Here at Kigo, we love what we do. We created the Faces of Kigo series to showcase the talented employees who are the lifeblood of our business, and share why they come to work each day. In this series, we also share “do’s” and “don’ts” based not only on our employees' professional expertise, but also on their own travel experiences.
In this edition, we’re talking to Regina Lopes, an account manager based in our Barcelona office. A native of Portugal, Regina “Gina” Lopes has a thing for languages and foreign cultures. In fact, having conquered English, Spanish and Italian, she moved to China to work on her fifth language, and while there began on her sixth: Arabic! She then moved to England, and now lives in Barcelona, where she enjoys exploring the quaint neighborhoods of the city with new friends, taking her Nikon along to capture its many charms.
Learn more about Regina.
Why did you choose to work at Kigo, and what do you love most about your job?
I love interacting with clients all over the world and experiencing their cultural peculiarities. I get to speak four languages on a daily basis! Beyond that, it’s so enjoyable to help people grow their businesses. For many of our clients, getting into vacation property rentals is an important life decision based on a dream of financial independence or at least a better quality of life, and I get to help them achieve this dream.
There’s something special about a job in which you’re helping others in a hands-on way. It’s not abstract; it’s quite personal and therefore so rewarding. Clients ask me questions like “Gina, do you like my description? What do you think about my photos?,” and I get to use my know-how to markedly improve their results. I also find myself in the role of a cheerleader for clients who have often left a job or invested their life savings to pursue this business and need a bit of encouragement. I enjoy this role.
I work with great people. And of course I can’t complain about the spectacular view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral right outside our office windows!
How do you approach finding places to stay when you travel? What do you look for in a vacation rental?
How I approach finding a rental differs depending on where I’m going. In general, I must say I’m a big fan of Airbnb’s simplicity and transparency. Of course what I look for is a little different since I am in the business of working with property managers. So I notice, for example, the quality of their technology, whether it’s easy to deal with and transparent. I look for a very clear statement of what I am being charged for. I remember staying in a rental in Madrid where they were still using an Excel spreadsheet – fine for the countryside, maybe, but not the big city. I always also notice the attitude of the property manager, and I appreciate those who are kind and helpful without hovering over me. I can always tell if they are there only for the sake of business, and don’t really care about their guests.
What do you avoid in vacation rentals?
I think the main thing to worry about is that often you can’t be completely sure about the properties from the descriptions and photos. I have stayed in properties that didn’t look that great from the photos but were priced very reasonably, and it turned out they were really beautiful in person. On the other hand, I have stayed in properties that were photographed to look a lot better than they really were in person, or described in an unrealistic way, and you can bet they won’t get a good review from me after I leave. I think it pays for owners to have vacation rental listings and photos that show the properties at their best, but do not oversell them and risk disappointment. As I mentioned before, I prefer properties with helpful managers who care about their guests.
How can property owners make their vacation rentals more appealing to travelers like yourself?
I’d emphasize three things in answer to this question:
1.Take great care with your descriptions and photos; make the photos are of professional quality, and make the descriptions clear and accurate. Be sure to include the great things the guests can enjoy in the immediate area.
2. Don’t be too modest and undersell, but don’t oversell either. This will lead to disappointed guests and bad reviews.
3. Good software makes all the difference in managing the properties easily, profitably and efficiently. Of course I am biased since I work for Kigo, but I see this principle lived out every day!
As we continue to explore the Faces of Kigo, you will meet more members of our global team working every day to create the best products in travel. Stay tuned!