You are reading this blog for one of two reasons: You either own or operate a vacation home and are interested in learning how to get more enjoyment and profit from it, or you are one of the friends I personally invited to read this, my first blog on HomeAway®. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.
Hello – I am Michael and I LOVE vacation homes! When I say I Love (yes, with a capital L) vacation homes, I am not just talking about staying in them or making money from them. When I say I Love vacation homes, I mean I really Love vacation homes, everything about them. In my big bald head, thoughts about vacation homes are interwoven throughout my day, each day, every day. I can’t help it.
It was four years ago this month that my wife Angela and I relocated to Texas and turned our family home (http://www.vrbo.com/126904) into a vacation home. Our goal was to keep our home a few years or more, at least long enough to make some money on it. We had just refinanced nearly $100,000 worth of equity from the home to remodel the backyard and by early 2007 the real estate boom in Orange County was starting to correct.
My professional background is in the wireless communications industry, I currently serve as a consultant of sorts to independent wireless retail store owners. My Lovely wife Angela and I are partnered in our vacation home business together (but she does most of the work,) her prior experience is in the hospitality and pharmaceutical sales industries.
In April, 2007 with little confidence and no idea what we were doing, we threw together a rental agreement and got the house ready for rent. We listed it on VRBO.com and HomeAway.com for $250 a night and prayed we would book 10-12 nights per month to cover our mortgage. Our “plan,” if you could call it that, was to cover 50 percent of our costs in the first 12 months, then hopefully be covering 100 percent of our costs from then on. Making a profit didn’t occur to us as a true reality at that time, although we knew that if everything went well the potential was out there. That was four years ago.
Now, I am going to share this because I still can’t believe it, and I think it’s illustrative of how awesome the vacation home business is. As humbly as possible I want to drop your jaw a little bit with the real potential of a home based vacation home business. This month our little vacation home business will have served our 3,800th guest and will have booked our one-millionth dollar of revenue. Doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?
Business is good; we just closed escrow on our third vacation home (lots of good topics coming up) and should have it ready to rent this June. The success we’ve found stems from a mentality of constant improvement, one idea at a time. Not all of our ideas have worked, but a lot of them have. Those that worked are the ones I’d like to share with you throughout the year on this blog.
If you own or operate a vacation home and are looking for ideas on the following topics, then I think you will get something from reading this blog every couple of weeks.
- Maximizing your revenue, adjusting rates and discounting (our first topic)
- Analyzing your business metrics year over year, long-term planning and goal setting
- Building a repeat customer base that generates referrals
- Giving guests an experience they will gladly pay for
- Expanding your already established vacation home business
If there is ever a specific topic or question you would like to discuss, you can reach me by posting a comment on my blog or starting a thread within the Community and letting me know.
Michael Smith: Michael and his wife Angela happened into vacation home ownership in April 2007 when a relocation nudged them toward the idea of short-term renting. Within months of establishing Ultimate SoCal Vacation Homes, they began making plans to expand their business. Having combined backgrounds in sales, marketing, business development and hospitality helps them to create guest experiences that exceed expectations. Today, more than 3,500 guests later, Michael and Angela are operating three profitable vacation homes in Anaheim.