For the love of the Cape

New rental marketing concept spreads good hope

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Since Airbnb took the world by storm with the no-fuss convenience of its platform, you might think that there was no further room for innovation in the online property rental marketplace. However, it turns out that Airbnb is not for everyone – that there are places it does not reach and clients it does not please. We spoke to Roxane Lebrun, founder and director of VillaOCap, to explore the intriguing alternative.

A unique and innovative concept…

VillaOCap (the French “villa au Cap” means “villa in the Cape”) started 3 years ago, but has since developed an innovative villa management service to its bouquet. “We approach a villa or apartment that is not on the market or is not already targeted by big management, as well as owners that are already on a platform like Airbnb but are struggling to rent their property, and offer them our service. Essentially, we take over all the little hassles so that they can get on with their day” Roxane explains.

This unusually direct approach has taken a while to catch on. Roxane admits that “It was quite difficult at first because besides Airbnb, the rental market industry in Cape Town was already well implanted with a lot of competition. In this context I knew from the beginning that we somehow had to be different. Being in the Tourism Industry for the past 15 years and having opened a Tour Operator for French Speaking clients around Southern Africa called Ekima Afrika Travel in 2010 helped me in that way. It is actually through my Tour Operator and the hassle of accommodating groups of travellers in guesthouses or hotels during high season that the idea of creating VillaOCap came along.”

.. to satisfy all travellers…

VillaOCap’s model suits couples, families, groups of friends as well as corporates. “Most guesthouses have a very small capacity, so as soon as you have a party of six or seven people, there’s a very high chance that you are going to be split into different properties. Our service is exclusive and tailor made to each type of client” she says.

… with an important portfolio

“We offer a wide variety of houses, villas and apartments in Cape Town and its region. All of them were selected for their geographical location and the facilities they offer. I have made it one of my priorities to ensure that our villas “have a soul” if we can put it that way, by always looking for a warm design and good standing equipment.

It is also a priority for us to offer houses that will make the guests feel at home away from home. And in order to fit our client’s needs to the fullest, we visit and experience all the properties before offering them. Quality, exclusivity and warm atmosphere, that’s how we roll at VillaOCap”

… and almost unlimited services for the stay of a lifetime…

VillaOCap also offers high quality services around the house as well as activities and excursions of all kinds.

Unlike Airbnb, we make ourselves available (English and French) for the entire length of our guest’s stay. Our concierge service implies a flexibility of customization to meet a diverse range of needs. The goal is to satisfy customers with varied profiles down to the smallest detail.

For example, our clients can have a private chef at home, a baby sitter, a massage, yoga lessons in the morning, you name it – we can basically get everything,” Roxane says casually. “Personally, my purpose is to help connect our clients to local people and make everything work the best way for both of them.”

… because in the end, it’s all about “sharing the love we have for Cape Town!”

“I am here to help generate growth, so we train the people that work with us and promote small local companies for activities and extra services in the house. We also try raise awareness on a lot of different aspects of the country on the tourism side and the service side.

Roxane’s passion for service stems from her attachment to her adopted city. “I came here on holiday ten years ago with my backpack before the World Cup and I didn’t leave,” she says.

“I fell in love with Cape Town in general. Its special atmosphere in the City, the beauty of its landscape. I love the fact that wherever you are, you will see the mountain and the ocean. On a professional point of view that the economy is growing tremendously and also that everything is possible here if you believe in it. Yes, it can be troubling, but it is what life is in its pure essence, every day. We learn to live day by day.”

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