Big Ideas

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...
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...
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 concept of, and I can't quite put a finger on...
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...
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...
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 guests see, touch, use and experience that said "You're in Mexico!" Professional photos showed made-in-Mexico...
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...
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 of the technology that can be used to make us more efficient and effective during the labor shortages we are...
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...
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 -...
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...
This thread is for the general discussion of the Article Contrarian Perspective: Is there a VR Industry Bubble?. Please add to the discussion here.
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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! 👌
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...
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...
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 titles in their listing search. I understand this...
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...
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 pots worth. I even...
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...
You were asking "where to publish" a Top "XYZ" article... We are in the middle of writing one right now.... We are...
This week's podcast interview features Graham Donoghue of Sykes Cottages which is the largest profitable vacation rental manager that I am aware of in the world. If you haven't listened to the episode, I would encourage you to do so here: Graham references "the House Model" a few times and I asked him if I could share the diagram with our community. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful things I have...
This was really motivational!
You're In The Vacation Industry But You Never Take Vacation. Follow These 3 Steps... IDEA: Most vacation rental professionals tend to over-work because they wear many hats. This often results in lack of sleep, very limited relaxation, and loss of valuable perspective on the business (because one cannot get perspective when they are inside of it 24/7). Over-working is not sustainable...it will eventually burn...
I just had a nice conversation with my mother (a university professor) who explained the idea behind “sabbatical” — the gist is she (and other leading academics) accept less pay (than what they’re probably worth on...
IDEA: Any vacation rental property can be made more “limited edition” with the introduction of a landmark feature: a structural, decorative, or recreational aspect of the home’s offering that is unique (in your competitive set), photogenic (for promotional purposes), and perhaps most importantly enjoyable for new and repeat guests. ACTION: Ask yourself any of the following questions... Are there any homes in...
Came across this Airbnb with a big swing front and center...
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...
When I started using our house as a vacation rental I was told at the get-go: Everything you put...
Ever since I moved to Miami and started swimming in the ocean each morning with my crew of completely random but equally inspiring swim buddies (photo attached) I joined in on the unspoken practice of being grateful. There's no fee and no rules joining this swim group. Show up whenever you want, swim with the group however far you want, however fast you want. But at the beginning just as we're all in the water...
@Matt Landau I was so moved by your last mailer of 2021 and your essay about your experience on St. John that it made me cry, memories of what happened to people after...
This post is about newsletters: the single best way to stay in touch with former guests, generate new referrals, and keep your business brain sharpened and focused. I am something of a newsletter nerd. I sign up to receive newsletters (and assess them), I've spent every week for the last 5 years sending out VRMB's weekly newsletter, and prior to that, I spent a solid 5 years sending out one for my vacation...
Some added thoughts... Commit: if you don't commit to sending out emails to former guests regularly, when you do actually send them out, it will appear too isolated and needy. Email marketing is a nurture marketing...
Hello community members, I'm sharing with you my big trend for independent owners and managers in 2022, along with links to all mentioned resources below. Please use the thread below to share any trends you believe are worth doubling down on... Resources Mentioned: Vacasa has gone public [Skift] Matt Roberts on Unlocked Carl Shepherd on Unlocked The Agile Approach PDF Keystone Awards (software suggestions)...
In Vacasa's quest for more more more properties, they are going to run smack into the regulatory issues we are all struggling with. I'm waiting to...
Niches are the next big thing in vacation rentals. They are the essence of Theory of Limited Edition: that if you do the things only/inimitably YOU, that no bigger/richer company can ever compete. Special interest and geographic niches possess significant profit: they are not scalable: and they tend to be more intimate than the big box managers... therefore less hazardous to communities. If you are an...
A surprising spike in a keyword search bump was noticed today for my website -with thanks to a blog post I wrote a while ago about a potential niche that never really came to be...but COULD be if someone had an inclination...
While editing next week's Unlocked interview with Theo Kracke (who sued the City of Santa Barbara for the right to operate short term rentals -- and won) I learned a neat trick that Theo uses to get the owners (of the properties he manages) to contribute money to the fair regulation fight. Listen to this... "The Presumptive Close" is when you intentionally assume that the prospect has already agreed, and wrap...
SScurlock, thank you so much! I think I’ll condense my Presumptive Close to one simple gesture: The person who makes the reservation will be given a one year membership ($30) to Friends of the Park, easy peasy but now I need to decide whether to: a) mail it, b)...
IDEA Some marketing activities -- like listing sites and email newsletters -- are common. But other activities that generate equal (if not BETTER) results are far less obvious. I spent the last week with over 500 vacation rental virtuosos at the Streamline Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. And one of my most salient takeaways is that there is massive ROI in baked goods. Yes, you read that correctly. In a handful of...
We own the local donut shop and put donuts in our arriving guests units... they LOVE it! Mentioned in almost all the reviews #donutlove
Disclaimer: This may sound stupid simple but it really works. I recommend you try. IDEA To solve a fellow VRMB Community member's very important messaging question, we recently spent $700 for one hour with a copywriting consultant. Yes, this is a huge amount of money. But I had been following this particular expert for many years, have listened to every one of his podcasts, admire his expertise and business...
As usual, right on target @Matt Landau. Yes: I was worried about telling guests the same thing in an email and on my...
Note: I learned this idea from Bryce Leonard of Key Data Dashboard at (where so much conference learning takes place) the hotel bar. Perhaps Obvious Fact #1: Technology is the single biggest game-changer that propels today's vacation rental pros (compared to their hospitality predecessors) to entirely new heights: so taking advantage of all the new technology is a no-brainer to make more money (and have less...
@AFirmani, the most important piece of tech anyone possesses whether they have one property or a thousand is your...

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