November 10, 2021
Meet the Women of the Vacation Rental Industry: Victoria O’Connell
Meet Victoria O’Connell, CEO of Golightly
Leading up to the Vacation Rental Women’s Summit, we’re catching up with the women in our industry to learn more about their journey and passion for the vacation rental space, let’s learn more about Victoria!
What Is Golightly?
Golightly is an invite-only private club providing a vacation rental and home-sharing platform for women. All Golightly properties are owned or managed by women. Bookings are only made by women within the network, though they can travel with whomever they wish.
Media reports and research indicate that women often feel unsafe while traveling. A recent survey by Wakefield Research shows 89% of women routinely take extreme safety precautions when they travel, such as double-checking locks and looking for hidden cameras, and nearly 50% of women are more likely to stay in a woman-owned rental. Golightly is focused on providing a safer and better travel experience for women.
Victoria O’Connell is an entrepreneur with over 17 years of experience co-founding and managing JDP Global, an international e-commerce and real estate company. With vacation rentals in Malta, London, Dubai and Miami, she’s long been a customer of alternative accommodations. In 2017 her new London flat was burglarized and completely destroyed by a group of men that booked her home via a major home share site. This horrible experience made Victoria think about how she – and many women – feel vulnerable while both traveling and renting out one’s home. How would she feel comfortable renting her place again? What would make her feel safe staying at someone else’s rental? She realized that knowing more about who is renting your property, who you are renting from, and having a connection to that person through a private club, was the answer.
Applying inspiration from the community aspect of women-focused coworking spaces, Victoria, along with her co-founder and a team of industry experts, decided to create a platform that connected women through travel; listing only women-owned and managed rooms and properties. After months of research and planning, Golightly was born.
How did you begin your career in the vacation rental industry?
I’ve been a vacation rental host for over 15 years and love the experience of it. After a bad experience where someone stole everything and trashed my apartment in London, I struggled to feel safe whilst continuing to host. I decided to start Golightly where women would feel safe renting and hosting their spaces within a connected network.
What was your experience as a female-identifying person (FIP) then vs now?
When I started hosting 15 years ago, I was in the online healthcare industry. I found it to be a very male dominated environment. It was very different then the vacation rental industry, even back then. In fact, I found that once I turned my vacation rental passion into a career, the support from other women in the industry was amazing.
Who mentored you and your career? Were there FIP’s in leadership roles around you?
Since moving into the vacation rental industry, I have been lucky to be surrounded by amazing advisors from the team that started HomeAway. Their mentorship was and still is invaluable to this day. There were also some women who inspire me, including Amy Hinote, Sue Jones, and Vanessa De Souza. They all champion women so wonderfully in their own ways.
What is your advice for FIP’s looking to grow their career in the VRM industry?
Seek encouragement from others in your network, and always be open to the suggestions they have and changes that may follow. The number of people in the vacation rental industry who want to help is really impressive. Sometimes you just have to seek it out.
Rented is proud to sponsor the Vacation Rental Women’s Summit this December 2-3 in New Orleans. There’s still time to register here, and join us for an amazing conference different from any other!