July 6, 2022

Unlocking $4.9 BILLION Dollars in Military Travel to the Vacation Rental Industry, with Anthony Gantt


Anthony Gantt, entrepreneur and recently retired Officer for the United States Marine Corps after 22 years, joins us today to tell a tale of what it truly means to build a purpose-built startup. During his service, Anthony was relocated from Virginia to Texas, charged with orders to find accommodations for his family which included his wife plus their 6 children. A standard hotel room (or multiple) was not an option - so Anthony booked a rental on Airbnb. Little did he know, the Government did NOT allow this - military personnel could be compensated for hotel stays, but compensation did not allow for bookings made on  these  "new OTAs" (which includes Vrbo and all the other vacation rental based channels.) 

He was not reimbursed for the necessary accommodations to relocate, and soon found out this was happening all across the globe - military families had NO ability to be reimbursed for vacation rentals or short term rentals as a form of relocation OR vacation - a standard practice when a traditional hotel is utilized. 

Anthony now embarks on a new career path as CEO/Founder of At Ease, that will take him into a totally different battle zone: working through the challenges of outdated laws and complexities of OTA / vacation rental technology. If his mission is successful, he will unlock a $4.9 BILLION dollar travel opportunity for vacation rental managers and short term rental hosts alike. 

Tune in for a lively, fun and inspirational episode with Alex & Annie & Anthony  discussing all things vacation & short term rentals, technology, entrepreneurship and more!

Watch on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/zYcrURUI6go

CONTACT ANTHONY GANTT
CEO & Founder AtEase
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CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
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Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Podcast Sponsored by Condo-World and Lexicon Travel

Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we are joined today with a guest who we asked to be on the show at a very, very long time ago, we finally got him nailed down here. So we have Anthony Gannt, who is the founder and CEO of at ease. And Anthony, we're so excited to have you here.

Anthony Gannt:

I am so excited to be here. Ladies, thank you for having me this morning slash afternoon.

Alex Husner:

That's right. So you're over on the West Coast today, at least Yeah, today. Awesome. Well, before we get started, I know we've got a lot of interesting things to talk about. But if you could just give our listeners a little bit information about who you are and what your involvement in this space has been.

Anthony Gannt:

Alright, so for your listeners, my name is Anthony Gant. As you heard, I just retired from the Marine Corps in March after 22 years of service. And a few weeks ago, I was telling Alex and Annie, one of the biggest, like things that I enjoy the most about being retired is the ability to grow facial hair.

Annie Holcombe:

You worked hard for what is

Alex Husner:

beard? Boy, my freedoms have not shaving. Watching the YouTube go over to YouTube. So you can see the beard. Shameless plug.

Anthony Gannt:

So who am I am, like I said, Marine veteran, and now budding entrepreneur that just started a new OTA in the space of short term accommodations, vacation rentals. And what we're doing is bringing a untapped niche of travelers who have a ton of money to pour into vacation rental management companies and owners. And what I mean by that is military, government employees, all first responders and the likes of people who serve at the federal, state and local level. So at ease is here to serve them. And we hope that we will get more managers and hosts from listening to this podcast to help us serve our community that we're providing for.

Annie Holcombe:

That's awesome. So Anthony, I think we probably want to start with why you started at ease. I think it's a great story. And it's one I know, I've heard from other people. And when you said it to me, I was like, Well, this is just a no brainer, but nobody's done what you're doing. So why don't you tell us about it.

Anthony Gannt:

Alright, so as I tell the story, I want to paint a picture for the listeners who aren't familiar with how the military life is and what it means. What I mean by that is, every two or three years, you get a set of orders which relocate you from one base to another. And if you can kind of close your eyes and imagine this, so you're in a house, they say move, now you don't have a place to stay. So to base your leaving, you have to find someone to stay temporarily. If you're single hotel isn't ideal situation. But if you're with pets, or family and kids, those hotels can kind of get a little small, right. And now you have to transition across the globe, whether that's in the US or somewhere around the world. And again, you're not going directly into a home, you're having to stay somewhere temporarily. And that can be from 10 days to 30 days, I had one person stay with us for seven months with when they were relocating. And this happens every year, just the DoD alone for half a million people. That happened to me in 2018. And you guys, you know this, this is no secret. I'm very fertile, I have six kids. And those six kids standing in a hotel was good when it was just one or two. But as they continue to keep coming from God knows where it got very difficult to stay in a hotel. And when we were moving from Virginia to Texas, we decided to go on one of the top two OTAs. We booked the home stayed in and it was a fabulous experience home. Texas does everything big for less. And that was true during this situation. And it was where I learned that the government at the federal level for both military and civilians have regulations in place which say, Hey, you can't use those OTAs because we made rules in 1982. And we never changed them because I would say they didn't exist in 1982. Because I didn't get $1,200 back I started thinking about other service members who were not going to be able to get their reimbursements. And I actually reached out to a good bit of them through the Facebook. But I went to Facebook and I found out that other service members were having the same trouble with getting reimbursed. Some were saying it took me four months, nine months. Others were saying I just was denied and I asked a silly question like how much did they not give you back? And when I heard $4000 I was like whoa, I better be quiet because I only lost $1200 then one person was like, Well, I lost $7000. Whoa! So I created the company.

Alex Husner:

Was it that they you would they weren't allowed to use OTAs? Or that they weren't allowed to use vacation rentals?

Anthony Gannt:

Oh, Alex, I don't know if you just put a ball on the tee and was like, here's the bat swing. Such a tee ball. Thank you. It's not the property it's the actual OTA? So that is the interesting thing about this. So there are short term managers who are near bases and whatnot, kind of understand how this works. But for the masses who don't, that's where AtEase comes in and says, Hey, we can help you get your short term rental on AtEase, which is a new OTA that works in compliance with the government regs so that you can have access to this $4.9 billion travel industry. And it's just for lodging. Everybody's like, that's the military spend on no that is the government spend on lodging alone.

Alex Husner:

Wow, that's 4.9 billion, billion with a B. Oh, God. I mean, that's 4% of all of the vacation rentals, if we're at 100. Ma. Yeah. Wow, that's crazy.

Annie Holcombe:

So I know, I'm in Panama City. And I think I told you the story, we had our for management company, and we had about 1800 units on rental. And when Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans, we housed a lot of people, but one of the things we had to do to house them through FEMA was we had to get FEMA approved, and every unit had to have FEMA regulation numbers and inspections and all that stuff. But by doing that, we got all of our units approved, so people could rent them through the government. I had no idea that that was like even an issue. But it just it goes to like, I guess it goes back originally to like the safety. The safety rules and regulations that hotels were ordered to comply with vacation rentals just didn't have those same regulations in place to say like, you had to have sprinkler systems or, you know, fire suppression systems or those type of things. So that I guess that's where it sort of originated from, but it was, for me, it was an eye opener, just going through the process. It was hard. And it was a lot of paperwork to do. But the company's now all those units were taken care of. So they don't they don't have that problem anymore. But that's what you have to do for the managers. Right. And that's what AtEase provides, is that level of service to help them get and navigate through? Governmental bureaucratic red tape?

Anthony Gannt:

Absolutely. And I love that you, you mentioned how hard it is and the lab work that it took. People were like, well, if it's so difficult, how can you do it? I say I've been in the Marine Corps for 22 years, who is regulations and like red tape than the Marine Corps. So I was like, you know, filling out the paperwork and doing what they need, it has become a part of my life is my life is me. So what we do is we kind of go to these property management organizations, companies, be armed vacation rental managers, and we say we want to simplify the process, just give us access to the property, let us do the inspection. Let us do the paperwork, let us register it so that you can get that famous certification, that identification number back that opens it up to government travel. And then there have been some cases where we've had military base of issues who wanted to do the inspection in addition to that, and again, we coordinate that as well. And it's a little bit easier when I say yeah, major Gant retired. They go, Oh, I will first order such and such. Like, eternal connection that we have as service members and veterans kind of helps as well.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Wow. Wow, interesting. And we market ourselves as a military friendly destination. And I just I wonder how many times people have come here and thought that they're going to be able to be reimbursed on stays, and then found out it was completely the opposite, depending on how they how they booked? But is that made clear to people? I mean, when you're in the military, like what you can you can book on these sites, you can't book on these or if it's supposed to go through like a government travel agency like that they sanction or what does that process look like? Before you came around,

Anthony Gannt:

at least now, this is a softball. So before I came around, so it depends on how you're traveling. If you're traveling for work, which we call it temporary duty, there is a platform that you should use to to find a place to stay, but get again, that platform through the GDS is only like provides hotels. And for those members like me, it's like I want to stay in a hotel for no 90 days. I usually look on the corporate housing networks and communities and say, hey, who has a GSA contract who's certified and then you'll get like, 1000 like we can help you guys out like Yeah, but what I get my reimbursement and they're like, oh, no, we don't have that. So you just wasted like two hours of your life just trying to figure out where I can. And they just say I I'm just going to this hotel for 90 days. Yeah, I'm trying to short term rental operators. Other than Craigslist, there was really no good way of going and finding this out, you can go to the platforms that the two OTAs that exists, but you still run into the problem with they are merchant of record, and most cases, and The Merchant of record kind of this just takes away your ability to get reimbursed. And then what people would do is just believe in that. It sounds bad, but like, they'll create receipts that says something else so that they can get their reimbursement which is fraud. Yeah. So I'm like, Hey, guys, don't compromise your integrity and

Alex Husner:

you're solving crime to

Anthony Gannt:

I'm solving crimes. Yeah. Let's go.

Alex Husner:

What other issue can we pile on here?

Anthony Gannt:

Safety liabilities of injuries, right.

Annie Holcombe:

We got to love it. Yeah. You know, you know, like every law every law that's on the book that could possibly creep up, right, you know, all the laws and how to respond. Yeah,

Anthony Gannt:

yeah. So what we do to your point, any Alex when we go to the properties, the inspection is kind of grown into like this Addie standard. And Mateo loves this. I love when Mateo say that the At Ease standard, and

Alex Husner:

I can picture him saying,

Anthony Gannt:

and we've, you guys haven't met her yet. But Krista, who's a military spouse, her her husband is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, and she's a phenomenal person that's been added to our team. She's like, hey, we need more than just safety at their place. We need to know what these properties actually look like, you know what they feel like because military families are coming in. And they want to know the difference between a house that can can park a U haul versus a house that can so that information that we collect, and then we do a crime rating to make sure it's in like the safer neighborhoods. Though most service members have been in rough neighborhoods overseas. We're not trying to do that when we come home, right. Yeah. So we're mitigating a lot of issues, because I've been on the OTAs. And like, Oh, this is a nice house, and up and coming neighborhood.

Alex Husner:

Oh, yeah, up and coming is kind of a wrestling game yet. That's funny.

Annie Holcombe:

Oh, my God. So So you guys, you launched in what year, we

Anthony Gannt:

officially launched in 2020. And February of 2020, it was the best time to launch a company. Right, ready to go full bore ahead. And then March comes around. What is ugliness? Is this like, brings a little friend along with it might go Who is this Kobe person?

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yes. Where we've talked to so many people that have these brilliant companies and ideas that were launched, like in February or March of 2020. It's unbelievable. I mean, like, there should literally be a book about all the companies that tried to start them and a lot of them, you know, have come back now they've finally gotten back there, the wind behind their sails, but we're certainly glad to see that that's happened for you. I'm curious on the inspection side. So is there a benefit to us as managers you come out? You're I mean, your purse? Not you personally. But there, you're having people personally inspect the condos, the beach homes, right? Is there a benefit that we can use that information for other OTAs? Or for other marketing or information? Or how is that that report given back to us?

Anthony Gannt:

Yes, there's a benefit and benefit to you all is that you kind of reduce liability in the sense of your property. X, like I said, we do we look at the crime rate and we say, hey, this isn't it was safe if you didn't know now, you know, in addition to that, we want to be due to external inspection, we kind of identified things like I went to one property that looked really nice on the website when I was like, Hey, why is that electrical wire from that? In the tree like this, like it just looked like that live wire like a snake just ready to buy still alive. Why? That is dangerous for kids, especially my kids because they will. Yeah, another place. I was walking into the house and it looked really nice. And I went to open a window and I was like, you guys know I'm like 642 130 pounds. I'm not a little guy. I'm going to open this window in his bedroom. And the managers like oh, don't worry about that window never opens up. But what if a fire happens? And I can't get out the door, right? Like, oh, we got the smoke detectors fail? No.

Alex Husner:

Wow, oh my god go crazy.

Anthony Gannt:

Like issues like hey, you probably shouldn't have an extension cord on the red carpet because that's a hazard. So for a manager and the management company. I don't know how often you guys go in to identify like hazards and we're like coming in to reduce liability as much as possible. And then those safety features you can push on other OTAs to kind of market that you're safer property. Because I've seen people go on these different platforms and look for those additional features like for me personally Fire Prevention is important because as a middle school kid, my house burned down. So I'm always advocating on things that make it safer. Like how to reduce the likelihood of a fire. And then other cases where I've been in properties where there's another young lady who's coming out who's making access to homes that have ADA.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. Yes, yeah. So we

Anthony Gannt:

look at that too, because we have a lot of military service members who are amputees and have family members with special cases. So we annotate that information as well. So whatever we find, and we turn it back over to you, is information you can use to kind of market your property to more people.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's, that's a really interesting twist on the ADA side, too, because I know, we get tons of requests for that. And in for the units that we manage, we know which ones are because they're all key level units. But a lot of the partner properties we have in Myrtle Beach and other areas, if their representative level, you can book this doesn't make sense to me, but you can book an ADA King suite, but they can't guarantee that it's really going to be an ADA, we're like, Why do you call it that is the room type then but we've run into that as problems with it for people. And, you know, I've told our homeowner team when we're trying to advise our owners and what upgrades to make, make sure you check some of those boxes, I mean, in the bathrooms for sure. Because that opens up so many more guests that right now have a really, really hard time finding places to stay but adding on to it that this also opens up the military component. I think that that's even more of a reason to be telling homeowners that that's what they should do. So absolutely, I'm going to use that.

Annie Holcombe:

Having that FEMA number, that registration number, having that FEMA number will unlock so many avenues of revenue in terms of bookings that you just don't think about, because you just think again, FEMA, oh, it's a it's an evacuee or it's it's, you know, it's a very specific event that you don't think about, but it opens up access to all government. So you're not getting just the military, you're getting anybody that's traveling on orders, who works for my husband like Pat, you know, works for contractor and they're traveling to major cities, they're traveling all over. And then, you know, again, it's great offseason business because they're moving all the time, you know? Yeah, it's it's a never ending, never ending bucket of business to work from.

Alex Husner:

So it's great.

Anthony Gannt:

That's a great point, any, that's what kind of kept us alive during a pandemic. While travel was being restricted, and everyone was asked to quarantine and stay home, military and government kind of surged in like that efforts to fight COVID, especially the Medical Corps, and different National Guard units were activated for different reasons. And we were getting requests pouring into AtEase, AtEase, ArEase. We couldn't find enough managers that were staying like standing business, as you guys know, a lot of the arbitrage models went under which I was like, just stay in business for one more 1000 soldiers that need a place to stay. Yeah, I think it was like a couple million dollar opportunity for 90 days. And he was like, I gotta close my doors. I'm like, No, you don't.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. We're seeing that come back. Again, Annie. and I were just reading an article about that yesterday about these people just doing arbitrage in the Airbnb, even renting the building, and then they're just subletting it out. So I guess that's coming back. It's still kind of crazy. But yeah,

Anthony Gannt:

yeah, it's coming back. I get it people. The only thing that that bothers me about that is the misinformation, misinformation of what it means to be an STR manager. I saw Amy Hinote. And Steve Milo, we're on LinkedIn. They're born with information and whatnot. They're like, there's a difference between STR and VR. And I was like, Yeah, okay, I didn't know that. But I understand what they're saying a host versus a management company in the space. So I wish we can just educate the industry more.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, that's, that's something that we're really trying to do through our podcast is really kind of connect, again, connecting the dots on stories, but connecting the dots between the two sides of the industry because there's a lot of there's a lot of commonalities that they can share learnings from but then there's some things on either side that they you know, they won't necessarily need or, or we'll do but there's just a lot of ways we can all work together. But there is definitely some people that are on the VR side that are like STRS are bad and people on the STR side of a VR they think there's something else and so we just sit in the middle and want everybody to get along.

Unknown:

I think they're both good. They have their places and based on where they are. I just want to see it professionalized because I absolutely personally don't like either side that doesn't want to follow the rules like, Hey, I'm like, I'll give you an example I've met STR operators in Austin Austin requires a license, I'm not getting a license providers in Austin, hey, you need a license, I'm not getting likes. And I'm like, WHY?!!

Alex Husner:

I mean, these people, I think a lot of them. And so that's the downside of it, you're the newer blood that's coming in, they're thinking that it's going to be a lot easier, and there will be a lot less red tape than what they expected. And we had to add a arrangement that we were looking at where we were going to get a big bulk of units of somebody who had bought an actual building that they wanted us to run all the units. And once we gave him some of the parameters of what we would need to be able to professionally manage it. I mean, building license lifeguard at the pool, stuff like that, you know, he just went away. Like, okay, we're not, you know, we've been in business for 37 years, we're not going to put our name and our reputation on something that we can't stand behind. But

Anthony Gannt:

absolutely. Red flag. huge red flag. Yeah. People to keep this safe

Annie Holcombe:

I was gonna ask you that. So you guys, you guys have been again, back to 2020. You go and you're doing all these inspections and bringing on units and, and so you're focused, seemingly would be it more, there's military bases, but you are also doing travel for people going on vacation. So you would want properties, not just where there's military bases? Correct.

Anthony Gannt:

100%. We started out as what was my problem because I lost money. And that's how it started. And then as it was being communicated through our internal network. So I had a service members like, can I use it for this? And then I had a veteran's like, Hey, I'm not, I'm not getting reimbursed. I want to use it because you're a vet. And I was like, yeah. So we do we do government travel where you can get reimbursement and we also do the vacation, leisure travel. The biggest one everyone else got it. Destiny wasn't anything in the mountains. I'll tell you this for your audience. If your vacation rental and Alex, you said this, you guys have like a military discount. If you have a military discount, and you're working with at ease. And you say I want to give a military discount, please let me know. Because that is the one thing that service members veterans always look for. And they will go like, there's a reason we go to Golden Corral. It's not because of the food is because they feed us for free or veterans. They make loyal customers.

Alex Husner:

That's that's a really good point. And it's such a simple takeaway for and actually, even on our website, I don't think that we have anything that says that we give a military discount, but I'm going to add it because we do I mean, if they call and they ask we do. But that's it's easy thing for everybody just put on your site to, you know,

Anthony Gannt:

comics, what do you do right now? No.

Alex Husner:

Right now. That to that, we're definitely we're definitely doing very strongly believe in the product. Now I've got a question for you. So after you Well, I mean, you just recently retired. But when you started at ease, obviously, you didn't have a technology background necessarily. You're very entrepreneurial. So how I know there was a reason for starting it. But not everybody can just start an OTA or a startup like this man, tell us about how you just prepared yourself or what really got you besides the reason? How did you equip yourself to be able to grow this?

Unknown:

So I do have I don't tell a lot of people that I'm the governor, I do have a tech background. Oh, okay. I have an engineering degree in electrical engineering. And I was going to get a computer engineering degree, I was going to do major, but the Marine Corps told me I had to hurry up and get back to service because they were paying for it. So I'm like three or four classes short from having a computer engineering degree. Okay. So initially, I was like, I used to build websites back in like the 80s. Now, I'm not that old. But I was like, I did build websites and played around with databases and whatnot. So the first site I built myself, and then I did two things. I build a custom site and I use like a Wix or something like I was like, which one is gonna work better? And then as I build on to that, and we got our first I managed to list on Google worked. And then I went out and say, Hey, I got a couple properties, and they got booked. I said, Ooh, that worked. I went out and raised a little bit of money, and hired an external team to kind of help build a better platform. And then, because I had that background, and a lot of friends who are super nerds is what I call them. I call them all my engineering buddies who do have jobs that had the Google's the Facebook's, the next, flexes and whatnot. I'm not saying hey guys and gals, what is it that I need? Like you need this app and this app? You need to do that. Oh, I don't know what any of that is. Im still in the Military. I'll tell you it was funny. I was like, do me slack. I was like slacking. What? Everything. Yeah. And then I was like an app called slack. Like, why would you call me a slack? But they told me you need slack. Then I was like, Do you have zoom? I was like, I think I drank something. cellos and zooms and slacks and everything. And get back in. I was like, alright, timeout. So that's what helped me. And then somebody said, Are you building an OTA? I said, No, I'm building a web platform like Expedia. That's like yeah, OTA Yeah. I don't know what OTA is. What that means? They're like, are you trying to build a GDS? Oh, no, whats a GDS>? So I got really, really smart with the vocabulary. And I went to like, I think it's called Hatena, which like, the hotel industry has this organization that just like hear all the terms. And here's how you do to technology. And here's how you do integrations. And I just read through it. And I was like, ah, yeah. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

So you're in nerd. You're McGruff The Crime Dog? Yeah.Retired,

Alex Husner:

higher military taught OTA expert. Now, that's pretty much

Annie Holcombe:

how many you got? You have a hat for every child. so all six. That's

Alex Husner:

right. Yeah. So your your tech team that operates the site for you now, is that are they internal with at ease? Or is it, what's your team look like?

Anthony Gannt:

We went internal is a team of about four to six people. That was after we raised a little bit of money. Between January of last year, I'm sorry, December of last year, in January of this year raised about 1.1 million, which was pretty excited. We were able to bring people on the advice team, we have about seven full time to part time. And Alex, you notice because we were talking about the OTA that you guys operate with condo world, and how difficult it can be. And if you don't kind of continue to update the features and what not, behind. So having a team in in house kind of helps with that. And it's just making me so much smarter with some of the features that we're adding. And then I do something that I haven't seen a lot of OTA representatives do other than become exhibitors is kind of sit down with people like you and Annie and the other managers and ask questions like, Why don't you like this? And what was wrong with that?

Alex Husner:

Right, right. Yeah, I was so impressed by some of the things that you showed me when we were all at, excuse me, the executive summit from you know, the brand guide that you made for At Ease. And I mean, you've put a lot of thought into how the platform has been built out. But you're You're 100%, right. I mean, they're everything is changing so quickly. And not only is it changing, but just matching the consumer demands for what they're actually looking for is constantly changing, too. So I think your approach of going asking questions being part of the discussions, that's going to that's going to be what sets you apart from some of the others that aren't doing that, because I know some of them are not, but and you would also shared with us, too, that in this process, you went to Washington and you sat down with legislators and you really, I mean, you, you grilled them to try and figure out how this could have this could move forward. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

Anthony Gannt:

Yes. That was early on, where I was really livid about not getting reimbursed. Yeah, I want my $1200's back. That was bad. And then it was like, hey, you need to come up here. And I don't know what they were calling me up as like a marine and chill me out or as a civilian, but a United States citizen and sat in a room and I did not tell them that I was still active duty. And it was just an eight hour day of questions. And like you say, like, asking the wise and house and what do we need to do to get this done? Having a little bit of kickback from certain entities within the space, because they have GSA contracts that are very, like I saw one company, I got a $65 million contract last year and the year before that was $55 million. So those individuals like we want no part of what you're creating with this AtEase thing. And then on the other end, they're like we need to streamline this because we're tied to given that one company $100 million, right, a two year time span. Yeah. How can we like spread this amongst others? And like we talked about earlier $4.9 billion, that goes to lodging and a lot of it goes to hotels and corporate housing providers. and vacation rentals, short term rental industry, it just missing out on these opportunities unless you're like Annie and you guys know about the FEMA opportunity. So that back and forth for eight hours just kind of led me to get emails and phone numbers with the right people in the Travel section. And I will continue to send them updates on what AtEase is doing and ask them for more feedback on the questions that they have. And then I just kind of follow like this, like, I guess it's like a form that they have on their site of new things that they're looking for new questions that they have. And I joined the National Defense Travel Association to kind of be at the the, where the rubber meets the road whenever they have any kind of issues or new conversations and breakthroughs about travel, specifically in the hospitality space.

Annie Holcombe:

That's really smart. Because I think that yeah, I know, just having worked government business for hotels, you the hotel brands are very active in all that Marriott, you're like all of them, they have a lot of lot of seats at the table. So you're really smart to get involved in those conversations.

Anthony Gannt:

Yeah, very much. So the more

Alex Husner:

that you can find a niche in in the OTA space, the better. And, you know, we learned the hard way that when we first started out going to other markets, we, you know, just spent a lot of money on pay per click, and we were just going neck and neck with some of the managers that were already in that market. And we quickly realized we're not really bringing much of a value to them. If we're just another company that they are now competing against me, the whole premise was we wanted to be able to bring them different guests. And so that was years ago, when we went back to the drawing board and realized we've got to really be able to leverage Condor oil brand. And what we have that is going to give them something that they can already reach and especially with what you're doing, I think that's why any manager should want to say yes to this, because you're getting access to essentially a closed user group that these people otherwise can't book in your properties, they're going to be good guests. I mean, for the most part, I bet the complaints and issues are probably at a minimum. So that's very smart.

Anthony Gannt:

Well, today, we haven't had any complaint issues. We have minimum guests so far. And we have a lot of requests that like I told you guys earlier, we were talking like I need to find hosts in this area, because I'm getting older. But to your point, they are phenomenal guests. If we just think about it from the standpoint of what they're coming into the area for let's just talk about the official government travel, I'm getting relocated, I have to go to a new place, I have to be focused, go to that new place, get checked in and put my best foot forward. And then when I come home, I'm either eating dinner, taking a shower or going to work out right or hanging out with the family. So that's no time to kind of throw this massive party in. Right. Or you have the government traveler that Annie was talking about, like her husband, who was coming in to do some contract at work or like a specific task. Yeah. And most of the time that goes from like, early in the morning to late in the evening. And you're just coming in again, eating showering, sleeping. Yeah. And doing it over and over. So again, no time for that to do. Right. No, you're not going to hear it allow parties and annoys

Alex Husner:

to be more worried about people like Annie and I me that would be doing that. Right, right. I know what you're talking about. He's number one and two

Anthony Gannt:

is not going off.

Annie Holcombe:

For anybody listening. I can think of a couple of people that I know are avid listeners of Alex and Annie, and they have some good inventory. And so I'm thinking right now like their wheels are turning and they're like I want to sign up with AtEase. So what does that process look like if like onboarding so you they reward you integrated with to Yeah, and just kind of give us the lay of the land for that.

Anthony Gannt:

Integrate with rentals United next pack and booking pow. And then if your hotel provider, you listen to this podcast derbies off, that's how the channel managed to bring your hotels to. But the process is we like to do a introductory call. Still early startup, our site is live and has the ability for people to click on a host are heroes. But everybody wants the billion dollar OTA experience for the not so billion dollar invested OTA people, we did not raise a billion dollars. And we don't have a billion dollar OTA, but we do have people to talk to Yet! And you will still be able to talk to us. So you know, we have our phone number on a website or email and we like to sit down and have a zoom call for 15 minutes and kind of answer the questions that you may have about dealing with a brand new OTA and then we tell you that hey, once we finish this call, we'd like to send over a one page agreement that says you're gonna give us the opportunity to come to your property in person and inspect it. We inspect it either between your booking so when your cleaners or your team are in there or Do you have days set apart where you have like those maintenance days that you just don't have listed, so that we can come in and do the inspections, we wanted to have no impact to your operations, we don't want to block it out for reservations for it to come in without you tell us when, and we'll figure out a way to do it. From there, if the property is safe to our standards, like I said, Mateo says The AtEast standard, then we'll we'll take that and that property is automatically qualify for leisure. And we import it through the channel managers that were in integrated with. And we turn that property on. So that is live for at least vacation travel. If it has the requirements that we're looking for, for that government access, where we can get the FEMA identification signed on to it as well, then we'll do the registration on your behalf. We'll do all the paperwork, and we'll wait till we get that email back from them with the number associated with your property or properties. And then we'll activate the switch in our database that says it is assessable for leisure and government travel. And that's how we do it.

Alex Husner:

Manager like our size that we've we're approximately 500 condos that's it to plan you going into 500 condos is no small undertaking. So what does that look like? Well, you know,

Anthony Gannt:

going into Iraq and defeating the enemy and Fallujah was not undertaken, but I did.

Annie Holcombe:

Challenge to throw at him or go to

Anthony Gannt:

the United States Marine. You can't handle the inspection. Oh, I love it. I don't know why even asked. But so. So it's for properties that have like that are in multifamily units, like two condos, right? They typically for the most part, building the same Yes. And what we can do is go in and we can look at a property type. And we see some differences if we do to one bedrooms, and there's some difference, we may ask to see more. But like I was just in Disney earlier this summer. I mean, I call it Disney, Orlando. That's Disney. Right. And I stayed at one of the Marriott villas locations. And they had this whole like condo like 5000 units. And they all were the same cookie cutter also. And I could go into like one or two, it was like, Oh, this is all certified. And they already had the famous certification, like you said, any of the hotels notice. So we can kind of get to scale if they're in a multifamily unit division property. And they're all cookie cutter. They're just one bedroom, two bedroom, three bedroom, we'll just have to see one TYPE of that property, inspect it, and then we can register the entire building. Yeah, that's

Alex Husner:

interesting. I have to check and see if if any of our condo buildings mean none of them have their they're not the traditional resort with like a front desk. So I don't know if they have the famous certification, but that would obviously

Anthony Gannt:

information. I can look it up for you. Okay.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah. And there's,

Annie Holcombe:

there's a cost associated with it. Is there not?

Anthony Gannt:

Yes, there is. So what we build in its early early adopter, we like hey, $50 per single family residential, so we call that single family home or to a four Plex. If you have a multi unit building, we charge one fee. I think it's like 300. But if yes, a hotel is a little bit different. Because like I said, we do all three. Our business makes money from the inspections. But that's not our business, if that makes sense. Because we've implemented a rebate plan, which means like, I come and inspect condo world's 500 properties. Not one property gets inspected. Now Alex is looking like Anthony, I can't believe you set me up for failure. My boss is looking at me like what the heck out? And I said no. Hey, Alex, just activate the rebate. And she's like what you're talking about? She activates the rebate. And now we reimburse refund all of the money we collected. Oh, really? Okay. Like I said, because we're not just trying to like we took your money. We didn't get you

Alex Husner:

any booking well, you read my mind. I was just thinking was that you know, the good. The good thing about our most OTAs are structure that even if they don't end up producing anything for you, you're not out anything because there's no fee so that I was literally just thinking like, Ooh, boy, because that could add up real quick for as many units as we have. But, but that's great. If you can do it on a rebate basis that that works.

Anthony Gannt:

Yeah. And we're confident that if we take your properties on a new page, that we're going to get the reservations because it's typically in the areas that we go after really really hard we've already had interest and requests that we couldn't feel and yeah, we will get you a reservation you don't worry about it. We have like 10 of them already ready. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Oh, that's uh, when do you I guess when is when do you anticipate that you will have critical mass and you will just be you know, you won't be out there trying to get units you think you'll have enough momentum and be that OTA that you're looking to be.

Anthony Gannt:

Um, I think, when we get more that when here's, that's a great question. So it's not going to be based on how many properties we have and how many reservations. And it's going to be on the simplicity of our platform for people to get on and do it

Alex Husner:

on their own. on their own. Yeah.

Anthony Gannt:

How to coordinate all this and just make it like this real time and make it easy. I think right now, what we've experienced out of total transparency is people have a desire to work with us, but they like they're not as you to win me. The three of us were extroverts. We love people, we go out we like,

Alex Husner:

what you're talking about videos out in the rain and everything.

Anthony Gannt:

I hope if you guys don't know what Alex is talking about, go look at Alex and Annie fighting against Tropical Storm Alex and South Florida. Amazing.

Alex Husner:

It's epic. You got to witness the whole thing. If I do a slow look at the video, I can actually see you now on the balcony and like, Oh my God.

Annie Holcombe:

I just remember hearing somebody yell and I thought why are they yelling at us? Somebody was you ugly? Okay.

Anthony Gannt:

That was me yelling from the balcony like.

Annie Holcombe:

Oh, my gosh. So, Anthony, this is so exciting. Like I think, and I, I met you guys last fall. And we talked to at vrma. And I remember sitting in a session

Alex Husner:

and we had a pre call eight months ago.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. But I was sitting in a session and Carl Shepard gave you a shout out. And that to me, that was like everybody in the room was like, dang it like to make to make an impression on someone of his caliber, like, wow, that's, that's really that's a really good feather in your cap. And I think that what you're trying to do not only has noble, noble, you know, a noble cause and a noble backing. But it comes from an experience. And I think the most the people that we've encountered, who have the best fortune, in the best of luck as they move forward with their businesses that it that it came from a place of personal experience, they had a problem and they wanted to solve for it. And then they wanted to share with that solve was and so I think your passion is, is is is at ease. It's you know, it's in the way that Matteo delivers the at ease promise. And I think you have a really bright future. And then if there's anything that we can do to help you with that we're certainly ready and able to assist. Yes,

Alex Husner:

we're ready to serve.

Anthony Gannt:

No, I appreciate that, ladies. And yes, Alex, it was eight months ago, I am sorry. But the only reason I was really slow to move on doing more podcasts and coming on this fabulous show of you guys is is because I was still active duty and public affairs. Were kind of telling me what I can and couldn't say. So I was like, You guys stop hating on me. I'm trying to help more service members. So because of that, kind of, you know, situations have Yeah, yeah, it was tough. It was tough. Yeah. So the way I think this is helping here, I'm talking to your audience. It'll be forever cemented in history, as long as we have podcasts because, you know, they get they got rid of a tracks and tapes and record player. So hopefully they won't do mp3 ease and stuff. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, forever. It'd be here forever. We just want more individuals, whether you are STR or VR, to kind of join at ease. His mission is to help host our heroes. And again, who identify as our heroes are employees of the government at the federal state and local level, not necessarily just the ones wearing uniforms, but the ones who are actively serving our country, our estates and our cities to kind of give them an opportunity to book short term rentals in things that are exclusive to them. And, you know, we just create a real safe space because we're inspecting the properties we know the managers we're working with, we're validating the guests, and we're making sure that they're not bad guests, when they come to the platform. We're creating like this ecosystem of trust, where only a few select can be a part of but when that select comes together, we're not worried about issues happening and creating those crazy epic stories where like a 21 gun shoot out.

Alex Husner:

Right, exactly.

Anthony Gannt:

You don't want that. So we're very intentional about the people that come to us and those that don't.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I think there's a role for you to get involved at the destination level to mean through like destinations International, like start there kind of at the higher level and then, you know, within the different destinations with their DMOS and CVBS. Because, I mean, this is 100% Something that those organizations would support so that that just helps you get to credit Well masks quicker, you know, in most cases. So we're we're excited to see where this goes. And obviously, we're both huge fans and glad that you still wanted to be our friend, friend after seeing us. Yeah, rain that day. We did survive. Thank

Anthony Gannt:

God. We survived the rain and we got to meet some really cool people that day.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, we did. Yeah, we were the last last mohicans at the executive Summit. And I'm glad that we all stayed. So

Anthony Gannt:

if you guys ever go to a vrma summit, our conference I'm not they didn't pay me for this or anything. Make sure you go and find Alex and Annie. They are always smiling. They are very, like, amazing people. Like every time I see them, I'm like, I gotta go say hi to them. Oh, thank you.

Annie Holcombe:

Would you like to be on every month?

Alex Husner:

Yeah, exactly. You gotta look good spot. Yeah. Thank you. When? When will we see you next? When's the next conference that you're heading to?

Anthony Gannt:

I am heading to Vegas. In Nashville.

Annie Holcombe:

In Nashville, yeah. Okay.

Anthony Gannt:

Somebody told me that Nashville is like the New Vegas, so that's why it's so much fun.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah.

Anthony Gannt:

I didn't know that. Yeah, it's a

Alex Husner:

great Yeah, it's me. Hi.

Anthony Gannt:

No, yeah. coming by.

Alex Husner:

Oh, boy. I'll be good times.

Anthony Gannt:

Are you guys gonna be there?

Alex Husner:

We will be at both of them. Yep. Yep. Gotta be good time. Well, Anthony.

Anthony Gannt:

Hold on. Let me do a poll. Okay, Amy, we need a booth for these ladies so that they can do some podcasts while at the show and vrma International. We need a booth again, in Vegas for real Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada. So these ladies can have a show. Because what they were doing at the executive summit was phenomenal. But we can do better for them. So more guys, somebody helped these ladies out.

Alex Husner:

We didn't we didn't even we did not tell you to say that. So that will definitely one of the clips that we've had another hat. Yar. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Anthony, you're truly a pleasure. And again, congratulations on your retirement and now your entry into a whole nother working world that I know you're just going to do amazing things. So if our audience wants to get in touch with you, they want to learn more about Eddie Eddie's and how they put their properties on your platform. What should they do?

Anthony Gannt:

Well, what they should do is go to the website, which is pcs@ease.com and PCs at E s e.com. I will share that information with you. There they will be able to see your email address, they'll see our phone number and our different social media accounts where they can contact us. And we'll be sure to get back to him. Yeah, that's the easiest way to do this, go into website checking us out and then hit one of those links to kind of get engaged with us.

Alex Husner:

Perfect. We will include that in our show notes. And we'll also include your contact info if you want to share that if anybody wants to chat with you directly. Other otherwise, thank you so much. This has been great. We're super excited to share your story and can't wait to see where it goes from here. So thank you again for joining us,

Anthony Gannt:

Alex and Annie The Real Women of Vacation Rentals. Thank you for having me, ladies,

Alex Husner:

Alex and Annie and Anthony. If anybody wants to reach out to Andy and I you can go to Alex and Annie podcast.com Be sure to check out our YouTube channel Instagram. If you are enjoying the show. Please leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning in.

Anthony Gantt Profile Photo

Anthony Gantt

CEO & Founder AtEase

I wasn’t reimbursed $1200 when I stayed in a home using a BNB site. So out of total anger and frustration I created a custom platform that reduces the stress of finding temporary housing for military families relocating.

My longterm vision for At Ease is to be the 1-stop shop for finding compliant resources that encapsulate the entire moving process.

Ask:
(1) Introduction to individual vacation rental owners and property management companies that seek new channels of rental income

(2) Military families with an upcoming move and want to stay in a solution right for them in between PCSing.

-MetaProp Accelerator by Columbia University
-Q2 & Austin FC $100k Dream Starter Pitch Competition Winner
-PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program
-Gold Award Winner 2020 MassChallenge ATX
-DIVINC Alumni
-Bunker Labs ATX Ambassador and VIR Alumni

My specialties are Leadership, Logistics, Management, Quality Control and Management, Modeling and Simulations, Operational and Tactical Planning, and Team Development

Awards:
-Bronze Star Medal with Valor - Willingness to go above and beyond to accomplish the mission
-Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal - Significantly contributed to the performance of the organization supported while exhibiting peak performance and proficiency
-(2) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal - Exhibited peak performance and proficiency
-Combat Action Ribbon - Displayed courage in the face of adversityI wasn’t reimbursed $1200 when I stayed in a home using a BNB site. So out of total anger and frustration I created a custom platform that reduces the stress of finding temporary housing for military families relocating. My longterm vision for At Ease is to be the 1-stop shop for finding compliant resources that encapsulate the entire moving process. Ask: (1) Introduction to individual vacation rental owners and property management companies that seek new channels of rental income (2) Military families with an upcoming move and want to stay in a solution right for them in between PCSing. -MetaProp Accelerator by Columbia University -Q2 & Austin FC $100k Dream Starter Pitch Competition Winner -PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program -Gold Award Winner 2020 MassChallenge ATX -DIVINC Alumni -Bunker Labs ATX Ambassador and VIR Alumni My specialties are Leadership, Logistics, Management, Quality Control and Management, Modeling and Simulations, Operational and Tactical Planning, and Team Development Awards: -Bronze Star Medal with Valor - Willingness to go above and beyond to accomplish the mission -Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal - Significantly contributed to the performance of the organization supported while exhibiting peak performance and proficiency -(2) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal - Exhibited peak performance and proficiency -Combat Action Ribbon - Displayed courage in the face of adversity