Luxury Coastal vacations in Perdido Key, Florida handles more than 250 luxury vacation rentals, including the largest rental selection of condos in Perdido Key, Beach Colony Resort Perdido Key, LaPlaya Resort, Palacio Perdido Key, Windemere, Capri, Mediterranean, Sandy Key, Seaspray, Shipwatch, and more!. Keep reading to know more about how they find PriceLabs helpful in terms of the features that we offer and the revenue output. We had an insightful discussion with Lauren Sanders from Luxury Coastal Vacations about their company’s journey and of property management and how PriceLabs is helping them.
Richie: Let’s start with the first question. Can you tell us a bit about Luxury Coastal?
Lauren: We have been in business for almost 14 years. My mom, Charlene Sanders, started the company kind of by chance. We had some vacation properties in the area, which were on the Florida panhandle, and we decided to start renting those out. After interviewing some of the local management companies, Charlene decided that she wanted to try to do it herself instead but, from a different angle. She had the perspective of owners. So she wanted to create a property management structure that benefited owners and made them happy and in turn, made the guests happy. She had a lot of success with that, and some of her friends asked if she’d be interested in managing their properties, and little by little, we’ve grown purely by word of mouth. Now we have about 350 properties from Florida Panhandle to Alabama Gulf Coast, all organically grown.
Richie: And Lauren, have you been involved in the business for 14 years too?
Lauren: I have been with the company for almost eight years. So once it started growing, Charlene said, okay, can you come over? I’m going to need some backup. My background is in corporate finance and I had done that for a few years out of school. I went to Auburn and studied finance there so I had the necessary skills required. I decided to make the switch from the corporate world over to our family business.
Richie: How has that been for you?
Lauren: Oh, it’s been great. It’s been so much fun. It’s very different, but in a good way, I think that there’s so much more room for growth and opportunity by being with a small company. It’s so much fun to be on the other side of things. As an employer, you support a small community and provide jobs to people throughout the local area. We have also retained some of our staff who have moved to other areas so we also have remote workers now. That’s been really fun too.
Richie: Very cool. You’ve been with the business for eight years. Even before that, the business has been there for 14 years, how were you doing pricing before you started working with PriceLabs?
Lauren: Well, that’s a very loaded question. We said we were on Escapia and we managed everything manually and Escapia had told us that out of all of their clients, we had the most rate rules. If that tells you anything about what we were doing in terms of property management. It was complicated and messy and not very easily managed. We had one person on our team who was our rate guru, and if she didn’t touch it and if anyone else tried to, we broke it. So it was just very burdensome.
Escapia had told us that out of all of their clients, we had the most rate rules. If that tells you anything about what we were doing. It was complicated and messy and not very easily managed. We had one person on our team who was our rate guru, and if she didn’t touch it and if anyone else tried to, we broke it. So it was just very burdensome.
Lauren Sanders, President, Luxury Coastal vacations
Richie: She could never take a vacation.
Lauren: Right. I mentioned being with a small property management company, we offer a lot of room for growth and she was growing in her career professionally and it didn’t allow her to completely move into the role that she was promoted to because she was still having to keep up with this very manual rate process. So she was very excited when we started looking at options.
Richie: So this became possible when you guys moved to Track. Of course, before I ask you about PriceLabs, what made you switch from Escapia to Track?
Lauren: Initially, we just listed our properties on VRBO and managed things manually. As we grew, we switched to Escapia. However, over time we started to have a lot of growing pains. we had a bunch of add-ons third-party services to be able to fully function. Our team would complain because they’d have to have 10 different screens pulled up to be able to accomplish their day-to-day property management responsibilities. So we started trying to find ways to streamline our processes. That’s something as a company that we always focus on, just efficiency and making sure that we’re working smarter, not harder. So we ended up deciding to move over to Track.
Richie: Very good. Unfortunately with Track, you did need to get into one more third-party relationship with PriceLabs.
Lauren: I know I say it is a bad thing, but we were really, really excited to hear about the capabilities of PriceLabs. And if we were going to have a third party to partner with, then we are absolutely thrilled that it’s been PriceLabs. We went back and forth about whether we really wanted to pull the trigger on completely switching PMS. It was just such a big task. Honestly, PriceLabs is one of the reasons that we fully dove into the Track implementation.
Richie: Tell us a little bit about the thought process, what drove that decision?
Lauren: Well, Anurag and I worked together and he showed me all of the capabilities of the PriceLabs software. It seemed like no matter what crazy request I had, he was able to find a solution for it through PriceLabs. As I mentioned earlier, we had quite a few rate rules at Escapia. So being able to translate that into an automated format was very, very exciting for me.
Over time we started to have a lot of growing pains. we had a bunch of add-ons third-party services to be able to fully function. Our team would complain because they’d have to have 10 different screens pulled up to be able to accomplish their day-to-day property management responsibilities.
Lauren Sanders, President, Luxury Coastal Vacations
Richie: Oh, very cool. Do you remember if there is any particular thing that stands out that you thought wouldn’t be possible and it actually was made possible?
Lauren: I mean, so many things! We did dynamic discounting through Escapia but It’s so much more convenient to set that up in PriceLabs. You can do it on the company level, on a unit group level, or on a unit level. We were managing all that very manually. And honestly, I couldn’t even tell you how it was set up. So the fact that now I can easily go into PriceLabs and quickly make adjustments to our discounting strategies. That has been such a value add for us.
I was also able to do everything through a spreadsheet during the initial onboarding period and that was really helpful. I’m just an Excel nerd and I love being able to easily upload and download the upload and export my CSVs so that I can manipulate the data and then just throw it back into the system. So that was really nice for me.
Richie: What would your team say about PriceLabs?
Lauren: So, when we are onboarding a new unit. It’s very simple to get it connected in PriceLabs and it just flows under rate rules that we already have in place if that particular unit falls under a unit group that we already have. So that’s really nice for our onboarding team and property management.
It was really easy to train our new employees. We actually have our whole owner relations team managing rates now versus just the one rate specialist previously.
That’s really nice because if we have owner requests come through, we have a whole team that can divide and conquer on that.
We actually have our whole owner relations team managing rates now versus just the one rate specialist previously. That’s really nice because if we have owner requests come through, we have a whole team that can divide and conquer on that.
Lauren Sanders, President, Luxury Coastal Vacations
Richie: It’s so cool to hear that you’re still able to leverage your corporate finance background and excel.
Lauren: Oh, it’s so much fun. I mean Anurag probably thinks that I’m such a nut because I would get so excited when he would tell me about the different things that I was able to do when I was first learning the software. It has been really, really fun. And honestly, I’ve passed the ball mostly to the team now, which is great too. Of course, you want a tool in place that the team can easily understand and work with.
Richie: So Lauren sounds like you’ve been able to replicate some of the strategies that you had in Escapia. Are there any new strategies that you were able to implement?
Lauren: Yes. So something that’s been really big this year, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand. So we were pretty ahead of the curve in adjusting our rates, but PriceLabs helped even more. We were still being pretty conservative about making increases but PriceLabs saw that there was more demand than we initially recognized. So having that extra padding that automatically was added on through PriceLabs was great for us.
Richie: That’s such a good testimonial. I’m loving this.
This year, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand. So we were pretty ahead of the curve in adjusting our rates, but PriceLabs helped even more. We were still being pretty conservative about making increases but PriceLabs saw that there was more demand than we initially recognized. So having that extra padding that automatically was added on through PriceLabs was great for us.Lauren Sanders, President, Luxury Coastal Vacations
Lauren: Yeah. And I mean, seriously, it probably sounds like I’m a fake customer because we are so in love with the product but you should ask other third parties that we work with. I’m not always thrilled. Sometimes I can be a little bit of a handful, but with PriceLabs, we sing your praises all the time. We’ve actually already recommended you to other companies.
Richie: Thank you so much. Have you thought of the ROI of PriceLabs for your business?
Lauren: Yes! I don’t have the specific data in front of me, but we have seen a huge increase in revenue year over year. I really don’t even count 2020 because of COVID, but even in our really strong 2018 and 2019, we have run circles around those numbers. Then from a time perspective, as I mentioned our rate specialist was probably spending 15 hours a week on manual rate management and Escapia, and now we spend probably about an hour a day spread across teams!
Richie: That’s amazing! I can check in the background and it looks like your owner reservations team is spending time on PriceLabs. They’re doing a good job, they’re actually using 18-20 minutes every day,
Then from a time perspective, as I mentioned our rate specialist was probably spending 15 hours a week on manual rate management and Escapia, and now we spend probably about an hour a day spread across teams!
Lauren Sanders, President Luxury Coastal Vacations
Lauren: Yes. Oh, I’m so happy to hear that and that’s perfect because I don’t want them spending hours in their day. I want them to generate a new business. But that’s just such a good balance where they’re still proactively looking at our existing book and making sure that we’re doing everything that we can for owners. Like I said before, our top priority is making sure that owners are happy because if the owners are happy, the guests are happy. Everyone’s happy.
Richie: Yeah, completely. All right, Lauren, two more questions for you. Number one is around what’s new with luxury coastal, where are you guys headed in the latter half of 2021? For years to come what’s happening with the business?
Lauren: We are continuing to bring new units into our program so we’re still seeing that steady growth, which means we need a continued streamlined approach. We have fully implemented the Track now from a PMS perspective. We are working to figure out what our next marketing priority is. In the near future, we’re going to continue to watch this new world. In the past, it was very predictable. We knew what we could expect from growth. Now we have had to implement a new strategy on budgeting and planning. It’s going to be really exciting to see what 2022 looks like compared to 21. We have really high hopes.
Richie: The final question here is, do you have any advice for property managers who might be on the fence about using PriceLabs or just dynamic pricing in general? Any advice for property managers who are in that state?
Lauren: Well, I’ve been there. We were definitely on the fence. Before we knew about PriceLabs we spoke with some other options and we were just hesitant about changing the process. You know, everyone’s nervous about change, but if I could give advice, I’d say just try it out. I think that once you explore the world of automated pricing, it’s really hard to go back. I think that the investment pays for itself because there’s so much room for the opportunity that it’s hard to see it as a whole when you’re in the thick of it or when you’re on the front lines.
It’s just nice to have that perspective of taking a step back and observing; this is what’s happening around you, this is where your competitors are doing better than you, this is what you’re doing other than them, you know? So I think they should talk to Anurag because he’s a genius.
I think that once you explore the world of automated pricing, it’s really hard to go back. I think that the investment pays for itself because there’s so much room for the opportunity that it’s hard to see it as a whole when you’re in the thick of it or when you’re on the front lines.
Lauren Sanders, President Luxury Coastal Vacations
Richie: Yeah, we got lucky in that department. He is amazing!
Lauren: Yes. I do want to mention that we have been so thrilled with the support. Your team has been so responsive and consistent with the responses. So we’ve just been very appreciative because that’s something that can be a very big struggle.
Richie: That’s another big focus area for us to work on. Lauren, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for doing this.
Lauren: Thank you. I’m just so, so thrilled with the partnership. It’s always a gamble when you implement something new and it’s just, my whole team has been so happy. Please pass that on to your team as well. Just let them know that we really value the partnership and we’ll continue to sing your praises and anything else that we can do to help your business grow. We’d love to be a part of it.
Richie: Thank you so much, Lauren. I really appreciate it. I say this on behalf of all of the PriceLabs team, we wish the Luxury coastal team and you – all the success in the world!