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EP177: Providing Airbnb as an Amenity for Residents in Apartment Buildings

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As rental prices continue to rise, more and more apartment residents are tempted to enlist Airbnb to help cover the cost – with or without the landlord’s permission. Luckily, a growing number of landlords recognize that permitting short-term rentals could increase their profits and attract new residents to their buildings. That’s where Pillow Residential comes in. This new product offering allows building owners to offer the Airbnb option as an amenity for residents, and Pillow in turn gives landlords transparency regarding who’s in their buildings and a cut of the profits.Sean Conway, Co-Founder and CEO of Pillow, has a huge passion for travel. After the sale of his first startup venture, Notehall, Sean backpacked all over the world, staying in Airbnb properties. Sean finds that he is his best self when he travels, when he has the opportunity to interact with other cultures, and he wanted to make it easier for others to afford to travel and feel that same human connection.Sean launched Pillow in San Francisco in 2014 with the intention of taking the hassle out of hosting. The company has expanded to a dozen cities, providing short-term property management services and promoting the concept of global citizenry. Today Sean talks through the details of the new product, explaining why his team developed the amenity, how Pillow Residential benefits landlords and residents alike, and the demand he has seen for the product thus far. He also shares his point of view regarding the greatest challenges in the vacation rental space as well as his take on the future of the Airbnb ecosystem.Topics CoveredWhy Sean developed the new product, Pillow Residential•Rental prices higher than ever (35-45% of income in some locations)•Landlords willing to allow Airbnb, but calling for structure•Pillow Residential helps residents earn income while on vacation•Prevents violation of HOA, lease agreement•Allows landlord to feel comfortable•Works with city regulationsThe benefits of Pillow Residential for landlords•Amenity attracts residents•Provides insight, transparency re: who’s in building•Increases applicant pool, occupancy•Offers landlords cut of profitsHow Pillow Residential works•Opportunity assessment (gives landlord sense of what might earn)•One-hour onboarding session•Pillow creates landing page for residents•Pillow sends residents an email explaining new amenity•Residents sign in through landing page, property manager monitorsThe high demand for Pillow Residential•110 signups•60,000 unitsSean’s take on the greatest challenge the Airbnb ecosystem faces•Pillow has 200 SOPs•80% of situations fall into top 20% of SOPs•Create standardization AND keep personalizationSean’s conviction that the Airbnb ecosystem will continue to thrive•Airbnb changing way people live•Millennials embracing digital nomad lifestyle•Opportunities for wide range of players•Room to grow in industryThe tools Pillow uses to manage client listings•Zendesk customer service software•Previous partnership with Everbooked (metrics, pricing)•Built personalized internal tools for customersSean’s view of the Airbnb IPO•Won’t change the landscape of short-term rental industry•‘I’m fine either way’Sean’s prediction of what’s next in vacation rentals•Consolidation will continue•, Expedia and Airbnb will continue to thrive•Opportunities for niche markets (i.e.: Innclusive, Mrbnb)Connect with SeanPillowEmail info@pillow.comResources See for privacy and opt-out information.