Airbnb host services firm adapts to survive
Thoshlae and Taylor Williams were just getting their new Airbnb management business, Elevate Host Services, off the ground, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
“We lost thousands of dollars in cancellations,” Ms Williams said. “Luckily, we don't have a lot of overhead, so it hasn't completely shut us down.”
While they figure out their next step, they have launched a gift box business.
“We are putting together care packages for people in quarantine or people who are on social-distancing,” said Mr Williams.
The packages contain health and wellness products, and can be purchased through the Elevate Host Service store on the Sargasso Sea app.
“We are working with local small business owners so we can get their products out so people don't have to leave home, but can get things they want and help to relieve their stress while they are home,” Ms Williams said.
They have worked before with vendors including Noveltea, Sousa's Gardens, The Bermuda Bookstore, Long Story Short and Brown & Co.
“They're on board and fully in support,” Ms Williams said. “It also helps them. Some of these vendors have store fronts and are trying to sell products and don't have the means to get their products to the people.”
For now, the packages are for adults, but they might do children's packages in the future.
The idea came to them early on in the crisis, when they noticed that people wanted to get out and buy things but were concerned about maintaining social distance.
“A lot of people don't necessarily want to leave their home,” Mr Williams said. “We thought it would be good to deliver some of these needed products to make them feel better.”
The aim is to relieve some of the stress people are feeling, at present.
“A lot of people have uncertainty because of the Covid-19 virus,” Ms Williams said. “People are turning to gardening. We actually have plant seeds in the package. We are trying to help people to build their immune systems up by giving them herbal teas and hopefully lift their spirits.”
Mr Williams said, as the world goes into lockdown, we really need to band together and support each other.
“That is what we are trying to do in these uncertain times,” he said. “We want to provide a little bit of support and put a smile on people's faces in terms of how we can help.”
In the meantime, they are brainstorming what they might do to keep their business going until Bermuda's industry can be revived.
“We might shift to promoting local Airbnbs as places to staycation,” she said.
However, she said many Airbnb owners they talked to weren't keen on turning their rental units into quarantine facilities.
“A lot of homeowners live on the property,” Ms Williams. “They don't want to put themselves at risk of catching the virus. We are trying to pivot and we have changed our strategy a few times. There are a few barriers, obviously.”
Another issue is that cleaners can't go into the units while people under quarantine are staying there for 14 days.
“It has been really hard,” Ms Williams said. “We are trying to get a positive out of this. What we are doing now — hopefully it helps people and they can see the value in the package. We will see.”
Their base basket starts at $64 and includes a beauty mask, inspirational book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, detox tea, and a succulent plant. Shoppers also have the option to select additional local products as add-ons to their baskets.
They are offering a ten per cent discount to senior citizens.
When ordering, they are asking for 24 hours to gather the inventory and package it. Sargasso Sea will deliver.
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