Skift Take

In contrast to some other newbie CEOs, Rob Greyber articulated a clear vision about a new strategy during his first earnings call at the helm of Vacasa. If his focus on execution becomes reality, then the company could get turned around in earnest.

Just a little more than two months into his new role as CEO of U.S.-based property manager Vacasa, Rob Greyber detailed his priorities: Downplay acquisitions of vacation rental portfolios in favor of a more productive sales team and organic growth, and tackle longstanding customer support issues at the local level.

“The bulk of our home growth will come from these sales representatives and the individual approach,” Greyber told financial analysts Wednesday during Vacasa’s third quarter earnings call.

Chief financial officer Jamie Cohen said the company exceeded its spending forecasts related to buying local or regional property management companies so far in 2022, would “meaningfully” reduce that spend next year, and think hard before entering new markets.

As Skift reported in August, Vacasa’s introduction of Salesforce customer relationship management software during the second quarter was a nightmare, leading to myriad sales inefficiencies.

Greyber said the expected productivity gains from the technology are taking longer than planned to realize, and he appointed Craig Smith as chief commercial officer to optimize sales, and to spur sales team signings of individual homes in the de-emphasizing of portfolio acquisitions.

Coming into the third quarter, Cohen said Vacasa thought that its sales team productivity would be “a step higher” than before the implementation of the new customer relationship management software, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Vacasa previously forecast that it would increase its signings of new homes 30 percent in 2022, but lowered that outlook Wednesday to 20 percent.

For the third quarter, Vacasa’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $46 million was below previous guidance of $55 million to $60 million. Net income was $16 million on $412 million in revenue, a 25 percent jump compared with the year-earlier period. The revenue mark exceeded previous guidance of $385 million to $395 million.

Speaking of adjusted EBITDA coming in below expectations and cost overruns during the third quarter, Cohen said the company believes the issues are “fixable but not yet fixed.”

Greyber said he believes Vacasa’s commission-based business model and direct sales approach is the right business model for the long-term, but added that in the near term “we need to sharpen our focus and execution.” 

He said the company needs to get more efficient in housekeeping, field operations and customer support at the local level.

Despite softer demand, officials pledged that Vacasa would be cash flow positive for full-year 2023.

In other news, Greyber said the company appointed Rachel Gonzalez, a former Starbucks general counsel, as a board observer, and would seek at the next annual meeting to expand the size of the board and to elect Gonzalez as an independent director.

He said Gonzalez would bring a new tech perspective to the board.

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Tags: earnings, future of lodging, m&a, mergers and acquisitions, online travel newsletter, salesforce, vacasa, vacation rentals

Photo credit: A mountain cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee, that's managed by Portland, Oregon-based property rental management company Vacasa. The company is putting new emphasis on its sales team to spur growth. Vacasa

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