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177. Small Changes That Have BIG Impact for Your Guests
Episode 1774th August 2022 • Thanks For Visiting • Airbnb Superhosts Annette Grant & Sarah Karakaian
00:00:00 00:44:23

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Deborah Labi is a retired property manager with her fingers in many pies, sharing her experience via her consultancy, a podcast, a soon-to-launch second podcast, and co-director of The Book Direct Show. She likes to keep as busy as her brain; an OCC – or obsessive compulsive creative – she’s an ideas fountain. 

Through The Guest Inn-Spector, Deborah has keyed in on the small details that have a large impact on your guests. She believes property owners should stay in their own rentals in order to experience them as a guest would, and envision the guest’s journey from check-in to check-out. But at the very least, have a friend or family member stay and offer their feedback (or, hire Deborah!).

Essential things to audit and optimize in your rental, courtesy of The Guest Inn-Spector:

  • Live chat availability while guests are browsing your booking site
  • Ease of booking - how many steps does it take a guest to pay and confirm the booking?
  • Check-in email sequence - don’t spam, but also don’t ghost
  • If your listing incorporates third parties (e.g. smart lock notifications), ensure these are branded through your listing to avoid guest confusion
  • Arrival instructions - this may be your guest’s first time in a city (or country!) so avoid giving them too much work in order to get their key and check in
  • First impressions after entering your space (think: WiFi access, coat hangers, etc.)
  • General property design - simple, functional things that make guests feel like they’re in a home, not a hotel - for example, where do guests hang their towels after a shower?
  • Check-out instructions - guests are now focusing on their travel plans and flight confirmations, so consider not adding too much extra work for them
  • Send a review request to your guest on their last day of the stay, while they’re still in your space - don’t wait until after they check out

To learn more, and for the complete show notes, visit: http://thanksforvisiting.me

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Thanks for Visiting is produced by Crate Media.

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Transcripts

Host: :

[00:00:05] You're listening to the Thanks for Visiting podcast. We believe hosting with heart is at the core of every short-term rental. With Annette's background in business operation--

Host: :

[00:00:14] And Sarah's extensive hospitality management and interior design experience, we have welcomed thousands of guests from over 30 countries, earning us over a million dollars and garnering us thousands of five-star reviews.

Host: :

[00:00:28] We love sharing creative ways for your listing to stand out, serve your guests and be profitable. Each episode, we will have knowledgeable guests who bring value to the short-term rental industry--

Host: :

[00:00:39] Or we will share our stories of our own experiences so you can implement actual improvements to your rentals. Whether you're experienced, new, or nervous to start your own short-term rental, we promise you'll feel right at home. Before we dive into the content, let's hear a word from our sponsor.

Host: :

[00:01:01] Hello, listeners. Welcome back to another week with us. I am Host.

Host: :

[00:01:05] I am Host. And together we are--

Both Hosts:

[00:01:07] Thanks for Visiting.

Host: :

[00:01:09] We're going to kick off this episode like we do every week and then sharing one of you who's using our hashtag on Instagram, #STRShareSunday. We'll share you on our gram on Sundays, but also right here on the podcast on YouTube and in our email blasts, so some free marketing. Nettie, who are we sharing this week?

Host: :

[00:01:26] Today we are sharing @guesthouse71. Again, that's @guesthouse71. And they're in Canada. Truly a beautiful one bedroom. Actually, they have two. They started with one and now they have two. They've been in the hospitality business for a really long time. But here's what's so cool. I haven't seen this yet in any of our STR shares. They moved the 600-square-foot guest house, they bought it on another piece of property, and moved it to where they thought it would be best on their land.

Host: :

And so if you go to their Instagram highlights in the guest house, you can see them at the house on the truck, moving it down the road. And so I know Sarah and I just really love to highlight if you have a dream, if you have a vision, you can make it come true. And I have a feeling they saw this house and they were like, "Wait a second, we want to move it to our land and invite guests to this guesthouse on our land. It's going to be perfect." And they did a phenomenal job. So please check them out. If you've ever seen a house somewhere and you wanted to buy it and move it somewhere else, this is proof that it can be done.

Host: :

So thank you @guesthouse71 for continuing to show us that you can. If you have that vision, you can make it come true. Listeners, please go check them out. Follow them and again look at them moving the house. And the 600 square feet, every single square foot has been designed with the guest in mind. And you know what, Sarah? That brings us to our guest today because every detail in guesthouse71 was thought of with that five-star review. Who do we have on the show today, Sarah?

Host: :

[00:03:11] Everyone get ready and be on your best behavior because we have The Guest Innspector on this show today. We are so excited.

Host: :

[00:03:20] And we did not make that up. We're like this is amazing because we talked about The Innspector a lot.

Host: :

[00:03:25] Yeah. And I used to work when I was a teenager and I think you too, did you work at McDonald's?

Host: :

[00:03:31] I did. Well, I was in college. I needed to go on spring break. I needed that spring break money.

Host: :

[00:03:37] Regardless, I lived in fear of getting shopped red-handed, of getting a secret shopper to come in and make sure I was doing my job. So anyway, today we have in the show The Guest Innspector, Deborah who is a retired property manager with her fingers in many pies, sharing her experience via her consultancy, a podcast, soon to launch a second podcast and a co-director of a conference. We'll learn about all those things that she's doing. She likes to keep as busy as her brain. And OCC as she calls herself, obsessive, compulsive, creative, she's an ideas fountain. So Deborah, welcome to the show.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:04:13] Thank you very much for having me. Hello.

Host: :

[00:04:15] We are so excited to have you and dig into whatever the heck this all includes because we are here for it.

Host: :

[00:04:22] Yeah. So can you just give us and our listeners a little bit of your backstory and then how it started to weave into The Guest Innspector?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:04:32] Sure. So I started in the vacation rental world 15 years ago, 2006. I had rented properties for long weekends, weekly breaks. And I had just moved into my home. I had a personal drama. I really needed to go away on a holiday. And a friend of mine suggested, "Why don't you holiday rent your home?" And I thought, "Why would anyone want to holiday rent a home in the city?" Because I'd only ever gone to the beach side or the country. So my first tenant was the BBC. And so--

Host: :

[00:05:07] Not too shabby, not too shabby.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:05:08] Yes, can you imagine? So they filmed a TV show in my house. It was about a family. They were filming families movie looking to immigrate into Australia. I'm from Australia. My properties are there. And yeah, it just went from there. That was fine, one week here, one week there. I move out every time I had a guest. Then I ended up managing other people's properties. It was just through word of mouth that I started managing other people's properties. I never advertised, and then my own portfolio grew.

Deborah Labi: :

So that actually led me to design a guest referral platform. I realized that I was turning away a hell of a lot of business. And every time I typed, "Sorry, I can't help you." man, I'm turning away another booking. That's ridiculous. This guest has come to me, and I can't help them. Why? How can I help them? So I designed a guest referral platform that ended up-- I like to think big, so it ended up being a global guest referral platform because my guests had asked me if I have property in Melbourne, or if I have property in New Zealand. No. So it was also going to be a book direct channel guest referral channel. So I spent a bit of time building that. That's been tucked away for now.

Deborah Labi: :

And then just before COVID, I thought, okay, I really wanted to focus on it again. So I started to wind down my holiday rental business. And I wanted to focus on have you got-- I really wanted to give it everything. Now's the time to really bring it to life. And then, of course, COVID hits, so no one was getting bookings, let alone referrals. So then I started in earnest with Book Direct show, that's the conference that I co-direct. And then at the end of one of those conferences, I realized, with my experience, I'd had this idea back in 2019, but it was only at the end of 2021 that I thought, now's the time to do this. So I launched The Guest Innspector.

Deborah Labi: :

Now The Guest Innspector was born because for the last 10 years or even more, longer, 12 years because I had to move out of my home every time I had a booking, I started staying in my sister's, staying in a hotel, then I realized actually going to Kuala Lumpur was the same price as staying for a week in Sydney as airfare and accommodation. And so eventually, my travels got further and further. And then I was running my business from predominantly Europe and London. So I've stayed at many, many holiday rentals.

Deborah Labi: :

And one day I realized at one place, I always seem to be having my coffee at a quarter past 10, but it's not quarter past 10. The battery's gone on the clock in the kitchen. And another place the tile kept sticking to my foot. There was a loose tile in the shower. And it made me think, who's going to let the property manager know about this? Is it the guest? Is the guest really going to keep in mind or, better, let the property manager know that there's a loose tile or your battery's dead, and even the basin in the bathroom draining really slowly, and I've got dried spit with toothpaste in the base? And it's really not a very pleasant thing.

Deborah Labi: :

So it made me think, who is supposed to tell the property owner? The cleaners certainly aren't going to do that, and the guests aren't going to do that. Now of all the conferences that I've been to, the famous Simon Lehman always used to say, "You have to stay in your rentals. You have to live in it." And funnily enough, this is what I was doing because once I got my portfolio happening in Sydney, when I had to get out of my house, I was living in my properties. But it never occurred to me that I was designing and maintaining these properties to suit me as a digital nomad in terms of comfort, and cleanliness, and things like that.

Deborah Labi: :

And then I realized with all my travels that not everyone does that. And there are these maintenance issues. So unless you're actually staying and living in, spitting out your toothpaste in the basin, you're not going to know that it's not draining properly, or there's hair stuck somewhere. Really, these can be unpleasant things. And this can be the difference between a four and a five-star stay. That one little thing that spoiled the guest's experience, boom, you've lost a star.

Deborah Labi: :

And there was a great thing that one of our speakers had put in his session. And it, imagine if you go to a concert and the concert is fantastic, you're really getting into as well as brilliant. And right the last couple of bars, someone plays a bad note. You know what? You're going to remember that bad note. You're not going to remember the concert. That bad note is the thing that sticks in your mind. So when it comes to the review time, that bad experience that you had is going to be there.

Deborah Labi: :

So the idea of The Guest Innspector is to actually look at the journey of the guest from the minute they land on your website right through to when they leave and beyond in terms of when are you asking me for my review and to let the property manager know, okay, now this was a niggle right here, or why are you sending me so many emails? I've got 11 emails and you haven't even told me what's on in the area yet. You're spamming me already. So it's really perfecting the whole journey. And that's it in a nutshell.

Host: :

[00:10:40] No, we love that because what you just said, it is not the cleaner's responsibility and it's not the guest's responsibility. If you're on vacation, or you're working, you're busy. And you're like, the last thing I want to do is alert the host that this is the issue. We feel responsibility since we are hosts. And sometimes Sarah and I, when we're staying in place we're like, oh my gosh, is this our responsibility? As Thanks for Visiting, do we need to let them know? It's like, you end up doing your job again, when you're trying to not do your job. But those are those points that we get a lot of listeners or just Instagram followers, things like that, where they think it's the cleaner's responsibility to know all of these.

Host: :

[00:10:41] Why didn't they tell us the faucet is XYZ or why didn't this person tell me and it's like you're putting the blame at someone other than yourself.

Host: :

[00:11:22] And what Deborah just said, the cleaner's not brushing their teeth or taking a long shower where water-- I do think that's the number one thing is the clogging of the sinks that you just don't realize, because when they're cleaning, they're cleaning it, it's going down. They're not taking a nice leisurely shower or bath or brushing their teeth. It's like they're cleaning and getting out of there. So what are some of the things, Deborah, that as you started to bring The Guest Innspector alive, can we go through what are these things that you just see over and over again that our listeners could take a look at themselves today that you see very prominent in almost every listing that you take a look at?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:12:08] Yeah, well, it's still very new. But the thing is, so from landing on the guest website, there's a lot out there about website design. But if I send you a query, I want an answer immediately. Property managers and hosts, you should have a live chat button. And in my experience, I personally don't like WhatsApp as the live chat because it makes you go off the website, which you don't want the guest to go off the website. You want them to stay there, and you want to be talking to them while they're looking at your property. So live chat is a really important thing.

Deborah Labi: :

And then the ease of booking, how many steps between looking and booking? Maximum five steps. You don't need their address, you don't need all the guest's information and what have you when they book. You want their name, you want their email address, phone number, credit card, get it booked and then everything else can come after that. They've booked it. You've got the confirmed booking. So then after the booking, then there's all the pre-arrival emails. Now you can have too few. So you don't want someone to think, "Oh, have I still got that booking? I haven't heard from the property manager." Or do you have too many?

Deborah Labi: :

So with this last one I did, I got 11 emails, none of which were, welcome to Can. You're going to have a great time here, blah, blah, blah. And you have to find that sweet spot. You might want to combine, this is what's going on in the area and now we need your security deposit. So you sweeten it, okay, we need the security deposit. There's the link, or we need your guest ID, prove your guest ID, but add something else or combine a couple of the tasks in one and make sure you give. So you've got the context. So guests know that they still have a booking with you.

Deborah Labi: :

And you can also start the excitement before they arrive. You can talk about what's on in the area, you can upsell experiences, bike hire, boat hire, or what have you. So really finessing that number of emails. Now, there was a client sending emails from their PMS, and there were emails going out from the Smart Locks. It's like they didn't have a clue how many emails the guest was receiving. So I document how many emails and where are they coming from, and how are they branded because all of a sudden, I'm getting my emails from the company I booked through and now I'm getting emails from someone else, like who's this someone else? Security Deposit, Smart Lock, whatever. Wait a second. Who have I booked through?

Deborah Labi: :

So it's really important that if you're going to use these third parties, make sure they're branded. They're coming from you so the guest doesn't get too concerned. The check-in and arrivals instructions. You got to remember that people are arriving in a new city perhaps. Sometimes people are regular, but assume they're arriving in the city for the first time. And you've got to think of their journey. How do they get the key? Do they have to come to your office? I actually think in this day and age, going to someone's office to pick up the key is a little bit like, come on, we are way beyond that.

Deborah Labi: :

Already, you're arriving in a city, you have to navigate your way to one foreign place to then navigate yourself to another foreign place. And being Australian, I may have popped off a 14-hour flight. This is the last thing I want to be doing. So you have to really go through your guest journey in terms of how they're going to get to the property, how easy are your checking instructions? A lockbox code, have you actually tried it? Has your mom tried it? Has your grandmother tried it? Really test it out with other people because you know the box, you know how it works, you know a little niggle here and what to jig this or.

Deborah Labi: :

Some people turn the dial and then they don't know what else to do because it's not that obvious sometimes. And then once they're in, how off obvious is all the information there? I went to one Airbnb and I finally got in. It was a very frustrating entry. I realized that I needed a shoulder shove to open the door. This is after I got the half and put all my bags down and started breaking into a sweat because there were two locks, and I'm like, "Okay, what is the combination here? What's going on?" I was like don't tell me I have to ring the house, please." And then I think I just got a hump with it and shoulder touched the door and, boom, it opened. Oh, okay. I'll let him know about that. And then the first thing I wanted, of course, is the Wi-Fi. So I'm looking around. Where's the welcome book? Is there something about the Wi-Fi?

Deborah Labi: :

Okay, nothing. Don't tell me I need the Wi-Fi to get the Wi-Fi. Sure enough, it was in his checking instructions on Airbnb, but I didn't have a European SIM card. Luckily, I did have a spare phone that did. But usually, I didn't travel with a European SIM card. So that's another thing to think about. How easy is it? First question, what's the Wi-Fi? How easy is it for your guests to get Wi-Fi? And then there's all the property issues.

Deborah Labi: :

And it's not just maintenance. You have to look at the design. So I stayed at one place. There were two bedrooms that access one bathroom, two double beds, one bathroom. And I was staying there on my own. So okay, I have a shower, two towels, long hair and body. I need two towels. I finish my shower. I go to hang the towel, and then it's like, okay, where do I put the other towel? And wait a second, I'm only using two towels. It's just me. Now, what if there are four people staying here? And what if two of them were women with long hair that need two towels?

Deborah Labi: :

There's nowhere to put the towels. I checked in the room. No, there's no hooks behind the doors. There's no towel rail. Okay, so this flat is going to end up looking like a campsite because there's going to be towels drying on the back of the dining chairs or hanging on the dirty top doorframes. Wait, no, no, no, no, this is not good enough. So even something as simple as where does everyone hang their towel, and you really can have the things hanging over the door, you don't even have to drill in anywhere, and have some hooks. That is actually something that's very, very common, not enough towel hooks, the draining, the basins, and screenless showers. You would be surprised how badly designed they are and how you end up with a pool of water outside.

Deborah Labi: :

And again, it's just me. So I can only imagine if there's four people showering how much water there is out there. And then it's as simple as okay, you know what, it looks great, but the convenience and functionality, put a curtain across the screen, some other screen, either add to it or add a curtain because it's really not pleasant walking out into the puddle of the three people who have showered before you.

Host: :

[00:19:17] And it's dangerous. You could slip and fall and that's the number one claim with rentals are slips and falls.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:19:26] Yeah. And just to make sure that the clock batteries, the remote batteries are all working or you might have a spare stash. Another design thing is that if you've got a property that sleeps six, you want six lounge chairs or some comfortable arrangement for the six people. You don't want two or four in the lounge and two have to sit on the dining chairs. No one wants that.

Deborah Labi: :

I've got my nickname from that. We rented a place when I was in my 20s and there was only one lounge chair and, of course, I grabbed it all the time and I'm barking out orders, "Can you please bring me a glass of water? Can you pass with the chippies?" So I got a nickname from that, but that's terrible. This place would have slept six people and had one comfortable armchair. That was it. This was many, many years ago, many years ago. Vacation rentals have come a long way since then.

Deborah Labi: :

But yeah, so it's not just about maintenance, it's about design. And really if you're not going to have The Guest Innspect to stay, have a family friend come and stay or have your friend come and stay and say, you don't even have to look for what's wrong. You know as soon as you've got to do something, "Oh, okay, where do I put my towels or hang on a second, I want to bow some pasta, and there isn't a pop big enough." You at least assume if the flat sleeps four, there might be four adults, two adults, two kids, at least give them a big enough saucepan for pasta. That's the cheapest meal you're going to make. Assume that. And a fry pan with our scratches. And if you don't want the scratches, please give them plastic utensils. Help them adhere. So there's a lot. Really, you discover all these things just staying there and waiting for the little nickels.

Host: :

[00:21:16] What is your thought on the checkout instructions?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:21:21] I think long gone are the days of strip the beds. I think as simple as, look, they even take out the rubbish. You know what? I'm thinking about catching a plane or whatever, and the cleaner is going to be leaving after their plane. They might find something else like hair in the basin that they may want to throw away. So in terms of rubbish, I don't mind that the cleaner takes out the rubbish. I'm a bit naughty like that. I don't take the rubbish out.

Deborah Labi: :

But I don't mind doing the dishes. But then again it is just me. I'm not doing the dishes for six people fried eggs and bacon. But I think doing the dishes, not stripping the beds, aircon off, lights off, everything closed and locked, the key's on the counter, pull the door closed behind you. There's no need to clean up or anything. There's one thing that even as a property manager, I never understood why this happened. But how many times have you walked into a property and the furniture has been moved? Why? What did you do?

Host: :

[00:22:19] We don't know.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:22:20] Oh my God, this is a mystery.

Host: :

[00:22:22] It's like where did the socks go when you're doing laundry for your family. It's like, why is the furniture on the second floor? They moved it.

Host: :

[00:22:29] It's never been rearranged where it's like, oh, that's actually a better idea. That would be welcome if it was like, wait, they had a better-- it's never a better idea. It's like, why did you do that? That actually can cause a lot of trouble, especially if your turnover team if they're not equipped to lift that, hey, that's not their job to move furniture, but depending on the team, they might have to call in some reinforcements to help them do it. Yeah, the moving furniture I have never understood that.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:22:59] I think maybe as property managers and hosts, we need to actually follow up after the guests leave, if we discovered that the furniture moved and just say we're doing a survey. Why? Why do you move the furniture? We're doing a survey. We're not picking on you, but why? Period. We need the industry data on this.

Host: :

[00:23:17] Just see, because it is interesting. Sometimes it makes sense. You're like, oh, they brought maybe a few more chairs and maybe they wanted to sit in a different chair. But yeah, sometimes it completely does not make any sense at all. I've had the bed moved too. Oh, that's weird. The bed was the one, like the whole frame, everything. Oh, they were a longer term stay but-- and, listeners, put this in your house rules too so at least you can combat this a little bit, although sometimes they don't listen.

Host: :

So let's say whether it's The Guest Innspector coming through a property and you've got some feedback, or people take your advice, and they have their-- we like to call them their truth-telling friend, you don't want to get your nice friend. You want to get your friend who is blunt and honest. But let's say okay, blunt and honest friend because back they have this feedback, and do you find hosts get immediately defensive? And how can we better take that constructive criticism so that we can be better and more hospitable hosts?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:24:17] The usual response is eye-opening. They didn't know. They didn't realize. And then once it's been pointed out to them, they understand that, okay, this is a problem. And they know that they should fix it. Because I'm not saying oh, that wall should be crimson, not beige. I'm not saying that. The feedback is actually constructive feedback. And unless you actually listen to criticism, you're never going to improve. So I'm saying this as an experienced property manager. And I'm telling you, I'm giving you this feedback, then it actually will pay to listen to the feedback. And anyone who's not a property manager, any family friend, or whatever, they're a guest. And it's better that you get this information from them rather than have it reflected in a review.

Deborah Labi: :

Now, just speaking about reviews, I forgot to say before, this is one thing that also I find on people's websites, the reviews aren't in a really prominent place. They really need to be in a very prominent place because everyone reads reviews. So if you do have your own website, you need to have it pretty much higher up the homepage after you state what you do or where you are. This is what we do and this is what people are saying about us. So you want to catch their trust, the viewers' trust straightaway.

Deborah Labi: :

Now, my other big tip, and I've spoken to a few people, and they go, "Oh, wow, here is a nice nugget for your listeners." when I was a property manager, I was thinking, okay, what is the best time to send the email for the review? When am I really going to catch them that they're going to actually give me time and give me a review? And I put this into practice. And I had like 10 out of 10 response rate. And it was also just to double check that my staff had checked them in and that sort of thing. So it was a little bit of a survey, and then they can write whatever they wanted. But I send the review email on the last day of their stay.

Deborah Labi: :

Because while they're sitting in there thinking, oh, I don't want to leave, then they're going to have the great things to say about we had a great time and blah, blah, blah. Now they're always going to be on their computer that afternoon or that evening, whether it's checking in for a flight, checking the route home, doing whatever, they will be on their computer, they will see that email, and you want them to fill that email while they're sitting in there because as soon as they walk out the door and they're heading home, you don't exist anymore. So you do want to send that email out the day before they leave.

Host: :

[00:27:05] What do you think too, Deborah, about saying, if you have any constructive feedback for us, we'd love for you to leave that because sometimes, like you said, the negative part about their stay might be the thing that sticks with them, not your comfy sheets, or your amazing showerhead, it's the sticky tile on your foot. And so it's like get them while they're in the beautiful space, have them say remarkable things, and then please give us your constructive feedback so we can remedy if not tonight, immediately after departure tomorrow.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:27:33] Well, I used the word that I wanted to improve my business for the next stays, etc, etc. But something else you can do that will prevent, perhaps a bad review is, depending on obviously on the length of their stay, maybe day one, maybe day two, you send them an email, and you say, how are you going? Are you enjoying? Is everything good there? If there's any issues, please let us know. We'll look after it as soon as we can, or as soon as possible, whatever, just so they know that you care to fix anything that's wrong, even if there's nothing wrong. But if there is something wrong, then they know that you'll come and you'll fix it. And then okay, that's sorted. And then it's great. It's great.

Deborah Labi: :

So you can iron out the loss of potential staff early on by just double checking with the guests that everything is fine, and they're happy. Because you don't want them to say, "Oh, well, there was no egg flip" when they've left. You could have told me day one. I would have brought you one. It's not a problem. So it's just little things like that. Sometimes they don't realize that they can actually contact you about anything. They should be able to contact you, well, not about anything but within reason.

Host: :

[00:28:43] And [Inaudible 00:28:45] to do that.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:28:45] Yeah, I liked it, too. I like that contact. And then they know you're always there for them. And it's really nice.

Host: :

[00:28:51] And it's one of those things, you're like, oh, I should tell them about this. But if they reach out, it makes it a lot easier for you to let the host know like, oh, I'm going to tell him right now, like, there's not really enough towels. There's not enough hooks here. What do you think, Deborah, is there an amenity that a lot of hosts missed? I know you're talking about the hooks, and Sarah and I talked about that a lot too, so inexpensive. Is there something else really inexpensive that you see missed by a lot of hosts?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:29:21] Of late it has been an egg flip, very bizarre. Look, one place I stayed at the beginning of the year, it didn't have an egg flip. It had one sharp knife, one big knife, and it had a whisk.

Host: :

[00:29:35] So we think an egg sflip is a spatula, right?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:29:38] Yes, to flip the eggs.

Host: :

[00:29:41] Okay. And some of those are things that can get burnt or ruined or accidentally thrown away. Yeah, that's really inexpensive.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:29:50] Now, the thing is, we're talking about cleaners before and I know that it's not the cleaners' job to do this sort of stuff, like reporting maintenance. And I know that they're usually on time schedule and I know they have to run to the next job, which is why they're not doing the maintenance check. So another thing that this flat was missing was, oh my God, it was so hysterical. I arrived and there's a bottle of wine, welcome bottle of wine. Oh, how lovely. So maybe two or three days into the stay, I was there for a month, I decided, oh, I wouldn't mind a glass of wine. Looking at the drawer, no bottle opener. Are you kidding me? No bottle opener. You give me a bottle of wine and no bottle opener.

Deborah Labi: :

So I emailed them and blah, blah, blah. And she said, "Oh, I'm sorry. That's something that always goes missing." And it's really bizarre. It must be a cultural thing. Because someone else said in Europe, they always go missing whereas in Sydney, they would multiply.

Host: :

[00:30:44] That's interesting.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:30:46] But I would start off with one and then eventually I'll go and stay at a property I've got three now. So the bottle opener is multiplied. And tell me is this something that you find in America? I think I ran it past someone in the UK and they said, yes. The thing that goes missing, teaspoons. Oh, you don't find that?

Host: :

[00:31:09] The wine keys go missing.

Host: :

[00:31:12] So I was going to tell you, Deborah, so we have an inspector that goes through after the cleaners and we try to keep the inspection checklist concise and like not exhaustive because there's also going too far into it. But there's two things we have them check and it's the wine key. And so they always have extra wine-- I have four wine keys in my trunk right now just in case and in every host kit they have wine keys. And then scissors, the scissors always go missing.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:31:35] Oh, they go missing?

Host: :

[00:31:36] Yes, and so you make them check for the scissors too, make sure the wine keys and scissors because they go missing, but now it's the teaspoons.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:31:44] Teaspoons. When I mentioned that to someone else, they go, oh my God, yes. Why? And all I could think of is maybe baby food. I don't know why. Maybe when they're having tea. I don't know. I can't understand how teaspoons go missing. But maybe it's a cultural thing. So we breed bottle openers in Australia, whereas in Europe and America the bottle openers disappear, teaspoons disappear there. There's obviously some sort of funny blackhole going on in the short-term rental industry in different parts of the world.

Host: :

[00:32:16] But something you said was that your host was like oh, that always goes missing. So if you were saying that out loud to your guests, you're very observant, Deborah, and you're like how can I solve this problem? If it always goes missing, add that to your inspector checklist.

Host: :

[00:32:30] That's why I want to say to listeners right now too, look, we just gave you a forewarning, these are things that are going to go missing, these are things that 20 bucks maybe, you can have spares actually in your house, a couple of extras of these. And we see it all the time. Host gets so frustrated when these things go missing. Just plan ahead for it. Order them, have them there, and so when they go missing, it's like no big deal. It's like we've got an extra one. We've got these there and move on and it's not that big. It's really a teeny tiny fraction of their stay. And who knows, maybe they accidentally tossed it in the garbage or maybe they went out for a picnic and they took the wine key and put it in a bag and then didn't put it back. No big deal. Let him go with it. It's interesting.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:33:14] I used to stock up with teaspoons and wine glasses. I went on eBay and I think I bought like 100 wine glasses, and I just had supply. I'll put up when needed. It happens. But I think look, going back to the towel rails, I think that's a really important one, only because if you can imagine a full house or a full apartment, and you're just surrounded by wet towels, that's not what you want to see in a place that you've just been a lot of money on. And you come back from sightseeing, and you've got everyone's towels hanging everywhere. There's a simple solution and that's something that's really going to affect someone's stay when they got their wet towel. Where do I put this now?

Host: :

[00:33:57] And putting them in the rooms is really nice that way if there are multiple people. In multiple people it's like look, my towel is in my room. It's not like oh, I hung my towel on the third hook to the right by the toilet or whatever. You know hey, they're in my room and I can keep those. All right, everybody, we fully expect you to tag us on Instagram while you're stalling and buying your hooks.

Host: :

[00:34:18] No, your guest will thank you. I don't even like to put my clothes-- sometimes when I'm in same place, I just want to-- if it's a jacket or a shirt, I just throw it on that hook and I can pick it up the next day. I don't want to use all the hangers.

Host: :

[00:34:28] And also if you do install your hooks on the wall, make sure you're using heavy-duty anchors because people will do that. They'll hang their computer bags, their purses, and the last thing you want is a hole in your wall. So me getting the right weighted quantity for your anchors is good. So, Deborah, you do a lot for our industry. As we wrap up the show, anything else you want to leave our listeners with? What are you working on and how can they get a hold of you if they want more of Deborah?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:34:53] Sure. Well, actually one podcast came about because of The Guest Innspector because if I'm going to be making recommendations, particularly about software for their website, for their businesses, things like that, software and services, I realized that I've been going to conferences for many, many years, but because of my guest referral platform, I was talking to property managers trying to get their feedback and get them on board and I never spoke to any of their suppliers. And I thought, hmm, okay, I don't know them. So I better get to know them if I'm going to be recommending them as The Guest Innspector in the reports.

Deborah Labi: :

So I figured if I don't know what everyone does, maybe other people don't know what everyone does. So I started Techsplained with The Guest Innspector. So each week, I have an episode where I talk to software provider, service provider, and it's literally the same as going up to them at a booth in a conference and saying, "Okay, what do you do?" And I'm asking them questions as a property manager, okay, what do you do? How does it work? Do you connect to my PMS? How does the guest get notified, blah, blah, blah, how much does it cost, etc, etc.

Deborah Labi: :

So they're only about 15 minutes long average, sometimes 20, a bit over if they've got a lot of features to discuss. But that's been a very, very interesting thing to be working on. So the podcast page is not a who's who in the industry, but it's going to be a great resource page or a directory. So if you're looking for, okay, I'm thinking of dynamic pricing, you can go on there, search dynamic pricing, and it will pop up so far, the two interviews I've had with Wheelhouse and Beyond, and you can have a listen to what both companies do. And then okay, I like the sound of this and pursue it yourself. With Smart Locks, I'm going to have Furniture Suppliers on soon. So it's a great resource page just to say, okay, what do you need? Have a listen to who's out there, what they're offering. So that's been really, really exciting.

Deborah Labi: :

And also working on the Book Direct show. So we're going to be in Miami in October, coming over your side of the world. And we have two live days in Miami, and I'm curating the online series. So I'm putting together the speakers. And with the Book Direct show, we like to think outside the box. We're innovative, unique educational sessions. So it'll be very interesting. Now, the online series is free on the first two days that it's live. But I'll give you some links for that maybe--

Host: :

[00:37:26] Perfect. Yeah, we'll put it in the show notes for everybody. Yes, for sure.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:37:29] And then the last little thing that I've just starting to work on now is another podcast about sustainability. Now, there's a lot of talk about how our industry really needs to get behind it. And I don't like the word sustainability, sorry, about being more environmentally friendly. So as an industry, I think there needs to be a bit more education and awareness, and just what do you do? How do you do it?

Deborah Labi: :

So this is what the podcast is going to be about. I'm going to interview people with success stories, the small steps, and even a bit of education, like, what carbon and why is it a culprit right now, so we can put everything into context. And when we say, don't use those little single-use plastic, have a big pump and refill it and lalalalala, why? Let's know what's going on in the ocean. And what's the problem? So then you can understand why maybe you shouldn't be using these little amenity things. So yeah, that's the little baby I'm working on now, as well as Techsplained, as well as The Guest Innspector, and as well as the Book Direct show.

Host: :

[00:38:33] Awesome. Now, we love it a lot. Actually, I do have one more question for you, Deborah, that I meant to ask you earlier, because you mentioned that you didn't like WhatsApp, but I think our listeners might be like, well, then what does she like? What chat option do you like or have you been successful for Direct Book website?

Deborah Labi: :

[00:38:49] So on all of my platforms, websites, whatever, I use Drift. So Drift you can have on your phone and when someone pops up an answer or ask a question, you can get notified on your phone and then you can answer straight away from your phone. You can have whoever's phone number, whoever's on duty, blah, blah, blah. And there's another one that I actually want to get on Techsplained. I think they're called Chat 24/7. And they may be people who are there to answer for you. I'm not exactly sure how that one works. I love WhatsApp. I love WhatsApp for private use. But in terms of that live chat, one of my clients for The Guest Innspector, it was like I felt okay, what's up? Let me ask a question through that avenue, ask a query. And it took me away. I was like no, you don't want to go off your website. So yeah, Drift is a nice one. It's easy.

Host: :

[00:38:50] Awesome. That's great.

Host: :

[00:39:46] Deborah, this was amazing. So many nuggets that I know our listeners can go away implement today. Home Depot is about to have a shortage on hooks. So you're welcome to Home Depot.

Deborah Labi: :

[00:39:53] I might add, sorry, you know what? Instead of hooks, because hooks, when you've got the towel draping there, it doesn't dry so well. In my home and my properties, I had towel rails standalone because then they can dry, and then you can use the hooks behind the door for your coat when you're out there. If there's an option for a towel rail, I think that looks a bit smarter, a bit more old school but it looks a bit smarter. And the towels will dry. Sorry, I'm a--

Host: :

[00:40:23] No, here for it. All right, listeners, we'll have all of Deborah's what she mentioned in our show notes. So if you missed any of that, head there. As always, I am Host.

Host: :

[00:40:33] I am Host and together we are--

Both Hosts:

[00:40:35] Thanks for Visiting.