Neya Abdi

by Neya Abdi

posted on October 10, 2019

After three years of hosting guests on Turo, Tamara L. is still blown away by how people find her on the platform. 

“I’ve had a 65 year old man from China who’s coming to Toronto to book my car, and I’m wondering, “How did you find Turo?” It’s pretty amazing.”

For Tamara, Turo combines three things she knows well: cars, business, and people. Today, Tamara is a busy mom of three who helps out with the family business. But before she was a mom, she was a social worker whose natural warmth and curiosity makes her the perfect host for the world’s guests. 

“There’s no way that I could have found all these people or that they could have found me without using the platform.”

Tamara’s 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG

Playing host to the world — and its celebrities

Tamara took a steady approach to scaling up on Turo. She listed cars slowly but surely, familiarizing herself with the platform and assessing how different cars performed. In fact, her initial reason for listing a car was productivity. She had a Fiat sitting in her driveway and decided to put it to better use. 

“I had an extended Suburban that I was using to cart my kids around,” Tamara recalls. “And I had recently bought a Fiat. I wanted a small car that I could keep on my driveway just for me. When I needed something, I could pop out in that Fiat instead of my bigger vehicle.

“So I was thinking, ‘Oh, maybe I should listing my Fiat on Turo because I wasn’t always driving it.’ A lot of the times it was sitting in my driveway and no one was using it. I thought I would start with that, trying it out. I started out slow, and then it just kind of organically grew.”


Tamara’s 2013 BMW X3

While swapping cars on and off the platform was fun, her business experience kept her focused on ensuring her Turo business was sustainable. Her Turo income covers her car expenses, but she still assesses how much income is required to make a car’s listing worthwhile in terms of clean up and maintenance. She observes trends within her listings to see which cars are a hit and which are worth swapping out, and she builds relationships with repeat customers with consistent needs. 

“There’s a small filmmaker from Quebec. He comes, he needs a car, and I’ve had him rent a couple of times. There’s also a woman that lives at Yonge and Eg and she’s making jewelry and she’s borrowing it to take her jewelry around to photoshoots and shows.”

Over time, she’s become quite good at predicting which cars will get booked over another, but it’s not a perfect science — like the time she inquired about a customer’s choice and discovered a missed celebrity connection. 

“I had just added my BMW X3 on Turo, and a guest had booked my Land Rover. So I was curious and I was just checking in with him to say, ‘Why did you choose my Land Rover over my X3?’ …It was around the same price point, and I would have predicted that he would have booked that car.” 

The guest was a real estate agent. He explained that someone recommend he get a Land Rover to give his client some leg room. His client turned out to be former Raptors player Jeremy Lin. 

“His real estate agent had booked my car to take him around for the weekend, which my kid thought was pretty cool.”


Tamara, her husband and three kids

“I am on the app constantly… checking who’s booking”

Tamara takes enormous pride in providing her guests with well-maintained, clean cars. And she has to admit, it’s just plain fun checking in on her vehicles and switching up the cars.

“I am on my phone — on the app — constantly. I’m checking who’s booking, I’m checking when my cars are going in and out,” Tamara explains. “I keep my personal calendar and my Turo calendar completely separate, and I just make it work. I have lock boxes at my house that I can set up for people if I can’t be there, but usually I can make sure that I’m there to hand off.”

Her family offers opinions about her car selection, too. Her 17-year old son in particular likes to suggest which cars she should rotate in next. 

“He’ll say why don’t you switch the Toyota Matrix for a Mercedes, Mom? Wouldn’t that be great?”

When the family isn’t browsing car models, Tamara says they’re driving to hockey tournaments. And if she ever had the time to take a trip between managing a household of five, a part-time job, and her Turo business, she says she’d cash in her Turo credits to drive along the California coast. 

In the meantime, she’s playing host to the entire world right here in Toronto and loving every minute of it. 

“It’s interesting to me who my guests are. They’re all ages. They’re all nationalities. There’s lots of people with different stories.”

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