After more than 35 years of operating as Central Reservations, the valley’s privately owned lodging service is now known as Methow Reservations.
Owners Kyrie and Kathleen Jardin say there was more to it than a simple name change. The always-evolving world of online marketing, the noisy universe of social media connections and the presence of aggressive competitors made it imperative that they minimize user confusion created by other companies with the same or similar name.
The Jardins owned 22 domain names to distinguish them from competitors, but even that wasn’t enough. Too many phone calls from people in places like Atlanta, wanting to book the Omni Hotel, prompted the name change decision. (You can still find them under the Central Reservations rubric.)
Methow Reservations, founded in 1982, rents legal, licensed nightly rental homes and extended-stay homes, inns, B&Bs, cabins, historic homes, farmhouses and condo units, according to its marketing materials. It operates out the Purple Sage Building, which the Jardins own along with the Purple Sage gallery and gift shop, on Riverside Avenue in Winthrop, and offers 24/7 service on its website.
The Jardins purchased the business about eight years ago from Neil and Kelli Rotstan, software developers who extensively upgraded the online reservation system.
“We bought ourselves a job,” Kyrie Jardin said. “At first we thought we’d have occasional time off.”
Not so much, Kathleen said. Tending to clients’ needs and requests – some of them rather challenging – means the business needs constant attention. The Jardins themselves own two nightly rentals.
During the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire, when the entire valley was without power for more than a week, the Jardins moved their operation to Burlington. “We were the only contact for 1,600 people who had tickets for the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival,” which was not refunding tickets, Kyrie said. The festival went on despite the lack of electricity.
There are many “nice stories” to share as well, Kyrie said, related by clients who the Jardins helped with wedding, family reunions, group outings and other special-request gatherings.
Clients’ priorities have changed over time, the Jardins said. For instance, TV used to be important, but that amenity has been eclipsed by the desire for fast internet service.
Some people are particularly finicky about coffee makers as well, they said. Is it a regular drip coffee maker or a Keurig? Does it have a timer? How many cups does it make?
One of the most common calls for help comes from people who have locked themselves out. Excerpts from the Jardins’ blog for the past couple of months reveal a variety of inquiries: Can you help us with our tire chains? We don’t like the chairs (the Jardins took some of their own chairs out to the rental). Are there wolves on the ski trails? Can’t find the cocktail shaker. Pipes are frozen, the fireplace doesn’t work, the internet won’t support half-a-dozen devices at once.
The Jardins say that despite marketplace challenges and fire-related disruptions (cancellations flood in when people are worried fires), the business has been doing better every year. January was their best month ever, they said, and then February was even better.
The name change is going more smoothly than expected.
“Central was not really working as well as Methow Reservations will — and already has,” Kathleen said. “We were afraid people would be confused, but not one person has complained.”