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Insights From the 2014 Vacation Rental Managers Association Annual Conference

By Tammy Hutchison -If you happened to miss this year’s record-breaking VRMA Annual Conference, have no fear, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a list of our biggest takeaways so that you’re not out of the loop on any of the current industry trends.

The primary theme of this year’s conference was on managing the entire experience cycle of customers.  This means from the time they begin searching and booking a property until the time they check out.  This all-inclusive experience is what renters want and expect these days.  By ensuring that your technology and staff deliver a memorable experience from start to finish is your best bet at creating brand loyalty in 2015.

One of the stats we found interesting is that there are 146 million people who have never stayed in a vacation rental property, which is hopefully good news to you. By simply choosing to use the right technology and then combining that with hiring the right staff members who have a great customer service attitude, you can own your market as you move into this new year.

Another part of the theme of managing the entire customer service experience we found interesting was a discussion on the importance of offering “24 Hour Booking,” with a “Book Now” feature in order to simplify the booking process. With today’s technology most people expect that they shouldn’t have to call to reserve a vacation rental space or wait for a response. At TruPlace, we know interactive floor plans aid this process by giving guests the information they need to make a fast booking decision.

Finally, one of the other trends we found interesting was a discussion about the different kinds of renters who might rent from you moving forward. Note: this research was provided by HomeAway.

  • The Modern Family – This would be the kaleidoscope of a blended family – interracial, different locations, and/or friends and family that enjoy vacationing together
  • The PANK or PUNK – “The Professional Aunt (or Uncle) with No Kids” – This person has disposable income and likes to vacation with her (or his) nieces or nephews.
  • The Millennials – Since they’ve grown up with technology, they expect it.
  • The Bleasures – These would be people who like to mix pleasure with business. The trend might lead to shorter stays but they’ll still want all the conveniences of a home office.
  • The Boomers – No need to comment.
  • The Kids Rule Family – These are families where the kids have the major pull as to where the family will stay.

That said, the primary lesson we took away from this year’s conference, and the one we’d recommend you focus on in 2015, is that you focus your attention on the total customer experience of a renter who’s renting from you.  If you do that, we think you’ll not only keep your renters coming back year after year, we think you’ll end up creating a whole tribe of raving fans who’ll help spread the word about your property—all of which sounds like a great thing to focus on in 2015.