VRS165 – Hard Lessons Learned with Matt Landau

When Matt Landau closed on a deal he couldn’t ignore and became the proud owner of what is now Los Cuatros Tulipanes in Casco Viejo, Panama, he didn’t appreciate that over the next few years he would earn the equivalent of an MBA in vacation rentals.

He learned a lot about the neighborhood, the people it would attract – and those that wouldn’t like it, the staff he needed to employ, and the right way to market.

But every lesson was learned by trial and error and as he puts it…the hard way.

When I emigrated from the UK to Canada and embarked on a new career as a property manager, with no prior knowledge of what that entailed, it too was a time of hit or miss experimentation.

Some things worked and others didn’t. And if I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved time, money and a lot of stress.

So, Matt and I have a lot in common with our mistakes and successes, and now we both share what we learned the hard way in our respective blogs and training.

In this episode, we touch on some of the primary things we learned at the beginning of our journeys, and how just about everyone can benefit from the mistakes we made.

We share:

  • The critical research that is necessary when selecting a realtor, and what questions you need to ask them.
  • The importance of documenting every system and every process, and the long-term impact that can result from only one person having ‘the knowledge’.
  • Why marketing should fit the traveler demographic – there’s no valet service in Casco Viejo!
  • Why unique destinations should never be open to non-educated (instant) bookings.
  • The difference between what guests think they will experience and what they might get.
  • The importance of guest education to bridge the expectation gap
  • How much a negative review costs over the course of time and why that should impact your choices on complaint handling.
  • The perils of renting space on someone else’s land and not owning your reviews.
  • Why you should only partner carefully and thoughtfully with companies that share your mission and align with your values.
  • The ‘Help don’t Sell’ philosophy that should be the cornerstone of your business.


Sites we mentioned in this episode:

7 Reasons you will not love Casco Viejo

Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris

10 Mistakes that VR owners make

A Complaint is a Gift

Upwork for outsourcing

Ross Robertson Insurance

Vacation Rental Success Summit

Los Cuatros Tulipanes