August 2017 update: After the successes of the VRMA 2015 in New Orleans and the VRMA Amsterdam 2017, in 2017 we will be heading to the VRMA 2017 in Orlando. If you would like to meet us there, please email or phone us for more details.
November 2015: On Saturday, October 24th, we arrive at our charming rental home in the residential neighborhood of East Carrollton, New Orleans. With the St. Charles Streetcar stopping just in front of our home, we’re looking forward to a scenic commute to the Riverside area, where the conference is held.
The first thing that draws our attention is that nobody is there to check us in. The rental had been pre-paid and our confirmation came with a 4 digit keycode to get in. On the one hand, it’s strange not to go through the check-in process and property walk-through we’re accustomed to, on the other it’s nice not worrying about getting to the property on time, plus we find everything in working order with clear instructions.
2015 VRMA ANNUAL CONFERENCE
The Conference starts each day at 7:30 in the morning. The early bird gets the worm, they say, and we’re here to seize opportunities so we waste no time sleeping in.
We’re not sure what to expect, as it’s the first time we attend a VRMA conference as exhibitors, but everything is very well organized. Thanks to Ben Edwards and the amazing VRMA team, including Jamey King, Jill Curtis, Laura Miller and Sheila King we quickly feel at home.
Throughout the Conference we’re excited by how dynamic the vacation rental sector is in the the US:
Andrew McConnell and Ashley Watson introduce us to new business models like Rented., a marketplace for property owners looking for property managers.
Evan Hammer and Nick Persico of Smarthost and David Ordal of Everbooked bring us up to speed on innovative revenue management solutions for vacation rentals, something we’re only starting to hear about in Europe, and we get a glimpse into the way rental pricing will be set in the future.
At our booth, we meet with many property managers who are very happy to tell us about how they run their business, and what their needs and priorities are when it comes to software. We’re pleasantly surprised by the size of some of the companies, which operate in a number of different states, such as Vacasa.
We realize that there are not that many differences between European and American property management companies when it comes to business needs. Both are looking for software that will automate workflow and facilitate important business decisions.
However if we notice a difference it’s that American companies use less distribution channels than their European counterparts and seem to focus mostly on the domestic US market.
It’s surprising to us that while the US is the second country in the world in terms of inbound international tourism and the first for international tourism revenue (over $214 billion), the majority of vacation rental companies have websites only in English.
The majority of the 84 million foreigners that visit the country each year are likely searching for vacation rentals in their own language, and using a number of different portals, yet most of the property managers we meet are only using Homeaway or Booking.com.
We were happy to see lots of property managers stopping in front of our channel manager banner and asking about our international partner portals.
November 2015: We reach London two days after the end of the New Orleans conference. We’ve already been away from home for 8 days but are still in high spirits. The cool weather in London contrasts with the 25 degrees celsius of the birthplace of Jazz.
We comfortably settle into our home in the London suburbs. We were lucky since we were staying only an hour and 15 minutes by Tube from the trade show, not too bad of a commute by London standards.
2015 WORLD TRAVEL MARKET
With about 5,000 exhibitors from around the world and every sector of the travel industry, the WTM is vast, and this is the second year we exhibit there. We’re well established in the European market. We meet with many of our clients and make a lot of new contacts.
We love the WTM for its very international reach and in just a few days our stand was visited by companies from four different continents, including a surprising number of property managers from exciting markets like India and Bali.
Fresh from our New Orleans experience, we’re also thrilled to receive a few visits from US-based property managers looking for international distribution.
- While the needs of property managers are very similar, in the US the sector is more dynamic and innovative, with very useful services and solutions that should make their way to the European market.
- European property managers are more traditional when it comes to technology, however they do work with many more distribution portals and are better prepared to attract international tourists.
- There are some great opportunities between the European and American markets, particularly when it comes to distribution. We’re happy to see some signs of American companies reaching out more actively to European tourists, and hope to see this trend increase in the future.
- One of our primary goals is to help build bridges between the vacation rental sectors in Europe and the US. We’ll definitely continue to grow the already extensive selection of international distribution channels available through our channel manager, enabling property managers in the US to reach out to European tourists and vice-versa.