Visit Page
Skip to content

Episode 57: How to Run a Successful Airbnb Business in Northwest Arkansas

Spread the Ozark love

IANWA Open 0:11

It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area, or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn 0:42

Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host Randy Wilburn and I am here today excited sitting here on the second floor of you know, my favorite place to record a podcast episode The Fayetteville Public Library. It's so funny that just as a side note on this episode, I just Talk to David Johnson, who is the head librarian, the the chief guy here at Fayetteville Public Library. And he was so excited to tell me about the new space. That's expect that's opening up in October. And we're going to do a special episode in the coming months to kind of give you a cursory glance of what this what you can expect when you come to visit the new Fayetteville Public Library starting in October of 2020. So there's a lot of great things happening and one of the things that they are doing is they're creating a brand new creator space that's going to include a studio and audio studio and a whole bunch of other stuff that's going on there. So of course, yours truly said, Hey, Dave, you know, I mean, I record half my podcast episodes right here at the Library, we need to figure something out. So we're going to work on something behind the scenes and see what we can do to make I am Northwest Arkansas, a regular staple, if you will, here at the Fayetteville Public Library. So we'll I'll keep reporting back to you and give you update On how that how that goes. But stay tuned for a future episode where I will sit down again with David Johnson from the Fayetteville Public Library and we'll talk more about all the great things that are happening in Fayetteville but specifically what this $38 million plus dollar extension to the library means for you the listener because whether you're from Bentonville, Bella Vista, Rogers Springdale, Fayetteville, this is a just a gem of a place for you to come in and be come get a book come just to take advantage of all this here. So I could go on and on. But without further ado, I've got two wonderful people sitting in front of me, Shawn Morris and Ragan Hood Morris, and this is a husband and wife duo. The young couple that I met I actually met Shawn, I don't know Shawn just reached out to me and sent me an email with some really good ideas. And, you know, it just has a way if you just send me emails with really good ideas that I'll definitely connect with you and sit down so whether it's coffee or just sitting down and in shooting the fat that's what happens. So, but no, I, they actually have a very compelling story which we're going to get to in a second. But you know, there's a lot going on in this area with regard to real estate. And we're going to be doing a lot of new episodes soon to talk about just the whole real estate market. But there's one area that I've always been intrigued by, and that's kind of like Airbnb. And so I brought these guys on to kind of talk about it from their perspective and their experience. And so I think you're going to want to hear what these guys have to share today. If you have ever thought about putting up your place as an Airbnb, I know some of you have rented your place out during bikes, blues and barbeque because there's just a shortage of units available. But regardless whether you're looking to make some side income, just another way to leverage, you know, you maybe you have extra rooms in the house, maybe you have a couple of rental properties, and you've thought about what would it look like if I did Airbnb? Well, today is your day to listen to the podcast and so without further ado, Shawn, Ragan. How are you guys doing today?

Shawn Morris 4:03

Doing great. It's quite an intro.

Yeah, it is quite an intro. I really set you up, I raised the bar really high. And so that's just the way that it is. But I certainly want you guys to share just tell the audience a little bit about yourselves your superhero origin story, as we like to say here on I am Northwest Arkansas, but just tell the audience who you guys are.

Yeah, I'll go first really quick. So I'm originally from Conway Arkansas and came to the UofA in 2011 to study finance, and fell in love with the city of Fayetteville while I was here, I did not want to stay in Arkansas, when I originally was trying to figure out a college I wanted to go as far away from the state as possible. But then I realized how expensive it was to be out of state tuition. So I came to Fayetteville and realized it was completely different than any other part of the state. And so decided, Okay, once I leave college, I'm going to stick around here and I got plugged into a couple different startups post college so one was an e-commerce fulfillment. Another one was doing grocery delivery. So kind of find myself in the startup space understanding what that looks like in the Fayetteville world and then just recently moved over to Walmart and so..

Randy Wilburn 5:13

I've heard of that firm. Yes. Bentonville? Yes. Excellent.

Shawn Morris 5:17

I think they're gonna be around for a while.

Randy Wilburn 5:18

I have a feeling they will be. I have a feeling they will be.

Shawn Morris 5:21

So now I commute to Bentonville every day so it's a lot of fun. little different.

Randy Wilburn 5:24

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Ragan

Ragan Hood-Morris 5:27

I'm kind of the opposite of that story. Actually, we moved around a ton growing up okay. And so by the time we came to Arkansas, I was like, mid way in high school and I was done I was done moving this was it I'm over it so yeah, we sit around a table I literally only applied to the UofA cuz I'm like, I'm not

Randy Wilburn 5:41

You're not going anywhere.

Ragan Hood-Morris 5:42

I'm not doing this.

Randy Wilburn 5:43

Yeah, that's

Ragan Hood-Morris 5:44

So yeah, I fell in love with Fayetteville and been around ever since.

Randy Wilburn 5:48

Okay, awesome. Yeah. So now what do you do when you're doing during your daytime hours?

Ragan Hood-Morris 5:53

So I'm actually in a really weird and transitional period of life. I've done ministry for a long time done. You know, I taught Pre-K I've done everything kind of in between all different areas and right now I'm kind of focusing on our Airbnb and just kind of we bought a house out in West Fork actually and so I'm yeah so we're renovating that right now so that and the Airbnb are kind of my main projects right now.

Randy Wilburn 6:15

Alright yeah well so so why don't you I mean for the uninitiated and those that are listening that maybe use an Airbnb I know I travel nowadays and I use Airbnb wherever I go. And you know, they put out a great magazine I don't know if you see that magazine. Oh yeah, they really it's the little things that make a big difference and it makes me that magazine makes me want to rent an Airbnb whenever I go somewhere. So now I kind of default because you know when you travel with air if you travel and you're normally used to staying at a Hilton or a Hyatt or whatever you you know, you have you can create kind of like a business profile on Airbnb so that they you know, you can tell toggle between if you're traveling for leisure, traveling for business, and I don't know what that does for you, but I just know that I have looked at you trips like I have to take a trip to LA and I looked and said, Well, maybe I'll get an Airbnb somewhere in downtown LA so that I can go back and forth. But I just I just liked that convenience and flexibility. But people use that when they're coming here to Northwest Arkansas.

Ragan Hood-Morris 7:13

All the time.

Randy Wilburn 7:13

Yeah, I mean, so So why don't you kind of walk us through your initiation into Airbnb and why you're, you're kind of sold on this idea.

Shawn Morris 7:22

Yeah. So post college, I kind of did a yearly January trips where I'd go on vacation somewhere in the United States. And so one year I decided to go to Austin, Texas, I had heard about Airbnb and was like, Okay, I'm interested in this idea. I don't want to just go to a normal trip, I want to do something special. So we're on Airbnb and saw that there is a bus that someone had in their backyard, they had turned into an Airbnb and I was like, Oh, I have to do I have to do that. That's a story as an interesting experience. And so when and it's just very, it's just very fun to not only Visit a city like get to have this really unique experience within the city that I wouldn't have gotten if I'd stayed in a normal hotel. Nothing wrong with a hotel. But it was just fun to be able tell people yeah, I went to Austin and like here's the place I stayed in for people to be like, what is that? And so after that, I kind of that's when I got really interested in Airbnb and so anytime I would travel I would use Airbnb. So in Chicago or Boston or Atlanta, like always go the Airbnb route. And what I really appreciated when I would use Airbnb is when people would go the extra mile or just basically just put in like a personal touch or like thoughtful touch behind it, whether that be here's some extra snacks or like what recommendations would you want specifically for you like just little things that just showed you cared beyond? Hey, here's a physical place for you to sleep. Have fun. So I experienced what a good Airbnb was like, but I've also seen more of the bad side of Airbnb where it's like, they just thought this together, right? Right, no thought goes into it. Yeah, we say that one in New York City that was or in Brooklyn that it was very last minute. So it's on us. But it was basically we were staying in somebody like kids playroom

Ragan Hood-Morris 9:14

Like we walked in, first of all, again, like we said it was last second because our previous one had canceled. So it was kind of up in the air. And we were just trying to find one. But we walked in and we were not there was like a, It's Brooklyn. So you're sharing spaces with multiple people. We knew that going in. We walked into a room and it was a children's playground. There's toys all on the wall. The Incredibles was being projected onto the wall. And there were two giant bean bags. And it was the only beds that we like saw in this room were like, Oh, good Lord what have we walked into?

Randy Wilburn 9:42

Oh, my goodness.

Shawn Morris 9:43

Yeah. So it was just it's just we've seen the good and seen the bad and so I was like, if I ever could do something with Airbnb, I would want to do that. That seems like a lot of fun. And this area is such a great area to highlight and tell people about

Randy Wilburn 9:56

Yeah, and you know, it's funny. I have some friends that have you know, they rented out their place on a regular basis. I had one friend that, you know, she got so comfortable and you know, had built a kind of a following, if you will. And so people would come and use her place whenever it was available and when she lived there, but there were times when she would step away and she set it up in such a way where she could basically flip a switch and make it kind of Airbnb ready. Yeah. And you know, it's, you know, you have to systematize a lot of things. But I would, I would love for you to kind of your initial experience, once you cross that threshold and say, You know what, we're going to take the property that we live in and create an Airbnb out of it. What happened?

Shawn Morris 10:35

Yeah, so originally, when I was ready to buy a house I had in mind I wanted to Airbnb it, at least to some extent, sure. So I made sure to find a location that was great for myself, but also for us to be able to Airbnb and so we settled on South Fayetteville, right by Penguin Ed's, and it's like looking back in our experience of it. We originally started with us having all our stuff They're completely open to be used by anybody who came through the door. And it was just it was just a very interesting initial experience where we didn't have a great system to. Okay, as soon as we walked away, like we could turn it, flip a switch, and then it was ready to go. And so the first I'd say the first few months that we did it were a rough experience,

Ragan Hood-Morris 11:18

Just personally.

Shawn Morris 11:20

Yeah. But from the standpoint of one, we didn't have a really good place to go. Yeah, whenever someone rents our place, but then also, all our stuff was all over the place. And so it made it more cluttered atmosphere. Sure. And it wasn't the experience we wanted to give to guess. And we've been thankful enough to buy a house and to be able to get our stuff out or now we have this really great experience where when a guest comes man, the house is very clean. The house is very spacious. There's little amenities throughout the house that we think actually like benefits and helps just makes the guests better enjoy their stay. And so we think we've come a long way from what it originally was. I don't know what he's saying.

Ragan Hood-Morris 11:54

Yeah, I think we did not do...this is trial and error. Truly, we did not do a good job. Being able to switch that, like, flip that switch. And as time went on, we got better about it learned to put our stuff in different places and being able to like, all our bathroom stuff went in this little thing that we would then put in a closet when someone came. But yeah, it's a trial and error learning how to like, share that space with this unknown person and come back and be fine with it. You know, just kind of learning that has been a long process, for sure.

Randy Wilburn 12:22

And I've noticed at some Airbnb that I've stayed at, you know, there'll be some things that are off limits or stuff that you know, have locked up, and I know that in some Airbnb, they'll even have, you know, internal cameras to just kind of keep an eye on me. And I guess, you know, maybe there's two different schools of thought about that. I'm probably I would probably lean more on the side of having an external camera, because that provides a little bit more safety and you can see if people are coming and going or whatever, but beyond that, you know, it will be a little bit more creepy to have an internal camera, even if it was just for the idea that you know, you know, I guess you could have one and then turn it off. When you have guests there.

Ragan Hood-Morris 13:01

In theory yes. Yes, but as a guest. I yeah, I don't love that

Randy Wilburn 13:06

It would be it'd be kind of weird.

Shawn Morris 13:08

Yeah, I've talked to somebody who has Airbnb in the historic district. And they just said you have to basically go to whatever your trust level is. So for some people, it's Hey, I need to make sure everything is put away and locked and other people like us like we didn't have that ability with our home and so if you wanted to access all our clothes and all just all of the laundry we have in our drawers like, you were you could, and we just trusted that people wouldn't and that worked out well for us. But we know that's not

Randy Wilburn 13:37

Yeah, yeah. You're looking at you. You're watching like a video of somebody walking into your place. You're like, Hey, is that my T shirt?

So at what point did it really did you realize that wow, you know, we can actually make some money with this. This is something that because I know people again, a lot of people are just going to have questions. about it and it's part of it like you just said, is the comfort level? Or am I willing to open up? If you live still in this house that you're thinking about creating an Airbnb with you have to have a comfort level yet get your head around that right. But then once you get to that point, then what was the next step for you in terms of did you think about frequency when you were going to do it? I mean, obviously, there were logical times of the year to look based on the influx of people visiting an area specifically Northwest Arkansas, but what did you how did you think about it?

Shawn Morris 14:31

Yeah, so for our Airbnb, we kind of had it in two separate phases. The initial phase was when we finally moved into this house, had it remodeled ready to go. My whole thought process was I'm just trying to get it filled as much as possible. I want to be the super hosts. I've heard that's important and that matters. And so we went through the process of just becoming a super host. And so that took as a three or four month period of like getting to basically need 10 stays in a 12 month period. And so it took me three or four months to do that.

Randy Wilburn 15:06

And does the feedback matter on those 10 stays?

Shawn Morris 15:09

Yes. Okay. I think you need to be above a 4.8. That needs to be your average review. Yeah. And so in a lot of reasons, the reason being I didn't understand pricing as well as I should have or how to price it I, I looked back today, and the original price that we charge for our place. It was back in September of 2017. We charged 250 a night for a weeknight weekend night. And that was like a game day and someone paid for that and looking back like horrifies make some like that I we got a good review and that doesn't make sense. But I think it's you need to learn how to price it. And that will obviously help you gain stays and then as you gain reviews that helps you and so, whoever if you're wanting to start Airbnb, you have to be patient with the process. So that took us three or four months to get 10 stays now we're in a phase where we're doing it full time we now better understand what we're doing and we're getting 10 to 15 stays a month so it looks a lot different not just a time and just better understanding of what we're doing

Ragan Hood-Morris 16:17

Learn from our mistakes like learn the pricing in your area look for like you know like minded houses like minded spaces whatever. And...

Randy Wilburn 16:26

I would imagine you know all the I didn't mean to cut you off I would imagine you know all the Airbnb's in your area.

Ragan Hood-Morris 16:32

Now we do!

Randy Wilburn 16:33

To kind of compare.

Shawn Morris 16:35

The original pictures we had was when we had everything in our house. So there's, you could see clothes in the closet to people but now it's a more open space. And so I think people are more willing to book because they see a I'm, this is like, more comfortable for me as a guest.

Randy Wilburn 16:51

Yeah, yeah, I like that. And then so, so 10 to 15 days a month now from just from a cost perspective. That's my More than enough to handle your mortgage and everything else that that goes into this one particular property since this property is exclusively for Airbnb, yeah,

Shawn Morris 17:09

Yeah, no easily if I would, it'd be easier to probably rent my property instead but there just be no way we could make enough money to cover the mortgage and all the improvements we've made on the house because house was falling apart when I purchased it. So we had to put money into it. And so through Airbnb, we're basically able to make more in a month than we ever could renting. So it's a it's a great...

Ragan Hood-Morris 17:33

If you're willing to do the work. It's worth it. Yeah, for sure.

Shawn Morris 17:36

And we're still trying to figure out Yes, obviously during football season Airbnb is going to do better or you're going to have bookings way more advanced but we're learning now like okay, this is what a typical January looks like our February and we're shocked with how many people still come into this area for whatever reason, whether it be to like visit a student or to go see a concert. It's unbelievable how busy You can be in a season so and just to give the listeners kind of an idea of how things have changed so much I had a friend that was came here to work at Tyson and you know relocation the whole nine yards and his family was yet to move here. He stayed in an Airbnb for six months. And then you know, in a really nice Airbnb, and it wasn't Yeah, I was like, wow, this is cool. And it was probably more cost effective than doing some of the other what we would call traditional corporate housing. So I think companies are actually looking to Airbnb's now and saying, that's going to be our go to space.

Ragan Hood-Morris 18:34

Oh yeah, and even more so people I mean, Airbnb is now we're more willing to cut deals like if you're going to stay with me for this extended period of time clearly I'm going to make that money it's going to be worth it for me right let's let's find a some sort of common ground here.

Randy Wilburn 18:45

Yeah, yeah. No, it's fine. So yeah, now that that that makes perfect sense and it almost creates a lot of opportunity for you and as you were saying earlier about, like football season here. And for those of you that know, of course we have the Razorbacks and we have we have big hopes for this next season with Coach Pittman, and all of the great things that have been actually met. It's funny and just as a side note, I was speaking to some entrepreneurship students at the Sam Walton College of Business last night. And one of the students in there was a linebacker on the team, and he was sending me a message afterwards telling you how much he appreciated the talk. And he was like, man, it was great. And he just like, you know, you talked about relationships and the importance of it. And that's all that coach Pittman stresses. And he's like, we're so fired up for this next year. I could run through a wall right now. Like, yeah, that's what I want to hear. So I'm excited. I just I sent him back a message and then I sent a hashtag "woo pig." I'm like, yeah, let's get it going and see what happens. But that's good. I mean, that for you guys. If you have a good football team. I mean, people come regardless, that's the one thing I've learned here, right? Because that's SEC nation. And you've got the whole state that rallies around that

Ragan Hood-Morris 19:51

That loyalty is deep.

Randy Wilburn 19:52

It's really deep, but I mean, I'm like, man, I can only imagine so what do you guys kind of look at the schedule the upcoming schedule and say Okay, these are the dates that we're blocking out. We're making sure that you know, we're going to make our place available. And certainly you you made modify things based on the increased demand.

Shawn Morris 20:10

Yeah. And so what we do now is it's available at all times, but I have a pricing software I use, because that stuff's available. And I basically just put a minimum and a maximum. And so I'll go Okay, and Max, we can make $100 bucks, men will make $50 bucks, and just depending on how far out from that day, the price will fluctuate. And so that's not a perfect system, but definitely helps us make sure we're making the most that we can without having to manage ourselves because that's not we don't want to deal with pricing. Cleaning is enough of a task for us. And so we don't want to deal with the practice. I think so we have someone tonight staying because our basketball teams good we have someone tonight staying to watch the basketball game. So we're thankful that basketball teams not bad.

Randy Wilburn 20:56

Absolutely, Eric Musselman Thank you for that yet so yeah, and the rest of the The team so that's cool. So I mean, now that you know what, you know, you've had a chance to kind of get started, you've gotten your feet wet. Are you finding that you're giving other people advice and guidance over this are people like knocking on your door saying, you know, hey, Ragan and Shawn helped me out. We're going to do Airbnb like you guys.

Ragan Hood-Morris 21:18

We've had a couple people more than I realized, because I don't feel like we have these magical qualifications for trial and error and it's working for us and we've done a lot of hard work on the you know, the back end to make that happen. But even my dad wants to start an Airbnb, he's in real estate, he like does he owns real houses and without, but he got really excited about the concept of it. So I've had a couple people come to us and just be like, what was your beginning step? What does that look like? And what like, would you suggest would be our big first thing like renovating? Do we buy a new? Do we rent out what we have? Do we rent a space? Do we rent our room or whatever? So sometimes, yeah, yeah.

Randy Wilburn 21:53

Yeah, maybe that's also a side consulting thing where you're just like, you know, cuz I honestly I mean, you you've been doing linger for a while, right? So that's why I mean, a lot of times when people hire somebody to do something, it's because they want to the expediency of getting from A to Z a little bit quicker right? Now you took a while to get from A to Z on that, but you have figured it out. You're like over there like, yeah, we we've gone through it, and you're still learning. Oh, yeah. But I mean, you can look at a place and be like, Oh, you need to fix this, this. That's okay over there. But this over there that has to go.

Ragan Hood-Morris 22:28

We joke about that all the time wishing like that would be a perfect world is that we got to travel to Airbnb, isn't that hire us to like, consult? What's the good next step?

Randy Wilburn 22:36

Well, it's funny because, you know, there's a you know, if you look at HGTV, there's a whole group of flippers that go out there and what they do is they go and they renovate or create these additional spaces. Yeah. And they do it a lot in Austin and places like that, where you know, there's just not enough hotel rooms. And let's let's put it out there. There's not enough hotel rooms in Northwest Arkansas. So I mean, they could build several big hotels. And there's still enough hotel rooms in Northwest Arkansas. So as this area grows, I suspect that the need for air really high quality Airbnb's will always be there. You know, and because I mean, that's why I got excited when you reached out to me I was sitting there in my head just thinking about it and thinking about just all the offshoots of that, which is what we were talking about all the different ways to kind of leverage local businesses to keep them at the forefront of people that are visiting the area. I mean, there's just there's a whole ecosystem there. Yeah, that if it's developed properly, could really I mean, it just it's really a really unique situation.

Ragan Hood-Morris 23:37

And it could change the tone of this area for sure.

Shawn Morris 23:39

Yeah, I mean, the city of Fayetteville claims there's probably about five to six hundred short term rentals just in Fayetteville and so it's already a major part of this area, whether people realize it or not.

Randy Wilburn 23:50

Yeah, so and I don't know if you know this, but does each city have their own restrictions or allowances with regard to short term rentals like Rogers, Springdale, Bentonville, are you aware of any of that?

Shawn Morris 24:01

Yeah, I know. I can't speak for the other cities by know Fayetteville. They currently don't have anything in place. But they're going through the process. So I know they had a focus group in January kind of walk through what would this look like? I know, city plantings having a meeting in February to kind of go through a rough draft. And then once they have a draft, they'll give it to the city council to decide what this looks like. But from what I've read, one, they'll do they're going to do, they're going to allow short term rentals because of what you said there's just not enough supply in this area to house people. But then also two, it's already so embedded here, it really hard to pull people out. And so I think what they'll do is cause people to get business license and make sure they pass a safety inspection and make sure there's not too many Airbnb's is on one certain Street.

Randy Wilburn 24:48

Right, right. Yeah. Well, let's keep it funky Fayetteville. So just those of you listening Mayor Jordan, let's not get too onerous with our laws and regulations. Because I mean, I think we You guys are doing is really great. It's the embodiment of a side hustle, if you will, and something that you can do that creates opportunity that you know, honestly, before Airbnb came around. I mean you had other options, but really, it was just, you just really didn't know. But now when because you have that vetting process that Airbnb provides. It's just a whole different ball.

Shawn Morris 25:21

Yeah. I'd say if anyone's interested in Airbnb, like, you're going to have to be ready to have at least one or two bad experiences.

Randy Wilburn 25:30

Well, speaking of which, why don't you can you can you share an interesting story that, you know, because I mean, I think it's good. And again, you know, we're not trying to castigate anybody that went came into your place and just acted crazy. Yeah. But, I mean, the bottom line is, it's going to happen. I mean, the numbers won't support you having a perfect experience every time you have somebody come in and stay at your house. But why don't you just give our audience our listeners here and I am Northwest Arkansas. Just a little sampling of what could go wrong.

Shawn Morris 26:00

Yeah, we've been really fortunate but you want to take that?

Ragan Hood-Morris 26:04

Can I talk about marijuana on this podcast? Okay fantastic. Yes

Randy Wilburn 26:11

Medical marijuana is legal in Arkansas.

Ragan Hood-Morris 26:12

That is awesome, big fan of it however we really I mean like you said we've had great experiences we have not had many poor experiences people are kind people have been very respectful of our space even while we were sharing space and moving in and out of that and it was our stuff people truly have been great for just been a few specifically one comes to mind we had a group well we had a girl book with us one time who was a lot younger and and when she asked a book mentioned wanting to blow off some steam from the school semester, and maybe should have been an indicator which like I validate that girl, get yours do what you gotta do, maybe not in my Airbnb, but so she and her friends came and celebrated a birthday blow off some steam. I don't really know. All I know is we got that the next morning and it smelled like Snoop Dogg had put roots in this house. Like and there were candles everywhere there was a back window open it was just there was a celebrated birthday so there was cake smashed into the dining room table in the floorboards there was like like rolling paper on the table. I'm like girl if you're going to do it, at least hide it well. But didn't so we spent a good couple days getting that smell out of the house and out of the curtains had to throw a shower curtain just because it again, do whatever you want to do on your own time live your life, not here and we have house rules and I would say if you're going to do an Airbnb, make house rules list them not just like on your Airbnb site, list them in a house make a cute sign have some cute hand lettering because it's just very it benefits you in the long run.

Randy Wilburn 27:53

Isn't that why you mean? Yeah, I mean most of the times people pay cleaning deposit and sometimes a security deposit.

Ragan Hood-Morris 27:58

Yeah, Yeah!

Randy Wilburn 27:59

Along those lines so I would assume that you probably had to take some of that too.

Ragan Hood-Morris 28:03

Yes. And that's a process and we ended up contacting her through the Airbnb site just be like Hey, not crazy mad just like we're going to have to take your security deposit and that's not a direct thing that we would do that's not up to me. Yeah, I got. You file claims through them and they've been great with us every time to just immediately reach out and solve it and it's usually been in our favor. But yeah, you do pay a security deposit and you do pay a cleaning fee. We are able to put our cleaning fee really low. It creates a really like if you can put it low do it it really helps people it gives them incentive and go Hey, this is worth it. Because like cleaning fees will get you But yeah, you can file through Airbnb and that's how we, you know, secured that she was not not excited about that. But, it worked out.

Randy Wilburn 28:49

Note to self you can't film a scene from Half Baked in an Airbnb.

Ragan Hood-Morris 28:55

I mean, you could but don't....

Randy Wilburn 28:56

Yeah, exactly. Ar clean up after yourself afterwards.

Ragan Hood-Morris 29:00

That's a better point.

Randy Wilburn 29:01

Yeah, yeah. So something along those lines, but because things do happen, but yeah, I mean, I think that's, you know, people just need to hear that, right? Because they need to know that that you know what could go wrong, somebody's gonna steal your China, well, you may not want to keep the good China out. You may want to put some of that stuff away. And again, in the situation that you have right now, because you have another place. It's the perfect storm, right? Because you can set the place up the way you want. And you're not like as invested in a lot of the stuff that's there from the vantage point of, you know, stuff walking away, because it's not like, I mean, they're just items that you've put in there for this specific purpose. So you could run up to IKEA up in Kansas City and get a bunch of stuff and bring it back down to Fayetteville and set up your place and go to town.

Shawn Morris 29:49

Yeah, the most the best guests we've had is when they've left things for us specifically when they leave like beer in the fridge. Those are the best guests.

Randy Wilburn 29:57

Well, you know, and that's kind of like the "Pay it Forward," mentality when I used an Airbnb in Destin this Summer, and the people had left a bunch of stuff, and the woman was like, Oh, yeah, please take whatever you want. And she had some basics. Yeah, right. Yeah. But it just it makes a big difference. And then that kind of gets into what we were talking about Shawn, a couple of weeks ago. And you know, and I don't want to, I think your ideas are really spot on. But, you know, it's an opportunity for anybody with an Airbnb to kind of showcase the area, showcase what makes Northwest Arkansas special, you know, featuring some of the amazing chocolate that we have here. You know, there's this little coffee company called Onyx, and they have pretty decent mean, yeah, you might have heard of them. And I'll give a shout out to Arsaga's as well. So we appreciate them all. I mean, this is a coffee culture here, but there's all kinds of stuff that can be highlighted in your Airbnb and I know you guys are kind of working on on doing that and just kind of giving people that may not be from this area, a glimpse into all the good things that are round here.

Shawn Morris 31:01

Yeah that's... the good Airbnb I've been to or I guess the bad ones I've been to it feels like I am just a customer and that they're trying to make money off of me and so what I like to do for our Airbnb is yes you're obviously paying for a stay but you get these bonuses or extra things like coffee from onyx or tea from Savoy or play some and block street records so we like to do that stuff because it just shows Hey, we care and also we don't we want you to have good experience. We don't want to just take your money

Randy Wilburn 31:37

Thank you. Yeah, perfect. So um, no, I think that I mean, I think that's a great way to give people a little slice of this area and certainly it separates you from everybody else, right because I mean, you know, I've been to Airbnb where it's like, you should rent this place for the hour. And, that's not the kind of...and that's not a compliment that you probably shouldn't be doing that so but you know so so what what you know I've held you guys for some time here and you've really shared some great information what's next for you guys with regard to this. Do you want to get another property and maybe do it again is it that exciting Are you kind of like this is a good one and we'll we'll kind of leave it at that and not you know if you want to corner the market on Airbnb's in South Fayetteville or what

Shawn Morris 32:35

I would love to do another Airbnb, it's been so much fun and the success we've seen has just been overwhelming. But it's just that just figuring out can it work for a cost standpoint for us but we're all in on doing it again. So if you're able to do it, yeah,

Ragan Hood-Morris 32:51

It really is fun and if you have the time if you have the time and you have the creative output, it is worth it. It is so fun. You kind of have to have a thick skull like thick shell. Different people are going to have poor opinions or Oh, I know, right?

Randy Wilburn 33:04

I mean, you take it personal if you take stuff personal like, maybe this this is probably not for you

Shawn Morris 33:10

Well, and you can't please everybody. So lots of people who say you're bad is the most comfortable bed we've ever slept in other people say it's way too soft. You need to make a farmer bad. And so you just go, you just have to push through.

Randy Wilburn 33:21

Yeah, yeah, no, I love that. I love that. So, in final summation, as we close out, is there anything else that you want to add to this picture of what it means to be an Airbnb owner in Northwest Arkansas?

Shawn Morris 33:37

Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing that we kind of touched upon is just if you're wanting to do this, it's almost 90% about location. Yes, you can have a great Airbnb and you offer all these great amenities. But if you're not in a spot where people want to go, you're not gonna you're having a tough time. Yeah, getting booked. And so that's really key is the closer you get to downtowns, the better.

Randy Wilburn 34:03

The closer you can get to the stadium, the closer you can get to Bud Walton. Yeah.

Yeah. So.

Shawn Morris 34:08

You just have to go in asking the question of what do I want my strategy to be? Do I only want to book on the weekends? Or am I wanting to get booked every day of the month for the next five years? And that matters the more you go.

Randy Wilburn 34:22

Absolutely. Yeah, I have some friends that have a place near Lake Atalanta and some people near Beaver Lake and they they just Yeah, they always have

Ragan Hood-Morris 34:32

Oh, yeah!

Randy Wilburn 34:32

Always, so location is everything I mean, that's like real estate. Yeah, so I mean, it's always location. So well, thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it. Um, what do you guys do when you're not Airbnb'ing it and when you're hanging around you guys, I mean, you're from Central Arkansas. You're kind of from here because you did end up finishing high school did you go to Fayetteville High or?

Ragan Hood-Morris 34:55

No, I went to Haas Hall.

Randy Wilburn 34:58

My son went there for a while. Yeah absolutely so what what do you guys like to do when you when you let your hair down hair down and hang out here in Northwest Arkansas?

Ragan Hood-Morris 35:09

I mean we're really into like anything Northwest Arkansas has that's new, new restaurants, new like bars.

Shawn Morris 35:17

Yeah we love going to Puritan.

Randy Wilburn 35:19

Yeah Puritan is nice. What's your favorite new restaurant or wherever you been? What restaurant Do you frequent a lot where you're just like, man, we come here a lot. We should buy some stock?

Shawn Morris 35:30

Besides Taco Bell.

Ragan Hood-Morris 35:34

We love Mr. Taco loco.

Randy Wilburn 35:36

Oh, okay.

Ragan Hood-Morris 35:37

There's a South Fayetteville location there's one up on the Springdale Square. Yeah, and I wouldn't say it's like hyper trendy, but oh my god, it's so good.

Randy Wilburn 35:45

Have you had the quesadilla's at Plomo? Have you heard about it.

Ragan Hood-Morris 35:50

I have Yeah.

Randy Wilburn 35:51

Good stuff. Big shout out to my man Omar, for what he's done with Con Queso's and this Plomo thing he's telling me has just taken off. So if ever you know if you ever go out and have a beer or drink in the evening down on Dixon, and you get a little hungry go check out Plomo's which is in the back of Juice Palm on Dickson. It's right up there right across from the Bank of America off of Dixon just up the street from JJ's so yeah, definitely check it out.

Shawn Morris 36:20

Now we gotta check out Leverett Lounge we have no

Ragan Hood-Morris 36:23

Yeah, that's it.

Randy Wilburn 36:25

No, but the Korean fried chicken is amazing. Taste great. And we actually had the folks from the Leverett Lounge on this podcast and talking about it. Yeah, just just really great people but the food is really good. Everybody that we've talked to that's been there. absolutely loves Leverett Lounge. A lot to do. I mean, that's the nice thing about this area. I mean, between here and Bentonville, I mean 8th street market I just, I can't get enough man. And, the nice thing is that it's all in one location. Oh my Ye-Yo's and the Holler. I mean you just such good food up there. So but there's great food down here too. So there's just a little bit of everything. So have you guys been to Maxine's Tap room?

Ragan Hood-Morris 37:09

Oh, yeah. That's where I lived in college.

Randy Wilburn 37:11

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that's a good spot.

Shawn Morris 37:13

We tried out the Graduates bar. Have you ever been to it?

Randy Wilburn 37:16

I've heard of it yeah.

Shawn Morris 37:17

Yeah, it's a it's a very like would not thought to go there like it was a nice experience.

Ragan Hood-Morris 37:22

Yeah, I really liked it. It was fun. very eclectic. Very different.

Randy Wilburn 37:25

Yeah, no, I've heard I've heard good things. I've been by there haven't been in there. But I like Maxine's like Maxine's for the, you know, the special drinks. It's just a nice environment. It's like old school. You know, it's not trendy.

Ragan Hood-Morris 37:39

It's got a wide, diverse, like age group in there, which I see.

Randy Wilburn 37:44

Yeah, it really does. You could find a little bit of everybody in there. So that's awesome. That's awesome. Well, good. Well, thank you guys so much for coming on the podcast and kind of sharing your thoughts and feelings about your Airbnb experience here in Northwest Arkansas and if people wanted to reach out to you What's the best way for them to contact you? If they were ever a way to do that?

Shawn Morris 38:04

I guess email or phone or...

Randy Wilburn 38:06

Okay, so what I'll do is I'll put your email or I'll have you create an email, and then we'll put that on our show notes. So people know how to reach out to you. So because, you know, I just think it would be helpful. There's a lot of people out there. And the one thing that I've always said is that there's such an inviting spirit here in Northwest Arkansas. People are always looking to help each other. Yeah, I mean, literally, from the moment that I started this podcast, everybody in their mothers like, Oh, I know somebody that could be on your podcast, or I know, you know, you should meet this person and that person. That's one thing I will say about this area, that is that there's a tremendous giving spirit. And so I, you know, I'm sure you guys have something to share with the rest of the folks. And so we will make sure that we put all that information in the show notes so they can reach out to you and are there any other websites or links and maybe if you want to mention that software that you use, you can share all that and I'll send you something you can give that to me. We'll include that in the show notes. So people can have that because I'm sure people listening to this have questions and they're like, wait, I want you know, Randy asked you on this or ask Ragan that, but that, you know, we're just going to put a pin in it for now, because I have a feeling that we'll probably end up talking about something in the future. And so that that would be, which would be certainly worthwhile. But this was a great starting point. And I really appreciate you guys coming down to my studio within a studio here at the Fayetteville Public Library and really just excited for what you guys are able to do with your Airbnb down in South Fayetteville and just thank you so much for everything. Thanks. Appreciate that. So well. There you have it, folks. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, Shawn and Ragan are really great people. And as I said, I will make sure I put a lot of information in the show notes just so that you have it. And as always, with every episode of the podcast, at least the latest episodes, you know, I started doing transcripts a couple of about a month or two ago. So at least the last 10 or 15 episodes of I am Northwest Arkansas, all have transcripts, eventually, over time, I will get back and do all of them and make sure that every episode has a transcript tied to it. But there will be a transcript for this if you if there's something that you want that you missed, or, you know, for some of us that like to read, as well as listen to things, that's your opportunity to do that. And so we'll make sure that's available to you, that will be in the show notes. And that's pretty much all I have for now. I would really appreciate if you do a couple things for me, as we're moving into this new season in 2020. We're going to be making a lot of changes here on the podcast, I would really appreciate you doing three things for me one, I'd love for you to tell a friend about it. Tell them why you like it. Don't just say Oh, go listen to this podcast. Tell them why you like the podcast and mention maybe maybe an episode. That's one of your favorites, too. I'd love for you to give a rating and a review of the podcast on whatever format you listen to it. So if it's Apple podcast, you can give a rating a review there. If it's Spotify, you can rate and review it there but I would really appreciate it because your reviews are fuel for me to continue doing this on a regular basis. I don't get paid for this folks. So my payment, or is anybody saying hey, attaboy, Randy, keep it going. I love the way you represent Northwest Arkansas and make us all look so good. That's my goal. That's what I'm trying to do. So help me out with that. And then finally, the last thing I wanted to mention to you is that, like I said, we are expanding this podcast, we're going to be doing some new things. We're also looking for a couple of key sponsors that might want to be a part of I am Northwest Arkansas. As we expand, we've got our website, I am Northwest Arkansas dot com, which you can visit. So please check us out. We've got a new events page on there. We also have a business directory. And so everybody that has been on the podcast will be part of the business directory, but we're also expanding it so that anyone that wants to have their company, their organization, whatever they do listed on the business directory, you can do that for free. That's right. I said it free. So check it out. Just Visit I am Northwest Arkansas dot com and as always you can hit me up on email Randy at I am Northwest Arkansas dot com and I'd love to chat with you. You have any feedback if you have any advice, even if you hate the podcast, let me know that that way. all all all information is constructive. So I'd like to know that as well. But you know, for the one or two people out there that hate it. So anyway, that's all I have for right now. As always, the podcast comes out every Monday. And that's it. So I will see you next week. Peace.

IANWA Close 42:36

We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcast can be found. For show notes or more information on becoming against visit. I am Northwest arkansas.com. We'll see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas

About the Show:

Here at I am Northwest Arkansas, we come in contact with a lot of interesting people in the Ozarks. Every day there is a new review or email encouraging us to keep sharing the great information that we are pushing out on the blog and podcast.  Today’s guest is no exception. Shawn Morris sent me an email sharing some great ideas for a potential business here in Northwest Arkansas and I decided to sit down with him for coffee. 

It turns out that Shawn and his wife Ragan cut their teeth running Airbnb out of their first home in South Fayetteville.  Once we heard the whole story and how they have learned from their mistakes and have totally turned their first property into a legitimate side hustle we wanted to share this with our audience.  

In this episode, Shawn and Ragan discuss how they got started with Airbnb, some of their own experiences using the Airbnb service in other locations like NYC and Austin, TX.  They walk us through the steps they took to get their home ready for the public and why they eventually saw the need to buy another property so that they could turn their first home into a temporary rental cash cow. We’ll they are not going to retire anytime soon but they are having a ton of fun and learning a lot through the process.  


If you’ve ever thought about renting out your place or purchasing a rental property to make it available on Airbnb this episode is for you!  

Also, Shawn and Ragan share some of the challenges that you could face when renting out your home through Airbnb. Nothing is ever perfect but when you hear some of the problems they faced and what was done to overcome them it might just reassure you. 

If this podcast episode resonates with you please let us know by commenting below or by dropping us an email. We appreciate each and every listener of this podcast. 

 All of this and more on this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas.   

Important Links and Mentions on the Show*:

*Note: some of the resources mentioned may be affiliate links. This means we get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

This episode is sponsored by:

Email info@iamnorthwestarkansas.com to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

Connect more with I am Northwest Arkansas:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. We showcase businesses, culture, entrepreneurship, and the lives of everyday people making Northwest Arkansas what it is today. 

Please consider making a one-time donation to our production team through PayPal to help with the expenses of keeping this podcast running smoothly https://www.paypal.me/encouragebuildgrow