March 22, 2023

Lessons Learned from a Global Brand: How Sykes Cottages Scaled to 24,000 Rentals, with CEO Graham Donoghue

Lessons Learned from a Global Brand: How Sykes Cottages Scaled to 24,000 Rentals, with CEO Graham Donoghue
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

In today’s episode, Alex and Annie sit down with Graham Donoghue, the CEO of Sykes Holidays Cottages Group. When Graham was brought on Sykes, the brand was lacking a narrative and a story. They were large and profitable but departments were siloed with no real rallying cry to drive the company forward.

Today, Sykes has 25 brands in its portfolio and 24,000 properties under management in the UK and New Zealand, making the brand a major player in the vacation rental industry. One interesting thing about Sykes is its approach to acquiring businesses. 

They intentionally retain the brand of the businesses they acquire to maintain continuity and protect the legacy of the local brand. This strategy helped Sykes grow while maintaining the values that made the local brands successful in the first place.

Graham shares the technologies they developed during the pandemic, from their switchboard that optimizes cost per acquisition and push notifications on their app, to pulling insights from the data to provide value to end users. 

Learn more about accelerating growth and leveraging technology in this episode ofAlex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals.


Graham: COVID presented a unique challenge and opportunity 

"During that 18-month period, we offered a hundred and 54 million sterling of refunds back to consumers. But when the government said that people could travel in the UK, and every week it was a different message, but as soon as they did say they could travel, then there were 10,000 people calling for their money back, but there were also 10,000 people calling or going onto the website trying to book a holiday. So it was like famine to feast in a heartbeat."

Graham: Technology frees up your best people to deliver excellent service

"The reason why we have 2000 people is we're a technology-driven company but we use people, we use our human capital to hopefully deliver exceptional service. What I'm always looking at is I don't want the really clever, smart people I have a doing tasks that could be done by technology, that don't have a lot of value to the end stakeholder. But actually being there, you know, 10 o'clock at night on the phone when there's a problem with your boiler and be able to service that and deal with it, that has value."

Connect with Graham:

This episode is brought to you byCasago,Guest Ranger, andGood Neighbor Tech

VisitAlexAndAnniesList.comto view our top picks for the best suppliers in vacation rental technology and services. 

Special thanks toRev & Researchfor being the presenting sponsor of Alex & Annie’s List.

Connect with Alex and Annie and get more real vacation rental goodness:

If you enjoyed this episode ofALEX & ANNIE: The Real Women Of Vacation Rentals, make sure to visit our socials, leave us a like, a comment, or