In the growing world of home sharing – in the richness of its many shapes, sizes, styles and locations – it only makes sense that we’d get a home-makeover reality TV show.
The show, “Stay Here,” arrived on August 17 on Netflix, where eight episodes take property owners from dismal to dramatic. The series promises to look at short-term vacation rentals in terms of “travel, design, experience and profit” and largely achieves the first three. The property makeovers in each case are significant – according to the show’s host, renovation costs in several episodes exceed $100,000 – but cost details are not included in the show.
Locations make the place
“Stay Here” is still worth a good binge and could easily become a multi-season hit. The hosts come from important corners of expertise: Genevieve Gorder, the interior designer on the team, formerly hosted the TLC network’s “Trading Spaces.” Her sidekick is Peter Lorimer, owner of a successful Beverly Hills, California real estate brokerage. Together they understand aesthetics, value and higher-end clientele.
The featured locations in the show make a fine American traveling bucket list: Seattle, Malibu, Austin, Brooklyn, Paso Robles (California), Hudson (upstate New York State), Palm Springs and Washington D.C. The types of homes range from a houseboat, a fire station and a ranch to a Mid-Century Modern, a brownstone and more.
Importantly, what “Stay Here” does is venture outside the structures to the broader locations, exploring the surroundings and attractions that define the area. In Seattle, that includes visiting the nearby Pike Place Market, shopping for definitively regional foods that provide a “goodies” welcome basket for guests. Lorimar advises hosts to spend 10 percent of a first night’s rental fee on these packages as a bigger point is made: As a host, you’re selling an experience that’s associated with the location, and those things should be part of your marketing messages.
Marketing and design work together
Lorimer adds that hosts need to think more like business people. To underscore that, he provides a primer on listing language that captures the imagination and web traffic. “I recommend SEO, search engine optimization,” he says, advising the Seattle hosts to use “romantic Seattle houseboat rental” in a pay-per-click program. Gorder reinforces that by saying, “own a niche.”
The aesthetics of the accommodations matter most in this show, and Gorder doesn’t disappoint. The properties all start out looking sad, and every owner has stories of failure in their short-term rental market. The show walks through the cringe-worthy “before” environs as show hosts discuss what’s wrong while offering general ideas for changing it. Next, the property owners are ushered offsite.
Owners appear to place their trust in the show while complete transformations take place; Living rooms become master suites, kitchens are simultaneously downsized and taken up-market, entry doors become showstoppers and views (where they exist) are maximized.
Who pays for all of this? “In every project, it was a joint effort,” Lorimer told us. “Suffice it to say the hosts commit a considerable amount of money to the renovations.” He says the starting point is what the owners want to earn with their properties; they study comparably-priced properties, determine what it would take to compete and develop a budget from there.
As with all home makeover shows, the reveal “after” moment is fun and emotional. This is a show that allows the imagination – and strategic home-rental business thinking – to test the possibilities.
Lorimer’s website enables us to see at least what happened after the Seattle makeover (which was filmed before April 2018). The owners’ goal was to generate revenues of $4,000 per month, charging $250 per night with a 16-nights-per-month occupancy rate. Their Airbnb calendar shows 24 nights booked in September and 25 nights in October at a price of $300 per night, as well as 39 five-star reviews. That suggests profitability, far beyond expectations, even if we aren’t sure what it cost to get there.
Overall, the show is a fun way to see what experts in the space would recommend when it comes to vacation rentals. More than anything though, the show shines a positive light on the vacation rental industry that is not often shown to the general public.