We talked to Tim van Oerle of Nature.house about finding cottage in nature and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tim van Oerle: We are good, thanks.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nature.house.
Tim van Oerle: I am a fanatic bird watcher. We were looking for a house in nature where we could start bird watching from our doorstep. That’s why during college, my brother and I founded Nature.house. After graduating with my MSc from Wageningen University, we decided to go for it full time. Currently, we are scaling rapidly with 40 ft and active in 13 European markets.
How does Nature.house innovate?
Tim van Oerle: I think that innovation in our company is driven by our core values. One of our core values is that we need speed, which means that we try to iterate as fast as possible and use MVP all the time. Another one of our core values is to build a sustainable international brand. Being a sustainable frontrunner from the start, we make sure that we innovate when we see opportunities.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tim van Oerle: The first couple of weeks, we really had a hard time. We saw bookings almost drop to zero, but we became the travel industry’s medicine after a few weeks. People were willing to book hideaways away from the masses more than ever before. We broke record after record, and for the last months of the pandemic, we are doing very good. Remarkably the second wave didn’t hurt us at all. During the crises, we came up with a ‘contactless stay’; people could book a house in the middle of nature without meeting any people. This really worked out well in this period, and still, we get a lot of positive feedback on this principle.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tim van Oerle: The most difficult choice was to scale down marketing in the first weeks to start damage control.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Tim van Oerle: Haha, I try to watch birds and walk through nature whenever possible.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tim van Oerle: There are a lot of websites to book rentals, such as Airbnb and Booking. But we try to specialize in a rural niche and own that niche. Besides, we donate 1 euro per booking to nature conservation. I think these two elements make us a strong player.
Your final thoughts?
Tim van Oerle: After a vaccine for COVID-19, many people will get back to the old behavior. However, the world of travel has changed forever and will never be the same again. Some shifts are here to stay in the long run. I expect sustainability and rural tourism to be trends for the coming years to come.
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