STR Insights: Fine-Tuning Concepts and Dominating the Market

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In this podcast, Liam introduces Stephen Eagles from Mostly Booked, a company helping short-term rental hosts achieve consistent bookings through effective design and strategy. 

Stephen emphasizes the challenge hosts face in finding time for growth-related tasks amid daily operational responsibilities. Mostly Booked aims to assist hosts by outsourcing growth-specific tasks to an agency with industry expertise. 

Stephen's background as a property manager in Liverpool inspired his focus on what makes a listing successful. The conversation explores Mostly Booked's evolution from a coaching model to an agency model, providing services from list optimization to comprehensive market research and strategy implementation.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hello. Hello. Welcome along to another podcast. So today we are talking about how nothing drives bookends like impeccable design. And we've got a very special guest who's going to be talking about why that's important and how you can be mostly booked. And I love that, that, um, that's both the name of this person's business, but also we love saying that.

[00:00:21] Yeah. We're mostly booked. That's just a great saying for us, STR owners. So if this is your first time here, you're listening to the Booth podcast, the podcast that helps give hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get more direct bookings.

[00:00:36] My name is Liam Carolan, and this is the mini-series on the Boostly podcast, which looks at businesses, and people who you as a short-term rental operator should know about within the industry. So today I'm joined by Stephen Eagles. And as I say, his company is called Mostly Booked. You can go and check them out at mostly booked.

[00:00:53] Co. And, uh, I'm just excited. I've, I've been following Stephen, uh, for a couple of weeks since, uh, you know, since we arranged this and he's very, um, He, he's, he can polarize a room with some of the opinions, which is fantastic. So I'm excited about this. So Steven, welcome along and thank you for joining us today.

[00:01:12] Stephen: Hey Liam. Thank you so much for inviting me. Uh, that is true. My content can be a little bit polarizing at times, but I do feel like it's It's on point and some things need to be said, you know, there's a lot of, uh, I think what I find is there's a lot of hosts out there who are in different places, there's like the, the host in these Facebook groups, who's just got the one list and, and it's their baby and they will do it in a certain way.

[00:01:33] And that's very different to how a medium to large-sized operator would operate. So therefore, when I come in with some cold truths, you know, they're always there to shoot me down and say, that's not right. So, you know, but a lot of my advice is for this, I would say people with several listings and above, you know.

A bit about Stephen and Mostly Booked

[00:01:49] Liam: Can you introduce yourself and your business Mostly Booked?

[00:01:54] Stephen: Yeah. So my name is Stephen from Mostly Booked and I help hosts essentially cut through the noise, beat market saturation, that big keyword that everybody is sort of afraid of. Um, I'm a seasoned property manager. Um, we're now an agency that serves hosts to help them stand out from the crowd and achieve a calendar that For most of the time is mostly booked.

[00:02:19] That's sort of, that's the aim of the game.

[00:02:21] Liam: I like it. How did the name come about?

[00:02:24] Stephen: Um, I was trying to hit the nail on the head with what is the desired outcome that my, uh, my avatar would like, you know, something similar to how maybe a host can think about their guest avatar. I think about my customer avatar, what's important to me, you know, because I've been a host myself for many years, uh, sort of growing and scaling other people's portfolios.

[00:02:46] Um, I've understood that that is the that's the, the most important thing. It's the thing that we always want. Um, but also it's not to, you know, you'll see a lot of maybe coaches and consultants out there promising. I can, I can achieve you a hundred thousand pounds in three days, you know? So I thought mostly booked is a little bit on the state of it's the result that we all rarely would want.

[00:03:08] If we could be mostly booked most of the time, then that would make us all very happy. I'm sure.

Who do you help mostly?

[00:03:12] Liam: Talk us through. Who is your help mostly, you mentioned your avatar and how it is you best help them.

[00:03:20] Stephen: So I would say sadly, a lot of it, it comes down to almost accountability. You know, I can, I put a lot of time into my content and trying to put the best content out there and coming up with like the latest cutting-edge tactics and tools and strategies, which are.

[00:03:40] All great as sorts of individual strategies. Um, but I think I found that most hosts just simply, don't have the time for whatever reason to implement a lot of these strategies. Um, they don't have the time to focus on the growth-related tasks because they are busy checking guests in, and maybe even, you could say.

[00:04:01] Consider scaling, a growth-specific task, um, which touches on another problem of hosts of scaling on a bad model to outrun a poor performance. So I guess in a nutshell, what you could say that I mostly do is the tasks that I feel that the host should be doing, but they're not necessarily getting the time to do.

[00:04:22] Um, so. Uh, just quickly, I originally started with the, along the coaching sort of model, um, which is me preaching to the world, which I'm very good at doing of here's what I think you should do. And here's how you should optimize your listing and your pricing strategy, et cetera, uh, which is all well and good.

[00:04:40] And people love to consume that information. Um, but I found that it wasn't necessarily moving. Moving any of my clients further down the line, you know, they were paying me because they wanted, um, that problem solved, but then when I'm trying to keep them accountable to, hey, have you gone and done that work, you know, there's, there's always a million different things going on in their lives that stop them from moving forward.

[00:05:04] Um, so now I've sort of switched to more of an agency model, which is what I thought, you know, I guess hosts, if they could pay to get the result done versus me telling them what to do, you know, that would be a win-win for us all because I love to take satisfaction and working with hosts, listings, seeing them get better, increased performance.

[00:05:24] Um, you know, it's great for them and great for me. So in a nutshell, I'm essentially. It's like outsourcing your growth-specific tasks to an agency from someone who's been there and done it and knows the industry inside out. It's like a safe pair of expert hands is essentially what I'm offering hosts.

[00:05:42] You know,

Before Mostly Booked

[00:05:42] Liam: just tell us more about, your history. You mentioned portfolios and bits and pieces. How did you, um, how did you get into, to be in a, a coach, an agency for a mostly booked, what did you do before this?

[00:05:56] Stephen: Yeah, well, I won't bore people too much because, you know, this is always part of the interview that they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it.

[00:06:01] You know, a lot of people have a, a lot of people have a similar story.

[00:06:05] Liam: That's why I leave the good questions till after it, but people genuinely are interested in, uh, it's the human connection, isn't it? Got it. Got it.

[00:06:11] Stephen: Okay. Maybe, that's a British thing. We think no one's interested in our story, you know, something like that.

[00:06:16] Um, but I started as a property manager for a friend who had five Airbnb's in Liverpool in the UK. Um, he asked me to come on board. This is when I was completely fresh in the industry. Uh, we grew that to over 50 listings. Um, I then went on to, uh, work and manage properties for a much bigger operation, which was more like 150 plus listings in Liverpool.

[00:06:40] Um, so I was sort of, uh, seeing how. We made a lot of mistakes by the way, in that first business. Um, so, which is why now I feel like I can preach so comfortably because it's like, I've made all those mistakes and I'm trying to help you avoid them. Um, and then I went on to work for a sort of bigger operator and saw a more sort of professional setup in terms of the logistics of things.

[00:07:02] Um, but even still in both. Uh, businesses, I sort of came to the understanding. Um, I was, I was fascinated with why is it that some listings are doing well and others aren't, and then I was sort of creating, you know, you will see all these things like you must have great professional photos and it's like, well, guess what?

[00:07:20] I've just gone onto page one of Airbnb and found a listing in my area. All of the photos are taken with an iPhone. Why is that listing crushing it? Um, and so I, I essentially got the freedom and the time to focus on what makes a great listing, which as a manager, um, I simply didn't have the time. I'm too busy trying to maintain the business working in the business and not on the business, you know, and which I'm sure a lot of hosts can relate to.

[00:07:49] So it's not that. I'm any more intellectual than anybody else with my sort of service, but just the fact that I've been blessed with the time to focus on what works and sort of what doesn't. So, um, all that to say, um, I went from the property manager, um, too. Like I said, I started going into the coaching model but found it wasn't getting the results.

[00:08:11] And I'm sick of seeing all these coaches online who are promising the earth and delivering an Atlas. Um, and so, uh, decided to go more, I was doing more sort of freelance work, which is then, um, helping hosts with the pricing strategy, list and optimization, various things. Um, and now I've. Uh, transformed into the agency done for you model, uh, which is mostly booked, which is working with clients, depending on some of them are at different stages in their journey.

[00:08:39] Some people come to me and they're just like, Hey, I just need to know what I need to do from a list and optimization point of view or a pricing strategy point of view, um, those things are very. Much easier in terms of, uh, less of, uh, a nightmare, uh, because they don't require physical changes to the listing.

[00:08:58] Um, but then I, the projects I love a host that comes to me and they're like, okay, let's do the market research. Let's work with me on the concept, work with me on the list and optimization, every single aspect of it because then I can create something really special. Um, so, uh, yeah, that's where I'm kind of at.

[00:09:16] Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee likes Bruce Lee, cause it's so hard and the T is loose leaf. Don't write it, just do it loosely.