Rocketing in to vacation rental management
When Thoshlae and Taylor Williams got married in Bermuda two years ago they thought they’d stay in a vacation property with some of their wedding guests.
Things did not go well.
“We had a lot of maintenance issues,” Mrs Williams said. “The water ran out of the tank. The tub was clogged. There were everyday things that the homeowner was probably too busy to fix. We are local, but it was still stressful.”
The issues were resolved fairly quickly, but left them thinking.
“There is a large Airbnb market in Bermuda and a large vacation rental market as well, so we thought why not assist these people to deliver a higher level of service for their guests,” Mrs Williams said.
The couple launched Elevate Host Services in September, taking a multifaceted approach to vacation rental management.
“We do everything from marketing to day-to-day management,” Mrs Williams said. “We also offer guest concierge services. We are aiming to do it all. So if someone is overseas and has a house here, we can do everything from taking marketing pictures of the property, and cleaning — to anything you can think of that will make the guest experience go well from the day they arrive.”
And those clogged drains — they have a maintenance team to deal with them. There are regular checks of the rental properties, and their cleaning staff is trained to spot and report potential problems so they can be addressed quickly.
Last month they won the tourism category of Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s Rocket Pitch competition for budding local entrepreneurs.
“We were over the moon,” Mr Williams said.
To win, they had to download a presentation for the preliminary round. When they made it through to the final they had to give their business pitch in front of the judges.
“They announced the second-place winner first, so we knew we’d won,” Mr Williams said. “There are only two contestants in the final round.”
They won $5,000, and access to services to help get their business off the ground, such as time with a marketing team and an accountant.
They spent their first year of married life living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mrs Williams is Bermudian and Mr Williams Canadian. She worked in real estate and he worked in health management. They moved back to the island in May when Mrs Williams’s grandmother fell ill.
“We felt we were back here, we better make the best of it and start something there was a market for,” Mr Williams said.
Soon after moving to Bermuda, they began brainstorming their new business.
He said it was very emotional to win the BEDC’s Rocket Pitch competition, because they’d left everything behind in Canada, only a few months ago.
“The BEDC has been a great help,” Mr Williams said. “We met with a couple of people over there. They have answered e-mails very quickly and given us the support we need. They have been a great help. We are very thankful for the Rocket Pitch, too.”
So far they have two clients and are in talks with several others. Mr Williams said, the more the merrier.
“We have the ability, as of right now, to manage up to 100 rentals on our system,” he said.
But he is more concerned with maintaining steady growth and a consistent level of service across the rentals they manage.
They know of two other competitors in Bermuda who are both more focused on the luxury market.
“We don’t necessarily have a niche market,” Mr Williams said. “We will accept those luxury houses, but we want to connect the dots for the homeowners who are too busy to manage their units, if they don’t have the time or know how to do it.”
So far, their biggest challenge is just getting people to understand what they do.
Mrs Williams said: “I think we’re getting the word out there, but when we tell people we own a vacation rental property management company, they think we have one rental that we are trying to get people to stay in. In reality, what we are doing is managing several rentals for other people.”
• For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, see their website elevatehostservices.com or call 704-4099
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