Burning the Boat

“Oh god, there’s poo coming out of the drain.”

It was December 2016 when our very first guest had just checked into our first property. Needless to say, we were extremely excited. Shortly after we arrived back at our home/office, we got a call from the guest saying something didn’t seem right with the shower and asking if one of us could come take a look. Michael, my co-founder and WanderJaunt’s CEO, volunteered and headed back to the property.

When Michael got to the bathroom, he immediately noticed a half-inch of brackish water in the tub. Not knowing how to proceed, he called me and Andres (our other co-founder) on FaceTime to help him diagnose what was going on. We’d spent the previous 2 weeks meticulously outfitting the property with our furniture, painting the walls, installing new light fixtures and generally making the place as inviting as possible. During that time, we’d had no issues whatsoever with the plumbing during the 8+ hours a day we were there.

Michael tried flushing the toilet. I’ll never forget the terror in his voice, “Oh god, there’s poo coming out of the drain.”

The 3 of us had just quit our cushy jobs at DoorDash and I’d be lying if at that moment a part of me didn’t want to be back in San Francisco wrangling data instead of plumbers. Needless to say, we forged ahead and leaned on the contacts we’d made so far in Phoenix. Luckily, we found someone that could come immediately and ended up getting had the blockage removed within the hour.

“You went to Berkeley so you could clean toilets?”

For the first 6 months, Andres, Michael and I cleaned hundreds of toilets and changed hundreds of beds. I can’t tell you the number of times I got questions from friends or family that ran along the lines of “You went to Berkeley so you could clean toilets?” To the three of us though, there was no better way to learn and understand the pains a homeowner faces while running a short-term rental than to do it ourselves. Today, this is one of the core principles at WanderJaunt – no matter who you are, no matter what role you’re hired for, no one is above the manual labor required to ensure an amazing experience for our guests and homeowners alike.

Through our experience, we know how hard it is to run a short-term rental.

  • 24/7 service for a guest means sacrificing your own plans so you can be always available.
  • Multiple stays a week means upwards of 10 hours a week spent cleaning the same property from top to bottom to ensure the place is spotless for each and every guest.
  • Travel plans rarely line up perfectly with a 4pm check in and an 11am checkout. Inflexible systems lead to stressed guests.
  • Pricing a property on a nightly basis to maximize revenue is a problem that hotels pay consultants millions to figure out and is HARD to do right.

Combining the experiences from our journey over the past year with the knowledge we have from scaling DoorDash from a technology and operations perspective, we’ve figured out a few systems that help us scale while continuing to exceed both our guest and our homeowner partners expectations.

Over the past year, we’ve also come to realize that there is a complete lack of information available to homeowners that show how short-term rentals perform in the Phoenix / Scottsdale / Tempe area. We plan on sharing some of the insights we’ve gleaned each month with the broader community and you. You can find our first report below.

If you’d like to learn more and/or if you own a property in the area, we’d love the chance to chat and help you earn more money while taking all the hassle off your plate.