Our industry is all about people – we do what we do because we want to help people connect with each other and with new places.
It’s no surprise, then, that industry events are hugely important to us. Whilst organisers have done a brilliant job of adapting to the new normal during the pandemic, it’s heartwarming to see in-person events making a comeback.
Attending a short term rental forum brings a whole host of benefits:
You’ll connect with people who have faced the same challenges you’re facing
You’ll hear from a wide range of industry experts, there to share their knowledge
You’ll be introduced to new tools and tech that can help you run your holiday rental business more efficiently
You’ll share ideas and challenge one another to think more adventurously
You’ll meet a vacation rental family, there to support and challenge you along the way
At Touch Stay, we love attending conferences to spread the word about the value that a stellar guest experience brings to your holiday let property. After all, happy guests equal five-star reviews. Our digital guidebooks help you communicate efficiently with guests so that they feel prepared for their stay, with access to your local tips and insights. (With all the info at their fingertips, they also ask you fewer questions!)
Tyann Marcink, our Queen of Guest Experience, recently chatted to Talia Lockard, Director of Business Development at Rented, about how they squeeze the most value from the short-term rental conferences they attend. Watch the conversation here, or read on for our summary of their top tips!
Choose your short term rental forums wisely
The key piece of advice that Tyann offered was to attend at least one conference each year. Of course, some events are pretty pricey, and it can be difficult to find the time and funds required for travel. If in-person attendance just isn’t a possibility, you could try out one of the hybrid events happening this year. The Book Direct Show, for example, is taking place in-person in Miami and online! There are options for everyone.
If travel is a possibility, however, we’d recommend attending one larger, more general conference, and one niche conference. For example, the Vacation Rental World Summit is open to all industry players and covers a wide range of topics. In contrast, the Data and Revenue Management Conference adopts a specific focus to help attendees gain an in-depth understanding of core data and revenue strategies.
Tyann finds that a conference with a more general focus introduces you to your vacation rental support system – the family who will support you through the ups and downs. A conference with a more specific focus gives you the exact knowledge you need to take your short term rental business up a notch. They each carry their own distinct benefits!
Hannah & Andy at the Vacation Rental World Summit
Be open to trying out new short term rental events
Don’t just stick to the classics, broaden your horizons! Tyann and Talia were chatting after an invigorating visit to the ALP Annual Conference. Tyann noted that the Association of Lodging Professionals (ALP) was primarily B&B-focused when it began. Nowadays, it’s more widely focused on lodging professionals, and includes speakers and events which hold tremendous value for holiday rental hosts.
Keep re-evaluating which events are worth your time, because these may change over the years! To help you stay on top of them all, we’ve created the Touch Stay vacation rental industry events tracker. You’ll find all the key events happening each year, from VRMA International to Phocuswright Europe, along with details about their location, cost, and focus. Head on over and use our map feature to see what’s happening near you!
It’s all hospitality, we’re all running a business [..] you’re still taking care of people, you’re still giving them a place to sleep, you’re still giving them an experience, and I love the fact that we can all learn from each other.
Aim to leave each vacation rental conference with one new idea
It’s tempting to sign up to every single talk, panel discussion, and roundtable event that’s happening at a short term rental summit. After all, you want to get your money’s worth!
Tyann highlighted, however, that a big part of the value of these conferences comes from the people you meet. If you’re constantly running between speakers, you don’t have any time to have a chat with other attendees.
So, she recommends signing up for the events which interest you the most, but leaving space around them to get to know the other people at the conference. Aim to leave the conference with just one(!) golden nugget of knowledge, rather than a barrel of half-remembered quotes.
One of the golden nuggets that Tyann shares when she speaks at conferences is the direct link between guest experience and guest loyalty. If you can provide a wonderful experience for the people staying at your property, you’re well on your way to five-star reviews and loyal guests who shout about you from the rooftops.
Make it a point in your head, you’re going to go home with minimum one nugget, that’s all you need. Don’t say, I have to have something from every single thing I do. Don’t feel like you have to attend as many sessions as possible. Leave space.
Implement your new idea as soon as the conference ends
Right. You’ve spent three days networking, and learning, and forming connections. You feel newly prepared to take on your short term rental business with your golden nugget of knowledge. You arrive home and… nothing. Life takes over again! With so much to do every day, those new ideas you swore you were going to implement fall by the wayside.
And yet, if you don’t actually implement any new strategies, the conference has limited value for you. So, Tyann recommends making one change as soon as you arrive home. Don’t put pressure on yourself to overhaul your entire business, but put one small change into action so that you get the ball rolling. Everything else will follow on.
Use industry events to form meaningful connections within the short term rental community
Tyann recommends dropping the small talk. Rather than, “What do you do?”, “Who do you work with?”, ask people about:
their favourite thing that they learnt that day
the first thing they’ll do when they arrive home
what they hope to gain from the conference
These questions get answers that you’re actually interested in! Plus, they help to form an immediate bond with each new person that you meet.
Get comfortable with professional disagreement!
People from different industry backgrounds, different roles, and different companies will probably do things in a slightly different way. This could become a brilliant learning opportunity – perhaps you realise that their way is better!
Even if this isn’t the case, respectful disagreement and discussion allows us all to advance our thinking. Talking to someone who does things differently might convert you, or it might solidify your reasons for doing it your way. Either way, you’ve taken a step forward!
One regular point of contention within the holiday rental industry is the relationship between tech and hospitality experience. Technology saves short term rental operators time by helping them to run a more efficient vacation rental business, but does it make for a less personal experience for their guests?
At Touch Stay, we advocate for tech as a means of improving guest experience. Our digital guidebooks support short term rental owners to welcome and wave off happier guests – we help hosts find the best of both worlds!
Take some time to absorb everything you’ve learnt after a vacation rental forum
After a hectic few days attending talks, meeting new people, and thinking about how you can take your business to the next level, it’s important to allow some time to catch up with yourself.
For Tyann, this means grabbing a good book at the airport and switching off from work for the duration of her flight home. Her brain needs that down time to process everything she’s learnt, and be able to hit the ground running when she’s back at work the next day.
For Talia, it means the opposite: she spends her flight home on her laptop, going over everything she’s noted down and making to-do lists. This allows her to feel in control and caught up by the time her flight lands.
Everyone has different needs! Take some time to recognise and understand what your brain needs from you, so you can return home feeling re-energised and ready to start making changes.
Tyann and Talia’s top tip for short term rental success
Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise!
As a holiday rental host, you’re never going to be able to do it all. There’ll always be one more thing on the to-do list. So, you need to figure out your non-negotiables (personal and work-related), and work around them.
For example, after many years as a property manager, Tyann has got her workflow nailed. She knows what she needs to be able to do her job to her usual high standards. When she’s interviewing with owners who are interested in having her manage their property, they go through the workflow together. If the owners aren’t keen, she knows that this particular pairing probably won’t work.
Similarly, since having kids she’s made it a priority to do the school run at both ends of the day. This is her time with her kids, and anyone she’s working with knows that she’s busy at those particular times. She sets and maintains this boundary in order to be able to balance her career with her personal priorities.
Talia isn’t afraid to tell people when she’s offline. She pointed out that most people probably haven’t memorised your schedule – they might send you a message without realising that you’re busy with something else. It’s ok to reply and explain that you won’t be online until later that day, or later in the week, but that you’ll get to it as soon as you’re back. Good colleagues will understand that you’re balancing a whole heap of demands on your time!
Don’t be afraid to tell people! Not everybody is going to remember your schedule, so I 100% respond to messages telling people that I’ll be back in a couple of hours. You can tell people that!
So, in order to reclaim some time (and sanity!):
prioritise what needs to be done
identify your non-negotiables
delegate where possible
And finally: take advantage of the tools available to you!
How a Touch Stay digital guestbook helps you run a more efficient vacation rental business
Touch Stay digital welcome books are one of the tools available to help you free up more time for yourself. Strong guest communications are always a priority when it comes to delivering a memorable experience, but replying to that email from a guest can sometimes slip down the to-do list.
Your digital guidebook acts as a resource for guests to turn to whenever they have a question. Share it with them multiple times before they even arrive at your property, giving them the opportunity to dive in and start getting excited. Quickly answer any questions that continue to come your way by sending a deep link to the correct section of the guide.
More time for you to focus on other priorities
Guests who feel welcomed and cared for from the get-go
More referrals and five-star vacation rental reviews