Who among us hasn’t dreamed of being a celebrity? Imagine, getting seated at the trendiest restaurants in town, being comp’ed tickets to the hottest sporting events and concerts, owning homes in every city in the world, hobnobbing with the most beautiful people on earth … it’s a fantasy lifestyle that most of us won’t ever get to know. But, Steve Aylsworth is living that dream. Well, sort of.
About sixteen months ago, Steve and his partners at Tri Worth Solutions, a family-owned talent acquisitions firm, were approached with an outside opportunity to manage condo-hotels. From their vantage point, they saw an amazing chance for a unique, new business. In the past, condo-hotel owners faced huge problems. Hidden fees and property managers and developers with conflicting interests ate away at the profits condo owners had hoped to make when buying into big name luxury properties. As Steve and his partners saw it, their business could both maximize earning potentials of these properties for condo owners AND offer the public high-end, 4- and 5-star rentals at affordable prices. It would be a win-win!
So, Steve became Chief Operating Officer of the new endeavor, Jet Luxury Resorts (www.jetluxuryresorts.com). As part of a small, family-owned operation in an emerging hospitality field, he had his fingers in every pot. “We’re sort of the first virtual hotel company. We manage and control high quality, luxury hotel inventory with no lobby! For the renter, we provide very high-end, luxurious places to stay at cheaper rates. For the condo owners, we provide a much fairer deal than they get with traditional management companies. We felt this was a great gig, but we needed to know that what we wanted to do actually worked.” Before offering it up to the public, somebody had to sample the wares.
That somebody was Steve.
Checking into The Signature at MGM Grand in Las Vegas just like any other vacationer, Steve almost couldn’t believe that the desk clerk had given him the key. But, that they did. And, there he was, living a life of leisure like a real, A-list celebrity! His room was AMAZING. There were huge oil paintings, two giant bathrooms, a full kitchen, flat-screen TVs, a walkout balcony… it was the ultimate in luxury and nobody was kicking him out. Too good to be true and yet it was!
Now that the company knew things actually worked the way they had hoped, it was time to get the public in on it! Jet Luxury Resorts had contracts with luxury condo hotel properties in New York City, Aspen, Las Vegas, Honolulu, and Costa Rica, to name a few. People were starting to find them via the Jet Luxury Resorts web site, Facebook, and Twitter, in addition to good old fashioned, word-of-mouth. But, they really needed something bigger. “We’re a small company with a really cool product. We’re just starting out. We don’t have a huge advertising budget and we can’t afford major television press. So, since the travel industry is becoming more online, we needed to create a really huge online presence! We decided to create a viral video.” Steve and his family were told that there are three things that sell a viral video: sex, humor, and fear. Obviously, fear wouldn’t be a good selling point for Jet Luxury Resorts. But, humor and sex? Hmmmm… now that they could do!
As it turned out, the whole family pitched in to help.
“My brother-in-law and his brother are directors (The Goetz Brothers - http://thegoetzbros.com/). They wrote a spec script about what they thought the premise of this video should be. Sort of a young, swaggy bachelor living the life in one of our plush penthouses who turns out to be an old geezer living large, living well through Jet Luxury Resorts.” With the premise under control and the Goetz Brothers at the directorial and production helm, there was only one thing left to do—cast the video.
“There was no way we could afford a big commercial, especially as a new company in this economy. So, we did what we had to do! Too bad what I ‘had to do’ involved models in a hot tub …”
“When we thought of it, I was like ‘I’ve got to be in it!’ We’re not the company where we can go out and pay actors right now. We don’t have those kinds of funds. Plus, I’ve always been the entertainer of the family and I’m a bit of the face of this company anyway, so I thought it was a good fit.” Steve’s sister was really excited about the idea and his brothers thought the character was definitely “Steve-esque.” With nobody else in the family vying for it, the role went to him. “I’m a very ‘nightlife’ kind of guy, it was a pretty natural role for me!”
Now that he was cast, next came the rest of the actors and crew. “We had to get creative and use our own people. Mercedes Shea is our operations manager; you can see her delivering champagne to the room in the video! Our Aspen property manager Kelly Lussan acted as casting director for the project. She was awesome! She did all the interviews and cast all the models. The best was Tony; he’s the old guy who owns the café where we always go for lunch next door to our base office in Las Vegas. Tony, he’s a one-named guy! He said Hollywood always forgot about him, he was so excited to be in it. We even used his gold chains and his wife and her friends were the older women in the video!” Jet Luxury Resorts President Richard Brosal secured one of their $4 million penthouses and was in charge of handling all the hotel relations for the shoot. And, a family friend, professional cameraman Brandon Mastripolito, came on board as the film photographer.
After the logistics were taken care of, it was time to film. For Steve, the strangest part about the whole thing was how natural it felt to be in front of the camera. But, he was nervous, too. “The character was a fit. But, you want to come off as genuine and real. I’d never really acted before, now here I was the major actor in my company’s commercial!” Steve had to parade around the penthouse in Tony’s gold bling, drinking champagne and soaking in a hot tub with gorgeous models while his family and friends filmed him and took care of other needs. Not bad for a day’s work! “My favorite part about it was that it was so neat to be on set, acting and helping to develop the brand of our company. Also, working with so many people within the company—it’s not like we outsourced this to an agency and they developed it. We, our employees together as a team, came up with this and made the commercial together!”
The shoot went smoothly, with everyone involved pitching in to make sure it all worked out. Steve’s dad, John Aylsworth—who in real life is the chairman and advisor for Jet Luxury Resorts—acted as caterer in his “reel” life, going to Costco and buying tons of food for the cast and crew, while President Richard Brosal stepped gracefully into his role as chef and main BBQ man. Filming began at about 5 PM and ended at around 1 o’clock in the morning. “We had to work around everyone’s schedule. Tony and his wife had to go to a dinner party so we had to film them first!” Working in a $4 million condo was slightly nerve-wracking for the novices, but everyone involved was trusted and careful and nothing went awry. All told, the commercial should have cost between $100,00-$150,000 to write, direct, and produce. Thanks to all the hard work of family, friends, and employees—including Steve! —they were able to swing it for a lot less. “There was no way we could afford a big commercial, especially as a new company in this economy. So, we did what we had to do! Too bad what I ‘had to do’ involved models in a hot tub …”
When Steve saw the end results of the video he was blown away. It was funny, fun, and sexy, but not sleazy overkill. Everyone he showed it to seemed to enjoy it, saying it brightened up his or her day. Once he knew it wouldn’t make him or the company look bad, he had no reservations with showing it to anybody who would watch it. So, Steve and the rest of the Jet Luxury Resorts crew launched the viral video through YouTube and spread the word through MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Launching on a Wednesday afternoon, there were 250 views by Thursday afternoon. “Everyone became kind of addicted to checking our views. It’s on my cell phone still!” By the end of that first day, the video had been viewed 50,000 times. “The whole viral marketing thing is so huge right now. We’d gotten over 220,000 views in like 12 days! We’re still getting 3,000-5,000 views per day and we don’t know when it’s going to stop. It’s mind-blowing really, the success we’ve had!”
The video even wound up on French television. “This French company contacted Mike Goetz, our director, and said they loved our video. They wanted to put it on their Web site, a site that displays the best ads in the world each week. From there they wanted to put it on TV—and it didn’t cost us a thing!”
For Steve, personally, starring in a viral video has launched him into a strange sort of sub-stardom. A lot of random people he’s never met before have begun befriending him on Facebook and people he’d not heard from in a long while have gotten back in touch. “No autographs yet, unfortunately! But, I was at a music event in Malibu and someone recognized me. They came up to me and said they saw my video and it was hilarious. We’ve had so much success with the video that we’re going to make another one. It’ll be a different scenario with the same team effort.” So far, the only family member who is angling to star in the next one alongside Steve is his dad. As Steve said, it’s definitely better than the catering gig!
No matter what comes next for Jet Luxury Resorts or Steve’s fledgling new “film career,” making the video will always be up there as one of his all-time favorite professional memories. “It was so cool to be with all friends and people we work with, everyone played a major part in making this happen—whether it was making it viral and getting it to their friends, or making the video itself. I was able to act, Mercedes jumped in, Kelly turned away about 10 models before hiring the correct five. Then, of course, Mike and Kevin and Brandon made the thing. We were all there, doing it ourselves from soup to nuts. It was incredible.”
Watch Steve’s debut in Jet Luxury Resorts “Are You Ready to Jet?” viral video at www.jetluxuryresorts.com/bright-side-of-life
Thank you Steve, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Tamar Burris and Story of My Life®