Skift Take

Is Vacasa losing its hospitality edge — one executive at a time?

Few people know Vacasa like Kimberly White does. In 2010, she became Vacasa’s first employee after having been a housekeeper for founder Eric Breon. In 2023, Breon left the company, but as a major shareholder, was able to appoint her as a board member. 

Last week, White stepped down from the board after Breon sold Vacasa shares that brought his holdings below the 10% ownership threshold. 

“From my end, I offered the board deeply embedded industry insights from living hospitality for so long and being the first person ever hired there,” White told Skift. “So I think it’s a loss to the board to not have continuity. It’s a loss for the board and the management team because they had someone who really understood what they’re up against on the board.”

On the other hand, White added that the board was pretty big — it has 10 director slots — and there’s an intentional effort to reduce its size. 

In her day job, White has been the chief operating officer of HostGPO, which sells products to hosts, since October 2023. 

A Vacasa Insider

White posted about her resignation on LinkedIn.

“I started answering the phone,” White said. “Vacasa didn’t have a guest policy. There were barely any owner contracts yet. There was nothing except the website. It was six months old.”

In 2010, she became in charge of global operations. (Vacasa withdrew from most of its non-U.S. operations, predominantly in Europe and South America, in 2020.)

In 2018, White said she she focused on building quality standards for Vacasa’s homes. She worked with homeowners in teaching them how to treat their houses as a business product. 

Homeowner Churn Continues

In the last quarter of 2023, both gross booking value and revenue decreased by 19% from a year earlier. Additionally, Vacasa experienced a 5% decline in homes on the platform.

CEO Rob Greyber said during an earnings call in November that he hoped the churn would end after the first quarter of 2024. 

At the start of 2023, Vacasa changed its property acquisition strategy with the aim to cut costs and to move toward profitability. It decided to de-emphasize acquisitions of regional property management companies in favor of its salespeople convincing homeowners to sign on. Some of the churn might have been attributed to these acquisitions of portfolios of homes, and some owners not viewing the change as favorable to their businesses. 

“I think Vacasa takes homeowner churn seriously,” said White. “And there are trends of it being high in the industry, and others hold it a little too close to their chest. The companies that are not public are not sharing their stats.”

When asked what the company is doing wrong, White responded by saying Vacasa’s enemy has always been time. 

“The key advantage for so long was the tech ability. The differentiation was that in those early days, we could guarantee more revenue because we invested so much in really brilliant technology that wasn’t widely available,” White said. “But the tech caught up so that the playing field is a little more leveled. And I think Vacasa has got to acknowledge that and decide where they want to play and double down on where they want to play.” 

Competitors have cast doubt on whether Vacasa’s alleged tech advantages were in fact true.

White said she wouldn’t write off Vacasa just yet.

“In the last earnings call, Vacasa might have seemed down, but I wouldn’t count it out,” she said.


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Tags: Kimberly White, layoffs, vacasa

Photo credit: A Vacasa property in Venture, California. Source: Vacasa Vacasa

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