Big Ideas

UPDATED: March 14, 2024

This past week Miami came out with the following commercial to dissuade partiers from choosing it for their Spring Break shenanigans. It was a brilliant example of the "Why our destination is NOT for you" messaging we've explored before...



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"7 Reasons Casco Viejo is NOT For You" (original blog post from 2010 attached) was the single most impactful piece of content...
We NOT remote owners who don't care about this community That's not a good comment, as the implication is that remote owners...
Challenge: Creativity is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more it strengthens your story and your vision for the future. I'd like to challenge members to share one short story that moved them emotionally (reference the feelings wheel for inspiration) in the last few weeks. It can be short. Or long. Great or lame. The mere act of sharing your quick story is the creative act in and of...
When we started living in our vacation house in Mexico for six months a year, I never suspected our dog would open the...
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) would be the north star to follow. In the years that followed, plenty of direct booking movements spawned and a legitimate trend was formed.

The theory of "Limited...
We are reading the book as a company and have our first meeting this Friday to discuss the first 8 Chapters! We will discuss...
MeganM
  • Owner & Hostess
I am at it again - after moving from Nashville where I ran the local Advocacy group for over 5 years, I am started efforts in my new hometown (Cocoa Beach, Florida). This is a MUCH smaller area than Nashville so I am working with a lot less resources (ie Airbnb and Vrbo...
Did you see my post on this other thread? Take a look, especially at the articles I linked to. Thanks, Rob. I hadn't seen your post. I did already have a link to the UCF...
This thread is for the general discussion of the Article Contrarian Perspective: Is there a VR Industry Bubble?.

If you're a vacation rental nerd like me, you probably follow every media site, blog (like VRMB!), Facebook group, etc. just to glean what you can about...
I wanted to revisit this discussion as it appears to me that we have definitely "burst" or at least is not thriving like the post-pandemic boom and has returned to pre-pandemic numbers. I know...
One of the big shifts I've made over the last year is in recognizing creativity is THE muscle all homerunners need to start exercising more consistently and pronto -- said another way, it is the LACK of outside-the-box thinking that gets even the most innovative companies stuck in their old/comfortable ways and in some cases sunk.

Side Note: I've become so enamored with creative pursuits that I have begun to...
For several years I worked with a printer for big jobs as well as small jobs. He was easy to work with, reliable, and his pricing was...
How do you consider whether you want lots of little improvements or one much bigger change? Is it possible to both simultaneously? Does it depend on the particular phase of growth?

Years ago ROster ROster introduced his formula for continual improvement and many members have shared examples of this thinking in all aspects of the business (and life). The gist? Continual improvement always.

If you are on...
If I could challenge this idea...I think inherent to the big changes is the understanding that there is no going back. For me...
I wanted to start a discussion on this topic because teams are the piece of the puzzle that make everything tick ... however due to a convergence of forces, teams are distanced physically and subtly/mentally in new ways (most enabled by tech).

If our business' health is directly correlated to the strength of our relationships within our teams....how do we correct this course?

Doing things face-to-face...
Another way to strengthen team relationships is by emphasizing purpose. If you can draw a line between one's contribution and...
From Phocuswright's 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...
@RuthM recently shared this article with me "Why You’ll Be 750x Better Off Running An Airbnb Than A Vacation Rental Or Holiday Let" suggesting that...
Lots of air quotes in the title of this thread -- because the definitions of all these things are blurry.

Have you heard about my home state of Florida's "Live Local Act," which aims to help combat the lack of affordable housing by incentivizing new construction through tax breaks?

The Live Local Act allows developers to get around height and density restrictions like those in historic areas.

Such as my...
It's important to address the affordable housing issue with practical solutions, and that may look like reevaluating our zoning codes to allow for more dense builds. While many individuals...
This week in a NYT travel article I learned the word Flâneur. Here's some of my fav quotes:

A flâneur is an idle stroller who wanders aimlessly and lets 'accident' be their guide: one of the best ways to explore a destination is not with goals or itineraries but by following your senses

To walk a city led by your senses rather than a destination is to awaken to the city and, possibly, to yourself...
We definitely introduce guests to one another, at our weekly pizza party where guests get to meet up and we all make pizza together (not this year of course) - taking it in turns to roll out the dough, top it with ingredients, cook it in the...
When I would get feedback/reviews at my vacation rentals in Panama, my instinct was to respond with pride because I created that experience!

Proudly, the good reviews gave me ego boosts and the bad reviews’ root causes went unnoticed (because I could not or would not see em) and the problems therefore persisted. Unimaginable. Impossible!

It took me a while to figure out that pride means taking a...
From the Guest: The big and short of it: The yard was terrible and embarrassing with an ant...
I have been deep in Ai reading for the last few months. The unknowns are overwhelmingly agreed (few could have fathomed what big disruptions like the steam engine or the internet would bring).

It's the speed of the onset of these unknowns that's most radical. Other disruptions took place slowly and steadily by comparison. This morning I read about a professor's Ai detector falsely accusing a student of...
Something to consider if using AI for blogs and/or other marketing purposes. They scrape data from copyrighted property. Then it repurposes it into books, screenplays, research papers, news stories, photos, art...
Last week marked the end of our third round of Keystone Retreats, which are small-group learning experiences for short term rental professionals (new but still ugly website here) and I’d like to share one of my favorite takeaways.

"No Matter What Happens, You Can Always Pick Up And Move To France"

We hosted this particular retreat at Spring Lakes Ranch which used to be a drug rehab facility.

When...
Ever since @Heather's first conference I had a great desire to attend a vacation rental focused event/conference. I would have made it there were it not for life interfering. My goal then and continues to be not only to gain knowledge and skills, but as...
Setting and meeting a guest's expectations is an essential factor in any hospitality marketing campaign. After all, if you don't set and meet expectations (no matter how spiffy your direct booking funnel) there's no repeat or referral stays.

And I don't think I've ever come across a question that sets the tone for the booking and stay process quite as well as the following:

"What's the purpose of your...
We tend to direct guests to our FAQ’s page and a link to our home page, but we follow up with the comment. If you can’t find what you’re...
I'm currently in the process of purchasing the townhouse I have rented since moving to South Beach, Miami in 2020.

Back then, I wrote this article about moving to the epicenter of the pandemic and I should really write an update soon.

But purchasing this townhouse is lowkey a pretty big deal for me personally:

My first home: decades of entrepreneurship and carving my path capitalized!

But it's also...
First of all, congratulations! A new purchase is always worth celebrating! Next, I absolutely agree with you. There are short term rentals that...
Chances are, you aren't getting enough distance from your business.

The upside to being in the trenches is the personal payoff (the 5-star review, sense of purpose, an especially great paycheck). The risk is fatigue. Fatigue + control freaks = a dangerously unstable operation. ESPECIALLY unstable in a hospitality environment that depends on human connection.

ACTION: Take vacation in order to make...
I have taken your advice and trained one of my sons that also lives on the farm on running my short-term rental business. I am going on a cruise in May and Dan, my husband, insisted I block off that week, just in case major something should happen (he is not going on the cruise)...
Last week I visited @Tarkan and Julia in Istanbul, Turkey and WOW what a gigantic bustling historic crossroads of world history (if you haven't consider planning a visit -- Turkish Airlines is amazing and Julia and Tarkan's properties rock).

For dinner one evening my best friend Adam and I booked our maiden meal on Eat With, which is basically like a listing site for home-cooks. In short, home...
My sister has traveled all over the world, and she and her husband always book a meal in someone's home (not sure through who) when in another country. She has said those meals are some of the highlights of their trips! It...
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...
I guess my issue with branding is that it feels like a marshmallow. It's a little hard to get a real concept of, and I can't quite put a finger on something concrete. And then how do you express it? Develop a set of words...
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...
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 spent way too much time on screens since computers entered...
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...
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...
Limited edition management 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...
Thanks for asking @davidliedl Here is a link to the housekeeping checklist (scroll down to the bottom)...
In January, we started the discussion Encouraging Conferences for 2022 and so many community members chimed in.

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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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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...
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 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...
Here's a full interview so you can understand better: Thanks, as always, Matt! 👌
Note: Thanks to ToonTownRob 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...
#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 rental agencies and...
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...
I added the word "boutique" to my listing title on Airbnb when this thread first came out. My summer is filled. However, Airbnb has recently ELIMINATED...
Upon just visiting Debi 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:
  1. Function: More than 50% of adults (ie. someone in almost every stay) will otherwise need...
I tried reaching out to a local roaster but the smallest bags they produce is 1/2 pound - way too much for a weekend stay for a 2 bedroom. Instead, I tried buying in bulk (5 pounds) and putting enough into individual bags for about 2...

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