Who hasn’t dreamed of quitting the day job and enjoying life in an idyllic location, following a passion of meeting people and helping create amazing experiences?
This is what Bob Garner did in 2005 when, together with his long-time partner, Ian, they gave up their corporate careers in London, bought a derelict farmhouse in a little-known part of Italy, and embarked on a new life of vacation rental hosting.
Nowadays, instead of the stress of project management and HR, Bob and Ian spend their time welcoming guests to Casal dei Fichi; showing them the delights of the local town of Le Marche, or the nearby beaches; organizing truffle hunts and gourmet weekends, and entertaining them with Monday Pizza night.
Casal dei Fichi, Bob and Ian, and some of their guests were featured in Episode 4 of A Sense of Place – Matt Landau’s online TV show that combines his commentary on the guest experience, with an exploration of what makes a great owner or manager.
The stunning backdrop of this area of Italy delivers a good insight into the reason the couple chose this place to settle down away from the busy-ness of the city.
Bob talks about some of the challenges of starting a business from scratch in a new country and the research they did before settling on Le Marche.
He shares how they got the word out in the first place by bottling their own olive oil and gifting it to friends during a road trip around Britain. We also hear what it’s like to be an onsite host and why this may be the reason 55% of their bookings are from repeat guests.
The business of Casal dei Fichi doesn’t end with just happy guests, although that’s a great goal.
So many of the operational aspects of the business contribute to the environmental causes Bob and Ian support, and we hear how they encourage guests along the way with reusable water bottles, recycled toilet paper (yes, that’s a thing), and a tree planting project.
In Matt Landau’s words:
“I left Le Marche with a new found appreciation for how the personality of an individual can really play a big role in a vacation rental businesses success. These small gestures begin to rub off on you as a guest….. It’s almost like their small business was making me a better version of myself”.
Prepare to be inspired by Bob’s enthusiasm and enjoyment, just as I was.
Sites mentioned in this episode:
Casal dei Fichi Video (YouTube)
Creating Casal Dei Fichi (YouTube)
A Sense of Place Episode 4
Casal Dei Fichi on Home Away
Who gives a crap