Large Vacation Rentals Provide Best Bang for Buck, Says Twiddy CEO Ross Twiddy

Large Vacation Rentals Provide Best Bang for Buck, Says Twiddy CEO Ross Twiddy

This week we’re in conversation with Ross Twiddy, CEO of Twiddy & Co., a vacation rental company in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Ross was generous enough to lend us some time in discussing the current state of the vacation home rental market on the east coast of the U.S., and a little bit about why the multi-family offerings on the Outer Banks are unique.

Author: “First of all Ross thank you for chatting with us today, the girls in my household’s ears perked up when I mentioned the words ‘Outer Banks’ over breakfast, apparently there’s a Netflix show about your part of the world?”

Ross: “Hah yeah, that one was a bit unexpected. Just at the height of the pandemic lockdown in the spring Netflix releases this show just called ‘Outer Banks’, a kind of teen drama set here in North Carolina. The timing was far from perfect, because we literally couldn’t take bookings while the popularity of the show exploded, but we did notice a bump in awareness that lasted for weeks after the premiere. A lot of people who aren’t on the east coast simply don’t know there are 200 miles of beautiful sand beaches within several hours’ driving distance from New York City. The show helped with general awareness, which has always been a big challenge for us.”

Author: “My girls showed me a bit of the first episode, and while I’m not the target audience, I do work in travel, so my eyes lit up when I got to see some of the monstrously huge beach-front houses that run along that coastline. It seems every new build near the water is all about being the biggest house on the block. These are not single family homes being rented out on Airbnb are they? It’s a very different model.”

Ross: “That they’re not, for certain. Listen, we cater to a large range of vacationers - some are single families and we rent normal-sized homes for them, but you’re right, along the waterfront large homes rule, and it’s basic business at this point. The more you take advantage of your plot of land, the more monthly return you can generate, because there’s no shortage of multi-family renters willing to share a large accommodation. That’s a central part of the large-home rental model here on the OBX: make it so that multiple families can pool their vacation money and all of a sudden they can stay in a luxury home with pools, hot tubs, movie theaters, and gorgeous views of the ocean, that they simply couldn’t afford as a single family.”

Author: “This is something I’m fascinated by. I’ve worked alongside the villa and hotel industries, and there are some beautiful properties around the world, but looking at some of these multi-family large vacation homes on your site really blows my mind. Some of the houses in your inventory are 25+ bedrooms, 25+ bathrooms, with lazy river swimming pools, arcade rooms, themed European pubs, and like you said, theater rooms with projectors, one even had a mini-golf course in the backyard, all in the same house. It does seem like an ideal vacation in 2020, when you want some private access to the beach, but you don’t want to necessarily leave your house otherwise!”

Ross: “It’s true that we’ve always catered to a demographic that, this year, because of the pandemic, seems to have grown exponentially. Namely, large families with grandchildren and grandparents who all want to stay under the same roof - imagine you have a family with five siblings, each married with three kids, you’re already looking at 25 people to try and go on a vacation with - there really isn’t another model that saves you money in trying to do that. Stay on the same floor at the same hotel? In neighboring beach houses that only fit one family each? The costs quickly spiral out of control - so what we can offer is a bit of economy of scale, as the more families you can invite with you to one of our homes, the more attainable the luxury of being on the beach in a gorgeous house becomes.”

Author: “While it’s intuitive, I’m not sure how much of the vacationing public at large is aware of that as an option. Villas have tried to push that angle in their messaging, but at the same time they’re attempting to look as high end as possible, and so nobody wants to insinuate that you can get a less expensive vacation with more luxury if you pool people together. Your houses have huge double kitchens, multiple fridges and dishwashers, it’s a family home, just for more than one family. I just don’t see this angle being pushed as much in the travel media as I might have thought.”

Ross: “It’s actually one of our biggest challenges, that awareness. Making people realize that what look like very expensive rentals when you first see a weekly rate are actually cost effective options when you split things multiple ways. There’s no easy, succinct way to put that in an Instagram ad - I mean, we try, but it’s not our most effective approach, to directly spell things out. We tend to let the imagery of these incredible homes make the point for us. Yes it’s a lot of money for a week, but there’s enough bedrooms for 8 couples and all the kids, so split that price 8 ways and consider the luxury you’d have access too, all of a sudden it looks downright affordable - nothing compares basically.”

Author: “It’s a fun idea, and while I don’t think my family is large enough to rent one of your huge homes, after the travel restrictions are eased up, I might consider asking a couple of friends if they’d like to split the costs on something with some built-in entertainment. If there are video games, pool tables, movies every night, a pool and the beach, I think I could save money by not having to take a bunch of kids out every night to keep them entertained!”

Ross: “That’s very true! There are a lot of great things to do in the Outer Banks, but if you want the option of being entertained while staying close to home base, some of our rentals offer pretty spectacular amenities. I hope you do come and visit us when things get back to normal!”

Author: “On that note, as I wanted to ask you earlier in the conversation, and I know from our previous correspondence, you’ve actually benefited in terms of overall numbers this year, is that right?”

Ross: “Yes we’ve had an exceptionally good year, we’re truly blessed to say. I know a lot of businesses have struggled mightily in 2020, we just happen to be lucky in that we offer something everybody is craving, a place to really ‘get away’, without having to go too far from home. I love the fact that there’s demand for rentals in the OBX, because in my mind that means all of the businesses that rely on tourism, while they’re still going to face major challenges, aren’t going to lose the entire season - we’re still filling houses, and local businesses are doing everything right to make this one of the safest places to vacation in America. We’re very proud of our community and how it has banded together in the face of all of this struggle, and we’re hoping we can be part of the healing process by helping to bring more tourist revenue in from across the country to help buoy up our local businesses.”

Author: “Thanks for your time Ross, we really appreciate it.”

Ross: “My pleasure.”