• Top Villas now has offices based at Discovery Park in Sandwich and in Orlando, Florida. We recently caught up with James Mannings in our Discovery Park office.

    Starting up a new business can be a huge risk, what made you decide to take this step and what challenges did you face?

    Initially, we did not see it as a risk. I was working at a digital agency and Tom was working in the building industry. A few years previously we had set up a small holiday home rental website in our spare time.

    Over the years we invested more time and expertise into this. It got to a stage when the company started generating a good regular income.

    We both then decided to leave our full-time employment to focus on the new business. At this time we rebranded the company and Top Villas was founded.

    What is the one thing you know now that you wished you knew when you started your business?

    We should have tied up more suppliers from day one with legally signed contracts. Unfortunately, the days of verbal agreements and handshakes are long gone.

    What made you choose Discovery Park as your headquarters?

    We are local Sandwich residents, born and educated in the town. Discovery Park was an obvious choice with its amazing facilities and technology, prestigious address and wealth of great connections through like-minded people and businesses. The Discovery Park management team has been a great help to us since day one. Brachers are also located onsite which is very convenient.

    What changes have made the biggest impact on your business since you started?

    As much of our business is generated overseas, the decline in some economies around the world, especially in Brazil and Canada, had a direct effect on our sales in these areas.

    More recently terrorism has affected us, especially as there have been instances in some of our key locations worldwide.

    What impact, if any, do you think the UK leaving the EU is likely to have on your business? Have you noticed any immediate changes?

    The biggest immediate impact has been the sharp decline in the value of sterling, which has made travelling abroad more expensive for UK citizens.

    Guests are delaying their vacation plans in the hope that things will improve over the next 12 months. This has been most noticeable for travellers to the United States.

    Have you taken any steps to “future-proof” your business?

    We have expanded our property portfolio to different countries and regions around the world, increasing over the last two years from 35 destinations to over 150.

    We have also widened our reach to clients around the world. This will hopefully lessen the impact of any economic, political or social scenarios.

    How has Brachers helped you?

    Brachers has been a great help to us since day one with excellent advice and assistance with legal contracts, company terms and conditions and claims procedures. We have also used them for our own personal legal matters.

    What is your strategy for the future of the business?

    Top Villas is developing its own staff training facility and encouraging more experienced personnel to join us.

    We are about to launch an industry-leading holiday home rental platform which we have spent the last two years developing in-house.

    We are constantly evolving and attracting new partners and properties around the world.

    Tom has now moved permanently to Orlando to oversee the expansion of our American division. This will include growing our Florida real estate company, property portfolio, concierge services and sales team.

    We are also about to launch a dedicated agency and tour operator platform, with easy access to our booking systems. This will be branded as luxuryvillarentals.com.

    Our main aim for the future is to become the leading global luxury home rental company.

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    This content is correct at time of publication

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