How To Build A Business As A Digital Nomad

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In this podcast, hosts Spencer and Ashley explore the journey of establishing a thriving digital nomad business in the hospitality sector. They share their experience of transitioning from corporate roles to short-term rental investments. 

The hosts stress the importance of effective delegation and system integration, using tools like Hostfully for property management, Wheelhouse for pricing, and Breezeway for cleaning coordination. They highlight the value of creating a comprehensive playbook and instructional videos to address common guest inquiries. 

Spencer and Ashley discuss managing remote teams and advise early outsourcing for faster growth. Overall, the podcast underscores the significance of technology, efficient processes, and delegation in succeeding as digital nomad entrepreneurs in hospitality.

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[00:00:00] Liam: One of the troubles that we often see in the hospitality industry is that we love to travel ourselves, which is part of the reason we love to host people. But the trouble with hosting and travelling at the same time is it's not always possible. And I know that's one of the situations that many people out there would love to solve.

[00:00:18] So today we're going to be talking about how to build a business as a digital nomad, somebody who can work from Uh, just about anywhere there's a wifi connection with a laptop and, uh, and make a success out of it today on the boost podcast, uh, we're going to be interviewing a host, going behind the host to answer that question of how do you build a successful business?

[00:00:37] Um, and for those of you, who's never heard of the Boosty podcast, if you're listening to it, this is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence to go out there and get direct bookends. My name's Liam Caranan, and today we're going to go behind the host with Spencer and Ashley.

[00:00:53] From, uh, www. travelluxpropertymanagement. com. Go and check them out. They've got an awesome website and, uh, yeah, without further ado, let's say hello. So welcome along, uh, Spencer and Ashley.

[00:01:04] Ashley: Hey there. Thanks again for having us on.

[00:01:06] Liam: Thank you, for joining us. So before we, um, dive into some of the questions around digital nomads, can you give yourselves an introduction for somebody who might not be familiar, with yourselves and your business?

A bit about Ashley and Spencer

[00:01:16] Spencer: Uh, yeah. So we're, uh, we're Spencer and Ashley, you know, we, um. We started in the short-term rental business probably about five years ago and started investing, uh, in properties to be completely honest. And we saw the tremendous success we were having with that. And, you know, at the time we both had corporate jobs and our goal was, well, we want to travel more than three weeks a year.

[00:01:35] We only had three weeks of vacation. Well, she had four, and I had three. Um, and you know, It was immediately our goal to, okay, how, how can we get out of this rat race as fast as possible, be able to travel, but still make money while we're away and kind of live the lifestyle we want. And short-term rentals, you know, the first property we bought turned in, we turned it into one, it did extremely well.

[00:01:56] And then we ended up buying a couple more within a year or two after that. And then we kind of hit the, the part where it was tough to scale with, you know, banks and being at that debt to income ratio. So like, how, how can we do this? We have the tools, we have the resources. How can we, how can we blow this thing up?

[00:02:13] So essentially we found the management model and you know, that was the rest was kind of history. We, uh, we partnered with two good friends of ours who own a digital marketing company and, um, they did all of our lead gen SEO and kind of kick things off in that front. And now we've been able to scale to over 55 units across Canada.

[00:02:33] We're, uh, we're from Canada. Forgot to mention that. And, um, yeah, we're, we're looking to expand even outside of Canada and kind of take it to, to the next level there.

How do you travel while hosting?

[00:02:41] Liam: How do you travel while hosting? What are some of the tricks and tips of the trade to do that?

[00:02:49] Ashley: So that didn't happen for us overnight. When we started the business, we were still very well, hands-on, and anyone who's a host in the industry and run short-term rentals knows that it's, it's hospitality and hospitality never.

[00:03:00] Sleep, there are no weekends, et cetera. Right. So after we got to about 25 properties, we were like, look, we're burnt out. We still have full-time jobs at this point. We are not any closer to travelling more, actually doing less because we're so overworked. And at that point, we hired out all of the day-to-day messaging.

[00:03:19] And once we were able to step back from that day-to-day messaging and put a ton of systems in place where the business would run, whether we were in the country or not. That is when we were able to go out and travel, and it didn't matter if we were on Eastern Standard Time.

[00:03:36] Liam: Is there any kind of tech or tools that you use to help you do

[00:03:40] Spencer: that?

[00:03:41] Ashley: Oh yeah. So we use a PMS channel. We use Hostily personally. Um, we have a wheelhouse for pricing and we use Breezeway for cleaning accountability so that we don't need to go and schedule all the cleaners. Uh, each time there's cleaning, they can self-schedule.

[00:03:59] Liam: One of the pushbacks we often see is that cleaners struggle with some of this tech.

Any tips on getting the right people within your team?

[00:04:04] Are there any tips that you'd have around getting the right people within the team? And I guess that's a great question. Who's in your team? Who allows you to do this while you're, while you're travelling? Yeah. I mean, well,

[00:04:14] Spencer: the good news with the cleaners that we work specifically is that we have, like say a manager that oversees the entire staff.

[00:04:21] So. Our goal was just to get all these managers in the same room and get them trained on it. And essentially there is that learning curve of getting them bought in, but Once they kind of see the other side of it of like, Hey, this is going to make their life a lot easier. And now they can have some accountability, you know, that that's really when the switch kind of went off for them.

[00:04:43] And it's, it was just kind of learning through, through trial and just onboarding, you know, a few properties at a time and getting them used to it. We found that that was, uh, a pretty successful way, to make the switch over from just, Hey. You know, here, here's a playbook of how we want the property to look.

[00:04:59] Here are some pictures. This is where the remote goes now. It's okay. No, the remote needs to go here and we need a picture of it, or this needs to get cleaned and we need a picture of it. And, you know, we find that from an accountability perspective, it's, it's been a game changer and, um, obviously from the training side, it's a little bit more work upfront.

[00:05:17] But it's been beneficial and will be over the long run.

[00:05:21] Liam: What advice would you have? You mentioned this playbook, which is something that I'm a huge advocate of it, in any business, procedures, everything is written down. Um, where did you start with that? So there'll be somebody listening to this, who is going, I haven't got a playbook.

[00:05:36] Where do you start? Well,

[00:05:38] Spencer: it depends on what you're looking to offload. The first thing for us was our territory managers got extremely busy with the day-to-day messaging. And they were more, more so tied down with the clients and running, running around. So we brought in VA. So our first thing was, okay, let's, let's get the messaging off their plate.

[00:05:55] So essentially what we did is just went back into, you know, one property at a time, went back into like a year and a half to two years of guest history and look down the messages. What is the? Common questions being asked. What are the issues and what are the answers to those questions and what are the solutions to those issues?

[00:06:11] And you'd be surprised how big that the playbook can become just from going back previously, if you haven't started one yet, if your property's brand new, we always suggest, you know, just put a list of basic top line stuff. You know, where's the, where's the circuit board for, you know, where's the electrical board, if they need access to that, you know, where's the secondary lock box and then as.

[00:06:33] The booking start coming in whenever there's an issue or a question that isn't in there, just be trained or have your people trained to constantly be updating that because that's one thing. It's never perfect. Um, as much as you'd like it to be, there's always going to be questions or issues that come up that you're like, ah, Didn't think of that one.

[00:06:53] All right. Well, let's, let's go talk to the manager. Let's figure this out, but also make sure that this gets updated to that playbook. And then over time, it just becomes this monster and well-oiled machine where, you know, your VAs or your team can simply just look up the issue for that specific. property because every house and every property is different.

[00:07:11] It's got different nooks and crannies and issues that can happen. So, you know, every playbook will be slightly different in that regard. And I think a

[00:07:18] Ashley: a big tip that we've done too, is you may think, Hey, it's pretty obvious. This is how you work with a thermostat. But not everything is obvious to everybody.

[00:07:27] So we make how-to videos of like 60 or so different things. And we do it typically when we're onboarding a property. And I think that's important because it can eliminate a lot of issues or a lot of guest questions, because instead of going to you and saying, Hey, um, the house is really hot.

[00:07:45] How do I get the temperature down? Which is something we get quite a bit. And you and I may think, well, then. They don't turn the air up on the thermostat, but instead, we just say, um, well, instead they can go to their guidebook and it's right in there, how to work the thermostat. There's an exact video of us.

[00:08:01] Videoing that exact thermostat, not one like it, and it can, they can troubleshoot it on their own.

Advice looking back?

[00:08:07] Liam: If you could go back sort of five years to 2018, what advice would you give yourselves to either improve or speed up your journey, which has been massively quick anyway, what advice would you have for yourself?

[00:08:21] Spencer: I would have to say the use of leverage a little bit faster. I mean, I wouldn't take back the, you know, both of us having to deal with the You know, unfortunate call Friday night when you're sitting down at dinner and the guests can't get in, or there's an issue because you still need to be able to have experience dealing with that, especially if you're going to train it.

[00:08:41] But I will say, I think most people, I can't speak for everyone, but at least for us, for sure. Probably hang on to it a little bit too long before they go. Okay. You know what? I think we need help now. If we really wanna scale this, we, we, we need to outsource.

[00:08:57] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast.

[00:09:00] Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas, loosely making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.