Meet Ellie Paget, affectionately known as the “Chief Officer of Disruption” and “Hospitality Creativist” at HomeSlice Stays. The bubbly driving force behind one of Arizona’s fastest-growing short-term rental management companies isn’t a stranger to wearing many hats. Design strategist, consultant, master networker, and mother of three are just a few of the roles she plays on a daily basis.
After collaborating with Ellie on HomeSlice’s guest experience page, we were so inspired by her “dream big” attitude. Want to order a string quartet to come to play a set at your vacation rental? Or how about a dog groomer to give your pooch the VIP treatment? A private chef to whip up a 5-course meal for your family? No request is ever too big, small, or weird.
We caught up with Ellie virtually to chat about her favorite tech tools, tips for hosts wanting to build a brand, and the number one thing most hospitality industry professionals overlook when it comes to guest experiences.
ATLIST: Before your career in hospitality, you worked as a chef at some of the top restaurants in DC and aboard National Geographic expedition cruises. How did your stint in fine dining prepare you for the world of short-term rentals?
Ellie Paget: Getting started in hospitality by way of cooking helped me understand the magic that happens when a guest enters a restaurant, hotel, or home for the first time. There are so many details and elements of storytelling that need to perfectly align at the right moment—from the sensations and sounds as you’re sitting down to order to where the wine is from and how it’s poured. These are things the average person doesn’t think about as they’re happening. The culinary world’s demanding level of attention to detail translates really well into hospitality service. You’re thinking about the guest and where they come from and how they are going to interact with your property, the local community, and the destination.
A: We love HomeSlice’s mission to deliver “high-tech, high-touch” guest experiences. Aside from ATLIST, what are some of your favorite tech tools?
EP: For interior design, I love to use Milanote to create and collaborate on visual mood boards. I’m using it right now to kickstart the design process of a 7,000-square-foot mansion overlooking Phoenix with ‘90s-inspired interiors. There’s going to be a Spice Girls room, a Christina Aguilera room, a Tupac mural, and lots of glitzy-glam furniture that plays up the nostalgia factor. Because I have a lot of projects on the go, I use Monday for task management and team collaboration. Hands-down, DACK is the number one choice for guest technology-room access, iot control, etc. It saves everyone energy, which is important in Arizona as the power bills can be high, plus it helps the environment.
A: You recently launched your ATLIST page and it’s full of so many fun activities and amenities. If you were planning a perfect day for a guest visiting Arizona today, what are some experiences that you would put on their itinerary?
EP: Scottsdale is incredible, so I would recommend they explore and maybe join Spirit of Arizona’s wine tasting tour to check out some of our incredible wineries. Now that people are spending more time with their families and less time in crowded public spaces, I would recommend they order a picnic lunch or dinner kit. The way we set up our backyard picnics is so magical—it makes for quite a unique dining experience!
A: What is one thing that you think a lot of other vacation rental management companies overlook when it comes to the guest experience?
EP: Empathy is the most important quality for anyone working in hospitality. You need to be able to put yourself in the guest’s shoes and consider how every touchpoint impacts their experience. So many hospitality professionals only think about their bottom line—they don’t want to put in the extra dollars to elevate their brand. They’ll send guests canned messages because they don’t want to spend their time on personalized communications. It becomes a purely transactional experience, which is something that we should all steer away from. What is the purpose of building a brand if we’re not out to make a meaningful connection?
Ellie’s top tips for boutique hospitality brand-builders
1. Have a brand identity from day 1.
“A lot of people will start without a clear vision of their identity and just piece it together as they go. If you start with an informed understanding of your audience and the experience you want to create, everything from choosing furniture to taking photos will be much more intentional.”
2. Map out your specific goals
“Record all of your goals—big and small—early on. Having a strategic plan will make it easier for you to reach your milestones and branch off into new directions in the future.”
3. Prioritize networking
“I try to get as much networking in as I can. Whether it’s connecting with people that I aspire to be on LinkedIn or meeting with a property owner for a walkthrough of their passion project, you’re only as good as the company you keep. Plus, we all learn by doing. If I share the mistakes that I’ve made and also learn from other people, then we’re only going to get there faster together.”