Using Showplace Boost Your Listings & Improve Your ROI

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In this podcast, Liam and Kaitlyn from Showplace discuss the importance of short-term rental design in boosting direct bookings. Showplace offers remote design services for rental properties, and you can sign up for their services using this referral link:

They start by emphasizing the need for unique, eye-catching designs to capture guests' attention. They offer services like floor plan gathering and design planning calls to help hosts understand their target market and create appealing listings.

Kaitlyn highlights two common design mistakes: playing it safe and misallocating budgets. She advises hosts to prioritize durable essentials like bed frames and mattresses while being more budget-conscious with decor items.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Okay. So today we are talking about short-term rental design. We are talking about how it can help you. And of course, as always on the Boostly podcast, we're going to be talking about direct booking. So, um, you're listening to the Boostly podcast. This is a podcast that helps hosts with the tools, the tactics, and the training.

[00:00:17] And most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourself some more direct bookings. I'm Liam Carolan, Mark Simpson's co-host. And, uh, this is the mini-series on the Boostly podcast, which shines the spotlight on services, businesses, and people that you need to know about as short-term rental hosts.

[00:00:34] And today, uh, I'm excited cause we've got a very special guest. We've got Kaitlyn Aronas. Uh, she's from Showplace. And if you want to go and check them out, they are a Showplace. Uh, wholesale. com. You can go and have a look at their website there. And we're going to be diving into how you as a host today can pick up some tips on what to do design-wise to try and attract more guests to your property.

[00:00:58] So welcome along, Caitlin. Thank you for joining us.

[00:01:02] Kaitlyn: Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited. I'm excited to chat all things design and ROI and how, how to boost your listing, um, today. So thanks so much for having me. Amazing.

[00:01:16] Liam: So, um, can you give yourself and your business a little introduction, a little bit of background on, um, uh, your journey so far?

A bit about Showplace

[00:01:23] Kaitlyn: Yeah. So, um, as you mentioned, I'm Caitlin, I am the head of design here at Showplace. And to give you a little bit of background about our company, we came onto the scene about four years ago. Our CEO, Justin Miller, uh, has a deep background in the short-term rental industry. He founded a property management company called Pillow that was sold to Expedia Group, um, back, you know, in the mid-2010s, 2015.

[00:01:55] Um, so he was early on the scene and, uh, really when we started Showplace, it was a destination for, um, products to be giving away to hosts, which we still do, which is still a fun part of our business. And we have a lot of brand partnerships. that we work with. However, as we started maturing as a business, um, and as I came on board in 2020, uh, I was thinking, how can we help hosts?

[00:02:26] How can we help them the most? And so we set out and we have a group of about 12, 000 hosts that are in our network. Um, so we have a bunch of people and resources, We reached out to them and we said, What is stopping you from going from one listing to three to five to 10? And number one, it was always capital, right?

[00:02:49] That's always a big one. But number two was, I don't have the time. I don't have the expertise. I'm an accountant, a doctor, a lawyer, a, you know, stay-at-home mom, I have this, I have that, I'm running other businesses. There's no way that I can go and I can stay at a property for a month, or two months to set up my short-term rental.

[00:03:14] And even if I did, I just wouldn't have a good place to start. And so as we learned more and more, we developed Showplace Wholesale, which was launched around two years ago now.

How does it work?

[00:03:27] Liam: How does it work then when, um, say, you know, the host has got Empty property? It is a distance. a few 100 km away from him. What does he do?

[00:03:40] Does he Does he need to meet somebody there? Does he send photos? How does it work?

[00:03:45] Kaitlyn: Great question. So yeah, we do everything remotely, which is great. So we work all over right now, all over the contiguous United States. We're starting to work in Alaska and Hawaii. So we're playing around with that as well.

[00:03:59] Um, but right now we're nationwide in the U., and how it works is, uh, when typically we're starting working with people before they even close, um, is a lot of the times when people are coming to us, uh, typically after that inspection period where we're pretty confident that they're going to be closing on the home, um, and we have a good timeline in place.

[00:04:23] And typically how it works is we would gather the floor plans so we have services where if you're not local that we can send somebody out we can hire somebody to go on site, take floor plans for you, or a lot of people will use local resources like their realtor or you know contractor or anything like that that they're currently working with to be able to give us those floor plans.

[00:04:48] From there we have what's called a design planning call. And our design planning call is really fun. Um, I always join for those and what we do on the front end is we put together what's called your functional summary. And why that's so important is a functional summary is how many guests are going to be sleeping in the home.

[00:05:08] Where are they going to be existing in the home? How are we laying everything out? So how many beds how many baths and finding that perfect balance between the two? Um and educating hosts a lot of first-time hosts we work with On what's that perfect balance because we'll have hosts that'll come to us and they'll say well I have a three bedroom, you know one bath, but I want you to know, nine guests Um, and we will talk them through it and say, okay, well, what would an experience be like with nine guests and one bathroom?

[00:05:43] Maybe is it better that we upscale the design, lower the occupancy and boost your profitability that way, right? So we come up with that functional summary, um, and that's a key important element. But I think a lot of people who specialize in residential design miss. Um, just because.

[00:06:04] They're not used to it. I'm a host myself, so I have a, I have a co-hosting business, um, I've done the same thing. I've, you know, flown out to Nashville and built bunk beds for days on end. Um, I wish Showplace was around when I did that five years ago because it would have been lovely. Um, But that's really what we pay attention to on that design planning calls that functional summary.

[00:06:27] And then we figure out what you like, what you don't like is sometimes even more important than what you do like as far as the design goes, but we help to make you understand who your target market is and how we intentionally design the home to pull that target market in. Our goal is to stop the scroll, right?

[00:06:49] So when you're on Boostly, when you're doing direct bookings, wherever it is, how do we stop the scroll so that someone goes, Ooh, I want, I want to learn more about that.

What mistakes do you see?

[00:06:59] Liam: What mistakes do you see? And how would you answer a, um, a host who is thinking like that? Um, what would you say to somebody worried about the budget of, um, whether or not they could afford these sorts of services?

[00:07:14] Kaitlyn: Yeah. Um, so when it comes to design, I would say There's, there are two big mistakes, that I see people making in the short-term rental space. Um, one is playing it safe, right? This is a short-term rental. Um, people want to stay in a space that looks different from their everyday home.

[00:07:34] They're on vacation, they want to experience something different. So whether that's, Low designing local right designing with that type of environment in mind, where are you going to be? You know, can you bring the local aesthetic into your space? Um, and, you know, playing it playing it a little safe, but on the budget side of things.

[00:07:55] I would say one of the biggest pieces that we do here at Showplace is helping you understand budget allocation. It is so incredibly important to understand the cost of something and then the true cost of something. And this comes from someone who has made that mistake a million times as a host. So I'm talking from personal experience here.

[00:08:20] But When you think about investing in certain pieces or investing in design, you want to think about the longevity of that piece, the durability of that piece, and what pieces matter for where your budget's going to go. So, as you mentioned, those five hero shots, right? What are those five shots going to be?

[00:08:43] More than likely, whatever you love about the home, whatever made you purchase that home, is what your guests are also going to love about the home. So whether that's a chef's kitchen, or whether that's an outdoor space, or that you love that there's a game room in the basement, whatever that space ends up being, That's where we want to allocate the budget.

[00:09:04] And so we help you budget plan. Uh, I always tell our hosts, um, no one's booking your house because you spent 2, 000 on a coffee table. A coffee table is a functional piece of furniture. It needs to look good. The only thing I need it to do is I, I need it to last. I need it to have a finish that's going to last and be clean.

[00:09:27] And if you have a sleeper sofa, you need it to not weigh 50 pounds, right? You need to be able to pick it up and move it so that somebody can put out the sleeper sofa. Um, other than that. It's a functional piece of furniture. Yes, can you find some that are cool? Of course, you can, um, but when we're thinking about the budget…

[00:09:47] We're thinking about where to put it, that it's going to have the biggest bang for your buck. So that, that's one of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when it comes to budget, um, is, you know, finding cool pieces I think is amazing. So whether that's a piece of artwork or something that you might be able to build a room around, right?

[00:10:09] You find something and you're like, I love this. I want the rest of the aesthetic to match this. Um, that's something that we do often. So if hosts get excited about something, that gives us a really good direction to go with. Um, and then I talked a little bit about, you know, actual cost and true cost.

[00:10:27] And this is personal story time a little bit. Uh, but. Early on, you know, we've had different hosts that have said, Hey, I just, I just need to get things set up. And so I'm going to buy the 200-bed frame, the 300-bed frame. Um, it just needs to be functional. It just needs to go in the space. I just want to get things up as quickly as possible and I'll buy something on Wayfair and Amazon and I'll deal with it later.

[00:10:58] And what? Nine out of 10 times end up happening within six months, within a year, and the cost of that bed frame is not 300 because it breaks. In the middle of a guest stay. So maybe it's in the middle of the night and the bed frame breaks. Now you have an unhappy guest where maybe you have to refund them for that night.

[00:11:22] Then you also have to pay a handyman to go pick up another bed frame to go replace the bed frame that broke. So now that 300 bed frame is not a 300 bed frame, it's a 1500 bed frame because you have a bad review. And so thinking through those things of where do I put the budget, sturdy bed frames, comfortable mattresses.

[00:11:44] No one has ever complained that a couch is too big and too comfy in a short-term rental. So those are places where we want to focus on putting the budget and everywhere else we save. Everywhere else we focus on what are decor items that are going to Pack a punch, but not necessarily gonna break the bank.

[00:12:03] Um, side tables, coffee tables, things like that, that we can find affordable options that are gonna accent your pieces that maybe you spend a little bit more money on. Having a blast.

[00:12:15] Liam: Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas, loosely making up those rhymes.

[00:12:21] Don't write it, just do it loosely.