VRWS Leadership Interview of the Day
In approaching the 9th 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.
How would you describe your career path and what led you to start TouchStay?
“Most of my career, until starting Touch Stay, was in the fashion industry. Amongst other roles, I was CFO for Gucci Americas for 4 years, as well as a short stint as the interim CEO at Victoria Beckham to complete their private equity investment raise. But fashion never really interested me, whereas travel most certainly did!
Through one too many subpar guest experiences I decided there was an obvious opportunity to improve communication and information flow between the host/manager and their guests. I never had enough information prior to my stay, resulting in me asking the manager lots of questions. The interesting part of this was that the manager ALWAYS had terrific answers and information. Why, then, were we both wasting time asking and answering questions all the time? I wanted to solve this problem, hence Touch Stay was born.”
What was the thought process behind the launch of the The Guest Cast podcast?
“Given what I said in that last question it won’t be a surprise that we wanted the guest perspective! So much in this industry is, quite understandably, focused on tools/processes/software that help hosts and managers to improve their business. But very little is genuinely focused on the guest perspective. Like everything in life, it’s important not to have blinkers, to listen to our customers and put ourselves in their shoes. This industry is no different and, if we’re to continue growing as hospitality professionals, it’s important that we stay in-tune with our guests.
As a former fashion industry mentor of mine once said: “Andrew, always stay close to our retail stores, it’s where our customers are”. The advice to experience what our customer does, to learn from that, should translate to any business, especially hospitality.
And this is why we started The Guest Cast, to hear stories from guests and understand what we, as hospitality professionals, can learn from them.”
Let’s say for the purpose of the interview that TouchStay is exhibiting at an in-person event. A property manager approaches you to find out more. How would you describe the benefits TouchStay provides?
“What a great question! The straightforward answer is that Touch Stay saves them time answering the same questions from guests over and over again. In fact 86% of our customers save half their time answering guest questions. (We know this because we surveyed them.)
BUT!! That’s not what I usually lead with, simply because there is so much more to Touch Stay. I like to first understand what the property manager is currently doing with guest communications and guest service. Once I understand that, the way I explain Touch Stay is subtly different for each property manager I’m talking to.
It could be that they need to automate their guest communications with our Memo notification system (unlimited emails and/or sms).
Or it could be that they are wasting time updating printed manuals or Word/PDF documents that only come in one language. Imagine the hassle (and cost) saved by having a digital version that offers cover for all major languages?
Maybe they are looking to standardise inconsistent information between units that are the same. With Touch Stay you can enter common info once and sync it to all relevant units.
The point is that every property manager will have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, so I like to understand those before then talking about how Touch Stay can help!”
VRWS 22 is about to land in Porto. What do you expect from the overall experience?
“I always love the VRWS event. It’s genuinely unlike any other event because Antonio always challenges himself to learn from past events to evolve and improve every future event. And that means I already know Porto will be the best VRWS yet!
It’s also true that most events are a formula, with the risk that they become quite generic. VRWS is most certainly NOT formulaic. It’s intimate, warm, friendly, positive, encouraging, and full of information sharing. This is the output of the love that Antonio and Cristina put into creating and producing the event. I can’t wait!”
You’ll have the opportunity to meet Andy and the TouchStay team on Sept. 15th-16th at VRWS
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