The story of CabinConnection
They met online
My husband (Jason) and I celebrated our 12th anniversary this year. We got married really young — we were barely 21. I look at my college students now and wonder if we were crazy. But it worked.
Fast forward about six years. My little sister, Megan, was living in an apartment in Indianapolis, near us. She was a single, working girl. We saw a lot of her. Life was good.
Then one day, we were driving to a birthday party for my grandpa. We had a 2-year-old daughter and I was pregnant with our son. Megan told us that she’d met a guy online. The crazy thing? He’d gone to the same small, private college the three of us had! He’d graduated one year after Jason and me. But we didn’t know him.
Well, Megan and Chris met and hit it off immediately. And before I got to have my baby, she was walking down the aisle. Four days later, our son was born.
It’s so nice to have family nearby
Life went on. Megan moved into Chris’ house, which was even closer to us. We now lived less than 10 minutes apart. And low and behold — Chris and Jason even got along! They both are competitive and love sports and video games. What else do guys need?
We all became really good friends. When our basement started leaking, we called Meg and Chris. We started a game where we would do something crazy to the other’s house whenever they were out of town. We hung out on weekends. It was really good.
A few years ago, we decided to take things to the next level.
We love cabins
See, Chris’ family owns a beautiful cabin on a lake in Ohio. And Jason had grown up traveling to the Smoky Mountains and renting cabins (by this time, I’d done quite a lot of that, too). Cabins were in our blood.
So we planned a weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains to look for a cabin to buy together as an investment. We had done some research and thought this could be a nice bit of side income for us.
We spent a crazy day driving all the mountain roads (don’t tell the real estate agent, but Jason got sick and threw up outside one of them…) and looking at cabins. We fell even further in love with cabin living.
But as we sat around and reflected, another idea started to blossom.
Chris’ father is a successful entrepreneur. We went to him for advice. He looked at our research, thought the cabin was a good buy, but encouraged us to look deeper. He said that there’s nothing like a family-owned company. Is there any way to take this to the next level?
The same thing had been rolling around in our heads. Was there a way to make a bigger company out of our love for cabins in the Smoky Mountains?
CabinConnection is born!
Well, we thought, what was our biggest frustration about the area?
Easy to answer — it’s hard to get information about it. Finding a cabin for the weekend had been such a frustrating process. With more than 200 different companies renting out cabins, it’s impossible to tell if you’re getting a good deal. It’s hard to figure out where your cabin is located and if it will be nice inside. Many sites don’t offer strong search tools.
And it’s more than that. It’s difficult to find out much about what’s going on in the Smokies. We started dreaming about a company that could make it easier for families to travel to the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge area. A company that could put tons of information all in one easy spot. A company that could offer cabins from several different cabin companies, so perspective renters could compare them side-by-side.
That dream became a reality. Just about two years ago, we launched our blog — CabinConnection.com. We started writing 3-5 times per week about all kinds of things in the Smoky Mountain area. We told our stories, we told our family members’ stories, we interviewed businesses, we monitored the news and got information about the Smoky Mountain area in any way we could think to do it. Traffic started slowly, but built over time.
You might be wondering how this is a business model. How do you make money writing a blog? Well, for us, it was just stage one. But it was the most important stage. We wanted to build trust with our readers by providing good, solid information to vacationers. We were all still working normal jobs. I was doing almost all of the writing in my spare time. At the same time, Megan and Chris were developing relationships with the cabin companies. And Jason was working away on an Internet tool that would let perspective renters browse cabins from several different companies.
Our e-commerce site is launched
This past summer, we finally launched the CabinConnection site that allows vacations to rent cabins from several different companies. It was so exciting to see this long dream become a reality!
We’re still working on adding more cabins and more cabin companies. But we’re proud of what we have — which is a site with more than 350 cabins for vacationers to peruse. We have top-notch searching tools, and we’re still providing lots of information about the area.
We haven’t become millionaires overnight. We’re still all plugging away at regular jobs and madly working on CabinConnection in the evenings. But we’re excited to see where it goes.
And we’re thrilled to be meeting our goal — making it easier for families to take vacations to the Smoky Mountains. After all, family is where this company started.