Scaling Success: Managing 85 Units with Niche Expertise

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In this podcast, Liam interviews Emily Bruce-Watt, CEO of Air Peace of Mind, discussing her unique approach to managing 85 homes in West London. Specializing in distinctive and loved properties, Emily emphasizes a personal touch, favoring homes with a history and a sense of style. 

The company's niche strategy focuses on building a partnership with homeowners, delivering a five-star service to both them and guests. Emily highlights the emotional connection homeowners have with their properties, and she draws from her own experience of short letting her home. 

The conversation explores the benefits of this approach, including strong owner-guest connections and positive reviews. Emily underscores the importance of constant communication and collaboration with homeowners to enhance the overall guest experience.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Okay, everyone. Welcome to the Boostly podcast. Today, we are going behind the host with another successful and interesting host where you get to hear details of their business. The experiences that they've had can help you within your hospitality business. Today, our special guest is Emily Bruce-Watt.

[00:00:18] She is the CEO, founder, and managing director of Air Peace of Mind. You can have a look at their website at airpeaceofmind. com. And we're going to be talking about how she as a company has scaled up to the number of units. It's quite impressive. I'm going to let her share that in just a moment. We're going to be talking about who her market is what kind of niche she's in and just about some of the guest experiences and some of the cool stuff around her business.

[00:00:44] So thank you so much for joining me, Emily. And, uh, how are you doing today?

[00:00:49] Emily: Yeah, really good. Thank you for having me on your podcast.

A bit about Air Peace Of Mind

[00:00:53] Liam: It's cool. I'm excited for this. So I know I've kind of sort of drummed it up a little bit, but can you give the listeners an elevator pitch to your business?

[00:01:02] Emily: Sure. Um, so I set my company up in 2016.

[00:01:06] Um, I saw a kind of gap, a niche in the market. Uh, the company. It's called peace of mind, as you said, um, and we manage about 85 homes in West London. Um, our office is based in Chelsea and our homes are ranged from one bedroom to seven bedroom properties, flats and houses. And they. Uh, range between 250 pounds a night up to two and a half thousand pounds a night.

[00:01:37] Liam: Who would you say your niche is? What is your, are you after any houses or is there a particular type of house that you go after?

[00:01:45] Emily: We're definitely after a particular type and I'd say, um, we are after houses that have a certain certain style and are houses that are loved. So, they're loved, and they are very much either lived in by the owner, or they're a second home or appear to tear, or, you know, the owner lives abroad and when they come to London they like to stay there.

[00:02:16] And very much with the emphasis of that rather than a sort of holiday let or it's furnished for guests. There's, um, there's, yeah, it's an owner's home. So there's a lot of style, possibly history, um, and a sense of love, a real kind of sense of love of the home. Um, that's, that's really what we, we look for in the homes.

[00:02:40] And then of course you know, in a certain area and. You know, most of our homes are near, um, tubes and, and buses and, you know, central to, um, to transport links as well. That's kind of quite key.

Why that specific avatar?

[00:02:56] Liam: For the people listening, can you share why you go for that avatar and what the difference is and, um, why not go for the holiday homes?

[00:03:05] What is the benefit of going for the kind of homes that you're going for?

[00:03:09] Emily: I suppose I went for, um, the, the, the homes that are loved and, and. owned as opposed to, uh, set up for holiday homes for several reasons. I guess it, um, the actual company, um, started very, very quickly. I grew it very, very quickly and it then became word of mouth.

[00:03:30] So, so each homeowner would then kind of tell their friends and, and I, I have never advertised in, in eight years. So it was a sort of knock-on domino effect, but I guess the reason why I went for the. sort of loved styled homeowner homes is, I loved when I set this up, the idea of a guest coming to stay in another person's home, as opposed to it being set up for a holiday let.

[00:03:59] And I think going into that as slightly further, um, there's an emotion attached to it. And I wanted to. understand and deliver a service to the actual owner, knowing that I was looking after and responsible for one of if not their biggest asset. And so there was a sort of emotional attachment and I felt there was a gap in the market for having that responsibility and very much keeping it niche and boutique.

[00:04:33] I've never looked to grow it. to hundreds of homes. I wanted to deliver, to deliver a good five-star service to both the homeowner and the guest. But with that kind of trust and understanding of what I was,

Are there any drawbacks?

[00:04:48] Liam: Are there any drawbacks to going looking after that? Cause you mentioned there's lots of motion involved.

[00:04:53] So do you ever, is there ever the time where there's too much emotion involved for the owners and they're worried about. Hosting people in their homes.

[00:05:00] Emily: Um, to a point, I think you've just gotta understand it. And, and I'm very fortunate in, in the sense that I actually, uh, short let and I sometimes say Airbnb.

[00:05:11] I've got to be careful about that. But, um, I sometimes, I used to short let my own home when I started it to, I, I didn't have any, um, investment. Mm-Hmm. So I short left my own home and went to live. In Notting Hill and rented a bedroom. So I've done it as an owner too. And so having that understanding is, I think, really, really important.

[00:05:36] In terms of the drawback, I suppose you've just got to be very, very aware. That people are more emotional. And as you say, they're going to care more and they're going to want that five-star service. Equally though, and I think this is another positive thing, we sometimes have owners going, how are they?

[00:05:54] How was their first night? You know, do they need anything? Can I get them an espresso machine? You know, so there's that. And I think that's important. There's that partnership. We are working with the homeowner. And I've always said that. You know, I, I've always said to all my homeowners, I'm, I'm super aware of what I'm doing and my responsibilities as are my team, but I'm also aware that we work as a team and it's a partnership.

[00:06:23] And hopefully I am delivering for you, hosting your beautiful home and that's my sort of, if you like, one of my kind of core fundamentals.

[00:06:34] Liam: I like that. Like you say, you've, you've lived the experience. You're also creating value for everybody involved and yet absolutely spot on with the owners. Don't just care about, obviously they care about the money, but they don't just care about the money.

[00:06:48] They care about the experience that somebody's had in their home. Unlike sometimes when it's just an investment, people have got a distance from it. You know, they may see people who come stay just as pound signs, whereas people who invite people into their home while they're abroad, they want to know that they genuinely had a great time.

[00:07:07] The things they loved about the home are why they bought it. You know, it's part of the reason why the people who come to stay would, um, enjoy it there too. So it's a really good point.

[00:07:15] Emily: Yeah, and I was just gonna say that also, they love hearing about the reviews, they love, they love knowing about what, what the guests loved and we are incredibly fortunate in the, in the percentage of five-star reviews we get, and they love to know, you know, the feedback, and there is that sort of Wonderful link between the host and the guest and they never meet ever very, very rarely.

[00:07:42] And yet there's this, there's this link between, you know, computer screens, if you like, um, of we loved your home and please thank them. And I, I love that part of it. I do the human element.

Tip for listeners

[00:07:57] Liam: Uh, and as a, as a tip for, for people listening to something I do in, in my hospitality business is if you're getting reviews.

[00:08:04] Share them with the owners. We create WhatsApp groups in my business for the owners. As soon as we've got that review shared directly with good or bad is shared directly with the owner. And that creates two things. First of all, they get to see the human element, which is exactly what you're saying there.

[00:08:19] And also it reminds them that, you know, day in, day out, we're, we're doing a good job as a, as a management company as well, so,

[00:08:28] Emily: This is cool. I think there's a lot of work that goes behind the scenes to create those reviews or receive their reviews. It's, it's quite a sort of, you know, there are often five or six points that you're marked on.

[00:08:43] And, um, and as you say, I think it's a really good way of showing the, the host, you know, what you're doing behind the scenes to create this. Wonderful experience

[00:08:52] Liam: having a blast. Gonna get

[00:08:54] It's on the Bruce Lee

[00:08:54] podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas. Loosely. I looked up those rhymes.

[00:09:00] Don't write it, just do it loosely.