#RadicalHonesty: Heart & Soul

My thoughts have turned inward. Specifically to what really drives the vacation rental company owner.

Be forewarned, this post may just be my most radical of all. 

Without sounding too woo-woo, I strongly believe that, at least in the beginning, it is heart and soul that drives the vacation rental company owner. 

This business is hard. It’s not one you’d choose for the money. There are much easier ways to make a living. 

So, why then?

I think vacation rental company owners choose this business because they deeply value people and relationships. There exists a calling to service and an honest desire to create a superior experience for all their guests.  

There is also a longing to share a place that is so near and dear to their own hearts. Whether it’s the beach or mountain town where they grew up, adopted as an adult or spent summers as a child, there’s a story behind the area they choose to start a business.  

Heart & Soul

The people and relationships are the heart and the place is the soul.


And they’ve got it right. At its core, the vacation rental business is about people and service. 

Vacation rental companies facilitate joy and connection. They help families slow down and rediscover each other. They allow them to create new stories that strengthen their connectedness and their bond. They offer adventures. They allow everyone to throw off the chains of their everyday commitments and catch a glimpse of what a day with nothing scheduled looks like. 

Vacation rental companies see newlyweds off to a new life together. They watch them take a collective breath after the months of planning and preparation. They allow them a sweet, welcome respite in a world free of distraction before they go home to negotiate their new normal together. 

What Happened?

So, when did this industry become about “heads in beds”? 

Was it when owners started complaining about revenue?

Was it when a couple of destructive or aggressive guests soured company owners on guests in general?

Was it when vacation rental company owner’s realized revenue projections were too high and they weren’t going to make debt payments?

Was it when technology vendors started marketing their newest “must have” gadget or gizmo?

Was it when the OTAs, listing sites and aggregator sites started usurping market share? And making everything about money instead of quality or service? 

Is that when vacation rental company owners lost their vision?

Getting Back to Basics

Slowly and insidiously, some vacation rental company owners have gotten so busy scrambling in their businesses that they’re no longer working on their businesses. 

Heart and soul. 

Look, I”m not naive. I have a mortgage and a car payment too. We’re all in this to make money. That’s a given.

But I’ve also got a passion for what I do and I think most of you do, too. I’ve been watching this industry for over 20 years now and I’ve seen enormous changes. 

I know it gets harder and harder every year. I know there’s a lot more “noise” out there and so many more “gurus” trying to sell you on the next bright and shiny object. 

With all that going on, and plenty more, it’s way too easy to lose sight of the reason you started this wild ride to begin with. 

I think there are a few ways to get back to the original vision of your company and they might surprise you.


Don’t Do It All Yourself

You’re not an island. Surround yourself with a tribe that “gets” your vision. Train them well and let them take care of your day to day operations. You’ve got bigger fish to fry. 

The Root & The Reason

What is the root of your business philosophy? What was the reason you started your company? Those answers should dictate your decisions. 

Guests Come First

Don’t treat them like an afterthought. Don't let your staff not acknowledge them when they walk in the door. Get off the phone if they're standing at your desk. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, they keep you in business. Make service a true priority, not just lip service. 

Spend Your Dollars Wisely...Maybe Even Frugally

Don’t fall prey to the “bright, shiny object” obsession. You don’t need every single “innovation” that comes along. Instead of offering the latest gadget or gizmo, offer superior service. They’ll remember that longer. 

Here’s a great example: Have you ever used Chewy.com? They’re an online pet-supply company, like PetSmart or so many others. They have great prices, which is a big enough draw for pet parents.


For me (and many others I’ve spoken to), they’ve earned my loyalty with their absolutely spectacular service. Seriously, it is second to none. When you call their 800 number, a real person answers the phone. No phone system. They’re patient, kind and personable. They ask about your pet(s) and if you seem receptive, they’ll tell you about theirs. And they bend over backwards to give their customers a great experience. Which they do. Every. Single. Time. 

This is what people want. Not an Alexa device on their coffee tables. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a machine telling me where to go for dinner. I want a person telling me.

Go Small to Grow Big

here’s a quote I love: “Perfection is not when there is no more to add. It’s when there’s no more to take away.”

Rid yourself of guests, owners and staff that ceaselessly complain, bitch and moan. Energy vampires don’t just steal time, they steal passion and creativity. Don’t let them. Be ruthless in the pursuit of your ideal group. Purposefully cultivate a smaller group of guests, owners and staff that complement your vision, rather than detract from it.  Remove the distractions and you'll see your business benefit. I guarantee it. 

Slow Down to Speed Up

When was the last time you stopped to do an audit of your business? I’m not talking about a financial audit, that’s for your accountant. I mean when was the last time you looked around at what you’ve built and considered deeply and objectively (as far as that’s possible) whether it looks like what you envisioned when you  first started out? The answer will either exhilarate or depress you. If it depresses you, allow that to be the catalyst to get back on track to your heart and soul. 

Good vibes, y’all.