This year’s VRMA International Conference was a resounding success, with a record number of attendees and vendors. Over 2,500 short-term rental industry professionals gathered last week at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando for three days of networking and interesting discussions, leaving a sense of excitement and innovation in the air. The conference came back even bigger (25%) and better than before, demonstrating the significant growth of the vacation rental industry over the last 12 months alone.
For PointCentral, it was fantastic connecting with both existing and potential customers. We were proud to be one of over 100 industry-leading suppliers in the exhibitor hall this year, and our very own Head of Marketing, Angel Piontek, participated in an educational session on building a short-term rental brand (you can read more about her talk here).
As we wind down from the buzz and excitement of VRMA International, here are some key takeaways from our team:
AI is poised to transform the way vacation rentals are managed
AI was one of the big topics of this year’s conference – and with good reason. As the vacation rental industry continues to adopt AI and explore new ways in which it can be used, it’s clear that AI has the potential to elevate how vacation rentals are managed.
With many talks exploring AI in the vacation rental management space, there were many use cases explored. Industry leaders discussed how AI can be used to:
- Build audiences based on target consumers, allowing vacation rental managers to personalize recommendations and communication based on the needs of that audience.
- Automate data clean-up, freeing up time for vacation rental managers to focus on more strategic tasks.
- Enhance marketing strategies by identifying trends and patterns in guest behavior.
- Optimize guest communications by providing personalized responses to inquiries and resolving issues quickly and efficiently.
Strong communication is key to a successful vacation rental business
Communication was another key theme at VRMA International this year. Guests expect a high level of communication and they want to feel understood especially when issues arise. Stress was placed on the importance of having streamlined processes in place to ensure each and every guest receives consistent communication throughout their stay – whether that’s just after they’ve booked or an hour before check-out.
A comprehensive strategy should encompass every aspect of guest communication, including check-in instructions, local recommendations and addressing any concerns during the stay. Effective and consistent communication provides property managers with valuable insights into guest preferences, leading to more referrals and repeat bookings.
A well-structured communication plan prevents misunderstandings and issues, ultimately fostering an exceptional guest experience.
Leveraging the right technology is essential for streamlining operations
The industry placed a focus on operational strategies and smoothing out processes behind the scenes making this message clear: technology is the backbone of efficient operations. To ensure property managers are truly maximizing the potential of technology, it’s important that they fully utilize the tools and features available.
The key to increasing efficiency and productivity lies in automation – more specifically, the automation of tasks. From check-in and check-out processes to housekeeping, maintenance scheduling, reservations, and channel management, property managers who automate these processes can stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge.
Ultimately, utilizing the right technology solutions will enable property managers to provide a more seamless experience for their guests, leading to positive reviews, less vacancies, and happy owners. Property managers can also use data to gain insights into guest behavior, booking patterns, and property performance to make informed decisions.
The industry welcomes more sophisticated investors
The vacation rental industry is increasingly attracting sophisticated investors, some with operating experience and some without. This is a positive development that can yield significant benefits, including:
- Professionalization: Sophisticated investors are more likely to invest in professional management and marketing of their vacation rentals, enhancing guest experiences and generating higher returns for investors.
- Standardization: The entry of sophisticated investors can lead to standardized operations and reporting. This can simplify the booking process for guests while also making it easier for investors to measure the success of different properties and management companies.
- Focus on value: With a keen eye for value and ROI, sophisticated investors are more likely to focus on investing in solutions that provide clear value and ROI. This means that vendors will need to develop and market solutions that improve the bottom line for vacation rental managers and investors.
Economic uncertainty remains, but 2024 looks to be a stable year for vacation rentals
The global economy is currently facing a number of challenges, including inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain disruptions. This uncertainty is having an impact on a variety of industries, including the vacation rental market.
Despite the uncertain economic outlook, there is some positive news for vacation rental operators. The consensus among industry experts is that 2024 will be a flat or stabilizing year for the vacation rental market. This is better than 2023, when occupancy and RevPAR declined.
There are a few reasons for this optimism. First, the demand for vacation rentals remains strong. Travelers are still eager to experience new destinations even in the face of economic uncertainty. Second, the supply of vacation rentals is stabilizing. Following a period of rapid growth, the number of new vacation rental listings is slowing down. This is creating a more balanced market, which is good for operators.
To find out more about what else happened at VRMA International 2023 and how to market your short-term rental click here.