Flash back! On November 2, 2021, we launched the Alex & Annie Podcast with our 1st episode, The A-HA Moment. As we reflect on the past year and so many incredible memories, we thought it was fitting to revisit this episode. Yesterday on our 1st of the Month Bonus Episode, we made 2 major announcements - Alex has taken a new role as CMO for Casago, and Annie has taken a new role as Director of Business Development for Marriott Homes & Villas. It's impossible to ignore the timing of these two incredible opportunities happening at essentially the exact same time, a year to the date of our 1st episode. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this journey - we are beyond grateful for the outpouring of support of our industry!
Original show notes from 11/2/2021:
In this inaugural episode of Alex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals, we explore the spark that started our journey to making this podcast. We provide a high-level overview of our industry background, and highlight two AHA moments that defined the future of our careers.
Topics we cover:
Thank you for joining us and helping this become a reality. We cannot wait to bring you more exciting stories from the PEOPLE behind the industry.
CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
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Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin
Welcome to the first episode of Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex.
I'm Annie. And we are so excited to bring you this first episode of the Alex and Annie podcast that a long time coming, Alex. So I don't know about you. But I'm just busting at the seams ready to get this going.
I know me too. This is so exciting. We've you know, Annie and I have been talking about this idea for quite a while now. And it started with clubhouse. Actually, this is going back in the spring. And her and I just were kind of kicking around an idea that we thought it would be fun to take some of the topics that we were talking about in clubhouse and make them into a podcast because we just we saw an opportunity to do a deeper dive into some of the brands and the people that were coming into into the clubhouse environment and just, you know, kept going with it. And the more that we talked to people about it, we just got so much support, and it ended up becoming a thing. So I'm super excited. And he is awesome.
Yeah, and I think the one thing that was the common thread with all of this is that we started to realize that everything happens for a reason. And you're put in the place that you're supposed to be at the right moment in time to get to where you want to go. And all the signs just kept pointing us to do this. And so super excited about what we can talk about and take deep dives into the real people that kind of power vacation rentals. So this is going to be a good journey. I think we've got a lot of future guests lined up. And so I think this first episode, we really just wanted to let everyone know what we wanted to accomplish with this podcast and what our goals were, in terms of the Reach in the industry, who we wanted to talk to, and kind of what the look and the feel of the Aleksanyan podcast is going to be.
Yeah, absolutely. And Annie, I mean, we've talked about this before, we don't want to just tell the stories of the things that have worked, right, like we want to talk to people that will tell us the things that haven't worked, I think there is so much opportunity in our industry to be, you know, open about some of those things that are on both sides. And really, we have such a collaborative industry as it is that I just I think it's interesting for people to be able to differentiate some of those strategies, and especially with how fast our industry's changing it, there's, there's just an opportunity, I think, for us to be able to connect people and be able to make those opportunities, you know, more visible. But Annie and I very much feel the same way when it comes to business motivation, and just kind of personal inspiration. And I think that's part of how this came together to that, you know, we truly feel that everything that has prepared us for this moment, is has happened in the right alignment. And we really feel this podcast that is that for us. And we're really excited to bring on a wide variety of people to interview and, you know, some people will be in the industry, some people won't be in the industry, I think the travel industry is so broad, and we've got so many connections that are not necessarily vacation rentals specific, that bring a lot to the table. And so we're excited about having that diversity there. And, you know, on this episode, we're just going to give, as Annie said, a little bit background on who we are and the purpose of the podcast. But there might be other episodes where we do the same thing where it's just Annie and I talking about something that's important to us or a hot button issue within the industry. So we're excited about that. We think that this is going to be a lot of fun. And we're excited to bring everybody on board with us.
Yeah. And I think as you pointed out, we want to dive into sort of, as you keep referring to when we talk about this the aha moment the spark the thing that either it didn't work, and it sparked a new idea or it did work and it sparked the bigger idea. And I think that so many people in this industry, whether it be a CEO or somebody working in operations at a property or at a resorts, I mean, they've all had moments where they just realized that this was why they were in the industry. And I think we each have experienced those pivotal times in our career or maybe multiple times in our career. Yeah, I think we've just learned a lot from the people that we work around and we want to be able to share their stories because I think there's just So many wonderful journeys that these people have been on. And we've been fortunate to be part of some of them. And we've been fortunate to watch some of them. And then there's others that we just want to know more about. And so this is a opportunity for us to kind of, you know, quell our curiosity and get more information and talked to these people and really understand what is it that makes them tick? What what put them where they are on their journey within vacation rentals, but again, outside the industry as well, I think you hospitalities is probably the general term, we might talk to people in restaurants or bars, or, you know, the hotel industry might
be in restaurants and bars while we talk to them to me.
We absolutely could possibly do that. And I think the women's conference will be a good test of that.
Yeah, absolutely. Yes, yes. We're super excited about that. And we have a announcement that will make at the end of the podcast, so please don't jump off. Stay tuned to get that at the end. But yeah, I know, you're 100% right, any and, you know, we we've we've coined this term that I don't know how it really came about, but I think it was just organically, you and I talking about it. It's that aha moment. And that's what we're seeking to find. What was that aha moment of our guests. And we're gonna tell our aha moments that we've experienced in our combined 35 years of industry vacation rental experience. So it's gonna be exciting. We want to get to the story behind the story of these brands and people and, and some of the people that we bring on also, we want to bring on operators, so people that aren't necessarily invited to do these podcasts, often, we want to hear from the people actually in the field, you know, that that are out there doing the work, what they're seeing and what the challenges are, what the opportunities are, what are the things that really, you know, make them tick, and, you know, stay in this industry for as long as they have. So it's going to be really exciting. I can't wait.
Yeah, I think that this is going to be a fun journey, and one that we want our listeners to come on with us and participate in. So if you are listening, make sure you follow us on our social media handles, and, you know, go to our website, sign up for our information, we'll post all that for you and will continue to communicate through social media. But we want this to be a podcast that is participatory with the industry. So people can recommend people we should talk to they could nominate themselves for us to talk to if you're interested in telling your story. We want to hear it.
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, if you're looking at who this podcast is for this podcast is for anybody within vacation rental industry or outside of vacation rental industry, as we said, we're going to bring on business leaders and business operators in different segments. Besides just in travel and vacation rentals, Annie and I have a lot of experience within branding, distribution, marketing, so a lot of that entrepreneurship business, a lot of the topics will probably be related to those realms. So if you're interested in any of those things, this this podcast is certainly for you. We want it to be an inspiration. We wanted this to be a motivational podcast, Andy and I both listen to a lot of different podcasts and audio books. And we read a lot of that same content that we want to bring to the airwaves that I don't think that it's really being talked about in vacation rentals. But having having the right information that you're listening to and consuming on a regular basis is at for me, at least that has been a game changer in terms of making sure that I keep myself motivated, even when times get tough. And hopefully we can bring on guests that, you know, really bring that to our listeners. And one things here that's important to note, this is definitely not just for women, Alex and Annie that it's you know, it's our podcast, we are the real women of vacation rentals. But this is not just a woman podcast or and it's not just that we're gonna have women guests. So don't limit anybody thinking that. So this is open for everybody. We want this to be a very diverse community of all different all different people from all sides of the industry.
Yeah, and I think most importantly, at the end of the day, the one thing that the common thread that you and I both have with each other is we want it to be fun. We want to laugh, we want to we want to cry a little bit, maybe but maybe more. Yeah, going from laughter than crying from sadness. But yeah, we just want it to be a good experience and be authentic, VRF and authentic selves. And that's really what this is. The great thing about this interview industry is there's so many really authentic people here that are fun, and and had just had wonderful experience. So again, not for just women. It's for anybody that likes to have a good time and wants to learn. Yeah,
definitely, definitely. We definitely want this to be fun, high energy, you know, great, great motivation. So Well, without further ado, Annie. I'm sure some people probably are wondering who we are in the first place. I don't think everybody knows who we are. So why don't we give listeners a little bit of information about our backgrounds? And what we do and where we've been, so I will let you take the stage my friend. Oh, great. So
without dating myself, I've been in in and around vacation rentals since the late 90s. But I started out in the hotel business. So kind of come with a lot of hotel industry knowledge. So I know for some vacation rental purists, having a hotel experience can be a little frustrating because you don't want to be, you don't want didn't want people to tell you to be a hotel. And so I learned and adapted a lot of my hotel learnings for vacation rentals, I had the good fortune of being with a company that was kind of starting out in vacation rentals around 1999. They were building and going after management. Had a mentor gentleman who was my manager, he was our VP of Operations who just said, I see you got a lot of talent. I don't have a job description. But this is what I want you to accomplish. And it was very much about meeting with people builders meeting with developers meeting with HOA boards, meeting with individual owners, everything that we could do to take over condominium management in the Panama City Beach market. So that went on for several years, I honed a lot of really good hardening skills in terms of being rejected and turned down. And then I found myself in a scenario where the OTAs were starting to be a big thing. And Expedia was coming very hot and heavy into the market. They had been working with hotels, they wanted the conduct product that we had, at the time, the company I worked for had about 3000 units under management, we had about 1500 on rental, and they wanted those units. And I can see why but they didn't understand anything about vacation rentals. And so I was very vocal with them. And that ultimately turned into an opportunity to work for Expedia. So I became the market manager for Expedia, the panhandle of Florida and to Gulf Shores, Alabama. I did that for two years, and then went to their key accounts team, which is on the global team, managing what at the time was called alternative accommodation. So it's always funny to me, it was vacation rentals as long as I had been in it, but they were calling it alternative. And so it was very much trying to educate internally. The teams that Expedia, what is what it's not alternative, it's stuff that people use vacation rentals I've been doing in my parents book, the same beach house, in the Carolinas every year growing up. So they needed to learn a lot, I needed to learn a lot. So I drank the Kool Aid, I was a devotee, I loved Expedia. And I had the opportunity on the key account side to work with very large groups, Wyndham vacation rentals, when in vacation ownership, Diamond Resorts, I worked with a, you know, platform company called leisure Lane, who did distribution channel manager and occasional space. So I had a lot of really good experiences there. Ultimately, they they bought HomeAway. And all the mindset was they were going to move the alternative lodging over to the HomeAway team. And my position was kind of kind of go away and go more towards traditional hotel segments. And that wasn't my expertise at all. So I left Expedia and then went to work for the company that I work for now, which is lexicon travel. And we're a channel manager within vacation rentals. And so my experience has been very much all over the place in terms of various aspects of the industry. But it makes me very well rounded and makes me an empathetic partner to have because I understand all facets of the industry. And I think that's where you and I connected is that you were coming from a place that I had been in. And I was presenting you a different side of like how you looked at things, and we've just kind of clicked in those conversations. And so, you know, again, my experience has brought me to this moment. And now your experience is bringing you to this moment. And I think hearing where you came from to how you got to here is important to tell our story
of where we are. Yeah, absolutely. And there are a lot of similarities. One thing dimension to urine, Panama City Beach, Florida. Yeah. And I'm in North Myrtle Beach. I don't know if we've said that yet. But we're, we're both on the east coast of the United States. I'd say what maybe a 12 hour drive, it's definitely not close, then we were gonna see each other we're gonna fly or meet at a conference or somewhere else but but very similar destinations. And then Panama City Beach and Myrtle Beach are both very much condo resort style inventory for the majority of the vacation rental segment that we've got here. So big, big vacation areas. And you know, one thing that you touched on any in when you're just given your background, which reminds me of what's going on now, you know, Expedia and booking they wanted to learn about this quote unquote, alternative accommodation segment. It's really interesting now because it's like these investment firms that they're coming in, they want to learn about the short term rental industry and you and I had a discussion about that earlier that it's short term rentals and vacation rentals, you know, as far as we're concerned are still a little bit of a different thing. and maybe at some point, there'll be more merged together. But it's just it's it's it's interesting to see you know, there's there's a lot there was a lot of interest in vacation rentals or alternative accommodations back then. And there's even more so now. And that attention obviously leads to a lot of opportunities for a lot of people, but a lot of change in the industry. And yeah, that's there's a lot going on right now. But as far as where I come from, I'm from New Hampshire, originally moved to Myrtle Beach after college and worked at a couple different advertising agencies when I first moved down here. And condo world was one of my first clients. This was during 2008 2009. So right around the recession, it was really hard working an advertising agency, trying to get any client to buy anything at that point. But somehow I got conned them by a lot of stuff. And they became my basically my one and only good client and for that year, but built a really great relationship with their team. And to give a little background on kind of world condo world is a rental management company in North Myrtle Beach at the time, they manage around 250 units, I believe, and just in North Myrtle Beach at that time. So again, this is 2009. They hired me to come on full time for a project that really took has, there's similarities in what I do now. But it took so many different paths along the way, it was going to be a website project that was going to use the condo world brand to help promote other professionally managed rental companies. So this was it's really, you know, it was, you know, early for its time. But this was when VRBO was first coming on in popularity. And there was a lot of concern within the industry on what that was going to do to the professionally managed side. Right. And really, I mean that that concern has not gone away. But it's not just because of VRBO or Airbnb is just as much of a concern and just the ability for individual owners to be able to run their own technology and operations now, but this was way before that none of it was nearly as sophisticated. But so they hired me to come on, we built this website that was purpose of it was to advertise the benefits of renting through professionally managed vacation rentals, or vacation rental managers and not just condo world. We wanted to show other vacation rental companies in North and South Carolina. That's how it started. And it was a pay per click model website where we had the screenshot of the company's homepage. And when you clicked you went right over to their site. And I mean, it was pretty, it was pretty, you know, basic, simple, but it worked. We were generating a lot of traffic, and we were doing our own marketing to get traffic to those sites. But ultimately, one of the difficulties we ran into was that nobody knew if that traffic was, was converting for one of two reasons. One, they either didn't have online bookings, which I know that sounds like the dark ages. But it's true. There was a time when there was no such thing as online bookings. And the one that companies that did have online bookings, they didn't have sophisticated enough tracking to be able to know if the traffic we were sending was actually turning into a booking. So we were sending a lot of traffic but you know, it just it was a hard product sell. And we were just getting our feet wet and how hard it really would be but there was a lot going on in the industry at this time. And the more that I got my head around everything that was going on at condo world more I immersed myself I saw a massive need for us to refocus our branding efforts. So that's what we did. And you know, we drew back from that project. We you know, at that time condo world was this amazing company that had been in North Myrtle Beach since 1985. And had a stellar reputation with homeowners and guests, and a name that had truly the runway for growth that could take us anywhere condo world is such a global name that we're not limited to it wasn't Cliburn vacation rentals, or Alex's vacation rentals, it was a brand that could go anywhere. So you know looking at that opportunity I thought you know, we've if we want to be able to use our brands and we want to be able to rent properties for you know, other companies, we've really got to make sure our brand is very strong. So I you know, talked to the owners of our company and I said I think we need to put this other website project on the backburner. Come back to it once we've got you know, our our house in line and that's what we did. So we spent the next three to four years and really rebranded the company got everything in line from our communications and ads and how are you know, all of our copy everything how we were displayed outward outwards was now streamlined in a much more cohesive manner and We had grown in that time period to about 325 units. So we were growing quickly. And it was we were kind of ahead of our time a little bit in terms of being able to pull that brand together. So that worked out really well. In 2014, we then relaunched a similar program to what we had. But this was a, really the first iteration that really got some steam to it, of our out of market program. And basically what we did we, we went to Myrtle Beach, which as I mentioned, we're in North Myrtle Beach. And partnered with several resorts in the area that had different amenities and different abilities to do shorter stays and things that are North Myrtle Beach inventory did not offer. And it would just open up a wider net for our guests to be able to book truly the entire 60 miles of the Grand Strand as with all it. So that was the first part of it. And really over the next few years, we we learned and stumbled and you know, trying to become an OTA while also being a property management company. I cannot say it was easy. But we definitely, we made it through and we licked our wounds. And we built an incredible program, that now looking back, I'm so glad that we did it the way that we did. You know, our condo world is, you know, the biggest locally owned vacation rental booking site for our area. So we've we've been able to figure out how to do it, but it was it was tough going at some points there.
And everything was easy. If it was easy. Everybody would do it. Exactly. Yeah,
exactly. Exactly. And yeah, you know, we're still we're learning every day. But we've expanded into other destinations. And that's really the, you know, the future of continuing that expansion, finding more partnerships. Our local portfolio is now approximately 600 units in North Myrtle Beach. So from 250 to 600. Several years later, we've built our own technology stack with our own PMS channel manager and booking engine. And I serve as Chief Marketing Officer for the company. So I've involved in all aspects of business strategy, development and marketing. And it's it's been it's been a lot of fun. But Annie and I met at a conference a few years. We met at OPMA aatma, which is the on site Property Managers Association, which we're hoping will get back up and running here soon. But it's a it's an association that really caters to the type of inventory that's in Panama City Beach and Myrtle Beach, which is that on site condo resort, inventory, really, and the different struggles that they have with, you know, be providing the f&b You know, really being the more hotel based company, but still also, you know, the inventory is owned by individual owners. So it's a little bit different than offsite type rental companies and different struggles there but, and I met there and we just immediately kicked it off. And we've worked together on different projects and just stayed in touch and became great friends and just, you know, really see eye to eye on a lot of things. Not everything, but a lot of things. And so that's that's been that's where we're at. And Annie, I'm just so excited to be here. No, and
I think Alex just listened to you talk about that. It's just just shows one example of just the tenacity of the people in our industry, like you guys had an idea and you stuck with it, and you worked with it. And you fell a few times and stumbled. And yeah, I did try new things. And I think that that goes into sort of another facet of what we wanted this podcast to be about was talking about mentorship and how really important that is and was for both of us coming up in our you know, in our careers. And, you know, I've we've had both multiple mentors in different areas. And I know that you know, your mentor, Roy Roy, he was just a tremendous figure, not only in your life and in the the market of Myrtle Beach but in the industry and just a big icon and so I would love to hear more about how he really helped you and, and gave you your wings to fly and be the success that you are.
Yeah, thank you and absolutely, I mean, a lot I think a lot of people some are good amount of our listeners may know Roy Roy Clyburn he was the owner and founder of condo world from day one until a couple just about two months ago, he passed away. A large part of my love for this company honestly, comes from him. He was my sorry, did your Oh. We just say oh man, why don't rehearse is like five times. Excuse me. He was my boss and mentor for 12 years and it was scary. I mean, it was, it was sad when he passed. But he really laid a groundwork for all of us to continue on the, you know, the basis of what he had built. And he was truly a pioneer for the industry. And I honestly, I don't think I know, in terms of the mentorship side, I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for him. When I first moved to Myrtle Beach, and this is crazy to me looking back, but I was told by my early employers that I would never make a certain amount of money, I would never rise to any sort of status in the business community here, because I wasn't from here, I wasn't one of those local families that built the beach, and you know, own the land and all that I didn't have any connections, I was young, and ultimately, I was female. And I thought, Oh, my God, I mean, this deck is stacked against me pretty bad. I mean, I might as well just head over to New Hampshire. But um, and you know, interesting, interestingly enough, the people who were telling me this, and really just discouraging the heck out of me, they were all women. And you know, that it really, that bothers me that, that that happens early in my career. Because it honestly, if I hadn't met Roy, I think I probably would have believed them. Because I have no reason otherwise to I mean, it just, it was just baffling to me. But I thought, okay, that's just the way things are down there. And I guess maybe I should leave. But, you know, growing up in New Hampshire, my dad owned an advertising agency for 25 years. And I saw him become successful and truly wanted to replicate that success in my life. But I just I didn't ever remember his company telling people that were working for him, the things that I was hearing in Myrtle Beach as a young business first, business persons gives me, so excuse me, but then I met Roy, and he had faith in me that I could do anything. And he really helped shape the early part of my career, and was just built the confidence that I have to this day, I mean, he really was huge for getting me off on the right foot. So, you know, I really believe that mentorship is incredibly important. And, you know, as Annie said, we want to use this podcast as a means to connect people uplift people connect to the right information, or the right connections that might help. You know, our listeners have their own aha moments, because I know I had several of those in the early days and continue to but you've got to be surrounded by the right information and people to have that I think anybody can achieve any level of success, given those those important ingredients. So and Annie, I think you've you've shared some of your experiences with me too, about, you know, similar things that happened to you and mentors that you've worked with. And once you tell us a little bit about what happened with you in Panama City Beach.
Yeah. And I think what's funny about it is again, we keep talking about we have all these similarities and these like, there's so many options. There's so many times when our paths should or could have crossed but they didn't right. So my first real strong mentor was a gentleman that had come in His name was Ross Smith and he had come into manage the resort that I worked at, it was actually a hotel resort at the time, there's largest convention space in the market. We had like 45 50,000 square feet of meeting space, we had 625 guestrooms, it was for hotel buildings. I was doing sales there and he came in because the owners wanted somebody who had been through sort of the the metamorphosis from a small sleepy you know Mom and Pop hotel, destination to being a vacation rental destination. So the condos they so Myrtle Beach was sort of what we had our sights set on. So again, he came from Myrtle Beach, he came in and he was like you're really underutilized, kind of in the position. You weren't you're in and I was doing sales, and special events and those type of things. And more. I was doing religious group sales and tour and travel sales and sports sales, and it was traveling around and I was having a good time. And it was good, but it just wasn't fulfilling. So he saw something in me that he couldn't put his finger on and said, I want you to go out and do this. And I kind of alluded to it kind of in my you know what my career Genesis is. But he said, you know, we need to go out and the goal is for us to be able to manage as many properties in this market as they're built, you know, get them before they are completely built. We want to have you know, all of the rentals in the building that we can possibly get. We want to be the leader in the market in terms of not only condo management in terms of vacation rental management, but also association management. So associations were new to me that was a that was a big learning curve. But he just let me he let me have my freedom to just go out and talk to people and again, make mistakes and say the wrong thing. And yeah, I've been known to say the wrong thing so many times I've had my foot in my mouth more times than I could possibly imagine. But the thing that's great about him was he never He never said you shouldn't have done that he would always sound like, Well, what did you learn from this? What would you have done differently. And I had had a female coworker previous to that, who just said, you know, you just need to do what I tell you to do when I tell you to do and just be quiet, right. And she had the opportunity to really give me guidance and make me look up to her. And for that, I was always very resentful. So when Russ came along, and was just like, look, I want to just help you be the best that you can be. I don't know what that is, we're going to do it together. You know, so we ended up being successful, but coming from the woman that gave me a hard time to him, I knew the value of having somebody who just believed in you, and they may not have known your strengths, and they may not have known all your weaknesses, but they recognize that those strengths and weaknesses are what make you who you are, and make you unique. And he just let me just, you know, again, be fly free and do all kinds of really fun, neat things, and met a lot of really fascinating people. But I walked away from that experience, knowing that when I got to a certain point in my career, I didn't want to be that woman that another girl would look at and say, Well, gee, they could be mentoring me, but instead they're squashing me or, or, you know, trying to kill my spirits, or, you know, squash my spark, keep me from having my aha moment. And so that was another thread that kind of I think Alex even talked about it drew us together is just, we had a lot of a lot of non lawn female mentors through our career. And, you know, some will say, you should always have that, and you should and, and so hopefully out of this podcast, we will bring more women mentors into the industry. But I think also highlighting that there are strong men who want to support the women to be successful.
Yeah, absolutely. And, and I, I see so much of what I experienced in your story, too. I mean, so similar. I think having some way that someone as your mentor that just gives you that one runway for growth with with, without saying exactly how you have to do it is a game changer. I mean, it gives you that confidence to, you know, build your own path. And obviously, you know, you're gonna mess up. But it's, it's nice to know that you can, you can designate for yourself, and you can realize for yourself that yes, okay, what I did was not the best decision or this didn't work as well as we thought that it would. But if you're giving, you have the opportunity to determine that for yourself, it's not someone saying, Do this, and then getting mad at you because you did it wrong. So I think, yeah, I think there's a lot of opportunity for us to bring in more of a an emphasis on the female mentorship side of the industry, because there's, there's a, there's a lot to learn, you know, there and you and I are both continuous learners. So we're, we're open, we, you know, there's still so much out there for everybody. But yeah, interesting stuff, for sure. But let's see. Now, okay,
I think we wanted to just kind of, I mean, I know we don't want to like drone on for days, because we totally could. Yeah, we did touch on, you know, what, maybe some aha moments for us were along the way. And to give you an idea of what were, what were thinking, those aha moments that we want to draw, we want to pull out of other you know, out of our guests. So maybe Alex, tell us about one for you. You know, I think we we both have talked about we've had multiples throughout our career. But you know, what is something that you think may out besides Roy, because obviously he's very instilled in everything that you do. And every every part of you? What, what is something that you think sparked you to be so passionate about this industry?
Yeah, for sure. So one moment, in particular comes to mind. And honestly, if Roy was here, I think he would probably say the same for for the last 12 years of my career, we've gone to world for sure. So when we this is back 2013. I'd say as we're building back up to the launch of that first iterative version of our out of market partnership hybrid OTA program. You know, Roy wanted to go straight to Florida, he thought there was going to be the best opportunity for us there in Orlando and Panama City Beach Destin. And honestly, any The only good thing if we had done that is that I probably we probably would have met a lot sooner. If we had done that first. That's the only that's that's the one good thing that could have happened. It could have been a different aha moment. But instead of that, you know, we're, I'll never forget the day Roy and I were in his office and we were talking about some of the challenges that we saw and, you know, the cost to advertise these other areas and how we would be able to leverage that and you know, it just it was immense. And I still don't at that time. I don't think we had any idea how challenging it really would be. But it just it dawned on me I said you know, instead of going straight to Florida, why don't we go to Myrtle Beach and And you know, a light bulb just went off. And we both looked at each other like, wow, it's that kind of makes sense. Because we don't rent, we don't have any of our own managed properties in Myrtle Beach. They're just in North Myrtle Beach. And we get calls for Myrtle Beach all the time, we get calls from people that want to stay by the boardwalk, or they want to stay for less than seven nights during the summer. And those are two main things that we don't offer are North Myrtle Beach inventory. Still to this day, the ocean front part is Saturday to Saturday, we still have a very high demand that we fill up for those days. So that we fit, we figured out there's got to be some way that we can make connections in Myrtle Beach to be able to still do the same goal that we had been working on, which was to use the condo world brand to market other professionally managed companies. And what we did is we reached out to one of our partners that we worked with through the golf industry here that they also they own golf courses. And they also owned a group of resorts and said, you know, this is what we're looking at doing. Would you be interested in being on our website? And they said, Yeah, of course. And you know, one thing I love about our area here, and Annie, you and I talk about this a lot is Myrtle Beach is a very collaborative market. And I think the more collaborative a market is, the more the stronger of a market, it truly becomes. And that's definitely the case for our situation here in Myrtle Beach area. But we banded together, we got a couple other resort groups. And that that was that was definitely the aha moment because I tell you what, if we had just gone straight to Florida, besides maybe getting to meet you earlier, we would have ended up becoming very discouraged a lot quicker. Because it's it's a lot harder to manage expansion into another market, especially when it's not inventory that you have control of when it's a lot farther away. And you don't know the people. I mean, we didn't know anybody personally down there. It's been you know, it was a wonderful start to this program starting in Myrtle Beach with people that we did know that we could go have meetings with them, we could tour the properties, we could train our staff. And you know that that was that was such a good aha moment to have. And I think if Roy was here, he would say the same thing. But so that's that was that was it for us. There was many other ones. But in terms of the early years, that was definitely my favorite aha moment. But what about for you, Andy? What was your uh,
gosh. I think the one that probably is like the biggest the biggest thing for me was when I was at Expedia, my first year, I just had the Florida Panhandle. And that was a lot of inventory. And I had I had hotels and I had vacation rentals. And that was when they were really just starting to make a big push to get vacation rentals. But again, so many internal conversations had to happen about you know, how do you showcase a vacation rental? How do you talk about the fees? How do you talk about the the odd locations for check ins and the rules, you know, it's not simple, like a hotel. And those platforms were built on hotels. And so there was a, every year they do a kind of a business review. And they do shift around of the markets that managers have. And they were going to give me Gulf Shores, Alabama, and I was like, well, that's going to be great, because that's a huge vacation rental market. And we're going to go crazy there. And we were on a call with the VP of market management at the time. And he used I was going through my numbers, and I said excited about Gulf Shores because they have around 16,000 Vacation Rentals. And he said 6016 1000 and he got really close to the phone. And like everybody's looking at me. I'm standing in front of a room and he's at the phone because he was in Texas. And we were in Orlando. And he's like, can you repeat that number again? I was like 16,001 6000. And my boss Christa. She said, Yeah, this is it. 16,000 Islands, and this really long pause of like, they didn't realize what, what, like a gold mine in terms of inventory that they will Yeah, the Panhandle. And the panhandle of Florida is the largest outside of Orlando in the entire state in terms of the breadth of of inventory. And so I think that that was just the moment when it was like, oh, wait a minute, we really have underestimated what we could do. I think they initially thought well pick up 1000 units in the market best. Yeah. So it really just opened up everybody's eyes to not only that, the fact that I knew that, and I could pull these numbers and I knew where to go get these numbers because I didn't know. But just that that was out there and that they had somebody sitting again on this golden goose that was just waiting to be, you know, hatch an egg and it really it really gave me kind of a fire in my belly, so to speak to like work with the teams to be able to come up with the right messaging and granted, you know, anything like these big channels that are publicly traded companies, they've got a lot of protocols and things that can't be messed with or you know, like your condo world, you have the luxury of its private, you can do kind of the things you want and, and make the changes that you see fit and the time. So there was a lot of things that had to happen. But it made me very passionate about the fact that my my world around me and all the people that I knew and had worked with for 20 years, were now going to be in the spotlight, and they were going to get the just attention that they deserve. And that again, that was my big, big moment of just saying like, this is what is going to drive my passion for the rest of my career to make this market and the industry that I have been a part of important and relevant and heard. So yeah, that was that was my big, big moment.
Yeah, no, that's that's so interesting, too. And, I mean, you think about it, like all the the companies that are like the condo worlds and the companies in Gulf Shores and Panama City, when they started, we went when we all started, there was no VRBO or Airbnb, right? I mean, like, we had to build our own businesses based on repeat, repeat business, and truly traditional methods of advertising. And back, back in the real early days, way, before I was here, all we did was newspaper ads. There, I mean, I've got copies of them. They're great. But it's amazing to see that, you know, now this new breed of people coming into the short term rental industry, I can't tell you how many times I hear this on podcast, people saying this, you know, it's this new thing. It's not a new thing. Vacation Rentals, holiday rentals have been around for decades. What is new is Airbnb and VRBO. But really not are those channels are new, they've both been around for quite a while at this point. But what's new is the attention. So it's interesting hearing even back then it's like that was the first wave that you experienced at Expedia, of that attention really just coming to the forefront. And now we're experiencing it again. But it's, you know, it's I think we'll we're going to have some guests, and you and I are going to dive into that topic. And similar ones a lot more on this podcast about the differences. And you know, how some of these traditional companies were built originally versus now and what we can learn from each other and how, you know, homeowner acquisition is different and can be adapted. There's just so much to unravel there. But yeah,
and I think, you know, technology, and then of course, the interconnected world that we live in, you know, this instantaneous access to, you know, you can book I can book something from my desk to go to Asia tomorrow and travel, you know, for weeks, and it used to be you had to go work with a travel agent, and they had to gather information, you know, so we live in this amazing world and vacation rentals. You alluded to it that it's funny that people say it's all new, it's not new it we've been here, we've been raising our hand asking, you know, hey, look at us, you know, yeah, the back of there, you know, I kind of liken it to the, you know, the shy girl in the back of the room. We've been here for a long time, but people just hadn't paid attention. So this was one of the blessings that I think came out of COVID was just that we were able to get a unified voice somewhat. We're still working on it, but shine a spotlight on this amazing industry that we work in. And so again, our podcast is going to highlight so many stories, and so many facets of the industry that are what make it real and what make it fun. Yeah,
yeah, absolutely. Well, I think that was a good recap, any of you know who we are, where we've been, at least for now. And we'll we'll continue to share more stories to give a little more context to our backgrounds as this goes on. But I know you know, I'm super excited about this. I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I think we're going to build a great community with it. And we hope that all of our listeners will continue to listen, where the next big thing we can announce we're going to be at the Women's Conference in New Orleans, the vacation rental Women's Conference. And that is new in New Orleans, December 1 and second. And Annie and I will be doing a live with Alex and Annie on stage breakout session. So we're super excited about that. And we'll have more details around it as it gets closer that we'll be posting on social media.
Yeah. And so on that note, make sure that you do we talked about this, we're going to be all over social. We love to be part of that. So make sure that you follow us. We have a website that's up and you can sign up for updates and be part of our membership list to get our eblasts and we'll we'll be doing various things throughout giveaways with some of our guests along the way, but it's Alex email@example.com. We're on Facebook at Alex and Annie podcast. And Alex you have the other ones the Instagram and LinkedIn.
I think I think they're all the same. Alex and Annie. Yeah. Or if you want to email us It's Alex and any firstname.lastname@example.org so Anyway, yeah, anywhere you can find us. But if you're ever unsure just look for those cute Bitmojis logo. Looks just like as well. Yeah. Awesome. Well, this has been so much fun today. I will see you on the next episode and we can't wait to connect and to see where this goes. So thank you everybody for listening for our very very first episode for
your support. We look forward to bringing you more great stories.
Yeah. Bye guys. Bye