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Getaway CEO: ‘We’re seeing almost unlimited demand’ for travel

Getaway Founder and CEO Jon Staff joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the demand for nature escapes, the growth of the company, and travel trends.

Video transcript


JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." As travelers were drawn to more secluded vacations amid the pandemic, hospitality company Getaway, they saw a boost in occupancy rates across their outposts. And they're up 93%, I believe, in 2021, up from 92% the year prior. But will this momentum continue as consumers shift towards a new normal? And joining us now for more on this is John Staff. He is the Getaway founder and CEO. John, great to have you here today. Just give me a view of what you're seeing going on in the travel industry today, because there are tons of moving parts.

JOHN STAFF: Well, we're seeing almost unlimited demand for folks to escape to nature to really disconnect and find more time with those they care most about, to find more time with themselves to reconnect with what really matters, and to escape the craziness of our everyday lives.

JARED BLIKRE: And when you say unlimited demand, I think most companies would like to hear those words. How are you fulfilling that demand? How are you growing? And what kind of limitations might you be running into with respect to some of these growing pains?

JOHN STAFF: Well, we're growing as fast as we responsibly can. So we just announced nine new locations. That's six brand new markets for us in three locations where we already have Getaway outposts. And we're trying to bring this to as many folks as we can because we get so much demand for disconnected time in nature. No doubt, it's been more difficult over the past 12 to 18 months with the changing macro environment. But we are doing our best to stick-- handle our way through it and make sure as many folks can get away to nature as possible.

JARED BLIKRE: And what-- I wonder, when somebody is looking into a vacation, they might have certain preconceptions. They might want to have no internet. They might want to have a more glamp-- glamping-type experience. Where do you fall on this spectrum? Or are you something just different overall?

JOHN STAFF: Yeah, so Getaway is all about having more free time. Our vision is a world where free time is a ritual that we can all experience, and we can do it frequently. And so we've built these cabins where there is no Wi-Fi, where you lock up your cell phone, and where we try to really get you to do nothing, to just be in nature, to be inspired by the trees, to have a campfire, to have nothing on your schedule, to have a deep conversation with your partner or your kid.

And we've just added to what we offer, Getaway campgrounds. So we have the traditional Getaway cabins, like you're seeing on the screen. But we also have these here, which are a more traditional camping experience, where you can bring a tent or you can get a tent from us and still have a lot of the comforts that we offer with Getaway cabins but sleep under the stars.

JARED BLIKRE: And do you try to engender a sense of community? I'm just wondering, among the various people who use your services, I would think you'd want to be selling them services again in the future. And maybe there's some kind of community bond that forms from people who are like-minded who are able to get away together. Is that part of the experience?

JOHN STAFF: No doubt, there is a shared point of view of folks that want to escape to nature to disconnect and recharge and focus on what really matters. But Getaway is all about boundaries. So boundaries from life in the city, from your job, which we hope you love, from technology, which is obviously super powerful. Then the fourth thing is boundaries from meeting other people or making small talk. All four of those things are great, but this is a special time and place away from those things where you can really focus on yourself and your health and well-being.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, and you are navigating a very difficult economic environment. As a private company, some might say that actually confers a benefit to you because you're not having to show revenue and sales numbers and margin numbers every single quarter. What do you think about the markets right now and then your eventual potential path to an IPO?

JOHN STAFF: Well, it certainly-- I'm not envious of those who have to do quarterly reports on everything right now. Although, I'm happy that our revenue is up, our profit is up. We've grown about 600% since 2018. Our occupancy is stronger than ever. And we've been able to do that while maintaining incredible guest satisfaction scores. So we're happy about where the business is today.

But the, you know, pressure from inflation, especially in a business where we're building things, and as I mentioned, we just announced nine new locations, the ability to get those built has been difficult over the past period of time. Inflation has not helped us. Fortunately, demand remains strong for what we do, and we have a healthy business model that can absorb some of this. But we're eager to see construction prices get more under control, for sure.

JARED BLIKRE: And it looks like that is underway as we speak. And very impressive if you're posting profits as a private company in this economic environment. John Staff, Getaway founder and CEO, thank you.