A year ago, Kirsten B. was a part of a tight-knit team of vacation rental pros in Winter Park, CO. Now, she travels the country and helps other vacation rental professionals join the Vacasa family.
Kirsten took a moment out of her busy schedule to share the challenges and opportunities she experienced when her company joined Vacasa.
I was working for Resort Management Group, a little mom-and-pop operation out of Winter Park, Colorado. I was the guest services manager, but I also helped out with maintenance, scheduling, and homeowner relations.
I had a team of front desk agents who worked for me, too. So I also saw everything from the reservation process, to the inquiries, to the channel listings, to the guest’s in-home experience.
A few people pretty much ran the show—which now I understand is very common with smaller operations.
In mid-January 2021, I got a call from the company owner letting me know that he had chosen to sell his rental portfolio to Vacasa. And that meant that my position with Resort Management Group would end at the end of the month—though they said Vacasa had opportunities for our staff to consider.
Honestly, it was a scary time. Our team was so in sync that the hardest part was picturing life moving forward without each other. We all took such great pride in the rental program that we had helped build, and it felt like everything we had created was now in limbo. It was incredibly emotional.
At first, there was a lot of anxiety. We were all wondering where—and if—we’d find a place at Vacasa. My colleagues generally landed in local management roles, like as assistant general manager or housekeeping manager.
But because Vacasa’s local support structure is more robust than a typical mom-and-pop, there wasn’t really an analogous position for me.
Vacasa wants to place people into roles they're experts at. But at the time, there wasn't a great role available for me on the local level.
So I went to Vacasa’s jobs board to see what other opportunities would fit my skills, and found an opening on the integrations team.
During my one-on-one with our Integration Change Lead, Kate, I said, "I'm really open to pursuing any opportunity that's out there for me with Vacasa. I found this other role on the website and I'd really like to apply."
And she said, “Wow, you'd be a perfect fit for that. Definitely fill out the application, and I'll get you in front of a Director of Integrations to chat about it.”
Well, I got the job. And I truly believe it’s the best thing that could have happened to my career.
It’s funny—before we got the news that RMG was joining Vacasa, I wasn’t even considering looking elsewhere. But, as they say, everything happens for a reason.
I’m an Integration Change Lead—which means I help create a smooth transition for employees and contractors who join Vacasa through acquisitions.
It’s the perfect position for me. I've had such an incredible first year with Vacasa, and I love that I can be an empathetic source of truth for employees who are navigating exactly what I went through.
I walk them through the process while showing that I understand the exact anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration they might be feeling right now. But I also can help them see that joining Vacasa could be life changing for them in such a beautiful way. It’s a part of the reason why I love it so much.
Well, a lot of smaller operations can’t offer great benefits packages.
So the folks I talk to are excited about the benefits at Vacasa: the 6% 401(k) match, unlimited paid time off for salaried employees, and the inclusive work culture at Vacasa.
I've found that Vacasa’s core values resonate with people and get them excited, too. Most companies have that, but I help our new employees see how Vacasa actually lives and breathes these core values, which I think is the most incredible thing.
One of the ways you can see this is in the way the company is structured. In my old role, my front desk team and I were in charge of customer experience for the whole company. We had to answer every single call and guest question, on top of our other responsibilities.
Vacasa’s model allows you to focus on your actual job—so if you’re in field operations, that’s what you’re doing. That’s a massive amount of work taken off your shoulders and given to this really incredible team of Customer Experience agents, who will only reach out to you if they absolutely have to. It means you get a better quality of life when you’re at work.
I think people don’t realize how Vacasa invests in making their jobs easier. I help our new teams understand all of these incredible efficiencies that are built into our field operations that can make their lives so much less stressful.
Speaking from my own experience, we were still handwriting paper maintenance tickets and work orders at RMG. Our housekeeping inspections were literally written down on a piece of paper, and we’d have to use walkie-talkies with our housekeepers and inspectors each day to figure out if homes were ready for check-in.
When we sat down with Vacasa's integrations team and learned about all the proprietary software and tools they’d created to make local operations more efficient, I said to myself, "Man, my life could be so much easier than what it is right now."
When I see our new employees understand that, it’s like magic.
I was worried that I wouldn’t feel connected to people, especially coming from such a small company. I was afraid I’d lose the interpersonal experience of working with a super tight-knit team.
But I was sorely mistaken in such a great way. We care about each other so much on the team I'm a part of now. You build these incredible relationships with your project team, and frankly it can be a little emotional then when you finish up an integration. But that means I have the opportunity to create so many more connections.
I have such respect and admiration for all my colleagues at Vacasa—we have a common goal and a mission to take care of each other, our field operations employees, our guests, and our homeowners.
My biggest fear was that I would lose that personalized care—and the complete opposite has been true.
I absolutely feel that I have a voice here.
Now that I've been a part of the company for a year and have had all these great experiences, I feel I can effect change in our process. I feel comfortable and respected when I call out risks and identify gaps in the field operations—and that helps make sure we're ready when integration happens.
I tell field employees joining us that while, yes, Vacasa is this massive company, we are only successful because we have such tight-knit field operations teams. Each one of these teams is a close crew that feels more like a small company. Sometimes I compare it to a franchise operation—each market is essentially like its own little Vacasa, and they get the support and benefits of working for a powerful company. And having a small-scale team with backup actually makes a big impact when you’re off the clock.
Before I joined Vacasa, I was on call probably five nights a week—that meant literally from 5:00 p.m. when we locked the doors until 8:00 a.m. when we opened them back up. During peak season, I was probably doing 50, 60 hour weeks. Having additional support and great cross coverage built into our local operations has shown me that you don’t have to run yourself dry at work.
We’re all human beings, and we all have busy lives outside of work—and Vacasa respects that.