This week let’s meet Keith 😊
Keith is from San Francisco Bay Area. Keith and his wife have traveled all over the world and loved meeting other fellow travelers and now hosting them. As they are both artists, their guesthouses feature some of their work and lots of work from a number of their artist friends. They try to give their guests the experience of being able to stay in a working gallery and want to make sure their guests have a good time while staying at their guesthouses.
They own and manage part-time 3 properties, one in Arizona and two in the Caribbean. They have been hosting for 10 years and they are Superhosts in Airbnb and Premier hosts in Vrbo.
Let’s hear their story! 🔊
So, Keith tell us, how long have you been hosting for? How and why did you start? How many properties do you manage?
Have been hosting for almost 10 years. We started making our guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona available to guests, which I originally designed as an art studio for my wife. We currently manage three properties, two that are in the Caribbean.
Are you an owner or a manager? Is this a part-time or full-time occupation for you?
We own the properties we manage on a part-time basis.
What is the best thing about hosting, and what are the biggest problems you face?
What we love about hosting the most is being able to share our very unique environment, especially the one we have in the Caribbean. Living in a treehouse overlooking the Caribbean Sea and St. Lucia’s iconic mountains, called the Pitons, is anyone’s dream. One of the biggest problems we now face is navigating through the complexities of international travel brought on by our current pandemic. These are strange times and guests who travel now seem to have numerous special needs. The complexity of the pandemic has increased 10 fold over the past year. The protocols for travel seem to change weekly.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started hosting?
The one thing we wish we knew when we first started hosting is how difficult it is to have every guest who comes through our doors have a great experience. There are many varieties of travelers each wanting different experiences. Heaven for one might be an entirely different place for another.
Just last week we had a couple on anniversary staying in one of our Treehouse villas in St. Lucia. They had a fantastic time, thought it was the best vacation experience they ever had, and immediately booked for the following year. A couple on honeymoon staying at our second treehouse next door at the same time didn’t share the same love. After spending a night in nature with our amazing views, they mysteriously checked out and moved over to an all-inclusive resort where they could get the resort, sanitized experience of the island. They left a note saying that they loved our place but it was too much of an experience for them as their first vacation out of the country.
What is the most important advice/tip you would give someone interested in becoming a short-term rental host?
The best advice we can give someone who wants to get into hosting is to be as flexible as you can and to always expect the unexpected. Travel is greatly changing because of the pandemic and other climate change issues so be prepared for a wild ride and an ever-changing travel industry.
Besides Hosthub, are there any tools, devices, or software (eg. Remote keylocks, cameras, local guide apps, power meters, etc) you use? What is your experience with them?
Because we try to give our guests a natural and authentic experience, we try to keep our use of technology down to a minimum. We do however use smart locks and because of Covid and government regulations, we had to install outdoor security cameras. Occasionally we get guests asking us if they can bring their Alexa, which makes us laugh—why would anyone want to be in the middle of nature in our treehouse with one of the best views on the planet and have to worry about technology? “Alexa, can you tell us how to feed a flycatcher?”
Over the past few years, we have been converting more of our villa operations over to more natural and green features. For example, we converted our chlorine pools to salt pools and we also installed solar systems to operate our pools. Getting off the grid completely is a big wish list project for us.
Which channels do you list on? How much has your revenue increased since listing on multiple channels?
We host through our website at www.treehousestluciavillas.com, Airbnb, Vrbo, and TripAdvisor. With Airbnb, we are finding that more and more guests, unfortunately, only want to stay a few nights as they like to hop around our island. Typically these guests don’t have as good a time as our longer staying guests because there is so much to do in our unique area and they miss out. We’re always surprised to see guests come with a huge list of what they want to do and only have a few days. That always creates a lot of frustration. We’ve seen our business expand because of listing on multiple channels but in the future, we may return to an approach of encouraging longer staying guests because that experience seems to work best for all parties. The Instagram mindset of “I want to go there just to get in a photo to impress my elusive followers” seems to be perhaps not the best way to experience the real world.
Besides listing on multiple channels, what other things can a host do to increase his/her bookings and revenue?
To increase our bookings we try to do mailings, contact previous guests, and do postings on travel-related sites to help promote our island.
You can find out more about Keith’s properties here:
Direct Booking Website
- Treehouse Hideaway Villa II – Amazing Piton Views
- Treehouse Hideaway Villa I – Piton & Ocean Views
- Cozy Scottsdale Artsy Guest Casita—Casa des Artes
- Treehouse Hideaway Villa I–A Nature Packed Soufriere Experience
- Treehouse Hideaway Villa II –Million Dollar Piton and Ocean Views
Here are some photos to give you a better vision of Keith’s properties (click for larger versions) 🧐