833
9 min 42 sec

Interior Designer Starts Boutique Airbnb Alternative

She’d stayed in her share of iffy and icky Airbnbs, and wondered why there wasn’t a better service for boutique, well-designed homes. Now there is.
Design Reselling Service Tourism Unique Ideas

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What It's About

An interior designer creates an upgraded, Airbnb experience for the trendy and fabulous.

Business Model
Reselling
Skills Required
Design & Organization
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Whenever something like this takes off, it often creates additional opportunities in the margins for people like Allison to flourish. Even though she’s trying to do her own thing, she’s using the platforms of Airbnb and others. Arguably, they have enabled her to pursue this alternative vision. Pay attention!

Fun Fact

Allison learned a lot about entrepreneurial grit and salesmanship when she lived in New York. Not only did she sell copiers on Wall Street, but she was taking classes towards a degree in interior design at NYU in the evenings.

Notes from Chris

Episode 833
Though formally trained in advertising and marketing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Allison Crawford’s real passion was somewhere else: interior design. Even as she sold radio advertising in Austin, moved to sell copiers on Wall Street for a while, and then moved back to Texas to direct the marketing efforts of a car company, she was always learning about interior design. While in New York, she took night classes at NYU.

But rather than working for an interior design company, Allison created her own gigs on the side by flipping houses once she moved back to Dallas. It was grueling work: finding a house, bidding for it, renovating the property, designing the interior, and then—finally—selling it, hoping to profit.

It was a bit less thrilling than she’d hoped, and when one deal went sour and Allison ended up losing a lot of money, she decided the house flipping game wasn’t where she belonged.

She did, however, really like the part where she handled the interior design of the properties.

When a handful of friends offered to pay Allison for her skill, a lightbulb went off: she should try starting her own home design service.

Just a few months later, in 2015, Allison Crawford Design debuted. She built a portfolio of happy clients in a matter of months, and took her hard-earned cash to Los Angeles for the annual “Design Week” festival.

Still, this wasn’t the final answer either...

In Los Angeles, she learned a lot and made valuable connections, but the festival itself wasn’t where the most dramatic change happened. That happened in her Airbnb.

Let’s just say Allison’s first short-term rental experience on the platform was less than ideal. And it made her wonder: “Why isn’t there a chain of properties that fill the void between common home rentals and boutique hotels?”

She went home at the end of the week curious and eager. And what she found was intriguing: no other company owned, designed, and marketed boutique short-term rentals all under one umbrella. Lots of companies do one, or maybe two of those things—but never all three.

Allison knew she could do it. She’d bought and sold homes, she was an interior designer, and she was an experienced marketer. Allison had a trio of skills that nobody else seemed to be using all together—so she jumped in.

By Summer of 2017, HOTELette had its first property in Nashville. Not long after, she added two more properties in Austin and Dallas. She's now looking at a fourth location in 2020, a furniture line, and maybe even a reality TV show.

Allison’s not one to take all the credit. She says she has an incredible team behind her that she’s put together over the last three years: three city property managers, a digital shop manager, an assistant, a bookkeeper, and marketing manager. Drawing others into the dream of Hotelette—from customers to contractors—has been a lot more rewarding than selling copiers or flipping houses.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • HOTELette: If you'd like to learn more about the boutique experiences Allison is creating, head on over to her website!
  • Airbnb, HomeAway, & VRBO: Three of the property rental platforms that Allison used to get HOTELette out to the masses
  SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I think that it's important to celebrate the small victories with your team. Getting a business up and running isn't always glamorous, and consistent reminders of our progress and growth keeps driving us forward."
—Allison Crawford #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau