Eye CatchingPublished on March 8, 2020

Trista Lynch-Black Photo by: Mark Holleron

So you want to make a little extra money listing your abode on a homestay or short-term rental marketplace online like Airbnb. It seems like everyone else is doing it, so why can’t you?

But with 4,500 other property and room listings in the Ottawa area available on one website alone, what chance would yours have at generating interest? How would your listing even stand out?

Enter Trista Lynch-Black, owner of Red Door Interiors. She is a home stager whose bibbidi-bobbidi-boo skills will make your rental pop from the page and attract guests. Trista started her company in 2010 and has been offering homestay and short-term rental staging services for over three years. Despite looming changes to Ottawa’s short-term rental rules, she says her services have never been more in demand.

Online homestay and short-term rental networks have come a long way over the years. Gone are the days of simply listing your couch or room for rent on a website with a quick description and price tag for wandering nomads. Today, it’s a competitive market with a seemingly endless menu of options where renters can choose listings based on location, type of property, or even design concept.

Ottawa listings on Airbnb, for example, have seen about 258,000 guest arrivals staying an average of 3.6 nights at a rate of $104 a night in a one-year period from October 1, 2018 to 2019. So if owners want their listing to be successful and make money in today’s fierce market, Trista advises that it is all about appealability.

“I call it adding luxe to your property,” says Trista, who explains that luxe does not only apply to staging with a modern design. “If it’s a character home, you can add a beautiful area rug and you can have a feature wall with some antique pieces.”

By putting in that extra bit of effort (and being truthful in their representation), Airbnb Canada spokesperson Lindsey Scully says owners will see several benefits.

“Airbnb is an online platform and the first thing people see when they’re searching for a property is pictures,” Lindsey explains. “So, a well-designed space is going to catch people’s eye. That can result in better search results and more bookings.”

Staging also allows owners to be more competitive and potentially increase their rental rate—and the more responses and positive feedback owners get from renters, the more they’re rewarded with certain Airbnb perks like being a part of Airbnb Plus.

According to Lindsey, Airbnb Plus properties—which come with a purple tag on the listing—are known to have thoughtful designs, exceptional quality and a certain set of amenities that are guaranteed. To be part of the Plus program, property owners must be invited by Airbnb and meet “Superhost-level” hospitality standards.

But Trista knows that sometimes property owners need help. Either they don’t know where to start, don’t have the time, or aren’t sure how to step away and de-personalize their space.

Staging doesn’t have to be a big undertaking; it can be as simple as adding a few touches or cleaning up clutter—it just depends on how far owners are willing to go. That’s why Trista offers services as basic as a consultation, all the way up to carte-blanche services that involve full-staging services.

The trick is keeping design concepts simple and functional, and keeping design elements to a minimum. That means if you’re going for the popular rustic-chic concept, for example, don’t overdo it—too much of something can actually make a space feel cold or noisy. Pinterest (although it can be a rabbit hole) is a good place to start for inspiration, notes Trista.

There’s so much competition out there right now,” says Trista. “So you have to think about what will make an individual’s property stand out.” She mentions thoughtful touches that make renters feel at home such as providing bath products to guests; a guestbook for renters to provide feedback; and a mini travel guide that includes local hotspots, directions and attraction suggestions.

Because, really, there’s no place like home!

Dani-Elle Dubé

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