Above Photo: The beautiful view from Grand Getaway, one of SmokyMountains.com's four bedroom cabins in East Tennessee.
We recently interviewed David Angotti, Co-Founder of SmokyMountains.com, to learn more about his rapidly growing company and how his team utilizes Smart Host. We started working with David and Wes a few months ago, and we're continuously impressed with how their focus on technology has catapulted them to be a leader in their market.
How did SmokyMountains.com get started?
Prior to co-founding SmokyMountains.com, I owned a luxury cabin here in the Smoky Mountains. I lived six hours away and opted to hire a property management company. Over the course of several years, I tried two property management companies (a global brand and a local company) and both companies produced the same results - high fees, low revenues, outdated marketing, sub-par service, and lackluster overall financial performance.
After realizing the East-Tennessee was ripe for innovation and disruption, Wes Melton and I began laying the foundation of our business. Several years later, we are the fastest growing property management company in East Tennessee and have a portfolio of 55 rentals ranging from 1 bedroom cabins to 55-person lodges. SmokyMountains.com remains a technology-focused management company looking to increase revenues for vacation home owners and ourselves simultaneously.
Why do you use Smart Host?
Smart Host presents accurate data in an easy-to-use format allowing us to make data-driven decisions related to setting prices and making adjustments. Since much of the process is now automated, it frees up our staff to focus on strategical elements of the business rather than the mind-numbing analysis of competitors’ listing pages.
What’s your process for determining and setting prices for your rentals?
Prior to our relationship with Smart Host, we would manually create a comp set, analyze occupancy across multiple channels, use the various data points to set initial rates, and then adjust as necessary. When we were a new company and only had ten or so properties, this worked well. However, eventually growth dictated that we find a new technological solution.
Now, we utilize Smart Host to quickly analyze the comp set and market conditions. Using that combined with our occupancy-based variable pricing and specials it helps us simultaneously increase average rates and occupancy.
How do you address or negotiate pricing with your owners?
We do our best to communicate this early on in the relationship. During the sales process, we clearly communicate that our job as a management company is to produce higher net revenues with their property than any company before us. Instead of simply making empty promises we actually guarantee this in writing. However, in return, we ask for complete control of pricing.
It is important to understand the mindset of an owner when discussing - the average owner perceives pricing control to be a reduction in risk. If we can help that owner reduce or eliminate risk, they will be happy to turn over full pricing control.
How do you notice that you’re not getting booked?
Through automatic and manual measures we are constantly analyzing occupancy months in advance. As a result, we notice very early on if occupancy is lackluster for an upcoming period. Through the combination of these manual processes and automatic tools, we can adjust accordingly to ensure maximum revenue.
Has Smart Host helped you adjust prices? Have those changes led to results?
The time savings and productivity from Smart Host has been very beneficial. Prior to Smart Host, we would spend 4-6 hours on rate research each time we added a property and further refinements would still be necessary. Now, Smart Host has helped us eliminate much of the guesswork and establish initial pricing numbers in as little as an hour.
Also, when we do get pushback from an owner on pricing, this tool helps us approach the conversation from an analytical perspective removing the emotional element.
Smart Host has been a valuable tool for the SmokyMountains.com team and we recommend it without hesitation. In an industry with plenty of shiny tools and new software, Smart Host produces positive ROI almost immediately.
What’s the typical day look like for you?
Typical day? No such thing! That is one of the incredible aspects of property management - every day presents new challenges and rewards.
However, there is one constant - we strive to provide exceptional vacation experiences for our guests each day. In an ordinary day, we might help a guest find the perfect spot for a rehearsal dinner, meet a property owner for breakfast, speak with a disgruntled guest, and then surprise a guest with cupcakes. No two days are the same and we must be flexible and adaptable in this ever-changing industry!
Follow David on Twitter and check out their company's website at SmokyMountains.com.