Big Ideas

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...
This was really motivational!


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...
Came across this Airbnb with a big swing front and center: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/28105905?guests=1&adults=1&s=67&unique_share_id=3d6a85a3-81ac-4d55-bdc6-213307c09a2b Wonderful example of a Landmark Feature.
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...
When I started using our house as a vacation rental I was told at the get-go: Everything you put into this house must be considered as...
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 those two back to back cat 5 hurricanes came flooding back. I too hope for less tumultuous times for...
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...
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 tool -- to earn trust and respect -- so commit to doing a little bit regularly...
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:
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 see what they will do. Will they join the fray and make a positive difference?
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...
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...

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"The Presumptive Close" is when you intentionally assume that the prospect has already...
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...
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...
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...
As usual, right on target @Matt Landau. Yes: I was worried about telling guests the same thing in an email and on my website...
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...
@AFirmani, the most important piece of tech anyone possesses whether they have one property or a thousand is your PMS. You can't have a tech stack without a PMS. Find the right PMS for you and then build out from there. A great place for you to start in no...
Only after publishing this week's Unlocked Interview with Eric Broughton of InhabitIQ -- who is buying up various property management software companies -- have I (finally) come to (fully) understand the (irreversible) way our cottage industry is evolving:
  • Starts out fragmented = large number of small players
  • As popularity grows, a smaller number of larger players begin to consolidate the...
Two chairs @Matt Landau, what a great find. I have thought about those two chairs. What if you had found only...
"Move fast and break things" (aka. MFABT for the remainder of this post) was originally coined by Mark Zuckerberg for his internal Facebook team regarding design and management. But it has since become a catchphrase for how many start-ups and entrepreneurs think about "disruptive" technology. More is better. Dominate at all costs. Worry about lines and red tape and protocol later. We'll address later...
As small business Owners with limited resources our default operations are Move Slow and Fix Things. That being said I wish I had a magic wand and could fast forward to having every bed made on arrival and stripped...
I was out to dinner at Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant Red Rooster last week. (Yes, the same restaurant that was featured in "10 Oxtails.")

Trying to decide on an adult beverage.

When the waitress suggested a wine I had never heard of before.

"So two sisters, separated at birth, one raised in California and the other in New Zealand, eventually discover one another, learn about their mutual obsession...
So here's a story I heard recently. I thought I would share it here. Apparently, in 1965 there was a Harvard psychologist doing a study on...
I love receiving notes from VRMB Community members and yesterday I got this one from long-time member and colleague, @JVozel:
It's getting more difficult as the industry grows to incorporate more facets (to our businesses).
Including bad actors who are not a net-positive to their environments.
The challenge is to keep up our ethos in the face of these sea-changes...I'm really...
I remember reading this when it first came out. I wanted to think about it, as my response is hopefully thought provoking for you, your business and our industry. I enjoyed reading, reviewing and contemplating the many responses. Below is our Company Guiding Principles. I...
I'd welcome any member opinions (make a video hot take!!!) below...

Ps. here's a link to our Bali episode.
@lisafrank I agree with your assessment of the "World's Most Amazing" in that 1) they're really NOT the world's most amazing and 2) the...
In my obsessive pursuit to identify parallel industries that vacation rental owners and managers can learn from, I've found myself especially intrigued with craft beer.

This is due in part to the fact that research tastes delicious. But it's also due to the last 10 years. In the face of consolidation and corporate goliaths, something strange and extraordinary has happened: the independent craft brewers have not...
Wanted to share the interview with Bob Pease here very insightful: https://www.vrmb.com/bob-pease-brewers-association/
Note: I first heard @AmyH mention this in an interview and I text messaged her and said, "Can I draw this out?" I then shared with @Christina and over the course of what feels like MONTHS of Christina telling me all the additional things that could be done with the model, she agreed to let me post :ROFLMAO:

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Challenge for Community Members: Because we're such a new industry, it's...
I think I missed the context of the original post. I didn't hear the interview you are referencing. It's about Supply Chain right? That all starts with the property owner - whether that be the hotel...
Our special industry deserves it's own special metrics (and vocabulary).

“We cannot improve what we cannot measure," is a popular small business mantra because it gives everyone on the team common metrics or benchmarks to measure.

Occupancy, revenue per property, profit per property…etc. These popular metrics connect directly to your profit line (the single most important metric of...
Hmm🤔... to be filed under Memories Made gone viral? Metric: the number of times your appliances have been RickRolled? Time to update the use of appliances clause in our booking contract. https://www.tiktok.com/@kurtschneider/video/6956395846460001541 See also...
IDEA: I've flown Southwest Airlines a few times the last months and noticed that due to Covid they are not serving alcohol, which is boohooo because there is no social lubricant I like more to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger than bourbon.

But pre-covid I learned about a secret unwritten rule among most of the flight attendants that I refer to ask their free drink policy.

Note: this...
Great idea THANK YOU! and Thanks to all who shared freebees (not). I am coping your ideas! LOL
I've organized the traits into categories so you can go through like a checklist. And if you would like any further information, please just jump into the thread on VRMB Communities here.

Note: Profitability does not discriminate. Whether you own one property or manage 1,000, these should all apply to you.

Pricing​

The most profitable VR pros know their value and have a clearly-defined pricing strategy...
@Matt Landau "Charge non-refundable damage deposits": dumb question- do you take a % of rental charged or a flat fee? If you charge a %, is that for all charges (...
IDEA

Last weekend, I met a woman who rents out the studio above her garage and despite having ZERO other marketing, this woman is so insanely dialed in.

There are no better words to describe the professionalism of an owner or manager than being 'dialed in.'

The level of thought this woman puts into her hosting was more 'dialed in' than many property managers I've seen.

Hand-written welcome notes...
Yes, to everyone's comments. Since I started allowing dogs, I find dog-owners less "entitled". I finally got my 1st REAL...
Last week we talked about the actives that generate the most profit for vacation rental entrepreneurs. If you haven’t checked back recently, this thread has become filled with some really brilliant new perspectives.

And this week we turn focus to guests in asking, “how do we cultivate moments of engagement?”

"Moments of engagement” is one way of thinking about those special interactions in which you...
This is one of the tactics that, if you do it consistently, WILL increase your conversion rate by double digits guaranteed. @Will Franco would you mind sharing that guide on how to do your "digital handshake" best? @Matt Landau et al, I uploaded the manual...
If repeat guests are the holy grail of vacation rental marketing: and if repeat bookings are directly proportional to the size of your email marketing list: then increasing the size of your email marketing list will increase your repeat bookings and lead you to the holy grail.

When it comes to repeat bookings, one of the biggest untapped goldmines are the guests who stay in your vacation rental with a group, but...
We also had the same experience with JoinbyText. Total bust. Not a great setup. Wondering if there is another (better) service out there to communicate with guests via text (and not...
IDEA: New Years resolutions or goals are great for business. But the fact that they are plural means that they're likely to blur together and the fact that they're wordy sentences or phrases gives us all kinds of room to wiggle out and escape accountability.

ACTION: Take some time over the next few days and decide on ONE WORD that sits at the core of your vacation rental marketing goals for...
Negative people are viral in a bad way... I want this on a T-Shirt!

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