Welcome to the spring issue of VRM Intel Magazine. The pace at which business conditions are changing in the vacation rental industry is staggering. As you may have read, I published an editorial, “My Jerry Maguire Moment,” so I won’t rehash those dramatic sentiments here, but the overall point remains true. The demand for vacation homes is healthy. The enormous advantages of staying in a home instead of a hotel resonate with consumers. Margin compression, consolidation, business model shifts, the wave of regulations, and plenty of investment-propped-up noise are making things seem chaotic; but ultimately, the industry is still about providing safe, welcoming, privately owned accommodations and services for travelers.
As a result, much of this spring issue is dedicated to the core day-to-day operational and marketing challenges vacation rental managers face. From taxes to company culture to data protection to guest relations to taking responsibility for standards and inventory, the following pages contain valuable insights from industry leaders about building and sustaining a successful vacation rental management company.
One interesting piece of news from the first quarter of 2018 was Wyndham’s announcement that it is selling its European vacation rental business for $1.3 billion, and industry experts will be combing through the details to determine how the valuation affects the industry. According to John Banczak in the article on page 66 about TurnKey’s recent $31 million funding round, “It is a positive sign for the industry overall . . . Five years ago, it was tough to explain the business to the investment community. Now folks understand just how appealing the business is. There is far more money running through the PM space than there is through the consumer websites themselves. The Wyndham deal is just another sign that folks are starting to wake up to this.”
With increasing investor interest in the industry, new platforms and models are emerging that challenge the traditional ways of doing business. For example, the online travel agency (OTA) business models are evolving in front of our eyes. We’ve seen listing fees and pay-per-lead models shift to transactional fees, and now we’re seeing the introduction of charges for off-platform bookings. This type of charge is unparalleled in modern ecommerce marketplaces, and it will be fascinating to watch how the experiment evolves.
On page 62, David Angotti provides a different perspective, outlining how OTAs are positively affecting the vacation rental sector. Also in this issue, Jeremiah Gall talks about how guests demand instant gratification, and Steve Milo lays out his vision for the new technology-enabled vacation rental manager.
In addition, Sarah Bradford’s article on talking to owners about updating properties is a must-read. And if you haven’t listened to her podcast with Tim Cafferty, Sea to Ski with Sarah and T, check it out. They are unafraid to talk about the current issues facing vacation rental managers, and they provide empowering ways to leverage changes to grow your business.
Also, mark your calendars for the inaugural Vacation Rental Women’s Summit on February 19–20, 2019, at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. This is going to be a special industry event designed to celebrate the many women who have built the industry and to discuss topics of particular concern to this group.
Thank you again for your continued support of this magazine. I hope you enjoy this issue, and as always, I look forward to your feedback and to seeing you this spring at one of the upcoming industry conferences.