I started in the vacation rental industry working for Gary Ellis at Compass Media in Gulf Shores, Alabama (although I bartended while in college for Pedro Mandoki at the Gulf Shores Plantation cabana, and I think that counts!). I stayed in the vacation rental industry because of a fascination with the people who work in it, the destinations they promote, the idea of vacationing in homes around the globe, the risk and resiliency displayed in working with mother nature, and of course, the fun-to-watch high growth of the industry.
While observing this industry over the past 10 years, it is hard to ignore the above-average, beautiful spiritual awareness among people who represent the vacation rental marketplace. After getting to know many vacation rental managers, I believe there is a common thread of shared qualities which contributes to this:
1. Appreciation and respect for the beauty in nature
With all the activities and opportunities in a city (and much higher pay scales), it is a special type of person who chooses to live and raise a family in a vacation rental destination. This group of explorers chooses salt breezes or pure white powder or mountain lakes and streams and is undeterred by the high risk involved with facing forces of nature or the intense seasonal pressure in destinations which are only populated 10-20 weeks out of the year. This group shares an overwhelming love and gratitude for nature and an awareness that the world is bigger than themselves.
2. Spiritual gift of hospitality
Most belief systems recognize people possess varying spiritual gifts or aptitudes which help contribute to improving the lives of others. The Bible specifically calls out the gift of hospitality. People who possess the gift of hospitality:
“Provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for, meet new people and help them to feel welcome, create a safe and comfortable setting for others, look for ways to connect people, and set people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings.”
This definition reads much like a mission statement for a vacation rental management company, so it isn’t surprising to find many people in the vacation rental industry who possess this talent. And we know that when people do what they are gifted to do, it creates a workplace full of passion, purpose and fulfillment, which is a common trait I found while interviewing vacation rental managers for the Under the Hood series.
3. A strong sense of family
Vacation rental managers work tirelessly to provide a safe, secure, beautiful environment for family vacations, and this typically comes from a strong internal recognition of the importance of the connection between family and friends (the family we choose). In the 2014 Under the Hood series, six out of eight VRMs interviewed were built and/or managed with other family members, and all were managed with a strong sense of company culture, community and connectivity.
I was fortunate enough to have parents who saw the value in choosing vacation rentals for our family vacations when I was very young. We were able to have dozens of family vacations with board games, fireworks, exploring, crabbing, canoeing, bonfires and cookouts. These memories are the best I have of our family (and pretty much the only time I got along with my brothers).
And I am grateful to the vacation rental homeowners and managers who made it happen. Through your love for God’s creation, your talent for hospitality and your desire to create meaningful family vacation memories which last a lifetime, you made a difference in my life.
By Amy Hinote