Located just over 30 minutes from Edinburgh and 40 minutes from Glasgow, Country Nest is located in the semi-rural village of Carnwath and is hosted by Ian Matson, our 6th Host of the Week. Ian has over 20 years experience in the hospitality industry, running some fine and some fast venues around the world. He gives attention to detail and enjoys hosting people in his own home. We got hold of him and asked him the following questions:
How long have you been hosting for? How and why did you start? How many properties do you manage?
We have been hosting since March 2018. We started as an investment into our future, by buying property in order to have a pension. In total we have 2 properties, one holiday let and one long term let both in Scotland.
Are you an owner or a manager? Is this a part time or full time occupation for you?
My wife (Katarina) and I are owners of the properties, and we do this part time. We both work full time. We have the help of a cleaner in the village who assists in servicing the property.
What is the best thing about hosting, and what are the biggest problems you face?
The best thing about hosting is the feedback we receive about our property. We are still amazed at how many international visitors book into our home in the small village of Carnwath. The biggest problem we face luckily isn’t very often. However, it’s dealing with something that goes wrong. For example guests unable to work the cooker or remember the code to the entrance door. We don’t live on site and so sometimes need to call in our cleaner who lives nearby to help our guests.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started hosting?
How much time is needed to manage the property. Although this is a part time job for us, it sometimes takes over as a main job, when we add up the hours we put into the property each week. One thing we have saved time on is the online management of the bookings by using Syncbnb.
What is the most important advise/tip you would give someone interested in becoming a short term rental host?
Make sure you have worked out your financials before setting off. We done a renovation project on our property and needed to kit out the whole property with furniture and decor. If you haven’t worked out your financials fully before you start, you can be paying for a lot of debt before you make any income. Bookings will normally start slowly until future guests can see that there a feedback and reviews of the property online, so don’t expect to be able to cover all your monthly costs for the first few months.
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?
We use a smart meter for electricity that means the meter readings are done remotely without any visits by the electricity company to the property, leaving guests uninterrupted. We also use a pin code on our main entrance door that allows guests to check in at their own time without us. Once they have entered the property the house keys are then available for them to use. This has been great as guests fly into Scotland on late flights, so they don’t need to worry about the time of day they arrive. We also work with Visit Scotland for online visitor information on the area (free wifi in the property). Due to the age of the property (160 years old) we had trouble with wifii throughout the property, so we invested into adapters that work through the power cables, allowing guests to have wifi in every room of the property.
Which channels do you list on? How much has your revenue increased since listing on multiple channels?
We list on airbnb, booking.com, tripadvisor, holiday lettings, home and away, the holiday let. We have found that all these sites generate revenue for us. 80% of bookings come through airbnb and booking.com. These are short term rentals normally over a few days. With the other sites they normally generate longer bookings, around a week or 2 with us. However, what we have found is that guests that don’t use airbnb or booking.com don’t tend to shop around nor come away from their preferred sites. Therefore, we are maximising our revenue with the sites that might only send us one or two bookings per month by capturing guests that may not have found us if we only advertised on airbnb or booking.com
Besides listing on multiple channels, what other things can a host do to increase his/her bookings and revenue?
Replying to feedback. Guests like to see reviews and feedback on sites. Having the owner reply to this feedback shows a true engagement of the property and builds up a positive picture of the property for future potential bookings. We also believe in value for money. We are priced slightly under our local competitors and we find that guests are always amazed at how much value for money our property gives them, including the complementary milk, tea/coffee/shortbread. As a result, we receive more bookings per year compared to our local competition. We might make slightly less per night, but through the year we have increased revenue due to volume of bookings. For returning guests we also offer a 10% discount off their next visit with us through our channels online.
You can find out more about Ian and Katarina’s property here:
And here are a few photos of this wonderful home (click for larger versions) 🧐