2021, week 23
Becky Leach, Southwell, England 🇬🇧

 

This week let’s meet Becky, a host from England, United Kingdom.

Becky loves reading, eating out, spending days with her family and friends, and making silver jewelry! She wants everyone who stays on her property to have everything they need and to feel happy and comfortable, so she goes out of her way to make sure this happens.

She is renting two beautiful properties and she has some pretty good tips to share with you!

Let’s meet her 🤩

 

So, Becky, tell us, how long have you been hosting for? How and why did you start? How many properties do you manage?

I’ve been hosting since September 2017. I started as a test, to see if it would be possible to make a reasonable living from renting out property in this way. I’d recently decided on a career change and was looking for something that would allow me to spend more time with my children, particularly letting me take them to and collect them from school each day! I also wanted something I had full control over, rather than having to report to someone else. I manage two properties and find it fits really well around my home life.

 

Are you an owner or a manager? Is this a part-time or full-time occupation for you?

I’m the owner/manager and do this full-time. For me it’s the ideal job, as a lot of the time, it doesn’t really feel like work! I enjoy interacting with guests, answering their questions, giving them recommendations on where to visit/eat, etc. in the local area. I also enjoy managing my website, keeping track of the bookings, coming up with advertisements, and all the other things involved in running short-term lets. I find that when I add all this together, it’s a full-time job – it’s not just about the cleaning and endless laundry!

 

What is the best thing about hosting, and what are the biggest problems you face?

The best thing for me is being able to fit it around my family. I don’t ever need to miss important school events anymore! I can choose which hours I work on the admin side of things, so it’s very flexible.

One of the problems I face is finding reliable people to help change my properties over, particularly when I’m away and also at short notice. I do most of it myself and have high standards.

Obviously, the current situation re: Covid-19 has been extremely challenging, with the rules from the Government changing frequently. It’s been a real struggle to make sure that any guests I am able to host are legally allowed to stay at that point in time, in that group/household mix / coming from that area, etc! I’ve had to decline a lot of guests and they aren’t always understanding – it’s also tough having to turn business away when you’re struggling anyway and really want them to stay! I’ve found that even now, lots of people are still canceling at short notice and when you combine that with the need to have a flexible cancellation policy in order to get the bookings in the first place, it’s really tough to manage.

 

What is one thing you wish you knew when you started hosting?

What sort of bedding and towels to get that are easy to keep clean and don’t need ironing!

 

What is the most important advice/tip you would give someone interested in becoming a short-term rental host?

Don’t sign up to a traditional holiday letting company. They can set restrictions on the number of weeks you’re able to sell for yourself and they may well not deliver on the number of weeks they said they would when they got you to sign up with them. For my first year, I was in the position of having to argue with them to allow me to sell more of my own weeks, as they weren’t having much success in selling them for me. It’s much better to list your property yourself on the established platforms such as Booking.com and Airbnb but to have your own online presence so people can find you directly. When people find your own site you can avoid the high commission charges of the third-party platforms

 

Besides Syncbnb, 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?

I use external CCTV which is really useful for security purposes but also for knowing when guests have arrived, so I can go and check they’re ok. It’s equally useful for knowing when they’ve left, so I can get on with the changeover for the next guests.

I’m also currently looking into smart thermostats to allow me to set maximum temperatures for the property and to control it remotely. I give guests control over this currently and my energy bills are very high, with some guests setting the temperature to 30 degrees C!

 

Which channels do you list on?

I list on Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and my own website.

 

How much has your revenue increased since listing on multiple channels?

I’ve been listing on multiple channels since very early on, so don’t really know the difference it’s made to my revenue.

 

Besides listing on multiple channels, what other things can a host do to increase his/her bookings and revenue?

The key thing for me is to make sure your pricing is competitive. It’s very hard to get the balance right between charging a reasonable price and achieving great occupancy levels, in order to realize the maximum earnings from your property.

Having your own website is important too and make sure you claim your Google business account and keep it up to date.

My final advice is to make sure every guest is happy and take time to check if they need anything during their stay – great guest reviews are critical to winning future guests!

 

You can find out more about Becky’s properties here:

Tripadvisor

 

Direct Booking Website

 

Here are some photos to give you a better vision of Becky’s houses (click for larger versions) 🧐

 

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