits of targeting insurance bookings for longer-term rentals. She emphasizes the advantages of midterm arrangements, offering better cash flow without the day-to-day challenges of frequent turnovers. Reagan addresses hosts' initial hesitation about rentals lasting 30 days or more, sharing her own experience with water damage.

Reagan outlines her business, Corporate Rentals, as a curated marketplace for midterm rentals, focusing on networking and targeting a specific avatarβ€”families with pets seeking whole-home rentals with fenced backyards.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome along to the Boostly podcast. This is a place that gives you the tools, the tactics, uh, the training, and most importantly, the confidence to go out there and get more direct bookends. Today, we're talking all about insurance bookings. There's a great big trend in short-term rental to try and get longer-term or midterm rentals that we're seeing a lot of.

[00:00:19] And one of the best ways to do so is to target. Insurance booking. So I'll let our guest today explain what they are, but we've got an expert who is in the world of insurance bookings. She's been in it and, uh, and lived it on two different sides and sides. And I'll, I'll let her explain about that in just a moment.

[00:00:37] Um, so let me introduce, uh, Reagan Sonnebend and, uh, let's dive into her story and get her tips on, uh, on her, on her journey. Uh, welcome along, uh, Reagan.

[00:00:48] Regan: Thanks for having me.

Introducing Corporate Rentals Austin

[00:00:49] Liam: No worries. Thanks for being here. So first question is, can you introduce your business? Where is it in the world? And, uh, what does it look like today?

[00:00:57] Regan: Sure. Um, so as you mentioned, corporate rentals, Austin is the existing brand today. We are in the process of transitioning to corporate rentals USA. to open up several new markets, uh, beyond Austin. Some of those that we have immediately, uh, in mind are, uh, Dallas, Chicago, where I am personally, and also in the Richmond, Virginia area.

[00:01:20] We have some other expansion markets, um, that we're planning for the future, but those are the most immediate ones.

[00:01:26] Liam: What did you do before, uh, corporate rentals and, um, Yeah, take me back to what you did before. Hospitality.

[00:01:34] Regan: Absolutely. It's interesting because hospitality has been a theme throughout my career.

[00:01:39] Actually, my first real job other than my grandma. Grandmother's fabric store was with Disney on an internship in the mid-nineties. Then later I first got into corporate housing in 1998. At the same time, I was in grad school and kind of doing some different things at that time. for was a lot of consulta two K projects.

[00:02:02] So it's way from there. I was out for quite some time, spent health care and then at an Airbnb host first in 2 has grown since then. So Tradition and short-term properties kind of over that period since I got started for real in 2014

Difference between short-term and midterm rentals

[00:02:30] Liam: That's cool. And for those hosts who are listening to this, who are just short-term rentals, what is the difference with midterm?

[00:02:36] What, what makes a difference? And why should hosts be considering it?

[00:02:40] Regan: You know, that's a great question. And one thing that comes to mind when you ask is the hesitation that I had when first being introduced to midterm compared to short term. The reason I say that I had that hesitation is because, within the short-term rental community, you'll hear a lot of hosts being very worried about anything 30 days or more because of tenants' rights.

[00:03:04] And so, you know, they'll say things like, you know, don't take those rentals 30 days or more. So I had a real aversion to that at first. And when I first started hearing a lot about midterm rentals, it took me a while to get over that hump. But what I've realized is it's brilliant. Because it offers much better cash flow than traditional long-term rentals, but without so much of the day-to-day that you have with short-term rentals with frequent turnovers with, you know, all the questions that come along with new guests in and out of the property, despite all the great things that we might put out there in our guidebooks for properties and things like that.

[00:03:39] So I've found midterm to be the best of both worlds, but also more rewarding because in our case, we do work largely with folks that have had insurance repairs done. So they've been through a lot and to be able to offer them a comfortable place to be and not to have to worry about all of their, you know, housing was for a moment, uh, is rewarding.

[00:04:02] In fact, I've been through it myself. I had water damage in my home about a year and a half ago. So we were displaced and, uh, unfortunately, I didn't have a property available, which is maybe not unfortunate. But I did have to rent a property from someone else. And I can tell you that the living experience that I had during that time is something that I want to avoid other people having to go through because it was, uh, it was a very vintage 1960s home with a, with a master bath that, uh, if you touched your elbows out when you took a shower, you would touch both sides and, uh, The bathroom had pink glitter, uh, vanity, things like that.

[00:04:39] So glad to be able to provide a more comfortable experience for the folks that we work with.

What does the business look like today?

[00:04:44] Liam: Um, what does the business look like today? How many units does it manage currently? And I know there's something that makes you guys pretty unique, which is, um, the way that you're taken on hosts. Can you share a little bit about that?

[00:04:56] Regan: Sure. And I do want to make the distinction that we're not managing for the other hosts, we're marketing for them. And so we're making what I would call a curated marketplace of midterm rentals available. Everything that we do is focused on that speciality, not focused on short-term rentals.

[00:05:15] And, you know, there, there are the two key parts. to what we do. Um, there are the homeowners, um, that are in transition that need those. But then there are also the B2B strategic partners that we work with, primarily insurance housing agencies, but some others as well.

How do you get corporate stays?

[00:05:33] Liam: How do you get corporate stays?

[00:05:35] You know, what, what are the tricks? Is it, are you listing in the normal places or how are you, how are you getting these, these bookings?

[00:05:44] Regan: Sure. Um, well we are listening in the normal places plus some and a lot of it is networking, which I think, you know, when I think about the real estate investor community, networking is the lifeblood for so many of us because, you know, you have different audiences that you need to network with, network with other investors.

[00:06:01] In this case, we're also networking with folks in the insurance side of the business with corporate, uh, relocation with those sorts of scenarios. But you do have others. Some other corporate business, whether it's consultants, projects, things like that. But to your point about the avatar, that is important even within the niche of midterm rental because you have to think about who it is you're trying to serve.

[00:06:26] There's a lot of talk about travel medical professionals, but often those would be smaller units, sometimes apartments, sometimes townhomes, things like that. What we focus on are whole-home rentals. We try as often as possible to have a fully fenced backyard, you know, thinking about the families that we might be serving three veterans, two baths and up.

[00:06:46] 70 per cent or so of folks that stay with us have a pet. So a fenced-in backyard is important. And so really focusing everything we do around that, that core avatar that we work with, but of course, having some things on the periphery of that as

[00:06:59] Well.

[00:07:00] Liam: How do you go about marketing this to owners?

[00:07:02] Because I guess there's a lot of owners who will be interested in, um, and I love the way you put it marketing with you, as opposed to. Having their property managed with you. How does that work? And what does that look like?

[00:07:15] Regan: Sure. So that's a key piece of what we do. And my business partners and I focus on networking within the real estate investor community for that part of things.

[00:07:27] And what we find is that that, um, you know, there are a lot of investors that have done flips, they've done short-term rentals, they've done different things. There are a lot of folks that are getting interested in midterm these days. We do look for hosts that have been successful and have hosted as opposed to just doing long-term rentals in the past because it is a different business and a different level of service.

[00:07:48] And so having those nuances And, uh, making sure that the service experience is something that will be satisfactory for the insurance and corporate partners that we work with is paramount to everything that we do.

[00:08:01] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea's loose leaf, making up those rhymes.

[00:08:09] Don't write it just to

[00:08:10] me loosely.