Properties under management: 130
First listed on Airbnb: Late 2016
Key result: Revenue has doubled in just two years
Other results: Airbnb has streamlined the guest vetting process
Phillip Island Holiday Homes was born in 2001 when Melbourne, Australia housewife Bernadette Rudd decided she could do a better job managing rentals of the family’s vacation home than the real estate agent she’d hired for the job. A neighbor, impressed with Bernadette’s dedication, asked if she might manage bookings for their home, too.
Today, the company manages 130 properties on the spectacular, rustic island treasured for its pristine beaches, blue-headed fairy penguins, and its huge fur seal colony. Bernadette’s husband Les, and their adult sons, Caleb and Joel, have all joined the business.
The Rudd’s are now experiencing something almost unheard of for an 18-year-old family company: “Our business has effectively doubled in about the space of two years,” says Joel. He attributes the vast majority of the revenue growth to two factors: “Increasing the number of properties we look after and Airbnb.”
The two are related. Until recently, Phillip Island, just a couple hours’ drive from Melbourne, was primarily a destination for day trippers and weekenders who wanted to see the wildlife or catch one of the Australian Grand Prix motorcycle races held regularly on the island’s 2.7 mile track. Any rental business came primarily from classified listings in local papers and magazines.
A growing percentage of people who are booking homes are either international or interstate now, and predominantly they book through Airbnb.
Joel, Phillip Island Holiday Homes
Airbnb’s infinite reach radically altered that. “A growing percentage of people who are booking homes are either international or interstate now, and predominantly they book through Airbnb,” Joel says.
Airbnb’s two-way review system and guest verification process save time, allowing the Rudds to spend more time delivering amazing hospitality.
“A lot of other platforms have a one-way review system where guests can talk about their experience, but you can’t necessarily talk about guests,” Joel says. “We have a high degree of confidence that guests that book through Airbnb will do the right thing because we get to say, ‘These guys were great, come back again.’ And if they don’t do the right thing, which is very uncommon, we get to share that information as well.”
Phillip Island is teeming with native wildlife, the Rudds have gotten used to hearing from guests flummoxed about how to deal with a spiny echidna or swamp wallaby that appears on the lawn. And they’ve got a snake catcher on call to resettle from their properties any copperheads, the island’s one venomous snake.
But in large part thanks to Airbnb, they’re able to take care of those or virtually any other guest requests from the comfort of their Melbourne office. And they’re free to focus on business expansion—and helping more people share their homes.
Because of this, the Rudd’s ambitions have grown greatly since they began listing with Airbnb three years ago, and they now hope to expand the number of properties they manage by a factor of 10 over the next decade. “There’s really no reason we can’t expand beyond the borders of Phillip Island,” Caleb says. “And our steep growth has been possible because of Airbnb.”
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