By Alli Knothe
Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Terri Shapiro is the founder and president of “GuestWings”, a St. Petersburg company that provides retro airstream trailers for rent. The spare-rooms-on-wheels contain a queen bed, pullout bed, kitchenette and full bathroom.
As a business model, it falls somewhere between Airbnb and an equipment rental service for single-family homeowners.
For the cost of a hotel room, homeowners can keep out-of-town guests close (but not too close) by putting them up in a retro Airstream trailer delivered to their driveway, complete with fresh towels and sheets that they don’t need to worry about washing.
“It looks just like a New York City apartment,” said Terri Shapiro, founder and president of GuestWings, a St. Petersburg company that launched the spare-room-on-wheels concept in late 2016. Units are 24 feet long, 8 feet wide, with 10-foot ceilings and contain a queen bed, pullout bed, kitchenette and full bathroom.
The former marketing and advertising executive said she thought of the idea last year when her family flooded to the area from around the country to attend her daughter’s wedding.
“I hardly ever see them and I wanted everyone to be together,” she said. So they filled up her three-bedroom home in Shore Acres and a few slept in her Airstream trailer, which was parked on the driveway.
Cue: Epiphany moment.
“If we had that situation, maybe other people do too,” she said. It’s for “people (who) need extra space but they don’t need it often.”
Her pitch? Of Pinellas County’s 16.5 million annual overnight visitors, 18 percent are in town to see friends or family. If her business could capture even one percent of that market for a two- or three-night stay, boom! A $20 million company.
Unlike Airbnb, which is for homeowners renting out their homes, spare rooms or couches for travelers who would otherwise stay in a hotel, GuestWings is for homeowners providing accommodations to people they know.