Common Denominators of Most Profitable VR Pros in 2021

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
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 that ebbs and flows based on supply/demand.
  • Refuse to dip below a certain price per night (because they know it's a slippery slope to the commodity bottom)
  • Increase prices as high as demand permits in order to maximize profit (treating repeats/referrals to VIP discounts)
  • Know when to accept/promote extended stays for cashflow
  • Download reports from market data companies to keep a pulse on supply/demand
  • Charge non-refundable damage deposits

Technology​

The most profitable VR pros take advantage of the tech at their fingertips to automate specialty or redundant jobs.
  • Use a property management software to accept direct online bookings
  • Familiarize themselves with new technology and are willing to demo new tools and ask "stupid" questions
  • Refuse to automate some things (for which manual is more profitable) but also realize when they're just being stubborn/resistant to change
  • Enlist technology to get OTA guest's contact information for re-marketing (post-departure)
  • Hand-make their own technology (love these people!)

Advertising & Marketing​

The most profitable VR pros have a marketing budget and cohesive strategy to convert paid advertising (OTAs, PPC) into bookings and bookings into repeat / referral guests.
  • Obsess over the ratio of direct bookings to OTA bookings
  • Use email marketing to regularly communicate with their email list
  • Build their email list slowly but surely (quality over quantity)
  • Use some element of talking-head video in the booking process to convey trust and respect
  • Use some element of video in a paid advertising campaign (paid video is the cheapest traffic channel)
  • Are constantly on the look-out for new niches (ex. farm-friendly, eco-friendly, pet-friendly) and new niche listing sites
  • Know approximately how much it costs to acquire one booking (making the decision to test new lead channels fairly black & white)
  • Do A/B testing to increase conversions in each step of the customer journey

Employees​

The most profitable VR pros pay their team really well so that turnover (new training costs) stays low and review counts high.
  • Have standard operating procedures and communications systems in place so that if an all-star employee leaves, someone new can fill the role
  • Reward their team financially with positive reviews (this leads to employee satisfaction and less turnover)
  • Treat their team like family (ex. giving freedom/flexibility/unnecessary days off, making numbers transparent, bundling bonuses with growth)
  • Communicate well with their team using photos, videos, text, phone, and in-person love
  • Personally the most profitable activities (ex. reservations, marketing) and outsource or delegate everything that others can do better

Success​

The most profitable VR pros have a clear definition of what success means to them in the form of short- and long-term goals for the business.
  • Have "upper boundaries" or limits to good growth (in order to maintain quality of life)
  • Know their numbers: can lift up the hood and make adjustments when costs/income goes up/down (don't know your numbers? Time for an audit)
  • Are especially focused on metrics like booking revenue/profit, ratio of direct bookings (to OTAs), quality/quantity of reviews, property count (for VRMs), revenue per property (also only for VRMs)

Pandemic Response​

The most profitable VR pros know that if you don't give back to your community, eventually it will destroy your business.

  • Donate $/night to local causes or buy credit at small businesses in community
  • Send guests to local businesses (and have arrangements so that those guests are treated like VIPs) helping communities recover
  • Participates in their local STR alliance (showing up to advocate is directly correlated with long-term profits)
  • Have their home(s) inspected for safety hazards (a quick way to be unprofitable)
  • Clearly convey safety, cleanliness, & travel updates to ensure safe stays

This list is not complete, it's only what I came up with over the last few days.

If you have any questions about how to execute or traits you'd like to add, please jump in below!
 
Last edited:

JPrugh

Envoy
Inner Circle
Couple of thoughts from the "outlier" in small-town Kansas:

Pricing: Downloading Reports from Market Data Companies: This suggestion is excellent for companies that have market data for a VR's location. Here in central Kansas, I've reviewed data from AirDNA, Transparent, Airbtics and Wheelhouse. I've yet to believe that there is sufficient data for a dynamic pricing system.

There's a dearth of information for these companies to work with. The aforementioned companies don't know about potential data in central Kansas, northwest Iowa, much of North and South Dakota. And the VR owners in those regions don't know about these market data companies.
I pressed my case with Wheelhouse and managed to get the ear of their CEO Andrew Kitchell. I've suggested that Wheelhouse might amend their data search area to go beyond city limits or zip codes. That's a start, so we'll see how it goes. We'll pick up this discussion in March.

Taking the "V" out of "STVR": In January I agreed for one of my properties to serve a local family as a hospice home for a terminally ill younger father. Sadly he passed away about three days ago. Recent bookings include professionals on temporary assignments in the central Kansas area.
  • Consultant for Pfizer (through March)
  • Professionals with Wald Foods (gluten-free pizza crusts) through March
  • Interim COO for a local hospital (through June)
  • Senior Project Engineer working for Johns-Manville through mid-November (communicating through Airbnb's Message Center has been a real bee-otch!)
  • Two AT&T employees for four to six months (not sure which project - maybe the new AT&T tower in town?
  • This morning I reached out to our local hospital group that just receive $3.3 million from FEMA for traveling nurses
Fully realizing that other states have onerous laws on longer-term rentals, these guests have been a real boon for an otherwise slow season for vacationing guests.

Employees: Just curious whether the new administration's federal minimum wage to $15/hour affects other ICers. (The $15/hr minimum wage isn't reached until 2025.) My cleaners start at $20/hr. One of our best cleaners is getting married in June, so I'm offering a place at no charge to the happy couple.

Pandemic Response: Donating a $1 per night to local charities is a great practice, but I prefer to support local businesses by provided a unique gift upon guest arrival - custom cut-out cookies in the shape of a Dala horse from a local baker. It may be just me, but a $1/night seems a bit light - I'd prefer something more substantial, whatever that means in the STVR's community. I like the analogy of a breakfast of bacon and eggs: the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.

That's all for now!
 
Last edited:

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
Couple of thoughts from the "outlier" in small-town Kansas:

Pricing: Downloading Reports from Market Data Companies: This suggestion is excellent for companies that have market data for a VR's location. Here in central Kansas, I've reviewed data from AirDNA, Transparent, Airbtics and Wheelhouse. I've yet to believe that there is sufficient data for a dynamic pricing system.

There's a dearth of information for these companies to work with. The aforementioned companies don't know about potential data in central Kansas, northwest Iowa, much of North and South Dakota. And the VR owners in those regions don't know about these market data companies.
I pressed my case with Wheelhouse and managed to get the ear of their CEO Andrew Kitchell. I've suggested that Wheelhouse might amend their data search area to go beyond city limits or zip codes. That's a start, so we'll see how it goes. We'll pick up this discussion in March.

Taking the "V" out of "STVR": In January I agreed for one of my properties to serve a local family as a hospice home for a terminally ill younger father. Sadly he passed away about three days ago. Recent bookings include professionals on temporary assignments in the central Kansas area.
  • Consultant for Pfizer (through March)
  • Professionals with Wald Foods (gluten-free pizza crusts) through March
  • Interim COO for a local hospital (through June)
  • Consultant for local manufacturer through mid-November (communicating through Airbnb's Message Center has been a real bee-otch!)
Fully realizing that other states have onerous laws on longer-term rentals, these guests have been a real boon for an otherwise slow season for vacationing guests.

Employees: Just curious whether the new administration's federal minimum wage to $15/hour affects other ICers. (The $15/hr minimum wage isn't reached until 2025.) My cleaners start at $20/hr. One of our best cleaners is getting married in June, so I'm offering a place at no charge to the happy couple.

Pandemic Response: Donating a $1 per night to local charities is a great practice, but I prefer to support local businesses by provided a unique gift upon guest arrival - custom cut-out cookies in the shape of a Dala horse from a local baker. It may be just me, but a $1/night seems a bit light - I'd prefer something more substantial, whatever that means in the STVR's community. I like the analogy of a breakfast of bacon and eggs: the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.

That's all for now!
Jim, great clarifications. Adjusting the main document.
 

DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
On the topic of video -

I expect to have our home's remodel completed and all decor in place by summer- (🙏).
So that means I need a whole new photoshoot and now -FINALLY!! - video.

As I get set to book our videographer (see his work) what do you all recommend as video products and contract language for such a project?
I was thinking:
  • snippet suitable as the header for my website- showing the house, grounds, and some of the community lifestyle.
  • A longer version that shows both the house, courtyard/grounds, and lifestyle (how long is too long?)
  • Separate video of just lifestyle- ocean, seals, deer, hikes, sheep, redwoods/Cyprus hedgerows, Rec-centers
I recall that our goldfish-minded public glazes over if the video is too long. What is your recommendation of length?
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
I recall that our goldfish-minded public glazes over if the video is too long. What is your recommendation of length?
We've found that the first 15 seconds of a video are critical in paid ads. So may this as flashy and exciting as possible (see a good example here ft. @MailieG : )

This 15-second snippet is key to get people to watch the rest of the video and/or click through to your website.

In terms of total length 2-3 mins max. UNLESS you are doing some narrative or story in which we like to say go for "as long as you can hold attention."

But the general rule here is the shorter the better :)
 

Whitneywr

Whitney W. Ryan
Inner Circle
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 that ebbs and flows based on supply/demand.
  • Refuse to dip below a certain price per night (because they know it's a slippery slope to the commodity bottom)
  • Increase prices as high as demand permits in order to maximize profit (treating repeats/referrals to VIP discounts)
  • Know when to accept/promote extended stays for cashflow
  • Download reports from market data companies to keep a pulse on supply/demand
  • Charge non-refundable damage deposits

Technology​

The most profitable VR pros take advantage of the tech at their fingertips to automate specialty or redundant jobs.
  • Use a property management software to accept direct online bookings
  • Familiarize themselves with new technology and are willing to demo new tools and ask "stupid" questions
  • Refuse to automate some things (for which manual is more profitable) but also realize when they're just being stubborn/resistant to change
  • Enlist technology to get OTA guest's contact information for re-marketing (post-departure)
  • Hand-make their own technology (love these people!)

Advertising & Marketing​

The most profitable VR pros have a marketing budget and cohesive strategy to convert paid advertising (OTAs, PPC) into bookings and bookings into repeat / referral guests.
  • Obsess over the ratio of direct bookings to OTA bookings
  • Use email marketing to regularly communicate with their email list
  • Build their email list slowly but surely (quality over quantity)
  • Use some element of talking-head video in the booking process to convey trust and respect
  • Use some element of video in a paid advertising campaign (paid video is the cheapest traffic channel)
  • Are constantly on the look-out for new niches (ex. farm-friendly, eco-friendly, pet-friendly) and new niche listing sites
  • Know approximately how much it costs to acquire one booking (making the decision to test new lead channels fairly black & white)
  • Do A/B testing to increase conversions in each step of the customer journey

Employees​

The most profitable VR pros pay their team really well so that turnover (new training costs) stays low and review counts high.
  • Have standard operating procedures and communications systems in place so that if an all-star employee leaves, someone new can fill the role
  • Reward their team financially with positive reviews (this leads to employee satisfaction and less turnover)
  • Treat their team like family (ex. giving freedom/flexibility/unnecessary days off, making numbers transparent, bundling bonuses with growth)
  • Communicate well with their team using photos, videos, text, phone, and in-person love
  • Personally the most profitable activities (ex. reservations, marketing) and outsource or delegate everything that others can do better

Success​

The most profitable VR pros have a clear definition of what success means to them in the form of short- and long-term goals for the business.
  • Have "upper boundaries" or limits to good growth (in order to maintain quality of life)
  • Know their numbers: can lift up the hood and make adjustments when costs/income goes up/down (don't know your numbers? Time for an audit)
  • Are especially focused on metrics like booking revenue/profit, ratio of direct bookings (to OTAs), quality/quantity of reviews, property count (for VRMs), revenue per property (also only for VRMs)

Pandemic Response​

The most profitable VR pros know that if you don't give back to your community, eventually it will destroy your business.

  • Donate $/night to local causes or buy credit at small businesses in community
  • Send guests to local businesses (and have arrangements so that those guests are treated like VIPs) helping communities recover
  • Participates in their local STR alliance (showing up to advocate is directly correlated with long-term profits)
  • Have their home(s) inspected for safety hazards (a quick way to be unprofitable)
  • Clearly convey safety, cleanliness, & travel updates to ensure safe stays

This list is not complete, it's only what I came up with over the last few days.

If you have any questions about how to execute or traits you'd like to add, please jump in below!
Hi All,

What technology is being referred to when mentioning:
  • Enlist technology to get OTA guest's contact information for re-marketing (post-departure)
Would love any insight or help!

Thank you,
Whitney
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yes, his work is great. Bill also resides in TSR. And because of that, he caught wind the HOA was debating making drone flights forbidden. With that, he ran out and did a mad dash collection of all sorts of aerial shots possible. He's the only one with that stock footage making him a limited commodity :cool:.
That is damn-near the most inspiring and beautiful thing I've seen in a long time. Shockingly well done!

Thank you to @DMartinez , and @Terry for sharing it.
 
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