802 is the number of vacation rental management companies who have purchased LiveRez’s vacation rental management software platform as of April 9, 2014. Vacation rental software veterans understand all too well the importance of the number because it has surpassed the number of vacation rental management companies utilizing any other single property management software system in the U.S..
Tracy Lotz, president and CEO of LiveRez, launched the software company in 2008 in Eagle, ID. Ten years prior to its launch, Lotz had been working on 1st Choice Vacation Rentals when he met Steve Trover, president of All Star Vacation Homes. Together, they built All Star’s vacation rental website. In 2002, Lotz added the online booking component, and by 2005, he was building rental websites for other vacation rental managers. Over the next two years Lotz’s tech team worked with Trover’s property management company to build a multi-user, full-scale, end-to-end property management technology solution.
In 2008, LiveRez went to market with its web-based vacation rental software platform and surpassed its competition in just six years.
And at 53, Tracy Lotz isn’t looking towards retirement or an exit strategy any time soon.
In the current vacation rental technology environment, it has become common to seek outside investment to grow the business. In the last two years, over $500 million in institutional funding has been raised by technology based companies in the vacation rental industry.
But “common” isn’t a word people use to describe Tracy Lotz.
Despite many opportunities to accept institutional funding, Lotz has remained independent. “If I take venture capital to build the business, I’m accountable to venture capitalists. Right now, I am accountable to the property managers who are using our software,” said Lotz. “I’m not in the let’s-make-a VC-some-money business. I am in the let’s-make-the-property-manager-successful business.”
In addition, Lotz is adamant that he isn’t looking to sell the company. “We have resources, and I am not in the position that I need to sell. I am much more interested in building and operating LiveRez,” said Lotz. “The juice for me comes from building something that makes our partners successful.”
At LiveRez, clients are referred to as “partners,” and the entire staff is trained to treat them accordingly. “One of the reasons we have been successful in sales is that we are selling more than software. We are selling a partnership,” said Lotz. “When a new company is looking to purchase LiveRez, we have hundreds of real people for them to talk to who will testify that our partnership approach is not just a sales line. We are committed to it.”
At the VRMA Regional Seminar in Orlando, FL, LiveRez announced the launch of several development projects including the LiveRez mobile app, a technology partnership with home automation provider PointCentral, iVacationRentals, a customer-facing distribution website for LiveRez’s 50,000 properties, and even Google Glass based housekeeping functionality.
In addition, LiveRez recently added e-learning and non-profit expert Doug Covey to its team to provide educational tools, forums and networking events to help property managers increase standards, build best practices and establish high levels of professionalism in their vacation rental organizations.
And according to Lotz, there is much more on the road map (e.g. call tracking, smart home integration, etc.). “If someone had told me in January 2008 that going on 2014 we would still be working on this (LiveRez functionality), I would have said, ‘You’re crazy. We’re going to be done in six months.’ It is clear now that this is ever-evolving.”
Just like every technology creator, Lotz has taken his share of criticism –most notably for his all-in approach and his almost religious commitment to protecting client data.
The LiveRez solution is an end-to-end system which includes functionality for calendar management, housekeeping scheduling, work order tracking, owner management, website building, search engine optimization, and more. However, what LiveRez doesn’t have is an open API interface to integrate with the ever increasing multitude of distribution channels and third party vendors.
“It is very important to me to make sure that we protect the data that is entrusted to us,” said Lotz. “Anytime you pass guest data and owner data to a third party, there is an enormous risk. As we continue to grow, we are committed to protecting the data integrity of our partners and their customers.”
Lotz added, “One of my biggest challenges is that I can’t afford to make a mistake. If I make the decision to build on the wrong technology or integrate with a company who compromises data, it impacts all of our partners. I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Tracy Lotz and the LiveRez team are not anticipating a slow-down in their growth pace. Along with the addition of Doug Covey, Lotz named Steve Trover as Chief Strategy Officer, and the team of 30+ employees recently expanded into new offices in Eagle, ID.
“With as fast as we are growing as a company, we knew we had to think long-term and invest in a space that could accommodate our current and future employees,” said Lotz. “Our new 11,000 sq ft headquarters not only will support our planned growth, but also offers our employees a better environment to come to each day.”
LiveRez has also announced it is heading to Destin, Maui and Kauai for its Summit Series, the company’s ongoing series of educational seminars for vacation rental managers.
Lotz added, “We are builders, and we are committed to working every day to make sure we are developing everything a manager needs to successfully and professionally manage and market their vacation homes. We believe vacation rental managers are the best marketers of their vacation rental properties, so our goal is to provide them with the highest quality tools to do that.”