VRS132 – Vacation Rental Property Management with a Difference with Darik Eaton

I had the pleasure of co-presenting a workshop session at the Vacation Rental Success Summit with Darik Eaton of Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals.

In my discussions with Darik beforehand we explored the differences between our two companies and they could not have been wider. In this episode he explains why his model works and how his clients benefit from the control he takes over their properties.

Our discussion covers how he started his company which now manages 40 properties in urban Seattle, and how he works with his wife – an interior designer and stager – to bring a consistently high standard of property to his guests.

We talk about his approach which is very different from most property management companies; the design options the company offers; what he outsources and what he keeps in-house, his choice of reservations systems, and why has always has a Plan B!

Darik shares:

  • The lawsuit that started it all
  • How the combination of his business acumen and his wife’s design and staging expertise helped them achieve 80% occupancy of their condo in the first year.
  • His varied business models and how they combine to create a successful whole
  • Why he wins owners and guests with a unique model
  • The design options his owners can choose
  • Why he has a list of 1500 items essential for vacation rental
  • Why IKEA is a four letter word
  • His arguments against paying for an owner’s poor choices
  • How and why 2 condos with the same floorplan consistently show a $3K – 5k difference in income when the only difference is design
  • His method of attracting investors
  • Why he has a high staff to owner ratio
  • The challenges of success and the battle between operations and marketing
  • How design pays for itself in terms of income as well in an increase in the value of the property
  • Why he doesn’t write his own blog posts
  • His reservation systems – and why he chose the one his competition wasn’t using
  • The #1 question to ask when looking for a new reservation system
  • Why having a Plan B is always worthwhile


Links mentioned in this episode:

Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentology

Seattle Oasis on Youtube

Where you can find Darik:









VRS106 – How Dynamic Pricing Works with Evan Hammer of Smart Host

The story of how startup Smart Host came into being is a metaphor for the innovation we are experiencing in the vacation rental industry.

When the Startup Bus left New York in early 2014 heading for San Francisco, today’s guest Evan Hammer was at the start of a 72 hour trip that would culminate in winning the annual competition.

During that trip Evan, and the 3 others he met on the bus, developed an app to aggregate and analyse the market for short-term rentals leading the way to a dynamic pricing model. They called it Smart Host.

So what exactly is dynamic pricing?

This was the question I posed to Evan and he did a great job of explaining it. I then went a step further and spent an hour on the phone with one of Smart Host’s business partners, Nick Persico, who explained how it worked, along with the benefits owners and managers could expect to get.

Putting it simply,

‘the goal of dynamic pricing is to allow a company that sells goods or services over the Internet to adjust prices on the fly in response to market demands.’

It’s about predicting what a customer is willing to pay for a future period based on the data gathered from competitors (comps) over a period of time.

So, let’s say there is an annual event that brings people into your area. You know the demand will be high and you will easily rent that period. A dynamic pricing model can help you to set that price based on the historical data from similar properties.

Got it? [Read more…]

VRS092 – Buying and Selling a Vacation Rental Business with Ben Edwards President of the VRMA

Ben Edwards was one of the first people I met at the Vacation Rental Managers’ Association conference in San Diego last year, at the meet and greet. As President of the Association he has a lot of insight into the vacation rental industry; as a manager at Newman-Dailey Resort Properties he’s got hands-on experience of the day-to-day operation of the business, and as principal of a consulting company specializing in buy/sell transactions, his financial background is invaluable. As you might imagine, we had a wide-ranging conversation and he was a lot of fun to talk to. [Read more…]

VRS068 – 2.5 Million Rentals in 100,000 destinations with Jen O’Neal, CEO of Tripping.com

I know first-hand the frustration a vacationer experiences trying to book a vacation home – it can take days – and it was a question my guest on this episode posed to me.   I’m usually the one asking the questions but Jen O’Neal, the founder of Tripping used my response to explain why she launched the company.

It was a great conversation because Jen’s passion for this business is transparent and contagious.

Tripping is a metasearch system for vacation rentals that pulls listings from all the major sites including Home Away, VRBO, Flipkey and Booking.com along with many smaller location-specific sites such as We Need a Vacation (New England) and Kozaza (South Korea). With 2.5 million homes in over 100,000 locations it demonstrates the massive market we are connected with. [Read more…]

VRS058 – A Customer Service Revolution in Vacation Rentals with John DiJulius

Vacation rentals and customer service go hand-in-hand, and we have it covered– or so we believe.

We all like to think we are offering amazing service to our guests – we respond quickly to their inquiries; deliver a beautiful home with lovely décor and comfortable beds, and provide them with comprehensive information on the property and the local area.

But, is that enough?

My guest on the podcast today thinks a little differently.

I first came across John DiJulius at the VRMA Conference in San Diego where he delivered the keynote address then followed that with a standing-room only seminar.

I was transfixed with his passion, enthusiasm and the take-away information that I applied as soon as I got back to our office.

And John’s new book, The Customer Service Revolution, is the required read for all our staff.

Here’s some things we’ve put in place since we got back: [Read more…]

VRS047 – Getting to 100% Vacation Rental Occupancy with Julia Hill

Julia Hill is a dynamo! In a mere 2 years she’s taken her ‘wonky pink cottage’ on Florida’s Atltantic coast to maximum occupancy, just about finalized the purchase of a second much larger property, and been a panelist at the Home Away summit in Fort Lauderdale. In this episode you’ll hear how all that has come about – mainly due to staunch commitment to her self-styled SOS programme – Simply Outstanding Service.

Julia shares her philosophy of hospitality and welcome that extends to treating her housekeeping just as she does her guests. That nurturing of on-the-ground staff delivers in a big way as guests at Paradise Found benefit from their commitment to the same standards. [Read more…]

VRS043 – A Melting Pot of Complexity – Reinventing the Vacation Rental Industry with Richard Vaughton

My guest in this episode is a microbiologist turned vacation rental guru, or maybe just an everyday genius who made a career change that is benefiting hundreds of owners and agencies worldwide.

If you are a regular on the vacation rental LinkedIn groups you will have come across Richard Vaughton, who shares insightful views and opinions on many aspects of our business. As Managing Director of Discovery Holiday Homes, a UK based business, Richard brings his extensive expertise as both a vacation home owner and technical analyst. In short, he’s just a super-savvy guy that I’m honoured to speak with in this episode. [Read more…]

How to Create a Vacation Rental Alliance and Beat the Bans

HOW TO CREATEI live on a dead end cottage road, with one property beyond me before the road ends. It’s a quiet spot and we are rarely disturbed by neighbours. But for the last few nights, the rental crowd in the property next door have partied into the early hours with pounding bass, raucous screaming and shouting.  The temperature has gone down at night, so for the first time in a while we can turn off the AC and open some windows and doors to let the fresh air in, but with the noise continuing well into the night, it was impossible to sleep.

We could ask them to keep the noise down and remind them there are neighbours, but confrontation is not my thing so we’ll probably leave it be. It’s a one-off for us – it happens rarely and we’ll cope until the end of the weekend when the revelry will die down as they head back to the city.

It’s interesting to be on this side of the fence and experience what many residents do in much more crowded areas where there is a greater density of vacation rental homes, particularly in residential areas. [Read more…]

VRS039 – Creating a Vacation Rental Owner Network

The growth of the big listing sites and the move away from a relationship based transaction between guests and owners is driving more owners towards ways of connecting with customers on a more personal level.

Having your own website, becoming a local expert by blogging and podcasting, and creating a solid presence on social media, are some methods, but the guests on this episode have an alternative to the mega listing sites that is really working for their clients.

Maui Owner Condos is a listing site with a difference. The majority of the condos listed have been inspected by the Pauli team, and are all verified personally as registered properties on the island of Maui, meeting the conditions of county registration. The owners manage their properties themselves and most use the site as a springboard to their personal website. This network model is one that owners in any other part of the world could emulate. [Read more…]

VRS038 – Dealing with Vacation Rental Complaints and Damage

I spent the weekend at the Podcast Movement Conference in Dallas, where I spoke on a panel about podcast promotion, networked with 600 other podcasters, and had a thoroughly good time. It was such a diverse crowd of people with shows on topics ranging from juicing to body building, WordPress hacks to selling on Ebay; and plenty of entrepreneurial subjects.

One topic that was under-represented was travel, and although it’s surprising there are not many more travel shows, it’s probably because podcasts are usually started by entrepreneurs and techies. Most of us wouldn’t class ourselves as either. However the opportunity is huge to get in there and start to promote our areas with a location specific podcast. Check out how Lou Mongella has done this with Walt Disney World Radio – now at episode 374!

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Is this for you? Would you like to get a podcast started for your vacation location? If so, email me and let me know and I can share my ideas for a VR podcasting group.

So, my topics today are damage and complaints – two issues that are at the top of my agenda at this time of the year. In this episode I share some tips to help deal with both sides of the coin. For handling damage issues you these are some great tips: [Read more…]