My Last 6 Months (And New "Storytelling" Category)

TL:DDR: I am BACK and BETTER than EVER!

Last August I had an awakening.

Well, either that or a mini crisis.

I was a few weeks away from hosting my first Keystone Retreat in which 60 of the leading STR operators would come to a farm in Nashville to do ... well, at the time I didn't really know what! I knew that hosting retreats was something I wanted to pursue; I knew all of the attendees personally (all amazing humans); but I had no idea technically how to host a transformative retreat. I just kinda assumed I'd do a whole bunch of Q&A. Great food. And voila, transformation! I was so naive.

But the universe works in mysterious ways!

2 weeks before the event in Nashville, I was passing through Vancouver and was invited to a BBQ where I met a guy named Jordan Jordan who, get this, FACILITATES TRANSFORMATIVE RETREATS FOR A LIVING!

In only an hour or two, Jordan opened my eyes to a whole world of art and science that goes into making retreats magical experiences (I will save this for a separate thread). And to make that long story short, before I even left Vancouver the next day we (my partner in the Keystone Retreats Steve Schwab Steve Schwab and I) had hired Jordan's consulting services to help guide me through the process.

This was not in the budget. And it was not cheap.

Over the next few weeks Jordan challenged me with questions no one had asked before and dug deeper on my uncertainty than was comfortable .. it was a very scary, overwhelming, and anxious time. There were nights that I'd wake up with this recurring dream: that all attendees left and posted horrible testimonials on social media. And as the days neared, I got more nervous.

Alas, I eventually emerged from this cave of fear and by the time the event began and our first cohort engaged, I knew we were onto something BIG: video testimonials & feedback from the retreat was extraordinary and my biggest takeaway from that whole process was: In order to make people feel transformed, you need to know how it feels to be transformed yourself. And yes, transformation is not always fun, in fact parts are terrifying. Yay!

By the end of that retreat, I was hooked on this new growth process..it gave me new levels of excitement, passion, and focus that had been waning over the years. And so I began to work with Jordan on a bigger, deeper project: What is MY story??? (After all, how can I tell everyone else's story without knowing my own?)

Sure, I had told the canned version sequence of events (New Jersey, Panama, street gangs, Los 4 Tulipanes) of my story plenty of times. But this is where my experience stopped. My story was merely a refrain. I had no idea that in order to tell your story (and the story of your limited edition business) in a compelling way so that people actually RESONATE with you -- you must know yourself (and/or your business) at entirely new depths. This is the difference between a great storyteller who makes us FEEL... and someone reading off a script.

I was frankly embarrassed that, despite basically telling stories for a living, and being Mr. constant-improvement Kaizen (thanks ROster ROster) I had never taken as much as one storytelling class -- not even read a "how to be a better storyteller" blog post -- and despite maybe having some good instincts naturally, I was literally clueless about how to craft a compelling story? What a thrilling turn of events!

Which brings me to this thread and announcement: The storytelling discoveries I have made over the last 6 months -- both the artistic purpose-level stuff but also the technical almost sciencey techniques for telling better stories -- have me never looking at vacation rental marketing the same way again. How to frame listings, website pages, emails? How to create a vision people will rally behind? How to stand out? How to win repeat business? How to build trust?How to motivate? How to connect?

More importantly, these tools have changed how I think about myself, my work, and our community here. And while I am only 6-months into my own storytelling journey, I have decided to share with you my most salient storytelling lessons along the way.

At first (for right now) this will take the form of a new category of threads in our private forum themed Story. What's your story? What's the story of your business? What are the stories of your team? And how do we communicate them more powerfully? As that forum begins to grow, we will integrate it into the Parlay Framework (because storytelling is very obviously part of the direct booking strategy). You can also expect some structured learning opportunities too.

Exciting!

Please jump in below with any thoughts (some questions to get you started):
  • Where does storytelling fit in your life?
  • Do you tell stories in your marketing?
  • Have you made any storytelling discoveries?
  • What do you think about introducing Storytelling to our industry/community? Boring/Amazing/nothingburger/Lifechanging...etc.
 
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ALOHA Matt from Hawaii Island where there are lots of rental cars, so did not have to "hire" a uHaul.
😉


I was fascinated to read of your transformative experience. You are bold to "put yourself out there" being vulnerable in your sharing!

You are at the right age (stage?) of your life to have such an experience. I was the same age that you are when I "booted" a big job with a subsidiary of Canada's largest telecom co. I was part of the team which was introducing high speed internet. I think a few other folks (perhaps @RickOster?) may have had a similar experience.

How are you doing? How was your "pilgrimage" to Israel/Palestine?

All the Best

Tom
PS. ROster ROster - - Sandra is hoping that the magma starts again at Kīlauea Volcano https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/summit-webcams

PSS. While we chose to exit the VR business still enjoy reading of your great work Matt Landau Matt Landau
 
The magma in my core is starting to stir!
Wow ROster ROster I wasn't sure ... but now I realize MY magma core is starting to stir too! Thank you for identifying that! 🌋 Look forward to seeing you in May!

Super exciting Matt Landau Matt Landau to hear about this personal transformation, awakening, new passion. Sounds to me like you're on an even stronger path towards your life purpose! [flexing bicep emoji goes here]
Barry Barry that perspective is EXTRA special coming from someone of your life's experience.

You are bold to "put yourself out there" being vulnerable in your sharing!

How are you doing? How was your "pilgrimage" to Israel/Palestine?

Tom M. Tom M. oh YES, discovery #1 -- this is what makes a GREAT story -- put yourself out there and share it! In fact, I plan to share my trip to Israel last month (no Palestine visit this trip for this jew) in the form of a beautiful story for the community. It was one heckuva trip. Stay tuned!
 
We are made for story and we all have a story to tell. Digging into mission, vision and values is basic business protocol. Transforming those elements into a story is powerful and gives meaning and a voice to our work and our businesses. Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for giving space on this forum to this important element of leading well in our industry by telling a better story than we one we’ve already heard.
 
Congratulations Matt! I am excitedly looking forward to hearing more. As you know, I love to tell stories in person BUT ....I am a bit shy to use them in our marketing.

I think storytelling takes TIME and EFFORT (discomfort?) to sit with your ideas/experiences and then figure out how to effectively communicate them.

I need to work on this ! Hopefully, you will show us how!!
 
We are made for story and we all have a story to tell. Digging into mission, vision and values is basic business protocol. Transforming those elements into a story is powerful and gives meaning and a voice to our work and our businesses. Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for giving space on this forum to this important element of leading well in our industry by telling a better story than we one we’ve already heard.
I think this PERFECTLY describes my vision. And it's not a coincidence Tom that you PERFECTLY did the same articulating for Keystone Event. You are Magic!
 
Much gratitude for sharing your pivot and paradigm shift. Storytelling is the foundation of my vacation rental communication with guests. Park City is a magical place most days and I encourage my guests to seek it with framing their experience through storytelling. I am known for my recommendations for "what to do and where to eat" because I pepper in snippets of storytelling to paint a picture of what they might experience. I use language that you will find in fables.
 
Two years ago at the height of Covid you Matt Landau Matt Landau encouraged me to write a book about my experiences growing up on a farm, and then tell how those lessons applied to my short-term rental business. It is amazing, but they could ALL be applied to the business!

I tell a lot of those stories to my guests on the free farm tours I give. Telling those stories benefits me as much as the guests. They make me feel good and happy about different aspects of my life and growing up on a farm. They remind me to appreciate where I am today and what I get to enjoy. Guests are made to feel more like a part of the family and get a real feel and appreciation for life on a farm, which in turn equates to great, satisfying stays. I believe that is part of why 60% of my guests are now returning guests.

I need to figure out a way to use storytelling more in my marketing efforts.

I think Storytelling is an amazing layer to add to our industry.
 
Can you say Synchronicity! Wow I just bought a book by a marketing/business expert who espouses exactly that! STORYTELLING to grow your business. The author is Donald Miller for any interested. I cant wait to hear more! And yes I can see the tremendous help this can be. I think Hospitality as an industry is super ripe for storytelling and such a natural fit!
 
I think Storytelling is an amazing layer to add to our industry.
Can you have a friend run a video of you giving the free farm tour? Then you could edit it for marketing on Social media,
 
I hired a popular, local lifestyle reporter to tell my story 5 or 6 years ago. I still watch it every now and then to remind myself how I got here and how blessed I am to do what I love. Take a look: https://www.ostergolfhouses.com/about-us
Was it that long ago? Darn time flies by so fast!!!! Its great for you to have it as a reminder of your early days full of enthusiasm.......You have always given me inspiration too, ROster ROster.
 

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