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Takeaways from the 2023 VRMA International Conference

Takeaways from the 2023 VRMA International Conference

Whew! Did anyone else attend the 2009 VRMA conference in Washington DC?That was my first industry conference, and as I’ve reflected 💡 on the 2023 conference over the last couple of days I can’t help but be struck by how much the industry/these events have changed since then yet so many things have stayed the same. While the size and scope 📈 of this long-standing annual event has changed drastically over the years, what has not changed is the commitment VRMs have to delivering great guest experiences 🍍 and providing high quality property care 🏡 and optimized returns 💸 for homeowners.

This is the first event in awhile that had me scribbling ideas in my notebook 📔 like a madwoman with energy running high upon return. As I told Travis Wilburn yesterday, I am fired 🔥 up! Here are some of my initial thoughts:

Branding was certainly a much discussed topic this year, with VRMs recognizing the importance of having a memorable, strong 💪 identity. VRMs are striving to define how guests and owners recognize their brand in markets that are often saturated with other VRMs, from the mom and pops to national operators, and RBOs. And what better place than the House of Mouse 🏰 for branding to be at the forefront of conversation? As Meaghan Moylan and I noticed while at lunch on Tuesday, even the butter 🧈 was shaped like Mickey Mouse! It was also great to see Ginger Harrelson and Hunter Harrelson, two of the industry’s foremost authorities on branding, literally embodying their brand with their custom Beachball Properties blazers 😎 on Day 1! It would be remiss to not say that in an increasingly competitive M&A environment, VRM brand value is more important now than ever.

Owner acquisition was another hot button topic, with many sessions devoted to the topic. With supply up ⬆️ dramatically in many destinations compared to pre-pandemic, VRMs have much to play for, and they are being intentional with their approach. It was great to hear from many VRMs how they are approaching owner acquisition, with many taking outside the box 📦 approaches to set themselves apart. VRMs are thinking creatively about how to establish themselves as the experts/thought leaders/authorities 🧑💻 in their local markets and are leveraging that credibility and expertise in various ways in their owner acquisition strategy.

The technology 🖥️ side of the industry continues to be incredibly fragmented 🧩, and VRMs expressed exhaustion 🥱 at the number of software needed to effectively run their businesses. Many are scrupulously evaluating 🕵️ their tech stack to ensure that they have the right mix for their current needs. VRMs want to be hospitality managers, not technology managers. Is a wave of consolidation imminent?

For many attendees, networking 👐 is the most valuable aspect of these events. The industry overall is incredibly willing to make introductions, collaborate, and spend time brainstorming to find solutions for common problems. VRMs want more opportunities for authentic connections 🤗 and collaboration. There is an opportunity here to facilitate this in a meaningful way.

Finally, as you may know, The 100 Collection™ debuted last year right before the 2022 VRMA International Conference in Las Vegas. It’s amazing to look back and see how far we have come in a year’s time. We are humbled that for the second year in a row, a valued 100 Collection partner has won 🏆 the Vacation Rental Management Company of the Year award. Last year’s winners Ginger Harrelson and Hunter Harrelson passed the baton 🎉 to Elaine Mose Stitcher and Lance Stitcher of Seaside Vacations and Sales. We strive to work with local VRMs who best represent their destinations, and are thrilled 🤩 to see another 100 Collection partner recognized this year.

What an incredible show it was! It was wonderful to see and spend time with so many of you, from those I have known for over a decade like Michelle Marquis and Jaime DeBiasse, to former colleagues doing incredible work like Talia Lockard , Mateo Bradford-Vazquez , and Stefan Hollands, and to newer relationships like Valerie Gangas, Brian Olson, Sherry Gustafson, and Betty Robey.

Were you at the event? If not, any particular reason for not attending? If you were there, what was your biggest takeaway?

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