Part 2 Of Review Netflix Stay Here

This is Part Two of a two-part review on Season One of the Netflix short term rental (Vacation Rental) makeover show, Stay Here.”

If you have not yet read Part One of my review, don’t miss it since I cover a broad review of the entire season and Part Two will not make sense without reading Part One first! 

Review Netflix Stay Here

Specific Thoughts

The opening credits state a theme of Travel, Design, Experience, and Profit. Each episode is loosely broken down into topics of Design, Business, Amenities, Hosting, and Marketing.

Episodes

  1. Seattle Houseboat, Washington. Theme, “Rebuild and Rebrand.” Investment Buyer Owners, local but not living at property.
  2. Malibu Beach House, California. Theme: Context for a High-End Market. “The Crooked Tooth on a Perfect Smile.” Local Owner using the property 6 months of the year.
  3. Austin Pool Pad, Texas. Theme: “There is no design.” Disjointed experience. Introduces an out of state Owner using, but at odds with, a local property management company. The Owner does not comply with what they want him to do and they’re considering dropping him.
  4. Brooklyn Brownstone, New York. Theme: Larger Capacity Property. Stiff Competition. To succeed in this market, you must be special and stand out. Investment Buyer Owners, local but not living at property.
  5. Paso Robles Wine Country Cottage, California. Theme: The story is not getting told and the target demographic ignored. Not just a place to stay. They created a resort. Owners live locally on the farm that the property is located at.
  6. Hudson River Carriage House, New York. Theme: “Money Pit to Money Maker.” An Owner new to renting – no furniture, no marketing, no budget, no idea. Investment Buyer Owner, living 2 hours away in the city.
  7. Palm Springs Time Machine, California. Theme: Overcoming Fear of Theft and Damages. Home is a period 1970s experience with museum quality original furnishings. Second home, out of state owners renting for first time.
  8. DC Firehouse, Washington DC. Theme: “Diamond in the Rough.” “Nothing about this property welcomes me. It makes me work.” History of the unique property and neighborhood experience being ignored. Owner lives at the property as a primary residence.

Design

Neflix Stay Here Review

Pasa Robles Wine Country Cottage

I give the show hosts an A+ for this category. Each episode hammers home (no pun intended) the value of guest experience. The message is to look at a property through a guest’s eyes, and not those of the owner. Guests are looking for a resort, hotel type experience.

Each episode states that the guest experience begins from the minute a guest pulls up to the exterior of the property. Curb appeal, landscaping, entrances, yards are as important as the interior kitchen, dining, bedrooms and communal spaces. Interesting to note that not a single episode covered or showed bathrooms – as important to guests as bedrooms for sure.

Genevieve, the Designer scores points by emphasizing the need to upgrade not just the look of a property, but also the appliances. Properties need to be functional as well as beautiful. It’s all based on a resort style guest-focused thinking: king size beds; black out curtains; de-cluttering and de-personalizing spaces; emptying out the refrigerator; less is more – less furniture but higher end pieces; a functional, well-stocked kitchen (guests cook a lot); make properties kid friendly since most guests are families.

Business

I give the show hosts a B- for this category. They did a great job of discussing and setting financial goals for what the property owner was looking to achieve by renting out their property. They superbly covered the importance of researching the competition AKA, “The Comps.” They included a discussion of fixed carrying costs such as a mortgage, rental taxes, and where applicable, management fees for using a local property manager expert. There was resonance for me in the respect that there was a comparison with the financial model of the hotel industry standards of occupancy and revenue with “Heads in Beds” and an allusion to Dynamic Pricing (Revenue Management) or changing rate pricing based on guest demand and booking patterns. This category could have been an A+ had the show covered the financial planning aspects of budgeting and evaluating a return on investment of renovations.

Amenities

Neflix Stay Here Review

Seattle Houseboat

I give this category a C as it was the weakest for me. I made the least number of notes on this since I disagreed with their category definition. The show explains amenities as guest experiences and stresses the importance of providing local information to plan out the guest’s entire stay. The show muddles their own category. Often it is difficult to follow the theme – is a guidebook an amenity, or is it to be covered under marketing?

Each episode adds onto the message that owners should be including welcome items for the guest. OK. Great point. However, the show hosts say that owners should be providing food akin to a B&B. This is a different business model to a short-term rental in my opinion. The show hosts did not discuss the practicalities of sourcing food, storing, displaying, and removing. Guests may arrive late. Perishable foods spoil.

Neflix Stay Here Review

DC Firehouse

The Washington DC Firehouse Owner made one of the most illuminating, appropriate, yet misguided (misguided by the show hosts, in my opinion) statements, “I didn’t realize this but when guests come to my house, they’re expecting me to hold their hands through their entire stay.” I disagree. There is a firm line between a welcome basket and controlling the pattern of a guest stay. It’s very helpful, as the show hosts point out, to have a welcome guidebook with attractions, and restaurant recommendations from the local’s perspective. That is as far as I would go with that. Vacationing Guests should be offered a flavor of an area, then left to make their own dish.

For Seachange Vacation Rental purposes, we consider a property amenity to be a specific functional item or characteristic of the property itself. Yes, this translates into guest experience, but providing local food at arrival? We consider the furnishings, appliances, bathroom types, bed sizes, hot tubs, pools, type and location of TVs, Wi-Fi, a game room – all to be amenities. You get the message.

Hosting

Hard to rate this category since it was not specifically discussed in each episode. The viewer, however, could draw a good conclusion of the importance of a local, knowledgeable expert – be it the property owner, or a designated property manager.

The show did a great job of covering the types of hosting: a live-in owner; out of state owners with no local contact; out of state owners with a local property manager; investor owners, and second home owners.

Episode 2 The Malibu Beach House, the Real Estate expert, Peter, directs owners to find out as much as possible about their guests prior to arrival then help them plan their stay. If your guest, for example, mentions that they are health conscious, recommend temporary memberships at the best local gym.

Genevieve, the Designer installs at many properties a, “Top 5 Must See Attractions” Instagram ready bulletin board, and at one property a cool video of local experiences.

Marketing

Neflix Stay Here Review

Austin Pool House

I give this category a good A rating. Next to design, this was the strongest category. The show does a great job of illustrating and explaining the need for professional photos, a web site, and inclusion at the property of local experience recommendations. They cover the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and using hashtags to encourage guests to market the property. I loved the strength of the web site property description copy at the end of each episode. The copy told a story of the uniqueness of each property and tells a story of the property layout and usage through the web copy description.

A special note on welcome books/guide books at properties. This recommendation cropped up under Amenities, and Marketing. It could just as easily apply to Hosting. It’s a good suggestion – curate a welcome/guide book that not only lays out the specifics of the property, but also how to live like a local in the area with attractions, shopping, nightlife, and restaurant recommendations. All great suggestions! Once again, however, the show does not cover the practical, operational aspects of maintaining these books for currency, order, and cleanliness.

Episode 5 The Pasa Robles wine country cottage had some great marketing suggestions. Create a unique attraction-based show external to the property. Photos. Video. Blog about the area. I would also blog about the property. They brought in a professional lifestyle photographer to flesh out the property photos. The costs were not covered.

Money Quotes!

I leave you with a fun section! I present some of my favorite quotes from the show. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions! I do not have many quotes from the Real Estate Expert, Peter, since he is full of great advice, but not really in quotable format.

“The Crooked Tooth on a Perfect Smile.” Real Estate Expert.

“I want to be completely hands-off, so I hired a property management firm.” Owner.

“Managing a hospitality business is not in my DNA.” Owner.

” One of the things that I like about the property management company is that our economic interests are aligned. So, if they see an opportunity to improve revenue on my property, they’re going to do it.” Owner.

“I love Austin actually and it’s important to me that the people who stay in my home have a good experience here and I feel if I’m able to deliver that experience that’s going to show me the money.” Owner.

“The biggest tool we have to help (Owner) make more money with his property is design. We need to make this place prettier from the inside out so that it stands out from the competition.” Designer.

“Guests need to feel immediately when they enter that they’re on vacation. Just like a great hotel, you need to really make the common areas work.” Designer.

“I didn’t realize that I was going to be kicked away from my house.” Owner.

“Part of the home share deal is that they want to cook.” Designer.

“I’d like to partner with experts to earn more to pay for my child’s education.” Owner.

“This feels like your spare room as opposed to a business.” Designer.

“Imagine if you walked into hotel room and everything was 10 years old.” Designer.

“The bedroom is the first thing that guests look at when booking property.” Designer.

“You’re called the vintage cottage, so you need to add vintage furnishings.” Designer.

“Make this room feel like a hotel room with soul.” Designer.

“Important that the right renters stay here.” Owner.

“Every room is a punch in the face.” Designer.

“Nothing about this room says that you care at all about the guest.” Designer.

“Your target audience is families. You’re just not hitting that crowd.” Designer.

“I didn’t realize this but when guests come to my house, they’re expecting me to hold their hands through their entire stay.” Owner.

“There’s nothing in this property that welcomes me. It makes me work.” Designer.

“How would you feel if you walked into a hotel room like this? This is not just a place that you live that you rent out a room in. This is a business. You are the GM of a small hotel. Guests are expecting a hotel experience.” Real Estate Expert.

If you have not yet read Part One of my review, don’t miss it since I cover a broad review of the entire season and Part Two will not make sense without reading Part One first!

Author: Andy Meddick, Owner Seachange Vacation Rentals, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA.

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