How did Oasis get started?
It was very organic. I always loved travel and hosting people, and when I moved to Buenos Aires in ’06 (with no Spanish and no contacts there) I went through the experience of being a stranger in a strange land. I spoke to some other friends who were frequent travelers and came to the conclusion that there should be a solution for international travelers and expats which both solved the accommodation need as well as provided local support and insight into the destination.
When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
Within four months of having moved to BA I decided to get a few guys to back me to buy and renovate a few apartments that we would market to travelers for short-intermediate stays. That grew to 15 apartments and then I said, hold on, there are no many underutilized homes and apartments in the world, let’s put the owners of those properties together with travelers, and let’s do it in a more elegant, efficient way than Craigslist. So that’s when I created Oasis. So the idea was born in ’08 and I started the company in ’09.
Had you ever done anything like this before?
I received my BA in Economics from Duke, but learned everything on the job. Plus my dad is an entrepreneur so I got some of that risk-tolerance from him, and developed my love for hosting when I put together summer houses for my group of friends in my first years in NYC.
What’s the scope of your responsibilities at Oasis Collections?
Wow, a little bit of everything: scouting new destinations, training the local teams, meeting with homeowners, managing and creating new partnerships, fundraising to finance our growth, communicating the brand vision both internally and externally. Every day I touch on a pretty diverse array of areas.
What is the most significant difference between Oasis Collections and any other sharing economy models?
Curation and service. We hand pick every destination, neighborhood, individual property and restaurant recommendation. And we are on the ground to meet you at your property, help you if your internet goes down, and get you into the restaurant or club that you want to be at on a given night. It’s a completely different level of experience.
In what aspects do you see that other sharing economy companies fail to meet the expectations of their clients?
Lack of quality control. It’s something that can be improved to some extent in an online way, but in my opinion the offline component is key. Of course that’s more operationally intensive so not everyone wants to do it. But to me that on-the-ground presence is key in hospitality.
What are some of your most memorable travel experiences?
My first trip to Europe with my best friend after we graduated from high school. Traveling with friends and stumbling upon the “Swedish Spring Break” in a medieval village on a small island – definitely head-exploding. Walking the temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia by myself. Polar opposite head-exploding vis a vis that Swedish trip.
What do you think are the top three most important factors when creating the ultimate experience for travelers using Oasis Collections?
The right properties in the right areas. We choose only our favorite neighborhoods and very select group of homes in a given city. We’re essentially eliminating the guesswork about what you’re going to find when you show up.
Friendly, in-the-know, local support. The key being local. There is a big difference in calling a help desk in Montreal or San Francisco and calling someone who is down the street and can be there at your property in 20 minutes.
Unique, insider experiences. The idea that we actually operate our own private clubs in some of our destinations blows people away. It enables us to offer travelers a totally different window on that city.
Finally, and most importantly, what kind of music do you listen to?
Lately a lot of Cut Copy, Hot Chip and Arcade Fire.