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

Subscribe Now For A Free Five Step Tutorial

What It's About

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

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Organization
Profit Potential

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.


  • 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

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

Yours in the revolution,


Download 2020 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR |

Download 2019 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC

Download 2018 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC

Download 2017 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC



Earn 50,000 travel rewards points (enough for 2 round-trip plane tickets or $625 in travel credit). You'll also earn 2x points on all travel and dining spend, with zero foreign transaction fees.

I use this card every day all over the world! ✈️

Learn More


Want to build any kind of website for your hustle? If so, you'll need somewhere to host it! This is the reliable company I've used for my past 5 websites. It's cheap, flexible, and you can get support 24 hours a day.

Get your own hosting plan for just $5 a month!

Learn More

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

Sponsors & Gratitude

Don't Do Business Without It

Side Hustle School is brought to you by American Express.

No matter what you do in business, from working nine-to-five to working five-to-nine, it’s easier when you don’t go it alone. Get the powerful backing of American Express—don't do business without it! 💳

Visit American Express

Like the Show? Leave a Rating!

Side Hustle School is for you! If you’re enjoying it, please take a quick moment to leave a rating or write a quick review. It's really easy and it makes a difference! ✅

It also makes a huge difference when you tell your friends about the show. Remember, it's 100% free and listener-supported.

Here's How

Keep in Touch

There’s a new story every single day on Side Hustle School. Episodes are produced to be short and to the point—I know you’re busy. Be sure you subscribe to get instant notification of the day’s broadcast!

To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau