#1: Saskia's Secret to Running 50 Self-Catering Villas as a One-Woman Company

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Saskia van der Bolt is the owner of Villa in Umbria, a property management company overseeing 50 self-catering villas in this beautiful part of Italy.

We learn how Saskia fell into the industry and why she now can’t imagine doing anything else. We look at how the business has changed from when she started and why her secret to finding the best guests is still the same.

We hear all about Saskia’s challenges as a one-woman business owner in Italy and pinpoint the X-factor she looks for when deciding whether or not to take on a new property.

There is more with Saskia van der Bolt in this week’s episode of The Property Manager as Guest!

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Key Takeaways

  • Outsource things you can’t do yourself.
  • Be picky about the property owners.
  • Trust your gut feeling and prioritise trustful relations.
  • Create pleasant daily routines and get to know the locals.
  • Don’t scale for the sake of scaling, be strategic about it.

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#1: Saskia's Secret to Running 50 Self-Catering Villas as a One-Woman Vacation Rental Business

In the bustling world of short-term rentals (STR), where success is often measured by exceptional guest experiences and efficient property management, there’s one name that stands out – Saskia van der Bolt. With years of experience in the industry, Saskia has honed her skills and faced challenges head-on. In an exclusive interview, Saskia shares her journey, insights, and valuable lessons learned along the way.



Falling into the path

When asked about her entry into the short-term rental industry, Saskia reminisces about her humble beginnings. “I actually came to Italy in 2000…I accompanied tourists to Rome twice a week,” she recounts. Starting with no prior experience in tourism, Saskia found herself gradually immersing in the industry.

Saskia’s journey took an unexpected turn when she began working for Villa in Umbria, ultimately taking over the business. “You just start working, and then it becomes interesting. Many people can relate to that,” she reflects. Her transition from employee to owner underscores her adaptability and dedication to mastering the craft.



Word-of-mouth as a great plan-B

Reflecting on the evolution of the STR landscape, Saskia acknowledges the seismic shifts brought about by technology and online platforms. “Internet and booking, Airbnb…made a big change to the business,” she observes. Despite these changes, Saskia emphasizes the enduring value of word-of-mouth referrals, a testament to the importance of fostering genuine connections in the industry.



Make sure your guests have relaxing environment

For Saskia, the heart of hosting lies in creating memorable experiences for guests. “You’re allowing people to have a holiday, to relax, to have a pleasant environment to rest in,” she remarks. By understanding the needs and preferences of her guests, Saskia strives to offer tailored accommodations that exceed expectations.



On manoeuvring between multiple stakeholders 

As a sole proprietor, Saskia grapples with the inherent complexities of managing diverse stakeholders. “The most challenging is that it’s a one-woman business,” she admits. From juggling owner expectations to navigating regulatory hurdles, Saskia’s resilience shines through as she tackles each obstacle head-on.



On selecting the right owners

When selecting properties for her portfolio, Saskia prioritizes comfort, modernity, and a personal connection with the owners. “You need to think what kind of guests you want to have,” she advises aspiring hosts. By curating a collection of properties that align with guest preferences, Saskia ensures a seamless and satisfying experience for all.



Let experience and gut feeling lead your way

Reflecting on her journey, Saskia shares invaluable insights gleaned from years of experience. “The biggest mistake is when you go and look for a new house…but the owner is a bit weird,” she cautions. Her emphasis on fostering positive relationships with owners underscores the importance of synergy and mutual trust in the industry.



Embrace changes and step back when you want to

As the industry continues to evolve, Saskia remains open to innovation and adaptation. “It would be ideal to find somebody to work with after which I can slowly but surely step back,” she envisions. By embracing change and cultivating strategic partnerships, Saskia paves the way for sustainable growth and long-term success.

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