In the summer of 2020, during the peak of Covid, Nicky Bright thought it was the end. The Cardiff mother of two was going through a divorce and had lost her job, then her car, with her home slipping away into the clutches of the bank.
She was devastated and bankrupt in one of the UK’s worst economic times, and with no help from the government, she took matters into her own hands by renting out her family home while staying with friends and family.
Renting her five-bedroom family home was more successful than she imagined it would be. And, by renting out a family caravan and helping other Airbnb hosts and property owners improve their rental listings, she made over £1million in her first 18 months of business.
Since she had no experience in short-term rentals, she used Eviivo as her property management platform, which allowed her listing to appear for free on every OTA, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia.com and Vrbo.
In the first few months, she averaged about £400 a month. When she rented out her caravan on top of that, she turned over £50,000 within the first year.
Nicky Bright (pictured) went from losing her job, car and husband, to running a successful rental business – and becoming a millionaire in 18 months
Nicky rented out her family home while staying with friends and family. It was more successful than she imagined it would be. In the image on the right, an exhausted Nicky attends to work matters
That’s when she utilised her passion for interior design (her ‘dream job’) to make even more money and created a website to show off her talents.
Following her success, Nicky, 52, began reaching out to property owners on Airbnb, searching for listings that looked ‘awful’ along with ‘awful reviews’ with the goal of transforming them.
She charged a fee to style, set up and manage them, which included doing the photography, interior design, video content, and anything that made a better impression and created more revenue for the property owner.
Pictured is Nicky’s house after a messy Airbnb checkout
Nicky reached out to property owners on Airbnb, searching for listings that looked ‘awful’ along with ‘awful reviews’ with the goal of transforming them. She charged a fee to style, set up and manage them. Above are two of Nicky’s designs
Nicky said: ‘A vacation rental or Airbnb is like Tinder – you have three seconds to impress potential guests.
‘I love the challenge of a failed business and seeing the owners’ faces in shock and them thinking “wow” after I transform it.’
Nicky brought in an extra £20,000 a month by ‘rescuing’ these properties.
Word of mouth in the short-term rental industry started to gravitate her way. Nicky said: ‘I was getting emails and phone calls from property owners from Sweden to the Americas telling me they saw the transformations I did. I would help train them, let them know the best ways to improve their listing and design and increase profit.’
Rescuing vacation rentals and Airbnbs eventually expanded into pubs.
She said: ‘I took a commercial pub and turned it into an Airbnb. Two pubs I rescued were going bankrupt. I went in and hand-painted the furniture, mirrors, tiled table tops and bar, giving the pubs a whole new lease of life for a different type of pub guest – now guests renting them could “manage” their own pub for the weekend and pull their own pints in an experience for their friends and family to enjoy.’
With her success, ‘everything then happened so fast’. She started an experiential holidays business — Nicky Bright Holidays — and then got Nicky Bright Interiors off the ground.
Nicky expanded her rental business by ‘rescuing’ failing pubs. Above is The Waterfall Country Escape Powys, which was previously a working pub
The listing describes The Waterfall Country Escape Powys as ‘the perfect place for families and groups to hire’
Above is Valley View in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, another property that Nicky manages
Nicky said: ‘I love the challenge of a failed business and seeing the owners’ faces in shock and them thinking “wow” after I transform it’
By 2022, she found herself managing 17 properties, from Cardiff to Pembrokeshire.
‘All these properties were underperforming,’ she said. ‘They were losing money and had low standards. I took over, and now they are all fully booked and receive awards with booking platforms and even recognition by the Welsh Tourist Board, which I was so delighted with!’
She uses Eviivo to market Nicky Bright Holidays, and Eviivo Mobile, a short-term rental app that allows her to check and monitor all her listings and run her business from her phone. ‘You can’t grow in this industry without a platform like Eviivo,’ she said, ‘since it has all the benefits and tools in one place.’
Nicky now has 21 properties under her belt, with 10 coming onboard this year by spring.
Her properties showcase her unique interiors, such as a beautiful hammock hanging from a ceiling in one property and a pet-friendly ‘doggy hotel’ area in another.
In her properties, guests can purchase items she hand-picked, such as candle sticks, floral cushions and lamps. ‘If you like it you can buy it,’ Nicky said.
Her success allowed her to start personally buying her own properties totalling a value of one million pounds – in just two years. She’s still in shock at how she went from bankrupt to now owning property, turning over one million pounds every year, living a wonderful life – and having the dream job of interior designer that she always wanted.
Some of Nicky’s properties have been recognised by the Welsh Tourism Board. Pictured is The Old Stables, a property in Pembroke, Pembrokeshire
Nicky now has 21 properties under her belt, which showcase her unique interiors, such as the above ‘hammock’
Nicky said: ‘We were homeless. I was going through a terrible divorce where I had to force my children to live at their friends’ houses while I rented our family home to survive. It was rock bottom, and I just can’t believe how it all turned around in less than two years.
‘I would go to the bank and they would scratch their heads and tell me they have property investors 30 to 40 years in the business who are making 10 per cent yield – while I was doing 3,000 per cent.’
She has a close relationship with her children, who were 16 and 19 when her divorce started. They weren’t happy with the situation at the time, but ‘now I’m their biggest inspiration!’
She added: ‘People will tell you it’s not possible to do what I did, but it is possible. I’m proof. I had nothing. I had no other option but to succeed and it was the best thing that happened to me. I have a new life and I’m happier now than when I was married. I feel great. I feel like I’m 16 again.’