Vacasa has had a big year. In April, the vacation rental company launched Vacasa Interior Design, helping vacation homeowners and multifamily developers increase financial returns on their properties. In September, it completed its direct integration with Google for vacation rental listings. In October, Vacasa completed its acquisition of Wyndham Vacation Rentals from Wyndham Destinations, for $156 million in cash and $10 million in Vacasa equity, adding the portfolio of 9,000-plus homes in 50 destinations into its platform (which brings the total number of managed properties to more than 23,000 across North America, Europe, Central and South America, and Africa). It also revealed a $319-million strategic investment round led by Silver Lake.
At the center of it all is CEO Eric Breon, who founded the company in 2009, after a fruitless search for a manager for his wife’s family vacation home. “When we sought out a manager for my wife’s family vacation home, we simply couldn’t find a suitable option from a revenue standpoint,” he said. “When we decided to rent the cabin, we interviewed a local property manager who told us that it would rent for $3,200 per year. It’s only a 480-sq.-ft. cabin, quite rustic, and far from the beach, so that seemed somewhat reasonable, but we decided to manage it ourselves. We rented it for more than $24,000 in the first year. That made me realize just how much opportunity there was to do a better job for both homeowners and guests, and it’s why I chose to start Vacasa.”
Identifying solutions is something Breon has always been passionate about. “This could have translated to a variety of industries, but the alternative accommodation space has really transformed in the past decade and continues to evolve rapidly,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have entered the space during this period of explosive growth with a robust service offering that vacation rental homeowners were seeking. We were able to fill a void in the industry.”
Vacasa’s mission has a dual purpose: to help people profit from underutilized homes and to create incredible memories for guests. This goes to the very heart of the company’s culture and philosophy.
“At Vacasa, we strive to adhere to four key pillars we’ve established for the company: accountability, empathy, growth and innovation,” Breon said. “We use these values to guide not only our day-to-day decisions, but also to help our employees understand the vision we have for the company as we continue to grow.”
And, certainly, the company has grown. “From sitting at my dining room table coding Vacasa’s website to today, Vacasa has come a long way,” Breon noted. “We now care for more than 23,000 homes in 31 U.S. states and 17 international countries, and have an employee base of more than 5,000. In addition to full-service property management, we’ve also launched new service offerings including Vacasa Real Estate, Vacasa Community Association Management and Vacasa Interior Design, so we’re really able to support the full life cycle of vacation homes.”
Breon acknowledged that the vacation-rental space is hot right now—something that’s enabled the company to grow as much as it has—but noted that there’s a big difference between Vacasa and many of its competitors. “Unlike Vrbo, Airbnb and others, our field staff fully manage every home listed on our site,” he said. “This is a massive difference for both owners and guests. Owners can rent their homes without worrying about the day-to-day complexity of short-term rentals, and guests have the assurance that we’re there to help around the clock should the need arise.”
Looking toward the future, Breon sees a continued evolution in the guest experience as the vacation rentals segment makes its mark on the travel industry.
“We’re going to see increased options for travelers as well as a shift in preference toward professionally managed, hotel-quality vacation homes,” he said. “Consumers love the idea of a vacation home while traveling, but also want the reliability of a hotel when it comes to cleanliness and service. Vacasa provides our guests with the best of both worlds to meet consumer demand.”
And Vacasa plans to be able to meet that demand. “We’d like to bring
Vacasa to vacation markets everywhere, so we can serve all guests and owners, regardless of where they may be traveling or where their home may be,” Breon said.
The addition of Wyndham Vacation Rentals’ 9,000 properties will certainly help the company expand. “We’re incredibly excited about the revenue uplift Vacasa’s technology will bring through stronger yield management and improved off-season occupancy,” Breon said. “One of the benefits of the Wyndham Vacation Rentals integration is that we’re already operating in many of the markets where they managed homes. Taking a phased market-by-market approach to integration over the coming months will allow us to easily transition Wyndham’s owners, guests, employees and homes.”
Pointing to the rollout of some of its recent strategic moves, Breon said, “Our approach to change, be it adding a new service or launching a new partnership, is really viewed through the lens of what will benefit our homeowners. Whether that is helping them furnish the home, generating more revenue through increased exposure on new platforms or increasing our presence in their market, we’ll continue to invest in change that benefits our homeowners and guests.
“Our goal has always been to be everywhere our guests want to travel, and there are still gaps to fill both in the U.S. and internationally,” Breon added, noting that the recent $319-million investment will aid the company in its goals. “This new financing will help propel Vacasa into our next stage of growth and allow us to deepen our investment in technology.” HB