When You’re An Entrepreneur Your Team Means Everything

When You’re An Entrepreneur Your Team Means Everything

What they say is true. Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I know because I’ve lived it. We started operations for Tailored Stay in December of 2019. My team was fresh faced, excited, getting orders and driving momentum.  And then the pandemic hit. So what did we do?

 We pivoted our operations, like so many other companies had to do. Luckily, our beta test was in the greater Taos area of New Mexico where services like Instacart and Door Dash didn’t exist. So we shopped and delivered groceries and supplies to locals. We were glad to help yet it felt awkward and disappointing from a team standpoint that what we were doing was so off the mark of what we had envisioned for the vacation rental industry.

I can honestly say that I don’t think we would have gotten through that period without an amazing and resilient team. They have stuck with me through and through. Working nights and weekends, supporting me during the tough days and encouraging me with the excitement and top-notch skills they bring to the table.

In the summer of 2020 we were back to wowing guests of vacation rental properties with curated groceries, vacation amenities and celebrations all set-up in their units before they arrived.

 

Bachelorette party decor
Birthday Decor
vacation grilling

Our product market fit was great. We were able to place over 250 orders with some repeat and loyal customers. 75% of the property management companies that we worked with approached us for our services and we have a signed ‘Letter of Intent’ from several more who want to work with us throughout the US.

Even with these successes, some days are still hard so I will turn my attention to what I am grateful for:

Like many startup founders, I would love to spend 100% of my time on working on my business but being bootstrapped, to date, means also finding investors and partners.

What I am Grateful for as an Entrepreneur

1. Investors have been willing to take my calls. I have received terrific feedback from industry leaders, executives, Angel Investors and VC’s. Each call puts us closer to our goal.

2. This industry that we have chosen and are passionate about is young and supportive of one another as startups in the vacation rental space. Having attended the VRMA Conference in Chicago I was so warmed by how much people wanted everybody else to succeed. It’s truly an exciting, the sky’s the limit, space to be in.

3. Definitely not lastly, is my team. I could brag about them all day. Please indulge me as I do just that.

The Team, as a Founder, I am so Lucky to Have

Stephen Fitzgerald CFO

I know better than to not call out my husband first. Anyone who has the privilege of knowing Stephen knows these two things about him: he has a solid sober prospective and an abundance of integrity in intention and follow through which makes him a great partner and leader. Stephen has spent his entire career in Executive positions within leading hospitality companies such as Saber, Hotwire & Hilton. He brings decades of experience to the table in Ecommerce, Finance and his success and thorough knowledge of OTA’s.

Nicholas Armstrong CTO

A true Texan at heart, there is not a problem that Nick can’t meet. He gladly tackles new IT projects and pulls out some sort of magic wand combining experience and fierce intelligence to make them work. He has earned successes and leadership positions in the world of IT. Currently he works with highly sensitive healthcare data but lucky for us, in his early career also worked with grocery inventory. This man understands his item files and UPC’s!

Cecilia Cuff Hospitality & Operations Director

When I first contacted Cecilia on LinkedIn to work with Tailored Stay, I thought there was no way she’d be interested. With her background at Hyatt hotels and having been handpicked to renovate Taos Ski Valley, I didn’t think she’d have much interest in a startup. Boy, was I wrong! Cecilia has the largest appetite for entrepreneurship of any of us. She co-owns several successful businesses including the newly opened Bronseville Winery which celebrates the cultural history of the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago.

Pat Parker Lead Website & WooCommerce Developer 

Pat is another team member that we happened to stumble a pon and bring into the fold. Pat started as a contractor for us but we quickly knew that both her experience and personality made her a great fit for our team. Pat has drove numerous projects throughout her long career in development and IT. She is a true expert when it comes to web development and WooCommerce inventory. Her passion and specialty is writing code to make things work that typically wouldn’t have otherwise.

Mark Grosso Head of Product & Legal Council

When you take someone who has extensive leadership experience in product marketing during his decade with Verizon, combined with a J.D. that he earned at night, you get a two-in-one combination with a sense of humor to boot. Mark’s sharpness and attention to detail are team assets we rely on every day. His emotional support is invaluable. He props everyone up. Mark is a remarkable leader and team player.

Anna Arrow PR & Customer Success

Some little known facts about Anna: she graduated as Valedictorian from High School and had the talent and ambition to move to Hollywood after college where she had a sucesful run as an actress. Anna’s passions are people and animals (she now helps run a small hobby farm in Northern, IL). An extremely affective communicator and commited to providing world-class guest services that she gained in running large nightclubs and international festivals in the US and abroad, Anna has a unique skillset. She fosters creation and sees through complexities with unique and inspired views.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the talent, support and perserverence of this team. The startup grind is definately not for everyone. We’ve somehow found the perfect ingredients to align us with success. Thank you my team, my family, my friends.

Stocking The Kitchen At Your Vacation Rental Home: Everything You Need To Know

Stocking The Kitchen At Your Vacation Rental Home: Everything You Need To Know

How To Stock The Kitchen Of Your Vacation Rental

 

Being a first, second or even third time owner of vacation rental homes is exciting but staging it can be daunting. There’s maintenance, marketing, property management and on top of that managing and exceeding guests expectations.

Did you know that several surveys have found that the number one reason people book vacation rentals over hotels is for the kitchen? So if you stock the kitchen with basic essentials to top end appliances and décor, you’re already a step ahead of most. Read on to find everything you need to know about stocking the kitchen of your vacation rental home.

 Kitchen Cooking Essentials

Let’s start with kitchen essentials. It’s important to say here, that even if you want to skimp on the budget, not investing in high-quality, durable items just means you will have to replace them in the future costing you more money in the long run. I did the research for you to find quality items at fair prices with this in mind. *Please note this article contains affiliate links. All items can be easily purchased and shipped directly from Amazon. 

  • Various Sizes of Pots & Pans

These, shown here, are easily stackable, PFOA free, oven safe and easy to clean. Both have received over 4.5 ratings specifically for durablility and how easy they are to clean. Perfect for repeat guests to use over and over again. 

 

  • Baking Dishes

Again, these should be both attractive and easy to clean. The stackable variety give your guests access to multiple options and they can even go in the refridgerator to store food. You can expect highly durable materials that withstand heat and are easy to clean.

  • Cuttlery

Stainless steal silverware is one of the most durable options out there. They are rust resistant, dishwasher friendly and easy to maintain. We like the on the counter butcher block for knives so guests of your vacation rental can easily find them and a well-stocked kitchen should be evident in your photographs.

  • Cutting Boards

Choose from eco-friendly bamboo with natural antimicrobial properties or these deeply grooved non-slip plastic boards that are dishwasher safe. Can’t decide? You may want to purchase both to give your guests a choice.

  •  Kitchen Towels & Oven Mitts

Stick with clean designs, easy to wash, durable materials and make sure you have plenty so you can swap them out for new guests.

  • Basic Cooking Utensils

Get the bundled varieties shown here in basic black or mix it up and delight your guests with the fun and colorful.

  • Wine Cooking & Serving Essentials

A well-stocked kitchen provides most of the conveniences your guests would find at home in their own kitchen. From a wine key, to can opener, baking sheets to serving utensils, these are a must to have on your vacation rental home kitchen stocking list.

  • Additional Vacation Kitchen Essentials

To truly provide a ‘home away from home’ at your VRBO or Airbnb, complete the cooking essentials with a pizza cutter, silicone spatulas, a colandor and stainless steal mixing bowls.

  •  Salt, Pepper, Sugar Packets & Basic Spices

You don’t have to go overboard here and you’ll often find that guests leave these items behind. Basic cooking spices and seasonings will be your foodie guest’s delight though, adding to their over all experience at your vacation rental home.

Glasses, Bowls & Plates For Your Well-Stocked Vacation Rental Home Kitchen

  • Glasses, Tumblers, Mugs & Wine Glasses

These highly rated led-free glasses are top of the line and affordable. Made in Italy, the highball glasses and the juice or tumbler glasses are dishwasher safe. The timeless designs and sturdy bases set them a step above others. When it comes to coffee cups, have fun! Mornings are hard enough. Cheer your guests with fun colors on the inside and a classic black matte on the outside. Choose from stem or stemless wine glasses, but make sure you have them.

  • Plates & Bowls

While I can’t account for everyone’s taste, what I like about the super classic white ceramic and the contemporary American Atelier stoneware sets, is that they are both highly rated for durability and long term ware. Dishwasher and microwave safe, these everyday use dishes have clean lines and will last you for years.

Top Rated Kitchen Counter Appliances

  • Coffee Pot & Electric Tea Kettle

Your tea drinking and European guests will be glad you thought of them when it comes to caffeination. This stainless steal, cordless tea kettle gets five stars when it comes to safety features and hottness. You may debate whether or not to get a Kuerig or standard coffee pot. Many rentals offer both. I have found it’s cheaper to stock small coffee packets over coffee pods.

  • Stock Additional Kitchen Appliances

A crockpot is great for large groups and limits the packing and items a guest has to bring. While the toaster is extremely essential more and more people are also using blenders for morning smoothies and reheating their leftovers or take out in an airfryer.

Essentials For The Grill

  • Grilling Equiptment

If your property features a grill, these basic grilling essentials are a must. They are durable for long-lasting use.

Kitchen Utility Items For Your Airbnb

  • Basic Kitchen Utility

A standard paper towel holder will give your guests access to easily swipe and clean. The stainless, touch-less garbage can with the black top will block fingerprints and stains.

Classy Kitchen Hospitality For Hosting

  • Serving Dishes & More

Set your space apart with stylish serving trays, dishes, ramekins. Be the host that goes the extra mile and watch those five stars come in.

Colorful Decor & Kitchen Extras

Not sure how to add extra flare? Timeless, colorful and modern feels clean and sleek on your walls and countertops. Remeber. a little bit of personality can go along way in fostering a deeper guest connection. Let them know who you are with fun signs and wall decor. Don’t forget to add splashes of color and think about packaging when it comes to things like soaps and other vacation rental kitchen amenities. There are endless possibilities here. I hope you have some fun shopping along the way! Best of luck to you in running a succesful vacation rental home in 2022.

Have more ideas? Don’t forget to leave them in the comments.

Will Coronavirus Change The Way We Travel?

Will Coronavirus Change The Way We Travel?

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to go into a new city and walk around alone. I usually pick a hotel or an Airbnb close to museums or other tourist zones. That way, I can walk to where I want and be safe. Having never lived in a metropolitan city, I soak in the feeling of anonymity and picture myself as a member of the bohemian community living there.

 

A few summers ago in New York City, I had to climb the steps of a brownstone to make way for a huge group of people passing on the sidewalk. It was dusk in August and the heat and sun shimmering reflections had begun to die down. I felt awkward at first. What if the owner came out? As I began to peer down the road in front of me, I couldn’t help but notice, there was one three to four-story uniquely architected building after another. Yet somehow they all belonged together in harmony. That’s how NY has always felt for me. I breathed in and imagined I was the owner out on my porch on a lovely night.

 

In the era of COVID, at least in 2020, those memories of densely populated cities are all that remain. Most people I know opted for driveable remote vacations this year. They rented homes to socially distance in. That’s if they went on vacation at all. Will we rethink the concept of going back to those busy places? 

It seems that for many Airbnbs and VRBOs of the world, that would be OK.

According to Tom Canton of AirDNA “In truth, vacation rentals are simply becoming the preferred lodging type in an ongoing era of social distancing, The amenities, the ability to cook, the ability to rent entire-home listings, the supply in remote locations, the availability of larger, 2+ bedroom properties that accommodate entire families — all this points towards vacation rentals rebounding, even given the current state of the world.” 

.Let’s face it unless you are in the hotel business, that might not be a bad thing. 

 

I’ve certainly regained an alignment with nature. We took one trip to the scenic southern Rockies and a few day trips to rivers and lakes in Wisconsin. There’s a sense of stoic calmness when you get off the grid. Many of us overworked, overstressed, always playing catch-up with time, family and kids had a moment to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an awful pandemic going on right now.  Though I ask, why would you go through life without (sometimes) trying to find the silver lining?

 

That brings me to the ultimate joy we’ve found over the years in single-family accommodations. Relatives and friends, I love you but sometimes a family just needs a space to chill out in on their own. I don’t miss the buzzing lobbies or pools of screaming kids. Nope! It’s freeing to walk through the door of my very own short term vacation rental. I can eat when I want, breakfast in my underwear, if I so desire and at night, my husband, children and I can have the hot tub all to ourselves.            

Now, this makes me sound very antisocial, I realize. I assure you I am not. It’s the excursions and the big meals that I want to host and share with you. Truth be told, most of the time, I volunteer to do the cooking. For me, sharing food and creating memories with friends and family are what vacations are made of. 

 

Have you found any silver linings in family travel this year?

MVacations

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Best Ways to Entertain Yourself During Self-Quarantine

Best Ways to Entertain Yourself During Self-Quarantine

If you are reading this, you’re probably undergoing self-quarantine as well. Welcome! It may not be ideal, but I am on day 5 and have relied heavily on making the most of it. I am usually pretty good at doing nothing and staying inside, one of my many talents, but it’s different when you don’t have much of a choice. Staying inside and taking proper safety precautions are important during this time, but it doesn’t mean we can’t entertain ourselves while staying in. I’m going to dive head-first into this isolation situation for you all. We will explore this quarantine from all different directions. Whether you live alone,with your parents, with friends or roommates, we’ve got you covered.

 

 

Living alone does not mean complete isolation. Luckily COVID-19 can’t kill the internet (that we know of so far), so utilize this resource. Staying connected with family and friends is extra important during this time. One of the nice things about modern technology, is that it is a great tool to stay connected. Exhaust this, call your family and friends each day or set up facetime dates. But also be cautious about exploring social media, this is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone and some are reacting differently than others, and this can affect you. Make sure you stay informed and keep in touch with those important to you, but don’t get stuck in a twitter thread conspiracy theory that will keep you up with anxiety all night.

Now let’s talk coloring books. Adult coloring books and pages are the new wave. And I have to say, I don’t recall coloring ever being so satisfying. 

If you are a gamer, now is the time to download new games and dive in. See how many campaigns you can finish by the end of your quarantine. It is time to make your home as comfortable as possible, bring out your favorite fuzzy blankets and make yourself comfy. If you are now working from home during this quarantine, make sure you separate your work space from your hangout space.

This is the time to break out all the face masks and beauty products you have, go straight to relaxation mode while keeping yourself healthy. It’s especially important to be taking your vitamins, and maybe some extra. Keep that water bottle close and always full, hydration is key.

Living with roommates or friends during self quarantine is almost as good as it gets (if you like them). You may not be able to go outside, but human exposure is important. Bring out all those old board games and cards, and maybe some alcohol, and take a trip down memory lane. Download some interactive games on your gaming station that everyone can join in on. Cooking a homemade dinner for the house is also a fun way to keep things moving. Take it to the next level and have everyone get ready and dress up for the meal. It’s always fun to get ready, even if you can’t leave the house. We all love a good theme night, so make a list and pick one for the night, create dinners and games that tailor to your theme.

Rely on each other to keep yourselves moving and entertained, turn that extra space you have into a work out or yoga area. Download some apps to help guide you and go at your own pace. If you live with roommates, make sure to take that extra step to clean after yourself and remember that you all are stuck inside. I know it can be overwhelming, it’s different to stay in for a weekend binging netflix when you are making the choice to do so. So make sure your quarantine environment is one you feel safe and relaxed in. Arts and crafts can be fun for people of all ages, let’s get real. I’m 24 and we have a painting night set up for tonight in the house, clear out some space and channel your inner DIY crafts mom.

If you have pets, make sure you are stocked up on their necessities. This is a weird time for them as well, so try to keep to their routine as much as possible. Keep your dogs entertained with a motivating scavenger hunt. Literally just hide treats around the house, my roommate’s dog loves it. Your cat will love self-quarantine, they were made for this.

Just make sure you are staying inside, even if you are feeling okay. This is a time of uncertainty and the best way to act is to stay safe and aware. By keeping yourself healthy, you’re helping keep others healthy. Check in on your loved ones, play a board game, try something new, and stay safe!

 

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