We present our Spotlight on Carla Hemmings, Vacation Rental Director at Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Orleans, Massachusetts.
How did you get started in this business?
A native of San Diego,I began working in the hospitality industry right out of high school at luxury hotels like the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Glorietta Bay Inn Hotel and the Hotel Del Coronado. It wasnt too long after my eldest was born when I was hired to work for Coronado Shores Company, the original developers of Coronado Shores luxury condominiums. I knew from that point moving forward, my career was going to be in real estate but in a different capacity: Vacation Rentals.
After over 25 years in the vacation rental business, it hashelped me build a strong understanding of data, statistics, marketing, and innovative tools and technology. Incorporating this knowledge with my ability to personally connect with homeowners and guests has resulted in repeat business, referrals, and lasting relationships. Now in my second term as the Chair on the Vacation Rental Committee with the Cape and Island Board of REALTORS and as an active member of the Vacation Rental Management Association and the New England Vacation Rental Managers Association, I take pride in my role as an expert resource for both first-time and experienced vacation owners.
What do you love most about where you live and work?
Married to a native Cape Codder, we built our quaint New England colonial home and moved to the Cape in 2002. Raising our two children has enabled us to give them a top-rated educationjust one of the many benefits of calling Cape Cod home. As a family we make sure to take advantage of the beautiful scenery, beaches, bike trails, sunsets, and historic sites which make up the regions unique character. My first-hand knowledge of these perks allows me to provide a personal touch to first-time visitors and veteran guests who have been coming for years.
The greatest highlight of my job is working with colleagues who share my passion. At Gibson Sothebys International Realty, we all share the commitment to deliver white glove service to all our clientele and treat those we work with as family.
The pandemic has prompted new trends in short- and long-term rentals. Which in the Cape Cod travel industry are you observing? What are you hopeful for post-pandemic?
The vacation rental industry experienced many changes as of late. The trends that have emerged in the past year alone will continue to impact how we do business going forward.
In 2020, we saw various trends of staycations: guests opting to travel within driving distance, looking for flexible cancellations, and scheduling long-term stays. In 2021, I dont expect to see a significant change. Many will continue to work remotely and travel domestically.
It's vital to take this opportunity to be prepared for the recovery ahead. Strengthening our client relationships, boosting traveler confidence and reassuring guests that were keeping them safe is imperative.
Right now, which amenities are renters coming to Cape Cod seeking most?
When booking a vacation rental, there is an increased focus on leisure and a high proportion of long-term stays. The features we get most asked about tend to be those the guests might already have at home or what they might not already, as most are coming from urban areas:
- Safety and seclusion.
- Full-service amenities as hotels are not able to accommodate long-term stays.
- Clearly defined spaces and functionality for working remotely.
- Outdoor living options (private pools, association beach access).
- Touchless technology.
- Strong internet connectionfor corporate and/or classroom work.
What tips do you have for booking safe vacation rentals during this time?
Booking vacation rentals has changed so drastically during the pandemic that many of us are unsure of which properties are best and what additional safety precautions we should take. Despite the pandemic, and in some ways because of it, travelers are not shying away from booking vacation homes. They present an opportunity to escape the confines of our own homes and experience new ones in a setting that can arguably feel like a safe and secluded getaway.
A few of my recommendations include:
- Consider the risk and know what the risks are.
- Find out which businesses are open and closed in the destination you are seeking.
- Consider the type of home your booking.
- Double check the cancellation policy.
- Ask about the cleaning and sanitizing protocols in place.
- Bring your own linens or consider renting from local companies who network with property managers.
- Respect your surroundings.
What are a few of your local recommendations for renters on Cape Cod?
The beauty of Cape Cod is that every town is unique. Being that I enjoy history and art, I gravitate towards exploring museums, touring historic homes and visiting galleries that showcase the work of local artists.A few local destinations I visit often include:
- National Seashore Visitors Centerin Eastham.
- Cape Cod Museum of Natural Historyin Brewster.
- Sandwich Glass Museumin Sandwich.
- Left Bank Galleryin Wellfleet or Orleans.
- Mary Dunn Cauley Mosaics. You can see some of her pieces at ourOrleans office!