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Make money renting a pool to strangers

When Jim Battan spent $110,000 to build a luxury swimming pool outside his home in West Linn, Oregon in 2012, he knew he was making an investment.

Little did he know that 10 years later he would be earning more than enough to pay for it by renting it out to strangers on the internet. Battan says that since September 2020, his pool has hosted about 9,000 swimmers through a platform called Swimply, which dubs itself the Airbnb of pools. The result, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It: $177,000 in revenue in less than two years.

“I like to say that [the pool] paid for itself and more,” Battan, 57, told CNBC Make It. “I built a man cave last year, and I credit my swimply pool for that as well. .”

Battan says the experience isn’t for everyone: Hosting a rental pool isn’t as simple as having clean towels available between visits. He says he paid about $37,000 in maintenance over the past decade for the 26-by-18-foot swimming pool, as well as its pool house. From cleaning and testing the water for chemicals to handling all the bookings, Battan estimates that he and his wife, Lisa Battan, spend around 12-14 hours a week looking after themselves.

The Battan garden layout includes a pool house and spa, which is maintained at 103 degrees year-round.

Courtesy of Swimply

“I love income, but I usually caution people,” says Battan. “Unless you’re retired or don’t have a day job, it takes a long time to learn pool chemistry and management. It’s not enough to rely on a one-time service. a week to come see your I check my pool chemicals probably five to 10 times a day.

Additionally, Battan Pool is the gold standard: it is Swimply’s top earner out of 25,000 pools in the US, Canada and Australia. Here’s how he manages his pool and keeps his business afloat in the face of growing competition.

More than a chlorine keeper

Battan Pool and its amenities sit on two acres of rural property, which means they are not restricted by city or homeowners association regulations. The pool is also right next to the family barn, where Battan’s wife tends to rescued animals like horses, llamas, possums and pigs.

With additions like their luxury swimming pool, pool house, barn and cellar, Battan believes he has doubled the value of his home.

Courtesy of Swimply

The location attracts families with children with special needs, says Battan. Its pool and property are quiet and secluded, which explains the relatively high rental cost: $70 an hour for five people, a rate that rises with additional people and longer durations. Swimply takes a 15% discount on every booking, though Battan says the platform’s ease of use makes it worth it.

During the summers, Battan says he books about 26 tours a week. The rest of the year, he says, he keeps the pool at 90 degrees and provides heated blankets for guests.

“My wife and I are very used to five-star luxury hotels, so we know what great customer service looks like,” says Battan. “Part of that is making sure all needs are anticipated: answering questions appropriately, welcoming [guests] with a smile and making sure all their needs are met, then disappearing.”

The personal touch seems to pay off: Battan estimates that 65-70% of its customers are returning swimmers.

Keeping her hustled side above the water

Battan credits Swimply for providing him with the unexpected revenue stream, but says the platform’s success may not be sustainable.

When Battan joined in 2020 many local pools were closed due to Covid restrictions and summer travel was virtually non-existent. These days, he says, demand seems to be diminishing as travel returns and pools reopen.

Also, as the company hires more hosts, Battan has more competition. When he joined the platform, there were five pools in the Portland, Oregon area. Now he estimates there are 65.

“I’m about halfway through my regular bookings this year compared to last year,” Battan said. “Swimply is trying to have as many pools as possible, thinking the demand for swimmers will naturally follow that. That’s not really the case yet.”

According to Swimply co-founder and CEO Bunim Laskin, the company’s booking revenue is currently up 100% year over year. “As with any market, there are ups and downs for individual hosts,” Laskin says. “As we talk about Swimply and add more hosts to the platform, so do we add so many more users…The best pools will always be in demand.”

Battan and his wife say they plan to continue renting out their pool for the time being: they plan to move to Portugal one day, and hope to pass their Swimply ad on to future home buyers.

That is to say as long as the next owners are ready to make the effort.

“I view my pool as an investment and take it very seriously,” he says. “But there’s all kinds of hosts I see posting on the Facebook group saying, ‘Hey, I put a bunch of chlorine on. Is it good enough? And I’m like, ‘This is just the beginning.'”

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