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Settling into History

Helping make this tradition possible is (WNAV), a local and highly esteemed company facilitating vacation rentals like the Captain Morse House across the Cape and Islands. For over two decades, Joan and Jeff Talmadge have made the rental process a breeze—for homeowners and vacationers alike. WNAV’s success has roots in a humble beginning. The couple started the web-based vacation rental company when they bought a vacation home in Orleans and wanted to rent it out. Jeff had worked in software development and saw the future of rental transactions taking place on the Internet. In 1997, Jeff built out the website while Joan fielded phone calls from realtors, property owners, and potential customers from their kitchen table. 

Joan jokes that at the time many people were not regularly using the Internet, let alone thinking about it as the place to search and secure house rentals. Now, web and app-based rental services are commonplace, but was on the first wave of internet-based vacation rental services. The company has since expanded beyond Joan and Jeff to a team of 10, and from facilitating renting just their own home to over 4,000 properties. Throughout this impressive growth, they have maintained the personal touch for owners and renters alike. 

“We do take great pride in that because in this era of the Internet, so much of that personal nature is lost,” Joan says. “We have to keep up with modern times and technology, and we certainly do that, but we also feel strongly about maintaining the personal side as well.”

For the Talmadges, this business model has resulted in many repeat customers, and the success of this has been experienced first-hand. They still rent the same home that started the company in the 90s, and have seen it become a multi-generational retreat for one family, with the annual pilgrimage forming memories and traditions across three generations.  

WNAV is as invested in the people they serve as they are in the places they rent. In the wake of the pandemic, the team at WNAV hosted a contest dedicated to those who stepped up for their community in the face of COVID-19. Titled “Who Needs a Vacation,” this contest solicited nominations from the public through the WNAV Facebook pages. The grand prize was $1,500 to spend on any vacation rental on the WNAV site, and a gift basket filled with $400 worth of treasure from local businesses. 

The response was incredibly positive and created the difficult and humbling process of narrowing down the finalists and selecting the winner. The selected contest champion was a disabled Gulf-war veteran who went above and beyond to ensure the people she serves at the veteran’s association have their needs of housing, food, medical services, and emotional support met throughout the pandemic. 

The positive response radiated out to WNAV’s network of homeowners and a handful stepped up, and without solicitation, offered vacations at their properties for the three runners-up. WNAV has offered giveaways and contests before, but for Joan, this one was especially meaningful and emotional. 

“I just am so thankful for people who have done so much. I feel there’s been so much loss and hurt,” Joan says. “We’ve had other contests before, but this was the most moving because we were rewarding someone who had sacrificed a great deal.”

Whether it is getting away with friends and family, immersing oneself in local history, or giving a getaway to those who give so much of themselves, there is no undervaluing how important and meaningful a quality vacation can be. 

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