Aug. 17, 2022

Cleaning House on Operational Tech, with Koryn Okey of Breezeway


Last week we talked to Matt Loney, CEO of Xplorie about consolidations within vacation rental tech, and one of the areas he projected would consolidate was Operations software.  Today, we have Koryn Okey from Breezeway to share her perspective on why operators are choosing to use an external tool like Breezeway for housekeeping & maintenance, and how they've internally consolidated several similar services into one - from messaging to checklists and vendor invoicing, Breezeway positions their value as a specialist for operators that need more than the generalist offerings of most PMS's.

You'll also notice, there's a story within this episode - Lance Stitcher, owner of Seaside Vacations & Sales, joins us to share how using Wheelhouse for their revenue management has enabled him and his wife Elaine to 10x their business over the past 2 years. It's all part of Wheelhouse's Spotlight on Exceptional Property Managers.

This podcast is brought to you by our Premiere Brand Sponsor, Wheelhouse: The Ultimate Revenue Driving Machine. They're offering listeners of our podcast 50% OFF your 1st 2 months - use promo code ALEXANNIE or mention this podcast when you talk to them!  http://www.usewheelhouse.com/?afmc=Alex%26Annie 

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CONTACT KORYN OKEY
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Alex Husner - Linkedin
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Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex and I'm Annie. And we're joined today with Koryn Okey, who is the VP of client experience at Breezeway. Koryn, welcome to the podcast,

Koryn Okey:

guys. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Alex Husner:

So we all go way back, right? I think we've known you for several years now. And the nice thing is that all these conferences, we get to see everybody at all them and you're at them just like we are. So it's always fun getting to catch up with you, but and follow your your career path from FlipKey and into breezeway over the years. But for our audience that might not be familiar with you. Can you give a little bit of your history and background?

Koryn Okey:

Yeah, absolutely. So I am, like many folks in this industry sort of fell into it. I, you know, have I started my career in publishing, and was ready to make a change and found out about the opportunity at flip key. For those who don't know, FlipKey was a, essentially an OTA and a guest review collection platform. So we really sort of introduced that concept of guest reviews into the industry, at least forward facing pre booking guest reviews. And I joined their team as the eighth employee back in 2008. So that was, before the vacation rentals, were starting to be listed on TripAdvisor and spent the first seven years of my career in in the industry there and learned so much. I did sales, I did account management. I worked with clients basically all over the world. I remember first starting in my territory was everything that didn't touch the East Coast, which is a lot. But, you know, it really, really got to learn a lot about different markets and what was happening. And like I said, I was there for seven years through the buyout of TripAdvisor. And at that point in 2015, I was just sort of ready to make a change, and actually left the industry for about a year and a half, until I got a call from Jeremy Gall, who is was one of the founders of FlipKey and is also the founder of Breezeway. And he asked if I asked actually asked me what I was doing a weekend in October, and it just so happened to be a vrma conference. And I put two and two together and I said, Well, my going to vrma and, and funny story, it was actually at Wild Horse Pass. And so my very first vrma in 2008, was also a Wild Horse pass. So it really felt like we were coming full circle, and looking at this opportunity at Breezeway. And at that point, you know, it was a very small company, they had a lot of concept and we had the opportunity to meet with friends from within the industry, introduce what we were doing, get some feedback, and then I joined the team at breezeway in 2017 as their their first hire, so it's been quite a ride. And I've been there now for over five years. So wow,

Annie Holcombe:

that's awesome. And that's you're talking about the wild pass. That's Alex and I call that signs like, it's just a sign that you were supposed to be where you're supposed to be. Yeah, that's super exciting. I'd love to hear more about kind of the Flip Key TripAdvisor and I worked in property management and then was obviously at Expedia for several years. And so the turkey flatland Turkey flip keys.

Alex Husner:

I've done that so many times.

Koryn Okey:

I did it many times. Previously, it's

Alex Husner:

not a bad name. No, it's

Annie Holcombe:

really not. It's our next company's googling.

Koryn Okey:

Is that domain available? Yeah,

Alex Husner:

like, whoa.

Annie Holcombe:

So anyway, I think that during that time, when I think when things were happening, people were very excited about what that was going to mean with FlipKey going to try TripAdvisor. I know like TripAdvisor has been out of Expedia. And I remember thinking at the time when I joined Expedia, like why did they sell it like, and internally, it was like, it was kind of dead weight, and then all of a sudden it took off. So you were kind of there about that time, I think when it when it sort of took off. So can you kind of shed some light on that?

Koryn Okey:

Yeah, I mean, it was really interesting. You know, I think you guys have been in the industry, as we all know, right? For a long time. And so you've sort of seen the evolution of and sort of the consumer understanding and sort of the influence that VR has, has really had, but you know, at that point, I don't think I think we were still more of that like cottage industry generally. Right. And it wasn't, it was an all I remember first, when we first started talking to TripAdvisor, it was an alternative lodging accommodation type. And it didn't really have its own sort of category on the site and as the buyout of FlipKey and that happened, we started to say like, Hey, this is a huge industry, and they're really well I didn't say but the the team said I'm in this is a huge industry and we really need to save it alone and the recognition. And you know, this was pre Airbnb. And so was really interesting to see how that really started to drive. Guests right, as soon as it was really offered up as an accommodation, we really started to see a big influx of and we continue to see I think in the industry, an influx of new guests who aren't specifically used to saying in a vacation rental and you know, certainly there are challenges with that. But um, but that time at TripAdvisor was really interesting, because we really saw you know, coming from the the small business that FlipKey was being then bought in and brought into the TripAdvisor family, and TripAdvisor has may have flights, they have hotels, they have activities, it's really big stretch across the travel industry. So being able to fill a part of that was, was really interesting. And we spent a lot of time understanding what was important to managers, I think that was something we did really well at FlipKey was really talking to people and asking the questions to understand what was going to make the most sense for the business, you know, when we first started, you had the opportunity to collect reviews and respond to those reviews. And we provided widgets that you could put on your website, and all of that stuff. But initially, you didn't sort of have the control over does a negative review sit on your website, right. And as we continue to become more and more, you know, more and more have more and more knowledge about what was really important to managers. It wasn't Hey, I don't want to have a bad review. But I don't want to push these reviews and push a negative review on my own site. So we really spend a lot of time understanding the business and the needs of the industry to build that product. And I think it's it's really interesting, because it's something that Jeremy has continued to do, as we've moved into breezeway is really understanding what's important and that the specific needs and the unique needs of this industry. So that the product that we're building really does mesh well and align with the with, with how the operations happen.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, well, I mean, I remember we used FlipKey, that was the first OTA that we were on at Condo-World. And that was definitely in the early days of my career here. I think that was probably like 2009/ 2010 that we were on there. And it was it was a really great experience. And, you know, as to see the evolution of where OTAs have gone. And the problems and the negatives that we all see with some of them, you guys had it right. And a lot of ways. And it was I mean, the API at that point was probably very rudimentary compared to what that is available now. But it works, you know, and we've got any, we've talked to some people that kind of speak to that same thing. Julie from Cabo villas, which is a hybrid OTA property management company, she said the same thing that, you know, they struggled with getting API's to access some of this hotel type inventory. And they just went back to the basics in the last year and ended up just doing it's it's more of a manual process with the rates, and it's more of like a contact form type thing. But she said that their bookings have been through the roof. So sometimes the things that you you think would never outpace modern technology actually give it more of a personal touch. But it's interested in seeing TripAdvisor too, because so much has gone on with that company. You know, since those days and they kind of behind it became the behemoth and a lot of people really didn't like them for a long time. I know the tours and attractions industry now is kind of still reeling with them, and how they're taking business and all sorts of stuff. But it's, I don't know, it's I just pulled up FlipKey. And it's, it doesn't really look like the site's been updated in a long time. So I

Koryn Okey:

haven't been on it in ages. You know, it's interesting, though, I think coming back to, you know, what Julie was saying, when we, I remember when you know, at that point, we were a pay per lead platform, right. So you paid per call, you paid per email, but you got all of that information. So then it was yours to remarket and to do all of those things. And, and, and it's so funny looking back, right, like, at the time, everyone was like, This is too much I don't want to spend this and you know, there was other all there was all of this feedback. And then when Airbnb came in and sort of introduced this paper booking and then that sort of became the path that so many of the OTAs ended up going down. I hear all the time as I talked to people who you know worked with us when we were at FlipKey Gosh, what we wouldn't give to go back to the pay per lead model it for our businesses and so I think you know, going off of what you said Alex about you know, Julie's feedback is that sometimes like all of the modern technology is great, but but it does take it does make sense to sign it. Take a step back and look and see like what really is going to benefit the business and give you the most bang for your buck.

Alex Husner:

While giving us the reviews. That was the big part. Like I said, at that point, I don't think we had any process in place to be able to generate our own reviews. And nobody really did at that point. And, you know, FlipKey kind of started that whole trend. But to be able to show those on our site was great. I remember we were so all in on Flipkart TripAdvisor we had in our header with the logo that said, like five stars, FlipKey, TripAdvisor, and like we were all in on supporting and making sure that was well known. But yeah, it's interesting and interesting to that Jeremy's path took him from this into software. And I think to some extent, the the mentality has continued on the same same vein, obviously, when he's brilliant, what he does and how he's built these companies, but, you know, really trying to build something that caters to the needs of the property managers, so and that might be a good segment to kind of get you into talking about Breezeway. But how did those early days transpire? What are your memories from that?

Koryn Okey:

Well, I feel like in the five years that I've spent has felt far longer, right, because you're as a startup, you're just doing so much. And I wore a lot of hats. And I always when I'm, you know, talking to prospective candidates to join our team, they're like, What is your path look like? And, you know, I often joke that I did a lot of things that I wasn't qualified to do. And I, you know, I gave my my feedback in my opinion, and but the early days were, I think it's it's one of those things, not everyone is cut out to work at a startup. And, and you have to be agile and able to sort of pivot as needed. But, you know, those were sometimes sometimes looking back, they're the hardest days, but they're also the best days, because we learned so, so much. And we, you know, we have this opportunity to have a small product. And it is definitely a challenge. You see, as you get larger, it becomes more difficult to really customize for every client and every client's wants. But when you're first starting out, it's like a client says, Oh, you need this and you're like, oh, my gosh, that's a great idea. Of course, let's build it. And then as you get bigger and larger, and you have a larger client base, that certainly becomes a little bit more difficult to do, because what this client wants, someone else hates that idea. And so you then sort of have to look at the larger scale and scope and impact of anything that you're rolling out. But you know, those early days were fun, they were exhausting. But we learned so much. And I think that so much of what we learned at that time, still influences what we do today, it's still influences the features that we roll out and the thought processes behind how we roll them out and how we build tools and things within the platform for our clients to leverage and so I think we were very lucky. You know, we we saw a lot of immediate success, partially because it was sort of an untapped market, in that there really wasn't anything that was really niche focused on the actual operations of the industry. And so that really kind of gave us a heads up, but it also because we listened and because it was built for the property managers, it really resonated and was impactful at first, first implementation, and we didn't always get it right, I don't want to, you know, set the tone that everything we did was perfect. And there were clients that it didn't work for at the time. But it's been really rewarding to see some of those folks who joined us really early on and sort of took a chance, recognize that this isn't doing what I need it. And now we're seeing a lot of those folks circling back and saying, Hey, we're hearing so much great stuff about what you're doing. Let's see if it meets our needs now. And I'm really excited that we've been able to, to continue to add on to the product to do that. And, and we're seeing really good success. So I feel really lucky. But the early days were hard. They were educational, but they were also super rewarding. And I don't think that did we not put that in that we would be where we are today.

Annie Holcombe:

So I think one thing that I've learned and and I think as we talked about what a lot of people isn't, you know, the further you're pushed outside of your comfort zone, the more learnings you can get, and the more well rounded it makes you and at the time it seems like why am I doing all of these things, but then you looked at you look back over and you're like this is exactly what I needed to do to get me to the position that I'm in now to make me more you know, more well rounded make the understanding. For me, it's about I've learned a lot of ways to be empathetic with all sides of the equation. So from property managers and OTAs and the channel management side, you just talked to so many different people and it's it's really important to have those learnings and have that discomfort in the beginning. Makes you stronger. You said you said that. It feels like it's been a long time and I think we all can agree that COVID While it was a year 18 months 18 to 24 months at worst. It felt like 10 years. I mean I feel like we all aged and just experienced so much But one of the things that we've seen is kind of a common thread talking to our guests is that COVID, again for vacation rentals was probably lightning in a bottle. We're never gonna get what we've experienced in terms of the growth and the attention. And I was curious, do you think that COVID was a catalyst to help breezeway grow and get more people to adopt using their function or functionality?

Koryn Okey:

Absolutely? I mean, I've said this many times, right, I think we were incredibly blessed by the impact that COVID had on on the industry. I also think that what it what it really did is, it highlighted this part of the business that is so incredibly instrumental in any business's success. And it really started to sort of, to shine some light on that. And so, you know, every company was always cleaning units, right? Every every company was always going in, and they were, they were inspecting, and they were doing maintenance, and they were doing their cleans. But I think it's one of those things where like, when when, when the focus isn't on it, it's really easy to sometimes get complacent. And and I think that as an industry, we might have been, we might not have been putting the focus where it really needed to be. And I think COVID Absolutely did that. And as a system that helps with, you know, Property Care and operations and making sure that cleans are completed and they meet your brand standards, we were we were sort of uniquely positioned to really provide that sort of accountability and transparency, that businesses needed, not only for their own peace of mind, right, because I think in in a number of situations, we sort of have to remember the fact that there are three clients that these property managers are, are sort of servicing and you're servicing your your owners, certainly your guests, obviously, you're also servicing your, your internal teams, or your employees or partners. And so this sort of, I think COVID really said, Okay, we need to highlight what we're doing to clean, and we need to highlight that to our guests, and to our owners to drive confidence. But we also need to really make sure that we're taking a step back, and we're doing the right things for our teams. Right? Yeah. And I think that was really, that was really powerful. And I think that as an industry, we continue to be better as a result of that.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I think that's, that's 100 Spot on. I mean, you have to start with how it's going to benefit your team and impact them to do their job better. Because if you do that right, then all the other things fall in line, so you're more efficient. So the guests are happier, the units are cleaner, you're making more money, but I think it has to start at that the core of it is what is going to make it easier for everybody to get the job done. And, you know, we've talked to a lot of people that the complaint is, and I agree is that I mean, there's so many different software's out there right now. And a lot of companies have to use like, five or six to do their core vital parts of the business. And that's a lot to ask, you know, that's, that's a lot to ask a manager to have all these different places that you have to go. And especially if they don't talk and you know, in connection there, and you know, the our listener base for this podcast, we've been really just intrigued to see, it's a really healthy mix of companies that are more, you know, between the 100 to 400 range, like more kind of like a Condo-World or the there's a lot that are new to the industry that they have between one to 20 units, and they're just getting into it. And I think as technology moves forward, it that's going to be the challenge, but also the opportunity for companies like a Breezeway to develop things that cater to both sides, where you know, most of what you've built in the past probably is more built on that kind of like enterprise level in multiple multiple units, multiple locations, but these new groups of people that are coming into it, which is the vast majority, I mean, I think any what was who was on the show recently that said, it's like 54% of vacation rentals are a single owner. So I mean, more than half the inventory that's available to rent is falls into that category. But can you speak to that a little bit about how the how your software? Does it work with companies of all sizes? And is that a focus to make sure going forward that you can cater to different needs?

Koryn Okey:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that was it's very representative of what we're seeing, you know, we have hundreds of clients who have you know, 100 200 300 plus properties, but we also have hundreds of clients who have one two, I mean, not hundreds, but one to five, you know, under let's say 40 or 50 properties right. So, these may be much more much smaller operators, they may literally be a a single home and for some people right this is is never going to be like a quote unquote career, right? This is this is something that they want to do. But for many people, this is the start of consecrated. Yeah, they want to they want to go down and yeah, I mean, my experience is a heck of a good one. do choose, you know, and and I think I think that our product, you know, of course we sort of have to cater to both of those segments of the business. But the nice thing is, is at least within breezeway system, right, you use what makes sense for your business. And I think, you know, the one thing that I always say to people is, as you're making a decision around what software, whether it's an operation software, whether it's a PMS or you know, a booking channel, whatever you're doing, you have to make sure that it works for you today. But then it can also work for you as you plan to grow. And so we absolutely work with a lot of smaller operators AND, and it's just really a way in which they're adopting features. The other thing is that we just did at vrma. This spring, we did a session that was like all things, all things operations. And we did like a show of hands, how many people have, you know, under 10 properties, and it was probably a third of the room. And we're seeing these folks are, they're hungry, they're, they're listening to podcasts like yours, they're trying to gather as much information as they can to do it right, and to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And so we absolutely work with those folks. And we want to help them make sure that they're, they're doing the operational pieces of the business, right. But again, they may not need all of the complexity, support for those larger folks.

Alex Husner:

What Why is it that some of this I mean, that the core software companies like why would somebody choose to add Breezeway, if you work with a, one of the big enterprise PMS is like, why don't in your opinion, why don't those software's have what you guys have? What like, what is the difference, because back to my point a few minutes ago, it is annoying to have to use multiple platforms. So that would be a big concern. Like I if I were was we have our own custom PMS Condo-World. But if we were going to go sign on with a big one, I wouldn't want to have to do that. And then you know, a Breezeway, and then something else. And then this, I mean, if you're buying into one of the big ones that should do all of it, but why, why don't they

Koryn Okey:

show and this is the analogy that I use all the time. And I mean, it's the same reason that you have a primary care physician, and you go to a specialist when you need to see an eye,ears and throat guy, right. Like, it's the same reason because the the general practitioner or the PMs does so much right, they have such a wide scope, that they're actually that they're actually having the service and having to serve up for the clients that you can't go really deep. And so, you know, the folks who use one of the big PMS is that do have an operations portion within their system have chosen to work with us because they need to do more, right, they have a more complex business, they really are committed to this part of of their business. Or it just doesn't work. You know, I think a lot of the PMs partners, and we have a ton of them, and many of them have an offer an operations platform, but it's pretty baseline, right? It's, here's what you need to do, you can schedule a clean, you can do X, Y, or Z. But they're not doing customized checklists and each property and building up property specific requirements, they don't maybe have a mobile app that the team can use in the field, they maybe don't have, you know, a dashboard where they can use some of them. Most of them probably have a basic dashboard that sort of fits in but you know, there are specific features that breezeway offers that are just deeper functionality than the PMs have. So it does, I totally hear you. And I also think it's a decision that you have to make on like, what you're going to focus on on your business on whether or not you do some of the add on pieces of software. But I also completely agree Alex with you that like you need an integrated solution, or some way to make it easier, so that you are not doing like everything twice, right? You have a system where you can't get reservations into it, well, you need to be able to do that, or, you know, a lot of our clients, a lot of companies are using multiple systems, just because they have to right like many of our clients use RingCentral to text their guests. And they're manually adding those reservations in to the platform into the RingCentral system to send the text messages out. Not because they want to, but just because they've sort of had to. And so when we introduce our messaging platform, and we say, hey, we already have that integration with the PMs, we know who the guests are, we have their contact information that can all be automated, it becomes an opportunity to remove something that they a function they needed for their business from a system that wasn't connected. So that interconnectivity between the software's that you choose is is incredibly important.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, for sure.

Annie Holcombe:

I think that's I think that's a really good point. And I like the way you explain that I get from the channel management side. I have that conversation a lot because a lot of the PMS is have decided that they want to get into channel management and I think that's completely fine. And I think that that works for some people. But one of the things that we found is that from lexicon standpoint, we have a really good reputation of being sort of granular with our customers, and really providing, I'd say, white glove service, like really, really get in the weeds with them. And I think that, to your point about the PMS is are offering so many kinds of different connection options. If you don't have the support to backup each one of those connections. And again, dealing with OTAs can be mind numbing at times. I mean, there's there's so many things to navigate. And, and COVID, unfortunately, made it harder because they wanted to automate everything. And so everything's through an inbox. So it's very frustrating. I think a lot of people have seen that with Airbnb. And with some of the other channels, you just can't get person. And so when you have somebody who's kind of an expert in one discipline, and I always say like, it's kind of like looking at an Olympic sized pool, you know, we each have a lane that we swim in. And sometimes people can cross over and do multiple disciplines. I mean, you know, Michael Phelps, he's the, he's the guy that can do it all. But that's really not the norm. I think that everybody needs to focus on the discipline that they're good at and offer that service. And together, we can provide the best service to the customer. So I do think that there are some some situations where it warrants just using your PMS, you know, if you're not doing a whole lot for your guests, but if you're wanting to provide that white glove service from start to finish, you really need to have a lot of a couple of different options. And again, to Alex's point, it can be cumbersome and I think it was lino Maldonado shared a story when he was at Wyndham resort, because I think it was Wyndham and they had adopted from Windham corporate, a new software. And he went to one of his leads in the in the panhandle. And she was like, I'm not doing this. And he was like, why not? Because let me she's like, let me show you my day about how she went through it. And again, five different systems having to do and she's like, I just can't add one more thing. So he started to see like, Okay, this is a problem that, again, there are ways for all of this, these systems to speak together. And I think as long as the tech solutions are talking to one another, there's room for all of us to be part of it

Koryn Okey:

more. And I also think that like, you know, we're seeing, we've seen so much evolution in the industry over the last 10-15 years, that the folks who are still saying I can only use this one system. I mean, I remember FlipKey that was so many. So many of the conversations, you're like, Oh, well, it's not it's not integrated with x or it's not it's I have to go to another platform, I can't use it. Right. I think just as a as a world, we're using more software, and we're using more tools to achieve our job and, and whether that means you have to use more products to clean a property or if you use more software to do your job, right. If we want to continue to evolve and, and stay ahead of the curve in our markets, we have to be sort of forward thinking and that doesn't mean you have to be the guinea pig for everything that comes out. Right. But it does mean that, you know, we sort of have to look at that. And I think as an industry, we've come a long way in doing that.

Alex Husner:

Now, what is the decision to not white label a Breezeway, like I've ever considered that. And I say that because we've talked a lot about the tech consolidation, and we are seeing some of these newer platforms instead of saying, Okay, we're gonna go out on our own, we're going to take a different route, we're going to white label within some of them. But was that ever a consideration or whatever makes sense for Breezeway so that you're actually within a system, per se? I mean,

Koryn Okey:

that's probably more honestly more of a Jeremy question, because I'm not sure what the the business decision behind it, it's not something that we have done. You know, we do offer an open API for our partners. And so if somebody does have the technological capabilities, which mean, you guys are sort of uniquely positioned, there's probably a handful of, of companies that can support that. Maybe a couple of dozen, maybe more than a handful, but you know, we do we do have an API, so people can get that information without pushing in and, and all that, but it's, um, as far as the business decision, I don't think it's something that we've really explored. But I also think that, you know, we have a lot of our partners really want to have a really tight integration and really want to work closely together. And so we've been able to really, it's not seamless, it's not in their system, really try to make it so you know, you're doing you have this team is in is in the PMs, your operations team is in here. And then they can push it in and your accounting team can work in your out of your PMS just like they do today. So yeah, I think that kind of goes as far as the white label. I can't speak to that specifically. But between the API and the the partnerships, and the two way integrations that we've done, we can get pretty close without without going into that route.

Annie Holcombe:

Do you see? Well, I see. Do you see one of the things I'd like to talk about is like what the future looks like. So from Breezeways perspective, what do you guys see is like your next opportunity, you know, getting you white labeling, we could talk to Jeremy about that, you know in a different conversation, but from your perspective, what your what customers are asking for Do you see that there's some enhancements or some new things that are kind of in the pipeline for Breezeway?

Koryn Okey:

Yeah, I mean, you know, most people probably don't even know that we have three, three, essentially three product lines at Breezeway, we have our operations product, which is what we really launched with this what a lot of people know about us. We also have a messaging component, and a module, which is a standalone or purchased together, which allows property managers to text back and forth with their guests and automate a lot of that communication, as well as a safety product. So you can are caught my colleague, Justin Ford, he runs our our safety and certification program, and he has actually created a certification program to get safety inspectors, for safety inspectors, so that they know what to look at to make sure that the properties are actually safe. So within that, we sort of touch a lot of pieces of the business, and sort of things that need to be addressed and looked at, I think, for us, we will just continue, you know, continue to build features that our clients need, you know, we recently rolled out an inventory tracking module within our operations piece. So you can now track, you know, where you're using your supplies, when they're being used, what property they're used, that when you need to reorder, we notify you of that. And again, that's, you know, kind of going back to the the prior conversation, right? That is typically something that people might have been doing in a different platform. So as we continue to hear from our clients, we're continuing to try to find areas where we can take some of that burden from them to add functionality and features within Breezeway to support the needs of the growing industry and their businesses. So we're gonna continue to build on our inventory platform, which really just launched in q4, last year, we are continuing to do more customization and personalization, around the scheduling of work and the communication of that work out to teams and then building more on on the the experience of that interaction with the guests through that that text automation. But, you know, there's a couple other things that are sort of in the works. So I'll, you know, I'll leave it that, you know, this fall, maybe we'll have some some more exciting things to share with people. But I think we're really focused on operational efficiency, and all of the things that sort of touch that. So they were just going to continue to, we're gonna continue to double down on that, because it is such an important part of the business.

Annie Holcombe:

Do you see? And I'm just curious, because there's a lot of hotel operations coming into vacation rental space, and I think that there's opportunity for some of these services to be over in the hotel space, do you see that you guys could kind of leap over to that side of the business, or you think that you're just so customized for sort of again, go back to the alternative lodging, they're not normal, normal 20, you know, 15 years ago, but it's totally normal. Now, do you think that that's just where your space is?

Koryn Okey:

I mean, I think that there's an opportunity, we do have some smaller boutique hotels, but I think, at this point, right, we've really focused on that the unique, the unique qualities of short term rentals. And and that can certainly apply to hotels. But I think that, you know, we are seeing a lot of we see a lot of overlap. And we're seeing a lot of hotels wanting to come into the vacation rental space just because of sort of the the attention that it's gotten within the travel sector, but I think that it's a it's a much I can't speak fully to say that like this would make sense. But I I feel my opinion, my opinion is that like, be much easier for us to go into a hotel space, because we're already built for the unique quality, the uniqueness, that geographical segmentation, the different characteristics of these homes and condos. And whereas hotels are really built for a one, a double room, a king room, and that you need those unique capabilities are harder to translate to the VR world. And probably a little easier would be probably a little easier for us to translate to that sort of standard room type. But we do work with some hotels today. No, like huge chains, but then a lot of the more boutique sort of operate more like a VR company

Alex Husner:

some capacity. Yeah, that's definitely one of in the advantages that hotels have over vacation rentals,I mean the simplicity of maintaining, you know, at one building where you have complete control, there's not other hotel groups managing rooms within the building, you know, I mean, that's vacation rentals is just complex as a business model. And I think people, new people within the space don't fully understand that and especially from a condo market perspective, I mean homes, I mean, they they present their own complexity, but homes in a way I feel like are a little bit easier because you're not competing with somebody else. that's also in that building. So but the condo side of it, you know, in Myrtle Beach and in where Annie is in Panama City Beach, there's some properties that they could have 20-30 different management companies or individuals managing units.

Koryn Okey:

And it's interesting to that from the consumer perspective, right? They all want that, right? I see that this building, and it's like, well, you did, but you stayed with company A or B, right? You stay with the establishment. And I was just having this conversation with somebody who just joined our team and, and explaining the complexity around like, a midstay cancellation, right? When somebody comes in, they check in I hate this unit, it's not clean, it doesn't have the view the furniture is not what I thought it was whatever. We've all everybody that's listening is it's not just as simple as saying, Okay, well, I'm gonna move you to this down the hall.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, no, that's not how it works.

Koryn Okey:

And it's a challenge. You know, I think property management is hard. And for everybody who's doing that on a daily basis, like, I couldn't, I don't think I could do it. I mean, I may I may try. But it's, it's really difficult. And so I think it's, it's eye opening, right to listen to the podcasts or to go to conferences and to, to actually hear and see and understand the challenges. Because whether you have two units or 200, you know, you're still having the same issues.

Alex Husner:

Right? Yeah. I think that's the reason. That's one thing I certainly respect about you and your company I've seen your team in in sessions that are not any anything at all related to cleaning. I mean, like I've seen you in revenue management sessions, and, you know, marketing, all these different things, I think it's really important to still have that wide scope of what's going on. Because in my perspective, it's it's kind of the opposite. Like, I don't do anything with our cleaning, maintenance operation side, I'm solely marketing, business development, advertising strategy, but I mean, I am aware of what's going on. But as far as you know, the day to day and how they operate, give them all the respect in the world, because I know it's very complicated. But you know, I tried to kind of stay in my lane, but just have an idea of it. But I think that's really important to make sure that you are understanding and especially because you're talking to these clients, and you're you just have a better way of sympathizing or empathizing with them on what the needs are. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Well, Karyn, we're so excited that I've had you hear and it's really funny to Alex's comment in the beginning, we've known you for a long time. And I think you and I actually met for the first time in person last year in DARM. And it was just so great, because your, your personality is absolutely infectious. And I'm so grateful to now have you I hope as a friend, and just absolutely as a friend to the Alex and Annie show, but wanted to wrap up and ask you a couple of kind of personal questions to get a little bit more inside Koryn and what makes you tick. One of the things that I think we talked about was just what you bring to your job. And I was curious what you think the most personal, important personal attribute is for you to bring to your job and what you do every day?

Koryn Okey:

Well, sometimes I would say the biggest thing, I think, is, is necessary, not necessarily in my job on the day to day, but it is. It's just as it's a mantra that I that I've tried to live by and I think has has benefited me, right is that like, and especially for this industry, this is a very relationship based industry and people buy from people they know and people they like and and I it just it was natural for me in the very beginning to like form, like strong friendships and, and relationships with people whether they were ever a client or not. And I think that like, genuineness is really important, because there's a lot of people that are just trying to sell people things. And I have some of my like, closest people within the industry have never bought a product from me. I've never sold them anything. They've never been a client, but we have this like mutual respect for one another. And I think it this industry is very infectious for the excitement and the energy that it brings but also for the the camaraderie and the collaborative nature, right. So just because somebody isn't a client today doesn't mean that they might not be a client next week and just because breezeway isn't a fit for you now does it mean that it won't be in five years and so I really just tried to do it both in my personal life and my professional life be genuine and kind and, and, you know, Alex said it earlier, empathetic to what people need, what they need, what they're doing, and I try to live life like that. And I think it's benefited me well and I I want to continue doing that because at the end of the day, it's all about people and relationships and not about like whether or not you're my you're my client.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's 100% agree on that. And I think we are all very lucky and we say this often on the show In our industry is very collaborative. And I think,durring COVID, we all kind of came together even more, you know, through these different webinars and LinkedIn and podcasts and everything. And now when we go and see each other in person, it's like, I feel like I know people more than I ever did before. But it's, yeah. And it's, it's a good thing. It's nice feeling like you're connected to something bigger than yourself, or just your own company. And I think that's one thing our industry has done really well. without even trying, it just has evolved. But one other question for you what I'm just a little bit more personal to what is one story that you remember from your family growing up?

Koryn Okey:

This is it's sort of an embarrassing story, but I think it speaks to me as a person. We have, we moved a lot from my dad's job when I was when I was young and pretty, I mean, anyone that knows me, right? Because I'm pretty outgoing. I, I've never really met a stranger, I try to, you know, say hi to everybody. I'm like that, that commercial that they show where it's like, you don't want to be your parent, like, Nope, they don't need you to tell them where they are. That's just me. And it always has been and probably always will be. But my parents used to love to share a story about when we moved. I was of course trying to like, help the movers and tell them where to go and what to do. And my mom was like, get her out of the house. And so my dad and I were like walking down the street and I, I passed a random stranger. And I literally just said, Hi, my name is Koryn Okay, we're moving in down. They're like, do you want to come to our house for dinner? And my dad was like, and it's just one of those things where like, you know, goes back to the, to the last question, right? It's just being kind and embracing and welcoming. And that's just always been my personality. But it's, it's a funny story. Because, you know, my parents used to my parents used to laugh and my dad I was used to the second part of that story is like, my dad jokes, like, she was pretty good look. And so I was like, yeah, do you want to come to dinner? You know. And so it's just I think it's a funny anecdote that has sort of run true for for my life for my career is just embracing, embracing folks and being pretty welcoming. So

Alex Husner:

yeah, that was a great answer. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here with us, Grant. It's great to hear a little bit more about you and also about breezeway. And just we appreciate everything that you do for the industry. So thank you for being here. What is a good way for our guests to get in touch with you?

Koryn Okey:

Yes. So if you're already a client, please reach out, you can email me directly. It's Koryn K-O-R-Y-N@breezeway.io. If you're not a client, and you want to learn more, feel free to email our team. It's just vip@breezeway.io. That will go to our sales team. And they, they'll be more than happy to set up some time to walk you through the platform. Let you know how it could work, see if it works for your business. And I also talked to our team and so if anybody, for any folks who are listening, they mentioned the Alex and Annie Podcast, we're going to be waiving the implementation fees through the end of the year. So thank you. Yeah, so feel free to reach out find us on LinkedIn, social media, our websites just breezeway.io so awesome,

Alex Husner:

great offer Well, we will include links to your site and how to contact you in the show notes for anybody. If anybody wants to contact Andy and I you can go to Alex and any podcast.com leave us a review if you're enjoying the show or reach out to us with any questions or topics or information that you're interested in hearing more about, and we will talk to you next time. Bye. Thanks, guys.

Koryn Okey Profile Photo

Koryn Okey

VP of Client Experience-Breezeway

As the VP of Client Experience at Breezeway, Koryn Okey is dedicated to creating long-lasting relationships with her clients and driving awareness to the vacation rental industry. Prior to joining Breezeway, Koryn spent 7 years at FlipKey and TripAdvisor as part of the team that brought Guest Reviews to the industry. While Koryn calls Boston home, she can often be found attending vacation rental conferences around the world, visiting clients in-market, or lounging on the beaches of St. John.