October 28, 2019
Gibson Beach Rentals in Miramar Beach: Xplorie Partner Spotlight
In this series, Xplorie is shining the spotlight on our clients to give our readers insight into their unique businesses. We offer a big thank you to Brittany Blackman, General Manager of Gibson Beach Rentals in Miramar Beach, Florida, who took a lot of time pouring her heart and soul into the answers below. We thoroughly enjoyed reading her answers, and we hope you will too.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi there! I’m Brittany Blackman. I live in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and work in the Sandestin area. I started with Gibson Beach Rentals as a reservationist back in September 2011 and have continued to grow personally and professionally over the years with the Gibson family. I now am the GM and have built a team of 15+ members who help me run Gibson every day. It’s quite the humbling, lovely feeling to call this place my home and to have created an environment where our team members feel right at home every day as well. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else!
Why did you choose a career in vacation rental management?
Simply put, because I’m like you all: I’m crazy. All jokes aside, I truly enjoy the obstacles we encounter while seeing how we can overcome them. The way our industry builds our team and our personal selves is something I have never quite encountered in other jobs. As a youngster, I knew I wanted a fast-paced, ever-changing daily routine. I thrive on resolving issues, building others, and creating experiences that can change people’s lives.
I honestly had no idea what a vacation rental was until I moved from Georgia to Florida 11 years ago, and when I first started with Gibson, I had no future plans other than making enough money to pay my bills so I didn’t have to move back home. I fell in love with the rush of every day. If it wasn’t a housekeeper not showing up, it was an Owner asking where their favorite pillow went (amongst the other hundred décor pillows in the room, seriously? How did they see that 1 missing???) All of our guests have different needs from super-allergies; to disabilities; to bringing their kids to the beach for the first time ever; to a surprise vacation for their honeymoon. I found my emotions raw and real. I didn’t want a job where I lost myself in the daily routine, and boy, I found my calling.
Some days are really hard and stressful, but when I see those reviews pouring in or get to hug my owners, I realize it’s all worth it. I’m making (with every single member of our team) a memorable impression and that makes life worth living to me 😉
3. What do you love best about your job? What motivates you to come into work every day?
I show up at work every day with a smile on my face, because I know I’m doing good things and helping others. The thing I love most about my job is that I’m given the opportunity to build and evolve relationships with a good purpose.
Currently, I have 100+ Owners who trust me and the Gibson brand I have helped work hard to build. They trust our team. They let us do what we do best – caring for their property and their guests.
On the flip side, we have thousands of guests a year who have entered a relationship with Gibson, albeit some ending with a door closed, and they trust me (even though they can’t see me), our brand, and our team. I can go anywhere to buy a dress or a new pair of shoes for an event. I mainly return to a store because they have a great selection/prices. I honestly have never returned to a store because I had such a great experience with the customer service member.
In vacation rentals, our world is relationships. A lot of trust is involved, and it takes a large amount of work to keep that trust strong. That motivates me. I want to continue to build myself professionally and personally; I want to help my team grow in the same ways. Our world gets a win-win when we all are better humans.
4. What do you enjoy about being an Xplorie partner?
What a fun question! I won’t write what Susie paid me to say, but instead why we chose Xplorie, and why I couldn’t imagine operating without Xplorie: In the Florida Panhandle, there is a vacation rental manager’s office on every street corner. Sometimes 2-3 in the same building. Competition is high. The demands and expectations of Owners and Guests are higher than ever as well with no cap in sight. So, that got me thinking – how do we differentiate ourselves? When someone poses the question of what makes us different than the company next door, I needed to add to my ammo. Xplorie was our answer.
I was skeptical at first, especially when I saw we had to sign a contract for multiple years upfront. What if my team couldn’t “sell” it? What if it was too difficult for my Owners or Guests to understand? What if….no one used it!? Three months into the program, I knew Xplorie wasn’t going anywhere. We were partners for life. Several years later, I still get on the Xplorie bandwagon. I would love to tell you one negative thing or a hidden surprise, but I cannot come up with one (and no they aren’t paying me for this raw response either!)
Here are my top 5 reasons for signing up, staying with, and promoting Xplorie:
- They make it easy. They give you the verbiage. The signage. Everything. In fact, coming from someone who likes to do everything herself, I had to ask them to let me do things (inner control freak coming out). I LOVED IT. I have never experienced an integration as easy as this…or for that matter, one that was exactly what was sold to me.
- Everyone benefits. Your employees. Your Owners. Your Guests. Your disgruntled guests (Xplorie extras – don’t know about them? Setup a call with Xplorie!). Your prospective Owners/Buyers. You all have access!
- Value is added. Do we still run sales? Yes. However, I don’t have to discount as much, and when given the opportunity to communicate with a guest before booking, I can relay why our price and packaging is way more attractive than the guy’s next door. He isn’t about to let you go fishing for free. Oh, and golfing for free the same afternoon. Certainly not adding in a free parasail trip, too. But, guess who does get all that included in their booking? Gibson renters 😊
- It’s affordable. Guests don’t know or question the pricing if set up correctly. Owners and employees get truly free perks. And the best part, you can set up a customized program to fit your specific needs!
- Humans interacting with humans. In today’s world, and especially in our industry, there is such a push for automation and computers helping to take over tasks. That’s great from an operational standpoint, but from a customer service standpoint, we all need to do better at interacting with our Owners/Guests. Xplorie activities are booked with live, human agents – not a darn toll-free number that I have to press 25 numbers to finally get to the operator. KUDOS to Xplorie for helping keep customer service a human tradition.
How have you seen the vacation rental industry evolve over your career?
I wish I could say my stress levels were lower after 8 years in the industry, but I would be lying (staying very appreciative though for our growth!) With that said, though, I’ve seen so many things evolve. I remember when our website didn’t have a search engine on the first page; our photographs showed a gorgeous all-white Gulf-beach view because we didn’t understand the value of professional photography. I used to hand-type every email response. Every rate change for every property was manually entered by these fingers. On every listing site. We used one listing site (tsk, tsk, don’t put all your eggs in one basket). Our in-field operations consisted of paper service orders, constant trips to the office to get your next assignment, and don’t ask me how anything ever got efficiently billed to the Owners. We were a hot mess 8 years ago, and I say “we” meaning the vacation rental industry. Technology, PMS systems, marketing, communication, etc. – it’s all changed. I can’t think of a single thing that hasn’t changed since I started.
We are way more efficient than we once were, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I’m not going to lie, all the conferences, emails, and calls can get a bit overwhelming with the next best thing, but I have found following my heart in finding what would help my team and guests the most has led me in the right direction with few regrets. And, when you feel super overwhelmed and think you need to give up because you just can’t keep up, remember the one thing that hasn’t changed in our industry (and hopefully won’t): humans. It takes each of us to create an experience and that can’t be replicated by any machine, app, or system.
We appreciate the time Brittany took to answer a few questions for us. Check out Gibson Beach Rentals next time you’re in the Florida panhandle!
About Gibson Beach Rentals
Gibson Beach Rentals, Inc. is a short-term vacation rental management company offering rental properties for guests seeking places to stay in the Destin, Sandestin and Miramar Beach areas. Enjoy your next Emerald Coast getaway at one of our premier properties located inside the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort or the Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort – only 5-10 miles east of the heart of Destin, Florida located in the Gulf Coast region of the Florida Panhandle. For those looking for accommodations in the heart of Destin, we are happy to announce we are now representing some Destin Owners in the gorgeous Silver Shells Beach Resort & Spa and along Scenic 98! Our Northwest Florida beaches boast beautiful blues and greens of the warm Gulf water, the finest, whitest sand you can imagine, and miles of sunshine and good vibes.
For more information, visit www.gibsonbeachrentals.com.