If Keston L. could give aspiring Turo hosts only one piece of advice, it would be to just get started.
When he and his wife, Kayla H., jumped into their hosting journey, this fear held them back a bit.
“We were a bit tight on the leash at first, because it’s a brand new car and expensive,” says Kayla. “But we quickly learned that people were more concerned about ruining the car than we were.”
Their car, a 2018 Tesla Model X 100D, is understandably a popular vehicle on Turo. The couple says the majority of their bookings come from people interested in taking the famous car for a test drive. Others have already put down a deposit and can’t seem to wait for their vehicle to arrive.
This makes the experience even more enjoyable for Kayla and Keston considering their guest experience on Turo led to their hosting journey.
“Our first experience with Turo was in 2018,” recalls Kayla. “I had a knee injury, and it was our wedding anniversary. I booked a Tesla Model X because I knew my husband loved Tesla and had always wanted to drive one. I told him, since we can’t do anything ‘cause I’m on crutches, let’s just drive from Toronto to Ottawa in the Tesla.”
Long story short, her husband loved it.
“After the first experience we had on Turo and our road trip I said, ‘Okay, I need to get one of these cars as a host,’”, says Keston. “The host we rented from was extremely helpful and courteous and professional and easy to talk to. So when we bought our Tesla, we decided that Turo was the way to go to supplement the vehicle’s expenses.”
They listed their Tesla in May 2019 and quickly discovered a big appetite for Tesla experiences.
“The market in general is moving towards sustainability,” says Keston. “For me, it had everything I wanted in a vehicle that, at the time, no other vehicle had. High-tech features. It didn’t need gas, so the fuel economy was through the roof and that’s something that was a big factor for me. Ours is a seven-seater, so it has the space and when all the seats are pulled down it has cargo capacity. It’s a very quick, sporty vehicle. The instant acceleration is like nothing else on the road. So to get all of those features in one package was great.”
Carving out their corner of their market
Last December, Kayla and Keston attended their first Turo community party, where they met other hosts. It was a great opportunity for them to understand what they wanted their Turo experience to be like and how others were approaching their own business.
“We learned how other people do Turo,” explains Kayla. “Some people really go out of their way to deliver their car within an hour. Some people get a lot of bookings so fast. I could gauge, ‘Am I willing to do that? Am I not willing to do that?’ We asked ourselves, ‘What kind of service are we willing to provide?’ ‘Do we want to provide a more luxurious, hands-on service?’ Ultimately, that hands-on experience is what we try to provide. We do a walkthrough, instead of just saying ‘Here’s your car.’”
This focus on what kind of experience they want to offer has helped them create a natural division of labour. They both work day jobs while managing their Turo listing, so they focus on the tasks where they excel or they enjoy the work.
“Kayla sets the prices and handles the calendar management, and I do a little bit more of the customer communications,” says Keston. “I like to do the actual handoff to the customer as well. Because it’s a Tesla and an electric vehicle, there are some fundamental differences compared to driving a regular car if you’re not used to it. So people appreciate getting a little bit of a walkthrough, especially if it’s their first time driving a Tesla.”
A dynamic car sharing market pulled their Tesla through the pandemic
With their dream car purchased, a plan for paying it off in place, and a clear division of responsibilities, Kayla and Keston were eager to see what a year of car sharing would bring. Of course, 2020 had other plans. Before they hit the 12 month mark, international travel came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19.
But Kayla had a hunch. She figured that when the weather warmed up, people would swap their plane hopping for road tripping. She was right. As our 2020 Toronto market guide demonstrates, average host earnings were higher this summer than last as people looked for ways to safely enjoy summer by zipping off to the cottage or heading on road trips.
“I have a feeling this Christmas will be the same way,” Kayla predicts.
While Kayla and Keston didn’t get to see what a “normal” year looks like, they did witness firsthand the versatility of the car sharing economy. They also managed to cover a chunk of their monthly car payment. The most important thing was making up the difference between the monthly cost of a Tesla and the monthly cost of a more budget-friendly car, which Turo successfully helped them do.
Of course, this begs the question: With car sharing as an option, do they see another dream car on the horizon?
Yes and no.
“It would be cool to try the Model Y,” says Keston. “Going electric set a new bar and a new standard. The next car that I would want would be an electric car. But the Tesla we have right now pretty much is the dream car.”