‘When you act out of fear, you shrink. When you act out of love, you grow.” –Tony Robbins
As Jasper turns 40 this week, he is considering how the world views strangers. Rather than assuming the unfamiliar to be a danger or a threat, what if we assumed the best in people until proven otherwise? After all, it only takes one common acquaintance to turn someone from a stranger to a friend.
The birthday boy is joined by Margot Lee Schmorak, CEO and Co-founder of Hostfully, to discuss how such a positive outlook supports the Airbnb model. They also cover the top vacation rental headlines in the news this week, including a story about a listing touted as the most unusual Airbnb in Britain and a new augmented reality app that could further improve the guest experience with how-to videos specific to your Airbnb!
On a more serious note, Jasper and Margot offer the latest updates on regulations, as Paris joins London and San Francisco in requiring hosts to register with local authorities. And they wrap up with answers to listener questions about using Airbnb photos on multiple platforms and structuring listings for multiple bedrooms. Want your question answered on next week’s episode? Email Jasper at email@example.com!
Article #1: This Concept Airbnb App for iPhone is Way Cool
Article #2: Is This Britain’s Most Bizarre Airbnb? Guests are Raving About This Caravan … Which is 13 Feet Up a Tree
Article #3: Paris Set to Force All Users to Register Rental Properties
Q1: I have two spare bedrooms and one spare bath in my home. Should I establish one, two or three Airbnb listings?
Q2: I am considering listing on multiple platforms. May I use the photos shot by an Airbnb photographer on other platforms?
This episode is sponsored by Aviva IQ. Aviva IQ automates messages to your Airbnb guests. It’s also free!
Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 168
Jasper: Welcome to Get Paid for Your Pad, a definitive show on Airbnb hosting, featuring the best advice on how to maximize profits from your Airbnb listing as well as real life experiences from Airbnb hosts all over the world. Welcome.
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Jasper: Welcome everybody to another episode of Get Paid for Your Pad, my name’s Jasper, I’m your co-host. Together I’m hosting with Margot, who is the co-founder and CEO of Hostfully. Margot, Welcome.
Margot: Thank you! You’re not in an office, are you?
Jasper: No, I’m in a very remote place in the north of Sri Lanka, actually. I went on a kite surfing trip together with a friend. It’s been an awesome week. I learned how to kite surf. It’s a very cool sport. It was a bit of a struggle to get into it, now it’s super fun. It’s super in the middle of nowhere here, there are no concrete roads, so we’ve been driving around on scooters and hanging out with the other kite surfers. So yeah, it’s been an awesome time.
Margot: Cool. So, is this your first time kitesurfing?
Jasper: No, so, I did a course in Chile a couple of months ago. Sort of the basic course is 9 hours and you’re supposed to sort of be able to stand on the board. It took me a little longer so I took another 9 hours. I’m not perfect, but I can stand on the board, I can go right and I can go left, it’s a lot of fun.
Margot: Cool, cool. Great. It looks like a lot of fun, I’ve seen kite surfers all around the world, I feel like there’s a good community around it so I think you’ll be able to enjoy that, too.
Jasper: Yeah, Kite surfers, they seem to be pretty good people. Pretty laid back, pretty chill people. Definitely a cool community
Margot: Yeah, great.
Jasper: So, I wanted to start this episode on a quick note, I just turned 40 yesterday, it’s kind of like a —
Margot: Happy birthday!
Jasper: Thank you!
Margot: I know like four people who turned 40. I was at another 40th birthday party last week, crazy.
Jasper: I have a lot of friends who are in the same age range, too. I guess that’s quite natural. It’s kind of a milestone and a lot of people have asked me, “what would you tell your 20-year-old self,” and I thought of one that kind of applies to Airbnb and I wanted to share it. I’ve always found it strange that people consider strangers as a potential danger, but then when you have a common friend that person turns into a friend. You feel very comfortable with someone. I always thought that was kind of strange. For example, there’s a girl in the resort here, I found out, my friend left a comment on Facebook, he said “hey, you should meet my friend Jasper.” It turns out I had a common friend and didn’t know. The thought came to me – I wouldn’t consider this person a friend knowing we had a common friend, but there’s sort of anxiety when meeting a stranger. I thought, what if instead of considering people friends once we get to know them, and when we don’t know them, we consider them potential danger – what if we turned it around? What if we considered everyone a friend unless proven otherwise. It’s a mindset I’ve been trying to adopt. It goes around the idea that life has certain risks that you really get around it. I prefer to live my life not in fear, I prefer to see the positive side of things and it’s enabled me to start this podcast and write this book. All things I was able to do because I’ve adopted a more positive mindset. The way this relates to Airbnb, I remember when I was first accepting guests into my home. There are situations where someone makes an inquiry and you look at the profile and you’re hesitant – maybe they don’t have reviews, maybe they didn’t write much on their profile. You have to make the decision, are you going to accept or decline? I’ve always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt if I wasn’t quite sure. I guess my message is, give people the benefit of the doubt. If you’ve never had any problems with guests, maybe accept more guests until you actually run into some issues. I want to end with a quote from Tony Robbins that resonated with me: “when you act out of fear, you shrink, when you act out of love, you grow.” I thought that was a really good one.
Margot: Yes. I agree. I totally agree. So, life lessons from Jasper Rivers, and moving on. No, no. I think it’s great. I agree with you. Some of my best friends are people I didn’t really connect with when I first met them – that’s another surprise. Some of the people you’re not initially attracted to in the beginning could be some of your long-term friends. So, just another reason why you should assume that everyone is a potential friend. You never know what it might turn into in the long run.
Jasper: Absolutely, good point. I have a bunch of good friends that I really didn’t like when I first met them, too.
Jasper: David, for example. No, just kidding. Anyway, let’s talk about the news. There’s not really that much news that came out. There’s one thing I think is really cool – the concept of augmented reality. Apple is developing an iPhone app and developing software where you can use augmented reality apps on your iPhone and someone thought “that could be really useful for Airbnb.” So, she’s created sort of a concept giphy and in the giphy you can see how she implements augmented reality into the Airbnb iPhone app. In the house manual, you can actual record small videos with little headings in there – you can show people how to use certain things in your house. That’s something really cool for the future, you can create a video that shows exactly how you use your house and the different things. That could be really useful for Airbnb hosts and guest.
Margot: Not to be a Debbie-downer, here. Yelp actually has augmented reality in their mobile app for like 6 years and they get like no usage out of it. I don’t think that means it’s the same thing. Really, it’s about execution and how easy it is for the user to discover it and find it useful. I do think there’s a nut to crack when it comes to travel technology. How do you get people to want to explore a place and use their mobile phone at the same time – it can’t be disruptive. You have to understand how your phone works to go a few steps in the right direction to see what you want to see, it has to be a seamless part of the experience. So, I think it’s kind of cool she’s waking the giant hopefully a little bit at Airbnb and sayings there’s opportunity here to do more. There’s a ton of work that needs to get worked out before it’s something people want to engage with. Because travel is all about the experience, I think people want to be there instead of being on their phones. Anyway, that’s my little comment on that.
Jasper: Right, yeah, that make sense. Another thing I was thinking about. You know when you look at the pictures you don’t get a good layout of how the room is, you don’t see how the bedroom connects to the kitchen, etc. That’s why I’ve always advised people to put floor plans on their Airbnb listings.
Margot: Well there’s that company, Matterport, that allows people to do that. Have you seen that? It’s a 3D house tour with a floorplan.
Jasper: I know there’s FloorPlanner.com and MagicPlan.com, that you can use to create like 3D image of your place. But I was thinking, what if in the future you can just put on your glasses and walk around different Airbnb to see what you like.
Margot: Yeah, that’s what Matterport has – it’s not video, its photography. So, you can do that. I don’t know how it’s been integrated with rentals. It’s been primarily used for hotels and longer-term rentals. I think it could have tremendous impact for Airbnbs, because Airbnbs are all about the design and the feel of things and I think people love to see that ahead of time.
Jasper: The person who created all these images, I might reach out to her and see if she wants to come on the podcast.
Margot: Yeah, totally.
Jasper: There wasn’t that much news. I saw one article about a caravan that was listed up 15 feet up the tree. This was an article in the Sun, which, if I’m not mistaken is not the most serious newspaper in the UK. But, if I’m not mistaken, somebody put a caravan up on a tree in a rural village in Aberdeen shire, Scotland. It was kind of framed as the most unusual Airbnb in Britain. I’m not sure how this person managed to get this caravan on top of this tree. It’s kind of crazy, they put their little staircase up there. It’s only 17 pounds per night, like $30 or something. It was kind of funny. But then there’s more serious news coming out of Pairs – it’s a trend that’s been going on for a while. Paris is going to force all Airbnb users to register their rental properties with their local authorities just like San Francisco.
Margot: Just like Newport Beach, in Southern California. They’re working collectively with Homeaway and Airbnb to collect property taxes. It’s a small town, it’s happening outside of San Francisco.
Jasper: It’s definitely a trend, Paris is one of the biggest markets for Airbnb, there’s like 65,000 hosts. Paris has 120-day limit and they’re going to require hosts to register with local authorities in an effort to ban illegal listings. They really want Airbnb to do what it’s done in Amsterdam and London, where they’re really enforcing the limit.
Margot: Enforcing it on their platform, you mean?
Jasper: Yeah, in Amsterdam you can’t rent out more than 60 days, it gets blocked. I think in London it’s 90 days. I think it’s interesting with all these different places where they’re putting in these regulations, I think at some point they’re going to converge to like a status quo, sort of like a default set of rules and regulations. Like some sort of collaboration between Airbnb and different cities. It seems like it’s going in that direction, especially the bigger cities, with the limited amount of days. Eventually Airbnb will start enforcing that in different places like in London and Amsterdam.
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Jasper: Let’s move on to questions. I got a bunch of questions this week actually. One question was by Christian. This is actually an interesting question. He has a three bedroom, two bathroom house. He lives there. He has two bedrooms and one bathroom spare. He’s asking: how should I structure this. Just one listing with two bedrooms and bathroom, or should I have two listings, or three listings? So, that’s his question. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Margot: I vote for C: three listings. No, I think that depending on the seasonality and the demand for his specific listings, maybe there’s a time of year he could push the combined package. So, I’d definitely have three listings. I’d be thoughtful about how you would manage them during certain times of the year and how to optimize that. It’s kind of like, why not?
Jasper: The only challenge I see is that if you wanted to enable instant booking on all those listings, you could eventually get some double bookings
Margot: Yeah, but you could just enable instant bookings on the one that’s most likely to go through.
Jasper: Yeah, that was my thought as well. So, I actually responded and said: “Why not just have three listings and to prevent double bookings, you can either only use instant book for the two separate bedrooms, or only use instant book for the whole thing.” That way you never have any problems with double bookings. The reason why I chose this question is because Airbnb is going to add a feature where you can link your listings. You can put three listings on there and put instant book, turn on all three, and Airbnb is going to make sure you don’t have double bookings.
Margot: That’s cool. That’s complicated, but go Airbnb.
Jasper: So, it’s great. This is example, imagine Christian has all three listings. One of the bedroom gets booked, so Airbnb would automatically turn off instant booking on the two beds, or maybe even block the calendar for the entire listing. I just know they’re working on this. That would be a really great feature. I definitely agree on this one. The question is, are you going to use instant booking on the separate rooms or the entire listing? I think that depends on how much demand you’re seeing. I’d start out with the two separate rooms. If you find out people are interested in the total – groups of 4 people who want to book the entire listing, I’d switch it.
Margot: It also depends on the pricing. Like, if in one of those scenarios you’re making more listing out the two rooms combined than separately, that would be another factor. I think it’s more to the picture I’d want to explore before knowing which to do. It depends on your pricing, really, and how you want to structure it.
Jasper: It does. One more question I wanted to mention by Eddy. It’s a very simple question. He’s listing on Airbnb and considering other platforms as well. Am I going to post pictures from Airbnb listing and move them to the other platform. He’s used the Airbnb photographer. He doesn’t give you the picture, he just uploads them to your listing.
Margot: You can attack that in a few different ways. You can take screenshots from the listing, you can also right lick and save the images to your desktop and then reupload them on another booking site. There are also other services that will scrape your Airbnb listing and post them somewhere else for you. There are several that are automated and some that require a bit of manual work. There’s one company that Hostfully is partnered with, is ORB Rental, it’s not a setup for an ad. It’s a company that is designed a specific product that helps vacation rental managers list on multiple booking platforms. They’ll help to structure your information that comes from Airbnb and put it on other booking platforms. Maybe they’d say they have the rights to those photos because you took them, I’m sure they wouldn’t come after you unless it was a case that was really obvious in their face competing with them. It’s a little bit of a grey area in terms of like you’d want to use the photos, because who has rights to them? In terms of technically speaking, you could figure out how to put those on other platforms?
Jasper: I think the only reason that Airbnb would object, I think, is if you trade a listing and get the pictures, and then delete the pictures and use them for different sites. I can’t imagine they’re actually going to come after you, they’re way too busy with other stuff.
Margot: This is the last thing they’d come after you for. I don’t think you’d get in trouble for it.
Jasper: Exactly. Awesome, I got to rush to the airport right now, so Margot, thank you.
Margot: I want to make sure you catch your flight.
Jasper: Thanks for joining, I’m actually kind of surprised we didn’t have any hiccups in our connection because I’m using a SIM card and I’m literally in the middle of nowhere, I created a personal hotspot on my laptop and we’re talking on skype, and before we started, I couldn’t even turn on the video and see each other. I’m kind of impressed by the strength of the local data network of the telecom provider here. That’s pretty awesome
Margot: That’s amazing. Did you know that the first wireless signal was sent in 1901 from London to Newfoundland, Canada? Just learned this today. They weren’t sure the signals would go around the world because they knew that the world was round. It’s pretty amazing how good wireless works. Anyway, just another random fact I know. It was great talking to you.
Jasper: I didn’t know that, thank you for sharing. Listeners, thank you for listening, obviously we’ll be back on Monday with another episode of Get Paid for Your Pad. See you then!