STR Collab: Latest Updates & Furnishing for Success with Minoan

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In this episode of The Boostly Podcast, part of the STR Collab mini-series, hosts Mark and Madison explore the intersection of collaboration and innovation in the short-term rental (STR) industry with a guest from Minoan, a company specializing in enhancing STR revenue through strategic interior furnishings. They discuss Airbnb's initiative to verify 1.5 million listings and the significant marketing expenditures by online travel agencies totaling $16.8 billion in 2023, highlighting the competitive nature of the market. 

The conversation focuses on how Minoan assists STR owners in selecting durable, high-quality furniture to improve guest experiences and generate positive reviews, which can lead to higher rental rates. Minoan also offers a unique service where guests can purchase items they enjoyed during their stay, transforming furnishing costs into a potential revenue stream for property owners.

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[00:00:00] Mark: Welcome back to The Boostly Podcast. Let you know today's podcast is another episode of our special mini-series of the STR Collab. The STR Collab, if you aren't aware, was started by Maddie from Mount, myself and Afa from Stay Phi and the goal is to get collaborations with vendors friends and biz besties from the internet onto a Zoom.

[00:00:24] We'll either do it once a month or a couple of times a month and get a chance to get the updated news, what we're working on, and a showcase into the more recent SDR Colab partner. In today's episode, we spoke to Minoan and Minoan, as you will be aware of a part of the Book Derek blueprint and mountain over amazing people.

[00:00:45] Um, and they have a phenomenal company because they can help you make money on the furniture that's in your house. Make sure that you specifically pay attention to that one core product. That generates a ton of revenue for their customers. And during the live, we had live questions. If you want to ask questions live, you have to make sure that you are available and tuning in when we do it live.

[00:01:13] And if you want to find out more, uh, there's a link. Somewhere around me now, but we'll take you to our Facebook group where we announce all these cool things. So this is the SCR collab, uh, Minoan special edition. You'll also find out what, uh, Stefi, myself, and much more. So let's get on with it. Shall we?

[00:01:32] Madison: Not a part of the collab. This is the QR code you can scan. I can also drop a link in the chat, but it'll just take you to the Facebook group where our community lives. We post all of the STR CoLab webinars there as well. So if you haven't made it to the last two webinars, you can find the recordings in there.

[00:01:49] You'll find future recordings and get up-to-date information on everything that we're building. So give that a scan and go and join.

News this week

[00:01:58] Um, and then this is new this week. We're bringing some news to you all. So if you haven't heard Airbnb has committed to verifying 1. 5 million listings, and they've committed to do this by March 31st in the U S Canada, Australia, the UK, and France.

[00:02:12] Now they have committed this before and they have not done it. So it'll be really interesting to see what happens if this is just a news ploy, but this has the potential to affect your business. So I would read a bit more into this and just make sure that you are set up for it. What Airbnb throws at you.

[00:02:27] And then also, this is fascinating, OTAs. So Airbnb, VRBO, uh, have set a new record for marketing spend in 2023 totalling to 16.8 billion. That's a lot of money to spend on marketing. So while we look at them as a necessary evil. They truly are a big marketing channel and a good way to start your business.

[00:02:48] So, um, let them spend the money on marketing and you guys can, can a brand build in the background as opposed to spending on Google ads like they do. Anything else to add here, Colab people?

[00:02:59] Mark: I was just going to say, I, this is important. Like the spending that they're putting in isn't going to slow down.

[00:03:05] It's only going to get higher. And there are so many people that, I mean, we've all been to conferences this year, last week, you know, Alfred, Sage Rover, and Scottsdale Arizona for Level Up Your Listing. And some so many hosts are only just on one platform. But you are leaving money on the table by just being listed on say Airbnb.

[00:03:24] You know, you need to be listed on Airbnb. You need to be listed on Verbo. You need to be listed on Uh, you need to be listed on all these niche sites because. The people that don't vibe with Airbnb, but they vibe on Vrbo or Bookin. com if you've got an international market. So it's really important just to make sure that you're everywhere.

[00:03:41] Make sure you've got a strong property management software tool that can connect you to those, all those channels. And I think that's the main takeaway for me when I see spending like that.

[00:03:52] Madison: Absolutely. So I think just some things to be aware of. Um,

Upcoming events

[00:03:58] Upcoming events. We all talk about conferences.

[00:04:01] They're an amazing way to network and just get some really good info from experts in the space. These are the ones coming up in April. Apologies if I missed any, but this was the list I was able to pull. So we have one happening in Banff, Canada. If you happen to be in the UK and you're not going to the shorties or the short stay summit, I would say add that to your list because those are incredible events.

[00:04:21] And then, uh, the North West regional conference in Boise, Idaho, happening at the end of April. Another great one. So if anyone is in those locations, you should check them out. A few of us will probably be there. Um, and you can say, hi,

[00:04:35] Arthur: I'll just add, um, Verma spring will be in New Orleans, April 15th and 16th, which is the smaller annual Verma conference outside of the international one, which is in October.

[00:04:46] Um, and I hear this year's Verma spring will be. Much more attended than last year. So definitely look into it if you haven't yet.

[00:04:56] Mark: Fantastic. I will say Elizabeth has more attendees than the one in Paris. I've heard it by like a hundred people. The spring

[00:05:03] Sage: one last year was tough. Maddie, can I add, I know I'm, I know I'm not in the OG group, but can I add one more event?

[00:05:10] Madison: Yeah.

[00:05:11] Sage: So we're going to the midterm rental summit for people who have both short and midterm rentals. And that's happening in San Diego. Um, I have it on my calendar, from Sunday, April 21st to Tuesday, April 23rd. So that's just another one

[00:05:26] Mark: that

[00:05:28] Sage: Jesse

[00:05:28] Mark: Vasquez, Jesse's event. My gosh, that's come around quickly.

[00:05:35] Yeah, that's a big one.

[00:05:37] Madison: Yeah. I'll get that added to the list stage. That's a fantastic one. Same with Verma. Sorry. I forgot about those two.

[00:05:41] Mark: And he's got, he's got Cody Sanchez speaking this year. Choose a, if you like business and you like Cody Sanchez, that's a that's a big draw.

[00:05:50] Madison: Sounds like it's gonna be a great one.

[00:05:51] Sage, you'll have to let us know how that goes. I've never been to that one. So

[00:05:54] Sage: it'll be our first time too. So we'll keep you guys posted.

Furnishing with Minoan

[00:05:57] Madison: Oh yeah. You can update the CoLab. Cool. Well, now we get to the meat and potatoes of the talk, which is Sage from Minoan talking about furnishing for success with Minoan.

[00:06:08] Um, another optimal piece for your tech stack. So Sage, Sage, I'm going to turn the floor over to you. I'll let you share your screen and, um, Sure. Um,

[00:06:16] Sage: thank you guys, for having me. This is fun because I've chatted and worked with all of you guys individually. So to be, having everyone together is super exciting.

[00:06:26] I mean, everyone not including myself on this call. Um, Maddie, Mark, Arthur, I mean, you guys are incredibly doing amazing things in the business in the short-term rental industry. And it's been awesome working with all of you in the capacity that we have so far. And, um. I appreciate you guys inviting me to be here.

[00:06:43] Just going to go through a brief presentation, just kind of. Sharing our perspectives about that we have at, you know, and the value that you guys as short-term rental investors, midterm rental investors. have in this industry and the value that you're creating by having people stay at your properties every single day.

[00:07:04] So one unique thing about me is I am not a founder. We have three incredible founders on this call. I am not the founder of Minoan, just someone lucky enough to work with Mark, uh, the founder of Minoan and have been for almost four years. So, uh, no, I'm not the founder, but have been lucky to be a part of the team since Minoan came to be.

[00:07:24] Uh, before Minoan, I was working in e-commerce at a company called, which is where I met Mark. Um, they were acquired by Walmart for, uh, 3. 3 billion dollars, so it's been a good amount of time in the world of e-commerce and retail, which transitioned quite nicely to 1 of the components that we have our business model at Manoan.

[00:07:43] Some other fun facts about me, I'm a self-proclaimed boutique geek, love to travel, a big foodie. And like I said, I've been at Manoan for a long time now in startup years, almost 4 years. Like in dog years, probably equates to 100. So been here for a while and was the 2nd full-time hire. And, um, it's been awesome to see the company grow as quickly as it has over the, over the 4 years.

[00:08:06] So, the big idea behind this is that we realize that the best product experiences, don't happen on screens, like your phone screen, your laptop screen, and they don't happen on shelves. And this idea came from. The time when Mark was working at Jet and Walmart, when we were optimizing product experiences, or how can we get people to click on this tea kettle on Jet.

[00:08:28] com? And how can we package it up nicely to where it looks good on the shelf in the Walmart stores? And, you know, you guys are all consumers. Everyone's calls a consumer in 1 way or another. That's not the best way to experience a product. The best way to experience a product is in moments like these.

[00:08:44] These are moments that are happening every single day in your properties when guests can experience the products and use them for exactly what they were designed to be used for. Imagine being able to sleep on a mattress for 3 to 4 nights in a short-term rental to understand if it's good for you or not versus going to a mattress firm and laying on it in your work clothes with a salesperson over your shoulder.

[00:09:06] different experiences, and we believe that this is the future of retail that you guys are creating these incredible moments in your properties and that you guys should be capitalizing on them. So, when we talk about the best way to experience a product, it kind of all ties back into the stuff that you put into your properties does matter now, more than ever, arguably, with how competitive the industry is getting and how much harder it is to stand out.

[00:09:32] So, when we talk about this, you know, We're going to tell you that it comes up in the reviews. The stuff that you're putting into your property will show up and it can go one of two ways. It can show up in a positive way, and you'll see some of the reviews on the left. These are actual reviews pulled from Airbnb for different properties.

[00:09:51] And you can see on the right-hand side that it can also show up horribly. It is so important to have positive reviews on Airbnb. I know it's not the only component of the algorithm, but it's certainly one of them, whether it's Airbnb, Vrbo, or your direct booking site, like, it is important for social proof to have reviews of your property.

[00:10:11] And if you see some of the ones on the right, like, you don't want people describing your beds as. Best described as a torture device that's not what you guys want and you can avoid that by picking the right products for your property. So, when we're talking about, you know, what we are believing at Manoa and how we're putting this out into the world and taking action on it, we believe that you guys and creating these incredible moments between your guests at the property and the products that you have.

[00:10:39] that are really for wild influencers and that you should be viewing yourselves and brands should be viewing you as a marketing partner. Instead of just a customer to profit off of imagine how much money, you know, Google or not excuse me. Not Google like Casper or I have my Hydro flask next to me how much they're paying on ads?

[00:10:59] I mean, even the statistic that Maddie shared at the beginning of the call, how much is being spent on these platforms with advertising to get people to click? So it's super competitive and it's a lot of spending the moments that are happening in your properties are real-life moments without these brands having to pay for a lease.

[00:11:18] So it's extremely valuable to them. If you can position it in the right way, which is what we're doing in Manila. So, again, we see you guys as 4 walled influencers. And with that change in perspective, the economics of your business should change as well. So this is a little flywheel that we've built at Minoan and one that we talk about a lot, which focuses on tying everything back to the ROI of your business.

[00:11:43] But we believe that everything starts with nicer design and amenities, going back to talking about the stuff that you're putting into your property. It matters. If you have a well-curated space, With items to surprise and delight your guests, that's well designed. You're more likely to have your guests have a better experience at the property.

[00:12:03] If your guest has a pleasant experience and they're not sleeping on a bed described as a torture device, hopefully, they're going to be more inclined to leave a five-star review. And as I mentioned earlier, no five-star reviews are super, super important, and it's really hard when you get one, four or one, three.

[00:12:19] To try and negate that and get back up to that 5. 0 or 4. 9. So it's important to get, you know, as many positive reviews. As you can. The better reviews you have, you can explore charging a higher ADR, and a higher nightly rate, and it can impact your occupancy. Maybe you have fewer nights booked, but you're able to charge more.

[00:12:39] So you're making even more money than you were when you were, you know, at 80 per cent occupancy. All of this goes back into improving the ROI. But what I want to focus on is that it starts here. There are two pieces to this puzzle. This is where it starts. It starts with creating systems to buy all the stuff that you need for your properties.

[00:13:01] Like it's expensive. I mean, anyone who's on this call with an investment property. It's not cheap. You know, you're spending a lot of money on the down payment. You may have to do upgrades. Then you have to furnish the whole property. It's an entire process, and it's expensive to do so, but it doesn't have to be on this restoration hardware budget, but you should be getting high-quality items.

[00:13:23] This is not your residential home. You're not washing your sheets once a week. You're washing the sheets once a week. Every single day after a guest checks out every 2 days, at least 2 turns a week. So they need to be able to hold up to more wear and tear. This goes for your linens. This goes for your bedroom furniture and your dining furniture.

[00:13:40] You have to pay attention to the stuff that you're putting into your property and understand. This is for commercial use. You're going to have way more foot traffic than you are at your own home. So being able to use something, whether it's Minoan, whether it's another company to systematize furnishing, to help you keep track of all of your orders in one place, to help you manage returns so that you're not having to interact with 15 different vendors.

[00:14:03] And of course, to help you guys get great pricing because we believe That no one in this industry should be paying full price for the stuff that goes into their properties. So, again, whether it's us or another company, we believe that it is important to systematize furnishing and everyone on this call, Maddie, Mark, and Arthur, has founded incredible companies that are systematizing it.

[00:14:25] Thank you. One thing or another, Arthur with Staphy is another great example, um, of a system to help capture guest information, uh, a marketing platform, et cetera. So, none of these are competing with each other. There are just so many tools out there in this industry. Very, very aware of that, but you guys really should.

[00:14:46] Incorporate something like this on the furnishing side of things, because what Maddie does, what Mark does, what Arthur does, none of it matters and can be used until your property is ready to go. So it all starts here. But the reality is it continues here. So, like I said, on the 1st, on the slide that I just showed you guys, it's talking about.

[00:15:05] How to incorporate furnishing and systematize that into your business, getting all the stuff that you need for your kitchen, all the right linens, making sure it's going to the right property. Great. Now your property is fully furnished. Why not capitalize on that by creating a shoppable experience? So I probably didn't even do a good job at the beginning of the call, kicking off with a high-level overview of what Minoan is, but there are two fundamental parts of our business.

[00:15:33] One is on the slide I just showed you, which is this one where we've created a system to help you guys easier or to, to help you guys keep track of your orders, um, and manage that process a lot easier, of course, while saving. On over 150 brands like Wayfair, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, and so on and so forth.

[00:15:51] That's the most upstream part of our business, but then it trickles down here and this piece is optional. Where we can help you guys create a custom-tailored shoppable experience for your guests, meaning anytime a guest comes to say your property, if they love the mattress or the tea kettle or the soaps and shampoos that are in the shower, we can create this experience for you with a co-branded touchpoint, as you see on the left, which can also be integrated with something like Staphy.

[00:16:18] So there are multiple ways to incorporate this into your listing and guest communications. And if a guest finds something that they like, they buy it at full price. And there's a 50, 50 profit share on anything that sells. So what it's allowing you to do is turn furnishing from a cost centre, which is what a lot of people view it as right now into a profit centre, you're saving money on the stuff already by using Manoan or another company, and then you're able to monetize it on the backend.

[00:16:46] And so what does this look like when I'm using numbers? Arthur, I did steal this slide from the presentation that we did, and it's still equally as ugly. I built this. So, um, that's a knock on myself, but just to show you guys the economics of how the math maths and what I want to point out before I get into the math is like, this is really what people want.

[00:17:09] These are the new trends of what people want to take home from their say. They don't want a shot glass and they don't want a cheesy shirt that you can get at a tourist shop. They want something to remember their experiential stay at your property. That could be the soap and shampoo. That could be the mattress.

[00:17:24] That could be the linens. I mean, there are so many items that go into your property. You would be surprised at what people buy and where inspiration strikes. So to use a mattress as, as an example, you as a host, let's Minoan at 400, including the discount, that's the final cost to you. Let's say that the retail price full price is $800.

[00:17:49] That would be what the guest pays. So you bought it for 400. The guest pays 800. The total profit on that sale is $400. If we do a 50-50 profit share, that would be $200 to you as the host, and $200 to us as Menin. And that's just on one mattress. So imagine you have two guests buying that mattress. Now you're breaking even.

[00:18:09] The mattress has now paid for itself and every single sale after that is just net profit. Mattresses can be a sexy example because they're a high retail price. You know, soap and shampoo, it could be like a dollar for you, a dollar for us, but the reality and the biggest thing I want to get across is you have to buy this stuff anyway.

[00:18:27] You have to have mattresses for your property. You have to have sheets, soaps and shampoos. So why not put some time and thought into it to create an experience where you can inspire your guests and use it as an incremental revenue stream? I mean, going on a little bit of a ramp, but I'm just really passionate about like what we're doing at Manoan and the way that it ties into this industry.

[00:18:46] And so I'll leave you with a few final thoughts, you know, be thoughtful. This business is a hospitality business. You are in the hospitality industry, and I think, you know, there's a lot that we, as a short-term rental industry can do to level up and create some consistency across the board where right now, it seems to be a little bit all over the place.

[00:19:07] We are in a hospitality business. Um, secondly, it's important to create systems, whether you're using safe eye, whether you're using something like mount to help, uh, you know, connect your guests with cool things that are happening in the area, whether you're using. Uh, Boostly to create, create your direct booking site.

[00:19:23] All of these are systems in different areas of the business, but they are all systems. And it's the only way to scale. And lastly, just be thoughtful, be a curator. You want to create a space that's becoming an experience for guests. That's where these really meaningful moments happen. If you're just doing it, you know, off the side of your desk, and you're buying everything from Amazon, you're buying everything from the Facebook marketplace.

[00:19:44] Those aren't going to be the types of properties that perform. The best, is if you want to stand out, if you want to perform above your competition, you have to think differently, position yourself differently. Um, so with that, I just wanted to conclude again. Thank you, guys, Maddie, Arthur, and Mark, for having me.

[00:20:00] If you guys haven't signed up for Minoan and you're interested in taking a peek, it is completely free. There is zero cost to working with us. No membership, no subscription. And if you use this code, it'll get you 25 off your first Minoan order. And I'll share my email address, too, if you guys have any questions, feedback or anything like that.

[00:20:19] I'm just sage at experience dot com. If I'm not the best person to answer your question, I'll connect you with whoever is, um, but ultimately, you know, the last thing I'll say is everyone on this call. I'm just a guest this week, which I'm very fortunate for, but you are in great hands with Maddie, Mark and Arthur.

[00:20:37] Some of the most well. Knowledge people in this space. And there's a lot that you guys can learn from every one of them in their respective businesses. So you're in the right spot. And um, I hope that this continues to grow 'cause I think what you guys are doing is awesome.

[00:20:51] Arthur: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast.

[00:20:54] Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it. Just do we Loosely.