Success Stories / Welcome to The Dans

Welcome to The Dans

How to Build a Successful Vacation Rental Brand While Working 9-To-5 Jobs

The Farmhouse - The Dans


The Dans are definitely not your average pair of hosts, that’s for sure. This couple from Ontario, Canada, not only share the same name, but they’ve also managed to capitalize on it by building a strong, thoroughly recognizable brand around that fact.

Funnily enough, The Dans (Fricker and Hadad) never intended to do that, at least not when they started their business back in 2017. Like most couples when they reach a certain age, The Dans’ original plan was to stop renting and finally buy a home they could call their own.

Photo credit: Liora Kogan (


Alas, that was not to be: the housing market in Toronto was (and still is) a tough arena to battle in, and the couple realized they just couldn’t afford the kind of place they wanted. It was then that an idea popped up into Hadad’s mind: why don’t we use the down payment we’ve saved and use it to purchase property in Prince Edward County, 2 hours away from the city?

Fricker, having been there on a work retreat, knew how high the nightly prices could be in the area, which is well-known for being a wine county and its beautiful, serene beaches. Knowing this, Hadad’s idea started to look like a no-brainer, and thus, Welcome to The Dans was born.


The Dans are not full-time hosts but rather part-timers with 9-to-5 jobs. Because of this, the couple decided to go easy into the business by purchasing a single property in Picton (Prince Edward County): The Captain’s House, a beautiful two-story residence built in the 1840s.

Like most first-time hosts, The Dans started out by advertising on the most popular online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Airbnb and Vrbo. “That was great for getting our foot in the door,” – says Dan Fricker – “but a few months in, we had an incident which made us realize we couldn’t just put all of our eggs in one basket.”

We realized that by depending solely on OTAs, we were limiting our prospects and would never have full control of our business – a risk we wanted to address early on!”

Furthermore, as their business started to grow from one to multiple properties posted across several platforms, The Dans realized they needed a “central source of truth” from which they could manage everything in one place – calendars, listings, and guest communications, among many others.


The Dans discovered Lodgify in 2019, and they’ve stayed with us ever since; a fitting testament to the capabilities and robustness of our vacation rental management software.

Why did they choose Lodgify?

Easy: for them, it was all about having a customizable website and a centralized calendar.

“The thing is,” – Dan Fricker says – “for all the good things they have, the primary focus of OTAs is the features of the property”. The Dans didn’t want to be limited to just that: Fricker works in marketing, so he’s well aware of the power of a good brand, and OTAs wouldn’t have really allowed them to build one in the same way a customizable website would.

Furthermore, they also value having a website that allows them to be closer to the consumer, “not only now, but also in the long term”, and sell a unique experience, in which their personalized recommendations of things to do and places to see in Ontario play a big part.

Lodgify’s centralized calendar was the other main reason why they chose us. We’ll let Dan Fricker’s quote speak for itself:

In this business, a centralized calendar is not a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.”

Having a centralized reservation system allows the Dans to manage their calendars, bookings, messages, and many more things from a single, always up-to-date dashboard that syncs instantaneously with the biggest OTAs, such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

The cherry on top of all of this has been the automation capabilities of Lodgify, which have allowed The Dans to automatically send messages to their guests or update their properties’ availability across all channels without having to lift a finger.

You’re always on call in this business, so the more stuff you can automate, the better. Otherwise, it’s just too much work.”

How was it to build their website with Lodgify?

The Dans are straightforward about their experience:

Lodgify’s website builder was very easy to use – a drag-and-drop content management system with great templates and a simple user experience.”

How did they get their first direct bookings?

Instagram has been a pillar of The Dans’ communication strategy since pretty much the start. By surfacing local hotspots, like their favorite beaches to go to, and featuring local business owners, their business has become well known within the Ontario travel industry.

We get DMs all the time asking if we have vacancies.”

The Dans Instagram

Community outreach has also been helpful: by advertising on Canada’s Drag Race or sponsoring the town Pride festival and local theatre, The Dans have not only contributed to a good cause but also driven the success of their business.

And last but not least, let’s not forget about the tried and true strategy of relying on word of mouth. As you’ll see in the next lines, they’ve all worked quite well!


The Dans never expected their business to grow so big. Back when they started, they’d be happy as long as they made enough to break even, but over time, they’ve come to realize the huge potential of the vacation rental industry.

Not only that, but they finally managed to buy the house in Toronto they so wished for!

How many direct bookings do they get?

Thanks to their Lodgify website, The Dans have positioned their business in a unique way that differentiates it from the rest. Nowadays, they get a third of their bookings directly, while the rest come through Airbnb and Vrbo.

Their brand has become a legitimate source of bookings by itself, with customers searching for it on Google because they specifically want to stay in their properties. Sounds like the dream of many a host come true, doesn’t it?

How much has their income increased?

Over the years, The Dans have made their business much more efficient (we’ll take some of the credit there, thank you very much!), not only in terms of increasing their revenue but also by decreasing their expenses.

Nowadays, this Canadian couple has gotten to the point where they’re able to generate a “pretty healthy cash flow”, in Fricker’s words, something that he attributes in no small part to their growing brand presence.

Take that as you may, but we think those are some rather good results!

How much do they have to work for that?

Ahhh… We’ve now gotten to the best question. We’re quite sure you’ll enjoy their answer:

We devote between 2 to 5 hours a week cumulatively to manage our three properties.”

Not bad, eh? The Dans take care of everything that goes on in their properties except for cleaning and maintenance, so if this doesn’t speak for the effectiveness of our software, we don’t know what will!

Do they have any advice for first-time hosts?

The Dans have accrued quite a bit of experience in the six years they’ve been in the business, so read closely because they have some great tips!

My number one recommendation is to find a centralized bookings platform.”

Dan Fricker is also well aware of the importance of complying with government rules and regulations, something with which we thoroughly agree:

Familiarize yourself with municipal short-term rental rules and regulations. Whether it’s an established destination you’re looking to buy in, or if tourism is still somewhat nascent, it’s crucial to understand what is and isn’t allowed.”

Lastly, The Dans point to the merits of good planning and looking ahead into the future:

Be prepared for seasonal cash flow patterns – while your bank account might look flush in July, it’ll need to tide you over to cover your fixed operating expenses (think mortgage payments, internet bill, insurance, etc.) into the thick of both the shoulder and off-seasons.”

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