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How I got started in the VR industry.


Low-tech to High-tech
By Julie Fergus, DIY VRBO Owner

It began for me with the purchase of a vintage mountain cabin. As a professional interior designer I knew I could create a comfortable home that vacationers could enjoy and also have a bit of design flair. 


When I first started there was just one major online listing site. And it was just that, a listing site. Owners had to manage everything once they got an inquiry. In order to get a booking, we made custom emails to respond to inquiries that had photos of the properties and area information, we emailed PDF contracts, we processed credit cards with our personal terminal or guests mailed checks, and we actually mailed area maps and Chamber of Commerce visitor information.

When a guest was to arrive, we often talked to them on the phone because GPS devices were not mainstream, and there were no smartphones yet. Guests did get lost, and we had to help them get to the properties.


Having had the experience to develop the skills the old-fashioned way we had fully-booked calendars for peak season, and our listings were always on the first page of listings in our areas. This was well before algorithms and “best match”. It was a great time!


My point is that we had to manage every aspect because there were no apps or platforms. It was very hands-on, and I enjoyed it. I won’t focus on how much has changed, and really not a lot for the better in terms of getting listing positioning. (that is a topic for another post).


With ten years under our belt before all of the major changes happened has helped us be in a position to expand on what we already had and start to use social media, create a website, and move toward all electronic contracts and communication.


I am a member of several vacation rental owner Facebook groups I read the conversations. There are many novice owners. Airbnb has made it extremely easy for everyone to get into the business without any experience or understanding the big picture.


What I have found is that the novices have a lot of questions, and the same questions are asked repeatedly. With that in mind I started to write about the vacation rental management from my perspective using our experience as a vacation rental owner.


To be successful as a DIYVRBO (do it yourself vacation rental by owner) you have to be committed. One can have a profitable vacation rental business managing it by oneself.

There are so many businesses, apps, and platforms vying for a piece of the vacation rental market. But you don’t need to use them. You can do it on your own as an independent owner. I know, I’ve done it myself for over ten years. Many of those ten years were before we had the technology we have now.

I hope that you can learn from our journey from one property to multiple properties during the transition from low-tech to high-tech booking process.


I offer consulting services to assist those that wish to create a rental that shines bright in the marketplace.

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