Convert a small motel to AirBnB?

11 Replies

Been searching but can't quite find what I'm looking for.  There is a open motel with 12 units that is run like a typical motel, except with someone who manages the bookings and cleaning from offsite (no main office).  Each unit is either two queens or a queen and a pullout.  No kitchen, just microwave and small fridge.

Thinking about updating all the rooms (either individual looks or all uniform) and run it as 12 airbnbs.  

Can you tell me if 1) this is something feasible, and 2) possible pros/cons as well as things I should know/ask?

Considering maybe keeping one unit as an onsite property manager if needed.  

Appreciate the help in advance!


@Dan Avitua Can you explain the "why?"  AirBnB tends to attract folks looking for something bigger and/or more amenities than a hotel.  Do you think you'd make more returns listing it on AirBnB and paying their cut?

Who stays there now and what town is it in? If the existing clientele is motel clientele, you would have to make substantial upgrades to get the extra money out of expectant Airbnb rates and you would have to know that those upgrades and higher-end amenities would bring more of an Airbnb clientele. Not that Airbnb is better or worse, but much more expectations from them and reviews that could tank the place when a motel churns money and is what it is, but has more staff.

@Jonathan Greene   It's not the typical shoddy motel clientele that you would think. It's actually in a great tourist area that is getting more popular/busy (almost too busy).  Agreed - It's in great condition but the rooms definitely need an upgrade.  

AirBnB would allow this type of rental, right?  If I owned the whole building I can AirBnb each unit?

Should I be concerned with any type of zoning different that what it is now?  

Sorry for all the questions - just trying to cover my bases.

@Alex S. Really it would just be to increase the bottom line.  The units in this motel have perfect views of the lake and sunset.  It's a draw in this area. My thought was to update all the units to almost a boutique/chic style/contemporary style from what it currently is now - 70's furniture - and maximize the occupancy.

@Dan Avitua it sounds like it could work, but you would want to confirm with the town that you wouldn't need a different license or if new rules wouldn't apply in the area. You will earn less than standard Airbnb since the rooms are all near each other or attached, but if they are nice and you can add some community amenities, it sounds like it has potential.

This is a really interesting concept to me. It just seems like we are blurring the lines of boutique hotel 12-unit hotel vs. STR. I'm not sure the motel realities (shared walls, tiny bathroom, boring rectangle shape) could demand a high enough price per night. I love the idea of buying an old motel, renovating it, and then charging higher rates...but I don't see AirBnB being the right clientele.

I have done my share of hotel stays for my W-2 job and I hate the slow check-in process, so the plan to eliminate the office and book online sounds brilliant.  You might have to train guests...because motel guests typically expect to walk up to the counter and buy a room.  I'd love to hear how it goes!

Hey Dan! I own a 13 room ski lodge in Vermont that was previously run as a hotel and I now run as an STR. When I bought it I considered renting the rooms individually, but I didn't want to deal with 13 different guests at a time. I rent the entire place to large groups, one at a time, and it's going fantastic. People love being able to rent the whole place out and it's pretty easy to manage. It's lodge-style (you can see a link to my listing on my BP profile), so it's a single building that has a great room, game room, I added a kitchen, etc. and it basically functions as a huge house. I get that your situation is different: I have thought about buying a motel like what you are looking at, and what I would do in that circumstance would probably be to (zoning permitting, etc.) put on an addition that includes a large common living room and a kitchen/dining space, and again rent to 1 large group at a time. I am doing about 2X the revenue that the previous owner did as a 13 room lodge, as 1 large STR, so I strongly recommend going that way if at all possible! And of course, if the numbers make sense in your market. :)

Happy to chat with you to share more learnings if you'd like!