The Vreasy team has just returned, slightly jet-lagged and with the finest collection of company-branded stationary in the modern world, from VRMA in Arizona. For the property managers that couldn’t make it, we’ve written a recap of the most interesting developments we saw, attended and overheard at VRMA 2016.
Read on to learn what hundreds of professional managers had to say at VRMA 2016
For our Vreasy ambassadors, Karen and Andrei, this was the second VRMA for both of them. As seasoned veterans, they saw the changes in the focus, the discussions, and the guests at the event, seeing just how much the vacation rental industry has changed in only a year. Despite, the changes there was one clear, unmissable message:
Every manager wants to stand out
So, how can you give your guests a better experience than the next manager?
The simple fact is that everyone apart from the greenest managers can get the basics right. There are no shortage of managers across the major portals with professional photos, perfectly pitched prices, and a great team of welcoming staff. Just running your rentals as a professional business is no longer enough. Guests expect this from every property they stay at. We’re in the midst of a rush to find the next way to lead the pack and get your business known by guests in every country.
Here are the key messages we took away from this year’s VRMA and some examples of how leading managers are innovating to stay profitable.
How Do I Create Great Guest Experiences?
This year’s VRMA was a room full of property managers where the guest was the centre of attention. Managers were not concerned about what they can do to their properties, or tricks to boost their listings. They cared about their guests.
Rather than concentrating on dominating one listing site, or fighting the uphill war of SEO, the focus we felt was a long-term, old-fashioned desire to simply give their guests a valuable, memorable experience.
Despite the technology involved in searching, booking, and communicating, hosting guests is still a simple, old-fashioned skill. It involves turning four walls into a temporary home and understand why your guest is staying with you. Property managers are using technology to automate and reduce the workload of the logistical side of their business and then concentrating on what can’t be synthesised or replicated.
The properties are a blank canvas for your business on which to project what your guests want that property to represent and be for them. The majority of property managers we spoke to wanted to do more with this side of their business and improve the technology and logistics once they had established this reputation and brand centred around guests.
As The Guest Experience Authority, we were more than happy to welcome people to our booth to show them how we help hundreds of managers give their guests something memorable.
Who Was There?
The first, inescapable impression was there were more people than ever. It descended from standing room only to people being turned away. In addition to the VRMA growing in popularity, more and more owners with one or two properties are professionalising. The industry is growing. Competition for bookings is strong and the average standard of hosting, listings and property management is rising every day.
The next step for these managers is not finding out how to host or present their properties, but turn their properties and listings into a brand and a business. Every manager wants their guests to find them, but more than that, remember their name, share it, and return to their business.
Each morning at the VRMA was heralded by a keynote speech. In something of a left turn, the first speaker was actually the sports psychologist for the New York Mets, here to deliver a speech on the mindset of success. Whether you’re smacking baseballs into the near future, or trying to build a vacation rental brand, how you approach each day should remain the same. An attitude of being the best, and striving to learn at every opportunity was reinforced. He applied his lessons from the mound to the high-pressure world of vacation rentals.
Common skills that performers seek to improve are confidence, motivation, concentration and performing under stress. Common techniques include self-talk, visualization, relaxation, sleep improvement for improved energy, and routine building.
These skills all apply to closing deals maintaining a busy business and we loved hearing the research-driven methods, straight from the diamond. The next speech was more focused on the day to day running of a vacation rental business. More specifically, going the extra mile for your guests.
On its own, ‘Going the Extra Mile’ is an idea and a phrase without much substance. Going the extra mile is not something most managers can plan for in advance. The speaker then recounted a real story of a guest, when asked for any special requests, opted for Jay-Z and Beyonce to meet her there with some macaroons. With the Jigga man otherwise engaged, the property manager welcomed them with a picture and a box of local macaroons. Another story involved a lost toy rabbit and an intense search to reunite it with its young owner.
With a small investment of time and money, you’ve transformed your guest’s trip and shown them that you value their business and are to help. Now, obviously, you can’t repeat this with every guest, but, this led many managers to a eureka moment.
The Eureka Moment!
The point we took from this was to build a system in which you can talk to your guests, find out what a great experience is for them, and have the time and inclination to actually carry it out. This is the great eureka moment we saw property managers experiencing all over the VRMA – building a way to discover and then add to the guest experience as a proactive measure, not just a reactive one.
Meeting Our Partners
Events and conferences are not just about meeting new people. They’re a great chance to meet your customers and partners. For Vreasy, it was a chance to meet partners from companies such as Tripadvisor, Nextpax, Rentals United and Booking.com that we have been working closely with. Putting faces to the names really helps build better connections and partnerships with the people and companies we’re working alongside.
Although intense and demanding, the VRMA is also fun! On the last night, we joined an auction of property managers, auctioning off stays in their properties. You can see Andrei bidding, sheepishly.
There is no standing still in the vacation rental industry. What guests want and what our clients need is refined so often, we need to stay ahead and meet their needs before they become critical for them.
So as a product and a company, we need to be there to hear them. That’s why we’ll continue to attend events like the VRMA and the WTM in London and continue to meet people in the property management industry to learn from their ideas and expertise. See you next year!
The Vreasy Winner
Lastly, anyone who dropped a business card at the Vreasy booth was entered to win a voucher for Ruth’s Chris famous steakhouse. Karen reluctantly accepted the position of presenter so you can watch the draw for the winner here: