This week let’s meet Mike and Liliana 😊
Mike and Liliana live in Canada and they own and manage two cottages in Belize, Caye Caulker, which is a small Caribbean island. Their cottages are newly renovated and provide a plethora of amenities, including pick-up services and providing bicycles to their guests. The Lily Pad I & II are located on the South Island just 5 minutes from the main town area and 10 minutes from the popular “Split & Lazy Lizard” area. Moreover, the Split is a narrow channel, which divides the island.
Mike and Liliana have been in the short-term rental industry since 2019, listing their two cottages in more than five online travel agencies (OTA’s).
Let’s hear their story! 🔊
So, Mike and Liliana, tell us, how long have you been hosting for? How and why did you start? How many properties do you manage?
We completed the 1st cottage in March of 2019 and have been hosting since April of 2019. We eventually built a 2nd Cottage on the same property and we started renting to supplement our income and plan to eventually move to Belize as it is a beautiful place, and to escape the sometimes frigid Canadian winters.
Are you an owner or a manager? Is this a part-time or full-time occupation for you?
We are owners of the property but do not currently live in Belize. We have a very good friend that manages the property for us until the day we can move there and manage it ourselves. We do try to be as involved as possible though.
What is the best thing about hosting, and what are the biggest problems you face?
The best thing about hosting is knowing that the guest had a great experience staying at your property and also getting a great review afterward. It makes it very worthwhile knowing that the guest was comfortable and taken care of during their stay. Oddly, the biggest problem we face is having to have white towels and sheets (as per the Tourism Boards rules) and some people use them to wipe up spills or remove sunscreen or makeup. Even using the best detergent, it sometimes takes an overnight soak and even multiple washes to get them clean again. Sometimes I wish people would use more common sense and perhaps treating our property with the same respect that they would treat their own.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started hosting?
It is both fun and hard work. Doing the laundry on a 2 bedroom Cottage is a task itself. Towels, Sheets, Pillowcases, Pillow protectors, Mattress protectors, and Blankets all need to be thoroughly washed; mid-stay on the longer reservations and also after each stay.
What is the most important advice/tip you would give someone interested in becoming a short-term rental host?
Be as prompt and helpful as you can with any communication from the guest(s)
A disinfected, sparkling cleaning regimen is paramount, especially nowadays.
The small personal touches go a long way.
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?
Caye Caulker is quite a safe Island to visit but we do have an exterior motion detection camera to monitor the property and gate area as per the Belize Tourism board rules. It gives both us, and the guest, some peace of mind.
Which channels do you list on? How much has your revenue increased since listing on multiple channels?
We have listings on Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and a few smaller channels as well. It is definitely more beneficial to have multiple listings as we seem to get reservations from all of them but at different times of the year. If you are only relying on one or two channels, we have found it to be not as effective. Also, using SyncBnB greatly helps and saves time with managing your bookings and not getting double booked.
Besides listing on multiple channels, what other things can a host do to increase his/her bookings and revenue?
Create your own personal website for the property and get it listed on popular search engines and even place a free ad on sites like Kijiji. The more exposure your site gets, the better. We used Wix to create our website and it is quite easy to build, manage, and maintain a site. I would highly recommend Wix to anyone starting out and wanting to create their own site. It is a great tool (even for “newbies”) and cost-effective as well.
You can find out more about Mike and Liliana’s properties here:
Direct Booking Website
- The Lily Pad Cottage | Brand New | Safe Quiet Area
- Lily Pad II | Brand New Studio Style Cottage | Safe Quiet Area
- The Lily Pad | Brand New | Safe Quiet Area
- Lily Pad II | Brand new Studio Style cottage | Safe, Quiet area
Here are some photos to give you a better vision of Mike and Liliana’s apartments (click for larger versions) 🧐