Utilising Referral Groups & Communities To Boost Bookings

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In this podcast, Melanie, a short-term rental host and co-author of “Hospitable Hosts 2,” shares her journey from overcoming empty nest syndrome to thriving in the hospitality industry. With Beachfront Apartments in South Africa, she offers beachfront accommodations. 

The impact of COVID-19 shifted her focus to local travelers. Her book chapter emphasizes networking and learning from fellow hosts instead of competition, promoting an abundance mindset. This mindset shift led to fruitful collaborations and community building. 

“Hospitable Hosts 2” recently became a bestseller, showcasing Melanie's story and the success of hosts united by shared experiences and support.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, but most importantly we're going to help you with the confidence to go out there and get more direct bookends. Today we're going to be talking about how you can get more bookends, particularly how you can use referral groups and communities and How you can kind of use those to your advantage as a short-term rental host.

[00:00:27] And the person who's going to help us with that as a short-term rental host herself, she's also a recently published best-selling co-author of the book, hospitable hosts too. And I'm just really excited. I've spoken to this person on social media. I'm excited to find out more about her story and the things that she's doing that work well in her business that you can then do in your business as well.

[00:00:49] So. Um, I'll introduce myself first. My name is Liam. I'm Mark's co-host. And, uh, today we're going behind the host with Mel Creel. She's got a company called Beachfront Apartments in Sharkers Rock. And, uh, we're in South Africa here. So, um, this is going to be a cool, uh, cool sort of bit of information from somewhere that we don't normally.

[00:01:12] Here from in terms of the host. So I'm excited today. So without further ado, welcome along Mel. Thank you for joining us today.

[00:01:19] Melanie: Thank you, Liam. Honoured to be here and super excited to catch up with you. Like you say, we've been chatting on social media for a while now and it's nice to be able to chat in person.

A bit about Melanie

[00:01:30] Liam: Definitely. So for those who aren't familiar with yourself, if you can give yourself an introduction, anything you'd like to share and any information about your business that will help to build up the picture of your kind of business in their mind.

[00:01:45] Melanie: Yeah, well, it started. Um, I'm married to a farmer.

[00:01:48] So we live on a farm and I had a bit of emptiness syndrome as most people do when their children move on to university and ultimately they've left the country now in the UK. And so I was finding it difficult to sort of. found my place again, needed a sense of purpose, um, and really hospitality found me, I think like a lot of us, but it's just been the best thing I've ever done.

[00:02:13] It's just opened doors to new friendships, new business opportunities. It just really has been such an awesome journey. And what's the biggest Take away for me so far is just the community that's around it. Like we always said, we are hospitable people right down to our core. So I'm really, really chuffed to be in this industry and it's just, it's overtaken my life.

[00:02:36] I love it. My husband rolls his eyes when he sees me chatting with somebody because he knows it's going to be another hour before I come back. But it's, I can't resist it. And I've just grown so much through it. And it's been an awesome, awesome time.

What is the location and why have you chosen that?

[00:02:49] Liam: Your, your business itself. So, um, I don't know the location.

[00:02:53] What is the location? Like, why have you chosen that? And what, um, what does your short-term rental? Is it just the one at the moment or is there, or is there a bunch of them that you look after?

[00:03:03] Melanie: Um, I do have five on my website, um, two of which I own, and two I do a profit share with the owner. Um, we are located on the dolphin coast of South Africa, which is KZN.

[00:03:15] It's warm water, it's not like Cape Town where you swim in the cold water. Um, we've got, um, warm waters, um, uh, we've got a tropical climate, so. You pretty much can come to us all year round. So we're a destination point rather than just a seasonal one. Um, my apartments are fortunately on the beachfront, so hence the name.

[00:03:36] So I'm right in, um, you know, on the, on the beach side and they direct access to the beach. I'm very secure, very well located as far as, um, for families and elderlies and everybody. It just, it is a perfect location from that point of view. Flats are easy. We've got an airport that's only 20 minutes away.

[00:03:58] So we often are on, on route. So people are either flying. Up from Cape Town, um, they stay with us and then go to the parks, you know, the Kruger Park or something like that, or do it the other way around. So we are sort of on that, um, that route. So from, if you wanted to drive from us to Jo'burg, um, or Johannesburg would be, um, a six-hour drive.

[00:04:21] Um, from Cape Town would be a longer drive. It's about 20 hours. So I would suggest you would fly there, but we have flights that go out from Durban to all of these different destinations. So we're right in the middle, put it this way. We sort of, um, halfway between, um, the two.

Who do you normally host?

[00:04:37] Liam: It's a great time to, uh, sort of branch into the guest avatar.

[00:04:40] Who is it that you normally host? Does it tend to be more international travellers? And if so, where from?

[00:04:46] Melanie: Um, initially it's been a bit of a mixed bag. Um, COVID did throw a proper curveball for us then. Um, I was building up my internationals nicely and the majority came from the UK. Um, Australia is another big one.

[00:05:00] Um, and of course, um, Germany. We have quite a big German community where I live. My husband's half-German. So yeah, we have that as well. Um, some others as well from Europe, but not a lot. Um, we tend to sort of have that main market. I know there's a lot of focus on, um, attracting more internationals and we would love to have them back.

[00:05:23] But, um, at the moment, post-COVID has been a bit slow from that point of view and Our market, I think, with our exchange rate is also throwing a little bit of a curveball there. So they are travelling within South Africa. So we have been busy. It's not that quiet at all. We are, um, you know, coming up to Easter, we fully booked.

[00:05:43] Um, but yeah, on the whole, it's been a bit of a mixed bag. Um, the majority of our own country and, um, Africa. So you'll get people from Zimbabwe from, you know, the rest of Africa coming. Um, but yeah, a bit of a mixed bag.

Diving into Hospitable Host 2

[00:05:58] Liam: Let's just dive into your new project, which is Hospitable Hosts 2. So, um, for those of you listening into the, um, the podcast, um, or watching on Facebook Live, Hospitable Hosts 2, I'm sure you've seen some posts because they are everywhere on Instagram and social media.

[00:06:16] Hospitable Hosts 2 is a project by Jody Sterling, which has got some amazing short-term rental hosts from all over the world together in one book. This is the second edition and, um, Mel is one of, the authors in it. And this book just went to bestseller in the last two days. Is that correct? Yeah,

[00:06:34] Melanie: it has.

[00:06:35] Yeah, we've done well with it. It's, um, it's in three different categories and it's doing well. Um, so yeah, it's been a fantastic journey. Honestly, the, the people that I've met through this and chatting and it's, I'm seeing them all now, um, in the States and just thinking, Oh my gosh, only I could be there.

[00:06:54] Like I said to you earlier on. But it's just so, you know, when you find somebody that talks the same language, I talk about my tribe and, Oh, I feel like I found my tribe. It's just so nice to be able to network with the same people who understand the language we speak and our passion behind it. So yeah, just so honoured to be in the book.

[00:07:14] Liam: So how does it feel, first of all, to be a bestselling author? How did it feel to write your chapter?

[00:07:21] Melanie: I don't think it's sunk in yet, really, you know, to be honest, I think when I get to be with everybody and, um, hear the excitement and see it, then maybe I feel like I'm a bestseller author.

[00:07:31] At the moment, it doesn't quite feel like that. Um, it all just seems a little bit surreal. I'm getting there. It's there. I know it's written there.

[00:07:39] Liam: Yeah. When, when you've got the, I'll just hold it up to the camera. I don't know if it'll reverse it, but yeah, as soon as you see it. Yeah, you're, you're in the, uh, you're in the book, which is amazing.

[00:07:49] And for the people listening, what can they expect from, your chapter? What, what do you share within the book? Um, and what do you want them to take away, from your story?

[00:08:00] Melanie: I think my chapter was really about, um, finding my sense of purpose. Like I mentioned right at the beginning. Um, and from that, I learned that.

[00:08:11] When I first bought the property, I was so concerned about pricing it and understanding the dynamics that I lost focus as to what was important. And I can't quite remember who I heard on, on one of the podcasts, but he talked about abundance and having an abundance mindset. And once I fully And so I kind of absorbed that and got over the hurdle of trying to watch what my neighbour was doing and what everybody else is doing.

[00:08:37] And just looked at what I was doing. And then started to reach out and say, I reached out to the, the, um, the other host who's got a mirror property of my own. And said, well, look, why don't we check? Because I kind of saw her on Airbnb and she dropped her rates and I would drop my rates.

[00:08:53] And I was, you're playing this game. And I thought, you know what? This is not working. Let's rather talk together. So my, my chapter talks about, um, networking and reaching out to better, better hosts, rather than just, um, concentrating on getting the guest, I guess, obviously come to you. And it's important, and it's important to um,

[00:09:18] Have a relationship with the host and people in your complex, particularly because we do look out for each other and we do look after each other's guests if the one person isn't there. So it becomes a, um, a real collection of minds that think the same way. And also from that, I learned. To share my knowledge and not be, not hold it back because the more I shared, the more they shared.

[00:09:40] And so it became a much easier, you know, transfer of information. Um, and the whole process has been so much more rewarding through it. So I think it's a change of mindsets. I think that was my biggest thing that I'd like people to, to, um, take away is that you don't have to hold everything to yourself and think you can't share when the opposite is true.

[00:10:01] And the more you share, the more it comes your way.

[00:10:04] Liam: Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Boostly podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the teas. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.