Vacasa housekeeper Paula Davis gets a Downtown Boise apartment ready for short-term vacation rentals in 2015.

Vacasa housekeeper Paula Davis gets a Downtown Boise apartment ready for short-term vacation rentals in 2015.

Idaho Statesman

An online vacation-home rental service is expanding in Boise.

Using a fresh $103.5 million investment, Vacasa plans to increase the number of employees in Boise by at least 30 percent. The company has listed 30 new jobs to supplement its 100-person workforce here.

The listings include positions for reservations agents, accounting managers, portfolio and marketing analysts, compliance coordinators, a growth research coordinator and post-acquisition integration manager. The company also has plans to hire several software engineers.

“We’re going everywhere from entry-level analysts — recent college graduates or those into their first or second jobs — all the way up to a director of business intelligence and senior finance people,” said Amber Knight, the company’s Boise-based senior director of corporate development.

Airbnb revolutionized the vacation rental industry by providing listings online and allowing guests to book reservations themselves. Vacasa (pronounced vuh-KAH-suh) offers that service but also maintains the homes, a service traditionally provided by local management companies.

Vacasa was founded in 2009 in Portland, but cofounder and CEO Eric Breon lived in Boise and ran the company from here during its early years. He now lives in Portland.

Vacasa maintains a Downtown office at 121 N. 9th St. With the staff expansion, it plans to move next spring to another Downtown location with 13,000 square feet, twice as much space as it has now.

As the sharing economy expands, the company says it has enjoyed 70 percent revenue growth this year. With the new investment, Breon predicts revenue next year could double.

The money came Tuesday from a group of private equity investors led by Riverwood Capital, a Silicon Valley firm. The cash will help pay for new hires and new office space in both cities.

“Travelers globally have continued to show increasing demand for vacation rentals,” said Jeff Parks, a Riverwood founding partner, in a statement. “We are excited to be partnering with the Vacasa team as they continue to aggressively invest in new technology and bring their offering to new markets.”

Breon said Vacasa wants to become the nation’s largest vacation rental manager and plans to be in all of the nation’s major markets in the next two years. It makes money by charging booking fees, providing housekeeping and other services. It lists properties online, with prices continually adjusted based upon demand.

The properties are typically owners’ second homes that may sit idle for much of the year.

“They look to us to help them manage their property and take great care of it and have it ready for them when they want to go on vacation themselves,” Breon said. “And, for the rest of the year, help them make really good money on it.”

As it has grown, Vacasa has bought 60 mostly small property-management companies. The company believes technology and scale can make vacation rental management highly efficient and profitable, Breon said.

Vacasa manages more than 6,000 vacation rentals, including 256 homes in 18 Idaho communities. A large share of the rentals are in Oregon. In Idaho, Sun Valley offers the most rentals, 53, followed by McCall with 47 and Boise with 43.

“We can actually make homeowners more money by managing their homes through Vacasa than they could on their own,” Breon said. “We’re really good at marketing properties. We’re really good at pricing properties. And so the value we create there means that homeowners actually end up with more money in their pocket.”

Vacas has 1,600 employees. Salaries for the coming Boise jobs vary. Pay for reservation agents starts at $14 an hour. Pay for the compliance coordinator begins at $15 an hour.

In late August, a Portland homeowner sued the company, saying it had collected more in fees than it was entitled to under her contract. Barbara Fisher said Vacasa was entitled to a management fee of 35 percent, but that it collected extra fees from renters that pushed its take up to nearly 50 percent.

“We’re aware of Ms. Fisher’s complaints and we believe they have no merit,” the company said in a statement.

Vacasa said it “clearly disclosed” the additional fees charged to guests and that the homeowner was not entitled to those charges.

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