This week, the Beyond team spent time in Orlando, Florida at the 2023 VRMA International Conference! As one of the largest annual events for the vacation rental industry, this conference brings thousands of hosts, property managers, and industry professionals together to discuss the future of vacation rental management.
Through attending sessions, casual conversations in the Exhibit Hall, and late nights chatting with attendees, the Beyond team put together this list of takeaways from the event. Here’s are some of our top takeaways from the week:
A big theme this year was the topic of fragmented property management technology in the industry. Many property managers are using different technology solutions to power their business, including their property management system, revenue management system, operations software, data provider, marketing automation, and more. This fragmented world of technology can make it difficult for managers to operate their business efficiently as each system is designed differently.
Owner Acquisition & Retention
This topic has grown into an evergreen topic over the past few years as competition for homeowners has increased significantly. Many panelists discussing this topic commented on the need for a strong homeowner acquisition strategy as the first step in increasing supply. Since competition for homeowners has increased, it’s important for property managers to stay organized and clear in their messaging to potential owners. Starting with a complete strategy built around acquisition can help in keeping stakeholders focused on the main goal as well as identify opportunities or problem areas to help drive up supply.
Marketing & Distribution
It isn’t a true vacation rental conference if we don’t talk about the importance of direct bookings! A big topic of discussion this year as attendees reviewed channel mix performance data for vacation rental markets and learned that direct bookings have been on the decline recently. Airbnb and other channels have steadily increased their share of the market when it comes to booking sources. One main takeaway for property managers here is the importance of using portfolio and market data to analyze channel mix performance for themselves.
Beyond’s Market Insights gives you all of this data to help property managers harness channel data for themselves and their market. Identifying top channels and any changes in distribution is the first step for property managers who want to optimize their distribution channels.
In addition to focusing on their channel mix, a few sessions covered the broader topic of marketing and the importance of a solid marketing strategy in both property management and homeowner acquisition.
Optimized Strategy with AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is proven to be revolutionary in efficiency and creating the best guest experiences. By harnessing the power of AI, property owners can optimize pricing in real-time based on vast market data, ensuring maximum revenue.
Additionally, AI enhances guest experiences through personalized recommendations, ensures operational excellence with predictive maintenance and automated response, and improves security in the booking process. AI should not be seen as a replacement of human functions, but can be used as a tool to help vacation rental management businesses reduce downtime and boost revenue.
From complementing their existing processes and decision-making to generating automated responses to common guest requests, AI is becoming a must-have. Property managers and hosts should explore AI solutions and consider how they can integrate them into their operations to improve efficiency, guest satisfaction, and overall business success.
Data is always a huge part of the content program at VRMA each year and this year was no different. A few sessions highlighted 2023 market performance statistics as well as insight into early 2024 data. Early signs point to similar trends from this year translating over to 2024. Average daily rates are remaining steady and are growing ahead of pre-pandemic levels while falling short of 2021 and 2022 performance.
Another new data topic for vacation rental managers is the idea of guest search data. Search data comes straight from a vacation rental manager’s direct booking website and shows how guests search for stays. This information can be used to inform a dynamic pricing strategy, like Beyond’s Search Powered Pricing, as well as marketing tactics. From email marketing to paid search strategies, guest search data can help both marketing and revenue management teams drive additional demand to their properties and listings.
2024 & Beyond
The final main takeaway from VRMA this year was how the industry is preparing for 2024 and the future of vacation rental management. As previously mentioned, 2024 is shaping up to be very similar to 2023. This means that competition is still going to be high. New supply in the market and growth in other hospitality sectors has made it harder for property managers to stand out. New tactics like advanced dynamic pricing and unique acquisition strategies will help property managers do this. Basic dynamic pricing strategies aren’t going to be enough to move the needle and property managers need additional data and customizations to maximize their revenue potential.
Did we miss anything? Or maybe you’re looking for more information about these topics? Our team would love to chat! Contact us today!