When I first went to Fiji in 1999, I had no thoughts of buying a lot, designing and building a house, and becoming a vacation rental expert. Of course, life often turns out better than we ever imagined…and I’m living proof of that.
In 1999, my only thought on that trip to Fiji was escape. As a single mom of a toddler, working from home as a travel consultant, I needed a cheap break. So, when a trip came up for travel agents to visit Fiji—for $600, airfare and meals included—I jumped.
Now these trips can be hard work…7 a.m. to 11 p.m. running around, meeting with resort managers, doing property inspections, going on tours you might not actually like, and generally acting excited about each and every thing you do. It’s exhausting.
So, when we had a two-hour bumpy ride to the northern tip, we all groaned inwardly. However, it turned out to be a life changer for me.
The resort owner invited us to see his land where he imagined an expat community. Walking up that hill, seeing the incredible view, it was love at first sight for me. I felt like the stars aligned, a choir was singing, and I had a mix of joy and peace. I HAD to have a place there.
Two years later I bought one of their last oceanfront lots, designed a house where every room had an ocean view with an architect in Asheville, and hired a builder.
The plan was simple, the resort would rent it out for me.
Then the resort was sold. The new owners didn’t want to manage my property. I was 24 hours away, newly married, without a single, viable idea as to how to make the property work.
And that’s when I started learning the vacation rental basics and high-level marketing tactics. Like the importance of having your own piece of real estate on the web, rather than just using listing portals like HomeAway and VRBO…keeping your email list and reaching out when you have low periods you need to fill…creating lateral relationships with those who are seeking to serve the same guests—tour companies, spas, dive operations, and creating packages.
Now, instead of working with a resort that was giving me 25% occupancy and pocketing half the rent, I was maintaining 85% occupancy and keeping all the profits.
I started out charging $500 a week. My first booking was a month for $2,000. Along the way I’ve discovered the secret sauce for pricing…the key to customer delight…and how to manage it all from a world away. I recently had a reservation for four nights for $1,800. That huge increase in profit has allowed me to go from hobby to profitable owner, with just a few hours a week.
And here’s the real sweetener. Every time I make an improvement to the house, I too get to enjoy it. While we are oceanfront, the house is situated about 30 yards above the waterline. Our gardener recommended creating a sandscape. With sand from a nearby island, we can now sit poolside, with an incredible view of the three islands and the coral reef, and sink our toes into the sand. And, it’s a huge draw for families.
Life in Fiji is sweet. Smiles abound, sunshine is plentiful, the fruit tastes like nothing I can find in the States. Whether I’m relaxing on my hanging bed, sitting on the ledge of the pool with a book, or taking in the view of the reef and three off-islands, Fiji, known the world over for the happiest people, is my happy place.
If you think this is something you might like to do…to start early on your dream…or even move to a place and have one house for you and one to rent out…I can help.
I’ve put every secret I have…every strategy and technique I’ve developed…into one complete resource. Find out more about it here.
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