Evelyn Badia: 02:11 Today, we have Donna Boutin from New Hampshire who is visiting us to do an update on episode 60 the travel nurse market. Everything you need to know and we decided to do this episode because right now we know that a lot of hosts are looking into the healthcare market you did to hop out or help her out on this busy time. Tourists are not visiting. We know you're tapping into that market, so I tapped into Donna and say, Hey Donna, come on over and let's talk about, I said, Donna, thank you so much for coming into The Hosting Journey podcast.
Donna: 02:48 Thank you. It's very nice to be here again with you.
Evelyn: 02:50 I know, I know you're always telling everybody about episode number 60 and I know that things have changed a little bit, especially since now Airbnb just turned on their open homes program and we're going to discuss that dear host. It's their program for whenever a disaster happens and now the just turned it on for the healthcare employees and we're going to talk about it, but first of all, let's talk about the travel nurse market. Since back when we spoke about, it's been over a year now, we're not going to rehash everything that you're doing because now you're doing more this market than anything else, right?
Donna: 03:31 Correct.
Evelyn: 03:32 Okay. We're now in the COVID area. Talk to me about the travel nurse market. Who do you have and what are you doing and what are you recommending?
Donna: 03:41 Well, the travelers, the market is bigger than ever, especially in the hardest-hit areas for today anyway, of New York as well as California. So those areas are really in great need of accommodations for travel nurses. They're really flocking to those areas to try to be of assistance where the greatest need is needed right now. The unfortunate part is these nurses have made reservations, they pad plans and many hosts are canceling on them. It's an unfortunate situation and I certainly can understand why some hosts would be uncomfortable with having people with that level of exposure, especially if they're in home hosts. Um, however, some people are being cancels on that actually have booked full private homes or apartments. So the fear is big, but the market is huge. And I think for people who have entire homes, that's something they should consider because we all know tourists aren't coming to any of our places anymore. It doesn't matter what market you're in, but even the big players like Disney have closed down, so if you're in Orlando, I'm sure you're sitting on empty houses everywhere, so it's something that we're just all going to have to either deal with and adjust and it really just depends on where you are financially. You know, if you're in a situation where you're fortunate and don't need to rent your homes and you want to leave them empty, I can appreciate that. I don't think that's most of us. I think most of us have mortgages, expenses, operating costs, so I think we just need to get comfortable with the idea of continuing to rent to travel nurses and do it at your own level and your own comfort level.
Evelyn: 05:21 Yes, indeed. Now let's say you decide you want to tap into the trouble nurse market or whether you want to hop out or because you feel like, okay, this is something that will provide some income because dear host is not the same income as tourists. Let's just start there right now. It's not going to be the same.
Donna: 05:43 Exactly.
Evelyn: 05:44 Okay.
Donna: 05:46 A little something is better than nothing.
Evelyn: 05:48 Exactly. Exactly. So what are the first things that they have to do?
Donna: 05:53 Well, I think each host has to evaluate if this is a market you want to get into or you're already into and you want to continue with. There are several ways that you can host right now. You already brought up the first one. The first one is open homes, which means you donate your home for free to travel, a medical professional in need of housing. But there are several other ways that you can go about this at Airbnb is currently offering. Um, you can also through their program, you don't have to host for free. You can still host at your standard rates or reduced rate, but it's only for entire listings. It's not for in-home hosting, but you can still rent at your comfort level for your pricing. There are several things that you need to abide by, which we can go through, but it doesn't have to be for free. It could be at a discount, it could be at your standard pricing. It's whatever you're comfortable with.
Evelyn: 06:46 Yes. And I'm going to discuss the Airbnb open program a little bit more in detail later on in the episode. I want to talk a little bit more just about the different travel nurses program because I'm going to go very in detail about the open program later.
Donna: 07:01 Perfect.
Evelyn: 07:02 Yeah, because they have a lot of regulations dear hosts. They do. So,
Donna: 07:06 Yeah.
Evelyn: 07:08 Okay. So let's see. Side. Um, you want to go the regular travel nurses program, which is not just Airbnb, dear host. A lot of nurses do not go to the Airbnb site to get a home. And do you want to say why
Donna: 07:24 Exactly. A lot of travel nurses will seek out private accommodations through Facebook groups, through Craigslist, through almost any means necessary because they really don't want to pay the fees. Sometimes those fees just put them at a point in their budget that you know, your particular home, it can be out of their budget. Once they add in the fees, it looks reasonable and then they add the fees in and they realize it's out of their budget. So nurses have gotten very savvy on how to, you know, work Facebook groups, make private connections, you know, find people's personal websites. There are many, many avenues that they can go through to find your homes.
Evelyn: 08:00 Exactly. So now what are the top sites that nurses are using right now because there's furnish finders. Correct. And what are the others?
Donna: 08:10 Yeah, furnish finders is a great one that has 47,000 members to date. The one that's even bigger is called the gypsy nurse for travelers housing. That's at 93 members as of yesterday. Now, excuse me, 93,000 members as of yesterday. That is a lot of people. Um, so to tap into that group as a great option. If this is a market you want to go with. The third one that I use, I find has less members, but I've made good connections there. And it's the gypsy soul travel nurse housing. That one's at 38,000 members. That's a lot of nurses. So just those three groups alone is a good place to start. And there are dozens and dozens of travel nurse Facebook groups. Those are the three ones that I've had the most in I that I tend to go back to all the time I looked at them. Evelyn, you and I both know, I looked at them over the past week or so, very consistently. And there are nurses that are looking for New York over and over and over. Areas that are hit the hardest. Like New York, they're bringing in the travel nurses, but housing's an issue.
Evelyn: 09:14 Exactly!
Donna: 09:15 Yeah. So, but the three piece book groups, those are the three that I use the most. I think they're the most active. Um, it's a good place to start, but there's many, many more beyond that.
Evelyn: 09:25 So the first thing you do is go into one of the Facebook groups and decide, you know, the one that you want. Now, one of the problems that I'm having is that I still have some reservations in may that are lurking that they're just still there. So what happens is this, dear host, the nurses need about 13 weeks. So they have a 13-week contract. Sometimes they come in, in April or something like that. So they put some at the end of May, sometimes at the beginning of June. Some of them are coming all the way into July. So because I still have some reservations that are still pending there, it's stopping me from being able to approach some nurses in addition, some of them, their rate is just way too low. The difference is just too much. And so for me becomes like, well, is this something that is worth it? So you have to think about all of those things. You have to think about like, well, how much time do I have available? What are the rates? Do I really want to do it? Or is it better for me to just keep my space close because they are going to have expenses in your house? You know, it's not just space itself. But they're going to spend money on, lights, electricity. You know this cable, you are going to have expenses there. Think about that.
Donna: 10:45 Exactly.
Evelyn: 10:46 So let's say I found a nurse, me and her clicked and now what is next? Well,
Donna: 10:53 Are you talking that they found you through Airbnb or they found you privately?
Evelyn: 10:56 Oh well let's say we found each other privately.
Donna: 10:59 Okay, so if they found each other privately, you need to make some decisions. Do you want to work with at least, do you want a signed contract? How do you want to handle the money? For a lot of people, if you haven't already been working in the travel nurse market, you know, that's kind of the first big thing of, you know, I know you, Evelyn personally do not like to deal with the money. You'd love it when somebody else handles the money for you. And I think a lot of other hosts out there like that. I think the two big things that you need to decide if you've decided that it's going to be a match. So the first thing you have to address, do you want a contract which I highly recommend or are you going to kind of play a little loosey-goosey? And I know a lot of people don't do contracts for their nurses. Um, they've done it long enough, they feel comfortable with it, they just go with it. I like a contract. I think it makes it clear on arrival date, departure day expectations, house rules, things like that. The other one is how to handle the money and nurses are not going to pay you for their 13 weeks upfront. They are going to look to pay you month to month. I mean that is standard in their business. So you need to figure out are you going to take a check, you're going to get paid through Venmo or PayPal. Are you able to handle credit cards? There's a lot of different ways to go about payment. A lot of nurses like to pay by check and for me, I like that. I've never had one bounce check in my 10 years of hosting and that I don't pay the credit card fee. So I don't have a problem with accepting a personal check. But that's something for everyone that you're just going to need to decide what your comfort level is and what you're set up for.
Evelyn: 12:24 Yeah.
Donna: 12:24 It's very easy to get the credit cards on square or Stripe.
Evelyn: 12:29 Yeah, and now you probably could use cash app, you could use Venmo, you could use so many other sources of being able to get money.
Donna: 12:38 Exactly.
Evelyn: 12:39 So I think the getting of the money doesn't have to be such a big burden. Now the one thing that you Donna have recommended in the past is also to get a deposit,
Donna: 12:49 Correct! Yes. You know, you've just got to get a deposit if that's how you feel. I get a deposit on all of my units. I think only once, maybe in 10 years have I not returned a full deposit. In general, they do leave the places quite clean in the way they found it. But that amount of the deposit that you're going to want to carry is going to be dependent on the size of the home or the apartment that you have.
Evelyn: 13:14 Okay. So let's say if you normally rent your home on Airbnb listed for $150 a night, so that's your average nightly rate
Donna: 13:24 For me, I run anywhere between on a nightly rate between a hundred and, well it depends on the unit to 189 a night based on the unit.
Evelyn: 13:31 So what will be your security deposit for something like that? Then?
Donna: 13:35 You know, for most of my apartments I really do $1,000. Even some of my apartments aren't as big or outfitted as nice. I have one home that's very high end. I kind of like $1,000. It's a nice even number. It keeps it all straight for me cause I have nine listings. Um, I think that if you're just having a small one-bedroom apartment, I would probably be comfortable with even $500 something that every individual host needs to address what's going to make them feel comfortable.
Evelyn: 14:03 Dear host do not spend the money to not spend a security deposit because you're going to have to give it back.
Donna: 14:08 Yeah.
Evelyn: 14:10 Do not think like, Oh I have that thousand dollars. I could count on that money to do something else do not do that. Put that money on a savings account and you're going to give it back in 13 weeks. Exactly. Unless something happened. Okay. So, so don't count on it. Okay. Don't, don't, don't do that. Okay. So now we have a lease agreement from a previous episode and I'm going to put it on the show notes where you could just go get it. So if you want to have a sample of at lease agreement, we did this on a previous episode I think it's 98 or something like that. Um, so you guys can have a sample of a lease agreement for your records just so that we covered – cover yourself. Just because it is nurse, it doesn't mean that you don't want to protect yourself, just do the right thing. Another thing is also pets. A lot of nurses do like to travel with pets and some of them also travel with partners because some of the things that I have seen on the furniture finders was like, I'm, I want to travel with my daughter, I want to tell my spouse and something like that. So you're not renting to just one person. Sometimes you might be renting to more than two people.
Donna: 15:18 Yes. And I've actually had twice now, um, entire families looking to stay with me and one person is a nurse and say the next, you know, the spouse or the partner could work where that person could work out of the home with a computer and internet service. So you definitely want to ask the number of people and you definitely want to ask about pets and know that 30% of all nurses today are traveling with a pet. So if you do take pets and you're amenable to that, that is a huge market. They all have very hard time finding housing that allows pets. I will add though, I started to take pets at one of my locations and in addition to my deposit I take an additional $400 per pet deposit. For me. That's what made me comfortable to get into that market of accepting pets cause I hadn't accepted pets prior to that. So I get an additional deposit when they have a pet. I haven't had any issues so far, but that is what took it. Maybe we're comfortable to accept that.
Evelyn: 16:13 Now. Let me ask you a question. In the unit that you take pets, do you have it, scratch on the floors or anything like that or how do you feel about that?
Donna: 16:20 Well the unit that I have, it has all hardwood floors and tile. However, I do have two area rugs, one on the dining room and one in the living room. Now the first person that I have with pets, yes, those carpets were disaster. I just didn't realize how embedded dog hair could get into an eight by 10 area rug. Took forever to vacuum it. And then of course we had to shampoo them both, but I feel that that was worked into my price. I anticipated a big claim when they left, so I feel when it was all said and done, my cleaning fee was almost double what I normally pay, but I felt that I charged the appropriate rent expecting that in the end.
Evelyn: 16:59 Now how much do you charge for cleaning fee for something like that? Especially with a dog, just because
Donna: 17:04 when I do the travel nurses, I don't charge a cleaning fee and I just kind of work it into the price. They don't like to see these add on cleaning fees. I mean if you're doing it through Airbnb, they're kind of expecting it. They see the line item. But if you're renting privately one-on-one, I think you could put in a cleaning fee. I'm not saying that you can't, I'm just saying, I think they're not used to seeing that. And I think you might be asked just to up your rent a little bit so that your cleaning fee is kind of worked into your meant, but you could certainly do it both ways. You're your own boss, you can do whatever you want.
Evelyn: 17:38 Now let me ask you a question, now with the Corona Virus and everything else, because you still have a couple of houses that are still empty and I know you're looking into it. Would you do something different now for cleaning and security deposits and everything else?
Donna: 17:55 Well, security deposits, I wouldn't do anything different with, I feel comfortable where I am there as far as the cleaning. Yes. Uh, you've heard me talk before of my term that people who work in that industry expect operating room clean when they arrive. They really do. Their expectation of cleanliness is very, very high. Now I think we've reached a whole new level. We used to call it operating clean and now I think you need to call it COVID clean. So when they leave, and I actually went on Airbnb and they provide actually an extremely good checklist for cleaning that either you can use as a guide or you can give to your cleaner as a guide. It's very, very detailed, right down to the sensation of doorknobs, and remotes and things like that. So that checklist I thought was very thorough and very good, but we all need to understand that if a nurse in this crisis that we're in comes into your place and spent 13 weeks and leaves, and even if some of them are taking shorter contracts, I know a lot of nurses going into New York right now are just taking contracts for one month because they want to prepare to move on to the next emergency state. So there was finding some shorter contracts, which isn't their norm, but when they leave, whether they've been there for one month or 13 weeks, I think we all need to be prepared if things haven't changed to shut down our units for a few days, let the dust settle so to speak, and then you have to go in there and clean that place top to bottom, everything you need to pull the couch cushions off your couch, you need to go through that fridge. Everything just needs to get thoroughly sanitized. You need to ensure that you're providing the perfectly clean home for the next guest, whether it's a nurse or whether it's just a traveler, a businessperson, someone visiting family, you know, wherever it may be. You need to make sure you have major place COVID clean.
Evelyn: 19:40 Right now I just had a guest leave the house and I don't let my cleaner go in for 24 hours period. Thus our standard procedure right now, we've also, and this is an episode that I just uploaded today, we pulled out all the curtains out of the house. Anything that's like throws and like decorative pillows, anything that is sort of like not needed, you know, we had a conversation about it and was sort of like, is this really needed? It's just things to make the place pretty two days to clean it. It's nodding off. I think between a travel nurse I will probably take down the place for like a week and really like steam everything and you know, just because they'd been there for so long.
Donna: 20:25 Exactly. And you know when they've been there for 13 weeks, you're looking at a big deep clean. Anyway, nurses are very good about leaving the place tidy and clean and washing the dishes and putting them away, you know, but they're not cleaning your artwork and pictures and besting your baseboard. So after 13 weeks, you're looking at a big clean. Anyway, I blocked two days after every travel nurse anyway because it always is that big of a clean. So in light of where we are, you know, I think people need to anticipate that level of a clean. It's going to take you quite some time, either you or your cleaner and you need to be prepared for that.
Evelyn: 21:01 Yeah. Yeah. And also dear host, we have to protect our cleaners.
Donna: 21:05 Exactly.
Evelyn: 21:06 It's as simple as that. Anything else that they should know?
Donna: 21:10 Well, did you want to talk a little bit about what Airbnb is offering for, not necessarily open homes, but the program that they're offering for the traveling medical professionals?
Evelyn: 21:21 Sure. What is extra that they're offering for their travel nurse? Go ahead.
Donna: 21:25 Yeah, sure. Well, right now, if you go under your booking settings tab on Airbnb, there is a section for if you want to coast traveling medical professionals or people from the medical field in general. Now they give you two options. You can do it for free, you can do it at your discounted rate, or you could do it at your standard rate, whatever you're comfortable with, and they're offering no fees to both the guests and the host, so that's a huge savings, especially on the guest part and I think that the need that become so high that guests that wouldn't normally go to Airbnb, if the word gets out about no fees for them, that might be an area that they flock to to look for accommodations, knowing that there's going to be no fees, but I think it's a great opportunity for host. There are some caveats that Airbnb posted that if you're going to go down this route in any direction, you're going to have to close your property 72 hours after this day. If your booking is going to be automatically close down. I'm perfectly comfortable with that. I think that's what's needed right now. But that's something you have to personally consider. And this is, once again, it's only for entire listings. This is not for home shares.
Evelyn: 22:38 Yeah, this is the open homes program?
Donna: 22:40 Correct! Yes. But it's not, I think, I don't know when they did open homes before, like with hurricane Sandy, I thought open homes was just if you're willing to donate your home for free.
Evelyn: 22:50 They used to, so now they changed it and you know I've been in touch with the founders and I knew they had been wanting to change it. Especially for this case. Exactly. And in this particular case they also have a where you could either help by hosting or by donating.
Donna: 23:07 Correct.
Evelyn: 23:08 So so they have that as well. So you could donate to rescue committee to the red cross or medical Corp sewed. So you don't have to just host. If you don't feel comfortable hosting, you don't have to go help by donating with cash. If that's the case. Now, if you decide to host, there are some requirements besides just having your home close down for 72 hours, three days between each reservation.
Donna: 23:36 Correct.
Evelyn: 23:37 You have to check off certain things because they want to make sure that you accept certain regulations from and that you, you accept the responsibility that your house might be contaminated with COVID-19
Donna: 23:52 They're covering their bases. They need to, you know, you definitely need to agree that you are understanding that you're taking in guests that have a higher risk to COVID-19. They have some very specifics that if a guest is exposed during your stay that you have to allow them to complete their reservation. So say they come in and everything's fine, they come down with the virus. You do have to agree that they are allowed to stay until the end of the reservation or you have to agree that they can stay for the length of time needed to self isolate. So you do need to agree to quite a bit. Personally, I think right now we're in a crisis. These people need some place to go. Some hotels have opened up their doors. I think staying in someone's private home is a much safer environment for these people. I think we just need to come together as a community and if you're comfortable with wholesaling these people, it's a great opportunity to give back and help out and they really do need our help right now.
Evelyn: 24:44 Yes, exactly. So one of the requirements that they're asking is that for you to be close to hospitals, they also want you to check off that the host guarantee program. It's not really covering you. Look, you have to go through this, you have to check and you have to read it and you've got to make sure that it's aligned with you and what you want to do. I have two of my New York places open for it. I don't think in Puerto Rico it's really open. The open is not open. Our curfew just got tighter restrictions, just got tighter in Puerto Rico, even though we don't have that many cases. Look, I believe the program, I know that a lot of hosts hated that the hosts do not get credit for it.
Donna: 25:27 I know and it does spark quite a controversy. I think we just all need to go work in the philosophy of we shouldn't be in the environment where we feel like we need to get credit for this. I think everyone just needs to, you know, do their part. You know, it's just like giving blood. Do you really get credit for giving blood? No, but it's a great thing to do. I don't think we should get caught up on, we feel like Airbnb is writing this PR game, which you know, it can't be what it's all about.
Evelyn: 25:53 I know and I think it's because of what they just did with the whole cancellation policy and everything else and then this just got open and and it becomes like, Oh Airbnb opens their home and they say no, Airbnb is not opening their homes. Hosts are opening their homes, the hosts are taking the risk. Hosts are like doing all of this.
Donna: 26:16 Exactly.
Evelyn: 26:16 And I've done it. I did it for hurricane Sandy and I actually opened my home for free for 30 days and it was great. And dear host, I know that sometimes even for free, you're thinking like, Oh, but it's free and why would I do it? And, and I'm not making any money. Money comes money shows up.
Donna: 26:34 Exactly. And don't forget that. And you don't necessarily have to participate for free. You can do it still for a fee. You still get paid for your home. But remember that nurses and medical professionals, they are going to remember you. I have a lot of repeat travel nurses, a travel nurse may, you know, drop on your reservation and this could open the door to this market view. Nurses talk, they are a close knit group. So if it's something you haven't dabbled in before, this could be your opportunity to get exposure there. And you know, you could take a nurse in today and guess what? They could be turned three years from now. They could come to your city that they've never heard of in the middle of nowhere. Have a fantastic time, enjoy the hospital, enjoy the area. And they could say, Hey, I'm coming back. So it's an opportunity to really get exposure in this market. You know, and nurses talk all the time in these Facebook groups. No one's ever really heard of, you know, necessarily Manchester, New Hampshire. You know, we're not exactly New York city, you know, with all the shiny lights. You know, we're kind of a little sleeper city yet 100,000 people. But when I post on there, other nurses say, you know, what was your experience in Manchester? Did you like working for that hospital? So this could be an opportunity for you to, you know, get into that market where maybe you just didn't know how to get into the market or what to do as a first step. And I think for a lot of hosts, you know, you have a million cancellations, no one's happy right now. If you can get someone in your place and say it's a 13 week contract, you're getting paid for 13 weeks now you can kind of forget about it for awhile and we can get to the other side of this crisis. And hopefully things are better. So, you know, it can help pay your mortgage, pay your expenses, pay your operating expenses and utilities. But it's a way to kind of get in the door.
Evelyn: 28:15 Yeah, exactly. Donna, anything else that a brand new host into the travel nurse market should know.
Donna: 28:22 No, I think only other thing you should really know is that this is a real reputable group of people. These are people who have to pass background checks. This isn't like you're taking in a complete stranger that you know nothing about. You know, it's not easy to get a job in a hospital. You have to pass a rigorous amount of things to get into this field so you're not dealing with people who necessarily are not going to pay your rent or treat your placement disrespectfully in general. And it's accepted every rule. But in general, this is a good group of people to rent to. I've had, like I said, I've been doing it 10 years. I probably rented, I started to add it up the other day and I actually was astonish. I rented to almost over 200 travel nurses today. I mean that's a lot of nurses and like I said, I had one small small problem with one nurse at one time and that was just because she left her candles and there was just candles, smoke kind of covered and everything, but she didn't disagree with me. I took some money out of her deposit and she was more than amenable to the idea. So in general, this is a really good quality group of people to rent to and like I said, they pass background checks. See, I mean you, I don't think you could get any more of a qualified guest through any medium than nurses and doctors and people who work in this industry.
Evelyn: 29:35 Donna, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And like always I will see you in the Facebook group, The Hosting Journey. I will see you then on the other side of all of this.
Donna: 29:43 Thank you everyone. Stay safe.