Unlock Your Business Potential – The Power of a Co-Hosting Model in Hospitality

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In this podcast episode, Lindsay Severt, the owner of Shenandoah Host Services (https://www.shenandoahhostservices.com), shares her journey as a successful host in the hospitality business. Lindsay started hosting in 2021 and currently manages seven properties in the Shenandoah Valley. Her properties cater to couples seeking a peaceful getaway and larger groups or families looking to gather and enjoy nature.

Lindsay discusses her biggest challenge, which involved zoning issues with glamping units on her property. Despite initial success, she had to shut down the glamping units due to zoning regulations. Lindsay's focus now lies on future projects that can accommodate a larger number of units, ensuring better profitability.

Liam, the host of the podcast, expresses gratitude to the listeners and encourages those who are hesitant to take action to seek guidance from mentors or coaches. Overcoming analysis paralysis and getting professional guidance can accelerate progress in the hospitality industry.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome back to the Boostly Podcast, the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the trainings, most importantly, the confident on how you can go out there and get more direct bookings. My name's Liam Carolan. I'm Mark Simpson's co-host, and this is the mini series on the Boostly podcast where we go behind the host with a successful and interesting host.

[00:00:19] And, uh, ask all the questions about their hospitality business where you can listen to the answers, uh, get inspired and also hopefully implement some of the, uh, cool stuff into your business as well. So today we are going behind a host with Lindsay Severt. She's from Shenandoah Host Services. That's one to not say after a few tequilas.

[00:00:41] Um, and, uh, yeah, we're gonna find out more about her and her business. So welcome along Lindsay.

[00:00:46] Lindsey: Thank you so much for having me, Liam. I really appreciate it.

[00:00:49] Liam: Thank you for being here. Did I say that right? Did I pronounce that right? With the

[00:00:52] Lindsey: Very close. Very close. So there's actually a couple of different ways to pronounce it.

[00:00:56] So the valley itself, um, that's where it is. So it's um, in Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, and then there's also a town and it's pronounced slightly differently and they just say Shenandoah, which I don't know if you could pick up on the subtlety there, but that's something that I've gotten to know as I became a local out that

[00:01:12] Liam: way.

Lindsey’s Introduction

[00:01:13] That's, uh, a very slight, it's closer together, isn't it? On the second one. So, um, yeah, yeah. So go ahead. Let's, uh, go give an introduction to yourself, your business, where you are, and what kind of model you use.

[00:01:27] Lindsey: Uh, Sure, yeah. So my name is Lindsey Severt and I am based out of, um, Virginia and the United States, uh, specifically in the Shenandoah Valley.

[00:01:36] So, um, I started hosting in 2021, which feels like ages ago and also like yesterday. Um, so I essentially just. Bought a home, I knew that it would work. I'd been investing in real estate very lightly and it became very apparent to me very quickly that short term rentals were going to give me the return that I needed and the timeline that I needed, uh, with the business partners that I have, which is my family, um, who are a little bit older than I am.

[00:02:04] So, you know, scaling up with smaller multifamilies, something like that, the, the timing just was not going to work. Um, so we, uh, bought a few and then quickly realized that we could service more than we could purchase, cuz we just don't have enough cash to keep going. I don't have enough. Investors established yet to keep just buying.

[00:02:24] So I also started taking on clients, which is where, um, my business, Shenandoah host services came to be only a few months ago. Um, we already have several clients, so I actually just exceeded my number of. Um, client homes versus owned homes. I'm hoping to reset that balance someday. Um, but they just kind of feed into each other as a good sister businesses.

[00:02:44] Liam: Cool. And how many units are you currently under your control?

[00:02:48] Lindsey: So, I have seven live today. Um, that has fluctuated a little bit as, you know, we had like one client that it didn't work out and like that's gonna happen occasionally. Mm-hmm. Um, but there's. About three in the pipeline that are either under contract, under renovation, or under construction.

[00:03:05] Actually, that's four, not three. So soon it'll be 11.

[00:03:09] Liam: Congratulations. I mean, to go in just two years from, from naught to seven controlled properties is, is amazing. And like you say, there's, it doesn't necessarily have to be. Purchased, or, you know, sort of yourself purchased. There's so many ways you can do it through, uh, you know, co-hosting model or, you know, using investor money, investor finance.

What is your guest avatar

[00:03:27] Mm-hmm. Um, which is really cool. What is it about your properties that appeal to your, um, your avatar? So who is your, your local avatar, um, or your guest avatar and Sure. What is it that appeals to them about the properties that you look after?

[00:03:43] Lindsey: Sure. So I have a co, like two avatars sort of. So I have a lot of smaller properties.

[00:03:47] I really like smaller properties. They're so easy. And it's mostly just couples. They're not high maintenance. They just, you know, they wanna go do couple things. They wanna be left alone. Um, they normally don't ruin things. They might have a puppy, you know, and they, they just wanna. Go out, get away from the city and go hike usually.

[00:04:07] And then in my larger homes, it's um, families or you know, groups of families that are coming out usually to get together. If, you know, we have people that come from like, uh, north of Virginia's, Pennsylvania and then south of there, there's like North Carolina and Georgia. We have people meet up in the middle in Virginia, they do that.

[00:04:25] Every year after year. So it's a really good opportunity to, you know, get recurring customers that way, who do their meetups, you know, and they like to go visit the caverns or they have a hike that they go do annually, something like that. Um, so it's kind of split between the couples and then also people e just enjoying family for either reunions or weddings typically.

[00:04:44] What,

[00:04:44] Liam: what has been the biggest challenge? I'm sure there's been a few.

[00:04:47] Lindsey: Oh yeah. Well, every day. But the biggest one by far, we. So to be clear, by helping my parents retire, I mean, I'm helping them help themselves. They actually came on to work with me full-time last January in 2022. Um, that's been amazing.

[00:05:03] My father used to work for himself and then his business fell apart during the last recession. So it was really great to be able to facilitate him being able to work for himself again in this industry. Um, he's super talented. He's a builder. He was a project or a program manager, or excuse me, a property manager.

[00:05:21] Mm-hmm. So he's. More than well equipped to be on my team. We just have super complimentary skill sets, but um, What was the original question? I'm sorry.

[00:05:29] Liam: Um, what has been the biggest challenge then? Uh, with, oh, yeah.

[00:05:33] Lindsey: See, I don't even wanna talk about it. It was so bad. So essentially we, he came on board and was helping me figure out what we could do to maximize, um, one of my piece, my, my first property, and it's 14 and a half acres.

[00:05:47] It has one cottage on it, it's two separate parcels. So I am able to build more than just the one property. However, um, We thought we were okay based on the local ordinance to do some glamping, because if you have one on a property, it's not considered a campground, so you don't need the same special use permit.

[00:06:08] Mm-hmm. Um, However, uh, as as they do sometimes, uh, their attorney decided that because the properties adjoin that they are like to an area. And so then we were a campground and then we are in violation of our zoning. So we tried to work it out. We actually tried to rezone based on their recommendation. Um, I am grateful that they gave that recommendation and then allowed us to run out all of our bookings through.

[00:06:36] The entire season. So we had like fantastic numbers. Um, and for, for background it was one tent and a cottage on one land. And then, The other, we're still building a home there, but it's not built yet. So it's just one tent on the second parcel. So it was three units essentially, um, on what was a very budget property.

[00:06:56] Um, so the returns were just astounding, and unfortunately we had to just face the music and shut them down. Mind you, I could still be running one, but I realize with glamping that it's not always optimal. At scale to just have one, one-off Glamp site. Uh, the logistics are pretty challenging. So, um, moving forward, uh, with projects that have up, up and coming, I'm looking to do glamping where I can do at least 4, 5, 12, 20 units.

[00:07:28] Um, because the work and the chores are the same for one versus once you get to about five. So it's really not that it wouldn't be worth it, especially if it was something in my backyard, but, um, We just. The zoning, the, the planning, it went horribly at the meeting. You know, neighbors do not understand short-term rentals and they especially don't understand unique short-term rentals.

[00:07:51] And for some reason there was this perception that the people glamping were a different type of clientele than what would stay in a normal home. And though that wasn't true, sometimes it was actually more expensive to stay in the tent than it was my cottage, which was crazy to me. But I just. Trust in my tools and I let you know Price labs algorithm do its thing.

[00:08:11] So if people wanna spend 400 plus to stay in a tent for a weekend per night, that's fine with me. Um, so that was, that was the challenge though, is that we had had to let that. Revenue stream fizzle out with the understanding that it wasn't a loss. Uh, I still own all of this stuff. That's the be other beautiful thing about glamping is you can just relocate it.

[00:08:34] Uh,


[00:08:34] Liam: thank you two for spending your attention with us on the Boosty podcast. We know there's a lot of places to put your attention and, uh, we thank you for, for putting that with us. So, um, was there anything I missed or any closing comments before we draw it to a close?

[00:08:47] Lindsey: Um, No, I guess the only other thing I have to say to anybody who's not already jumped in, although I, if they're listening to you guys, they've gotta be, they've gotta be playing already.

[00:08:58] But if you're stuck in analysis paralysis, let go get a coach and they will drag you along and you'll be very happy that you made the investment.

[00:09:07] Liam: A hundred percent. I'm, uh, I'm about to take on another mentor, which I always have a mentor myself. And it's just, it, it really, um, speeds up your journey and also opens up possibilities.

[00:09:17] So I love that. Thanks Lindsay. And uh, yeah, we'll see you again. Thank you.

[00:09:23] Lindsey: You have a great day.


[00:09:23] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Like Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tee is loose leaf making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.