The VR Mastered Boot Camp returns this fall to bring the educational series to vacation rental owners and property managers. This year’s event will be held October 4-8 at the Paradox Hotel in Santa Cruz, California.
Founders Tyann Marcink and Alanna Schroeder will host up to 20 attendees for five days of networking and hands-on courses. Conrad O’Connell, SEO specialist and founder of BuildUp Bookings, and Jessica Vozel, writer and co-founder of Guest Hook, will join them as guest teachers. Classes will focus heavily on social media, but email marketing, SEO and copywriting, websites, listing sites, photography and video, hospitality, and operations will be covered as well. Registration costs $1,697 per person with discounts available for teams and alumni.
Marcink is a vacation rental photographer who leads workshops, writes ebooks, and speaks at conferences about photography. She also runs five short-term rentals of her own and manages a sixth in Branson, Marthasville, and Union, Missouri.
Schroeder turned her family’s Lake Tahoe home into a vacation rental. The experience led her to create The Distinguished Guest, a site that curates affordable luxuries for vacation rental properties.
After attending several conferences together, Marcink and Schroeder noticed attendees leaving feeling overwhelmed. They set out to create education in a format that brought many topics back to basics and delivered them in a way that many people learn better. This resulted in the VR Mastered Boot Camp, an annual immersive series with mini-camps throughout the year. Previous camps have been held in Mexico, San Antonio, and Nashville.
The boot camp caters to those who need help with foundational skills, whether they are new to the industry or have been in it for a while but haven’t stayed current with recent advancements.
“We love to teach and watch people succeed,” said Marcink. The 20-person limit and multi-day agenda let the teachers walk through several initial steps, such as setting up Instagram and using hashtags. “The teacher-to-student ratio is small so we can sit next to you and help you work through problems,” said Marcink.
The agenda has a strong social media focus because “much of our clientele is more mature and a group that hasn’t grown up with social media” said Schroeder. “Many are fearful of putting themselves out there and getting started.” Schroeder, Marcink, and their guest teachers help attendees set up accounts, give them ideas on what to post, teach them how to tag others, and build a community, among other tasks.
“Social media is something that is always evolving and changing so we’re always trying to stay ahead of it,” said Marcink. “Sometimes [our attendees] don’t want to ask their kids or grandkids for help.”
Creating a safe environment to ask questions is important at the boot camp, both founders said. (This environment continues after the event when alumni are granted access to a private Facebook group to continue asking questions and network with other attendees.)
While many topics are covered at an introductory level, that does not mean the information is limited. “We open up a firehose on you,” Marcink said. They also incorporate some sessions where groups can split off by experience level to learn more advanced skills or focus on an area where they need extra help, Schroeder said. At the end of the camp, attendees get “the key to success,” a key-shaped USB drive with exclusive tools like email templates.
A big part of their mission is to use what they’ve learned over their combined 20 years in the vacation rental industry to help others “level up.” “We’ve been through several presidential cycles, we’ve had the double bookings, bad cleanings,” said Marcink, “Everything’s not always peachy keen.” Still, they have also seen all of the positives of the industry, and they use their knowledge to help others learn how to avoid or walk through the bad experiences, Marcink said.
“Another thing this conference does is give them more confidence,” said Schroeder. “It’s fun to see these people grow.” They have also seen attendees make lasting connections. Some even go on vacation together now, they said.
Behind-the-scenes coverage of past events and examples of what previous attendees have done can be found by searching for the #vacationrentalbootcamp hashtag on Instagram.