Erin Lenhardt, the CEO and Founder of The Brighthouse brings nine years of expertise to the short-term rental realm. Starting by renting her personal luxury apartment in Chicago during her MBA, she’s evolved into a tastemaker in the industry. Her favorite property, a showcase of midcentury architecture adorned with artifacts from global travels, reflects her commitment to unique, well-designed stays. For sourcing everything from linens to operational essentials, Erin swears by HostGPO, highlighting its pivotal role in elevating guest experiences and streamlining operations.
How many years have you been in the short-term rental industry and how did you get started?
9 years! I got started by renting out my personal luxury apartment in Chicago while getting my MBA from the University of Chicago. I shared my personal home while traveling for 4 years, from 2014-2018, when I got a second home for this purpose. I started The Brighthouse in 2019, and have been working on short-term rentals ever since.
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
Home is where the heart is. Curating a home-away-from-home experience for our travelers, for whatever reason they come to town, is enormously rewarding.
What is your favorite rental property you have and why do you love it?
I love midcentury architecture and designing and setting up this house was a lot of fun. Guests love it, and tend to book it to celebrate family gatherings, including graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, and other moments in life that are accentuated by a well-designed, welcoming space.
It is also a personally meaningful home to me, as it was designed and set up using the furnishings, hand-collected art, and handwoven rugs and baskets I collected while traveling the world pre-covid.
What’s the craziest story you have from hosting?
We’ve seen some crazy stuff, including swinger parties, unauthorized amateur music videos filmed at our properties, weapons left behind, etc. None of that compares to losing my arbitrage-based business in San Francisco in 2020. Occupancy plummeted from 95% to 13% nearly overnight. While I’d built a business doing 1M+ in gross revenues in only 10 months, during 2020, I had 6 months to wind it all down while negotiating my way out of leases and liquidating or storing furniture. What was left of that business is now the contents of the MidCentury Designer house in Chapel Hill, NC.
What’s one “pro-tip” you’d be willing to pass on to the community?
Be selective. As I was rebuilding my business, I opportunistically added new inventory. We now have a “buy box” and only add properties that match our standards. AND THEN – when you’ve found the right property – don’t hold back on design. Make it incredible. The ROI on well-designed properties can be anywhere from 65-300%.
What’s the most recent item that you can remember that you’ve ordered from HostGPO?
We frequently buy hospitality-grade linens and Public Goods amenities using HostGPO.
What would you tell others about whether to join HostGPO?
I would tell anyone who is managing or designing their rental to utilize the amazing discounts on HostGPO. We find it to be just as helpful for setting up our units as it is for purchasing operational items like bed linens, pool towels, and bathroom amenities.