The Real Estate Law Podcast

Designing Your Airbnb and the Value of Real Product Moments with Minoan CEO Marc Hostovsky

November 28, 2022 Jason Muth + Rory Gill Season 1 Episode 78
The Real Estate Law Podcast
Designing Your Airbnb and the Value of Real Product Moments with Minoan CEO Marc Hostovsky
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever stayed at a short-term rental home and wondered where a certain interior design item was purchased and how you could get it for your own home?

Or did you sleep amazingly on their mattress and sheets, and want to buy them for your own bedroom?

These real product moments are what drove our guest, Marc Hostovsky, to launch Minoan - a customizable, curated retail platform helping short term rental hosts simplify furnishing and save money with a free to use, centralized ordering platform.

Steep discounts and no hassle of messy logistics like order tracking and customer service? Sign us up!

Marc has a strong background in tech and retail operations, having worked in senior roles for Walmart and Jet.com (which was acquired by Walmart!)

Minoan is a venture-backed startup focusing on “native retail.”

Products aren’t boxed up in a store display case or hiding as images on a phone screen. There’s no pushy furniture store sales person over your shoulder either — just a consumer and the products with a little one-on-one time.

If guests love the plush towels, why not let them buy an exact one from the same supplier? It's a win for products and brands - they get consumers to spend time actually living with items of potential interest.

Minoan's current retail partner roster is impressive, including such heavy hitters as  William Sonoma, Article, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Polywood, Casper, Pottery Barn, Caraway, Wayfair, and hundreds other retailers, both national brands and smaller local companies.

They already have assembled a network of nearly 10,000 short-term rental locations and boutique hotels, whose hosts pick and choose products from several hundreds of participating brands that can help them convert their vacation lodging into showrooms.

In this episode, we discussed:
- How Marc thought to launch Minoan
- Why the most valuable moments spend with products are not online or in stores
- How Minoan works with short-term rental operators
- Why furnishing and decor should be thought of less as a cost center and more as an investment in improving average daily rates
- How does Minoan help hosts' encourage shopping available products without making the experience feel overly commercialized?
- What products create those memorable moments for guests?

Where you can find Marc:
Minoan website - https://www.minoanexperience.com/
Marc's LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-hostovsky/
Minoan's LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/minoan/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/minoanexperience
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/minoanexperience

Join Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill of NextHome Titletown and UrbanVillage Legal in Boston, Massachusetts for another episode of The Real Estate Law Podcast!

#realestatepodcast #nexthome #humansoverhouses #realestate #realestatelaw #realestateinvesting #realestateinvestor #realestateagent #airbnb #airbnbdecor #furnishingyourairbnb #strsecrets #vrbo #nativeretail

Support the show

Follow us!
NextHome Titletown Real Estate on Instagram
NextHome Titletown Real Estate on Facebook
NextHome Titletown Real Estate on LinkedIn
Attorney Rory Gill on LinkedIn

Marc Hostovsky:

How do we make sure it feels natural and not commercialized? And so there's we don't use words like buy, or add the car, or sale or discount or those words are just kind of associated with transactions. We want it to be much more experiential. So we use words like explore, discover, browse, shop. Shop as a much lighter word to describe.

Announcer:

You found The Real Estate Law Podcast. Because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom argument. If you're a real estate professional, looking to build real estate expertise, then welcome to the conversation and discover more at realestatelawpodcast.com

Jason Muth:

Welcome to another episode of The Real Estate Law Podcast. Thanks again for listening to us. I'm one of your hosts Jason Muth. We're here with Rory Gill from NextHome Titletown Real Estate and UrbanVillage Legal in Boston. Actually today you're in Newburyport, right.

Rory Gill:

I am in Newburyport today. Yes. In our under construction home studio.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, we have three interesting backgrounds for you. Let's first introduce our guest Marc Hostovsky from Minoan, we can't wait to hear more about what Mark has been up to with this excellent service for short-term rental operators. Well, first, Marc, welcome to the podcast.

Marc Hostovsky:

Thanks. Happy to be here.

Jason Muth:

We met about a month ago at a retreat in Miami for short term rental operators - Short Term Rental Wealth Conference - was that what it was called? Yeah, I don't know you. I'm sure you do a lot of these conferences, and we just got talking throughout the conference, and I met some of your team members there. Amazing value proposition for hosts of short term rentals. And you know, a really cool idea. And there are people listening to this podcast that probably have no idea what you are. And there are others that have probably seen you on other podcasts. So you know, we'll keep both those audiences in mind. But you're coming to us from Vermont, right?

Marc Hostovsky:

I am. Yeah, Hyde Park, Vermont, which is just north of Stowe, which is sort of known as like a big ski area up here.

Jason Muth:

I've seen some of your other podcasts and you always had that nice background. It looks very cabiny. I'm in one of our short term rentals right now, here in New Hampshire, which is why we have these beautiful lake stones and this fireplace. And Rory, unfortunately, you have the least interesting of our backgrounds.

Rory Gill:

And this is the most intentional, or at least this will be one of the most intentional backgrounds. But it's under construction right now. It's better than the blank void that we've been in for the past few recordings. So yeah, we're making progress.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, explain what we're doing that what what do you have going on back there?

Rory Gill:

We wanted to have a home office, since we're working from home a good amount that's both functional and a little fashionable, that shows well on camera. So we're trying to strike that balance. And we're also making it from scratch ourselves. So give us a minute.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, Marc, what are the companies you work with, do they involve felt on the walls? Do you have partner for that?

Unknown:

I don't know. I'd have to go back and check. We definitely work with a lot of partners to do a lot of like fabrics and fabrication. So we'll get back to you.

Jason Muth:

I'll have to take a look through the catalog once again. But Marc, tell us about your story. Tell us about Minoan, you know, explain why you're going to all these short term rental operators, and really, you know, talking to a lot of us about why we should be working with you guys and how you're helping solve a massive void in the industry for people that operate short term rentals.

Unknown:

Yeah, of course. So I think the most important thing for people to know is what really drives all the things we do is this core belief that the moments that happen between people and products within these rentals are incredibly rich and valuable. And our big belief is that hosts aren't fully capturing that value or getting credit for that value. And the reason why we believe this and I believe this specifically, you know, I have a background in retail, I worked at a company called Jet.com, which is an ecommerce platform. The founders sold that business to Walmart. I spent a few years at Walmart, learning sort of the store side of the business for brick and mortar retail. Spent a lot of time in Bentonville. And my biggest takeaway from the time spent that Jet in ecommerce, the time spent at Walmart on the store side is that the best product experiences don't actually happen on screens the way they do in ecommerce. They don't happen on shelves and aisles. The way they do in stores. They happen in real moments of use. And on the retail side, like that was really obvious to us because all the buyers who were making their inventory decisions, they asked for samples, they say oh you want me to carry this coffeemaker? Like send it to me. Let me see. Let me give this thing a whirl and we use it for a few months. See it holds up. You know, let me decide if it's good enough for our customers and if they like it and they put it through the wringer and it passes, then they bring it into inventory. But by the time the customer interacts with that coffee maker, the very rich interaction that the buyer has had with that product over the course of a few months, is now distilled down to a few images on a screen on ecommerce. And then on stores. It's distilled down to a few images and copy on a cardboard box on a shelf. And so we believe that these real moments of use that happen in rentals are incredibly valuable to these brands and the suppliers that you buy them from. And so what we've done is we've built a platform for hosts, that's really you can think of it as a platform to manage anything having to do with the stuff that you need to put into your space that makes it so that your guests aren't sitting, you know, in an empty home. So buying linens, mattresses, artwork, appliances, cookware, silverware, flatware, anything. I mean, you know, we work with over 200 brands. And, you know, having a place where host can buy all these items from 200 suppliers at a good discounts. Generally, our discounts are, are between, like 25 and 50%. There are some that are lower due to margins, or some that are much higher, like certain categories have a lot of margin, like linens and soft goods, we can get much better discounts for hosts. And it's a place where we're hosts can buy everything in one place across 200 suppliers, it's all in one place, you can see tracking, you can see savings. And then the last thing we do is we can help hosts make their property shoppable to the guests. So if a guest is staying Jason at the property that you're at right now, and they love this, you know wooden sailboat behind you, and they're like, this is incredible. I really like this, I think this would look great on my mantle, we can help you build a site with Minoan. And that's like, oh, you really like this? Okay, well, like this is where we got it. This is the backstory and it's, you know, $199. You know, and if you like it, you can add to cart. Or if you like the soap and shampoo. Or if you like the towels, or if you like sheets and mattresses, of course are a big seller. And so we offer that service as well. Why do we do that? Going back to what I said, initially, we believe that these moments are really special and really valuable. Brands spend a lot of money to try and create rich moments, you know, on Facebook or on Google. And if you believe those moments are really valuable, and that host you're creating really rich moments, then you also should believe two things you should believe that hosts should pay less to bring this stuff into their space, and that they should earn money whenever they create a moment of inspiration where a host loves something so much they want to bring it into their own life. That was kind of long winded. But that's sort of what we do in our nucleus.

Jason Muth:

That's the mission. Yeah, that's why you're doing this. Rory think back to when we were in Canada with our dog. And we were staying where, in Montreal?

Rory Gill:

We stayed at the same hotel chain Le Germain in Montreal and Quebec City. And we brought our dog with us. And I remember you commenting on how much you love the dog bed, or she took really took to the dog when you love that dog bed. So you reach back out to the whole chain hotel chain after we left and asked you know, where did they get that? And it took them a little while to get back to you. But they did. And they were able to identify that Canadian supplier and you ordered that dog bed because you had such a good experience with it on that trip.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, I remember checking out and saying that, you know, where did you get this bed? They didn't know but I thought nothing of it. Two weeks later, I get this random email. You know, Monsieur Jason, we found our supplier for the bed. I was floored that they wrote back to me like that level of hospitality. And we're telling the story. You know, eight years later, if there was a QR code right next to the bed or if the room was shoppable. I don't think I would have found that to be too presumptuous or tacky. It would have been like, Hey, do you like any of this stuff in the room like if you want, here's where we got it. I definitely bought that bed. And we still have it. We actually have it at one of our short term rentals now because our dog has since passed away. But you know, I love this bed so much. We wash the inserts and let other dogs sleep on it. I also had a situation many many years ago where I was at a hotel in Chicago and I loved their bedspread so much. And I did the same thing. I was trying to figure out where they bought it. I want to buy it and they wouldn't tell me because it was custom for them. I see what you're saying, Marc. I mean, there are situations where as a consumer, I've definitely been in environments where I appreciate the good or so much that I actually want one myself and sometimes tracking that down where they found it is difficult. I've slept on - in fact, I was just out at the BiggerPockets conference in San Diego and I liked the pillows. I took a picture of the tag on it. I was like hey, maybe I'll get these pillows someday. I've done this like three or four times because as Rory can attest, I cannot find the perfect pillow. I just can't. So I think you're you're definitely on to something there. And you know from a host perspective I have to keep remembering that's a big component of your business is helping guests find the products that are in these in these short term rentals that they're staying in. And then, you know, there's some affiliate revenue, which he you talk about in a second for the host. But you know, from an operator's perspective, having the one cart, the one stop the account manager that can get everything. I mean, it is very, very convenient for a service like that.

Marc Hostovsky:

Yeah, thank you.

Jason Muth:

I can also attest right now. I mean, like, we're up in New Hampshire, and I was just next door, where we're building a house. And it's, it's been painted inside right now. So we're really close. So Minoan's, you know, gonna be getting a cart full of stuff soon, which is great. I think about that property. And I'm saying, well, this could be a really good test for myself to see like how we do with mattresses through Minoan and sheets and towels and everything, and really kind of getting this place up and running. Because you're probably working with operators that both have a house full of stuff, and they're onboarding other things. So talk a little bit about how hosts are finding their way to you and what some of the feedback you've gotten so far has been from hosts and operators.

Unknown:

Yeah, so a lot of hosts are, we've done a lot in the last few months to try and get out there a bit. So we're going to conferences. I obviously do a lot of podcasts. And we do a lot of collaborations with, you know, influencers in the space who really serve as like authority figures for hosts who are new to the game and trying to figure out how to get things going, or authority figures for hosts who are in it and scaling rapidly. And so that's usually how folks find out about us. The feedback, we you know, we've been through a few iterations of this. And a lot of the feedback we got in the earliest phases of what we're building has influenced what we have currently. And then feedback we're getting currently will influence what we will look like in the future. But early on, a lot of the feedback we were getting, when we were asking people about purchasing for their properties was that it was a mess. And there was no good system for it. The best system seemed to be an Excel spreadsheet. But you know, if you're ordering from 20 different suppliers, which is not unheard of, I mean, to furnish a like a standard two bedroom from scratch, if it really has nothing you're spent, you're buying like over 200 items, there's like and there's really dense areas like the kitchen like you're buying a ton of stuff for and but um, you know, if you're buying from 20 different suppliers, it's like, okay, place 20 different orders. I'm going to now that I have to track those in 20 different email chains. Actually budgeting and figuring out when stuff will be delivered can be painful. So okay, like this is the budget. Okay, how much? Okay, well, it's across all these suppliers. So how am I staying on budget? Am I staying on time? Okay, wait, this one won't deliver until two weeks. So that's not going to work. So the feedback we got early on was man, there's so much administrative work in the ordering process. And even the big institutional, we have hundreds of properties. We're like, we don't feel confident in the organization and the system we have to manage it. And so that's guided a lot of our principles for the current version of the portal, which is, you know, there's 200 suppliers, you can go and shop on their websites, bring the products back into Minoan. Request a quote, We will quote it out for you all in one place and tell you how much we what it is retail, how much you save through Minoan how much shipping costs when things are going to be delivered. And you can just check in one place to understand the, you know, the statuses of all your deliveries.

Jason Muth:

I actually did a quote yesterday for a chandelier. I ended up doing it through Wayfair directly because you know Wayfair is more of a marketplace. And I don't think you have the same discounts you could offer through Wayfair. And then I wanted to see what the experience was like. And you know, it was actually really simple. I mean, you have the Chrome extension, you know, clicked on. I think I clicked on the Wayfair website and make the Minoan popped up somehow. So you basically just log in and put the product name and the color and the quantity and then add to cart and then boom, it's in your cart, and then you hit a button and then there's a quote there later in the day. So I can even attest to it. I've gone through the quoting process so far. And that was pretty simple.

Unknown:

Yeah, Wayfair is an interesting one because they are a marketplace. And we did have an agreement with them previously, which was like a base, just standard discount above the business pricing. But then when we were quoting things out, we were like, wait a minute, this is really inconsistent. Like we should be getting X percent off. And we're promising this but then sometimes you're going like this and that and so we ended up we're currently working on a new sort of pricing structure with them. So right now it's sort of standard business pricing, which you know, if you want to order everything in one place, it's like we allow you to do that but I don't know if you can wait it sounds like probably not but we are doing something special with Wayfair for the holidays. We're going to be doing like an exclusive discount sort of push for hosts. Although it sounds like if this is an empty home right now, you might not be able to wait.

Jason Muth:

Well, the electricians coming in. So I'm going to get a chandelier for him to install. It's only one item. It's not a big deal, but I'll wait for everything else,

Unknown:

We actually haven't. We haven't announced this yet. But which is good. we're doing a really fun holiday campaign with 10 of our suppliers which is sort of in this like theme of like, you know, your properties need love too. Holiday love too. Like holidays aren't just about shopping for your friends and family and, and getting some really fun discounts on like, really good discounts on some brands, for hosts to try and test out for us. We're kind of interested to see if, you know, there's so much focused on the consumer during holiday. We're like, what about these hosts? Like, it's a great time for them to rethink you know, a lot of it's off peak in a lot of parts of the country and so people are thinking about furnishing usually that time of the year, but yeah, anyways, more to come there.

Jason Muth:

You know, by the time this comes out, you'll actually be in that promotion. You know, people listening right now go, you

Marc Hostovsky:

Oh, perfect. know, go to Minoan.

Unknown:

Yeah make an announcement. Yeah, come to Minoan, sign up, and you can get some really good, some really good discounts and costing on some very well known good brands.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. I mean, like, we should talk about some of the brands that you have, because they are really well known brands. I mean, like the most obvious one I thought of was Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, right?

Unknown:

Yeah, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Parachute. You know, we work with a lot of like even these hospitality grade linen providers like a Frette and a Matouk. That's generally for people who are doing like we're buying like lots and lots of sheets. But in the kitchen, we work with OXO we work with Caraway. A really cool brand we just are working with called Leeway that makes these like prepackaged full kitchen sets, like glasses, bowls, plates, mugs, and, and they're packaged in a way where they the breakage is really low. And it all comes together and we get really good, we were talking about almost half off already very competitive. Like even the retail pricing is very competitive. And they're giving us very strong pricing for our hosts. So yeah, there's there's some good again, it's over to 200 brands, a lot of big national brands, we do a big business with Article. And there's a lot of fun, smaller, independent brands as well. We're really interested in expanding more of like a localized presence. So in Vermont, for example, like we're we're testing, onboarding some Vermont-specific brands that don't have a huge you know, they're small teams, but we think Vermont hosts would really love to support Vermont brands, and then that means guests are getting exposed to Vermont brands and combined. So it's better for the the ecosystem. So we do work with some of these smaller niche players as well.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. You know, thinking about it from the perspective of an operator, we're on the smaller side for operators, you know, like under five units at this point. What are the people that are signing up? Who are they? Are they 1-2-3 unit operators? Are they scaling up to 50? Like, who are you working with from a host perspective?

Unknown:

They really started with I think the independent, you know, zero to 10, I would say is where we started and but to be honest, as as we've - one big learning for us has been Oh, wow, nobody has a good system for this. Doesn't matter if you have zero to 10 properties, or you you're scaling from 40 to 100, or 100 to 150. It really like an Excel spreadsheet, or a Google Sheet seems to be the best system. And so we started with the smaller, more independent hosts. But we've been working with a lot more property management groups and larger operators, who we still support both. I mean, the reality is the need to see this information in one place, get these quotes and save money is true for everyone. The difference is for some of these larger operators, we are doing like true wholesale bulk pricing quotes and it's much more like an RFP. Where we're helping them put together programs. So it's like we need a linen program. We need an amenity program, we need to have standardized kitchens where it's like anytime we launch a new unit, it's like here are the 40 things that I always buy. And so we're working on some of that with the larger operators, but, but it's really important to me that we don't look past the smaller independents. To be honest, I think like their moments are just as valuable. And oftentimes to be honest, sometimes even more valuable because the smaller independent host is like a little bit more of a curator and like thinking about the the guest experience in a different way than sometimes a big operator is very like, you know, this is FF and E and OSNE. It's like a cost, you know, line item.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, what I found interesting about the the conference that met at is that the people that are there are doing this as a business, right? And a lot of people that operate short term rentals. It is a business but some people are just doing it for additional income and they don't see the opportunity that some of the quote-unquote business people see. Like, where they're appointing their places with the cheapest stuff they could find on Facebook Marketplace, or hand-me-down furniture. And you know, we certainly have some of that in a couple of the places that we've had for a while, like if it's in good condition, and we want to shift it from one place to another, we've been able to do that. That's the type of thing that I think any operator is able to, to benefit from a service like this, where you have a long list of vendors that you can pick from, and have it all be brand new, right? You know, Rory, how difficult was it to a point our place next door?

Rory Gill:

It was in fits and starts, there's just so much decision making we could take at one time. It really was a, you know, an endeavor unto itself, we had to stop and consider every little thing. It was fun, but it's really hard to scale doing that.

Unknown:

We recommend like when when people come and talk to like, how should we think about furnishing, I think it's nice to have some of these like staple statement pieces that might be from Facebook Marketplace or a hand me down. But we definitely encourage people not, you know, there needs to be a consistent, thoughtful design in the space. That translates directly to your ADR. I mean, it translates into how well this property is going to photograph. And then how well it photographs and presents itself, the consistency of the look and feel the thought, you know, the level of detail into the thought that makes it really elevated has a direct impact in your ADR and what you can charge and the payback period of furnishing your property well, and sort of a designer, conscious design conscious way is very quick. I mean, if you look at like hotels, or the One Hotel spends a ton of money on each room, relative to another, let's say mid level counterpart. The rooms aren't bigger. In some cases, they're smaller, the rooms are not bigger, but they spend a lot more in each room and they charge like three times as much. Now they have other services that they you know, there's like a nice restaurant. And there's other things they do to make it elevated and elegant. But I think the biggest misstep we see people make is they they see the furnishings just as a cost center and not as an investment in ADR, which is what they really are. And for us we say it's not just an investment, ADR, there is this investment that certain items if you bring them in the Commission's may make it so that they pay for themselves. Like we have certain items, Fellow tea kettles, if you guys are familiar with the Fellow brand. They have these really beautiful looking gooseneck tea kettles, and they're really nice at retail, they're they can be kind of pricey, they can be like 100 bucks, I mean, through Minoan, we can get them for host I think 40% off. And so we sell a decent amount of them. But we sell out on the guests, you know, and so we've had, we've had, we just got an order for I think yesterday morning, and it's like, okay, if that property sells, like four more of those over the course of the next three years, four years, like it's paid for itself, basically. And so now you have this really nice product that is in your property that's helping create this elevated experience. It's helping you capture higher ADR. And you've and it's essentially effectively paid for itself, because you bought it at a discount. And then you're earning commissions every time you sell. And so that's that's sort of the evangelism that we do for hosts in the industry is to think about furnishing as an investment and to be like investment you make, it should be really intentional, and really well thought out.

Rory Gill:

I believe it's become more and more apparent to us as you know, we worked on more short term rentals that were selling an experience, not just a house. And I think a lot of our design work and how we not just furnish aesthetically, but how we equip the home has changed with that mindset. It's not just about recreating what they have at home. It's about creating an experience. And it becomes more and more challenging when you adopt that framework, because now you have to you do have to have a consistent design, you have to have something that's unique, you have to have something that's thoughtful, you know, with that the number of decision points explodes. Short term, operators are selling an experience and they have to think that way.

Jason Muth:

Marc, you might remember the question I asked in Miami, but you might not. I'm going to ask it again here because I think it was a good question. And Bill Faeth said it was a good question. So if Bill says it was a good question. It was good question. The question was similar to your tea kettle story, it was, you know, as a host, we would like to know what are those products that people are buying more of, and can we get those into our short term rentals? Because you know, if there was a list of things where it's like, Hey, these are the ones that are most likely to be purchased by your guests. You know, it would behoove myself to not have those things inside our place to try to make some commissions on.

Unknown:

Yeah, so one thing we want to move towards is full transparency where it's like, here's an item you're looking at, here's its conversion rate, here's the commission and you can and we can actually estimate a payback period for you. We're not quite there yet. We're working towards it. But what we can do is talk about like categorically what items tend to convert pretty well. And for us, there's no surprise but like linens convert really well. We sell a ton of parachute. Lots of guests will sleep in a bed usually not a mattress from Parachute usually the mattress will be somewhere else. But the linens the pillows, the the Comforter to Duvey, we saw a lot of Parachute. And then soaps and shampoos, too. So you know, we sell a decent amount of Public Goods to guests. There's this boutique Philly brand called Franklin and Whitman, which we onboarded for a local Philly property, we sold a few of those soaps and shampoos is another one. And then these like unique, it's just really funny we sell there's this long tail where we've sold items, but we don't have like statistical significance or anything that we would feel comfortable putting in front of a host because the data is so small, where it's like, yeah, okay, like, do we really feel like this converts at like, 6%? Well, it's only because we have it in one property and, you know, guests have purchased all sorts of things we've sold like teak stools that were in showers, because guests really enjoyed the convenience of being able to sit down on something when you're shaving your legs and not doing doing it standing in the shower. We've sold hanging hooks, like hanging hooks that would line you know, like an entryway, which I almost didn't even want to set them up in the shoppable experience because I was like, who's gonna buy this? This is just like, you know, it's almost feels like a commodity item. But But then all of a sudden is like, wow, someone just bought four these. The Fellow tea kettles are another good one. We're really interested in getting into some other appliances like coffee makers and hair dryers and stuff like that. But we're still building out the assortment and finding the right suppliers there. But yeah, I'd say like the highest converting would be soaps, shampoos, linens, and towels also like bath towels will be another one. But everything we've sold pretty much everything at some point.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, we've gotten the mattress question a couple times. I know that mattresses you've sold a bunch of those. But yeah, if guests it's a little chicken in the egg, because I don't think guests know to ask us for these things. But the ones that have asked they've asked about mattresses. So I wonder if there's a bit of an education that you maybe you're doing this helping your hosts explain to their guests that some of the items are indeed shoppable. Because if people are regular Airbnb customers, or they don't know to ask, they're probably not going to ask. What types of materials are their marketing materials that a host could have in their house. It's just QR codes or websites? Or can you go into that a little bit?

Unknown:

Yeah, we spend a lot of time thinking about this. Because what's really important to us, we also work with some hotels, you know, some of these hotels are like $1,000 bucks a night. And so they're we're very conscious of not impeding on the guest experience. It should really enhance the guest experience and not overly commercialize it. And so there's a few ways that we we have a lot of work to do here also. Like we've been really focused on the helping on the procurement side and streamlining that. Next year, we're going to start to focus back more on the shoppable side to making that easier and adding a little more data, like some of the things you're asking for. But some things we've done is we have designed, I'm holding up this little we have this like powder coated note card holder that we designed and then we put these cards in them that say this one's kind of gross, because it's just been sitting on my desk but says found something you like scan this code to shop the space. And we're doing a lot of experimentation to see like, oh, like one of the hotels we work with in the Hamptons, called the Menhaden. They text their guests after the first 24 hours and say, Hey, you like what you see if you want to learn more about the products we've used to curate your experience, click here. And that takes them to a page where it walks them through all the products in the room and and they do well. You know, they sell a lot of stuff and they sell a lot of mattresses, you know which are high, it's good, good high price point. But this is still a work in progress but we're really focused on is how do we make sure it feels natural and not commercialized. And so there's we don't use words like buy, or add the cart, or sale, or discount or those words are just kind of associated with transactions. We want it to be much more experiential. So we use words like explore, discover, browse, shop - shop is a much lighter word to describe you know, retail. This one like I said, says found something you like is we're being very intentional about being driven elevates the guest experience and it's sort of like hey, if you want to learn more we're here if you don't you know go do you but because I think we you know when you were talking earlier I was just traveling. I just got back from my honeymoon and we were in Italy and like one of the hotels we stayed at, like the robes had this big paper like, thing around them that were like, Hey, if you like this, like, you know, call the front desk and we can figure something out, or we can call the front desk to understand to learn more. And I was like, This is done so poorly. Like, it's this piece of paper that's holding my robe, like together the way for me to do it's a very high friction. Oh, I have to like call the front desk. I don't want to talk to somebody. How much is it? You're gonna make me get on the phone, just figure out like how much this costs. And so we're trying to take sort of everything we've learned about ecommerce, everything Amazon and these great ecommerce companies have done to move towards convenience and ease of use. Take that and then bring it into this sort of native hospitality ecosystem.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. Did I not know that you just got married? Have you? Were you married since the conference that we met? No,

Unknown:

I got married after the conference. I got married. September 3.

Jason Muth:

Wow. You've had you've had a busy few weeks, then I have Yeah. Yeah. Wait, September 3 - that was before the conference. I think Miami was after.

Unknown:

Oh, it was. Sorry, you're right. It was the week before the conference. And then we left October 3, so we took a month between

Jason Muth:

Okay, yeah, that's pretty common. Well, congratulations on your marriage, for somebody that didn't didn't realize that maybe it wasn't brought up at the conference. But yeah, you know, that paper around the robe does feel very presumptuous, you know, so, you know, it's, it's great that you've gotten given some thought to the curation and the language that you're using. So it doesn't feel like you're just walking into, you know, someone's Airbnb that happens to be a store.

Marc Hostovsky:

Yeah.

Jason Muth:

But it makes me curious about, you know, the place that we're about to furnish next door, you know, it might be a good little test for me just to see, you know, if I put a lot of stuff in there from Minoan, you know, how things convert, because I have a bunch of places that you know, that are fully furnished, so I don't really need a lot of stuff. And there might be some other places that maybe you need a couple places here and there a couple things here and there. So you can kind of just buy them through Minoan and get the discounts. But a place that is a blank slate, you know, that will be an interesting test for us. So you know, we'll do a follow up in many months after we get it fully furnished and we'll see if we

Unknown:

We can look at the data, we can pull up the data. How many people are scanning the code, what pages are they spending time on? What are they you know, that'd be fun, actually,

Jason Muth:

That's the stuff that I'd love to see. Because like, you know, let's say that I put a QR code that you just showed me, you know, in our place, do I get notified every time somebody scans the QR code? Or is there a portal I could log into, to have a look and see how many people started browsing?

Marc Hostovsky:

That's part of the reason why we're getting our own data organized, internally, like setting up an events-based infrastructure so that when someone clicks and moves, we're tracking it and logging it, you know, piping that into, you know, like a now I'm talking about stuff much smarter people than myself, you know, my co founder Shobhit does all this for us. But yeah, typing that into like an actual warehouse or like a snowflake. And then and then we have to put something on top of that. So we can pull it out and make it like, queryable or even for someone to just see what they want to see, which is how many people have scanned. So that's all stuff that we're working on for next year. But yeah, we're interested to, and we're interested in testing things out like okay, well what if we put soap in the number one spot or the linens in the number one spot or are finding sort of like surprise and delight items? Like we while I was in Italy, stayed at this hotel that had something called a Moka, I'm not a big coffee drinker, but when you know when in Rome, a lot of espresso. Yeah. And there was this really cool little coffeemaker there and I was like, I've never seen anything like this. It's like got like a little lid on top, but there's this like, and it's called a Moka. You basically fill the bottom with water, you put beans in this thing on top of it, you boil it, the water comes up through the stem through the beans into this like tower and then it kind of pours out into the into the pitcher above. And it was awesome. It is cool. It's like this Italian company that invented this like a long time ago. And like obviously, I'm a sucker for this stuff. Part of the reason why we started Minoan but I bought one and I don't even like really drink I was so in the moment and I think finding those items that can really inspire and make it - and I'm going to remember that just like you remember the dog bed I'm going to remember that for the rest of my life and I'll have this little Moka and the remind me of that moment. And so yeah, finding like what are the products that create those moments and and how does that impact you know, a lot of other things. It's something that we're going to use data to explore.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, well now you're going to be a coffee drinker. And every time you look at your fancy Italian coffee maker, you're going to remember your honeymoon and remember your wedding and all that so it's going to bring back all those great memories and that's what is going to happen when people are buying things in the Airbnbs that they stayed in. It's going to, you know, remind them of the experience they had at you know, someone's beautiful vacation home. Yeah. One thing I've found interesting about you guys, and you know when I think I was first introduced to Minoan I had two months ago. You know, I told you this, we were in the pool also together. I was like, You guys retargeted me a ton. Yeah. Right, on Instagram. So and then I think you said to Sage, like, you know, hey, everything's working. Right? The marketing works. Yeah. And I was asking questions about Minoan, like, in the mastermind group that I'm in, and, you know, it was very much like, you know, sit tight, we have a lot of things coming up with them. You know, I've thought it was interesting that you are going right to a lot of these not just influential hosts, but hosts of all levels, and you're asking a lot of questions, and you're testing your way into success. You're definitely deep in the community of people that have influence with short term rentals. That's what I've observed so far. And, you know, I feel as though just conversations like this, and conversations that you and I have had, and other ones that you've had with other people that are far more intelligent than I am and have a lot more experience than I do. Like, you're just you're filing it away, you know, you're saying, oh, this person asked for this. So maybe we should put that onto our roadmap somewhere. And you know, if you're listening to this podcast, saying, Well, you know, this, these guys aren't Amazon, but you know, it's good they're kind of building it as they're going. That's what companies do. I mean, that's our short term operators do. We build it as we go? I mean, I can't tell you Rory, how many times do I get a comment from a guest - usually good comments, but every so often, we get feedback - where I'll make a change immediately, as a result of of what that guest said. I had a guest that told me that I didn't have measuring spoons and a knife sharpener. I bought them the next day, and they're going to be in the property. Like, I just, I kind of have that, that's, I test my way to success as well. That's what you guys are doing at Minoan. And, you know, it's good that you're, you're welcoming this feedback from hosts, you know, it gives it a little bit more of a curated personal experience, like you're trying to give. And it's very non Amazon. You know, Amazon's Amazon's great. Like, I just put a huge order in with Amazon literally a couple days ago. But it's stuff that you you know, you're not really selling batteries and lucite stands. And you know, all that stuff that I know, I need - cleaning supplies. I mean, you have some cleaning supplies there. But like, yeah, just the basic stuff like this one will like, you know, it was super convenient going into my history from the past five or six years on Amazon, finding the stuff I've bought in the past, and just buying it again, and then taking that URL and put it in that same spreadsheet that you talked about earlier that we all do, because that's the system that we all have. So there is there is a benefit to that. And I could see as people are getting to use Minoan more and more, they'll be able to go into their history and say, Hey, get me that room in the box that worked for our place in Vermont. I'm doing a place in Maine. And I need that same room. Click click, click boom, there it is. That's probably the vision, right?

Unknown:

Yeah. It's just making it really, really easy. And yeah, I mean, we're doing some cool stuff on quotes and ordering this quarter and next quarter, but even this idea of like being able to, like set it and forget it and just say like, okay, here are the cleaning supplies we order. We generally need to order it every three months, like subscription, I just want it and then going in and saying I don't need this or, like we want to avoid situations where someone's like, shoot, we're running low on something and you need to sprint out or run and grab stuff. But like you said, these are all things that we heard from hosts. And we're like, okay, yeah, we could do that. And I wouldn't be that. Okay, let's add it. Let's experiment and test it out.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, I've been floored in meeting people like yourself and short term rental operators and people that are in this mastermind with the systems that they have like, because there's a lot of great operations out there. I think that's that is a small, small single digit percentage of people that are running Airbnbs. A lot of folks, if you're not, you know, Evolve or one of the big companies, you're the next tier down, that's building all your systems up. And then beneath that is a massive, massive group of operators that are just trying to figure their way out and could probably use a lot of help from companies like yourself and some of the really smart minds that are in this still emerging industry, which, you know, just when you think that you've seen everything and heard from everybody, and there's enough Airbnbs out there, then suddenly the inventory goes up. And there's a lot more operators out there that - Rory and I have talked about this. We have a bunch more places that are operating around one of the lakes that we're on in New Hampshire and I don't know, I kind of I don't mind the competition. I just want them to do it well. Right? Like we've talked about that Rory, right.

Rory Gill:

Yeah, we sure have. Alright, Jason, before we head to the final questions, there is a business question that I'm I really kind of want to ask here. I know Scott Galloway, I think is the one who says that in a time of a gold rush, you want to be the one selling shovels and picks because you're the one that's really going to profit in the long term. That's kind of how I think of this business in support of the short term rental gold rush. So for the benefit of those who are thinking through their business ideas or their niches in real estate, can you tell us how you came upon this niche for your business?

Unknown:

Yeah, really, is really informed by my retail background and the kind of the richness of the moments between people and products in these spaces. And then I did have my own experience where I stayed at a short term rental in upstate New York. My now wife and I woke up and we like looked at each other, and we're like, wow, it's like eight o'clock. We never sleep like this. What is this we're on, we ripped the sheets off the mattress to figure out what the mattress was, we were checking the linens for the tags. Talking, you know, going back and talk about knife sharpeners we were we made like a summer salad. It was like a yurt basically, we did the classic New York City thing and we paid a lot of money to go, you know, glamping. So it was a petite like counterspace in this kitchen. And all the knives were wall-mounted. And super nice and sharp. And we were I was like cutting tomatoes. I was like this is like, you know, we need new knives. We don't know why this is not what it feels like when I'm cutting tomatoes at home. And yeah, we emailed the host and said, Where did you get this, you know, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum bum all these things. And yeah, and she got back to us and gave us a few links. And I just had this moment, I was like, in my day job, brands - this knife brand that I'm about to buy, this mattress brand that I'm about to buy, this linen brand are spending so much money on Facebook and Google to try and create meaningful moments. And yet, I've just had the most meaningful moment you can have. I slept on that mattress for eight hours, I loved it so much that I'm now trying to buy it. And that money that flows to Facebook and Google is not flowing to this host. And when I buy this mattress, that's not going back to the host. And that was sort of the initial moment where I was like, I think that there's value that's in these spaces that is not captured, is not priced in to how the host is operating. And we honestly sort of stumbled into I did not know much about short term rentals, I've since learned that it is, you know, a gold rush. And there's, it is exploding at an incredible rate. But that was how it how it all started. And I think we're you know, we were just sort of riding the wave and evangelizing this concept of native retail that we call which is like all about using, you know, use products and see if you like them, if you like them, buy it. You know, there's no returns, we get like no returns. Because, you know, it's not like ecommerce where you buy something, you get it, you're like, Oh, that's not what I right. That's not what I thought

Jason Muth:

We've been there before. Getting sucked into an it was going to be. Instagram ad. Next thing, you know, something's coming from Shenzhen. And it's like, you know, complete different color and size. Well, great, you know, just just what everyone thinks that like all the ideas are taken, you know, new ideas like this come out there and you find a great audience of people. You're making all the right connections in this industry, from what I've seen so far. And, you know, we're looking forward to seeing where things are headed for Minoan. I'm looking forward to using the service from top to bottom for a place that we're about to start. So you know, we'll have to report back on that in a few.

Unknown:

Yeah, please. I was just gonna say I want I would love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.

Jason Muth:

So yeah, yeah, I can't wait to do it. Like you literally, I have my paint swatches, like, literally right here. These are going on the wall right now next door. So once that's done, flooring and everything, then we can actually start furnishing. Why don't we get to our final couple questions that we ask all our guests on the podcast, and then we'll have you tell everybody where they can learn more about Minoan and sign up for an account if they are short term rental host. Yeah. So Marc, we ask these questions, everyone that's on the podcast. The first question is if you can get on stage for half hour and talk about any subject in the world with zero preparation, what would that be?

Unknown:

I would probably talk about I mean, I could talk about entrepreneurship and I'm just passionate about it so I could easily fill 30 minutes of time. I think if I was really trying to preach or like push out something that I'm really passionate about, I would probably talk about the importance of accessibility. You know, I grew up in a household, my mom and my sister are both deaf. So growing up, you know, you'd notice very clearly that there's certain information and things that they just don't have access to that most people don't realize, in the same way that there's lots of other oppressed groups that don't have access to things that I'm not fully even aware of. But this idea of access and equal access is something I'm very passionate about. And I think access is the great equalizer, you know, access to information and access to work and stuff like that. So that's probably, if I really wanted to preach, that's, I think, what I would do.

Jason Muth:

Two excellent topics. I have seen you talk for about 20 minutes, I don't know how long you were on the stage. You are very good speaker. So I'm sure that would be an excellent conversation to listen to. The second question we have for you tell somebody happened early in your life or career that impacts the way that you're working today.

Unknown:

I think going back to, I guess, often the story I just shared with my mom, my sister being deaf, I witnessed a lot of instances of like broken communication, where two people come together and have an interaction and then leave. And then me being hearing and hearing English and also understanding sign language. I could be like, Oh, that, you know, a hearing and a deaf person. I'm like, oh, that interaction, they did not. They just had two totally different conversations, like nothing went through. And so I've been very intentional. I try to be very intentional about communication and over communicating and making sure that especially with my team, like we're all on the same page. Like I really want to make sure that when I say something, it's not being interpreted in different ways. I'm being very direct and clear. And then checking with everyone being okay. Now you - what do you think like, how did you read that? Okay, good. And so I think the the importance of communication and how easily people can miscommunicate without realizing it has been, I think that would be a big one.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, Rory, we've talked a lot about email tone, haven't we? Sometimes it's just so hard to dig into.

Rory Gill:

No, it's easy to go off and completely misunderstand somebody's intentions by email. All the time. That's, that's what Jason is alluding to. My confession is I misread people's intentions all the time over email.

Marc Hostovsky:

Yeah, I do, too. That gets like hard, but.

Jason Muth:

I think you know, Rory Gill read email one way, and then I'll reread the same words back in a different tone, I'd be like, are you sure that that's what you go directly to the, the worst? And I'm like, Well, maybe they meant this instead. But you know, sometimes a terse sentence in an email doesn't mean that they're speaking negatively about you. They're just kind of getting to the point quickly, but yeah, communication It's, it's tough, and especially in a world for people that have different abilities, and rely on sign language and rely on you know, clear, visual communication. I can imagine that's a that's a challenge. So you know, I'm glad you're taking the experience of your family into your professional world. Final of the final questions we have is tell us something you listen to, watching, or reading these days.

Unknown:

Yeah, I'll do two here. So one business book and one fiction, but the business book I'm reading, which is really nerdy, and my partner thinks it's very dry is a book called 21st Century Monetary Policy, by Ben Bernanke. I just like I studied economics in school, I love economics, I love entrepreneurship is basically microeconomics, it's understanding and then, you know, the Fed and managing the economy and interest rates is macro. And it's really complex. And like, no matter how much I read about it, I never really feel like I understand how it all how it all connects together. And I think that book has been really interesting. I'm highlighting a lot of I feel like I'm back in school, learning about it. I think it's really honestly, it's very relevant now because we are hiking the federal funds rate, which then impacts mortgages and interest rates. So that one's interesting. The fiction book I'm listening to on Audible is called Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, it's, it's the author who wrote The Martian. And it's just like really fun. Science fiction, like very sciency fun book about, you know, the world and aliens and I just, I felt like I needed something where my brain could just go and explore and it's been really good,

Jason Muth:

Which was more of the honeymoon beach reading, was it Bernanke's book?

Unknown:

Unfortunately, the 21st Century Monetary Policy because I felt like I couldn't stop thinking about the economy, but a little bit of both. I'm actually listening to the Hail Mary book with Kate. So it's when we're both driving, I'll put it in and listen to it together.

Jason Muth:

Well, you know, we're entering some strange times right now, you know, with interest rates and lots of, you know, unemployment and mortgages and the real estate world changing. You know, let's hope that you're kind of catching the wave at the right time. And, you know, if indeed, we are in for some rocky waters in the coming months, you know, those that survive that, you know, we'll be set up much better, as we hit the back half of it. We're, I don't know, I have a degree of confidence that if I just keep operating the way that I'm going to operate, things are going to be fine. And then I'll be set up really well. So that's just how.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think the unfortunate reality about recessions, most recessions is that they disproportionately affect different groups of people. And I think, just candidly, if you're operating in the short term rental space, and you're in a mid to high end, rental, I think you're going to be a lot safer than someone who's operating in this space and trying to win on on the low end.

Jason Muth:

That's been made clear in everything I've listened to also, especially at the you know, STR Secrets conference. It was very much set yourself apart, differentiate yourselves, you know, either be the low end or the high end, don't be the middle.

Unknown:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But I think that I think that there are also tailwinds for the short term rental industry just in that remote for people who work technology jobs. remote work is here to stay. And I think that's going to allow people to travel more often. And so people, you know, a depressed economy is not great, obviously, but for people who are still in these tech-dependent companies that have very high gross margins, that are going to do some layoffs, but not as much as other companies, they're still going to be traveling and very, very active. And so you know, I can't predict the future. But I do think that there are going to be really nice pockets in the short term rental industry that continue to do well. It'd be like K-shaped, some people are going to do really well. And some people are going to really struggle. And I think the people that do really well, if they double down, it's a good time to, you know, it's a good time to build. Recessions are good time to build so.

Jason Muth:

Well, you're you're the building tech entrepreneur that took off out of New York City during a pandemic, and you're up in Vermont, you're exactly practicing what you're preaching, right? Yeah. Well, great. Well, Marc, let everyone know where they can learn more about Minoan and learn more about you and sign up for an account if they qualify and all that fun stuff.

Unknown:

Yeah, you can go to minoanexperience.com. Minoan spelled m-i-n-o-a-n. And there's a little Join Us button in the top right that you can apply to, to join the community of hosts and hospitality professionals that use us. And you can follow us on Instagram and @minoanexperience, we post a lot of blogs and features, you know, good content for folks in the industry there as well.

Jason Muth:

If a host has one property, do they qualify?

Unknown:

Yeah, when you apply, it's not so like, Do you have a big, it's more so understanding your intentions with the space because for a host who's just going to furnish entirely off Facebook Marketplace or hand-me-downs, it's not really One, it's not something we can help with. And Two, it's not really the type of aesthetic that we want. You know, we we put like, this says Minoan to its cobranded. And so we have our own sort of belief around what a Minoan experience should be and should feel like. And so the application, it's not about the number of properties, it's about what's your approach to hosting, and what's your vision for this property? And can we really support you in getting there? Yes, sort of what we're looking at.

Jason Muth:

Well, when I applied I got accepted very quickly. So thank you for that.

Unknown:

Yeah, I told Sage, say to heads up to look out for your name, so.

Jason Muth:

Rory, where can everyone find more about you?

Rory Gill:

People could find me through my law practice UrbanVillage Legal, urbanvillagelegal.com, or my real estate brokerage? NextHome Titletown, nexthometitletown.com. Awesome.

Jason Muth:

And me? jason@nexthometitletown.com. You could reach out to me if you want to be a guest on the podcast, or you have comments about this. You want to learn more about Marc, you can't find a link to his website for some reason, even though it's going to be down below. If you're watching this or if you're listening to it, go look at the show notes. Marc, thank you so much for spending all the time with us. It's been great to see you again. And congratulations on your your wedding and your marriage and hope you had a great honeymoon. And yeah, lots of stuff coming ahead for Minoan, so you know, buckle up, right?We got a big one Right. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown:

Yeah that flew by. Thanks for having me. And yeah, we'll hopefully talk again very soon.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, yeah, no, we definitely will. And thank you for listening or watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. If you've enjoyed the episode, go sign up for Minoan if you're a short term rental operator. Reach out to us with questions and we'd love it if you can give us comments or a five star review. As as a host, we should always ask for five star reviews. But we're going to ask for one as a podcast host as well. So thanks so much for spending some time with us. Thank you, Rory. Thank you, Marc. I'm Jason and that's it. See you next time.

Announcer:

This has been The Real Estate Law Podcast. Because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom arguments. were powered by NextHome Titletown, Greater Boston's progressive real estate brokerage. More at nexthometitletown.com. And UrbanVillage Legal, Massachusetts real estate counsel serving savvy property owners, lenders and investors more at urbanvillagelegal.com. Today's conversation was not legal advice, but we hope you found it entertaining and informative. Discover more at the realestate law podcast.com Thank you for listening