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VRMA 2014 – The Party’s Over but We’re Just Getting Started

Recapping the main takeaways from this year’s VRMA conference

After this year’s VRMA in San Diego, we’re feeling rather exhausted but now the dust has settled we are thinking about applying the lessons we learned. This year set an attendance record: 953 attendees, 27% first timers, 39 states, and 9 different countries. It has been the biggest event in the history of the vacation rental industry. We’d like to thank the organisers for putting it all together and everyone that attended.

We met a great deal of partners, customers and other professionals over the course of the event. We learnt invaluable lessons from all the sessions we attended and have come away with some great ideas to develop in the coming months.

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If you were unable to make it this year, we have compiled the key lessons that we learned and think all vacation rental managers need to know.

It gave us a clear picture of where the industry is headed in 2015 and what we need to do to ensure we are still at the forefront of the industry as it changes and develops.

One of the biggest talking points was how much of the market is still available. The Homeaway census showed us that 146 million Americans have never stayed in a vacation rental. Imagine the numbers across Europe and the rest of the world. One of the prevailing moods was that of optimism and pride in our industry. All of the attendees had an infectious confidence in the quality of their products. The question wasn’t ‘why are these people not booking?’ but ‘How do we reach them?’. There was a sense that as we learn and improve the industry and people develop their brands that these people are going to become our customers.

There was a unified consensus that the benefits and practicality of vacation rentals are clear. A pleasing assurance in the industry and an unwavering desire to grow and improve the experience for the customers. The numbers we saw weren't viewed as a problem, but an incredible opportunity for growth.

Another key point was that of 24-Hour Booking and Book Now features. We heard numerous predictions that this was going to become a must-have feature within the next 18 months. With organising time off from work, booking flights and trips - waiting to confirm accommodation can turn people off. Customers want to be able to confirm their trips right there and then. Web sites that fail to offer this may see themselves left behind. If your website doesn’t offer this yet, have a look at our custom designed sites that come with this feature.

An ever popular topic, and no different at VRMA 2014 was technology. What are the features that are going to make managers’ lives easier and customers’ vacations better? There were talks about apps that could organise and schedule guest transfers, allow them to order groceries and add optional extras to their stays at the touch of a button.

The next point we took away was that vacation rental managers are going to need offer something special and different for every guest they receive. The CEO of HomeAway, Brian Sharples outlined this in his engaging keynote speech. This is going to take the form of Content, Local Expertise and Personalisation. Doing your utmost to make every booking unique and memorable by using your own talents and personality and engaging that those of your guests.

And, whilst of course, there will always be competition in business we got the sense of a spirit of cooperation. Building up the industry and being consistent with products and services is going to benefit everyone. There was a pleasing understanding that increasing the focus on the quality of the product first, customers and profits will naturally follow. Here at Kigo we subscribe to that ethos. If you spend your time making sure what you offer is the best available then the rest of your business is so much easier to run. There were was an electric feeling of being part of something about to take off and we are so glad to be a part of it.

Let us know what you took away from this year’s conference.

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