Historically, hospitality has plenty of room for improvement in terms of its wasteful nature. More recently, we were starting to see sustainability become less of an afterthought and more of a requirement.
To learn more about this trend, we linked up with Open Air Homes CEO Brad Greiner and Colin Koerin (Partnerships & Sustainability Consultant) and picked their brain. Before we get into the interview, here’s a little info about their company:
Managing homes throughout Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Open Air Homes is design-focused, comfort obsessed, and hospitality-driven. The mission: to deliver a high-end rental experience that incorporates the amenities of a full service hotel with the conveniences and privacy of a home. The focus: California outdoor living through impeccably designed spaces, setting them apart from the competitors in the market.
Putting it in the most simplest of terms, Open Air Homes strives to stand out as the premier home accommodation provider for thoughtful travelers looking to book an unrivaled home experience in destination locales throughout California, all while maintaining a superior level of service and hospitality for both their diverse visitors and homeowner partners alike.
Without further ado, here’s what we chatted about with them:
Public Goods: How was Open Air Homes born? How has the situation changed since then?
Open Air Homes: Open Air Homes began like most startups — filling a gap within an industry. This particular gap made itself known to Brad Greiner, founder and CEO, through necessity.
Owning a home in LA, Brad faced a financial situation where he feared he would be unable to afford his mortgage. Searching for ways to subsidize his income, Brad decided to put his home on the recently launched Airbnb platform. Brad quickly realized that at this time he was one of the first few to offer an entire high end home. As his booking calendar filled up, Brad recognized an opportunity to elevate what it meant to manage a rental property.
For the first few years, Open Air Homes solely prospered via word of mouth. Today the company is a legitimate brand, offering a wide scope of services to both homeowner partners and guests alike.
We aim to engage with our customers in ways that separate us from other small rental brands, focusing on providing a full service, SoCal experience. To reach our goal of becoming the premiere boutique rental company in Southern California, we recognize that we must set ourselves to a higher standard. Integrating our values, our love for design, and our move toward sustainability, Open Air Homes is on track to meet that goal.
PG: Tell us a little more about your values, your story and what you are aiming to accomplish in the guest experience?
OAH: Open Air Homes properties can be found in cities and neighborhoods across Los Angeles and Palm Springs. With plans to expand into Santa Barbara and Orange County, managing homes in such different, yet well-known SoCal destinations motivates us to provide our guests with more than just a beautiful home to hang out in.
Our guests travel for a variety of reasons and from a multitude of locations, but all of them come with the expectation of experiencing what it means to live the southern California lifestyle. We aspire to make that dream a reality by recommending products, services and experiences that align with what it means to be a SoCal resident, even if just for a few days or a few weeks.
Our values, which include being good neighbors, supporting our diversified communities, paying fair wages, implementing sustainable practices, and prioritizing equality and respect, guide our development as a business and how we interact with our guests, partners and community. Our obsession with design and our dedication to hospitality propels our passion for the industry as a whole. The intersection of these facets of our business have allowed us to become the entity we are today and has left us with an ability to offer even more to our guests and homeowners down the road.
Unlike the exponential growth of many of our competitors, Open Air Homes has had a more gradual growth. Our slower pace allows us to offer homes that are incredibly unique and evoke what it means to vacation in California.
The name of our brand was given to us by Brad’s client and now friend, Diane Patrone, who was inspired by our homes’ open, outdoor living spaces. The name stuck and it perfectly describes the vibe of our homes. Open Air Homes continues to showcase this seamless incorporation of indoor and outdoor living and is forever searching for new and exciting ways to emphasize the lifestyle associated with California culture.
PG: You mentioned on your site the commitment to paying fair wages. This is often not mentioned in the hospitality industry. Why do you think that is?
OAH: When I (Brad) first started in this business, the cleaning crews that came to my home came from companies that had a “lead” and it was a different group of cleaners each time. It very quickly began to feel wrong to me that I could sense that a lot of these hardworking individuals were earning far less than a livable wage.
It was in that moment that I learned the importance of paying a liveable wage for this valuable work for our business, and I started myself on a path toward knowing each and every cleaner who works in our homes, their families, their interests and their priorities. We put a lot of faith and trust in our cleaning team, and they work so hard for us, which is why I find it important to know them, show appreciation for their work and reward them well.
PG: What pain points did you aim to solve in the rental industry?
OAH: It’s disheartening to see the concerns surrounding the short-term rental industry in LA and beyond. Unfortunately, a few bad actors have tarnished the reputation of the industry as a whole by prioritizing profits above being considerate homeowners and guests. These misguided strategies often involve a lack of real human interaction on the business front. Open Air Homes adjusts for this common error by offering a 24 hour communication channel available to both guests and homeowners, ensuring our team is ready and able to respond to any problem that may arise during a stay.
Beyond this, we feel there is somewhat of a hole within the leadership of the industry. Airbnb has not done enough to address the issues outlined above, which is why we have decided to open up discussions with the higher ups, encouraging them to participate in finding solutions that help homeowners who miss the mark when trying to be thoughtful neighbors.
I (Brad) strongly believe that the LA economy will thrive through a combination of and relationship between homeowners, hotels, hostels and short-term and long-term rental properties. The concept of short-term rentals has become ingrained in the public ethos and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The focus on this new preferred way of traveling motivates us to create a better future for our rental properties and our guests while driving our commitment to be good and active members within our community.
PG: How have you been adapting to a more sustainable model?
OAH: Even though we manage multiple homes, we understand that there’s still one in particular that should be prioritized above the rest: the earth. As our society continues to degrade the health of the environments we depend on to survive, Open Air Homes is making the commitment to be part of the solution and not a contributor to the problem.
A huge characteristic of the SoCal mentality is living a clean and healthy life. As a SoCal brand, we want to encourage our guests to use quality products that are ethically sourced and made with non-harmful substances. Our partnership with Public Goods is just one of the many steps we are taking to promote this eco-friendly lifestyle. We are filling our homes with the best of the best, goods that are good for you and the planet!
PG: Tell us more about the management process. What are you looking to alleviate for the homeowners?
OAH: Open Air Homes’ full-service property management alleviates the stress of managing your own short-term rentals. With over eight years of experience, we have the resources and knowledge to provide top-to-bottom service for our homeowner partners. Our onboarding process incorporates our knack for interior and exterior design to prepare homes for both long-term and short-term stays.
It’s not an understatement when we say we will handle it all. We take full responsibility of the entire rental process, from making in-home design suggestions to marketing via multiple social media and booking platforms to cleaning and servicing the home after each stay. We stock the homes with goods and products we know the guests will love, while handling maintenance issues and last minute requests for homeowners.
At the end of the day, our goal is to make this as easy as possible for everyone involved. Our homeowner partners are often high-level executives who want to monetize their property without having to worry about managing the nitty gritty details themselves. That’s where we step in. We cater to the needs of both homeowners and guests, streamlining the process and providing an unforgettable experience.
PG: Do you aim to support other local businesses through your guest experience?
OAH: We recognize the importance of supporting local businesses in every community we manage a home in. Many of our properties in Venice and Santa Monica are walking distance from family-owned shops and restaurants, businesses that predominantly survive through word of mouth and repeat customers. They have a history and connection with the neighborhoods they reside in. As good neighbors ourselves, we want to respect and promote that association.
We do this via our Local Pages where we showcase our favorite local spots to guests. We also partner with local businesses that align with our brand values, placing their products in our homes while amplifying their messaging to our guests directly.
More often than not, these local businesses play a role in the formation and character of the city they are located in. Venice Beach is the perfect example of this. The unique and colorful history provides this idyllic neighborhood with the quirky character that people from all over the world flock to witness firsthand. Supporting these local businesses therefore is the most sustainable way to not only boost local economies but continue to provide these cities with the culture and personality that drive others to visit.
PG: What is a good neighbor commitment?
OAH: Every short-term rental guest at Open Air Homes is required to acknowledge our “good neighbor commitment” before booking. Guests are pledging to respect the community in which they inhabit short-term. This commitment consists of agreeing to no loud noises after 10 p.m. and a cap on group sizes, encouraging guests to treat these rentals as if they were their own homes. Our team gives personalized attention to both our homeowner partners and our guests via our 24-hour a day live communication channels that brings peace of mind to homeowners and neighbors.
We are also hyper-aware of the cultural biases inherent in the rental vacation market. We never discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual preferences, disability, age, veteran status or national origin at any time. Open Air Homes is committed to getting this right! The long-term viability of short-term rentals depends on the entire industry’s commitment to being positive members of the community. This is the first step of many that Open Air Homes is planning to become a community leader in the cities in which we operate.
PG: Thankfully, sustainability is a seemingly never-ending goal post that continues to challenge everyone to do better. Where do you see the future of sustainable hospitality practices?
OAH: Because consumers are becoming more aware of their personal environmental impacts, I think the general population will motivate — if not eventually force — the hospitality industry to address sustainability issues within current business models. We are all too aware that this is an often gradual process, but luckily we are seeing more and more examples of it everyday.
COVID-19 has accelerated this development by requiring businesses to prioritize health and cleanliness to a degree that has never been seen before. I won’t lie: restructuring a business to meet certain environmental standards is not as easy as it looks sometimes. But that’s why it’s important to ensure eco-consciousness is ingrained within the foundation of a company from the start. By making this a priority, the hospitality industry as a whole can play an integral part in mitigating our impact on the environment around us.
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