Local Entrepreneur Offers Short Term Rentals Long on Hoosier Hospitality

Writer  /  Lynda Hedberg Thies
Photography Provided

Each year millions of visitors travel to Indianapolis for business, sporting events, conventions and a whole host of other reasons. Most will stay in hotels out of convenience to their events or meetings and even out of habit. But there is a growing demand for a different experience that provides the environment and amenities of home that many say is more economical and allows them to experience the destination in a different way.

Made popular by such websites as Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com and VRBO, they are short-term rentals, and they are significantly changing the travel landscape around the world and in Indianapolis thanks to a local entrepreneur.

Jim Borthwick, a lifelong Hoosier, had spent a decade working in the service and hospitality industry and loved everything about Hoosier Hospitality. While working his “day job,” he fell asleep each night watching the ABC hit show, “Shark Tank” and was bitten by the entrepreneur bug. One thing Borthwick, a Noblesville High School and Ball State University graduate, knew for sure was that whatever he decided to do it would be based in his home state.

Borthwick continued working his day job when he got the idea to rent out a room in his home to make some extra cash. The home was located a couple of blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium and rented very easily. It was not long after that renting one room turned into the entire house. He knew he was onto something when neighboring homeowners began asking him how they could get involved. The idea was born to provide vacation rentals, property management that combined his love of Hoosier Hospitality.

Borthwick launched Circle City Traveler three years ago. He offers premium vacation rentals for groups of all sizes. They can bundle several of their houses for groups traveling for events at the Convention Center, professional, college and amateur sports teams, church conferences, business retreats, family gatherings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, couples and solo travelers visiting Indianapolis and Madison, Indiana. They offer property management to help others optimize their rental properties and homesharing, and it is all wrapped up in providing positive Hoosier experiences.

Circle City Traveler now manages about a dozen properties in the Indianapolis area, including one in Madison, Indiana and all can be booked through vacation rental companies like VRBO and Airbnb. But they offer what no one else can offer which is Hoosier Hospitality and the concept seems to be working.

The mission of Circle City Traveler is to provide a real Hoosier experience as they provide their guests with information about local restaurants, information about Indianapolis landmarks, where they can hear live bands and events happening around the city. He will even take his guests around the city, join them at dinners and ensure that they fall in love with the city.

While he has never traveled outside of the United States, he has played host to international guests from Australia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“My philosophy was live locally, think globally,” Borthwick says. “And while I would like to travel for now, I enjoy having the opportunity to meet people from around the world.”

Through satisfied guests and referrals, business comes from conventions, business travelers working with local corporations, Indy 500 Race Teams, fans of the NFL Combine, Colts fans, sports teams and even people looking to move to Indy that don’t want to stay in a hotel.

And what makes this budding entrepreneur so amazing is his interest in shaping this industry and the selfless way he is helping others that are even in competition with him.

Borthwick has become instrumental in helping the industry thrive in Indiana providing support to lawmakers in their legislation to protect homeowners interested in short term leasing. He has also established a local organization called Hoosier Hosting Network for those getting involved in the short term rental business to engage in regular dialogue about the industry and share best practices to ensure the success of this booming business.

“If I have done my job well, my guests will feel that they have an Indiana home,” Borthwick says.

He is passionate and enthusiastic about the business.

“I love the journey, the process and providing Hoosier Hospitality,” he says. “I want to earn their business and help them fall in love with the city.”

His guests consider him family, they often do fall in love with the city, and his guests go back to where they live and they become ambassadors out in the world for Indy. This translates to more visitors to Indianapolis sharing what we already know, that Indiana is a great place to call home.

For more information, visit them online at circlecitytraveler.com.

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