Castro previously served as head of customer experience at online retailer Warby Parker, where she led a team of 700+ team members during her ten-year tenure. She was also the company’s very first employee.
Evolve co-founder and CEO, Brian Egan, said: “The most important element of scaling our business is scaling the delivery of five-star hospitality. Mara was the architect of the customer experience that served as the foundation of Warby Parker’s renowned brand; I’m thrilled to partner with her as she propels us toward our vision of becoming the most trusted hospitality brand in vacation rental.”
The company reported a 70 per cent year-on-year increase in net booking value at the start of 2021. Evolve says it is now planning to invest in and grow its team by an estimated 50 per cent this year in roles ranging from customer experience, to technology and sales.
Taking a tech-enabled approach to vacation rental management, Evolve seeks to provide higher performance, greater flexibility and lower fees when compared to traditional offerings. Its disruptive ten per cent management fee, in comparison with the 30-50 per cent rates it claims are charged by its competitors, and proprietary dynamic pricing strategy, have allowed Evolve listings to outperform an already booming vacation rental market.
While marketplaces such as Airbnb and Vrbo say that their new hosts earned an average of $3,900 and $6,000 respectively during the first nine months of the pandemic, Evolve says its average new homeowner earned $12,205 in that same time period.
Castro said: “I’m proud to be part of an innovative, rapidly accelerating company that knows that at the end of the day it’s all about how you make someone feel.
“We’re focused on creating a culture that makes everyone feel welcome, whether that be Evolvers, homeowners, guests or partners. That, to me, is the definition of hospitality,” she added.
Rather than a full service property management package, Evolve works to provide hybrid management services, including shooting professional photos, creating listings, handling guest interactions, and offer rate-setting advice based on analytics, which does not include housekeeping or maintenance.
To date, Evolve has raised more than $124 million across five different funding rounds.