Big Ideas Threads

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...
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...
In January, we started the discussion Encouraging Conferences for 2022 and so many community members chimed in. Now that conference season is ending, I wanted to share my big takeaway and encourage you to share yours! This year I attended almost all the conferences and even hosted our own mini-conference in the form of Keystone Retreats. When you meet STR leaders in different parts of the world and hear what...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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 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...
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...
"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...
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...
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...
Upon just visiting @Debi @MichelleR @Megan C @Matthew and @BrianO in Oregon, I have settled on fresh local coffee as one of the lowest-hanging Limited Edition welcome gifts you can invest in. Consider approaching a local coffee shop about a partnership for the following reasons: Function: More than 50% of adults (ie. someone in almost every stay) will otherwise need to go out and buy coffee anyway. Fit...
This past week with my parents in town sitting on the beach, we watched as plane after plane flew by promoting this, that, and the other. It made me realize: planes towing advertisements at the beach has been around for decades (what started off as standard letters have now evolved into aerial billboards). But largely, the practice hasn't changed much! If you're in a beach destination have you ever considered...
Sarah Bradford (of Sarah & Tim fame) recently shared with me I Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review And I Hope They Will Make You Laugh. I'm an illustrator and I have always had a personal goal to draw all 62 US National Parks, but I wanted to find a unique twist for these poster designs. When I found that there are one-star reviews for every single park, the idea for Subpar Parks...
Lately I've found myself especially drawn to hotel and vacation rental photography that uses props or staged items to evoke a warm, welcoming scene or aspirational vignette. With our exploration of "first mover" marketing plays, I have to think staged photography is right up there at the top of the "What doesn't currently exist in your market, but will become ubiquitous once someone starts doing it?" list don't...
I just finished Dan Pink's The Power of Regret -- all about turning negative emotions into positive actionable lessons -- and the book includes this, one of my favorite quotes: By understanding what people regret the most, we can understand what they value the most. The book explains how "boldness" regrets ("things I didn't do") were almost 2x as common as action regrets (things I did). And I couldn't help...
Content idea time! IDEA: We're all familiar with the press pieces featuring THE TOP {insert adjective} VACATION RENTALS IN {insert destination}. There are plenty of variations but for the sake of this post I'm referring to these pieces as "Top X." And typically, the author has little to no subject matter expertise. Sometimes companies being mentioned in the article are paying to be featured! But these...
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...
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