There are a number of different ways to take advantage of the Airbnb platform, from listing a room in your own home to re-leasing a rented apartment. You might choose to co-host with a property owner or rent out your entire home while you are away. Some creative hosts even convert unused spaces, turning a shed in the backyard into a tiny home or transforming an attic into a studio apartment. Toby Doré is doing all of this and more, using every Airbnb model that’s out there to generate income through the platform.
Toby has been hosting on Airbnb in Lafayette, Louisiana, since March of 2013, and he has a whopping 1,776 reviews! Toby is also a full-time university professor in athletic training, sports medicine and sports psychology. He loves to travel, road-tripping across the US and visiting more than 40 countries in Europe, Central America, and South America.
Toby is also a serial Airbnb entrepreneur who utilizes every model: re-leasing, co-hosting and listing his Lafayette home on the platform. He has his own website, Cajun Hostel, as well as a travel blog. Today on the podcast, he shares how an 8-week road trip inspired his Airbnb journey. He offers his take on the pros and cons of each model, explaining which has been the most lucrative and extending his advice around establishing contracts between co-hosts. Listen in and learn how Toby outsources much of his Airbnb business while he works full-time and travels the world!
What Led Toby to Airbnb
- Read about minimalism in The Joy of Less
- Planned 8-week road trip across US
- Couple met through music promotion suggested Airbnb
- Used platform during trip
- Listed 3-bedroom home while traveling
- Airbnb profits paid for rental car, gas
The pros and cons of renting his own home
- Most profitable of business models
- Income pays mortgage, utilities
- Profits help pay for international travel
- Turned storage shed into tiny house
- Converted attic to private studio
- Always booked, no place for him to stay
The re-leasing model
- Rented affordable, small apartment in downtown Lafayette
- Lists studio on Airbnb four months of year while traveling for work
- Rented four other houses, but gave up as popularity of hosting increased
The co-hosting model
- Neighbor tired of renters ‘messing up house’
- Asked Toby to manage as Airbnb
- Split profit after expenses paid (utilities, internet, amenities)
- Implementing Airbnb co-hosting platform complicated things
- Toby suggests contract defining responsibilities around expenses
Tricks Toby learned from using Airbnb as a guest
- Keycode locks on properties
- Automation (i.e.: code sent upon confirmation of booking)
How Toby outsources much of his Airbnb enterprise
- Bilingual manager handles bookings, reviews
- Sister-in-law helps with cleaning
- Second cleaner with 17 years of experience
- Hires university interns in business, hospitality management
- Worldpackers get dorm room in exchange for social media marketing work
Toby’s Airbnb profits
- Receives flat fee for managing upscale house in New Orleans (about 30% of profits)
- 80/20 split with next-door neighbor
- Most rental management companies receive 30-35%
- Income from home he owns pays mortgage, utilities + 20% profit
- Home improvement loans on tiny home, studio paid off in two years
Connect with Toby
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Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 200
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: Episode 200 of Get Paid for Your Pad. Epic Milestone. We have a special guest today to celebrate the 200th episode of Get Paid for your Pad, he is the longest hosting host in the city of Lafayette. He started in 2013, he has 1,776 reviews, which is the most I’ve ever seen of any Airbnb host. He’s a full-time university professor of athletic training and sports medicine. He teaches tennis part-time, he owns a company that promotes live music events and he’s also a traveler, he’s traveled to dozens of countries and he’s a serial Airbnb entrepreneur he’s been re-leasing on Airbnb, he owns property, he manages other listings. He has his own website. Lots of things to talk about. Welcome to the show, Toby Doré.
Toby: Great to be here.
Jasper: Awesome to have you. Wow, you have a lot of stuff going on.
Toby: One of the things when you were reading my profile, I’m not sure when that was written, I’ve traveled to 40 countries up to now, so that’s been a big part of the Airbnb experience. Of course, staying overseas. I’ve gotten out of the live music thing, not enough time for that. I’ve added a couple of things I’m teaching at the university.
Jasper: Very cool. We have a lot to talk about, so let’s get started. You started Airbnb hosting in March 2013, which is 4.5 years ago. Let’s go back to that. What got you to start Airbnb?
Toby: I was reading a book called Joy of Less, so at the time, I was basically cleaning out my entire house and taking out your furniture, utensils, pictures off the wall – basically a minimalism book. Coincidentally, at the same time I was managing two music venues. One of the bands that was traveling through, they were a couple, and I was telling them after the show I’d planned a six-week trip across the US and I was going to drive to Canada and back. Drove to Vancouver and back. She wrote down on a napkin two things: Airbnb.com and Texas. I remember waking up the next morning and going to the website, she’d explained to me in a loud, music venue the premise. On that eight-week trip in 8,000 miles, I started using Airbnb as a platform, a place to stay instead of staying in hotels. Luckily, at the same time, I listed my house and almost immediately two guys rented my two-bedroom house while I was gone and paid for the rental house and gas for the entire trip. I was actually staying in Airbnbs across the country and had no idea people were reviewing me. I didn’t realize that until I got home. Another interesting thing is I didn’t know how to block out my rooms. These guys had the entire house booked but I was constantly getting messages on my phone literally several a day that they wanted to rent my bedrooms. I didn’t block them out. I hadn’t blocked them out. It was really popular. My first experience was a $25 concrete, dome shelter in them idle of the Texas desert, completely solar powered. One of the most frightening nights of my life, that was my first Airbnb experience. The second one was in a teepee in downtown Portland in a girl’s backyard. I stayed out – the third one I stayed outside in a motorhome outside of Mt. Rushmore. It was great first experiences, very unique.
Jasper: Four years later, you have six listings. You’re managing two listings, you rent a studio in Lafayette that you rent out on Airbnb, the re-leasing model as its’ called. You also own a property, it has a hostel, it has a private loft, and a cabin. You’re doing every type of business you can do on Airbnb, you’re basically doing it. That’s why I’m really excited to chat with you, you have a lot of experience, you’ve tried all these different things, I’m sure there’s a lot of learning lessons you can share with the audience. You’re also renting out on VRBO, Airbnb, and Flip Key. And you have your own website, CajunHostel.com. Let’s go through three models, the re-leasing, the co-hosting management, and the property you own. Can you share some of the challenges, the pros and the cons, and the learning lessons of these three different types of business models?
Toby: Yeah, absolutely. The most profitable business model is to obviously have the property you own where I originally started was with my home. I had a two-bedroom home with an office, I completely cleaned out the office that I never used because I have an office at the university. I fell in love with the hostel scene which is not a big deal in the united states, hostels are not like how they are in other parts of the world, they’re not popular. I basically put bunk beds in that room, and used my spare bedroom as a separate listing. That part as itself was immediately profitable, basically because the income from the Airbnb was paying off my own mortgage. Plus, all the utilities. Plus, the extra money from international travel. That was great. One of the things that I would say would be a warning, it got me to the point where I never had a place to live. People were renting out my entire house. They were able to rent out the rooms and the bunkbeds but there was so much demand, there weren’t a lot of hosts there, at the time, the tourists that were coming through knew about Airbnb. Basically, I was talking to some friends, where I needed a studio apartment with low rent. I was talking at a restaurant, and this couple, they said “we’d love to have you as our neighbor,” we know of a place that’s going to be available any day now and it’s in the middle of downtown, I frequent anyway. I went and checked the place out. It wasn’t the nicest from the outside, but I fixed the place up on the inside and got a really, really, really low rent, which hasn’t changed to this day and started living there and continuing to rent out my house. The job at the university provides me with an opportunity to travel about 4 months throughout the year. When I travel, I list that unit on Airbnb as well. So, when I would come home, I basically move back into the apartment. So, that was the second model, which works fine. I started to get greedy and rented two other houses from the same gentleman and two other houses from a friend of mine. I ended up having seven houses, but I had five rent payments. It was fantastic for a while, and I’d hop around from house to house, which people thought was kind of weird. But, that was kind of my life. It got to the point where two things happened. I realized there was a slow season in Lafayette and a very busy season. Also, the popularity of hosting in Lafayette took a huge increase. So, more competition and I was stuck here with – not stuck, but I was in leases I got out of. So, I quickly got out of that model and realized that I had to add onto my own house. That’s when I got into the third section of this where I started adding on. I turned a storage shed in my yard into a tiny house and my attic into a studio apartment. My neighbor next door, he’d been living next to me for several years, he eventually found out what I was doing through the music booking business and he said, “I’m tired of people messing up my house, not paying the rent, disappearing, smoking in the house.” He said, why don’t we try to do something with Airbnb. At the same time, Airbnb had launched the co-hosting platform. We got into that model. We rely on that model now. We use that model where we split percentages of the profit and I do all the management. That’s working out well.
Jasper: Let’s start with the co-hosting. Is there anything you would have done differently now that you’re 13 months in?
Toby: It was interesting going to my first ever Airbnb conference. They were very sided and pushing out this co-hosting platform where you can share money percentage-wise. Say for instance, the host who owns the house will get 80 percent of the profits, and Airbnb will dock 20 percent of a hosting fee into the managers account, which would be me. I’d been doing these types of arrangements with other property owners on my own. Still today, I charge a flat fee to the home I manage in New Orleans, which is 2-hours away. One of the things with my neighbor next door, we started out with an agreement, they said look, let’s do this, we’ll take all the expenses – utilities, gas bill, internet bill – one of my cleaning managers, she goes out and purchases toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, tea – we’re going to split percentages after all those things are paid. That model was working out pretty well. We had to sit down and draw some things out with an excel spreadsheet. Now, we’re moving into a platform where we’re using the Airbnb hosting system. It’s gotten a little bit complicated based on the fact that it’s the same agreement, however, instead of all the money in the pot coming to me every month, now, he gets his percentage and I get my percentage. What I would suggest to people who go to that platform, is to decide to not use that platform, but in other words, if you’re interested in co-hosting with a neighbor, have an agreement in the contract that says, “manager will pay for all cleaning” where it’s all cut and dry, and you can essentially decide who is going to manage the cleaning. The owner of the house doesn’t have to do anything. That’s what I’d suggest. Instead of having all these percentages I explained earlier, make sure each individual knows what they’re responsible for paying. Things that keep getting tossed up in the air is who is going to pay for the utilities. I’ve looked at several, almost every one of them, the owner of the house pays for utility bills. That was one of the things we discussed back and forth. Who pays for internet? Who pays for the electricity and gas bill? Do we want to split that cost? You want to put that on the owner of the house and then from my standpoint, if you think about it, because I’m managing my cleaning people, I decide how much I pay them per hour or salary, when one quits, I have to manage it. If I’m charging cleaning fees, all that comes to me. It’s my responsibility, to pay for the cleaning staff. That’s what I’d suggest. I went through the pitfalls of doing it the other route, that’s how I’d do it differently.
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Jasper: Now, let’s talk about the property that you own. You have a hostel, you have a loft, and you have a cabin. How do you manage all that?
Toby: I learned a lot of tricks. Even after that first trip. The following year, I decided to drive the motherland, where my ancestors are from, to New Brunswick, Novia Scotia. Another 8,000-mile trip. I stayed in a lot of Airbnbs in those two consecutive summers and I picked up a lot of tips from these different Airbnb hosts. Especially one summer from a host in Las Vegas, this was literally five years ago, now it’s a platform on Airbnb where you can buy key-coded doors. That was the first thing I saw that I wanted to make a change when I got home. Especially for someone like me who has a full-time job and travels overseas four months of the year. Everything is automated. I call it a hostel, but I don’t take walk up cash, I don’t take credit cards. Everything is done online. Once they confirm the booking, they get a code. Each one of the properties has a key-code lock, and the private rooms. They actually get two codes when they confirm a reservation. This is a secret, my manager for the past year and a half has never been here. He lives in Venezuela. So, basically, he does the management of the reservations online. That’s another thing that has helped me out a lot. He’s bilingual, he’s very on-task, and one of the best people who’s ever worked for me in any business. As far as the management, you have to utilize your staff as much as possible
Jasper: Do you have any other staff? I imagine you have a bunch of cleaners?
Toby: Right, so. The manager, his primary job is booking reservations and leaving reviews. I have my sister-in-law who’s been with me and she’s run the company for six months before, now, she’s my solid cleaning person. I have another individual who has been with me for a while as well, she has 17 years of cleaning experience, she started out cleaning my house before I got into Airbnb and I gave her a call one day. I’ve also been through some interns at the university, so the university is fine with me, as long as I pay them, and they just get unbelievable amount of experience. I use a company called World Packers, I give them a dorm room in exchange for cleaning and the social media and marketing. Those guys usually stay 1 or 2 months, I’ve had 6 or 7 of those and we’re waiting for another to show up any day. I’ve done a lot of variety as well as the management, and I haven’t had any other choice because I have a full-time job and the traveling.
Jasper: You’ve pretty much completely outsourced all of your Airbnb businesses? That’s pretty amazing. Would you mind sharing some numbers about the percentages you’re getting for managing the units, what you’re paying your own Airbnb management and the other staff members?
Toby: This is the southern – deep south – united states in a town of about 100,000 population, you have to think about cost of living comparable to where I am. So, the house I’m managing in New Orleans, this is an upscale 3 bed, 3 bath house in an upscale neighborhood in Uptown New Orleans. We worked out a deal, the owner, who is a very close friend of mine, he lives downstairs. I don’t handle the cleaning. I handle the reservations and he much prefers doing a flat fee. Percentages make more sense; however, this is in New Orleans, there’s a shortage of hostels and hotels, and Airbnb has just flourished there. The place is constantly booked. Basically, I would say the flat fee, percentage wise, ends up being something like 30 percent of the profit. The next house I manage here now, I’m doing a one-time thing because it was learning experience and we said we’re doing a trial where we split 80/20. He’s getting 80 percent, I’ve looked at several contracts, New Orleans has its own Airbnb rental management property. Their fee is around 30-35 percent. In the future, that’s where I’m looking to go if I decide to take on any other, basically, if you look in the 30-35 percent ballpark, whereas my next-door neighbor is getting and introduction fee, percentage wise. The house I own now, the Cajun Hostel, on average, across the 12 months, because we have high and low seasons, definitely pays my mortgage, all utility bills, plus probably another 20 percent profit. From the house itself. Now, the additions, I’ve had to take out some home improvement loans to do these additions, and if I had to give some advice to people looking to invest in Airbnb, it’s the tiny homes and studio apartments. That shows to do two places on my property. I anticipate I’ll have those loans paid off in less than a few years based on profits.
Jasper: That’s the loft and cabin in your backyard?
Toby: Right. So, for instance, last night, and now October is the second-busiest month of the year. Saturday night I have 22 beds total, including New Orleans, other than the cabin which I’m sleeping in, every bed was booked, Friday and Saturday night. If I had moved out in the morning, and I highly recommend visiting Lafayette, Louisiana. I think Lonely Planet calls it the hidden gem. I’ve had people from all over the world staying here.
Jasper: Awesome, dude. I’m really impressed with how you’re able to manage all these businesses and at the same time you also have a full-time job and you’re traveling and doing all kinds of really cool shit. Congratulations on your success. It’s been awesome to talk to you. We’re getting to the end of the episode; do you have any final words to the listeners and how the listeners can find you if they’re ever in Lafayette or in the area?
Toby: If you’re interested in traveling to Lafayette, especially while I’m in town, I can show you around, go to www.cajunhostel.com Of course I use Airbnb, so you can book through the website, it’ll take you to the Airbnb website. We have a Facebook page for every location. We didn’t talk about this, but we do have a travel blog as well. It’s CajunTraveler.net, it’s my travel blog. You can get in touch with me that way as well.
Jasper: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot for your time, Toby. It was great talking to you and for all the listeners, thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back on Friday.