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Airbnb Comes to Senior Living

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By Steve Moran

Almost two years ago I wrote this article: “A Non-Traditional Way to Fill Empty Apartments”, where I suggested it would be a cool thing for senior living communities to list their unfilled units at Airbnb as a way to increase income, create a more dynamic and intergenerational feel and break the island-like isolation that many communities have.

To the best of my knowledge no one has tried it, but I still think it is a great idea.

Boomer bnb

A couple of months ago Ray Costello reached out to tell me they had launched a new company called “bmrbnb”, wondering if I would be interested in writing about it. My immediate thought was “cool, it’s about time”, though I was still thinking it should be done on the airbnb platform.  

I didn’t have it quite right.

The Short-Stay Problem

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to stay in the guest apartment of some senior living communities and the experience has been . . . I am not sure exactly how to put this gently . . . far from ideal. Mostly just little stuff -- the internet didn’t work, there was no cream for the coffee, the room I stayed in was next to the dumpster, the walls didn’t have any decorations on them.

Nothing exactly to keep me from getting a good night's sleep but more of a Motel 6 experience than a Ritz Carlton experience, not even a Hilton or Marriott experience. Honestly, if that were my only data point for those communities, I would not come back.

Back to boomer bnb

In talking with Ray, he pointed out that one of the big problems that senior living communities have is that when they open up their guest units, those staying in them have experiences that are similar to mine, which is not such a good thing. He made the point that senior living community operators are not hoteliers and don’t really have the expertise and experience to create a “hotel-like” experience for their guests.

And yet creating that kind of experience could mean the difference between getting or losing another move-in.

Managing Your Guest Rooms

Today, bmrbnb is focused on helping senior living communities manage their guest apartments to get maximum benefit, similar to how Airbnb helps their homeowners create a great experience for renters. They then manage the whole booking process and make sure that when a guest shows up to stay in one of your units they will have a Ritz experience.  

They will also help you with charging for those stays or offering complimentary stays, making the process much easier for your marketing team.

As they grow, there would appear to be additional opportunities to allow residents to book and stay in other communities your organization manages and, while not really designed for this purpose today, someday maybe a true Airbnb-style platform that would attract travelers.

The best reason for using bmrbnb is to showcase your community to prospective residents and referral sources . . . and that occasional writer who wants to stay in your community.

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