2015 Annual Conference
"Celebrating the past. Looking to the future."
October 25 - 28, 2015
Hilton New Orleans Riverside
New Orleans, Louisiana
Advance registration closes Oct. 15. Register now!
Take the Stairs: 7 Steps for Achieving True Success
Monday, October 26, 8:15 a.m.
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.
Keynote sponsored by ResortsandLodges.com.
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.
Keynote sponsored by Proper Insurance.
Navigating Fear and Change in Today's Fast World
Wednesday, October 28, 9:00 a.m.
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.
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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.
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, rented.; Cliff Johnson, Vacasa; Michelle Acquavella, Sea to Sky Rentals
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
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, rented.; 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
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
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
How Do Changes to the Proposed Overtime Rules Affect my Business?
Do you have salaried employees earning less than $50,440 per year? If so, there is a high likelihood they will be eligible for overtime sometime in 2016. This change not only impacts your business financially, it may also impact your employee's morale and engagement. Now is the time to develope strategies to incorporate into your budget and staffing plans for 2016 to minimize the potential impact of these changes. This session will update you on the proposed rule and provide you with ideas to implement in your business to help you minimize additional labor costs and keep your employee's engaged.
Presenter(s): Sue Jones, KLS Group
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
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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, Amber Mayer Consulting; 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
For Your Eyes Only
From staffing to liability to marketing, vacation rental executives have their hands full. Back by popular demand, this always highly-ranked session gives executives a forums to share with and learn from each other. Bring your concerns and questions to this executive-only session to discuss these issues with peers who have faced or are facing the same challenges. This session is driven by what YOU want to talk about; don’t miss your opportunity to walk away with the ideas, resources and solutions you need.
Presenter(s): Kyle Buehner, NAVIS
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
Defending The Brand: Property Inspections And The Marketing Of Your Company
Whether you hire an outside firm to handle all of your housekeeping needs or have an army of employees to get the job done, there should be an emphasis on thorough inspections on your properties. Bring your best ideas to this interactive session and discover why property inspections just may be the most important marketing tool you have. The presenter has gathered information from several top vacation rental firms around the country and brings his own experience to blend with the ideas from the audience regarding this key part of the vacation rental industry.
Presenter(s): Tim Cafferty, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services
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, 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, 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, VRHP
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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.
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
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:
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 owners' 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
Online Distribution: How to Drive Revenue, How to Set Up Third Party Transactions
Third party transactions on online travel agencies are an important new revenue source for vacation rental managers. This session will discuss why vacation rental managers should strategically use third party channels, and will dive deeper into ways to make these channels financially feasible, tips for diversification of inventory, and how to track results. This session will then provide detailed steps and key tips on how to set up major booking channels including Airbnb, Booking.com, TripAdvisor/FlipKey, VRBO/HomeAway and others with an analysis of actual transactional revenue results.
Presenter(s): Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros; Amy Africa, Eight by Eight