To get an interview with Smart Stays Intl. CEO Mike Adams, you have to move fast. He is endlessly on the go: driving to new properties around Ontario, Canada, partnering with local developers, mentoring property managers on the most effective ways to build their businesses, all while growing his business into Ontario’s largest short-term rental property company. It’s about building value, but in a way unique to the geography.
“Our area is not inundated with vacation properties,” Adams points out. “It’s always been a vacation area, but the season is short. We believed it was possible to extend the season and make it profitable for property owners year-round.”
Seizing opportunities in the short-term rental market
“Through our experience in real estate and hospitality, we saw that short stays were appealing from a client-base and location perspective all year long,” he continues. “We were seeing growth in corporate stays in the area—engineers working on mid-length projects, for example. People moving into the area for a new job needed short-term accommodations before they could settle down, and nobody likes to stay in a hotel for more than a week or two. We believed we could offer them properties and services that hotels couldn’t match.”
There was one problem turning this vision into a reality: convincing potential partners in the Ontario area that a year-round business model was viable. A hands-on, boots-on-the-ground partnership and mentorship program turned out to be the answer.
Adams and his team travel regularly to explore new markets. They speak to property owners, developers and builders, and inspect their properties to make sure they’re desirable for short-term travelers. Smart Stays Intl. actively works with property owners and helps manage their clientele, from the time they book to the time they depart. But they also do much more.
“We show them better ways to acquire and invest, to make the most of their money, tax situations and retirement,” says Adams. “We help them get through the slow season when profits are lower. They are seeing excellent returns, and we’re creating partnerships along the way. We think of them as our representatives in the area.”
Employing top technology solutions
An ambitious program out in the field requires a highly-organized system in the home office. Adams says he has that covered by employing the top technology, from proper CRM databases to automated responses to social media. For channel management, he uses Kigo.
“Kigo is our central communications hub. It makes our connections vastly faster than any person could do alone. The way we can leverage multiple channels gives us a leg up over an individual. Channel management is like next-generation property management. It’s a must-have for any property manager who intends on growing their business and delivering competitive ROI to their home owners.”
The growth of Smart Stays Intl. is proof positive that their model is working. But, in the long run, how viable are properties in the Ontario area? This viable: Adams’ team has moved into the luxury short-term rental market, managing properties like 6,000 square foot homes that command rents of $2,000 a night.
Standing out from the competition
Smart Stays Intl. properties have standards that set them apart. They meet requirements that are in line with an executive stay: Wi-Fi, TVs in most bedrooms, high-end bedding, a décor consulting and staging service. And they are in sought-after locations, like waterfront homes.
“The home owners get a great experience, and passive income on investment that’s exceptional,” says Adams. “It really is an untapped market—all our test projects have yielded remarkable results. We’ve seen properties exceed $100,000 in revenue in one season.”
That’s one great example that the business model is on point. And Adams has another. His company is expanding its world, investing outside of Canada for the first time. Smart Stays Intl. has plans to open properties in Mexico, Croatia and Italy.
“We have, with the help of Kigo, the ability to expand anywhere we like. As long as we can bring value and good service to a location, we’re open to expanding our market there.”
Delivering value in every relationship
Adams often returns to the idea of bringing value. This drives not only the business, but his sense of purpose, as well.
“I see myself as just helping people…we don’t want to take away from what home owners can do by themselves. We look at every property to see if we can bring value. If not, why do it at all?”