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Meet Frontdesk: Project Manager

Meet Michael, one of Frontdesk’s Professional Nomads (Project Managers). Michael has only been with Frontdesk for less than a year and already embodies all of our core values. Michael enjoys exploring Frontdesk cities when he’s not creating new spaces for our guests. Read more about Michael and what he does at Frontdesk below.

Tell us about your role and what brought you to Frontdesk.

I’m a Project Manager, but have also played the role of Sales, TaskForce Manager, and City Manager in the past months. My main responsibilities include the procurement and logistics of furniture/decor to be placed in our units. I then work with a team of local hires to manage moving, furniture assembly, art installation, and trash removal. The only thing left to do after that is to get a local team of photographers to capture the units so I can finish the behind-the-scenes work of passing it off to listings.

I originally heard about Frontdesk through Carolina Martinez (Director of Development & Design). We met over two years ago at a bbq at a mutual friend’s house while she herself was still a Project Manager. She told me about the job and all of her experiences on the road and I remember being in awe of how amazing it sounded. I gave her my contact info and for the next two years she always kept me up to date on all the job opportunities. Then one day, after I had spent a couple months working as a carpenter in the dead of winter, she reached out and said “Would you still be interested in the project management position?” Without a second thought, I said yes! Within three weeks, I was given my offer letter, put my notice into my boss, and flew out to Tucson, AZ with nothing but two suitcases to start my training.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

I enjoy the project management position mostly because of all the different people I get to work with, in and outside of the company. I also like seeing a project start from nothing and by the end of it knowing that I did my best to produce not just a beautiful stay for our guests but also provided support and resources to our listings team, city staff, and guest experience team to help them continue the future success of that stay.

What have you learned about the hospitality industry?

I have a newfound respect for the challenges the hospitality industry faces. It can be difficult to supply all the work that goes into making a dwelling for someone to stay in. From the procurement, logistics, and labor into furnishing a unit to then maintaining that unit so that each guest has a five star experience. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it when we see those five-star ratings come in.

What is your favorite Frontdesk city to explore -- any local experiences you'd recommend to our guests?

It comes as a shock to most people, but my current favorite FD city I have visited was Pittsburgh! This city is so photogenic and has a lot of great pockets of fun and excitement.

I specifically suggest people to visit the Lower Lawrenceville area. There are a ton of great coffee shops/retail stores to visit during the day and some amazing restaurants/dive bars to explore at night!

Best travel tip?

Always travel light and be open to new opportunities. Some of my best travel experiences started without a plan and just a backpack. If you travel light, you’ll be able to beat the lines and cost of a checked bag. If you move without a plan, you might be surprised by just how adaptable you can be and how much more fun the ride will be.

Since Frontdesk is a work-from-anywhere company, where is your "home base"?

I get to experience a rare position at Frontdesk where my role is one hundred percent travel. This makes my home base wherever I am.

When you're not busy being a Frontdesk rockstar, what do you like to do in your free time?

I really like to take photos/videos and wander around whatever city I am in at the time.

Bucketlist place to visit and why?

I really want to visit New Zealand next. 

I’ve read about the culture and lifestyle there and I can’t help but feel like my personality would mesh with the people there.

Meet Frontdesk: Senior Guest Experience Manager

Meet Kimberly, one of Frontdesk’s Senior Guest Experience Specialists and Cleveland Guest Experience Specialist. Kim embodies all of Frontdesk’s core values but especially “Wow Our Guests”.  Our brand reputation is critical for long-term success and it’s built one guest at a time. Without Kim, our guests would not have a delightful human experience. In Kim’s free time, she enjoys traveling (she’s been to 48 states and plans to knock out all 50!) and is a wizard at home improvements. Read more about Kim and what she does at Frontdesk below.

Tell us about your role, what do you do at Frontdesk?

Senior Guest Experience Specialist and GES for [Cleveland]. I oversee the guest experience of 11 Frontdesk cities and 7 GES’s. I help out with any escalations that arise that may require further direction so that our guests leave with a satisfying experience.

How long have you been working at Frontdesk?

I started in January, 2020.

What were you doing before Frontdesk and what brought you here?

Prior to Frontdesk, I was a General Manager for Hilton for 12 years. I left the hotel industry in 2019 to open up a kids developmental gym for children on the spectrum. I found that I missed the action of hotel life and was hired part-time as the Guest Experience Specialist for Houston. I quickly fell in love with the industry and the culture at Frontdesk. After COVID shut my business down indefinitely, I took a full-time role with Frontdesk.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The unique day-to-day experiences that arise. There could be 12 inches of snow in a city one day that you are handling guest interactions for and the next, it’s messaging guests about a tiger on the loose in Houston (real Frontdesk event).

What has been your biggest learning experience since starting at Frontdesk?

The short-term rental industry is ever-changing and evolving in different cities. Learning the ins and outs and how they differ from the hotel industry has been quite a learning experience.

What surprised you about working at Frontdesk?

The culture at Frontdesk is so alive yet so remote. When you meet co-workers in person for the first time it feels like you are already family.

What advice would you give to future employees of Frontdesk?

View each day as an opportunity to learn something new and contribute your ideas. It is through your growth that Frontdesk becomes stronger and the leader of the industry. 

What are your hobbies/what do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy reading, hiking, traveling, and home improvement.

Favorite Frontdesk city and why? Any recommendations of places to visit in the area?

Saint Louis is always a great place to visit. The Arch is amazing to look at and the food is mouthwatering. Add in the free zoo and a river cruise and it makes for a fun time for the whole family.

Bucket list place to visit and why?

Alaska and Hawaii are my last two states to visit in the US!

Ireland – heritage homeland

Announcing Frontdesk’s New CEO

Frontdesk Co-founder Kyle Weatherly transitions to Board Director, with Jesse DePinto becoming the new CEO of Frontdesk

By: Kyle Weatherly
Co-Founder, Frontdesk

Almost six years ago, on a cold December day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my wife, Ruthie, and I had just returned from spending a year overseas. We may have been tourists, but we weren’t living like tourists.

After that trip and spending a year jumping from country to country, vacation rental to vacation rental, I felt that consumer travel would soon change forever. The opportunity to redefine hospitality for a new generation of travelers was clear.

After a few conversations with Jesse, a former technology vendor at my first company, we launched Frontdesk with a single unit as a short-term rental in our hometown and immediately started booking. In January. In Milwaukee. We knew we were on to something.

February 28, 2017 — Frontdesk hosted their first guest, in their first unit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So, Jesse and I sat down and wrote a mission statement that included lines that we still live by today. We aspired to build something meaningful. A business that could generate opportunities for many. A culture that inspires, one that aims to put team success above individual success. To “Clean the toilets” or whatever it takes for the team to succeed. We began reaching out to landlords in city centers and offering a service for managing their flexible stays in an efficient and scalable way, enabled by our technology, and our desire to serve.   

With a focus on systematizing processes, wowing the guests, and hospitality, we figured we could take this idea and build something big together. From there, we started to grow. People liked the idea, our team started growing, and with sweat and sacrifice, a new, customer-obsessed hospitality company was born. And today, that company has grown to over 30 U.S. markets with more than 1000 units across 150+ buildings and counting.

August 2022 — Frontdesk’s newest units in Birmingham, Alabama, and Cleveland, Ohio.

Since those early days, Frontdesk has served over 400,000 guests and earned an average satisfaction rating of 4.7 out of 5.0. Even through a pandemic, Frontdesk remained strong, growing while others could not and striving to continue with a mission of getting our hands dirty while helping travelers enjoy cities the way locals do. Due to good fortune, financial discipline, and intense efforts from our entire team, our company has never been in a stronger position even in these most challenging times.

In our earliest conversations, Jesse and I had always planned for him to eventually lead and take the company to the next level. Over the last 5+ years, we have worked tirelessly to land in 30+ markets and grew to 1000+ units. Now for the next five years, we get to execute on the fun part, expanding within our current markets and building a residential hospitality brand in the process.

September 2022 — Frontdesk embraces remote culture with 300+ employees scattered across the country.

Jesse has been leading the day-to-day operations for some time, so, more than anything, this is simply our job titles catching up with reality. Today is an exciting inflection point in the company’s history, and Jesse’s arrival into the CEO role marks a turning point that we are entering a new phase of growth for the company.

It has been an honor to lead Frontdesk, and I am thrilled that the board has unanimously appointed Jesse as the next CEO. I believe Jesse will fully realize the vision we have laid out over these past five-plus years and make Frontdesk the most beloved hospitality brand of this generation.

Yours truly,
Kyle Weatherly

Meet Frontdesk: Guest Experience Training Manager

Meet Rachael Fields, Frontdesk’s Guest Experience Training Manager. Rachael is one of the Frontdesk OG’s (4 years and running) and even created Frontdesk’s training program! Rachael continuously embodies all of Frontdesk’s core values and is often the first impression of Frontdesk culture when it comes to the Guest Experience team. In Rachael’s free time, she enjoys studying the stars and is our very own in-house astrologist. Read more about Rachael and what she does at Frontdesk, below.

Tell us about your role, what do you do at Frontdesk?

I am currently the Guest Experience Training Manager. I am the longest-running GES on the Guest Experience team and I built and created Frontdesk’s training program from the beginning. Now, I train and onboard all new Guest Experience Specialists when they start with Frontdesk.

How long have you been working at Frontdesk?

4 years, pre-covid, as a contractor before Empower – June 2018

What were you doing before Frontdesk and what brought you here?

I came to Frontdesk with a 15+ year background in call center customer service and escalation management in the medical and prescription insurance industry. I came across this “too good to be true” opportunity that would pay me to do customer service from home. Frontdesk’s original GES, Angela, spent 2 hours on the phone convincing me it was a legit job. I’m super glad she did!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I’m incredibly proud to have trained every GES on our current team, and I very much enjoy being their champion and their cheerleader in everything I do.

What has been your biggest learning experience since starting at Frontdesk?

Frontdesk has taught me the most about how to better communicate with all types of people. When I’m training someone the first thing I ask is “How do you best learn?” With the experience I’ve gained building and finetuning Frontdesk’s customer service training program to fit all kinds of remote learning styles, I’ve also been able to finetune how I communicate and deliver information to people internally and in my personal life.

What surprised you about working at Frontdesk?

Everyone always talks about the culture of Frontdesk. I was surprised the most by how much freedom I had in helping to create the way the company worked. Leaders had open doors and active ears to listen to all the wild ideas and suggestions that I had. It has been fascinating to watch how the company and the culture has evolved and continued to withstand the test of times. Our culture and the leaders’ ability to nurture it had a large hand in keeping us afloat during the beginning of the pandemic.

What advice would you give to new Frontdeskians?

If I had any advice to newcomers is this: Frontdesk thrives on fresh perspectives and new ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. Breathe and take it one moment at a time, there’s nothing too big we can’t solve together.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a freelance graphic designer, with a special emphasis on informational design. I do a lot of digital art content for social media.  I also love listening to music. My main passion is studying and sharing my knowledge of astrology with those who are as fascinated by the stars as I am.

Favorite Frontdesk city and why? Any recommendations?

Milwaukee will always have a very special place in my heart. We only had 3 cities when I started (MKE, CLT, and IND), and I covered MKE for the first year and a half of my Frontdesk career. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit headquarters (not the one above the clinic, the current one) and meet the local group there. If I could recommend anywhere to visit, it’s Frontdesk headquarters. The people are amazing, they greet you with a hug and a table tennis match. There’s a plethora of snacks and puppies. Feeling the Frontdesk culture in the flesh, there’s nothing quite like it.

Your bucket-list place to visit?

I have always wanted to go to Greece. I find their culture and their landscape enchanting.

Announcing Frontdesk’s Redefined Partner Success Team

Frontdesk is excited to announce the transition of the Portfolio Management team to the Partner Success team! This initiative exemplifies the shift in focus from traditional master lease agreements with multifamily partners to revenue-sharing agreements and White Label management services. With this new focus, we are motivated to maximize revenue sharing opportunities and increase NOI for our partners across the Frontdesk portfolio.

What does this mean for our current partners?

There will be no change in terms of the service we provide to our current partners. Frontdesk will continue to provide white-glove management services. This newly formed team will enhance the Frontdesk standard. Our concentration on developing a more streamlined and revenue-conscious business model enables the Partner Success team to focus on developing new and improved ways to benefit our partners.

What are the differences between a Portfolio Manager and a Partner Success Manager?

Our number one goal is to keep our partners happy. This transition enables the Partner Success Team to expand and nurture this responsibility. Not only is the Partner Success Manager the liaison between property management and Frontdesk’s guest experience team, but they are also focused on collaborating with multifamily property owners to optimize revenue for both parties.

Portfolio Manager

  • Management of Traditional Lease Models and Renewals
  • Onboarding Utilizing Partner Portals
  • Liaising between property and guest experience
  • Portfolio evaluation, negotiating renewals

Partner Success Manager

  • Management of Traditional Leases, Third-Party Management, and Revenue Sharing Agreement
  • Onboarding partners specific to the form of their agreement
  • Liaising between property and guest experience
  • Analyzing revenue data, market and listing information, and other data in order to make recommendations to improve NOI for ownership
  • Evaluation of current partnerships and possible conversion to a more profitable business agreement
  • Reporting revenue and paying out RevShare partners, in addition to making recommendations for improvement

What is Revenue Sharing (RevShare) and how is it different from a traditional lease model?

We approach each opportunity uniquely and specifically tailor RevShare agreements to maximize NOI for our partners by sharing a percentage of revenue in lieu of monthly rent. RevShare is ideal for multifamily property owners who wish to earn above market rate while simultaneously improving their occupancy. With great reward comes great risk, and our RevShare partners share more risk than our traditional master lease partners. The Partner Success Team is there to support, advise, and improve partner takeaway.

While there is risk associated with a RevShare agreement, our highly-specialized Revenue Management team and proprietary pricing algorithm continually optimizes nightly rates. We outperform the competition by an average of 16.5%.

*Average of 7 properties that were shared with our largest VC-backed competitor from 1/1/2019 – 3/31/2020 in Charlotte NC, Columbus OH, Dallas TX, and Indianapolis IN

**Average from top 75th percentile top earning hosts on Airbnb in the same four cities (Charlotte NC, Columbus OH, Dallas TX, Indianapolis IN)

What is Powered by Frontdesk and how is it different from a traditional lease model?

Powered by Frontdesk is ideal for partners who desire shared responsibility with their  short-term rental units. We enable our partners to manage their short-term rental units through Frontdesk’s proprietary technology.  We offer both a White Label Management Platform and a White Label Management Platform + On-Site service. Services offered in these agreements include, but are not limited to, listing optimization, distribution on channels chosen by partners, guest screening and risk scoring, revenue management with a proprietary pricing algorithm, guest experience (chat, SMS, phone, and email), and reputation management. 

For more information about Powered by Frontdesk, click here.

THE FRONTDESK STANDARD

Criminal Background Screening

Identity Verification

Secure Building Access

Guest Risk Scoring

Certified Staff

Partner Portal

Insurance Protection

Resident Discounts

24/7 Compliance Enforcement

24/7 Active Noise Monitoring

24/7 Boots on the Ground

Partner success is just the beginning. At Frontdesk, we value safety, security, and comfort above all. We offer the same 12-point trust and safety standards to all Frontdesk partners.

Active Noise Monitoring and Enforcement

Frontdesk believes in a peaceful experience for not only our guests, but our neighbors as well. We have partnered with the best-in-class noise sensor technology services. This brings peace of mind not only to us at Frontdesk, but also to our partners. We are able to tell that our guests are not breaking our house rules by hosting parties or making excessive noise during quiet hours.

What is Active Noise Monitoring and Enforcement?

Utilizing revolutionary noise sensors and software, we are able to monitor the level of noise inside every one of our 500+ apartments at every hour. If noise levels are high enough to break our decibel thresholds, we communicate with the offending guest to be respectful and quiet, especially at night.

Our current partners are Minut Smart Home Monitoring and NoiseAware.

Why is Noise Monitoring and Enforcement Important?

Frontdesk cares about the experience our neighbors have with our guests. If our guest is disruptive and does not adhere to quiet hours as listed in our house rules, they are asked to leave our suite by our Trust and Safety specialists. If a guest breaks our house rules by hosting a party in our suite, we call on our local security partners to peacefully request the guest halt this behavior and/or leave the suite.

Who Monitors the Noise Alert Software?

You can sleep soundly as our team of thoroughly trained Trust and Safety specialists monitor the noise levels 24/7 in our suites. We are just a phone call, text, or email away if something disturbs the peace. Our phone number is +1-414-209-3277 and our email is neighbors@stayfrontdesk.com

How do Noise Sensors Work?

Noise monitoring sensors are installed in each of our suites by our local city managers. The sensor connects with a mobile app, as well as an expertly designed web based platform, for our Trust and Safety specialists to monitor. When the sensor detects a level or noise above specifically attuned noise thresholds in accordance with local times, the system sends an alert to our team and we immediately spring into action. Following a carefully curated alert protocol, the Trust and Safety specialist assesses the situation and acts accordingly. This can be a polite reminder of our rules or asking our local security partners, such as Securitas, to check with the guest in person to ensure rules are being followed. Our priority is to do what is necessary to give our neighbors peace of mind.

What Happens if a Guest Unplugs or Tampers with a Sensor?

Similar to the protocol of an elevated noise event, a disconnected or tampered sensor alert is sent to our Trust and Safety specialists to assess the situation. We communicate with the guest inside the suite to troubleshoot and get the sensor plugged back in. If we are unsuccessful, our local city manager assists to get the sensor functioning correctly. We pride ourselves on a consistent and connected sensor reading. Even with unforeseen circumstances like wifi outages, we ensure a 99% uptime of all noise sensors.

What else does Frontdesk do to ensure safety and security?

At Frontdesk, we value safety, security, and comfort above all. We offer the same 12-point safety and security standards to all Frontdesk apartment communities.  Stay tuned during the next few months while we dive deeper into each one of our 12-point Frontdesk standards. 

THE FRONTDESK STANDARD

Criminal Background Screening

Identity Verification

Secure Building Access

Guest Risk Scoring

Certified Staff

Partner Portal

Insurance Protection

Resident Discounts

24/7 Compliance Enforcement

24/7 Active Noise Monitoring

24/7 Boots on the Ground

Criminal Background Screening

Criminal Background Screening has always been one of many standard security measures at Frontdesk-managed rentals. We’ve always taken safety and security very seriously at Frontdesk. Today, we want to dive deeper into what Criminal Background Screening is and why it’s a part of Frontdesk’s 12-point standard.

What is Criminal Background Screening?

A criminal background screening provides a look into a guest’s criminal background looking for charges that aren’t aligned with Frontdesk policy.

Why Does Frontdesk Perform Criminal Background Screenings?

As a short-term rental company, Frontdesk obtains leases in multifamily apartment communities alongside other tenants as neighbors. Frontdesk strives to accommodate the best guests and want our tenant neighbors to feel safe and secure. Additionally, criminal screening decreases the risk of theft, damage, and/or criminal activity.

Who is a Criminal Background Screening Conducted on?

The primary guest on all Frontdesk reservations, regardless of the booking platform, is screened for criminal background.

How is a Criminal Background Screening Performed?

Airbnb:

All of our listings on Airbnb require the guest to be ID-verified with a satisfactory background screening. Airbnb’s verification process checks multiple facets of a guest’s identity.

  • A guest’s first and last name and date of birth
  • For United States residents, certain databases of public state and county criminal records are checked, as well as state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations. For a guest who lives outside the United States, to the extent permitted by applicable laws and to the extent available, they may obtain the local version of background or registered sex offender checks.
  • Multiple FCRA-compliant vendors are used to conduct felony conviction checks, national sex offender searches as well as global sanctions reviews including OFAC and terrorist watch lists. These checks cover digitized criminal court records, department of correction records, wanted lists, global watchlist records, and all available state sex offender registries that exist online in the U.S. In addition, they also cover domestic and foreign watch lists and sanction lists, such as domestic and international fugitives, FBI lists (i.e., terrorism, most wanted, white-collar criminals), Interpol, politically exposed persons, U.S. Dept of Treasury lists, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists, and many others.

Non-Airbnb Listings (Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, Vrbo, Zillow):

Upon making a reservation the guest Frontdesk automatically sends an email requiring the guest to verify their identity and submit their information for a criminal background screen.

  • The link provided takes them to Frondesk’s ID verification tool. We have partnered with Stripe for its secure identity verification technology. Stripe handles billions of transactions with world-class security and identity verification.
  • The guest must verify their identity by taking a photo or uploading a copy of their identification.
  • The guest is asked for their full legal name and date of birth.
  • The information is sent securely to Frontdesk where a member of our OTA team verifies each entry.
    • The name on the ID must match the name of the guest making the reservation.
    • The guest’s name and date of birth must successfully pass our criminal background screen.
  • If any charges appear on the criminal background screen, our Trust & Safety Manager analyzes the results and makes a decision based on Frontdesk’s screening policy. 
    • Frontdesk’s screening policy takes several factors into account, such as the severity of the charge, when the charge was placed, and the type of offense.
  • A guest must successfully pass all levels of Frontdesk’s screening process or their reservation will be canceled.

Introducing ID Verification

ID Verification is now standard on all Frontdesk reservations. Here at Frontdesk, we value safety, security, and comfort above all. Criminal Background Screening has always been one of many standard security measures at Frontdesk-managed rentals but now, we’re excited to introduce ID Verification on all of our reservations, regardless of the channel a reservation is booked through. From Airbnb, Expedia, Vrbo, Zillow, and others, you can feel confident knowing we’ve not only screened our guests but also verified their identity.

What is ID Verification?

ID Verification, or Identity Verification, is the act of validating that the identity provided by a customer matches their actual identity, typically by reviewing a customer’s government-provided identification such as a driver’s license or a passport. ID Verification aims to protect those transacting online against fraud by ensuring accurate identities are provided.

Why is ID Verification important?

Identity verification is a key component in detecting fraud. Fraudulent and stolen identities are usually an early indicator of further criminal activity. Despite the increasing popularity of self-check-in systems, the risk of providing access to criminals remains high without a proper Identity Verification system in place. With ID Verification, we’re able to reduce the risks associated with fraud, verify the age of a guest, validate the information used for our criminal background checks, and ultimately ensure a more safe and secure community.

Who gets ID-Verified?

Frontdesk verifies the identity of the primary guest on all reservations in addition to its W2 cleaning and management staff. In short, we do not provide building or unit access codes to anyone who has not been ID-verified.

How does ID Verification work?

When a guest attempts to place a reservation with Frontdesk, regardless of the channel, they are restricted from viewing our unit entry access codes to our short-term rental suites until we have verified their identity, among other checks in place. For example, on Airbnb, Frontdesk accepts only reservations where the guest has proven their identity using Airbnb’s ID Verification tool. On all other channels, a guest must upload their proof of identities securely through Frontdesk’s ID Verification tool. We have partnered with Stripe for its secure identity verification technology. Stripe handles billions of transactions with world-class security and identity verification.

Once the identity of the potential guest is verified and the name on the ID matches the name on the reservation, among other risk scoring measures, Frontdesk will confirm the reservation and provide access codes prior to check-in. Once a reservation is confirmed, the ID Verification Status and the Criminal Background Screening Results will instantly appear on our secure Frontdesk Partner Portal to our multifamily partners with valid login credentials.

Screenshot for blog

Frontdesk's Partner Portal Screening

What else does Frontdesk do to ensure safety and security?

ID Verification is just the start. At Frontdesk, we value safety, security, and comfort above all. We offer the same 12-point safety and security standards to all Frontdesk apartment communities.

Criminal Background Screening

Identity Verification

Secure Building Access

Guest Risk Scoring

Certified Staff

Partner Portal

Insurance Protection

Resident Discounts

24/7 Compliance Enforcement

24/7 Active Noise Monitoring

24/7 Boots on the Ground

Stay tuned during the next few weeks while we dive deeper into each one of our 12-point Frontdesk standards.