Sessions & Programming


2015 Annual Conference
"Celebrating the past. Looking to the future."

October 25 - 28, 2015
Hilton New Orleans Riverside
New Orleans, Louisiana
#vrma2015

Rates go up after Sept. 9. Register now!


Annual Conference Sessions & Programming 

Presentations delivered by industry leaders are the centerpiece of every VRMA Conference. Whether you've been in the industry a month or a lifetime, and whether your company manages five properties or five hundred, VRMA's Annual Conference provides the education and connections you need to stay competitive in this changing industry.

Additional sessions will be added as information becomes available.

 


Annual Conference Keynotes


Take the Stairs: 7 Steps for Achieving True Success
Monday, October 26, 8:15 a.m.
Rory Vaden

Southwestern Consulting | Cofounder

Success is different for each of us, but the path to get there has the same obstacles:  fatigue, rejection, failure, distraction, burnout, complacency and countless others. And yet there is one common characteristic and one universal trait that virtually every single successful person must have before accomplishing their goals:  Discipline - the discipline to do the things they don’t want to do.  In this hilarious and compelling speech, self-discipline strategist and motivational speaker Rory Vaden shares key insights and erases common misconceptions about how to build lasting self-discipline.

Rory is an award-winning entrepreneur and is the cofounder of the multi-million dollar international training company Southwestern Consulting.

 
Additionally, as the founder of the Center for the Study of Self-Discipline (CSSD), his insights on improving self-discipline, overcoming procrastination and enhancing productivity have been featured on Fox and Friends, Oprah radio, CNN and in Fast Company and Success Magazine.

His new book “Take the Stairs: 7 Steps To Achieving True Success” released as number one  on the USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Wall Street Journal Best Seller lists and number two on the New York Times.


 

Rory Vaden
Southwestern Consulting

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Building a Culture of Preparedness
Tuesday, October 27, 8:30 a.m.
Lt. General Russel L. Honoré (Ret.)
Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and Global Preparedness Authority



 

Lt. General Russel L. Honoré

 
Prior to his command of Joint Task Force-Katrina – leading the Department of Defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana – General Honoré served in a variety of command and staff positions which focused on Defense Support to Civil Authorities and Homeland Defense.

As Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., and, as the Commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security, United States Northern Command, General Honoré’s focus was Defense Support to Civil Authorities and Homeland Defense. For four of the past six hurricane seasons, he supported the Department of Defense planning and response for Hurricanes Floyd in 1999; Lilli and Isidore in 2002 (both hit the Gulf Coast); Isabel in 2003; and Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004.

General Honoré also planned and supported the United States military response to the devastating flooding which swept Venezuela 1999 and Mozambique in 2000. As Vice Director for Operations, he led the Defense Department’s planning and preparation for the anticipated Y2K Millennium anomaly. As Commander of SJFHQ-HLS under NORTHCOM direction, he planned and oversaw the military response to the Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy and the DC Sniper Shootings. Additionally, General Honoré participated in three TOPOFF (Top Officials) exercises as well as the United Endeavor series of Homeland Defense exercises.

General Honoré retired on February 29, 2008, following 37 years of active service with the United States Army.  He continues to speak and consult nationally and is a former CNN contributor.
 

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Navigating Fear and Change in Today's Fast World
Wednesday, October 28, 9:00 a.m.
Kristen Ulmer

A professional danger-seeker, Kristen Ulmer was recognized as the best big-mountain (extreme) woman skier in the World for 12 years. She was also on the US Ski Team for moguls and voted by the outdoor industry the most fearless woman athlete in North America.
Today Kristen combines her athletic background with 12 years training with a Zen Master to work as a full time Zen Therapist. She’s known for intersecting modern life with the ancient wisdom traditions, using a teaching tool which helps you get to the other side of a problem in a manner of hours which in the past would have taken years.  
 
An evolutionary leader in the fields of change, mindset sports training, unique approaches to the reduction of fear and anxiety, and alternatives to talk therapy or meditation, her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, The Robb Report, NPR, Outside Magazine, USA Today and many, many more.

She is currently writing her first book with Harper Collins, titled My Love Affair With Fear.

 

Kristen Ulmer

 

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Concurrent Sessions

The 2015 Annual Conference boasts a record-tying 56 concurrent educational sessions to choose from. Concurrent sessions are 60 minutes in length and will be offered Monday and Tuesday of the Conference. See a preliminary listing below; additional sessions will be added as information becomes available.


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Accounting/Finance/Legal Issues
 

Don’t Let a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit Have a Catastrophic Effect on your Business
As vacation rental managers, most of us have some experience with personal injuries in properties we manage. While most are fairly minor and able to be handled by following a tried-and-true set of procedures, there is a good chance that you may one day be faced with a much more serious event. What should you do (or, perhaps more importantly, not do?) Do you have enough insurance, or are you over-insured? What can you expect from a high-powered plaintiff’s attorney as opposed to the guy on the back cover of the Yellow Pages? In this session, you’ll hear both the narrative of an actual event and its aftermath as well as advice from a corporate defense attorney on what you might expect should you be faced with a similar situation. 
Presenter(s): Ryan Swaim, Dunes Realty Vacation Rentals; Dominic Starr, McAngus, Goudelock and Courie



Financially Managing Your Vacation Rental Business
This session will provide vacation rental managers with the information necessary to financially manage their business with consistent and reliable financial reports. As expenses in the vacation rental industry continue to rise, effective financial management is imperative to providing sustainable profits.
Presenter(s): Ben Edwards, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties/Weatherby Consulting
 

Refresh Your Owner Agreement: Making Legal Terminology Easy to Understand
Many rental companies want to grow their business, but they often fail to take a fresh look at the last piece of the deal: The owner contract. This session will focus on the details to include in the contract and how to make contract terms easy for owners to understand. We will also review how you can set up these agreements in a way that creates value in your business by making the agreements assignable in the event of the sale of your business.
Presenter(s): Cliff Johnson, Vacasa; Bryan Geon, Vacasa
 

Risk Mitigation for Vacation Rentals
Insurance for vacation rentals affects all the participants in the rental including the owner, the renter and the property management company. With recent developments, the spotlight on insurance in vacation rental transactions is expected to grow. Learn how to best assess your insurance situation and improve it.
Presenter(s)Kunal Malhotra, Assurant Specialty Property; Erik Dempsey, Assurant Specialty Property
 
 
Selling Your Vacation Rental Business for Profit
As the purchase and sale market heats up, vacation rental managers are being agressively solicited to sell their businesses. This session will provide tangible techniques to properly present your business for sale, initiate discussions with prospective buyers and negotiate a fair agreement while achieving maximum value for your business.
Presenter(s): Ben Edwards, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties/Weatherby Consulting
 
 
The Art of the Deal
Gain a full understanding of the important items and criteria for buying and selling vacation rental businesses in today's marketplace. This session provides details from both the buy-side and sell-side of current acquisitions and sales in the industry by two of the leading "deal guys" in the vacation rental space.
Presenter(s): James Olin, C2G Advisors LLC; Ben Edwards, Newman-Daily Resort Properties/Weatherby Consulting


 

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Business Strategy


A Critical Review of Technologies Fueling Next-Gen Business Models
Following his April 2015 VRMA blog, “New Vacation Rental Business Models: Next-Gen VRMs,” George Volsky visited VRMs and technology providers to determine how smart-home technology and mobile technology have fared in VRM operations. He also observed how this technology is being leveraged to create lower cost, centralized management of rental homes. In this session, George elaborates upon the results, sharing insights and predictions about (1) whether/ how new technology can generate business models that allow for managing rental homes without geographical limitations; (2) whether such business models are more efficient than traditional VRM business models and pose serious competitive threats.
Presenter(s): George Volsky, Seaside Realty



Ask An Expert
Back by popular demand! The Ask an Expert session gives you the opportunity to ask questions and interact with peer experts in small-group discussions. This is your chance to delve deeper with colleagues into the topics that affect you most. Bring your questions for our expert discussion leaders and gain specific, hands-on advice from others.
 

Fixed Rent Contracts: An Innovative Approach to Recruiting and Retaining Owners
Managers face an increasing threat from owners deciding to rent-by-owner, or taking their homes off of the market entirely. Even when owners consider working with a manager, many managers find their message drowned out by that of all the other competing managers in their market. This session will delve into a new way to approach owners: by guaranteeing their rental income for the year. Not only can this approach help you stand out from the crowd, it can also be the best way to increase your control--and your margins-- in this ever more competitive industry. 
Presenter(s): Andrew McConnell, VacationFutures; Cliff Johnson, Vacasa


Getting New Property Management Software? The Do's and Don'ts for a Successful Change
So you’ve decided it is time to change software! This session will provide you with the best practices for determining your needs, rating them by importance, navigating the sales and selection process, and installations for success. The secret is using structured techniques to ensure consistent results.
Presenter(s): Doug Macnaught, The VRM Consultants; Tom Kaczmarek, The VRM Consultants; Stuart Pack, Resort Realty


Intro to Dynamic Pricing and Yield Management
Learn how you can leverage data to make more money without spending a dime on marketing. We'll cover the basics of predicting demand, analyzing supply and competitor pricing, analyzing hotel competition, and understanding booking curves. If you are in charge of setting rates at your company and want to become more sophisticated in your pricing either to ward off "next-generation" competitors or to make your owners happier, this is a great opportunity to learn and share strategies.
Presenter(s): Ian McHenry, Beyond Pricing; Scott Breon, Vacasa; Ari Eryorulmaz, AE Hospitality; Emily Vandall, Beachwalker Rentals



Managing for Change
As a part of a growth industry, vacation rental managers need to be strategic about how they work with their team to stay focused and productive during a time of change. When a business is changing quickly, growing pains are often felt in the areas of communication, accountability and morale. This presentation will cover management techniques that, while they are a good idea all the time, are absolutely essential when your business is experiencing a period of dramatic growth. We will cover how you build a team, improve communication strategies and empower shared leadership.
Presenter(s): Heidi Stuber, Sea to Sky Rentals


Mobile Travel Adoption is Moving at Warp Speed-- Today-- Not Tomorrow! 
For years we’ve heard about making our companies more mobile-friendly and why we should spend marketing dollars buying mobile advertising. But as mobile surpasses PC use for consumer shopping and purchasing behavior in our industry, the future is here today, not tomorrow. Come learn about key statistics surrounding mobile and how we will need to rethink our mobile offerings and streamline our operations to meet this growing demand.
Presenter(s): Chris Manderino, Dwellable; Michelle Acquavella, Sea to Sky Rentals, LLC



Pricing Workshop
This session will review pricing fundamentals before walking through ten interesting and challenging pricing examples. These examples are derived from a two-week session where the speakers teamed up to set rents for Scott’s company, which had recently merged with another company that used different pricing strategies. The speakers will demonstrate how poor pricing allowed competitors to steal market share, and will offer solutions to finding good comparables and coping with nervous homeowners, predatory price competition, and limited resources. This session also demonstrates the importance and different roles of pricing philosophy, answering questions like,“What’s most important to us for this home?”
Presenter(s): Scott Leggat, Seaside Realty; George Volsky, Seaside Realty

 

Recruiting New Homes and New Homeowners: Best Practices and Pitfalls
This panel discussion delves into the best ways to find, attract and onboard the homes you need to grow your business. From online marketing to offline homeowner outreach, and from innovative business models to tried-and-true sales pitches, our panel of experts will discuss what works and what doesn’t when it comes to adding new properties to your portfolio. Adding more properties under management is the best way to grow your business, and this panel will teach you the best-in-class ways to add more of the properties you want, and less of those you don’t.
Presenter(s): Andrew McConnell, VacationFutures; Eric Breon,  Vacasa; Ashley Hamm, 360 Blue, LLC; Heather Bayer, CottageLINK Rental Management; Mike Harrington, Topsail Realty Vacations LLC



Retooling for Survival
In today’s market, it is important to survive profit squeeze from third party distribution, online shopping and maturing markets. This session reviews a blueprint of five intitiatives to help independent companies adapt and prosper. Topics include: analytics that make or break profitability; ways to keep big enterprise competitors from pushing you aside; participation in third party distribution channels without breaking the bank; strategic alliances with local partners that add product value; and relevant content to motivate guests to find you.
Presenter(s): Scott Leggat, Seaside Realty; George Volsky, Seaside Realty

 

Revenue Fundamentals
Back by popular demand, this session reviews revenue fundamentals that have been developed and shared by rental managers over two decades of VRMA conferences. A “must-attend” session for new managers or first-time attendees, this session outlines different revenue streams, industry fees, buy-in strategies and commission reduction options. Discover the differences between nightly and one-time fees and learn how to set up fees that will increase your effective commission rate while insulating you from seasonal and ad hoc discounting.
Presenter(s): George Volsky, Seaside Realty; Scott Leggat, Seaside Realty


Rising From the Ashes

I got the phone call at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 12: “Your building is on fire!”  By 8 p.m., our main office was gone. Everything. GONE. We had 500 houses to check in in 12 hours with no packets, no keys and no computers. Would you be ready? Would you have everything backed up and all information safe?  Do you have a plan? Do we have you thinking you need one? Learn how we got through one of the most difficult events in life. All reservations were checked in by 5:30 p.m. the day after the fire. We were booking reservations online in 16 hours. We had all systems replaced and operational in 16 days. We'll show you how we did it!
Presenter(s): Doug Brindley, Brindley Beach Vacations; Tom Kaczmarek, The VRM Consultants

 

The Fight of the Century: Short Term Rental Regulations, and How You Can Win 
In 2015 more than 50 destinations and nearly 25 states are reviewing or introducing regulations to address vacation rentals. The issue continues to make headlines in places like San Francisco and North Carolina. These new regulations are affecting the vacation rental market. In this session we will learn from managers who have faced these fights on the state and local front—and won. This session will highlight best practices that create the highest form of regulatory compliance. We will also examine the economic impact of vacation rentals in a hot, competitive environment. You’ll learn how to quickly engage with other managers in your area to create fair and effective regulations. We’ll cover best practices and model examples that achieve the highest rates of compliance for short-term rental regulations, and you’ll walk away with the talking points, messaging and playbook needed to win.
Presenter(s): Matt Curtis, HomeAway


Vacation Rental Industry Performace Benchmarks You Should Know
Interested in learning industry performance benchmarks to know how you’re performing? If you love data and want current industry standards, this is a session you shouldn’t miss! We’ll dissect the sales and service components of vacation rental management with telling statistics and historical performance data based on tens of millions of guest interactions measured by NAVIS in the last three years.
Presenter(s): Heather Weiermann, NAVIS


Vertical Integration: Building Untapped Revenue

Owning a vacation rental management company is a rather niche business. Often, business owners can run into certain challenges when attempting to scale a company and increase revenue. Although it’s not often mentioned in our industry, vertical integration is a business strategy utilized to bring more of the "supply chain" under the control of a single company. This very strategy can be deployed into the vacation rental management industry which, if deployed correctly, can open up new revenue opportunities. This session will walk through real life case studies where one owner's journey is to create a (symbiotic) vertically integrated business model.
Presenter(s): Kenny Hayslett, Beach Time Rentals

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Human Resources/Information Technology


Avoiding Common HR Mistakes
Learn how to avoid common HR pitfalls including misclassification of employees, employee handbook faux pas and other human resources mistakes.
Presenter(s): JenniferJones, Vacasa


Broad Strokes, Fine Lines: Passionate Focus, Relentless Execution 
What are the few, wildly important priorities that, if accomplished, would have the greatest impact on your organization? Is everyone passionately focused on them? Does everyone even agree on what they are? Are you achieving them? Greatness occurs when committed people focus and execute on important priorities. In this presentation, Dore will offer innovative approaches to communicating your high priority goals and big picture (broad strokes). She will also share creative solutions to achieving the specific activities (fine lines). This session will help you bridge the gap between passionate focus on goals and relentless execution.
Presenter(s): Dore Jean, Kaizen


Creating An Organization That Team Members Take A Pay Cut To Work For

With the economy improving, how do leaders continue to build a winning team, when good workers are in short supply? We will break down strategies that have been successful for our organization to continue to hire great staff in a market where unemployment rates are below 3.3 percent.
Presenter(s)Darik Eaton, Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals



Employment Law Basics
Overview of important employment laws that every employer needs to know.
Presenter(s): Jennifer Jones, Vacasa



Growing a Great Company by Investing in Your Culture
This session is intended to provide attendees with a property manager's experience and understanding of the significant ROI in establishing an intentional, strategic, outside-of-the-industry approach to establishing a valuable company culture through its HR practices. Topics include: hiring and firing practices, open financials, unorthodox employee benefits, retention and other under-utilized tools for growing your business.
Presenter(s)Ashley Hamm, 360 Blue, LLC

 

 The 1-2-3's and A-B-C's of Employee Forms, Files and Best Practices
Lucky you! You are hiring a new employee. This session discusses a variety of employment documents and best practices. For example: What should you look for when reviewing resumes? Do you use applications or resumes, or both? What’s the best practice for extending offers? Join this interactive session to learn about these topics as well as reference checking, documenting performance and what to keep in personnel files.
Presenter(s)Sue Jones, The KLS Group



What Property Managers Need to Know About IRS Forms 1099 and 1042-S… and More!
Attend this interactive session to learn more about IRS forms used for reporting income to employees, independent contractors and owners.  Review guidelines and learn about the risk of misclassifying workers as independent contractors by issuing 1099’s.  Learn the differences between Form 1099 and 2014-S.  Understand the function and the importance of Form 2014-S when reporting income paid to owners that are citizens of foreign countries.  Join us during this session to gain more insight and clarification about these forms.
Presenter(s): Sue Jones, KLS Group



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Industry Trends (NEW!)

Channeling Your Brand
This class will explain the importance of each company defining their brand beyond just a logo, how to create a style guide (and what should it include), and how to ensure that this brand message is clear across all of your marketing efforts and channels. Branding efforts should be used throughout the company including your homeowner acquisition efforts and messaging, guest acquisition, and messaging including your website, social media, online advertising, and offline marketing efforts including call center scripting and staff training.
Presenter(s)Amber Mayer, The St. Joe Company/St. Joe Club & Resorts; Michelle Marquis, NAVIS

 

Crystal Balling the Industry's Technology Glut
The industry is being deluged with technology, some fueling next-gen VRM business models. This panel highlights hot new technology categories,  while noting the staggering cost of buying them all and pondering dilemmas facing VRMs. The panel fields questions such as:  “What are some of the most interesting new products?” “Which technology categories may emerge as “must-haves?” “Which are candidates for merger into reservation systems?”, “For publicly funded service providers, can VRMs pay prices required by Wall Street investors?” The panel will conclude with predictions about how emerging technologies will affect the future of vacation rentals.
Presenter(s): George Volsky, Seaside Realty; Tom Leddy, Leddy Associates, Inc.; Amy Hinote, The VRM Consultants; Doug Kennedy, Kennedy Training Network


Leisure Travel Trends and Market Update
The vacation rental industry is significantly impacted by broader market trends, providing context for the business of VRMA members and serving as a tide that rises or falls based on each business involved. This creates the need/opportunity to provide a macro market update of the leisure travel industry, following the kind of situation assessment that precedes the normal planning process. This includes an overview of the industry and key tourism trends that affect our ability to do business, creating a fact-based context for attendees to better understand the threats and opportunities upon which the market and their own businesses are dependent.
Presenter(s): Ralf Garrison, DestiMetrics


Metrics that Matter for "Non-Hotel" Lodging
While Smith Travel Research established a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPI), benchmarks and metrics for the hotel industry, no such consistent standard exists for non-hotel condos and vacation rental units symptomatic of VRMA members. Thus an initiative is already under way by DestiMetrics, to which VRMA and other stakeholders are invited to discuss the metrics that matter. This interactive session is a unique and well-timed opportunity to have an insightful discussion, determine support and possible next steps toward an initiative.
Presenter(s): Ralf Garrison, DestiMetrics



Vacation Rental Industry: Present and Future
Using the best insights from HomeAway market research, this session will describe the state of the vacation rental industry today, including market size and segmentation; the profile and motivations of travelers, owners, and managers; major trends; and key success factors for managers. Looking forward, we will highlight how e-commerce will impact the evolution of the category online.
Presenter(s): Bill Furlong, HomeAway

 

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Marketing


1:1 Marketing Drives New Revenue
The session will focus on the revenue-generating impact of leveraging attribute-rich household personas (CRM profiles) of guests and prospects. This presentation will explain the exponential results of segmentation, targeted content and direct channel strategies based on aggregate NAVIS client successes.
Presenter(s)Michelle Marquis, NAVIS
 

Media Engagement 101
Public relations is the single most cost-effective marketing tool available to vacation rental managers, but many companies don't take full advantage of its power. By developing strong relationships with journalists, the media can tell your story far more effectively than any other marketing initiative you take on--and reach many more travelers. This session will do a deep dive into how to craft your company's story, find the right media outlets, and create long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with journalists. You'll walk away knowing how to make the media your secret marketing weapon.
Presenter(s): Toby Babich, Resort Managers; Angela Cavis, MMGY Global 
 

Seven Habits for Effective Lead Management
Learn the essentials of implementing a successful lead management program, including tools to assist with defining and implementing a program for your organization. Hear first-hand how property managers have implemented lead management techniques and their incredible results.
Presenter(s)Carmela Gillenwater, HomeAway; Ashley Hamm, 360 Blue
 

The New Email Marketing: Combining Traditional Science with Modern Art
Email continues to be one of the most successful marketing channels yielding the highest ROI. However, travelers are increasingly savvy and the once traditional “eblasts” to entire email lists are no longer effective. Now travelers demand personalized, relevant information delivered at the most appropriate time for them. Sound difficult to execute? We’re going to help simplify this process. In this presentation, we will discuss how you can use data you have to create powerful, customized messages that inspire travelers to book.
Presenter(s)Ned Lucks, Bluetent; Joe Joyce, Bluetent

 

The One Page Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Bookings
Do you want more bookings and higher occupancy? If so, don't miss this workshop. Marketing can be overwhelming, but in this session we'll work together to help you create a custom one page marketing plan for your vacation rental company. We'll focus on the activities that provide the greatest return on investment. You'll leave with actionable next steps and a clear plan to create success in your marketing strategy!
Presenter(s): Matt Bare, Q4Launch
 

Think Like the Big Dogs: Website Conversion Ideas Every Vacation Rental Company Can Leverage
You may not imagine the possibility of implementing unique online marketing technology and ideas used by the billion dollar businesses of the world due to the perceived costs involved, but we’re here to share how you can. We’re going to uncover the top 12 online market trends from mega brands that can be leveraged by vacation rental companies of any size and will drastically increase online bookings—and exactly how to implement them.
Presenter(s)Brandon Sauls, Intercoastal Net Designs; Conrad O'Connell, Intercoastal Net Designs


Third Party Transactional Channels: How to Generate Millions of Dollars
Third party transactions on OTAs are an important new revenue source for vacation rental managers. This session will provide candid pros and cons of major channels like Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway and Trip Advisor as well as other smaller upcoming channels with an analysis of actual transactional revenue results.
Presenter(s)Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros
 

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Property Services/Quality Control


Housekeeping Basics
When we first learned how to ride a bike we focused on the basics: balance, forward momentum, and avoiding dangerous obstacles. As our bike riding ability improved we could ride with no hands, take a corner super fast, or pedal really fast to get away from the angry dog. Every once in while we would crash and then go back to the basics. Housekeeping is no different. The basics need to be reviewed again and again to make sure all the advanced housekeeping procedures and principles stay intact.
Presenter(s): Durk Johnson, Vacasa/VRHP



Housekeeping : More Than Just Cleaning
What if I told you that housekeeping should be a key revenue generator for your business?  It's time to view housekeeping as more than just "the cleaners."  Housekeeping should be a revenue generator helping you to gain repeat guests and acquire new properties for your portfolio.  With the right processes and accountability programs, you can transition from "cleaning crews" to another opportunity for revenue generation.   It’s time to transition from measuring the effectiveness of your housekeeping company with customer ratings alone and move to a measurement that includes a revenue generation goal.
Presenter(s): Scott Fasano, Elevate Cleans



Getting Ahead of Government Regulations: Vacation Rental Safety
Often, people hear about safety and think:"Boring". Not here. Back by popular demand after receiving high praise at the Eastern Regional VRMA Conference in Norfolk this year, Justin Ford will re-present his eye-opening focus on safety in the vacation rental industry. Referencing real-life situations and news reports that have affected the vacation rental industry over the past few years, Justin aims to assist whole-home vacation managers in recognizing the importance safety has in our industry while sharing ways to "sell it" to your owners and guests.
Presenter(s): Justin Ford, On the Water in Maine



Laundry: Pressing Profits Out of the Wash
In-house laundry is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it allows for complete control of the linen process-- and it’s a curse because of the operational complexity it adds.  Make no mistake, having a laundry is a must for a vacation rental company.
Presenter(s): Durk Johnson, Vacasa/VRHP; Joe Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales/VRHP; Mike Harrington, Topsail Realty Vacations LLC

 

Paying Housekeepers on a Piece Rate System
At a time when attracting the best employees is challenging, and having fixed costs for labor expenses makes offering a higher wage difficult, paying piece rate is an excellent solution for two reasons: 1) the cleaning of the property becomes a fixed cost; and 2) this system rewards the employees for speed and quality.
Presenter(s): Durk Johnson, Vacasa/VRHP

 

The Business Case for Home Automation: Where it Makes Sense and Where it Doesn’t
Have you considered investing in keyless locks or home automation technology? Hear from this panel of property managers who have done the research and then made their decision on whether to implement this technology. Take this opportunity to learn if home automation is right for your business before you put in the time and make the investment.
Presenter(s): Carmela Gillenwater, HomeAway

 

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Sales & Customer Service

 

4 Steps to Automate Your Way to More Conversions
Know thy funnel. The cheapest, fastest way to get more bookings is to increase the percentage of visitors that book. If you focus on getting more visits and inquiries, you will consistently spend 2x as much in time and money to get 2x the bookings. Focus on optimizing for conversion among the travelers already visiting your site and inquiring on your properties, and you can get 2x the bookings with minimal cost and effort.
Presenter(s): FrankLangston, PayByGroup; Eric Mason, RealVoice



A Mile in Another's Shoes
So often in the vacation rental industry, there is a lack of understanding between different parties. Housekeepers may see homeowners as privileged and owners may see housekeepers as if they do not care. VRMs are making tons of money from them. Staff feel that guests are taking advantage of the company by complaining; guests feel that staff is not appreciative of their business. Interviews address some of these preconceptions and end with a deeper understanding of each party, which begins a conversation. The takeaway is empathy, leading to great customer service and a connected staff.
Presenter(s)Maureen Regan, Seaside Vacation Rentals

Coaching for Success
Coaching employees includes more than outlining what areas need improvement, it takes a true trainer to build trust, be nurturing and dig down into foundational challenges. As well as understanding that each employee learns differently and is motivated differently.
Presenter(s)Ali Cammelletti, Cammelletti Consulting

Creating Distinctive Customer Excellence: The Bold Employee Experience
It's time for organizations to pay as much attention to their employee experience as they do to their customer experience. "A company's culture and a company's brand are really just two sides of the same coin,” says Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. The essence of a highly distinctive customer experience lies in the emotional connection made with the customer. More and more organizations are coming to the realization that in order to deliver a great customer experience, you must first create an engaging employee experience. In this session, you will learn how the bold brands are addressing this challenge.
Presenter(s)Dore Jean, Kaizen


Driving New Revenue Through Second Chance Bookings
Did you know that reservation agents making warm, follow up calls to “fence-sitters” have booked more than $108 million in reservations in the last 12 months? Do you want a piece of this revenue pie, a slice worth as much as a 10 percent increase to your topline revenue? This how-to session will demonstrate the value of making second-chance booking calls and teach you proven best practices for establishing a successful program in your business.
Presenter(s): Brise Carpenter, NAVIS



Relationship Building Through Excellent Customer Service
Customers are craving relationships in this technology-driven day and age. It is up to us to create those relationships through excellent customer service. Gain a better understanding of nonverbal skills vs. verbal skills and how they are used effectively. Identify internal and external customers and how to serve the needs of each. This interactive format will show you how trust can be earned through building relationships.
Presenter(s)Ali Cammelletti, Cammelletti Consulting


Reservations Sales Training: 3 Ways to Become a Reservations Agent Sales Superstar
A repeat of this exceptionally ranked session at VRMA Regionals! Whether you’re a new reservations sales agent, have been answering calls for years, or are trying to be the best you can be, you won’t want to miss this interactive and fun session. You’ll get to test your own sales skills via interactive exercises, learn proven vacation rental reservation call techniques that increase bookings, and listen to recorded examples of actual reservations calls, both good and bad.
Presenter(s)Greg Holpuch, NAVIS


Turning Inquiries Into Gold
As trends in the hospitality market have vacation rentals on the map like never before, the popularity of listing sites have skyrocketed, sending a flood of inquiries into vacation rental managers’ inboxes. This session addresses the three major challenges and their solutions that will turn those inbox inquiries into pure gold!
Presenter(s): Heather Weiermann, NAVIS

 

 



Wednesday Workshops


Learning opportunities at the Annual Conference extend to Wednesday morning. The Wednesday morning workshops are hands-on, interactive 110-minute sessions. These sessions are included with your 2015 Annual Conference registration. Watch for more information about these sessions as it becomes available. 

Effective Social Media Strategies, Including Paid Ads
Are you leveraging the power of social media effectively? Make your social media efforts serve you, and not the other way around! Learn how to create paid ads or use tools to create free posts in Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram, so that you can:

  • Fill open properties on a last-minute basis
  • Develop strong relationships with guests after their stay
  • Solicit reviews from new guests and from owners
  • Easily find negative reviews and respond to them
  • Increase your SEO presence and the organic traffic to your website

Social media ads are much less expensive than Google AdWords. Also, they can be targeted at very specific groups of people, including past guests, the friends of past guests, your owners, your owner's friends, as well as people who visit your website. During the class, we dig into how to create great Facebook paid ads in particular.
Presenter(s): Susan Blizzard, Blizzard Internet Marketing

  
 

The Next 30 Years: A Discussion on the Future of the Vacation Rental Industry
The VRMA turns 30 years old this year. For those here from the beginning, you know the changes have been dramatic. What will the next 30 years hold? This panel discussion, comprised of the four leading players in the space, is a "must attend" for anyone curious as to where this industry is heading. Hear from top executives at HomeAway, Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb as they opine on what the future holds in terms of technology, operating models, new entrants, innovation within existing players and more. Be sure to bring your questions as we will open the floor for Q&A at the end.
Presenter(s): Andrew McConnell, VacationFutures; Shaun Stewart, Airbnb; Jessica Strelec, Booking.com; Bill Furlong, HomeAway; Ben Drew, TripAdvisor

 


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