Visit Lyon, France, and you will find yourself entering three different cities. There’s Vieux Lyon, the old city, with its Renaissance squares, narrow secret passages and silk-weavers’ workshops. Then there’s modern Lyon, a vibrant metropolis of one million people, with its stunning contemporary architecture, bustling river traffic and luminous festivals (4th largest festival in the world). Finally, there’s gastronomic Lyon, the food capital of France. One could be excused for not knowing where to start.
Enter Jean-Philippe Ramé, General Manager of 2beapart, and Kigo customer. He’s here to make guests feel welcome, comfortable and fluent in la vie Lyonnaise. Consider him a bridge to Lyon when guests visit for the first time.
"It's uncomfortable for travelers when they arrive," he says. "They may not know the culture or the language. And they definitely don't know the property-how the apartment is laid out, or even sometimes how to make coffee."
Jean-Philippe is sensitive to this situation, because he experienced it from his youth. His father, an Army pilot, moved the family from city to city, from Tours to Dijon, to Aix-en-Provence to Lille, and bacj to Tours. He experienced it again during his 25-year-long professional career as a transition manager, moving from one mission to another, and from one place in Europe to another one in the world. To make himself feel at home wherever he went, he learned how to understand a city: how it was built, how it is laid out, how it works, where to best experience the culture. He became an expert in finding the best ways for a traveler in a new city to enjoy life. It turned out to be perfect training for a career in vacation rental management.
Opening the lines of communication
Today, he uses this skill to make each guest feel at home in one of the thirty properties 2beapart owns and manages in Lyon. He begins the process of creating a great vacation rental guest experience by opening the lines of communication.. Using the new Kigo Mobile Guest App and auto mailbox, for example, he and his staff can contact guests, welcome them, and give them access to information to make their stay memorable.
Earlier this year, 2beapart made the transition from an older version of Kigo’s website product to the company’s new and improved vacation rental website software. Jean-Philippe noted that as a result, he can better share with customers the captivating properties 2beapart is known for. Each apartment’s look is thought through until it feels like “a true piece of art,” as Jean-Philippe calls it. This also helps him communicate better with guests and give them more of what they want. Kigo’s role here is to be a bridge between the guest and the business, but in an experiential way.
Prior to using the Kigo Guest App, Jean-Philippe was spending more time on the business and less time on guests than he wanted. He saw that travelers today need greater attention. They were moving away from the familiar hotel experience to the brave new world of private rental property, and that meant they needed to feel more secure. The Guest App provided the extra time to do that. It also gave Jean-Philippe more time to acclimate guests to the unique Lyon vibe.
"Lyon is a 'to-be' place, not a 'to-do' place," he says. "It's not a race to see all the monuments, like Paris. This is a place to take your time and appreciate the small things, life and people. Like enjoying a good bottle of wine and conversation, sauntering through the daily open market by the Saone river, taking in the sites in old middle age city, going through the various passageways and imagining the weavers transporting their fabrics to the harbor, or riding bicycles through the city or along the Rhone river, perhaps up to the vineyards south of Lyon."
Bridging the guest from reservation to relaxation to recreation
Building this kind of deep connection between city and traveler has been the essence of Jean-Philippe's philosophy since his youth. He will apply it again soon in Bordeaux and Strasbourg, where 2beapart will be expanding. His business forecast: growth will be slow, with a small portfolio of selected, high-quality properties. Which is exactly how he wants it. From his perspective, vacation rental property management is not about growing big and fast. It's about bridging the guest from reservation to relaxation to recreation. And creating a great vacation rental guest experience takes time. After all, no great bridge was built in a day.