Interview with Laura Blair, luxury villa rental business owner

I recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Laura Blair, owner of Villas Veritas. It sounds like a pretty good gig – she has to visit over every one of the luxury villas featured on her site. Over 200 properties in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States. Sometimes she stays in them in order to become an expert on the surrounding area. Hope you enjoy:

1. Let’s say someone has an idea for a travel business; how do they know if it’s a product or service people want to buy?

They should check how many others are offering the service online. If there are hundreds then it’s probably a service that’s in demand but they may want to reconsider given the competition or narrow the parameters to specialize further.

2. Once you’ve established that there is a demand for whatever you offer how do you get started on a business plan?

Well, I imagine you would need to know the costs involved in setting up your business. You need to truly understand your market and what it is that is important to them. I fell into my business by happy accident so I never had a business plan but that was many years ago and a different era. However, for clients seeking a luxury private villa I have always understood the value of genuine knowledge of an area and property. You want to build relationships with people and you want your clients to trust you, so with a business plan for the luxury travel industry the key is personal attention and in-depth study of your product before presenting it to your consumer.

3. Was there a particularly big hurdle to overcome while starting In Villas Veritas?

I was involved in another business when I started In Villas Veritas so I was fortunate to allow In Villas to grow naturally and slowly at first until I was ready to completely change over to IVV full time. Once that happened, things really picked up speed. Of course, this was 15 years ago, when there were very few villa rental agencies so that may have eased the hurdles quite a bit.

4. How has the running of your business changed over the years? Are you facing the same challenges you did 10 years ago?

The running of my business has changed enormously over the years. When I started we were still sending photos and information by regular mail! The internet opened up the way to better and faster communication but also paved the way for many companies who merely warehouse properties on their sites and have no first-hand knowledge of the properties and no direct connection to the properties. The problem now is: how does the consumer know who that is? The only way is for them to know is to ask directly if the service provider actually knows the properties personally and hope that they are honest; word of mouth and referrals are always helpful for that as well.

5. Any advice for someone thinking of starting a travel business?

Know your product inside and out and make sure you can provide the best service possible for whatever area you work in. There are no shortcuts.

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  1. Sharon says:

    Sounds like a great job…would love it. I do love to travel and write about it.

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