We're excited to announce our partnership with Direct! This is a powerful tool for short-term rental operators to manage a variety of unit types on one sleek software platform built for distribution, accounting, guest engagement, listing ARI, and much more! We had the chance to sit down with CEO and co-founder Wes Smithe to learn more about how they got their start, and discuss the power of combining Breezeway and Direct.
Tell us about Direct. What compelled you to start it and what is your vision for the future of the company?
My co-founder Chad O’Farrell (President) and I serendipitously met in Chicago through a mutual friend in early 2015. Prior to meeting, I co-founded a global marketplace for professional vacation rentals called Vaystays, a spinoff of a niche marketplace for college football weekend home rentals I helped launch my previous partners in the late 2000’s (“GamedayHousing”).
While successfully leading hotel & resort business development efforts at Groupon Getaways, Chad witnessed first-hand the impact alternative lodging was making in the travel space, and he quickly decided to make the leap into the startup world joining me at Vaystays.
A few years later, convinced by the recent advances in web technology, and the severe level of dissatisfaction among the professional operators supplying Vaystays, we decided to pivot to building a modern, enterprise-grade PMS with native channel connectivity, and Direct was born.
Football weekends got us into the STR space, but exposure to professional suppliers unearthed the big realization: the industry needed a software update!
At Direct, our mission is to provide a web-based ERP software platform for all types of short-term rental operators that is sleek, fast, reliable, and scalable. In order to achieve this, we continue to invest not only in technology, integrations, and processes, but also an exceptional team of innovators.
What are some of the biggest vacation rental trends in store for 2022?
At Direct, we firmly believe that the short-term rental segment of the greater hotel & lodging industry is still in the early stages of its shift towards standardization and consolidation, akin to hotels in preceding decades. With increasing attention from institutional investors and the public market, the industry will evolve quite a bit in 2022 with operators large and small leveraging new technologies that advance rental quality standards, allow for more efficient integration of acquired assets, and streamline the management of diverse portfolio sets.
How about some of the opportunities and challenges that vacation rental operators can expect to face?
The industry is still recovering, and the bitter truth is that we shouldn’t expect 2022 to be devoid of the uncertainty and curveballs we’ve all become accustomed to the past two years. But, those of us that survived, learned a lot. We know what works, and what to avoid (where the water is deepest to keep us from bottoming out, and where the water is moving fastest to accelerate our growth efforts).
Are you finding more and more smaller vacation rental operators interested in implementing tools to grow and differentiate their business? Why do you think this is?
Absolutely. Given their experience and needs at scale, larger operators often lead the charge when it comes to adopting tools for growth. That said, we’re in a golden age for short-term rentals: anyone can work, live, and learn from anywhere, and an experienced, older generation has shown the ropes to a younger generation that craves convenience and efficiency through technology. As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of small, fast-growing upstarts that have big ambitions to be the big guys.
In the not-so-distant future, there will be dozens of Vacasas, and in 2022 we may even see groups of ambitious smaller operators consolidate and make attempts at IPOs through SPACs!
Learn more about Breezeway's partnership with Direct.