VRWS Leadership Interview of the Day

In approaching the 10th edition of the Vacation Rental World Summit, we’re releasing a series of interviews to leaders, key players and highly motivated people in our industry whose companies make a deep impact in our space and will be present at VRWS.

The aim is to get you some insight into these leaders and the company they founded, manage or work for, as well as getting some behind the scenes on their thinking, their motivation and their drive.



Founder and CEO @ Smily

Describe your career in the vacation rental industry and how you reached your current position in the company.

In the heart of France, with the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, my journey in the vacation rental world began. I’m Sébastien Grosjean, and for nearly 40 years, I’ve been intertwined with this industry. But it wasn’t just France; my family’s dream led us to build homes in Greece and the tranquil islands of Tahiti.

My turning point? Greece. The beauty of the islands contrasted with a glaring gap in our industry: the absence of an efficient booking system doign channel management. With a 10-year stint in software development under my belt, I envisioned a solution. BookingSync was born, a bridge between technology and hospitality.

Yet, as all things evolve, so did my perspective. I realized our mission wasn’t just about synchronizing bookings. It was about experiences, emotions, and connections. Thus, Smily emerged, a name reflecting our essence.

Today, as the Founder and CEO, I proudly share that industry leaders like Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia have recognized our contributions nominating Smily as their world best partner in 2021. But beyond accolades, it’s the smiles we share, the connections we make, and the stories we create that truly define our journey. This isn’t just a career for me; it’s a lifelong passion, an odyssey of dreams, innovations, and shared moments.

For a deeper dive into my odyssey, read the full founder’s story at https://www.smily.com/en/founders-story

In your opinion, what are the main current challenges in the vacation rental industry, and how do you think your company can help overcome them?

The vacation rental industry is in flux, shaped by several dynamic challenges. Governmental regulations are ever-changing and can be strenuous for many to navigate. The economic downturn has led to an oversupply of properties and a dip in demand. AI innovations, while remarkable, are also coming to disrupt industries, intensifying this supply-demand gap. New marketing channels to facilitate bookings for owners and managers are emerging, alongside evolving financial systems. Furthermore, finding qualified housekeeping and laundry services is becoming even more arduous, and heightened traveler expectations, fueled by the surging supply, add another layer of complexity.

Smily, formerly BookingSync, is uniquely poised to address these concerns. We’re honing in on select markets, with a pronounced emphasis on France and European owners, for targeted regulatory support. Our platform caters to the vast spectrum, from solo property owners to enterprises boasting over 5000 properties. We champion creating enduring, multi-generational businesses, maintaining a partnership with diverse marketing actors and creating new to spearhead change. With our proprietary payment solution and banking license, we’re anticipating future financial shifts. Our commitment to innovation, complemented by insights from global experts in technology, travel, psychology, and well-being, positions us to deliver unparalleled educational content also needed to navigate these uncertain times. Further, our focus on fostering a strong company culture ensures team growth and long-term retention.

What are your expectations for the 2023 edition of VRWS in Barcelona, and what makes you particularly interested in attending this specific edition?

For the 2023 edition of VRWS in Barcelona, my expectations are both specific and hopeful. Firstly, I’m always impressed by Antonio and Cristina’s heart-driven events. Their commitment consistently manifests in the form of a fabulous audience, an ensemble of industry frontrunners, innovators, and enthusiasts. I’m keen on the recent data insights that various experts will share, encapsulating the latest trends and facts that define our industry’s trajectory. Moreover, perspectives from industry leaders and visionaries will offer invaluable foresight, shedding light on anticipated shifts and potential challenges.

One of the most exciting aspects for me is discovering today’s solutions and what’s on the horizon, especially from pivotal actors like Smily. These solutions, I believe, will be the key in connecting the dots, offering integrative approaches to address industry complexities.

But beyond the insights and innovations, VRWS is an arena of human connection. It’s the sheer joy of sharing smiles with our esteemed clients, forging stronger bonds with partners, engaging with prospects, and interacting with fellow attendees that I cherish the most. This edition promises to be a melting pot of knowledge and camaraderie, and I’m thrilled to be part of it with my team.

Could you provide a brief preview of what attendees can expect from your participation during the Vacation Rental World Summit?

Absolutely! At the Vacation Rental World Summit, my participation, so as the one of my team, is crafted around a few core tenets that I deeply believe in.

First and foremost, attendees can expect a lot of shared smiles 🙂. It’s not just the essence of Smily as a brand, but also my personal philosophy. A smile bridges gaps, fosters communication, and catalyzes collaborations.

Equally crucial is my intention to lend an empathetic ear. I’m here with a team to genuinely listen and understand the challenges, concerns, and aspirations that participants have faced in the past and are grappling with currently. This empathetic understanding will serve as a foundation for meaningful interactions.

On the knowledge front, I’ll be sharing invaluable insights I’ve accrued from world-leading mentors. Their wisdom, paired with my experience, provides a holistic view of our industry and its future.

Further, I’m excited to offer a glimpse into both my personal vision and the groundbreaking innovations on the horizon at Smily. Our forward-thinking approach is poised to redefine the industry’s landscape.

Lastly, my interaction will be imbued with genuine care and loving energy towards everyone. My goal is to cultivate an atmosphere of trust, camaraderie, and inspiration.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet Seb directly at VRWS in Barcelona

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