What We Learned at VRMA International 2022
Beyond sponsored and attended the 2022 Vacation Rental Management (VRMA) International Conference in Las Vegas, NV - and it's safe to say that we learned a lot! The annual conference brought together vacation rental experts from around the world to discuss important emerging trends, share ideas and knowledge, and, overall, come together to help improve and grow the short-term rental (STR) industry.
With industry-leading keynotes, more than 60 educational sessions, and lots of conversations from the 2k+ attendees, there was a lot to cover. Below, we’ve compiled our top takeaways from this incredible event:
The Importance of Data and Revenue Management for Uncertain Times
Making data-driven, informed decisions moving forward isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity. It’s incredibly important to have actionable data and a good revenue management strategy for times of economic downturn, and these two go hand in hand. Access to reliable, actionable data like market, demand, and other types like airline, real estate, hotel, etc., are critical to have, to inform your strategy.
How STR Managers Can Compete with Hotels
Another major topic talked about at VRMA International was how to win over travelers who might consider a hotel. Sixty-four percent of travelers considered hotels before booking their accommodation, but that number may be changing as awareness of STRs increase among the general population. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 40% of travelers were aware of the vertical. That number is up to 80% today.
Here are some recommendations to win over travelers and keep them choosing STRs consistently:
- Focus on core competencies: Focus on buttoning up the basics of your business before expanding or trying something new
- Know your customer: Define your target guest and tailor your business around them - everything from marketing to the amenities you include in your properties.
- Make the barrier to entry zero: Every touchpoint with a guest should be easy, from initial booking to check-in to communication.
- Be a consistent brand: This is key to scoring repeat guests. Be consistent and truthful in your listing descriptions and photos, on your social media, guest communications, etc.
- Show your value: Differentiate yourself from hotels and show off the personalized nature of your vacation rentals.
- Create loyalty: Score repeat bookings through the personalized experience you bring to your guests.
Improving Staff Training and Operations Management
VRMA attendees and panelists also spoke about the need to tighten up operations and staff management to ensure your business succeeds from all angles. A few topics touched on were:
- Utilize new technologies to automate parts of your business to save hours for your staff and increase productivity, like automated guest messaging and dynamic pricing.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of the regulations in the area for each property. For example, some STRs are regulated to be cleaned every seven days in some markets regardless of whether it was rented or not.
- Be consistent with every part of your business – this also helps you compete with hotels. Train your staff to be consistent across all functions. Communicate to your cleaning crew to be consistent across every stay and every property.
- Tightening up your operations ahead of time can help your business get in front of uncertainties like a recession, natural disaster, etc.
Improve Owner Relationships with Proactive Communication and Data
In sessions and in conversations with property managers, there was a lot of discussion about improving owner relationships with the right amount of proactive communication. Property managers should examine their owners’ entire customer journey, from acquisition to retention, to find better communication strategies.
This also includes doing a better job of sharing the good news with owners, especially if a property manager had new tech implemented in the past year. It can go a long way to show owners how that new tech improves their bottom line.
A great source for your proactive owner communication should be data. When it comes to pricing, for example, sharing market and competitive data will give them a great view into your pricing strategy - and can help defend your revenue management strategy if needed.
Advocacy and Regulatory Issues
Advocacy and highlighting regulatory issues were a big focus this year. VRMA’s new advocacy toolkit was a highlight, and a few sessions went over the ways property managers can use it to help protect their business, and the industry, from regulations and restrictions on vacation rentals.
A key takeaway from a panel on this topic is that we need to help shape how our communities perceive short-term rentals. Some community members have already formed their perception of STRs, and it’s not all positive. Driving awareness about the positives of vacation rentals and having a good relationship with your community will be key going forward.
It was a great few days in Las Vegas networking and learning with the short-term rental industry. Thank you to the VRMA team for putting on this great event!
Are you looking for more information about revenue management in the vacation rental industry? Let’s talk!