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Simon Ball of ‘Tuscany Now & More’: “Everyone is going to have to rely less on automation”

I think consumers are going to travel less but demand more for their money. Everyone is going to have to rely less on automation, less on applications, bots, aps and invest in human expertise. Renting a villa in Italy is not cheap, between flights, car rental and the villa rental it all adds up — at least […]

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I think consumers are going to travel less but demand more for their money. Everyone is going to have to rely less on automation, less on applications, bots, aps and invest in human expertise. Renting a villa in Italy is not cheap, between flights, car rental and the villa rental it all adds up — at least in our market. If I were a client, I would expect to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a person that has not only been to the property I am interested in renting but can tell me about the local area and Italian culture. It comes down to providing constructive and honest advice, which will result in a wonderful holiday experience.


As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Ball, Founder & CEO of Tuscany Now & More

Tuscany Now & More is a luxury villa company devoted to providing properties in the most beautiful country in the world, Italy. Originally founded in 1990 by Simon and Barbara Ball, this family run business offers exquisite rental properties, each with their own story to tell, throughout the length and breadth of Italy, in Tuscany and beyond.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It is a very long story but in short, I grew up in farmhouse outside Florence, we started to rent it out 35 years ago and I started Tuscany Now & More five years later. I was educated in art and architecture, so I fell into the business almost naturally. My wife is from Florence and plays a very important role within our company, as do our two children who form part of the sales and marketing team.

What is one of the most interesting parts of your role?

You get, well at least I get, very involved with the owners of the villas. Many bonds are formed when you take a home that is completely adored by an owner and offer it to strangers — you step into someone else’s world. That is what makes my role so special, people share their secrets and tell you about the bad, as well as the good.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One morning, I arrived at a new villa to take some photos. I started work, and after about two hours the owner of the villa phoned me asking me where I was. Incredibly I was at the wrong villa and should have been at the next property just 700 yards further down the road.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

I always say that we are different, not necessarily better but different. We care for our property owners and our clients — their problems become our problems. We are approached with houses to join our portfolio daily, but I always say that our villas are only as good as the owners and managers; that is what really makes the experience.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Not burning out in the travel industry is a difficult challenge. If you truly care about what you do, it means you are on call 24 hours a day — anything can happen in this industry. I take the philosophy that you can only do your best and you need to be able to rely on those you work with to sustain you. We have a strong solid relationship with our staff on the ground and work together with them to overcome all problems that arise. The villa rental market is a competitive one and it is not easy to beat large companies with thousands of villas in their portfolio. What distinguishes us is our quality of service, knowledge, and experience.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My father and mother gave me this opportunity, they raised us in Tuscany and trusted me to rent out their home — I’m very grateful for that foundation.

Let us jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Over the last few years, we have been focusing on improving the services we offer and translating our clients’ requests into a reality. Each booking is dealt with on a personal basis, with staff that really know the product they are selling and its location. This has never been more important than throughout Covid-19, our guests have really relied on our staff to provide tailored advice and ultimately a safe and secure holiday experience.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

This approach is expensive and takes a huge amount of time.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

I do not think that this will disrupt the status quo but in today’s world it is all about quantity and reducing costs to increase margins.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel.

I think consumers are going to travel less but demand more for their money. Everyone is going to have to rely less on automation, less on applications, bots, aps and invest in human expertise. Renting a villa in Italy is not cheap, between flights, car rental and the villa rental it all adds up — at least in our market. If I were a client, I would expect to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a person that has not only been to the property I am interested in renting but can tell me about the local area and Italian culture. It comes down to providing constructive and honest advice, which will result in a wonderful holiday experience.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

For me, its traveling as little as possible. Staying put once you arrive at a destination and being able to enjoy the real things that are on hand in the local rea.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

That is a difficult question, what is success? Money, influence? It is personal relationships that make me, and my business thrive, that is what I find most rewarding. I learn from others all the time — both from a personal and commercial perspective. Helping and sharing with others is our innate nature, small things and small actions. Tuscany Now & More donates 10% of our gross profit to a wonderful NGO in Guatemala that takes in women and children, feeding them and providing them with an education in a protected environment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would copy what Suor Marcella, the founder of the NGO in Guatemala did. Feed, sustain, protect, and educate those that have nothing. Please visit these websites for more information: www.maniamiche.net/ and www.maniamiche.org/en/.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I enjoy my privacy so am not on social media but please do follow Tuscany Now & More.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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