Recap: What you missed at the 2017 Rezfest Conference
Las Vegas in September… couldn’t ask for much more, right? Flying in from the TripAdvisor HQ in Boston, the team was not only thrilled to meet with some of our favorite customers at Rezfest, but also to enjoy some of that warm weather!
HomeAway Software came to this year’s RezFest ready to wow their customers, and boy-oh-boy did they ever. Below, you’ll find some of our highlights, as well as some important information to consider as you gear up for peak booking season this fall.
Keynote from John Kim
Taking to the stage amid the excitement of the iPhoneX announcement, John Kim—President of HomeAway— tied the exponential momentum of today’s technologies directly into the vacation rental market.
Developments in technology are driving factors in our lives and our world. They impact the way we do business as well as the way we conduct our personal lives.
Technology is now making it less difficult to stay connected to the world and more of a challenge to disconnect from it
The good news for us? This means a strong increase in those travelers needing to take a break from their hectic, digitally demanding lives. Not only that, but travelers are now seeking to surpass their previous vacations by continuing to push beyond the boundaries. And for traditional hotel travelers, this means staying in a vacation rental and enjoying the destinations they visit in a whole new way.
Key Themes Throughout the Show
While the statement that ”the vacation rental industry is changing at a rapid rate” may sound like a broken record, it is important to note that nothing is more constant than change. And it’s not necessarily what’s changing but how we adapt to the change that’s important. Below, you’ll find the key themes from the show and how you can adapt your business to capitalize on these trends.
Know Your Customer, and Appeal to The Masses
More and more families and large groups are choosing rentals over other accommodations, and we all know why. Time together with your close friends and family is becoming more and more important in this chaotic world we live in. Use this as an opportunity to design your homes and market your properties to the right audience. If you have a 9-bedroom home built for 20 people, make sure you showcase opportunities for “together time” in large living spaces. That grill where they can have multiple cookouts, the family room that seats 10 for movie night when it’s raining, or that giant poolside patio for a relaxing day of fun in the sun. We understand not every house has 9 bedrooms. But not every vacation has 30 people either. If your home is better suited to couples, make sure to highlight your romantic sunset/rise views from the terrace, for example.
Be the Master of your Trade
As traveling becomes easier and more affordable, travelers are getting smarter and can see red flags faster than before. Travel habits are changing, too – doing exactly what we did last summer simply isn’t going to cut it any longer. You have to be the master of your craft and continue to stand out in your destination. TripAdvisor re-launched their Certificate of Excellence program earlier this year, and other OTAs are introducing similar rewards programs, and travelers know to look out for them. Figure out how you can make your properties the best they can be and you’ll beat your competition in 2018.
You’re Selling an Experience, not Real Estate
As an owner or property manager, you have the ability to get to know your properties and their extraordinary intricacies better than anyone else. Take the time to photograph these signature features, tie them into the description, even get started showcasing the best features in the title. Don’t talk about your properties as “4-bedroom colonial with large bedrooms, new kitchen with granite counter tops.” Talk about the balcony that’s perfect for breakfast, the garden the kids will love, the firepit where you can all gather in the evening. Picture a mother or father booking this trip for their family and allow them to visualize their stay… before they’ve even booked it! Travelers are looking to be inspired from the moment they enter their destination and travel dates. Hook them, and then book them!
You’ve Gotta Go Instant
As a vacation rental traveler myself, I understand the value of relationships with the owner or property manager. While I was growing up, my family booked a home from a private owner for 10 years. We even used to get Christmas cards from them. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the world we live in. Travelers want to find their property and book it instantly. Submitting an inquiry and waiting 4 hours only to hear the property they wanted is no longer available is not the smooth experience they expect in the digital world. Instant Book is here, and it’s going to be the wave of 2018!
It’s true that conferences can be expensive. And it’s never easy to be out of the office for several days. That said, I highly recommend picking one or two throughout the year and making sure you’re in attendance. It’s their best way to stay up-to-date with the vacation rental marketplace and make sure you’re moving with the times and not getting left behind.
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