• Vacation rentals can be life-changing. But due to a surge in popularity, the requirements of the job are more challenging than ever. VRMB Communities is a private forum that helps thoughtful owners & managers automate and delegate tasks, so you can focus on the activities that win loyalty and direct bookings. Preview Private Forum Here

Midweek Motivation 2021 Conference Takeaways & Discussion Thread

***UPDATED NOVEMBER 2, 2021***

I’m departing the last few conferences with a lot to report back. My theme for this conference season is “first mover status” because that’s what all the attendees (advanced owners and managers) seem to be enjoying as a result of their choices and hard work. I've come to think of first-mover vacation rental leaders as "quintessential waveriders" who, with the right positioning and focus on what (only you) can do best, means surfing the tailwinds of short term rental popularity beyond your wildest dreams.

The general gist: solve the hard problems like staffing, environment, and unfair regulation... you’re setting yourself up for enormous long-term financial rewards.

Here are my main takeaways:
  • Electric vehicle as niche: with the growth and adoption of electric vehicles, charging stations will become the differentiating amenity of 2022. This trend fits perfectly into the eco-consciousness marketing trend below.
  • Special touches as the new marketing: I moderated a panel of listing site bosses and in asking them what activities they’d (privately) recommend to drive direct bookings, the big common denominator of their answers was investments in the guest’s actual stay. Think sensory (smells, visuals, and music on arrival), functional (branded sunscreen) and organizational (setting up beach bracelets so guests “hit the easy button”) in creating that feeling of premium. Think about moving these investments to the marketing column/budget.
  • Lots of first time attendees at the conference comprised of (in my deep scientific surveying process) new managers just getting started, more experienced managers wanting to get more serious, and smaller companies who have begun to get involved. You also had bold newcomers like JPrugh JPrugh who is opening the industry's eyes to the power of small towns. I saw attendance was 1700+
  • For the first time ever, I am starting to see “preserving the environment” baked into business plans and shared proudly with guests. Those figuring it out are winning first-mover status in their respective markets with big financial rewards and it just so happens that eco-consciousness is the lowest hanging fruit in the lowest hanging category vacation rental marketing: niches. As Daniel Cruz from Washbnb said in the Triple Bottom Line panel: guests will never NOT book a home because it’s sustainable but they WILL book because it is. Daniel added: it’s rare that a group in the minority (those promoting the environment) actually have a huge (selling) advantage!
  • Lots of tech: the amount of money funding companies who purport to solve vacation rental problems is flowing like a river and the new vendors (most of whom are tech-based) are varied and innovative: guest screening using Ai, dynamic pricing with machine learning, even a housekeeper robot (just kidding). I heard about lots of tech to replace human tasks. But the best tech people emphasized where the human role needs be protected.
  • No tech bros: I must say I am impressed with how thoughtful most of the new (and young) tech people seem. There are plenty who are disconnected from (and ignorant of) the reality of managing properties (@Sibylle points that out in her interview) but in general I think we’re attracting a very smart, passionate, and thoughtful generation of tech talent. As the industry grows, I hope this quality doesn’t get diluted.
  • Warning: Advocacy crisis: it’s easy to ignore something dangerous when it’s happening sporadically. But when it’s happening throughout the country, at the same time, and its victims are in one conference center drinking alcohol, the looming risk comes out. To proactively beat unfair regulation, advocacy means preventative maintenance and I’m starting to refer to the money that goes towards it as “survival dollars.” Advocacy leaders are also winning first mover status in the form of major small business clout.
  • Lack of safety talk: Justin Ford, the industry's leading safety expert, and Eric Thibodeaux Eric Thibodeaux pointed out that not nearly enough people are thinking deeply about safety. Myself included. This needs to change now (otherwise the speed of growth will make it impossible) and I intend to keep it more front of mind.
  • Welcome to Boomtown: I learned from Phocuswright that of late almost 50% of vacation rental bookings were first-time vacation rental guests. It was mostly families and groups, but I surmise that gateway drug will splinter out into ripples of more solo, business, and couples travel (from those new-adopters) over the next few years.
  • We’re at an inflection point: I started my keynote presentation with a quote from Carl Shepherd who discovered a hidden industry about to explode. I sense a similar kind of inflection point moment right now. But not without plenty of deep risks to come. So if you love this industry and want to continue, just remember: you don’t know what you don’t know. So listen.
  • Staffing challenges won’t go away, getting worse. I heard some fantastic ideas on how to find new great people and keep them. But this is certainly one of those complex problems that won’t have a simple or universal solution. Those figuring it out INVENTED their own new ideas and were winning first-mover status by winning the best employees and keeping them (and warning: often solutions require big changes).
    • Action: Get inspired with this tremendous thread on incentivizing staff
  • The ultimate KPI: memories. Pretty much every attendee I spoke with was committed to one “end result” and that was creating memories for guests. A nod to San Antonio, I believe the KPI of Memories has become our industry’s Lodestar — it can get any business big or small rowing in the same direction.
  • The guest experience (aka. the most esoteric phrase ever) has the KPI of Memories in its crosshairs. Those who are growing are unpacking the guest experience, repacking it, and refining their unique blend of limited edition hospitality. Don’t forget to FLoSS.

QUESTION: I would love it if other attendees could jump in below with one observation or takeaway from the event. Maybe validating something above, maybe entirely new....
 
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RayV

Attaché
Inner Circle
This was our first VRMA International Conference and we walked away with so many takeaways, but the #1 was the importance of formulating a local coalition to combat current and future regulations that could hurt our communities. We are the only professional management company in our area (Catskills Mountains/Hudson Valley Region, NY) and most of our homeowners primarily live in NYC so their vote locally doesn't count. Our properties are located in various little towns where regulations are determined so it's difficult to organize in each small town. Any help or recommendations on how we should begin organizing and with whom, would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks,
 

Debi

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
Quality over Quantity. That was my biggest takeaway. It's been such a buzzword in the industry for the last 8 months but it's becoming more and more palpable as a standard: PROFESSIONALIZATION. There is a level of sophistication to the technology that simply wasn't there the last few years. There were murmurings on the floor that this was sparsely attended, but I don't think we've ever felt better leaving a conference than this one. The conversations were rich and robust. Integrations are so clearly becoming the key to growth and it feels like - as an industry - that's no longer a secret. Three and four way partnerships. Co-marketing opportunities. PMC's truly seeing the value in a diverse channel distribution strategy. PMC's starting to take the view that OTA's and channel's do not have to be the enemy of direct bookings, but can in fact be the strongest acquisition tool you possess. The future is NOW. We are all grown up. It's absolutely thrilling to be a part of. To those I saw/met this week - it was ab absolute joy. Thank you. There really is no stopping us. I honestly believe that. We are very quickly becoming the ubiquitous form of lodging in travel and every single one of us is in the middle of that. Truly exciting....and sorry I missed the screening/party :( Next time.
PMC? This is new for me.
 

AlexW

Counselor
Inner Circle
Quality over Quantity. That was my biggest takeaway. It's been such a buzzword in the industry for the last 8 months but it's becoming more and more palpable as a standard: PROFESSIONALIZATION. There is a level of sophistication to the technology that simply wasn't there the last few years. There were murmurings on the floor that this was sparsely attended, but I don't think we've ever felt better leaving a conference than this one. The conversations were rich and robust. Integrations are so clearly becoming the key to growth and it feels like - as an industry - that's no longer a secret. Three and four way partnerships. Co-marketing opportunities. PMC's truly seeing the value in a diverse channel distribution strategy. PMC's starting to take the view that OTA's and channel's do not have to be the enemy of direct bookings, but can in fact be the strongest acquisition tool you possess. The future is NOW. We are all grown up. It's absolutely thrilling to be a part of. To those I saw/met this week - it was ab absolute joy. Thank you. There really is no stopping us. I honestly believe that. We are very quickly becoming the ubiquitous form of lodging in travel and every single one of us is in the middle of that. Truly exciting....and sorry I missed the screening/party :( Next time.

PMC? This is new for me.
:) Property Management Company...truth be told I've only started using it the last couple months

This was our first VRMA International Conference and we walked away with so many takeaways, but the #1 was the importance of formulating a local coalition to combat current and future regulations that could hurt our communities. We are the only professional management company in our area (Catskills Mountains/Hudson Valley Region, NY) and most of our homeowners primarily live in NYC so their vote locally doesn't count. Our properties are located in various little towns where regulations are determined so it's difficult to organize in each small town. Any help or recommendations on how we should begin organizing and with whom, would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks,
Ray, have you spoken with the Rent Responsibly team yet? They are doing great work.

Ray, have you spoken with the Rent Responsibly team yet? They are doing great work.
Also, Phil Minardi at Expedia https://www.linkedin.com/in/philip-minardi/
 
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JonD

Counselor
Inner Circle
Many, many good takeaways and Matt’s Inflection Point talk was 💯!

I was in one of Steve Milo’s sessions when I had a light bulb moment. I have always been dead set against advertising on Airbnb due to giving up of control (merchant of record, cancellation policy, etc). It was mentioned to be on as many different channels as possible, so as not to be dependent on any one, as who knows what the future can bring or terms that can change. Even if you do not want to take bookings on a particular channel you can advertise on it and set the terms so aggressively that the likelihood is remote of conversion, yet you still gain the “billboard” effect of greater exposure.
Change of mindset and different perspective to further help grow.
 

AshleyK

Counselor
Inner Circle
Takeaway #1 - Guest screening is to the 2021 VRMA as dynamic pricing was to the 2019 VRMA. We've been screening our guests for over a decade using fragmented tools and I'm excited to see a shift to making this the norm, not the exception. That level of professionalism will help with the long-term regulatory challenges and overall industry reputation.

Takeaway #2 - As I always say, let technology do what it can, so you can do what it can't. And while the amount of technology available to us is growing by the minute, there is still a human element that cannot be easily replicated or replaced. VRMA is such a great reminder of the value and beauty of what we provide to the world. In my session on reviews, I shared my favorite positive review, and I encourage EVERYONE to print out a few of their favorite reviews and post them where they and their team can see it. Here is mine:

March 30, 2020 - When we departed Texas for our Breck spring break, there were no COVID-19 infections in Colorado. By the time we landed, the 1st pt was diagnosed in Frisco. Our curiosity sparked, yet we went through the normal routine of ski rentals, grocery shopping, and wine procurement. Over the week we could not have predicted the unprecedented events that befell the world around us: over 35+ Colorado COVID-19 cases; the abrupt cessation of all sports, including March Madness; and the declaration of a national emergency. Yet all the while, we were calmed and found safe harbor at your beautiful home. We skied every day, finding relative protection behind our ski masks and ski gloves. The snow was perfect with a reported 300 inches of seasonal snowfall and bluebird ski days. We considered dining out multiple times, but decided to limit our risk and instead created exquisite home-cooked meals in your well-stocked kitchen. With the warmth of the fireplace and hot tub, we felt very fortunate to be here at Chateau Chamonix. You provided us a memorable March 2020 spring break, away from the chaos and mounting fear. We do not know what Monday and the following 90-days bring for us, the US, or our world, but we will forever be comforted by the week we spent here, deepening our familial bond, while the world around us morphed to an unfamiliar place. We thank you and appreciate what a comfortable and calming environment you created. We hope many more will be able to enjoy your home for decades to come.

Now more than ever, our vacation rentals will serve as the backdrop for family reunions, memories, and moments that will live on forever. And WE get to be a part of that. It's an honor, a privilege, and a responsibility to provide a great guest experience.
 

AshleyK

Counselor
Inner Circle
  • We’re at an inflection point: I started my keynote presentation with a quote from Carl Shepherd who discovered a hidden industry about to explode. I sense a similar kind of inflection point moment right now. But not without plenty of deep risks to come. So if you love this industry and want to continue, just remember: you don’t know what you don’t know. So listen.
I happened to be using Wayback Machine to prove to our City Council that vacation rentals have existed in a particular part of Breckenridge since the 90s. While on there, I came across the original VRBO homepage which refers to vacation rentals as an "untapped $1 TRILLION industry." I bet when the average person saw that in 1997 they assumed it was hyperbole. And while we aren't quite there yet, we aren't far off!

Many, many good takeaways and Matt’s Inflection Point talk was 💯!

I was in one of Steve Milo’s sessions when I had a light bulb moment. I have always been dead set against advertising on Airbnb due to giving up of control (merchant of record, cancellation policy, etc). It was mentioned to be on as many different channels as possible, so as not to be dependent on any one, as who knows what the future can bring or terms that can change. Even if you do not want to take bookings on a particular channel you can advertise on it and set the terms so aggressively that the likelihood is remote of conversion, yet you still gain the “billboard” effect of greater exposure.
Change of mindset and different perspective to further help grow.
We only open our calendars for 90 days out on Airbnb and we mark our rates up 25%. We still see a conversion or two each month but for the most part, we get the billboard effect without having to deal with Airbnb. We use Bluetent Boost to facilitate this.
 

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TomG

Attaché
Inner Circle
Be true to your brand, your story and your approach/business model. Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for leading so many of us through this industry. I am the "experienced manager who wants to get serious" as mentioned in your second point above. As a 1st time attender, I leave with this as my most actionable item: Be true to your brand, your story and your approach/business model. But more importantly, allow others to do the same and celebrate them as opposed to spending time comparing and competing. Also, getting time with and knowing other leaders is invaluable. Don't travel alone. Lean into a community and trusted allies. Huge shout out to BrookeP BrookeP for hosting Master Mind groups for our pre conference gathering that primed the pump for me and created space to learn and process.
 

StacyW

Counselor
Inner Circle
Accelerator
Takeaway #1 - Guest screening is to the 2021 VRMA as dynamic pricing was to the 2019 VRMA. We've been screening our guests for over a decade using fragmented tools and I'm excited to see a shift to making this the norm, not the exception. That level of professionalism will help with the long-term regulatory challenges and overall industry reputation.

Takeaway #2 - As I always say, let technology do what it can, so you can do what it can't. And while the amount of technology available to us is growing by the minute, there is still a human element that cannot be easily replicated or replaced. VRMA is such a great reminder of the value and beauty of what we provide to the world. In my session on reviews, I shared my favorite positive review, and I encourage EVERYONE to print out a few of their favorite reviews and post them where they and their team can see it. Here is mine:

March 30, 2020 - When we departed Texas for our Breck spring break, there were no COVID-19 infections in Colorado. By the time we landed, the 1st pt was diagnosed in Frisco. Our curiosity sparked, yet we went through the normal routine of ski rentals, grocery shopping, and wine procurement. Over the week we could not have predicted the unprecedented events that befell the world around us: over 35+ Colorado COVID-19 cases; the abrupt cessation of all sports, including March Madness; and the declaration of a national emergency. Yet all the while, we were calmed and found safe harbor at your beautiful home. We skied every day, finding relative protection behind our ski masks and ski gloves. The snow was perfect with a reported 300 inches of seasonal snowfall and bluebird ski days. We considered dining out multiple times, but decided to limit our risk and instead created exquisite home-cooked meals in your well-stocked kitchen. With the warmth of the fireplace and hot tub, we felt very fortunate to be here at Chateau Chamonix. You provided us a memorable March 2020 spring break, away from the chaos and mounting fear. We do not know what Monday and the following 90-days bring for us, the US, or our world, but we will forever be comforted by the week we spent here, deepening our familial bond, while the world around us morphed to an unfamiliar place. We thank you and appreciate what a comfortable and calming environment you created. We hope many more will be able to enjoy your home for decades to come.

Now more than ever, our vacation rentals will serve as the backdrop for family reunions, memories, and moments that will live on forever. And WE get to be a part of that. It's an honor, a privilege, and a responsibility to provide a great guest experience.
I would love to know about guest screening we just had a fraudulent card used and a guest destroy a rental. Would love to know what tool this is? TIA.
 

Dana

Counselor
Inner Circle
Mile High Hosts
My #1 VRMA Takeaway is that while we're in an "advocacy crisis" and regulations are affecting many of us, not enough attendees appear to want to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. I get it, "regulations" and "advocacy" aren't sexy words to most, but "losing your business" and "banning short-term rentals" are even less sexy. I can't speak for the one other regulations session, but the session I was a panelist on had at best 20 attendees and 96% of them were already actively engaged. There are over 23,000 municipalities in the United States and only 20 folks out of 1700 attendees in this session. The low attendance could've been because the session was scheduled for 9AM on Wednesday (the last day of the conference), but that's something else to address altogether. 🙃

The luxury of, "I don't have time for this" and "I don't where to even start" have left the station. If you don't have regulations being discussed in your community, do not consider yourself "safe" -- you too still need to form a local alliance and be active in your community. When bad regulations happen in a destination, they impact all of us. Local legislators will look to other municipalities and copy those bad regs. I've seen this done many times and it's only picking up momentum. Getting engaged with other hosts, managers and stakeholders in your community and creating an alliance is your best defense against unfair regulations. I think you'll find some surprising unexpected positive outcomes too when you take this leap. I sure did.

Fabulous getting to meet a handful of you in San Antonio and please keep in touch!
 

Eric Thibodeaux

Counselor
Inner Circle
My #1 VRMA Takeaway is that while we're in an "advocacy crisis" and regulations are affecting many of us, not enough attendees appear to want to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. I get it, "regulations" and "advocacy" aren't sexy words to most, but "losing your business" and "banning short-term rentals" are even less sexy. I can't speak for the one other regulations session, but the session I was a panelist on had at best 20 attendees and 96% of them were already actively engaged. There are over 23,000 municipalities in the United States and only 20 folks out of 1700 attendees in this session. The low attendance could've been because the session was scheduled for 9AM on Wednesday (the last day of the conference), but that's something else to address altogether. 🙃

The luxury of, "I don't have time for this" and "I don't where to even start" have left the station. If you don't have regulations being discussed in your community, do not consider yourself "safe" -- you too still need to form a local alliance and be active in your community. When bad regulations happen in a destination, they impact all of us. Local legislators will look to other municipalities and copy those bad regs. I've seen this done many times and it's only picking up momentum. Getting engaged with other hosts, managers and stakeholders in your community and creating an alliance is your best defense against unfair regulations. I think you'll find some surprising unexpected positive outcomes too when you take this leap. I sure did.

Fabulous getting to meet a handful of you in San Antonio and please keep in touch!
Dana, great to finally meet you in person. Having worked in the Oil & Gas industry for many years, the need for advocacy is critical. We worked closely with regulators to develop a relationship before issues came up, so when they did, and they did, the relationship was in place and trust was established. I am ready to support on the safety and loss prevention side, as we discussed. More than 30 years in this space as a Safety & Fire Protection Engineer and Manager will be helpful.

Regarding the comments of "I don't have time for this" and "I don't where to even start", are really your brain trying to keep you safe and protect you from taking risks. It's not your fault, as we are wired this way as human beings.

There is a need for us all to be the Master of Our Thoughts and begin thinking and acting in the support of advocacy, me included. Thanks to all who are doing great work in this space, and a challenge for the rest of to move into the "uncomfortable" space and take proactive measures in this area.

Matt Landau Matt Landau thanks for the shout out on safety and loss prevention. While I am the CEO of our property management company, I am also a very experienced safety and loss prevention expert as well. I agree we all need to begin working in this area more, and I will share more stories and history other industries and how taking our eyes off of safety puts our businesses, guests and owners at potential risk. I like to work in a positive and proactive way in regards to safety.

The conference was great, and I learned a lot in the sessions, and also from the many great attendees and VRMB members sharing their experiences, knowledge and support. Many thanks for this.

I had many take aways, and my #1 takeaway was around development. I am speaking of the new frontier of developing short term / vacation rental communities with the Owner and Guests in mind. This is something I am pursuing in addition to all of my other activities. Looking forward to the journey and the activities and will probably be calling upon some, or all, of you for help and support.
 

BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
Matt Landau Matt Landau what a load of amazing takeaways, looks like us Europeans really missed an amazing conference.

Of course it is interesting and yet not surprising that the environment was one of the biggies.

So true what Daniel Cruz said it is worth repeating 'guests will never NOT book a home because it’s sustainable but they WILL book because it is' - is that not reason enough for hosts to introduce some eco initiatives?
 

ShariT

Manager
Inner Circle
Here are the two that seem to be doing best:
- Autohost: https://www.autohost.ai/
- Safely: https://safely.com/
StacyW StacyW We currently use Safely and are looking to couple that with Autohost. We have phone calls set up next week with them and are really excited about what they can offer.

#1 Takeaway - Matt Landau Matt Landau does the BEST roundtable discussion and there should be more next year! Maybe some VRMB members can facilitate some of these in the future?

#2 Takeaway - Every company is sooo different. We all have great ideas (and bad ideas). Listening to others and adjusting to fit your company, geography, culture, and guest are key factors to better yourself and the industry
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
#1 Takeaway - @Matt Landau does the BEST roundtable discussion and there should be more next year! Maybe some VRMB members can facilitate some of these in the future?
We have recorded the whole thing. It will be available here in the Roundtables Section of the Community within the coming 2 weeks.

One big takeaway certainly is the importance of being proactive about possible regulations
Be sure to listen to Dana Dana podcast How To Save Your Vacation Rental Business (available on most podcast apps) for a comprehensive 10 steps to getting started in your destination. This is also a fantastic resource: www.vacationrentaladvocacy.com

should be repeated year in and year out!
Super! Glad you enjoyed. Make sure you watch through our previous years roundtable clips: most of the topics are evergreen.
 

AlexCybul

Attaché
Inner Circle
I am a first timer and I was truly amazed with the openiness of everyone to talk about their business, most common problems, and solutions. The culture of wanting to help, learn and teach from other colleagues is amazing. One big takeaway certainly is the importance of being proactive about possible regulations. I feel everyone at some point thought they would not be there and the regulators are on their way to all of us.
Matt Landau Matt Landau thanks for the opportunity of joining here and I was impressed by the round table concept and feel it should be something that should be repeated year in and year out!
 

SScurlock

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
QUESTION: I would love it if other attendees could jump in below with one observation or takeaway from the event. Maybe validating something above, maybe entirely new....

First, I would LOVE to have been Able to be in San Antonio to see and meet so many of you!

This morning on a news program on TV a commentator said that a very vocal minority that receives a lot of news coverage is shaping a lot of political change and unrest, because the majority remains SILENT. I believe the same is true in our industry - the few bad actor with Airbnb are receiving all of the news coverage and causing a lot of bad legislation for all of us. I am happy to report that short-term regulation came up in Georgetown this summer and at least our elected officials were not blinded by the bad news. They wondered why they should try to legislate something that was not a problem or issue and did not act on it.

I love the idea of hiring older people. My housekeeper is in her early 60's and I totally depend on her and after nine years, she is now like a member of our family. I found her by asking friends that had housekeepers who they recommended, and she was the sister of one. Connie was very experienced as a housekeeper. I also believe in paying her a fair wage. She works independently (agency independent), and earns an average of $30 - $40 an hour with me. If she were working for an agency, they would receive a large portion of the money.

Guest experiences - this is one of the most important features of my rentals for me! I am fortunate that I live on the farm and get to participate in the tours with our guests. After Covid we began giving them via a hayride and guests love it. A family is visiting this weekend for their second trip and they said their 4 year old son has talked about the hayride and tractor since their last visit during the summer. He brought his personal garden tools to help us plant in the garden at the home they are staying in and we will plant a garden tomorrow. Another family with a 12 year old girl will spend Christmas with us - their 5th trip since last November! On one of their previous trips, I went out early in the morning to let the chickens out of the coop and the daughter was sitting in the coop with one of the chickens in her lap! Before their last departure she was sitting in the paddock with goats all around her and one in her lap. Lesson learned - it can be the little, seemingly insignificant things that we may take for granted, that make lasting impressions on our guests!
 

HeatherB

Counselor
Inner Circle
Easily put, this was my number one takeaway, which I will hopefully get the chance to elaborate on when talking with Sarah Bradford and Tim Cafferty....
While competition is healthy, collaboration is transformational.
Looking forward to seeing what others have to say!
 

MichaelJ

Counselor
Inner Circle
1. Herding Cats
I don't know which is harder... herding cats or trying to scale this business as you grow from 1 to a couple dozen, then few dozen properties.

I spoke with other PMs at VRMA in that 24-36 property range trying to figure out who and how to hire. It's all over the map. Everyone I met has it structured completely differently. I literally found zero consensus. And you can't just use technology to wing it during this phase because you can see the wheels will fall off if you growth spurt past 50. And it's too many properties to do it alone unless you are willing to just work 24/7/365 and do all the vendering of maintenance with 3rd party companies, handymen & contract cleaners.

Without employee boots on the ground coverage and a stringent inspection process done BEHIND housekeepers, NOT done "BY" the housekeepers, the quality is not sustainable. And without quality maintenance and quality cleanings, the reviews won't stay 5 star longer term and the OTAs only reward 5 star reviews. Meanwhile, guests heavily weigh the reviews to book between similar inventory (properties). So you can drive your RevPar higher if you can keep the 5 star rating going strong.

... and how do you keep that quality, consistency and profitability in balance? With what mix of employees with 37 properties now?

After 8 years I'm still trying to figure this out.
 

RayV

Attaché
Inner Circle
Quality over Quantity. That was my biggest takeaway. It's been such a buzzword in the industry for the last 8 months but it's becoming more and more palpable as a standard: PROFESSIONALIZATION. There is a level of sophistication to the technology that simply wasn't there the last few years. There were murmurings on the floor that this was sparsely attended, but I don't think we've ever felt better leaving a conference than this one. The conversations were rich and robust. Integrations are so clearly becoming the key to growth and it feels like - as an industry - that's no longer a secret. Three and four way partnerships. Co-marketing opportunities. PMC's truly seeing the value in a diverse channel distribution strategy. PMC's starting to take the view that OTA's and channel's do not have to be the enemy of direct bookings, but can in fact be the strongest acquisition tool you possess. The future is NOW. We are all grown up. It's absolutely thrilling to be a part of. To those I saw/met this week - it was ab absolute joy. Thank you. There really is no stopping us. I honestly believe that. We are very quickly becoming the ubiquitous form of lodging in travel and every single one of us is in the middle of that. Truly exciting....and sorry I missed the screening/party :( Next time.


:) Property Management Company...truth be told I've only started using it the last couple months


Ray, have you spoken with the Rent Responsibly team yet? They are doing great work.


Also, Phil Minardi at Expedia https://www.linkedin.com/in/philip-minardi/
Thanks, Alex. Yes, we are in contact with Rent Responsibly. They've been great.
 

BrookeP

Counselor
Inner Circle
Vintory
Be true to your brand, your story and your approach/business model. Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for leading so many of us through this industry. I am the "experienced manager who wants to get serious" as mentioned in your second point above. As a 1st time attender, I leave with this as my most actionable item: Be true to your brand, your story and your approach/business model. But more importantly, allow others to do the same and celebrate them as opposed to spending time comparing and competing. Also, getting time with and knowing other leaders is invaluable. Don't travel alone. Lean into a community and trusted allies. Huge shout out to BrookeP BrookeP for hosting Master Mind groups for our pre conference gathering that primed the pump for me and created space to learn and process.
Thank you so much TomG TomG ! Really enjoyed you attending the MasterMind Retreat and really loved the format that Matt Landau Matt Landau did with the fast paced problem solving with the "hive" mentality. I thought it worked incredibly well. My only regret was we didn't allocate more time for problem solving with that format!
 

JPrugh

Envoy
Inner Circle
Like AlexCybul AlexCybul and RayV RayV, this was my first VRMA rodeo in San Antone. I greatly enjoyed fellow Inner Circle members and the camaraderie at the HomeRunners premier and throughout the conference.

VRMA asks for input on their presentations, but I didn't see an opportunity to suggest new topics, so perhaps AmyH AmyH or other VRMA movers/shakers can help. Most if not all of the presentations were directed inward. Absolutely right! But here are some topics outside of threats of regulations:
  • Tax laws are changing. As an example, in 2021 OTAs such as Airbnb will send out a 1099-K for hosts who have over 200 transactions and earn more than $20,000. Beginning in 2022, OTAs will send out 1099-K to hosts with gross income over $600 with no minimum transaction quantity.
  • I'd be interested to learn from a savvy tax firm how changes in the federal tax law might affect second-home ownership. These tax laws will affect not only income, but estate taxes as well. This may have an effect on how the second-homes are owned, such as qualified residential trust.
  • More broadly I'd like to hear about the wealthy 1% (or 2%) who I suspect own many or most of the second homes managed by VRMA attendees. First-generation wealthy often act differently from second-generation wealthy. The second-generation can be much more entitled and demanding because of who their family is, often name-dropping.
  • With large forest fires in the mountains and storm surges along the oceanside beaches, I suspect that property insurance companies will either substantially raise rates or simply stop offering policies in these affected areas. Second-home owners and insurance agents in popular destinations could be a couple of good sources for VRMs to learn about this potential threat.
In late September, VRMA and VRBO announced a collaboration to attract VRMs with six or fewer properties. I chatted with VRBO representatives a few times, insisting that they should contact me so that they get the message right. Fortunately I met Millertime Millertime, the incoming president of VRMA and made the same case to help. We both earned engineering degrees from universities in Texas and worked in the oil & gas biz.

I reached out to Airbnb with several "opportunities for improvement." And there are several!! They seemed especially interested in my graph of "Just How White Are Vacation Rental Destinations?" Using Evolve's destinations on their website, the graph shows the population of each destination and its white/Caucasian/non-Hispanic ethnic percentage. Many, many destinations have a population of 10,000 or below with 90%+ white. It's not great data, but it's a start. This information rather weakly presents how redlining and sweeping nixed non-white home ownership, allowing whites to amass generational wealth reflected in second-home ownership.
 

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Tristan Webb

Counselor
Vintory
Easily put, this was my number one takeaway, which I will hopefully get the chance to elaborate on when talking with Sarah Bradford and Tim Cafferty....
While competition is healthy, collaboration is transformational.
Looking forward to seeing what others have to say!
I agree. I was fortunate to find a group of mentors and collaborators that helped me transform my business (and life). I am now very fortunate to be directing a number of MasterMind groups. Each meeting is attended by 6 or 8 business owners who bring big questions to the group for input. I love the Napoleon Hill quote, "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."
 

MichaelJ

Counselor
Inner Circle
  • My name tag had a ribbon attached that read: "First Year." Sadly not one VRMA member warmly welcomed me and asked if I had questions or how they could help. The next VRMA conference should have a meet-and-greet specifically for VRMs who are new and have been members for two or fewer years. Organizational leadership should also be in attendance.
JPrugh JPrugh The New Member and 1st Time Attendee Reception at VRMA is specifically for that reason. It's always the hour before the trade show floor opens the 1st night of the conference. It was Sunday 5-6pm. I've never seen one that big before.

When I attended it in 2013 there were maybe 45 people in the room (small room). This year there must have been 250 or more in the El Puente Café roped off area.
 
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