Vacation Rentals Done Right
When his own rental became a headache, Ryan Danz saw an opportunity. Now in its third year, Air Concierge is disrupting the home rental industry, bringing comprehensive services and a startup ethos to the Airbnb management experience.
As the owner of a vacation home, Ryan Danz knows well the myriad issues and headaches which can arise when renting out a second property. Danz, a San Diego native, spent years relying on a makeshift team of local cleaners and handymen to tend to his Lake Tahoe vacation home, heading all the managerial and operational responsibilities associated with the property’s numerous yearly rentals by himself, from his primary home hundreds of miles away.
Already exhausted and frustrated by this process, Danz said the last straw came in 2014 when a team of developers who had rented his Lake Tahoe house for the weekend sent Danz a worried text at 11 p.m. upon their arrival one Friday night. The keys weren’t in the lockbox as they should have been, the text said. With hardly any reception, the developers had been sitting outside the home for nearly twenty minutes, in the middle of a worsening snowstorm.
“They were frazzled,” said Danz. “And I was certainly frazzled after realizing the previous guests had checked out and brought the keys with them. Not having a local manager, I had to call my cleaner, who drove all of four miles in a snowstorm, which took her almost 30 minutes. Ultimately, the guys got in and the rest of the weekend was fine. But it was a pretty intense couple of hours.” As they mulled the incident over the next few days, Danz and his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Claire Anton, came to a realization.
“We definitely need professional help,” Danz said. However, as they began contacting local property management companies, Danz said it quickly became clear that the professional help available to property owners looking to rent out their homes was largely out-of-date. Companies often insisted on arduous contracts with inconvenient blackout dates and were utilizing mainly outof-date booking sites to find renters, oblivious or unwilling to accept the exciting new technology flooding the industry.
“It all just seemed really old-fashioned to us,” said Danz. “That’s when we got the idea that a more tech savvy and 21st-century service was needed.” As a test, Danz and Anton began cold-calling local rental owners, curious to see if they were experiencing similar frustrations and if they might be open to a more updated approach to renting out their properties. “People were saying yes by the dozens,” said Danz. “That’s kind of when we [realized] there was a real need for this.”
Danz and Anton were soon using their Lake Tahoe home as a prototype, testing out various services and eventually coming up with a model that went above and beyond what traditional property management services offered. Soon thereafter, in 2015, they officially founded Air Concierge. Culling on their experience as renters, Danz and Anton focused on offering an incredibly comprehensive array of services and putting together a dedicated, local staff for each area they serviced to help oversee every step of the renting process. Air Concierge was also quick to embrace sites like Airbnb, broadening their market of potential renters. “L.A. being the behemoth of a city that it is, meant that soon on a daily basis we were being contacted by homeowners wanting and needing help getting their homes listed, sometimes even furnished/designed and rented,” Danz said. “It’s been a whirlwind of sorts ever since.”
Air Concierge clients can expect professional photography of their home, on-site staffing to visit the property both when guests are present as well as in-between reservations, a 24/7 team overseeing booking inquiries and reservations, and a staff of cleaning and maintenance workers personally vetted by Air Concierge, among other amenities. Air Concierge also offers an array of services to help increase the cost of nightly bookings, including 5-star concierge services for guests and interior design help to make homes more guest-friendly. “The reality is these homes become boutique hotels in a way,” Danz said. “We’re basically replacing the bellman, the concierge, the front desk, the valet. We do it all.”
Since opening for business, Danz said Air Concierge hasn’t slowed down, and currently manages 250 properties in California, from San Francisco to Orange County and Los Angeles. Recently, Danz has expanded to servicing properties in Malibu as well, bringing on a special local team as he does for every location. And while Air Concierge has seen tremendous success over the last few years, Danz says it has been important always to retain that disrupter, start-up mindset with which the company was founded. “I think it’s two things that enable us more than anything to grow and succeed above all else,” he said. “We are insanely focused on our owner-clients and their satisfaction, as well as our guests-travelers. We are constantly in a start-up mode even though we have been around for almost a half decade and have become the market leader in this space.”
Business is currently booming, with hundreds of leads a month, but Danz says it has remained important for Air Concierge to work only with homeowners who align with the company’s renting philosophy, always prizing profits by making sure to steer clear of overbooking, which can often be detrimental to a property. “The best clients are the ones that say, I don’t need every night booked if that means letting my house breathe, letting my neighbors breathe,” he said. And while their homes are breathing, owners can rest assured that Air Concierge will still be watching. They schedule the local staff who are familiar with each property to visit between reservations, not just during them, ensuring everything is as the owners left and fixing any problems which might have arisen. “We have local staff at every home, and that’s not just cleaners and handymen,” Danz said. “That’s actual Air Concierge staff who go in and out of the property between reservations and truly understand the homes. They’re the eyes and ears of the owners, and I think that’s important because often our competitors are relying just on cleaners to report back. That’s just not good enough in our minds.” Danz said it’s dedication which has earned trust of hundreds of California property owners over the last three years. “I think that’s what makes us better, communicating with our owners on a higher level,” he said. “That’s how they can go around the world and leave their homes to us. While they’re not [actually] at their property, they have the next best thing.” MM