LiveRez CEO Tracy Lotz and his nephew, lead developer and system architect Jeremy Lotz, built LiveRez from the ground up into the leading software for professional vacation rental managers.
LiveRez founder and CEO Tracy Lotz is no stranger to adversity. He grew up a block down from a housing project in Harbor City, CA (in the L.A. area). At the age of 12, he started working as a bus boy at a restaurant to help make ends meet. His last two years of high school, he even slept in his Volkswagen van. At 18, he started his first business, hauling trash off constructions sites with a 16-foot flatbed truck that he bought from a lumber yard for $700.
Today, he leads one of the fastest growing tech companies in one of the hottest industries in the world. Through a lot of hard work and ingenuity, Tracy built more than a just business, but a movement. His story, LiveRez’s story, is a true embodiment of the American Dream.
Lotz’s knew that hauling trash off constructions sites wasn’t one of his long-term career goals. So, over the next 15 years, he created, built and sold two more successful companies, Crystal Vision Packaging, a shrink packing equipment manufacturer, and Top Trowel, a company that created an innovative concrete covering made out of recycled rubber (called Surflex).
In the early 1990s, Lotz was introduced to the Internet. He had no previous knowledge of the Internet or building websites (he didn't even own a computer), but he saw a huge opportunity. So after buying a computer and a small server, he started reading books on building websites and began formulating ideas for how to put a traditionally offline industry online. Tracy jokes that he wanted to build something that Microsoft CEO Bill Gates wouldn’t steal from him.
After researching many different industries, he saw an opportunity in vacation rentals and launched 1st Choice Vacation Properties in 1995. And, by the end of 1996, he was advertising properties from all across the world.
Lotz was one of the first people to provide a platform for vacation rental managers to advertise their properties online. For perspective, Lotz launched his website a full year before Expedia (the first major online travel agency) was founded. Ironically, Expedia’s parent company was Bill Gates’ Microsoft.
It wasn't long after OTAs like Expedia and Priceline hit the scene that professional managers starting recognizing that online bookings would soon become the norm. Some of these forward-thinking managers approached Lotz about building them websites that could take online bookings.
Lotz agreed, and together with his nephew Jeremy as lead designer and developer, they began working on a way for consumers to book vacation rentals online in the same way they’d book a hotel room. This was more than just taking a request for a booking, like other sites offered. This included building real-time availability search capabilities, real-time processing of credit card payments and blocking dates off availability calendars upon completed bookings.
But, as Lotz began pioneering this online booking functionality, he realized that managers would need a back-end management platform to manage these reservations (and all the other aspects of their business). It was then that the first ideas for LiveRez began to take shape.
The idea behind LiveRez was to redefine the solutions available to professional vacation rental property managers. The company's technology and services would allow professional managers to quickly take their business online with little to no upfront cost or risk. And, LiveRez's "live" booking technology would empower these managers to "turn lookers into bookers" around the clock.
In forming LiveRez, Lotz instituted a unique partnership business model, which would provide a mutually beneficial relationship between LiveRez and the vacation rental managers using the software. This partnership model would economically align LiveRez with its customers (called partners). LiveRez would provide these managers with the technology, training and support services they needed, and in return LiveRez would earn a share of the managers’ booking revenue.
Partnership became the foundation for everything LiveRez did, a singular vision that kept the company focused on building solutions that helped its partners grow their businesses and get more bookings. Lotz would always say: "When the ducks fly, we all hunt."
The people behind LiveRez helped bring "live" online bookings to the vacation rental industry.
So, in 2008, after many years of research and development, Lotz launched LiveRez, the first fully end-to-end, cloud-based management platform for professional vacation rental managers.
Managers responded, and the business quickly gained traction, despite some stiff competition from some heavily funded rivals. Fast forward to today and more professional managers use LiveRez to power their businesses than any other platform.
From humble beginnings, Lotz built LiveRez into what it is today. He did it without accepting venture capital or taking on debt. Instead, he built his business from revenue and grew it organically. It took a lot of hard work and restrainst, a good team, and the unwavering loyalty of hundreds of our partners worldwide. And, it's enabled LiveRez to make decisions based on what’s best for its partners first and foremost.
LiveRez CEO Tracy Lotz talks about the benefits of bootrapping your business.
Today, the future of LiveRez is as bright as it's ever been. And together with our growing network of partners, we're ready to take on any challenges that come our way, as we lead a movement to empower professional managers worldwide.