While we were in Hepburn Springs for our Wonder Women Retreat we visited Maggies at Trentham, an Airbnb located at Trentham and run by Trevor Salmon and his partner Andrew. The tour inspired a lot of creativity in our group, so I thought it would be a great idea for Trevor to share the joy of Maggie’s and give you some pointers on the strategy and the business model they have used to make the property a delightful success.
Finding Maggies at Trentham
Maggies is a unique accommodation venue that Trevor and Andrew stumbled upon in Trentham, Victoria after moving from a double-storey Victorian house in Melbourne to an apartment. Both Trevor and Andrew collect furniture, so they had an abundance of furniture that had to go into storage.
They walked past the property one day and noticed a small sign on the fence saying that it was for lease from the Catholic church. They immediately thought it would be a property worth looking at. With its position in Trentham which is near Daylesford, Victoria, a popular area for weekend getaways, Trevor and Andrew thought the property could be the answer they were looking for.
They were a little sceptical, thinking that it was likely that the property would need some work done on the inside, or that it wouldn’t be suitable for some other reason. To their surprise, it had recently been renovated by the church. It is a large house that sleeps up to ten people and it had been on the rental market for six to eight weeks. Trevor said:
“It was there and available, and that started our negotiations to take it on board and open up an accommodation venue.”
Taking The Leap To Invest In Maggies Airbnb in Trentham
Setting up a property in Trentham like Maggie’s and turning it into an Airbnb requires a significant investment. Trevor and Andrew made sure to do their homework before taking the leap of investing in Maggies.
They spoke to two or three letting agents in Daylesford who specialise in looking after property on behalf of their clients, especially those that offer getaway-type accommodation. Daylesford has always been more popular than Trentham, but it has become extremely busy and Trentham is becoming a destination in its own right. Trevor and Andrew felt confident that they could proceed with their project.
Luckily the renovation of the bones of the house had been undertaken by the church. Trevor and Andrew’s investment was to style and furnish it. They added a few features over and above what had already been done, such as light fittings. And then they filled the house with the furniture they had placed in storage. It wasn’t enough, though, and they had to buy things like extra beds.
They made use of the markets in Ballarat, Daylesford and Castlemaine to purchase extra pieces of furniture and decorative pieces. They ended up spending forty to fifty thousand dollars to transform the house into a working property.
To amortise the cost of investment, Trevor and Andrew have taken a nine-year lease on the property. Over that time period, with an anticipated income, the initial investment didn’t appear to be outlandish.
The Concept Behind Maggie’s at Trentham
Maggie’s Airbnb in Trentham is a five-bedroom Edwardian/Victorian home with a large verandah around it. It was built by the Catholic church at the turn of the century. Andrew said there were two ways of recreating the style of the home: turning it into “Granny’s house” or doing what they did.
Trevor and Andrew chose to furnish and style the house in quite an eclectic way. They brought together a mixture of different things to create an eclectic feel that has guests wandering around and exploring the house. It is designed to give the guests an unforgettable experience.
Although Trevor and Andrew have been running the house for four years, it is still evolving. They continue to buy bits and pieces from the local markets and online antique dealers. Some of them are added to the house but others are put away to be used at a later date. Because they are not spending fortunes on the items they buy, they are not overly concerned about items being broken or stolen from the house (which has not happened yet).
Generating A Regular Income From An Airbnb Property
The first three to four months of Trevor and Andrew’s venture were a lot quieter than they had anticipated. But after six months they started seeing a sustainable income that confirmed for them they were on the right path. After the business had been running for twelve months they were doing very well.
A lot of their visitors have heard about the property from other people. Word-of-mouth marketing definitely is the best kind of marketing. Four years down the line and they are getting returning visitors who bring friends with them to enjoy the getaway, generating even more exposure for the property.
It helps to get bookings if you talk to a rental agent in the area who specialises in getaway properties. Maggie’s is listed on five or six different websites to maximise their exposure and increase the likelihood of someone wanting to rent the property for their weekend getaway.
Collaborating With Local Businesses
Trevor and Andrew were in Trentham for about two years before they opened Maggie’s Airbnb. Trentham is not a large village, so just by being there, you get to know the locals and the retail market. They are often getting favourable feedback from locals who have had visitors staying at Maggie’s when they have come to visit. They help to promote our property.
In return, they refer guests to local coffee shops and caterers. People who visited Trentham have sometimes requested caterers to cater a party or a corporate event at Maggie’s Airbnb. They have had some memorable 60th or 50th birthday celebrations.
The Journey From Renovation To Successful Airbnb
Trevor and Andrew’s story of how Maggie’s came to be is encouraging for anyone considering a similar journey. They found a property that was perfect for a getaway in a small village in a sought-after area. The renovations had already been completed by the Catholic church. All they had to do was add a few design features, furnish it with an assortment of interesting furniture, buy some beds and add decorative features that get people talking. Maggie’s is a wonderfully eclectic property that is worth exploring with a glass of wine.
If you would like to join the conversation or start a new one, join us on Facebook on our free She Renovates Facebook page. It is full of savvy renovators who are working hard to create a better life through renovating.