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

I use the term "lifestyle brand" to describe a vacation rental business whose marketing leads not with the property, but the vibes (or lifestyle) guests experience when staying there. You can immediately feel a lifestyle vacation rental brand when you come in contact with it. For instance, @Kristi and Starship Landing Retreat. The property itself is still there. But it's not the centerpiece of the photography...
We enjoyed the atmosphere and provenance of the cabin itself, but most notable (aside from the gorgeous hill country views) was the experience of walking through the orchard with grazing cows down to the river’s edge. What a treat for us humans as well as our pup! Thank you...
A robust all-in-one PMS solution doesn't really exist for smaller operators. But new tools are popping up with some innovative alternatives. This is an excerpt from VRMB's 2023 Trends Report: The Roadmap. For years I’ve referred to those who don’t view STR hospitality as a business (but rather a hobby or side gig) as “Lifestylists.” Lifestylists typically hold down separate jobs, rent for the cashflow, and use...
Hi Terri, Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're saying...but I'm pretty sure I'm one of these 'lifestyle' operators. I own a small portfolio of homes and manage them myself. I am not intimidated by tech at all! Have...
Every restaurant was closed at 9:00 PM. Phoenix airport shuts down early. Rather than a couple barstools and industry gossip, we settled into stiff airport seats to talk shop. I started in the vacation rental industry in 2008 as a Marketing Director on the Outer Banks. I...
WOW, this is amazingly insightful, thorough, and should be used to create an action plan for 2023 on each topic. I just found it (January 22, 2023). Well worth each VRMB member's time to read! THANK YOU.
Note: Hospitality Gestures: The "New" Marketing will be featured in VRMB's 2023 Trends Report, which drops first week of January. Early bird specials via newsletter sign-up here. Back in 2009, with the listing sites (and our category in general) starting to gain momentum, the members of this community and myself predicted that "listing site independence" (ie. marketing diversification for vacation rental pros)...
Yes, yes and yes... These are not new ideas for us at Moving Mountains, but I love the reminder to double down on this in 2023. Why...
If you do one thing thing this year, double down on your hospitality brand. Your hospitality brand is your unique style of taking care of guests (both internally with your team and outwardly with guests) and it's the single most valuable asset *fully in your control* that deserves attention, resources, and in some cases serious course corrections. Remember, Quality Branded IP stands the test of time. I just...
I guess my issue with branding is that it feels like a marshmallow. It's a little hard to get a real...
In my endless pursuit for limited edition (full workshop here if you haven't watched it) I am starting to assemble chunks of a "how to" process that we can say to new STR operators "here's a good start." But seeing as though Limited Edition is so personal and unique and IRREPLICABLE lol the process of creating universal rules is difficult! Inspired by @CJ who pointed out to me recently the operational...
Limited edition branding recommends emphasizing your one-of-a-kind virtues -- family owned/operated, locally based/headquartered, and specialized in a property type or location -- to create a moat of defense from competing vacation rental offerings. Some activities DO scale (and can be automated or done en mass). But I keep coming back to the word "Unscalable" as not just a good thing (for independents) but...
Thanks for asking @davidliedl Here is a link to the housekeeping checklist (scroll down to the bottom)...
From Phocuswright's 2021 STR study Through The Roof, 87% of travelers agreed or strongly agreed that they actively seek out properties with an interesting look and feel. "Character" was not a make it or break it moment of the conversion -- but definitely a big appeal. Character is where a huge new wave of vacation rental entrepreneurs are investing: tree houses, tents, themed homes...etc. So I wanted to start a...
For our Mexico property website, I created a shot list to tell a story about what it would feel like to live in this property. What would...
Reviews (whether entered online or handwritten) are important in our industry because they provide validation (feedback loops that make sure you're on the right path) and purpose (that what you are doing really matters). @Todd's thread a while back about how to make a housekeeper cry and @Rocio suggesting travelers write "love letters" to housekeeping (because they mean the world), got me thinking about a...
LOVE this Matt. Genuinely I do, I don't use CAPS often. I'm going to raise this on our management team meeting today, maybe one person in the...
UPDATED December 8, 2022 A while back I posted a trend I was calling "The Falling Tide" -- the commentary from members on this metaphor is super insightful and as a result... I have revised my metaphor: instead of a falling tide in 2023, I think of it a big shake-out. A big shake-out comes when a wave of hype exceeds the realities of demand (in our case, guests looking for a reliable place to stay). Do you...
HI @Matt Landau, I have definitely been noticing a falling tide in my own little micro-market and had been wondering if it was broader than...
Disclaimer: I am directly swiping this from @StaySavvy of https://www.savvytravels.co/ who (as far as I know) invented the phrase and explained it on our Accelerator call last night. A walk-through is a protocol typically performed before (and sometimes after) a guest checks-in in which a knowledgable team member ensures that all other standard operating procedures (housekeeping, maintenance, and staging) have...
Love the term sleep through...we called it sleepover.....but to owners this was presented as QC Stay (Quality Control. Staff were required to complete a detailed report covering all aspects of their stay to share with the team and homeowners. Staff loved it - it was fun, a...
OLD BAY is a limited edition brand that we can emulate. It is valuable, it is authentic, and it is niche! What started as a family-owned, locally-headquartered, and specialized spice eventually got acquired in 1990 by McCormick Spice Company (adding to its portfolio alongside brands like Lawry’s, Simply Asia, Thai Kitchen, and Zatarain’s -- which should underscore the VALUE of any niche spice brand when it...
I really love the quick "limited edition" backstory on the back of every box: "Our unique blend of 18 herbs and spices was born in the Chesapeake Bay area in 1939. It has been made the same way ever since." This is...
This past week I visited Matt @Durrette who is often accidentally referred to as "Matt Cozi." This is simultaneously not weird (COZI is the name of Matt’s property management company in Texas Hill Country) but also very weird seeing as though his last name is clearly stated Durrette and yet people continue call him Matt Cozi. (People like me continue to call him Matt COZI.) Matt runs COZiVR with his wife Jenna...
My brain exploded when I read 27 pieces of tech! I think there is also some secret sauce in the Cozi equation with Matt. I've met a ton of PM / STR operators and sometimes people just stand out. Maybe this dovetails into the "no jerks" culture a bit, but I think it goes...
In January, we started the discussion Encouraging Conferences for 2022 and so many community members chimed in. *** When Bob Iger and Disney faced the looming disruption that streaming platforms caused to the conventional world of TV and film, they went on a buying spree picking up famous brands such as ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, Lukas Films Star Wars…etc. Why? They believed that no matter the disruptions to the...
For me, it was my first time out of the State of Hawaii since 2019 and it was so great to be with my peers in the vacation rental industry and continue to learn about all...
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...
We profit share with everyone in the office and offer holiday bonuses, great health benefits, sick and vacation time and all the usual good stuff PLUS, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are always half days but paid as full days. We do everything we can to accommodate...
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...
We just put together our 5th VR and then I saw this post (I do not know why they do not come to my email but that goodness I found it here)! And it really got me thinking. In setting this one up - what did we include that reflect us...
After running my vacation rental business for 7 years, I burned out. The fun, excitement, and focus from my "start-up" days had faded. I was no longer passionate about the hospitality, which we always considered our greatest virtue. And after coming to grips with that fact, I sold the business. Part of me attributed the "burn out" to simply working 24/7 for 7 years. Gene Marks, author of The Small Business...
Rick, sometimes good enough is good enough. Please don't pressure yourself to do more. We know you strive for excellence, and would never coast. Give yourself permission to devote time to enjoying your life. The first year I worked as a divemaster at a laid-back resort in the Bahamas--where I...
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...
I also seem to have been de-listed by Google with no good reason. Nothing has changed and all of a sudden, Google my business has gone! I have tried to get re-listed, but I guess Google are busy with their 50 billion other customers! Paid advertising for...
This thread is for the general discussion of the Article Contrarian Perspective: Is there a VR Industry Bubble?. Please add to the discussion here.
This article has been removed.
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...
We've added a "Please Note" section to all our descriptions that include any quirks about the house, mention of wildlife, hard water, well water, lack of AC, lack of cell reception, etc. We managed a very rough house last year and said, "Please note, this property is only 1 step...
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...
Creatively destroying my homeowner acquisition process as we speak. Up until Summer of 2020, onboarding a new owner was like meeting a new friend- I met the seasoned OWNERS in person, this was their...
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...
@Dawn what a wonderfully relevant moment for the Hedgehog to make its return to the community. @TomG and @Lauren Madewell -- I'm curious (been thinking about your family businesses this week as you have both endured centuries of market growth) -- is the hedgehog a...
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...
Here's the full episode in case anyone wants to see me jump off an abandoned boat after drinking moonshine: @Matt Landau this is my favorite Sense of Place! I laughed out loud several times at your antics - especially slipping off the sunken houseboat...
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...
Here's a full interview so you can understand better: Thanks, as always, Matt! 👌
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...
Whatever you do pick something that is easy to spell and easy to pronounce. Our property name is a marketing blunder. The name is French, Mais Oui and is a good play on words in the hospitality business if you know French. 90% of our guests are Anerican and...
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...
I posted this recently in a local FB STR group. Advocating for Short-Term Rentals: Keeping a Good Local Reputation The best defense is a good offense and we are our best advocates. There are so many benefits to having...
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...
Happy almost Independence Day everyone, First of all - I had to look up the word leverage as it pertained to business. Verb Leverage: use (something) to maximum advantage. "the organization needs...
I just agreed to lease one of our long-term extended-stay rentals to a local family who live about a one-minute walk away from Skönhuset (Swedish for "the nice house"). Our neighbor's son is terminally ill with four to eight weeks to live. Hospice (and a hospital bed) will be...
This week's discussion thread is perhaps more validation than motivation. On the heels of my friend Leyla's...
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...
What a great idea! A previous guest painted encouraging messages on small rocks and left them all over...
Report of Survey results - includes questions. Can be used by VR managers to better understand guest behaviour in order to tailor property amenities / services to them.
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...
#3 from the Guest point of view. We wanted to rent a dog-friendly house in a specific beach community for three months during winter 2023. We're two adults and two golden retrievers. I first looked for local...

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