It all started at the beach. More than a decade ago, Derek DeCesere managed two vacation rental properties. It wasn’t a full-fledged business at the time, but in 2016 he decided to take a leap of faith, double-down on the beach-lover lifestyle and start his vacation rental company Sand Stays.
Admittedly, he didn’t totally know what he was doing back in 2016 (it’s no small feat going from managing two properties side-of-desk to a multi-listing, multi employee vacation rental business). But thanks to his passion and a little software support from Hostaway, Sand Stays started charting its path to success.
We sat down with Derek to learn more about what makes Sand Stays stand among the premier short-term and vacation rental companies in Maine, and how Hostaway vacation rental software has helped along the way.
Headquarters: Maine, USA
Locations: 20 cities and towns all across the Great State of Maine
Employees: 11 full-time employees, plus cleaners, handymen and contractors
Started with Hostaway: 2020
I see this question come up a lot and it’s an important one to reflect on as a business owner. For Sand Stays, what makes us different is our obsession with the journey. Meaning, we work hard every single day to innovate and get better as a team. It might sound cheesy, but it’s the truth. I’ve never been one for answering questions that look good on paper but lack substance.
We had less than 40 listings, only 2-3 team members, and didn’t have many processes or tools. The challenges were everywhere. We were building the plane and flying it at the same time. And we didn’t have a property management system (PMS) to support in any capacity past just having a calendar.
When we first started — which I’m sure is common among many new businesses in our space — we didn’t have a PMS, or even know what it was. Once we had about 7-10 properties, I decided we needed help, and started looking around and learned what a PMS could do. I quickly realized this was a very valuable tool. I also felt that the one I had previously chosen left a lot to be desired, which set me down the path of finding an alternative.
Sand Stays isn't the only Hostaway customer taking full advantage of our all-in-one property management system. Watch how Host Services Group grew their listings more than 600% with Hostaway.
I had switched PMSs once already, only to be disappointed. So when I restarted the search, I realized I wanted to find my forever PMS. I looked at larger players whose products that were future-focused and offered a wide-variety of features that could help me grow, in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to ever switch again only to be re-disappointed.
I came across Hostaway during my online research, I also heard their name come up in different articles and some podcasts. As for making the final decision, it came down to three main reasons:
Hostaway has a great mobile app
Hostaway has a ton of great features
It was obvious that the company was growing and not stagnating like my previous PMSs
The process was very accommodating. I felt taken care of and not just rushed through. I had questions throughout, and the onboarding was right there with me the entire time. I feel like a lot of companies sell and onboard you only to disappear right after you’ve signed. That was not the case at all with Hostaway and it made me feel very good about my decision.
Calendar, bookings, arranging housekeeping, tasks, review monitoring, direct booking website, coupon codes, channel management, financial reporting, owner statements, and API connections with a list of growing partners in the marketplace — just to name a few.
Since Hostaway is always growing its marketplace, connections with online travel agencies (OTAs) and software providers, we’re continually taking advantage of more opportunities, which is very exciting for us. Another thing worth mentioning is the team has always provided the same feedback - Hostaway’s layout is intuitive and very easy to navigate.
There seems to be an endless amount of metrics to track these days, especially within Hostaway’s robust financial reporting. But if I had to pick just one, it would be Listing Financials. It helps us better understand not only a single property but any groups of properties and even our entire portfolio, which ultimately helps us make better decisions.
Get Hostaway. In all seriousness, the challenges we faced are not unique to Sand Stays — others feel the same pains. The reality is once I switched to Hostaway, it gave my business the tools and abilities I needed to press forward and succeed. There’s more to success than just finding the right tool, but you definitely won’t get there without one.
We’ve got our sights set on getting to 237 units by late 2024. And we’re taking Hostaway along for the ride!