The Wire Interview: Sea To Sky Rentals Marketing Director, Colleen Ireland

Discussion About Vacation Rentals in Seattle Washington[Alvin Brickman for Metrosetter Wire]

The Wire Interview is a continuing series of interviews with players in the corporate housing industry.

In this edition of the Wire Interview, Colleen Ireland, Marketing Director of Sea To Sky Rentals, spoke with us about Sea to Sky Rentals’ place in the Seattle short-term rental industry. Sea To Sky Rentals provide various lodging options for short-term housing and vacation rental needs.

Can you give a brief description of what your company does and why it is unique in the marketplace?

Sea to Sky Rentals is a local Seattle hospitality company catering to every type of traveler. With a boutique collection of fully furnished urban homes and condominiums, we are able offer short-term stays throughout Seattle’s most sought-after neighborhoods – from hideaway bungalows in Wallingford to luxurious downtown Seattle high-rises.

Our business is unique not only because of our diverse portfolio of homes, but also because of the founder and owner, Michelle Acquavella. In 2007, Michelle challenged the city’s proposed ban on short-term vacation rentals. If this ban went into effect, it would have taken away Seattle-visitors’ right to choose between a hotel or vacation rental. After two long years, Michelle won her case and paved the way for all vacation and short-term rentals in Seattle.

What do you think is happening to the furnished rental business? Challenges?

The furnished rental business is growing at a tremendous rate. The challenge at this point is the “standardization” of rental companies and how they operate and run their business. At Sea to Sky we are constantly re-evaluating our process so we can make securing a reservation, staying at a property and checking out as seamless as possible for our guests. Rental companies can learn a lot from how five-star hotels operate.

How cost-conscious are your clients?

Our clients vary which is why we have a diverse portfolio of properties. Our rates range from 75/night to 700/night depending on season, property size and location. Ultimately our clients are concerned about value. Short term fully furnished rentals are able to offer more value than a standard chain hotel experience.

How much of your business is from (1) independent travelers, (2) corporations and other companies, (3) relocation companies or services, and (4) booking agencies like Nomad and Travelers Haven?

Most of our clients are independent business and leisure travelers. We also are seeing an increase in medical tourism stays due to the specialty hospitals and treatment centers in Seattle.

What is the optimal experience you want your clients to have?

We want all of our guests to feel as though they don’t need to put a lot of effort into their stay with us. We want them to feel like they are being taken care of every step of the way so they have the opportunity to truly experience the convenience and luxury of staying in a home away from home.

We recently came up with the tagline “We provide the space. You provide the memories!

Any future plans or developments for the business?

Yes. True to our practice of staying ahead of the industry curve, we recently became a fully licensed Real Estate firm. In addition to expanding our vacation and corporate rental portfolio, we are now able to offer full real estate services to our clients. In 2013 we will launch a new web site showcasing our full service property and real estate management services.

What is the average stay of your renters? Do your renters stay less than 30 days?

For our vacation rentals, our average stay is one week. Our corporate rentals can be rented for a minimum of 29 nights.

What do you like to call your short-term renters/corporate housing clients?

We refer to them as corporate renters or business tourists.

How do you refer to your units? Do you refer to them as corporate rentals or furnished residences?

We refer to them as fully furnished short-term rentals.

How do you use the Internet to promote your business?

As a partner with Escapia software (a division of HomeAway) we are listed on over 20 partner sites, including VRBO. With the launch of our new web site in 2013, we will have additional programs in place to drive traffic directly to our site, wherein once a perspective client lands, they will want to stay and book with us!

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