The recently concluded Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) International Conference 2023, held at Disney Coronado Springs, Orlando, brought together vacation rental professionals, industry experts, and vendors to discuss the latest trends and challenges in the vacation rental management industry. With over 2,500 delegates and over 100 vendors in attendance, the event provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of the vacation rental market.
In this article, we will summarize our key learnings from the conference, including trends in data and market analysis, regulatory challenges, the role of AI and innovation, sustainability practices, portfolio expansion strategies, and the emergence of smaller OTAs.
Trends Vacation Rental Can Expect in 2024
1. Data & Market Trends
One of the prominent discussions at the VRMA International Conference 2023 focused on revenue management and data interpretation. The summer season witnessed contrasting performances, with the luxury segment thriving while budget segments faced challenges. The upcoming winter season’s booking trends show promise, but there is an increasing reliance on early bookings. The booking window’s shrinkage highlights the importance of last-minute reservations. Dynamic pricing tools, such as PriceLabs, are well-positioned to offer market-driven adjustments and optimize discounts based on real-time data.
2: Regulatory Landscape
Regulatory challenges in cities like New York and popular vacation spots like Steamboat were a significant concern discussed at the conference. The need for advocacy was emphasized to address these regulatory changes. We are aligning with VRMA to navigate these challenges. However, it was alarming to learn that some software vendors may potentially lose 30% of listings in key markets due to these regulations.
3: AI & Innovation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerged as an intriguing topic for property managers, with 4 sessions dedicated to it at the conference. Property managers are utilizing AI tools like ChatGPT to improve listings based on guest reviews, streamline OTA strategies, and automate homeowner interactions. The initial hype surrounding AI is now giving way to substantive product development, indicating the practical implementation of AI in the vacation rental industry.
4: ESG & Sustainability
The discussion around Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices marked its presence at the VRMA International Conference. Platforms like Booking.com and Vrbo showcased their initiatives towards sustainability. The industry’s shift towards sustainable practices, as highlighted by session speaker Vanessa de Souza Lage, indicates a growing awareness and commitment to responsible tourism.
5: Junior OTAs Still in the Battle
While industry giants like Airbnb and Booking.com continue to dominate the vacation rental market, smaller OTAs like VacayMyWay, bnbfinder, Hopper, and HomeToGo showcased their unique value propositions at the conference. These OTAs emphasized greater autonomy for vacation rental managers, providing an alternative to the established players and offering managers more options to reach potential guests.
Insights For Vacation Rental Owners
1: Net Promoter Score (NPS)
During a panel session at the conference titled “Data or Dare: Mastering Portfolio Expansion,” Rebecca Cribbin discussed the utilization of Net Promoter Score (NPS) for vacation rental owners. Property managers can gain valuable feedback by reaching out to property owners and asking them to rate the likelihood of recommending their services. Property managers can calculate their NPS and take constructive actions to enhance owner satisfaction and improve their services by categorizing the responses into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.
2: Strategic Portfolio Expansion
Stacey St. John shared her tactics for growing her condo listings in prime resorts. By analyzing guest reviews, she identifies features that consistently receive positive feedback. Stacey uses this information to pinpoint resorts that win over guests and focuses on expanding her portfolio in those locations. Understanding guest preferences and collaborating with local realtors ensures that her listings remain in tune with guest expectations. Stacey’s commitment to continuous feedback and improvement sets a strategic foundation for portfolio expansion.
3: bnbfinder’s Unique Value Proposition
At the conference, bnbfinder’s CEO, Eric Goldreyer, and Head of PR, Andrea Oliveira, discussed the company’s strategy to compete with established OTAs like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo. Bnbfinder differentiates itself by promoting direct bookings and direct communication between managers and guests, offering a transparent fee structure, allowing vacation rental managers to utilize their cancellation policies, and leveraging Eric Goldreyer’s expertise in the hospitality sector. Bnbfinder aims to be a value channel in the vacation rental segment, offering free listings for property managers and lower total stay prices than competitors.
The VRMA International Conference 2023 provided valuable insights into the current trends and challenges in the vacation rental management industry. From data analysis and regulatory challenges to the role of AI and sustainability practices, the conference highlighted the industry’s adaptability, innovation, and commitment to growth. Additionally, the emergence of smaller OTAs and the implementation strategic portfolio expansion tactics showcased the diverse opportunities available for vacation rental managers. The vacation rental industry is constantly evolving, and staying updated with the latest trends and leveraging innovative strategies will be crucial for success in this competitive market.