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Recapping The 2017 Vacation Rental Success Summit

As someone who has worked closely in the vacation rental industry for the past few years, I’ve started to keep a close eye on trends: where VRMs look for insight, direction and growth tips. Ever since working with my first client, my online research around VR marketing has often landed in just a few places: Vacation Rental Marketing Blog with Matt Landau and Cottage Blogger with Heather Bayer.

I want to share with you about the event I just got back from hosted by Heather Bayer and Mike Bayer of the Cottage Blogger team and keynoted by several of the most prominent leaders in the vacation rental industry.

The first Vacation Rental Success Summit was hosted last year and judging from the feedback, it was a stellar event.

This year I was able to attend (read: no two-week old baby) and it was all-in probably the best vacation rental event I’ve been to.

It’s rare that the best minds of the vacation rental industry all gather in one place, but the Vacation Rental Success Summit was  the time where that happens.

Recapping The Vacation Rental Success Summit 2017

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For two days (May 6th and 7th, 2017), the second VRSS took place in Toronto, Ontario. What makes this event different? I’ll explain.

Since my first VRMA event, it’s easy to notice how the events work: large corporate sponsors host (HomeAway, HD Supply, LiveRez) and lots of vacation rental managers and companies are in attendance. Personally, I enjoy the VRMA events and feel that it’s one of the best places to catch up with lots of other people in the industry. However, they are mainly events for larger vacation rental managers and those looking to learn tactics on managing anywhere from 50-500+ units. The sessions often follow a few of the same tracks and it’s rare to find brand-new insights.

The Vacation Rental Success Summit has courses on managing units too, but the various speakers have all kinds of expertise to share. You’ll hear from vacation rental managers, marketing consultants, experts in operations, property care and more.

While the vast majority of vacation rental owners are not managing hundreds of units and don’t have the same issues of a large VRM, you can learn a lot from those who have. I feel that the Vacation Rental Success Summit can help fill in the gap between VRMs looking to create a long-lasting business and those who are just skimming from the top of listing sites.

Day One – Highlighting The Talks I Attended

Inner Circle Meetup Toronto CA
The largest IC Meetup ever!

The first day of VRSS was held on Saturday, but before I dig in too much there I wanted to highlight what happened on Friday: my first Inner Circle Meetup with the effervescent Matt Landau and well over 40 IC members from all over the world. I talked with property managers and owners from California to Marbella, Spain and almost everywhere in-between. It was an awesome event and the highlights might be just too numerous to share. The good news is that Matt recorded the event with and audio/video team that will be releasing these to his newsletter list this week. You should totally sign up.

On Saturday, things kicked off with Mike Bayer as the host kicking off each speaker and the event. He did a fantastic job dealing with the unique things that each speaker has to offer and was always on time (sorry for going over my time a bit, Mike!).

The opening keynote by Heather Bayer was talking about just how “nerdy” we all were to be here at the VRSS and helping to grow our businesses. I’d have to agree, we’re all perhaps a little crazy to spend as much time on our businesses as we do, but that is what makes so many VRSS attendees so successful.

The first session in the marketing track I attended was by Andrew McConnell from Rented.com — Andrew covered several areas that I thought were super-interesting around mergers, the vast amounts of venture capital funding pouring into the industry and more. If I had to narrow out one piece from Andrew that stuck with me, it’s this:

Looking back on this, it makes total sense but I really hadn’t thought of it before. Many property managers are competing where the rules are not at all fair. That’s where your marketing has to make you unique, memorable and able to book guests for a higher nightly rate.

The next presentation I attended was from the team at Guest Hook and lead by Jessica Vozel. Jessica broke down the complex world of copywriting for vacation rental managers and owners into a simple process that would make it easy for anyone to walk through her process to write great copy. I’ll be honest: this room had far too few participants as I believe every single property manager and owner could have benefitted from Jessica’s talk: make sure to download her slides in the VRSS website if you attended to see what you missed!

The highlight of day one for many attendees I spoke to was David Angotti’s keynote — he knocked it out of the park showing memorable examples of real-life customer service tactics that SmokyMountains.com uses to generate goodwill. While he sold the property management division of his business this year, he’s doubling down on the website, growing it to traffic levels that would make anyone in the Tennessee mountains jealous.

Day Two – Getting On The Big Stage

On day two, I missed some of the opening keynote from Airbnb as I prepped for my presentation on Search Marketing From A To Z. This was an updated version of the talk I gave in the Outer Banks during VRM Intel Live. Overall I hoped to cover the important area of SEO and PPC/Google AdWords for vacation rental managers. You can download the slides here.

The last session of the day I attended was Matt Landau’s keynote presentation. It would hard to do it real justice, but suffice to say the methodoligy that Matt has created around the Limited Edition Vacation Rental property is one I won’t forget anytime soon.

All told, VRSS was a smashing success and Mike Bayer broke the news it’s going to be headed to the US for 2018.

The dates are already blocked in my calendar.

See you there!

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