Looking for new ideas? Our weekly discussions around guest experience and growth are designed to inspire and delight.

Our industry is at a pivotal juncture. Vacation rental demand at all-time high means... New owners & managers need guidance and... Guests need training or else... Unrealistic expectations produce... Bad actors who... Tarnish the craft and contribute to unfair regulation in your region Until our diverse community can agree on a common definition of "what makes us professional" -- our independence resembles not a blessing but a curse. But we can reverse this vicious cycle into a virtuous...
Steve Schwab went from living in the back of a bar in Puerto Peñasco Mexico and helping out with HVAC systems to building Casago into a major property management company with thousands of properties and franchises all over the US and Mexico. He's featured in our second episode of Homerunners and he's become a thought partner to Matt in tackling some of the deepest questions of our industry. This episode is brought you by PointCentral: https://www.pointcentral.com/vrmb/ the leaders in smart...
Yesterday, on a panel I was asked "What's your favorite booking channel?" And I said "It's a new channel that just came out. It's called 'Word of Mouth.'" It was half cheeky joke, half serious because the mother category (direct bookings) is so much more complex, nuanced, and powerful than saying "Airbnb" or "Vrbo." Not long after the panel, I got a note from @Terry who shared with me his June paid advertising numbers using the services of @ConradO ... Terry has been aiming to grow...
Miriam Ramsey is a key player in the VTrips model of growth through local brands and a star of our first Homerunners episode which premieres worldwide on October 23rd at VRMA International in Las Vegas. In this episode Matt and Miriam discuss what it takes to make it in this industry, how to handle getting bought and how to nail it as a Homerunner. This episode is brought you by PointCentral: https://www.pointcentral.com/vrmb/ the leaders in smart home automation, and Breezeway...
At 10:05 of our latest Unlocked interview with Jeremy Gall, we talk about Brittany Blackman and her deep passion for vacation rental hospitality. I go on to share how @MikeH saw Brittany's "passion" as a downright game-changer. '"They' can't compete with that!" Mike says. The “they” in Mike’s sentiment is intentionally vague — it can apply to whoever you may have in mind. They = venture-backed competition They = run-of-the-mill property managers in your market They = over-night success...
Michelle "MJ" Boyle is a patented inventor, the Hostess of the Tiny House Podcast, founder and creator of My Tiny House Village, Oregon Teardrop Rentals, and My Tiny Creekside Retreat. In this episode Matt and MJ explore the rushes and reversals inherit in Homerunning...from hitting a niche market at just the right time to real adversity shutting you down. This episode is brought you by PointCentral: https://www.pointcentral.com/vrmb/ the leaders in smart home automation, and Breezeway...
Once you've come to grips with the fact that few employees will likely ever have the same level of passion or commitment that you do, you turn to the next best thing: "How can I best incentivize them to reach their full potential and KEEP them at my business?" I wanted to start a thread of some great ideas I've learned in the last few weeks of attending conferences, with the hope that YOU can jump in and share something that's worked in your business. I will update the main post with...
I think 2022 will be a watershed year for vacation rental conferences. A new covid normal and lots of pent-up networking energy, combined with PEAK money/influence/success that is riding 100% on our choice as core stakeholders (of a fragmented movement) to come together. So I'm encouraging any member who wants to up their game, to pick a conference to attend! My secret goal is to encourage first timers as once you go conference you never go back. Drop your fav conference into comments for...
Welcome to Season 9 of the Unlocked Podcast! Lukas Krause is part of a new generation of industry professionals bringing superpowers from other industries into our own. He’s running a large company in the space but focusing on small hospitality details. In this episode Matt and Lukas dive into the good, the bad and the ugly of our current high paced acquisitions cycle and talk about what it means to be a Homerunner. This episode is brought you by PointCentral...
Prior to launching Season 9: Homerunners this week, Matt sat down with Breezeway founder and perennial Unlocked sponsor Jeremiah Gall to discuss highlights from last season and the state of the industry moving forward. Episode One of Homerunners featuring Lukas Krause of Skyrun Vacation Rentals drops with the VRMB newsletter Thursday September 8th. This episode is brought you by PointCentral: https://www.pointcentral.com/vrmb/ the leaders in smart home automation, and Breezeway...
IDEA An inside joke is humor that requires information only available to a group. It can be as small as a joke between you and your guest. And when pulled off, it forms a connection that deepens the relationship: making you more than just another place to stay, but a true insider friend. @StacyW recently shared with me this text message interchange between her team member Lacey and a Guest: Lacey: Good Morning! We wanted to reach out and ensure you received the iron yesterday...
This week Matt talks to Stacy Wesson of Cascara Vacation Rentals about the challenges of modernizing and running a family vacation rental business in an era of acquisitions and tech driven hospitality. This episode is brought you by Point Central, the leaders in smart home automation, and Breezeway, the best in class property care and automations platform. Additional show notes can be found at www.vrmb.com/115
I first learned the phrase "creative destruction" from my co-founder in Esperanza Social Venture Club (gang intervention program). Brief Aside: Building a demobilization program was new and uncharted territory. No one had done anything like this in Panama. So with little experience, we assembled a team, raised money, planned a pilot intervention program with Gang #1 and it went surprisingly well. So well in fact, that their rivals (Gang #2) reached out and asked for the same program. This...
I recently came across an insightful case study (attached) titled "From Niche to Movement to Mainstream" about the rise of the food truck movement (and hip hop). Reading it, I couldn't help but see the parallels with our work (and think about a similar discussion Can we copy the craft beer movement?)...here are some of the interesting nuggets I gleaned from the food truck PDF (attached): The catalyst for the food truck explosion was the Great Recession: restauranteurs (and others...
I recently came across a scene from 'Sense of Place' Blue Ridge that I wanted to share because I know a lot of our members are thinking about staffing and team building. When I asked @CJ how he plans to grow, he says, "I'm going to invest in people." Watch it first... Investing in your people is one of the most impactful ways to allocate funds as a modern day vacation rental professional. If demands of the job increase and talent remains low, don't forget to look inwards at people who...
I've known Matt Hoffman for what feels like an eternity. I remember talking to him back when I was running my vacation rental business in Panama in 2008 and his passion and enthusiasm for vacation rentals has not faded since...if anything they've sharpened. Matt is the Senior Vice President and Product Leader at Kigo, which is a vacation rental management software company. Our conversation about Matt's childhood, education, and entrepreneurial spirit is jammed packed with useful insight...
I am currently visiting @Godfrey in Sun Valley, Idaho where the supply of vacation rental properties is so limited (and the demand for this destination so great) that property owners and managers need to be extra intentional about how they spend their time. To a degree, I think this focus is increasingly playing out across the world. Every activity falls somewhere on the profit spectrum, but which activities actually generate the most? Which are most directly correlated with your bottom...
They say a rising tide lifts all ships. But what happens in a falling tide? Note: This is a question I have set out to research for my presentation at VRWS in Portugal by @Antonio in September (who's coming?! I will be recording a private version of this presentation for community members). ## I was watching an interview with a hotshot new golfer whose name I forget. When the reporter asked if an upcoming tournament was "the most important of his life," the young golfer said: "The...
This week's podcast episode (embedded below) featuring @TomG of Mt. Laurel Chalets in Gatlinburg, TN includes a very special segment (starts at 11:05) about an idea Tom calls Hometown Heroes here's how it's described on his site: Every hometown has its heroes. The unseen caregiver who is called to serve. An unlikely achiever who tackles obstacles with a can-do spirit. Perhaps it's the unsung champion who runs the race but doesn't collect a trophy. Or maybe it's an unsuspecting...
Dana Young is one of those people who is just unyieldingly passionate about technology. But so are a lot of people. What makes Dana unique is the way he is applying that obsession -- specifically with voice activated devices -- to the vacation rental space. He got started in our industry managing a property with his mom. But the ramifications of his singular and relatively straightforward "Unlocked" tactic reach far beyond any set of walls. If you want to innovate like Dana, consider a...
Good property names stand out and inspire. Even cooler, good property names drive repeat and referral bookings! But bad property names disappear from our memories the moment we depart. Settling on great property names is tricky. I am recently going through this process with @MeganM about her new property in Cocoa Beach, FL. It's located on the Space Coast where Megan grew up (she had friends whose grandparents were astronauts) Megan loves space and rockets and the moon But doesn't want...
Hospitality is one of the few sectors that customers touch, feel, experience, walk-into. Which makes us hyper-connected to our local communities. (We should really have a code of ethics, but I digress) And hyper-connected means disruptive: for better and for worse. Good disruption: guests spark the local economy, managers/hosts are closely tied to local causes and issues, business contributes as much (if not more)than it extracts. Bad disruption: guests make neighbors lives a living...
I recently came across this quote (above) and realized how many of the most successful vacation rental pros I know are masters of leverage AND how many of the most knowledgable vacation rental pros I know could use leverage in fun new ways to thrive (however they may define that). So I wanted to begin a thread about using subject matter expertise as a "force multiplier" -- giving members the potential to lift far more than previously possible on your own. Does Leverage Convert Knowledge to...
I just agreed to lease one of our long-term extended-stay rentals to a local family who live...
In this episode you'll get a taste of what's to come in the next season of Unlocked themed "First Mover Status" in which we'll interview owners and managers who are gaining HUGE advantages by being first to market with new innovations. But until then, enjoy this brief audio essay from Matt's visit to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Where he visited Robin Craigen of www.movingmountains.com Link's Mentioned in Episode: Rustler's Lodge...
This week’s discussion all about niche marketing ideas comes directly from the golf course! @CJ sent me the following photo of a vacation rental owner who scatters golf balls with contact information around the backyard of his golf course-front vacation home in Georgia. This is a cheap, creative, and focused way of speaking directly to his target audience. QUESTIONS/COMMENTS Where are your niche guests hanging out with each other when in town visiting? What is intriguing enough for...
Note: Thanks to @ToonTownRob for posting this mini-revelation about the power of starting your email responses with a twist. It inspired this week's Motivation (and I decided to record it in podcast form too below). Listing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo rank as the top pound-for-pound allocation of your time to generate inquiries. All the various listing sites make up Stage 1 of Listing Site Independence framework. But also from our findings, we learned that not all listings are created...
"7 Reasons Casco Viejo is NOT For You" (original blog post from 2010 attached) was the single most profitable piece of content I ever created as a vacation rental marketer. In a way that affirmative marketing can not, this article clearly established who we were (as a vacation rental company in an emerging neighborhood) by identifying who we were NOT. The amount of guests who reached out and said how much the piece resonated with them was extraordinary. Consequently, one of the first...
Storm Watching is a creative marketing strategy by the destination of Tofino on Vancouver Island in British Columbia...turning lemons into lemonade...taking a low season and turning it into something new and aspirational. Stoke the fire, pull a chair up to the window, and snuggle into a down comforter to watch Mother Nature assault the land and sea outside your hotel window. Gale force winds whip the ocean into a frenzy, with 50’ white-capped waves loudly crashing against the cliffs and...
As a follow-up to the popular discussion 8 Deep Adjustments To Your Listings, in this week's podcast featuring @Heather we talk about what is simultaneously the biggest challenge AND the biggest differentiator (when you solve it) for independent vacation rental marketers: standing out in a crowd. You can skip forward to 12:15 to hear that part of the discussion: Heather talks about the classic graphics like the colored pencil and the flower that depict this so well in her mind: So I...
Hey @EBadia -- what do you think about the word “boutique” to describe what makes vacation rental companies great? Used in all of our marketing materials and in our day-to-day, could "boutique" successfully convey what makes vacation rental companies great in ways that other words (we've come up with) can not? Side Note: For those of you who haven't listened, Evelyn and I are on a mission to define the word "professional." She rightly points out that it can seem constricting if you don't...
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