Wade Shealy is the CEO and Founder of THIRDHOME, a premier luxury travel club for second homeowners. Prior to founding THIRDHOME, Wade was one of America’s top leaders in resort real estate development, marketing, and sales, with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
Recognizing a market need to help second homeowners realize more value in their ownership, he founded THIRDHOME in 2010.
It has since become a trusted way for owners around the globe to leverage time in their second home to travel the world without the expense of renting.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Wade Shealy: Hi there, I’m Wade Shealy, CEO and Founder of THIRDHOME: One of the top premier luxury travel clubs for second homeowners who share a passion for travel.
Before I founded THIRDHOME, I was one of America’s top leaders in resort real estate development, marketing, and sales and had over 30 years of experience in the industry. In 1986, after having been one of the top Real Estate Agents in Hilton Head, I founded one of the largest and most successful real estate firms in South Carolina.
Even though business was great, I kept noticing that no matter how excited clients initially were about their second home purchase, almost all of them were back in my office within 5 years wanting to sell. Why? It was always the same answer: “As much as we’ve loved having a place on Hilton Head, we feel we’ve seen and done everything there is to do. We’d like to look at buying somewhere else, so we can experience new things on our trips.”
In response to a market need to help second homeowners realize more value in their ownership and daring to do things differently, I founded THIRDHOME in 2010, with a few friends and clients being the first to sign up.
By taking advantage of unused time in their second home, members earn travel credits (“keys”) that allow them to open the doors to a multitude of other members’ private homes experiencing a whole new way to travel. “Keys” are based on the value of the member’s second home along with the demand and quality furnishings.
Today, with over 14,000 properties in 100 countries, THIRDHOME has become a trusted way for owners around the globe to leverage time in their second home to travel the world without the expense of renting.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Wade Shealy: We are the largest upscale home exchange company in the world. In the past 12 years, we have seen firsthand the consumer acceptance of the sharing economy.
We are different from other home exchange companies because we are an indirect exchange, meaning you don’t swap your home directly with another member…instead you add a specific week into the exchange.
Our members can book it with a click (compared to emailing someone back and forth dozens of times to work out an exchange). Our biggest strength is the lifestyle benefits to our members and incredible value.
We have thousands of examples where our members will save $40,000 on a vacation and travel somewhere so unique you couldn’t purchase the experience if you tried.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Wade Shealy: The greatest business achievement that I’d like to celebrate with my team is the growth we have seen over the years when it comes to customer success, technology improvements, creative thinking and problem solving.
To elaborate further, we have made significant improvements in serving our customers with better technology to improve efficiencies of joining our club and making it more convenient to find and book great vacations.
Our upscale customer base loves that they can talk to someone and get all the details along with white glove service. They also enjoy the simplicity of the business model and the safety and trust inherent in a closed-loop network of like-minded second homeowners.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Wade Shealy: Often times when it comes to quiet quitting, employees are motivated by a variety of factors, including burnout, disinterest, or a lack of fulfillment in their role.
To ensure none of our employees are feeling this way, we worked to realign our business coming out of Covid to give employees a louder voice to be heard and a feeling of contribution.
Leadership is the key to keeping employees happy, and you have to often check your ego at the door and really listen to your employees who are on the front lines and making it happen.
We make it known from the start how important open communication is and how much we value each and every team member. At THIRDHOME we make it our number one priority to take care of our team just as well as we take care of our members.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Wade Shealy: A piece of advice I wish I knew early on into creating THIRDHOME is that balance is key. Our business is unique because we continually have to balance supply and demand for second home assets that are owned by our members.
If everyone in Malibu adds their home into the exchange, but no one in Aspen adds their home, our model falls apart. That said, we are continuously improving our inventory balance based on the core markets/destinations where many members would like to go in the world.
Focusing this quarter on targeted markets will allow us to provide the inventory our members desire.
Here is a two fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Wade Shealy: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has to be the quintessential business book of all time. It provides practical advice and techniques on how to build relationships, and become a more effective communicator and leader.
It also emphasizes the importance of treating others with kindness and respect, understanding their perspectives, and being genuinely interested in their needs.
There are so many relevant topics in the book I’ve used over the years, including conflict resolution and creating a positive and memorable impression. Throughout my career I learned that If you don’t earn people’s trust in business, nothing else matters – making others the hero is the piece of wisdom that the book is timeless.
The other one that my team often hears me refer to is Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell. This book uses the metaphor of a diamond mine to encourage people to seek out the opportunities and riches in their own lives, rather than searching elsewhere.
Both books were written years ago but still apply to what we do today in our business which I why I love gifting either of them.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Wade Shealy: In terms of THIRDHOME specifically, the real challenge we are seeing and have seen over the years is balancing digital transformation and cost structures with white-glove customer service.
This can also be true across the entire hospitality space, where consumers are not only hyper-focused on their experience but also their time.
Leaders and companies across the sector need to understand that automation is vital but must be accompanied by a sense of caring and ownership of your customers.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Wade Shealy: Managing your data is crucial for strategy and operational decisions. Often simplifying the data around the main factors is critical to get right and not getting lost in the details.
But just as necessary to the logic in the data and the decisions you make on that is the magic of the club.
Unlike Airbnb or similar sharing economy models, where it’s a more transactional play, much of our success thrives on the personal connection that we make with our members and that our members make with the guests that come and stay in their homes.
We’ve combined that “magic” sauce with technology and have created a real winning model.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Wade Shealy: I’m 67 years old, and I have been richly blessed to get to know and visit so many people and places around the world. I love to hear about how travel connects families and friends in a way like nothing else.
Success to me at this stage in my life is leaving behind a legacy and a vision that life is more than money and riches. Success is focusing on experiences you can share with family and friends. This is something that I value deeply and will continue to share when I can.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Wade Shealy for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Wade Shealy or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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