I began personally doing holiday rentals through my global travels. I would always seek out unique spaces to make our trips and stays that much more memorable—as it always added to the experience and gave a local perspective with big takeaways. Travelling has always been an immense passion of mine – and, as a branding designer, so is design. Being a holiday rental host manages to marry these two things together.
Bringing a love of design to guests
I’d just started my design business and was living in downtown Los Angeles and things were really taking off. Yet downtown LA can be hectic. I needed a better work-life balance and some calm in my life to balance the grind.
I was seeking a blend of nature and the city—that’s when I found the house in the hills. When I first laid eyes on the spanning views of Los Angeles and the hills, I knew I discovered a true gem. Wildlife everywhere, birds chirping, the cool breeze in the sunshine, 200-year-old eucalyptus trees. Up here, you’re enveloped in nature. It’s pure peace.
Hollywood Hills Mansion was built in the 1940s. The views span major Hollywood landmarks: the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Lake - the Hollywood sign and LA Skyline in the backyard. There is a lot of history here. Marlon Brando used to live down the street, and it’s said that Picasso stayed and painted here. There are a lot of stories in this place.
The property is so unique, that it just made sense to share it - my love of design - with other travellers. I want to give people a trip they will carry with them forever.
There are hardly any hotels in the hills, so travellers do not have the opportunity to experience the Hollywood Hills, the beauty of nature, and truly feel like they are living in the heart of it all during their stay.
Scaling up with Booking.com
Once I got started, I realised there was no time for failure. I thought, ‘This’ll run smoothly, it’ll be super fun’ – and it was. But there were definitely some growing pains and learning curves along the way.
This place is like a boutique hotel that never turns off. You need to be quite meticulous and methodical. There are planning, management and financial hurdles. You’re dealing with a diverse palette of people and can have different requests and desires 24/7.
So, you need to be patient and stay calm. But you also need to know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. I started with Booking.com over the last year and it’s helped with so much. The international exposure over the last six to eight months from Booking.com has been incredible – truly amazing. It's been tremendous in spreading the word and growing my business and giving me the opportunity to share all the hard work with travellers.
Booking.com’s customer support has been phenomenal. They’re available 24/7, and there are plenty of ways to contact them – app, phone, email – so you can always seek help if guests are in need.
Up and running in no time
Booking.com also helps keep everything automated, so that guests have all of the information they need. The customer support for guests is great, too. The platform is really easy to use - for both hosts and guests.
Getting started with Booking.com was super simple and took no time at all. There’s a bit of upfront work – shooting and editing photos, writing a description – but once all your content is in order, the process is super streamlined and straightforward.
Although I’d say most travellers are fairly tech-savvy, not all are. But Booking.com’s app and messaging tools make it really simple to communicate with guests and make sure they can navigate their stay and make the most of their holiday.
Bookings boosted by international travellers
Some other platforms are predominantly domestic. Booking.com’s international reach and access to a wider pool of travellers has been amazing for me. The Booking.com traveller is more seasoned and looking for more of a unique experience while travelling. Mostly, they’re not just looking to stay for one night. They want something they will remember forever.
When I travel, I get a lot out of staying with the locals. It gives you access to the cooler, more underground bits of the city that you might not otherwise find. I try to do the same for my guests. For some, it’s their first time in California. LA’s big and difficult to navigate if you don’t have experience with it. I’m always more than happy to share recommendations or itineraries and direct travellers to the hits of the city, all the local events happening, and great spots to check out—so they can experience the true essence of what LA’s about.
I’ve had incredible experiences all over the world with so many interesting people. Now it’s come full circle: I’m giving back and creating these experiences for others and meeting a lot of amazing people along the way.
Partnering with Booking.com means doing amazing things with amazing people. They really help to get the word and bring the world to my doorstep.
- Shawn Ritzenthaler, Owner of Hollywood Hills Mansion, says that partnering with Booking.com led to “truly amazing” exposure
- Booking.com’s international reach means access to a global pool of travellers
- Shawn says that the user-friendly experience means you can be up and running on Booking.com in no time
- Booking.com’s “phenomenal” 24/7 customer support is a big asset for both hosts and guests