This Q&A was for Dwellable and can be found here.
1) How did you get into this business?
My parents have owned and operated vacation rentals and boutique Inn’s for nearly twenty years, so the industry and it’s transformation have always been a huge part of my life.
After establishing my individuality, career and finishing grad school, I knew it was time to make the transition into this industry full-time. First by taking over the operations of my parents businesses and consulting on the side, then buying my own.
In a way, I was destined to be here. Not just because of my parents (they aren’t into free rides), but because of a deep interest in economic development. Responsible and sustainable tourism provides significant means for lesser developed countries to address their fiscal, environmental, healthcare and education situations.
I’ve also spent time working with a variety of organizations and governments addressing these issues as a hospitality consultant… It’s completely rewarding.
2) Tell us a story about the absolute best or absolute worst vacation rental experience you’ve ever had.
My friends and I were in Culebra, Puerto Rico, at my parents VR, when we met a retired couple who regularly hosted guests on their catamaran. They were locals (kinda) and offered us a trip. We hopped onboard.
I’d never sailed prolifically before, so that was a great experience in and of itself… But the way they hosted us forever shifted my perception of what a great VR experience should be.
They let us into their lives; showed us how they prepare for a trip, how to cook on board, drink like sailors (literally, Sailor Jerry—the rum—was a flowin’), tie knots and brought us diving at amazing little islands we would have never visited otherwise.
Of course, they had the details of their stay perfected and I still remember the smell of their sheets. Literally, one whiff of sea salty-butter-pineapple and I immediately want to be on that boat (talk about a retention strategy).
They were entertainers. They shared fantastic stories about their experiences sailing, history of mariners and took us all out of our comfort zones. A decade later, the girls and I still talk about that trip!
3) How is the rise of mobile devices changing the vacation rental business?
Mobile strategy often refers to developing a mobile website that enhances the overall vacation rental search and booking experience.
I think it’s important to embrace this. But with 68% of smartphone users sleeping within two feet of their phone, it’s equally important think beyond the mobile website as devices have the ability to enhance guest engagement on a more personalized level before, during and after their stay.
Integrating an app, for example, provides guests with an easy way to control their experience.
They might buy mountain lift passes, a spa package or view a virtual tour before arrival. During their stay they might want to request additional maid services or book a dog walker. All great ways to drive ancillary revenue, by the way. I also think most owners could benefit with an app after departure by continuing engagement. Not stalking! But to say thank you, invite them back and ask for a review.
Mobile devices are also great for face-to-face interaction if you can’t be there physically. I had a guest FaceTime me because he couldn’t figure out the ski rack. Within two minutes I was able to guide him through the problem. It was super easy and it was nice to cyber meet in our PJ’s 🙂
4) Word of advice to VR owners?
Always be authentic.
The most successful VR owners I have encountered consistently show their personality and have an ability to connect their guests to the local culture, in their own way. Consistent VR industry standards are obviously important (in terms of cleanliness, communication and so on) but the one thing no one can ever duplicate is your authentic and unique presentation of an experience.
I love what Vayando is doing. Once they are established, I hope to see them connect with vacation rentals to enhance the overall travel experience!
5) Insider tip for travelers in your area?
Regardless of what brings you to Park City, collect locals as your wingmen. They are guaranteed to be interesting people and will give you a fantastic day-in-the-life tour!
They’ll bring you to backcountry slopes you’ll never see otherwise (maybe not via snowcat, but you’ll get there), insane bike routes (mountain or road), sketchy food trucks with delicious grub, or random concerts outside of Park City (Twilight Concert Series, for example, features the likes of De La Soul, Beck, Thundercat and local artists… for $5!).
Kris Getzie is Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo, a hospitality consultancy, and she loves to help her vacation rental and boutique hotel clients crush with an amazing brand and dialed operations. She is obsessed with chocolate, learning, random adventures and getting her two kids out to explore the world.
Follow her on Twitter @volovantage or at www.volovantage.com.