VRMA 2016 Conference Recap

1200x630 Banner 21 I just returned from the VRMA 2016 Annual Conference in Chandler, Arizona for the first time as solo marketing consultant. I was fortunate to previously travel to the conference through my previous agency employer but am pleased to say this year was great as well.

VRMA events are such a fantastic way to catch up with people, companies and products that you want to know more about in person. It’s rare that during the busy seasons many vacation rental hosts and managers are able to travel, therefore the Fall season is a great opportunity to step away for just a few days. With lots of learning, speaking events and fun, VRMA is a must-attend vacation rental marketing conference.

For many of us, VRMA is an excellent opportunity to see our clients that we meet with weekly over Skype and Basecamp in person. Additionally, many software vendors use the conference as a platform to launch new features or show off their latest software integrations. With so many vacation-rental focused software companies, consultants and marketing service providers, you’re sure to find a great benefit to your business by attending.

Quick Facts About The VRMA 2016 Annual Conference

Location: Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona

Dates: October 16-19, 2016

Session Topics: Accounting, Legal & Finance. Business Strategy. HR & Information Technology. Marketing. Property Services. Sales & Customer Service.

Hashtag: #VRMA2016

Conference Recap

This year was an excellent conference and I got to keep up to date on all of the latest vacation rental trends and techniques. I was not able to attend a lot of sessions, but I was able to speak one-on-one with different vacation rental managers, software vendors and listing site representatives.

Trends During 2017 & Beyond

One topic that seemed to be a newer trend was those talking about partnerships with tour companies and travel experiences in a deeper way. For example, when booking a vacation rental property, it should be as simple to add on a private chef experience in the same ease as it’s easy enough to add on a extra day to your stay. Making the process seamless and easy will increase the value of the guest experience and also boost your bottom line.

On Day Two, the keynote from What Will Separate The Industry Leaders Of Tomorrow was given by Mary Lynn Clark from Wyndham Vacation Rentals spoke to this trend on another level: personalization. Mary recalled experiences from high-end restaurants where the waiter knows as much about the dining guests as possible: their occupation, preferences for wine and other details without having to ask. This powerful form of personalization can take form in many different ways, but the greatest area of interest to me was around personalizing web content through signed-in users. For example, if a guest has already been to your website and searched for rentals in a specific area on a certain date, present those same rentals or similar ones on the homepage in a featured property content block.

Going deeper into this model may work very well for the large sites like Airbnb, but it can also make a huge impact in professionally managed vacation rental sites as well. Companies with 50 properties can still benefit from personalizing web content and creating marketing strategies around better guest preferences.

This is an element to my client services that I am not currently pursuing, but it will be a focus in 2017 and beyond.

Walking through the Vendor Showcase, I saw many of the same software companies as usual, but also some new faces. MyVr had a booth for the first time since I started attending VRMA Conferences and speaking with Jonathan Murray has me thinking they’re on the right track to becoming a top-flight solution for vacation rental hosts and managers. While no one software product works perfectly for every single company, it’s worth researching several options if you are in the need for a new PMS for your rental business.

Another great reason for attending VRMA is to meet up with vacation rental managers, of course. Being able to see clients I typically only deal with remotely is a rare opportunity. I was thankful to meet up with people like Heather Bayer of CottageLINK Rental Management. I spoke with Heather about her exciting new conference that’s going in the late Spring of 2017 and you may just see me there as well… stay tuned!

Additional thanks to Paris For Rent and Sweet Homes Beach Rentals for both making the trip from San Francisco and Yachats to AZ.

Top Tweets From The VRMA 2016 Conference

I kept a close eye on the #VRMA2016 hashtag on Twitter — there were some great insights being shared around the conference and a little bit of fun, too. All told, I counted 479 tweets during the show from dozens of vacation rental marketing professionals. I’ve curated some of the top tweets below.


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