At PointCentral, we provide technologies that make running your vacation rental business easier, keep homeowners happy, and enhance your guests’ experiences. We’re lucky to have some outstanding property managers on board.
This month, we spoke with Laik at Village Realty to find out more about the business and how smart property technology is helping them save time and delight guests.
Could you tell us a bit about Village Realty and how it all began?
Bob Oakes founded Village Realty back in 1993 in Nags Head, North Carolina with a couple of condos, a few houses and association management. From there it grew, expanding into Corolla, NC in 2001. By 2018, Village Realty Outer Banks managed 500 properties over 40 miles of beach. Today, we manage over 750 properties. Village also has a large association management division, a hotel management division, and has expanded throughout coastal North Carolina, Florida and Colorado.
Where are you located, what type of properties do you manage, and what type of guest do you typically attract?
Located on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, we manage everything from a large sixteen-bedroom house to one-bedroom condos. We typically attract guests within an 8 hour drive, mostly from the northeast coming to spend time at the beach on quick getaways, family reunions and annual vacations.
What’s your own background in the vacation rental industry?
My journey in the vacation rental industry began almost 20 years ago. As a student at Temple University, majoring in Tourism and Hospitality, I wanted to do something different from the traditional hotel path. I have been working in all facets of vacation rental business operations ever since.
You were an early adopter of smart property technology in the short-term rental space, recognising its ability to save time and delight guests. What led you to adopt this technology and how long have you been using PointCentral’s smart home solution?
Everything we do, as rental managers, is about the guest experience. We have to make it easy! It’s not their job to be on vacation, it’s ours. Keyless entry and smart home technology play a key role in creating the right vacation experience. It also makes our behind the scenes operational lives smoother, so we can focus our time on those great customer experiences.
Village has been using the PointCentral platform since 2016. We’ve come a long way and have given a lot of feedback!
Can you explain how using smart home technology has helped your business in terms of both operational efficiency and guest satisfaction? How has access to real-time data impacted your business?
The real time data has been one of the most beneficial pieces. We’re able to see property access live – whether we’re looking to see if the Housekeeper has arrived to clean or whether the scheduled outside maintenance vendor gained access to the property to start the repair. We’re quickly able to give updates and follow up efficiently on outstanding work orders. The guests love the streamlined check-in process – going straight to the property, without waiting in line at the office. Guests also enjoy the early access option as well. Improved workflows enable us to sell early check ins and also release properties automatically on check in day through closing codes. Guests are always excited to get in early.
Customer service is your number one priority. How do you strike the right balance between technology efficiencies and the personal touch for your homeowners and property managers, particularly given you are known for being locally owned and managed?
It’s great when technology and personal touch experiences pair to seamlessly scale up your customer service abilities. We use the tech solutions to strengthen our local service employees, our vendor and subcontractor relationships – ultimately creating a super customer service experience. The vacation rental industry has a few labels for management companies – property manager, rental manager, vacation manager, asset manager – but at the end of the day, the number one priority is to deliver on a quality stay that meets expectations. That’s what we do.
We don’t need to simply take your word for it. Your testimonials speak volumes. Can you share what your owners are saying about the service you provide?
Of course. Here’s feedback we received from an owner just the other day:
“They’re very pleased with Village Realty and how responsive we have been since they came on board. Everyone has been great to work with, and the maintenance tech we sent by was so awesome and spoke so highly of Village Realty. They’re very impressed so far.”
Do you have any top tips for homeowners and property managers out there who are considering taking the next step in adopting smart home technology in their short-term rental property?
At the beginning keep it simple. Set up your processes then add features as you go. Operationally, we really hit our stride when we designated one point of contact for all things Smart home, namely PointCentral!
Last year brought huge challenges for the vacation rental industry. How did you navigate these challenges? And what have you learned along the way?
Honestly, we stayed as close to standard operating procedures as possible. We had the luxury of having best practices already in place, for example, keyless check in, cleaning products and guidelines, training, property presentation, guest communications, property evaluations, pools and spas and maintenance efficiencies. We added a layer of cleaning technology, with a product called Prevent X, which we applied with commercial electrostatic sprayers. But, O-yeah, we all worked extra hard last year.
I learned that we have an awesome team here at Village. The people we work alongside, and the organizational culture are key drivers of success. I am extremely proud of the team, how open and adaptable everyone was, and how much they continued to drive us all toward a successful vacation rental year.
What’s next for Village Realty?
I think Village Realty and the vacation rental industry, in general, are just getting started. This is a complex industry with a lot of moving parts. There isn’t a one size fits all, hotel-style model for success, or a standard service model to follow. We will continue to focus on delivering a quality guest and property owner experience, adapt to industry trends, be cautious not to follow industry fads and continue to pursue our core philosophy to provide a ‘wow’ experience through extraordinary service.