After retiring from the public school system, behavioral psychologist Gordon Paxman wanted to focus on fly fishing—but his vacation rentals were a constant distraction. In Gordon's own words, here’s how Vacasa helped him land the tranquility he deserves.
“In 2002, I sold the long-term rental I’d been managing for 25 years and bought a condo in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I was fascinated by vacation rentals and wanted to spend more time saltwater fly fishing the Boca Paila flats. I experienced less property damage and was generating more income by renting out the condo short-term. At first, everything was great.
Over the next decade, I invested in more vacation rental units, including two condos in St. George, Utah. I hired local housekeepers, listed my properties on VRBO, and personally responded to every guest inquiry. I like making people happy, so it was enjoyable work. Then the vacation rental industry sped up, and managing the properties started taking over my life.”
“Fly fishing requires total concentration. When I’m on a river or saltwater flat, I lose myself in what I’m doing. I get to be so focused it’s almost meditative. In that sense, fly fishing is the antithesis to the vacation rental business, where you have to be constantly available to answer questions for guests and potential renters.
I first began realizing my properties were taking up too much of my time while fly fishing on the South Fork of Idaho’s Snake River. Responding to guests and prospective renters right away is important to me, and I was fielding so many questions that I had to keep my cell phone right next to me on my drift boat.
Once, I was working a pool in Henry’s Fork on the Snake River when I got a call from an upset guest. The housekeeping service I’d hired hadn’t cleaned up properly and the guest was letting me have it. So there I was, trying to trick a trout by patiently blending in with a stretch of pristine river, all while balancing my cell phone on my shoulder making things right with an angry stranger. My properties were increasingly becoming a distraction on the river, and I couldn’t seem to escape them no matter how far I traveled."
“There’s really not much going on in Andros Island in the Bahamas except bonefishing, which is a type of saltwater fly fishing. Bonefish come into the area to eat crustaceans in the sand. You can actually see them and cast to them and watch the take. It’s really exciting and takes a heck of a lot of skill. I felt fortunate to be fishing with a friend in such a remote, beautiful place. But even there, my vacation rental management duties caught up with me.
My friend and I had traveled to Andros Island for some bonefishing. We were casting with the wind, surrounded by saltwater flats that go on for miles and miles, when I got a phone call from a workman about one of my properties back in Utah. The fireplace wasn’t lighting.
I had to help diagnose whether it was a gas, electrical, or switch problem while my buddy got all the time on the casting deck. He was hooting and hollering so loudly whenever he hooked a bonefish that the workman complained it was noisy and he could hardly hear me.”
“I used to dread visiting my vacation rental properties because the entire trip would be spent doing repairs and taking care of things my cleaning team wasn’t doing properly. I’d go to my place in Mexico to dive or fish and end up spending all my time at hardware stores trying to mime to the employees what I needed because I don’t speak Spanish.
It was the same case with my vacation rentals in Utah. I would get there and inevitably start itemizing all the things that needed to be taken care of—then I’d spend my time doing it. I knew that I would find things like dirty furnace filters even though I’d asked my cleaning crew to change them. It eventually became more relaxing for me to just not visit my vacation properties at all.”
“I handed over management of my properties to Vacasa in June 2017. I’d been watching the company grow and was ready to work with a trustworthy, local partner who could take care of everything for me—and do it all up to my standards. So far, it’s been a great experience.
Vacasa is the first management partner I’ve worked with who looks at my properties with a consistently critical eye. I think that probably has to do with how they itemize and identify specific tasks that need to be done as part of their regular maintenance routine.
Dale Gibson, who is my local manager, is extremely responsive. If I send him a text or ask him a question, he’s back to me in five minutes. My local Vacasa team has been terrific and I’ve seen a nice bump in rental revenue.”
“When I signed on, Vacasa was offering one guarantee for people who were with a different vacation rental management company and another for somebody like me who was managing their own. Vacasa ended up surpassing that guarantee for me—even though at first I admittedly thought they wouldn’t.
In the beginning, Vacasa’s dynamic pricing system was changing my rates a lot—every day as far as I could tell. Dale told me that their system was increasing and decreasing my rates to improve my rankings on listing channels, which would help me earn higher year-over-year revenue. He was right. Vacasa delivered 92 percent occupancy in one of my units and 97 percent occupancy in another, generating an average 20 percent more revenue per month.
Working with Vacasa has given me a definite financial advantage. Where my Utah condos are located, all the other vacation homeowners belong to this rental pool that’s run by a private company. They’ve never put money in their pockets. Since working with Vacasa, I always have.
“The last time I visited one of my Utah condos was a nice experience. I was there with my friend and we played golf. There were no issues that needed to be taken care of. I didn’t have to get out the dust mop and clean the spider webs out of the fans or dial-in the fireplace and make sure the rudders on the sliding doors were set. Dale and his team had taken care of all of it.
With Vacasa caring for my properties, I enjoy visiting them again. I don’t have to think about any of the details because Dale has already put them on a schedule. Things like the furnace filters being changed and pest control are already handled. Deep cleaning schedules are taken care of. Everything.
Thanks to Vacasa, I’ve got more time to enjoy retirement. I can focus on fly fishing and helping my 99-year-old mother tend her flower garden at our family home. And I can finally enjoy my vacation properties without feeling like they are holding me captive.”
The opinions and experiences in this article represent the author’s viewpoint and do not necessarily reflect Vacasa policies.
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