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5 minutes with Simon Ball

Oct 31, 2016 Written by: Flight Time Business for Flight Time Business
Italy and Tuscany villa rental specialists

The founder and CEO of Italian holiday rental company TuscanyNow&More talks about 25 years in the business and how the industry has changed.

What is TuscanyNow&More, and how did it come to be?

I grew up in a farmhouse in the hills near Florence, and my father and mother started renting out the main farmhouse and gave it to a reputable company in Tuscany, who then passed the house over to agencies in the U and North America. The season was very short, eight to 10 weeks, and the price that the public paid more than doubled during peak season. That was in 1985 and I had just returned to London. In 1988, I sat down and realised that there was a possibility that we could have more success, and after two years we launched TuscanyNow, to rent our own home and about four or five neighbours’ properties.

This year you rebranded from TuscanyNow to TuscanyNow&More. What prompted the change?

A change was needed, as offering a house on a hilltop with a private pool was not enough. There are many portals that offer this, so I decided we needed to invest in offering more services and experiences, such as wine tours, cooking lessons, cycling tours, and so on. At the same time, my father and mother had passed away and my siblings wanted to sell our home. You could say that the raison d’être of TuscanyNow was slowly melting away and we needed a rebirth. TuscanyNow&More has more front office staff dedicated to looking after our clients after they have chosen the house they want to stay in.

Why Tuscany? Are properties in demand all year round?

Tuscany is where I grew up and where I met my Florentine wife, who also is very active in the business. We have continued with the same passion as 26 years ago, to find beautiful homes and adapt them to the needs of our clients. We do get clients out of season, in the winter months, but they mostly want to be near to Florence, in very comfortable homes, to do an art course or learn Italian for periods longer than one or two weeks.

How many are involved in the business? 

There are 14 of us working in-house, based in London and in Barcelona. Then we have a number of external IT specialists that work for us full time, and there are about 400 persons that are involved in seeing that the houses are up to scratch and that our clients get the best service possible — caretakers, cooks and, of course, the property owners.

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