The Hosting Masterclass by Sarah Andrews | Origins Guide Community
As founder of the Origins Guide my driving vision has been to create a place to discover and celebrate unique hosted homes with a story to tell – helping inspire travellers to find these and building a community of passionate hosts.
Recently, we’ve seen a real change in the hosted home market – there’s an inspiring new and more recognisable breed of micro hoteliers. We want to find out who and what is helping to drive this.
Sarah Andrews, founder of The Hosting Masterclass is decoding the art of the perfect stay and enabling a new generation of hosts to unleash their talents. Hosted homes are coming into their own. These are destinations in themselves which entice and inspire customers to experience a unique stay. Driven by the home, not necessarily the destination, hosted homes are an emerging force in the boutique accommodation market.
Working as a spatial scientist in London, Sarah knew she needed a change. But what? She travelled the world for three years with no clear plan. What does one do when they’ve travel around the world? They reverse direction and sail back around. Sounds logical. Yes, Sarah learnt how to sail, bought a boat and sailed the world. A long story short – she found herself shipwrecked off a remote Mexican coastline. Sarah needed a new plan.
What stuck with her was the adage, “you should be doing for a living what you just love to do in your spare time.” This guided Sarah to ‘dryer ground’ and on a pathway to studying design.
After starting a design and marketing studio, the feeling of desk life struck once again. Sarah decided to switch gears and purchase a tiny holiday shack. Utilising the network Sarah built over the years, she set out to develop Captains Rest – a fishing shack on the west coast of Tasmania. It became a hit. Practice through doing and a myriad of experiences unlocked the hosting formula behind destination hosted homes. What started as Sarah giving informal advice has grown into the hosting masterclass.
The Origins Guide had a chat to Sarah to delve into the hosting masterclass, industry trends, challenges and what inspires her.
The Hosting Masterclass by Sarah Andrews has been quite a hit
I’ve been running and evolving the hosting masterclass for 3 years and have taught about 2000 students. It’s been such a huge undertaking, but the sheer energy of all the students around me surpassing their wildest dreams, drives me on to teach and deliver my school to even more. Everyone deserves their dreams to come true, and being a part of that is one of the best feelings in the world.
What drove you to study design?
I’ve always been passionate about design but scared by the prospect. I felt drawn to do something more ‘stable’ but it wasn’t my passion. You really need to be doing something that is your passion and hobby. Getting older has taught me this – hence going back to school.
Sounds like corporate life wasn’t for you?
Working in traditional roles, being at a desk and the ‘9-5’ just doesn’t do it for me. I wanted to work in a more dynamic environment. Time becomes more of a precious commodity the older you get. Surely there’s a smarter way to work than sacrificing time for money.
What drove you to start the hosting master class?
I was excited that people enjoyed my creativity and ideas. Also, that people would pay me for this – breaking down and escaping the time equals money paradigm. Coming from a science background I wanted to develop a formulaic approach – an evidence based, testing methodology to shape the curriculum.
It worked – people started knocking at my door. The actual workshops started due to the sheer number of people that wanted to learn. Using my methodology and facilitation has helped to unlock the micro-hotelier in my students.
What changes are you seeing in the hosted home market?
What’s really interesting is I did a pole recently and the majority of respondents said that the stay was the most important part of the trip. The stay as opposed to the destination is becoming the driving factor.
What’s driving the importance of stay over destination?
It’s both the quality of the stay and the marketing presence. Big hotels always had the ability to get press. Now hosted homes are just as powerful. Social media has been a game changer – not only allowing direct outreach but making the process of getting publicity easier.
Our students have become absolute forces in the industry. I saw a list of 100 great stays recently and about 98 of these were my students. I travel around the world (or used to) and now I open up magazines and see students showcasing their homes. The power has shifted from these big hotels to micro hoteliers.
I see that ‘finding your story’ is a central part of the hosting master class – tell me what you mean?
The class covers 11 chapters – so it’s comprehensive, however it starts with unlocking the story. We delve into this in a practical way to unlock the story and the micro-hotelier in each student. This defines the strategy and unlocks the more pragmatic parts of creating the perfect experience.
What’s the common challenge you see amongst hosts?
There’s two main challenges. First of all, the “I’m a super host already” mindset. The feedback I receive is that the course helps to unlock new perspectives. It’s not uncommon for my students to generate six-figure returns after attending the class.
Speaking of business, the other challenge I see is hosts being able to form the right team and learning how to have the difficult but necessary conversations. It’s hard to have conversations around performance, setting expectations and formalising roles – such as developing a professional housekeeping team. We’re working more with helping hosts manage these situations effectively.
Is social media creating a uniformed look, leading to a certain banality across the industry?
It’s an interesting point. You look at some listings and they’ve seen a look and copied it. We really educate our students to use their story and pull the design themes together from that.
I recently had an architect attend my class. The feedback I received was that my ideas and process mirrored the architecture and design process. It was re-affirming to hear that my students get a mini course in design school thinking.
Will we ever break free from calling every home an AirBnb and recognise micro hoteliers and boutique accommodation providers?
Gosh I hope so. Airbnb gave us our start, but now I think we are all on a different path.