The World Championships in Athletics wrapped up Sunday in Eugene, but the 10-day competition isn’t the end of tourists heading to TrackTown USA.
Lodging is needed year-round as the city and other parts of Lane County attract visitors to experience art and nature, craft beer and covered bridges, and high-profile sporting events.
In addition to promoting traditional hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites, Travel Lane County the tourism board is encouraging residents to list short-term rentals, from one bedroom to an entire home, on peer-hosted sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.
To help new hosts rent their spot during the Oregon22 track and field meet and beyond, Andy Vobora of Travel Lane County contacted Mike Grudzien of Eugene. The retired telecommunications salesman is so good at renting out his second home to vacationers that he’s earned Airbnb superhost rankings.
As an Airbnb Superhost Ambassador, he also mentors new hosts, helping them set up their rental space and create an online listing page, all the way through their first checkout and checkout.
“Most people often ask, ‘What should I provide?’ says Grudzien. “Simple answer: everything.”
A short-term rental space should be fully furnished and stocked for comfort day or night.
“You are in the hospitality industry; you’re running a hotel with new customers and constant turnover,” says Grudzien.
Responding to questions and resolving issues quickly builds your reputation and increases referrals and repeat customers.
The reward? “Our guests are interesting and great people to meet,” he says.
Grudzien could sign a long-term lease to rent his two-bedroom home, an eight-minute drive from the University of Oregon campus, for around $2,300 a month, he says.
However, after building his vacation rental business for nine years, he says his property generates more than $4,000 a month.
To make a profit, income must exceed expenses for rental supplies and amenities. Some hosts use the extra income to pay their mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and utilities.
The per-night rate for Grudzien’s 1,400-square-foot rental home starts at $199. The total cost of the two-night minimum stay, plus cleaning fees and hotel taxes, could add up to $600 or more.
For this, people expect to find everything promised in the list.
Hosting isn’t for everyone, says Grudzien. Owners managing the process must be responsive to customers, comfortable maintaining the listing online, adept at handling reservations, and efficient at communicating via email and text.
Grudzien also reaches out to customers with a phone call shortly after booking a stay.
Here are five tips Airbnb Ambassador Mike Grudzien has for people considering short-term rental:
It’s a business built on good customer service and your reputation. Your customers’ experience and their published reviews will make or break your business. “These are not people ordering something from a website,” says Grudzien. “It’s a 24/7 business and very personal.”
He takes arriving guests to visit the house and lets them know that the place is their home during the holidays, but when they leave, it’s like a hotel and they should leave the cleaning to him. He collects unopened recyclable food and drink containers to donate to homeless people.
Test your new rental: Stay in the rental space for a day or two to find out what’s missing. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just arrived: what does he need to be comfortable?
Exceed expectations: The quality of each element builds or detracts from the overall aesthetic, vibe and experience, says Grudzien. Rental should be staged and stored to inspire an experience. He leaves two bottles of wine with glasses and a bottle opener on a tray for incoming guests. In the morning, they receive a basket of fresh fruit.
Customers want to relax: The living room should have a flat screen television with cable or multi-channel video programming like DirecTV, a DVD player, a small selection of DVDs, high-speed Internet, and comfortable furniture. Rooms need above average mattress, pillows, blankets and linens. There should be a TV in the master bedroom.
Have help. A handyman and the people who maintain the pool or hot tub should be available at short notice to resolve functional issues and provide your guests with a five-star experience as soon as possible.
You also need a reliable cleaning crew ready to sanitize and rearrange the place to look like the booking photos.
“Turnover cleaning is different from a regular cleaning service,” says Grudzien. Paper items and amenities need to be replenished. Everything should be cleaned, streak-free, every time. Dust can’t get under dressers or beds.
Grudzien has advantages: his wife, Terry Lee Sears, runs a residential cleaning service, and he’s a United States Marine Corps veteran who knows how to conduct a white glove inspection.
If the on-call and hands-on work of managing a vacation rental is beyond your ability, you can pay a management company that specializes in short-term rentals. The commission is approximately 20% of booking revenue plus expenses. Based in Portland Vacasa manages premium vacation rentals around the world. And Airbnb can connect you with a co-host to manage the property when you travel.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072