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Vacation Rental Management Conference: How to pivot a an urban short-term rental management company during a crisis

How to pivot a an urban short-term rental management company during a crisis
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This article is part of our Rental Scale-Up vacation rental management conference series. This is an extract from our April 2020 conference: “Get Your Business Through the COVID-19 Crisis By Discovering How Local Property Managers Resist the Global Coronavirus Epidemic.”

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Co Host Expert Company’s Robertin Nunez

Rob brings to this conference his expertise of the real-estate and the short-term rental markets. As the CEO of Co Host Expert Company, he has developed a property management company with properties in US cities. He was infected by COVID-19 one month ago, while his business was getting massive cancellations. He will share with us how he dealt with the situation, both personally and professionally. By switching to low ADR, long-term stays, he’s managed to get his occupancy rate back up. He will also share with us why and how put his entrepreneurial skills to good use to create World Med Supplies, a company providing bulk access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Video From The 2020 Local Property Manager Conference

  • Robertin is currently in New York City, where coronavirus is forcing the city to have a different vibe. He actually contracted coronavirus and has fully recovered.
  • While he was being treated in the hospital, his company received thousands of cancellations and calls from guests, so he had to juggle both his personal health and his business.
  • His company, which is based in Philadelphia and manages properties throughout the US, went from 90% occupancy in March to 90% cancellation in April.
    • They manage properties on behalf of owners and operate their own units too.
  • His properties outside the Philadelphia area started receiving mid-term reservations. Their current guests include medical personnel, essential workers, people who were in the middle of moving.
  • Robertin’s company isn’t making much profit right now, since the mid-term bookings have lower rates, but they are able to cover their costs.
  • Robertin had spent months planning the Host to Pro conference, but he had to cancel it. He’s optimistic that he’ll be able to relaunch it in the future.
  • Currently Robertin is also working on a new venture called World Med Supplies. Drawing on the network that he built after 25 years as an entrepreneur, Robertin is working with vendors around the world to produce and import personal protective equipment for medical personnel.
  • Find Robertin on Instagram (@MrRobertNunez) or [email protected]

Vacation Rental Management Conference: Full Conversation Between Robertin Nunez And Thibault Masson

Thibault:

Dear Rental Scale-Up members. So I’m now joined by Robert Nunez. He’s the president of the Cohost Expert Company. He’s also the organizer of the short term rental event called host to pros. And you will see he also created a company that’s now supplying medical supplies in the U S that’s very interesting and we’ll cover with him a few things like how his rental business faced a massive cancellations from month ago and how he then a buy decision and obligation to do that, his business. And now how he actually managed to get occupancy quite concurrency rate quite high for these rentals. We’d be talking about a postponing at his conference and then we’ll cover as well WorldMeds where med supplies his new company. So without further ado, Robert, how are you?

Robertin:

I’m fine. Thank you very much and I’m glad to see you and that you’re doing fine.

Thibault:

Yes. So I think we’d, before, before we started recording, we talked about that last time we had seen each other was a natural vocational rental conference in-person in Italy. And now we find each other talking through video with, you know, eye bookshelves in the back and from home. So it’s it’s good to see you and good to connect. And then I want you to make sure I was introducing you properly because you can bring so much through people watching now because you can of course, this conference is about hearing from property managers, it’s about hearing from what changed tactics and you use really you being able to use your entrepreneurial skills to adapt this crisis. So first you are in New York city. What’s the situation really like?

Robertin:

The numbers of the numbers, you know, what you see is real, but if you walked out the door it wouldn’t seem like what your, why [inaudible] the needles. But when you go on your Facebook and your Instagram, you realize that you’re feeding under second obituary. You know, because I’m a New Yorker, so I have a lot of friends and friends of friends and I definitely want to first pay respects to all my friends and colleagues who’ve lost people here, personality in New York. A lot of people just hear about the COVID, but it’s very different when it comes and hits close to home, you know. So yeah, and so it’s, it’s real what you see on TV, the numbers that can set up an agenda, but the vibe is still a little bit resilient because, you know, New York is a resilient city. You know, we got hit with the Camry 11th, and we came back, we’re going to come back from this as well.

Thibault:

And yourself, you actually were in London, we’d all this happen. So we had to fly back to the U S can you share a bit the story?

Robertin:

Yes. I was in London preparing for, with my business partner, Sean Steffenson, who’s in London now. And as we were there the energy was changing every day. We went to the Shorty’s award, you know, that was a on the boat. And then after that we went to the conference the next day. And then you just saw the energy changing every single day, day by day. Then it happened, you know I am a COVID survivor. And I contracted it, I caught it in London, me and my business partner Sean, because he also caught it at the same, I think we’re at the same event. And I saw how everything was changing, woke up one day, and it was just a very, a scary experience and just got myself right back home, you know, to try to get myself better. And that’s actually, this is actually the first time that I speak of it publicly. My friends and my family knew, you know, my loved ones, you know, and they made sure that, you know, I had everything I needed, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a very scary experience.

Thibault:

Yeah. And then so, well, thanks for sharing this personal story and add, because obviously it’s touching all our families and even, you know, people like you. So it’s, it’s, it’s really there. Right. And so not only did you have to face that personally, but at same time, well let’s say if you, you know, for days there was this massive wave of constellations that’s you have to face for your own business. So what was it like?

Robertin:

Well, yeah, so first you’re battling firstly battery leaned to stay alive, right. And then, you know, in my situation, and you know, because it was, I was hospitalized so you’re bad. I was bad in that portion. While at the same time we’re just receiving a massive amount of cancellations, 13,500 loss in one day, 5,000 soon after that, a hundred I told you, I think it was like 172 night cancellation on one reservation 30 and another 40 and another. And it’s just one after the other and you don’t even have time to adjust yourself and make your implant your next move because every time you try to adjust this up, another one would just come through whether it was through direct booking, no to the OTAs, to our travel partners. And then you just stop and just say, okay, let me let this train finish running over me because it was just one car after the dealer, you know once it started slowing down, we went from like 90 ish percent occupancy going into March and April. Cause we’re still doing pretty good in March, you know, even though there was a lot of hysteria, it wasn’t full blown yet. Mmm. And then we went to 90 ish percent cancellation. So you’re looking at a full screen, Hey, you’re looking at a blank screen and, but you still got responsibilities to me.

Thibault:

And Rob, can you share a bit maybe about your business? Like what type of types properties you have, where are they located?

Robertin:

Yes. we have a, a diverse portfolio and we’re also a property management company. So we have units in a couple of cities in the United States. Philadelphia is our base of operation, you know, but we have like in Jersey has some partners in and, and Miami, you know, where it’s, where it’s allowed. So, but Philly’s our base of operations. So we have a large portfolio there. And whenever we hire someone, we actually fly them to Philadelphia, bring them in and train them in Philly because that’s where our operation is. So, you know, and then we’ll throw different scenarios at them so that they can handle the crisis when it does happen. Once that all took place, once the cancellation were taking place, we were just looking at everything and just trying to figure out how do we adjust ourselves. We were managing for owners.

Robertin:

Owners were very nervous because, you know, we property manage, so we had to try to assure them that we’re going to support them, but we’re not the guests. We’re not paying for the reservation. So they started getting some cancellations, but did they have some extensions at the same time? So, you know, we, we property manage we have our own portfolio and then we also teach individuals or not teach, but help people elevate their thinking on how to maneuver through obstacles or how to grow and expand your mindset. Because I, I believe that once you enter this industry, there’s no real format on how to run your business or there’s not really a shared format on how to run a successful STR. Different people have immense success on different levels. So that was the reason why we had created a host of pros was to bring a content under one roof under one day to help you set you off on the right track. So it’s, you know, property management, our own portfolio as well as the conferences

Thibault:

And rub. That’s also why I want you to have you here for this during this session because we are talking here about urban short term rentals, right? In a lot of other speakers have vacation rentals in, in traditional vacation rental areas. And, and things. I’ve been different in it, if I’m not mistaken, actually in the U S at first was the urban areas that had been very much hit and there were still bookings happening outside of cities for a while. People going there to save current teen. But then even there, there was, there were bands, stuff happened as well, right? So I’m thinking about bands right now, but you are, you are causing to this and actually there’s bands I’ve seen in the whole state of New York, in the whole city of New York.

Robertin:

Oh yeah. That’s one. But even the state of Pennsylvania where Philadelphia is took a band, I’ll short term rentals. But what happened is you touched on something very powerful there. When Colbert started spreading the coven, I start spreading and hysteria really kicked in. People fled a lot of guests that people, families fled the cities because of population and they started heading out into the more rural isolated areas. But then those smaller communities started putting bands on those rentals because they got scared for their residents. So what happened is what used to be short term rental for my business. And I think for a lot of our, my colleagues out there, you know, congratulations for staying aboard, you know, but what happened with a lot of short term rights was as they became midterm rentals. So the STR is now MTR. And I’ll tell you why that happened.

Robertin:

At least for us. Our guests could not check out because they couldn’t leave our guests. Some of our guests that properties weren’t ready, like to say we had a, that were fixing their property. The construction company wasn’t allowed to work. Now they had to stay. So we have first responders that came in because we offered our homes to first responders very early on that helped us, you know, it was the, Hey, we got homes and we negotiated some really great numbers for them. You know it just kept us afloat, but it kept the place running and even better kept the door, you know, serving a better purpose. Mmm. You had people who were coming into work, you had people who who were moving right, relocating and wherever they were going, that family could in need because the COBIT and now they’re stuck because they just left their other residents.

Robertin:

So now the floating, but they don’t want to be in a hotel or the hotels are close. So all of these guests, and then we had the band. Right. You know, you can’t rent under 30 days. So all of these guests are not floating around like what do we do? And they started renting our places and and staying for longer stays. I have one lady, very, very nice lady. She’s going on her month number four now. She’s been with, she came in December to leave in January and then slow down and then by the middle of January, she’s still with us now, you know I think five, one or five pretty soon. Yeah. I have another person who’s going on month number three, another guest going on 45 days. So the short term rental just change out. The numbers are different. We had to take less, but it’s better to, in my opinion, as the business owner at the end of the day, I still better, you know, be responsible to keep everybody in my company working and our bills paid and stay in business. So we are taking less, we’re not making a profit, but our properties aren’t dreamless or, or depleting our savings. You know, we just had to get very creative and say, how do we we may not be able to go 90 miles an hour. [inaudible] How do we still continue twenties go 10 miles an hour straight? No, it’s a big difference between 10 and 90, but you still got to go.

Thibault:

So occupancy went back up I guess. And can you maybe explain where, where do you find this longterm bookings? Most of the people again who weren’t there, who contacted you and say, well, can stay for longer or have you also switched channels for example? Can you

Robertin:

We’ve yeah, we’ve kept, yeah, we’ve kept the channels that we had OTs we work with. We keep our, our direct booking system of, you know calling different companies, which was very interesting because we would call companies and say, Hey, you know, we have a great deal of edible. But now when you call the companies that reach out to them, they don’t respond because they’re not working. Right. So that change, but they came more looking for our properties then, then you know, us looking for them. And I think one of the reasons is those midterm rentals, we’re going across the board. So now there was just less availability. So they will literally just ask one question, Hey, is this place available because I’ve gotten greenhouse? Yes it is. And then Nicole,

Thibault:

So you have to be reactive here I suppose, not the lesson. So that’s, that’s for the business. So you being able to be the, the, the, the rental business and yes, we talked about host Supros, right? The [inaudible] that the resource it is, it was, there was also an offline version, the conference that was supposed to happen and it’s been postpone. It’s going to be rescheduled. And can you touch a bit upon that?

Robertin:

Yes. Yes. Hosted pro was completely booked up and it was going to be, well, it is going to be, cause I speak into existence, it is going to be a phenomenal show and event where we wind up bringing some of the best companies and speakers and presenters together to just really help property managers from all different scopes of life and our different levels, you know, elevate their mindset and their business. I was in London preparing the week before I hosted a pro and you know, when Colvin really just got out of control and we had to cancel and you know, it was a, it was very personal because you work so hard five months on something and I’m just like one more week. You just hang in there one more week. But you know, then you have to think of the life and the safety of everyone. So, you know, we made a decision to postpone it moved it down further along. We have great sponsors and great holes great companies that are contributing and I know, and instead of London, I know that when it’s time, so relaunch it, things are going to get right back into it because everyone’s is just saying we’re waiting for it to take place. And I’m so that I’m so appreciative about it. And thank everyone was watching.

Thibault:

Yeah, it is great as well. We know that events I important in our industry because we meet and we like meeting each other. But also events generally speaking are important because no concerts or it’s kind of a big, big big events troll after the traffic, right? Who are rentals. So let’s yeah, all this is intertwined. You’re hopefully that’s going to be 

Robertin:

All right.

Thibault:

Changing soon for, for, for the better. Last thing I want to talk about is your new company’s world. Let’s have blight. Well, I say it’s a new company. It’s, let’s say it’s a new sort of venture for you. As I said, well you, you, you are a serial entrepreneur, so you have this skills and you are using them basically to help that right now. So can you share what you’re doing?

Robertin:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you for asking. World med supplies, which is ward my supplies. That net is the company that I created sitting in this chair that I’m speaking to you and in a tee shirt and some shorts one night while I was recovering from Coban. And you know, it’s a true story. You know, I was just like, I was watching how difficult it was for first responders and people and they were panicking. They were just getting their supplies and their items and being an entrepreneur and having, you know, been in the business for 25 years. As an entrepreneur, we have so many connections that has started reaching out to different people and just getting their feedback. Our manufacturer for container homes in China change their factory from making container homes to making a personal protective equipment. And they sent me a message and said, Hey Robert, we now have these items.

Robertin:

And when I looked at the items, it took me all but 10 seconds to say, okay, I know, I know what we can do here. And just like that, I started putting it together and we launched it. And right now where we’re online, we’re, we’re studying an immense amount of product online and we’re actually, instead of selling it, basically, instead of providing or selling it from company to company, we’re more of a consumer base because want to make sure that we can get as much product out to, to the people that need it. It’s totally a new industry to me, very challenging during this time. But I feel that if one product that we put out a shield of mass, whatever, if it saves one person, then the company’s a success because I took the hit, I know what it felt like. So, you know, if I could prevent one person from taking that hit, it worked.

Thibault:

Wow. That’s a, that’s great to hear. And kudos to you for doing this under these conditions. That’s amazing. So running all these things at the same time and so again, that’s an impressive story and I’m sure everybody watching if you want to hear more, so what, what’s, what would be the best way for people who want to reach out to be in contact with you?

Robertin:

Thank you. Thank you. I was, I said this yesterday in a webinar that I was on Tuesday before I would be sketchy about giving, you know, like, right. But now we have to really connect. So you know, you can look me up on Instagram at Mr. Robert Nunez, M R R O. B. E R T. N. U. N. E. Z. I’m on LinkedIn. If they’re watching this you know, this, this this webinar I’m sure, because you know, it’s going to be on everywhere. They can also reach out to me directly. And my email, which is [email protected] And of course, you know, our website, worldmedsupplies.net, and we’re here to help. Now we’re here to do whatever we can and just let’s get through this together because you know, we have to, we have to.

Thibault:

That’s great Rob. So I’ll put some of this links website, LinkedIn profile right below the video to make it easier for people to get ahold of you. So thanks for your time and all the best to you and your family,

Robertin:

And thank you for doing this because honestly, it feels so great to still be able to connect with people. You know? We all need this. Thank you.

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