Outsourcing The Full Interior Design Process For Your STR

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In this podcast, Liam interviews Jenny Yi, owner of Jenny Yi Designs, specializing in short-term rentals. Jenny shares insights from her journey, emphasizing the evolving expectations of post-COVID guests.Β 

With over a hundred Airbnb projects, she focuses on creating unique experiences by incorporating local elements and effective branding. Jenny advises potential hosts to view properties as businesses, assess the suitability of the STR model, and understand the local target audience. Her design philosophy prioritizes creating spaces that evoke feelings.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hello, you're listening to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the training, the tactics, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourself some direct bookings. I'm Liam Carolan, and today on the Boostly podcast, we're shining the Boostly spotlight on services and people that you need to know about in the hospitality space.

[00:00:22] With the idea that you can find out tips from them. You can leverage their knowledge and put it into practice in your short-term rentals. And today we've got a very special guest. We've got Jenny Yi. She's the owner of Jenny Yi Designs. She's featured on many podcasts. So, you know, I know she's going to be a pro, uh, given us some advice today.

[00:00:43] And that includes podcasts, such as Bigger Pockets, which is the biggest, uh, real estate. Podcasting America. So I'm excited to get her sort of opinions, her views, and answer some of the questions that we need to know about, especially to do with direct bookings and the things that you can do to promote and market your STRs.

[00:01:05] So welcome along, Jenny. Thank you for joining me today.

[00:01:09] Jenny: Of course. Thank you for having me. Love you guys. Love Boostly. Huge Boostly fan.

A bit about Jenny

[00:01:14] Liam: Thank you, Jenny. You're very kind. So whereabout in the world are you and can you give yourself your introduction, your elevator pitch, so to speak?

[00:01:22] Jenny: For sure. So I'm Jenny E.

[00:01:24] I own a hospitality design firm. So we specialize specifically in short-term, mid-term rentals and then boutique hotels. We started with our primary market in the United States, all over the U.S. This year we've branched internationally. So we do international as well. Our entire goal, we do nothing but design, source, setup, and consult for hospitality settings.

[00:01:49] That is our expertise.

How do you get into that niche?

[00:01:51] Liam: Nice, nice. How did you get into that? That's quite a niche or niche space to get into. How did you get into it?

[00:01:56] Jenny: It is very niche. Sometimes in my mind, I like if I pigeonhole myself by being so niche, but so far it's been fine. Um, so I was a flipper. And that turned into long-term rentals, which I ended up turning into short-term rentals.

[00:02:12] And then when I was able to sell my short-term rentals off for above market price and selling the business, um, that kind of turned into friends of friends being like, Hey, can you help me with mine? And then that turned into other people, which then turned into investors. Before I knew it, I had to hire people and before I knew it, I could make it a company and we've been an actual firm, um, not just a side thing, but an actual firm for about three years now.

[00:02:38] Liam: I mean, you've taken your experience into your STRs, done them up and was the design and that side of things your favourite part of the STR world at that stage?

[00:02:49] Jenny: So, yes, honestly, I love design. I've always loved design. Um, I, I, Blame it on my mom. So growing up, I was a military brat. My dad was in the military.

[00:02:59] We spent 34 years of some change. So we moved around a bit. So my mom's major thing was that every time we moved somewhere, she would set up a home. Like that was her very intent. She's like, first thing we need to do is we need to set up home. And no matter where we were in the world we've lived everywhere.

[00:03:16] Um, she always had magazines and she was always taking us thrifting and she was always taking us shopping to find all the ways that we could make a home. Where we feel at home. So we were always immersed in different cultures and different peoples and different places and kind of picking and choosing.

[00:03:33] So she birthed in me the concept of design and home and experience being a feeling, not just a look. And that's kind of what we hone in on, on our designs. We say it all the time. We design based on feeling and that's. That's kind of, I blame her. So it's all her fault.

What’s been one of the biggest impacts you’ve had

[00:03:54] Liam: Since starting the design business, what has been one of the biggest impacts you've had and one of the projects that, that you recall, has done good things for the Short-term rental owner?

[00:04:06] Jenny: For sure. Absolutely. It's funny. So I will preface this by anybody who goes to my website. We'll give it at the end of the podcast. Um, it is undergoing renovation right now. So, um, there's a very small portion. We'll release our new website, but we are very proud to say that we have a three-figure portfolio right now.

[00:04:23] We've done over a hundred Airbnbs the firm has. And it's been interesting to see the transition from like when we first started to now and where Airbnb is. A short-term rental just design, in general, has transitioned even on the boutique hotel side as well because two years ago, you know, During the peak of COVID, right after COVID, it was all about just making spaces prettier because you had so many hosts who had flooded the market, had purchased, had kept everything that was there.

[00:04:56] Um, and they were still making a profit. They were making cash flow. So there was no need to invest in anything. And then you had this wave of, Hey, let's improve what's there. And that's enough to get you more competitive. At the time, that's how we built our business. We called it refreshes.

[00:05:14] So we would travel the country and we do refreshes. And then now that's no longer the case because so many people have done refreshes, but you've also seen a whole transition just with culture and society in general, as to what expectations are when they go and they stay at these places. Because there was this huge boom post-COVID people are now working remotely.

[00:05:36] They're now travelling in ways that are different. Um, and they're still travelling, even though you hear about this, you know, Airbnb bus, people are still wanting experiences and what they're doing now in Part of this recession is that they're saving for these experiences instead of just spending, um, you know, going anywhere.

[00:05:57] Or people are choosing to work remotely in places where they know they can get something different from where they're coming from. So we're transitioning expectations society-wise, and that's where I've seen the business of hospitality, the business of design, and the business of setting up STRs transition.

[00:06:17] So I will say a super long answer to your question of the most impactful things actually, I would say are what we're doing now. Um, we honed in on creating unique experiences incorporated into the design. We're going to these places. We're making sure to use local artists, uh, connecting with local coffee shops.

[00:06:38] Connecting with local people so that we can put their services into the property. And on top of that, we're honing in on what a brand is. And how to market to your ideal guest example, we're in the middle of something Colorado and I can't wait till it's all done. It's gonna be so cool. But Colorado Springs.

[00:06:57] We did our research as to kind of like, what is Colorado known for? Um, and we phone back on the old, uh, like gold mining, because gold mining was really popular. That's one of the ways that Colorado became founded outside of the wild, wild west part. So, um, we honed in on that gold mining aspect, and we're turning an entire downstairs basement into a gold mining cave, recreating rocks, recreating.

[00:07:22] Like the woods, we're going to do a gold mining experience in the backyard. So taking that, combining it with the luxury expectations of good bedding, good sleeping quarters, TVs, comfortable living rooms, good kitchen. So you combine all those and all of a sudden when someone's scrolling, they're stopping and looking and they're like, whoa.

[00:07:43] We've never seen anything like that. And we can book that. Of course, we're going to book that. And then we hone in on the branding aspect and who we're going to target. So, I think that aspect of how to change this, and it's the mindset aspect, you're not just owning a house anymore, you're owning a business.

[00:07:59] So you have to learn how to translate your business into success, and that's been the shift in how we do things now.

Tips for understanding who your target guest is

[00:08:06] Liam: There's going to be some people listening to this now who they've either just got going or they've, they're about to dive in the world of hospitality. What tips would you share for those people around how do they start with the design or with understanding who their target guest is?

[00:08:25] Jenny: Yeah, of course. And that's a complicated question because I think the very first thing that you have to understand. One as a host and as an investor before you even get into this model is whether or not this is for you because, for some hosts, this is not the way in the comfort level. Some hosts are too controlling of their, properties because they view them as personal property.

[00:08:50] And if that's going to be you, you are not fit for this model. There's a reason why a lot of owners hire managers for their business because that's an in-between person that allows them to remove themselves and think bigger picture numbers, but the manager runs the day-to-day. So if you think about your property as a business, you have to assess whether or not this is your model or whether you can get into other types of real estate investment, because there are, there are tons of other types and it's different for every person.

[00:09:19] But if you do decide that this is your model. Understand that this is a, again, this is a business. So how do you target your ideal customer, your ideal client? First, be willing to accept that who you think your ideal client is may not be who is the ideal client in your market. For example, if you are purchasing say, in a super high party, a City that's known for spring break that's known for your young couples that's known for really high parties But you want to gear this towards families because that's who you want to market towards You're probably not going to be as successful So you need to assess that within yourself and probably invest somewhere else that is more family geared for family-oriented

[00:10:06] Liam: Having a blast gonna get it

[00:10:07] On the Boostly podcast Bruce Lee likes Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard and the tea is loose leaf Making up those rhymes don't write it.

[00:10:14] Just do it

[00:10:14] loosely