Education & Programming

2014 Annual Conference
October 26 - 29, 2014
Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina
San Diego, California

#vrma2014


Advance registration  is now closed. 
On-site registrations are welcome. Learn more.
 


Annual Conference 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 units or five hundred, VRMA's Annual Conference provides the education and connections you need to stay competitive in this changing industry.

(Programming subject to change.)


 



Annual Conference Keynotes


Creating a Customer Service Revolution
Monday, October 27, 8:15 a.m.
John DiJulius

The DiJulius Group | President

Be the brand people cannot live without. Learn how numerous companies have made customer service their biggest competitive advantage, are dominating their industries, and are making price irrelevant! Learn ways to teach every member of your organization to have empathy and compassion for their customer, internally and externally, which builds relationships and creates emotional connection and brand loyalty. 

John is considered the authority on world-class customer service and is the author of three books on customer experience. He is the president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, The Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. John is also the founder and owner of John Robert’s Spa, named one of the Top 20 Salons in America.

John DiJulius
The DiJulius Group

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E-commerce: Third-Party Distribution and the Industry’s Path to Greatness
Tuesday, October 28, 8:30 a.m.
Brian Sharples
HomeAway | President and Chief Executive Officer



 

Brian Sharples,
HomeAway

 
More than a decade ago vacation rental managers were at the forefront of helping travelers book vacation rentals online. Since then, vacation rental listing sites have provided managers and owners with new ways to reach travelers.  In the future, vacation rentals will become a mainstream travel option as online travel agencies increasingly integrate vacation rentals into their offerings. As vacation rentals become as easy to find and book as a hotel, what does that mean for you and how you can capitalize on the growing and changing vacation rental landscape?

Brian co-founded HomeAway with Carl Shepherd in February 2005. Since then, he has raised nearly $405 million in private funding and acquired 17 websites en route to becoming a leader in the online marketplace of vacation rentals. Brian is the former president and chief executive officer of IntelliQuest Information Group, a supplier of marketing data and research to Fortune 500 technology companies. An expert in technology brand strategy, Sharples has counseled several leading companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Dell. He earned a bachelor’s degree in math and economics from Colby College and a master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Brian serves on the Board of Directors for RetailMeNot, Inc. and KLRU, and formerly served on the Board of Directors for KAYAK.
 

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New Hats: 12+ Things You Simply Must Know About Your Brain and How It Buys
Wednesday, October 29, 9:00 a.m.
Amy Africa

Eight by Eight | Chief Executive Officer

Okay...You’re busily trying to keep current when it comes to SEO, social media, mobile, analytics, and every other buzzword topic you have to deal with, but you can probably give your Internet marketing the best boost of all by paying greater attention to something even more crucial: the human brain. How your visitors think and act when they come to your site is probably the single most important factor in web success. It’s time to put yourself in your visitor’s...er...hat.

In this fast-paced session, you’ll learn new, insightful things about how our brains work, what they like and what they don’t. You’ll find out about anchoring, predictability, efficiency and extremes. You’ll find out how and what best manipulates you (and others just like you--which includes everybody who has a name!) and most importantly, how you can use this newfound knowledge to rent more properties and make more money.

Amy Africa
Eight by Eight

 

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Town Hall with the VRMA Board of Directors

Monday, October 27
5:45 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

The VRMA Board of Directors will answer your questions about theassociation. Learn how to take advantage of member benefits to improve your business. Gain insight on industry developments and important VRMA initiatives. Find out how you can get involved with advancing the vacation rental management industry.
Presenters: VRMA Board of Directors






Concurrent Sessions

The 2014 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 complete listings below. 


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Accounting/Finance/Legal Issues
 

A Guide To Helping Your Owners Navigate the Legal Implications of Owning a Vacation Rental 
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Owning a vacation rental can be an overwhelming experience. Many homeowners don't know their options nor understand the legal consequences that come with owning a vacation rental. As a professional manager, you can alleviate homeowner concerns and demonstrate your value by helping them understand the intricacies of these legal implications. This session will give you the tools you need to have informed conversations with your new and existing homeowners about the benefits of setting up an LLC, obtaining the appropriate liability insurance policy, abiding by all local permit and tax license requirements, and more.
Presenters: Cliff Johnson, Vacasa; Evan Osborn, Vacasa
 

Dissecting the Deal: A Guide to Buying and Selling Vacation Rental Companies
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Want to learn more about buying or selling vacation rental management companies? This session outlines key strategies and details needed to navigate each side of the buy/sell transaction. Potential sellers will gain tangible takeaways regarding what needs to be done to prepare for a sale as well as how to articulate the sales process. Potential buyers will learn the steps they should take to avoid certain pitfalls and ensure a successful purchase. Both sides will walk away better equipped to manage purchase and sale transactions. 
Presenters: Jim Olin, C2G Advisors, LLC; Ben Edwards, Weatherby Consulting LLC/ Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.
 

What Every Vacation Rental Manager Needs to Know About Financial Management for Your Business
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
A vacation rental company has many moving parts, and it’s critical to accurately and consistently manage all the financial aspects of this business. This session is designed to equip you with the financial knowledge necessary to more effectively manage business operations and increase profitability. Learn proven procedures to ensure consistent and reliable financial results, including how to set up a chart of accounts, understand the metrics and drivers of your business, decrease credits and refunds, and understand financial statements. 
Presenter: Ben Edwards, Weatherby Consulting LLC/ Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.
 
 
What’s Your Liability?
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
What exactly is the exposure of running a property management business? What is a property manager liable for? Is your company covered in the event of a lawsuit? What is the correct insurance protection to have? Many people shy away from insurance because they don’t understand what they need, what it means or what it covers. This session breaks down the basic insurance terms that every vacation rental manager needs to know. You’ll learn what a property manager is liable for, what individual homeowners are liable for, basic insurance terms and policies, and action steps you must take to ensure your business isn’t inadvertently exposed.
Presenters: Darren Pettyjohn, CBIZ Insurance Services; Scott Wolf, CBIZ Insurance Services
 

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Business Strategy


5 Major Trends Changing the Vacation Rental Industry
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Is your business ready for what’s coming? Discover five major trends impacting the vacation rental industry that affect how you do business. How can you leverage these trends to your advantage, rather than see your business sidelined? You’ll learn what these trends are, how they are changing your business, how to position your company for future success, and new tools and action steps you can implement today to take advantage of these opportunities.
Presenter: Tim Choate, RedAwning.com, Inc.


Connecting with Other Owners & Senior Leaders: For Owners, Presidents & GMs (Less than 175 Units)--Part 1
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Important Note:  This is a two part session and part 1 is a pre-requisite to part 2. 
This is a unique session and is exclusively for owners and senior leaders of vacation rental management companies.  This is designed as a highly interactive roundtable session with two primary goals: 1.) Connect: Intentionally form new relationships with your non-competitive peers throughout the industry; and 2. Learn: Share with and learn from your peers as we discuss issues, ideas and best practices that are highly relevant to owners/senior leaders of vacation rental companies.  

Presenter: Kyle Buehner, NAVIS


Connecting with Other Owners & Senior Leaders: For Owners, Presidents & GMs (Less than 175 Units)--Part 2
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Important Note:  This is a two part session and part 1 is a pre-requisite to part 2. 
This is a unique session and is exclusively for owners and senior leaders of vacation rental management companies.  This is designed as a highly interactive roundtable session with two primary goals: 1.) Connect: Intentionally form new relationships with your non-competitive peers throughout the industry; and 2. Learn: Share with and learn from your peers as we discuss issues, ideas and best practices that are highly relevant to owners/senior leaders of vacation rental companies. 

Presenter: Kyle Buehner, NAVIS


Connecting With Other Owners & Senior Leaders: For Management Company Owners, Presidents & GMs (176 units or more)-- Part 1
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Important Note:  This is a two part session and part 1 is a pre-requisite to part 2. 
This is a unique session and is exclusively for owners and senior leaders of vacation rental management companies.  This is designed as a highly interactive roundtable session with two primary goals: 1.) Connect: Intentionally form new relationships with your non-competitive peers throughout the industry; and 2. Learn: Share with and learn from your peers as we discuss issues, ideas and best practices that are highly relevant to owners/senior leaders of vacation rental companies. 
Presenter: Kyle Buehner, NAVIS



Connecting With Other Owners & Senior Leaders: For Management Company Owners, Presidents & GMs (with 176 units or more)--Part 2
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Important Note:  This is a two part session and part 1 is a pre-requisite to part 2. 
This is a unique session and is exclusively for owners and senior leaders of vacation rental management companies.  This is designed as a highly interactive roundtable session with two primary goals: 1.) Connect: Intentionally form new relationships with your non-competitive peers throughout the industry; and 2. Learn: Share with and learn from your peers as we discuss issues, ideas and best practices that are highly relevant to owners/senior leaders of vacation rental companies. 
Presenter: Kyle Buehner, NAVIS


The Economics of Traditional Short Term Rentals: Fair Government Regulations and Tools to Organize Against Bad Regulations
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
This session will feature unique insight and information from economists, pollsters and organizers of the vacation rental industry. The session will teach managers how to engage with local government before regulations are discussed, how to become a representative of the local industry, how to use existing economic impact studies, commission a new study and how to use polling data. Cities large and small with fair short term rental regulations show a strong impact to the local economy. Managers can use this information to help their local government create fair regulations.
Presenter: Matt Curtis, Co-Chair of VRMA's Government Affairs Committee


Making More From Less: Increasing Revenues and Margins on the Properties You Manage
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Most revenue growth focuses on how to increase the number of properties you manage. This session will look at the other side of the equation: How can you make more per property? The session will break down what you should look for in adding new properties, how to make the most from the properties you already have, and even when you should let properties (and their owners) go.
Presenters: George Volsky, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations; Andrew McConnell, Vacation Futures


Navigating Growth Points: How One Company Scaled Back to Make It Big
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
As any business grows, there are various inflection points that force executives to examine the business model and streamline processes. This presentation will explore Sea to Sky Rentals, one of the original vacation rental businesses in Seattle, as a case study in organizational change for the vacation rental business. Over the course of 11 years the business grew organically, collecting employees, company culture, and business practices along the way. Although the company was always successful, its growth was hampered by business practices that had more to do with legacy than the future of the industry. In 2013, the team shifted from an “All Hands on Deck!” small business mentality to a streamlined business model that enables growth and innovation. Learn the transformation process from when the owner realized a change was necessary, to the visioning stage, the planning, the execution, and the nature of iterative change. This interactive presentation will provide multiple opportunities for discussion and evaluation of participants’ own businesses.
Presenter: Heidi Stuber, Sea to Sky Rentals


Remote Property Management: It IS Possible!
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Remote property management—managing a property more than an hour’s drive from your base office location—is not for the faint of heart, but it can be done successfully. Hear tried-and-true management tips from a vacation rental manager who manages 28 properties located up to 10 hours away from her office but services them just as if the office was down the street. You’ll learn how to grow your business by expanding to properties outside of your normal radius, implement effective communication processes, build a strong ground crew and develop strategies to help manage your properties remotely.
Presenter: Cara Middleton, Freshwater Vacation Rentals

 

Revenue Fundamentals
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
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: George Volsky, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations


The Keys to Owner Retention: Tools, Technology and TLC
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Working with homeowners can be a challenge for any property manager.  In this fast-paced session, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of building rewarding relationships with your owners.  Learn the key motivators of owners and how to meet their expectations in these critical areas:  revenue, property services, service quality and recovery and guest services.   Bring ideas for sharing as well as your burning questions surrounding all things in dealing with homeowners.
Presenters: Jodi Taylor-Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations; Linda Hess, HomeAway Software; Melaney Robbins, Oak Island Accommodations 


The Expectations Map: Lessons from a National Survey Examining Vacation Rental Guests’ Expectations 
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
You probably think you know what your guests expect of you. But chances are you'd be at least partially wrong.  Expectations are important because whether or not guests want to continue to do business with you depends on the extent to which they feel you are meeting or exceeding their expectations.  This session will present the results of a national survey examining the expectations of vacation rental guests and will teach you how to utilize the findings to meet and exceed your guests’ expectations.
Presenter: Bill Fonvielle, Atlantic Vacation Homes/Performance Measurement Associates


Vacation Rental Analytics for Marketing, Competitiveness and Operational Excellence
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Two vacation rental managers will present key analytical formulas and benchmarks for the vacation rental industry. Learn industry benchmarks for analyzing your marketing cost of revenue, cost per booking, life time value and return on investment, as well as industry benchmarks for analyzing rental rates, inventory, professional reputation, operational excellence, and strategic directions and goals.
Presenters: Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros; Lynn Thurston, Ph.D., Finger Lakes Premier Properties

 

What? How? Why? Which Question Are You Starting With? 
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Do you want more alignment within your team and vendors? Maybe more buy-in with owners and business partners? Where do you start? You need to start with why! Come learn (and participate) in how to identify, communicate and naturally build an organization of like-minded participants. You'll leave equipped with tangible resources and tools to transform your business and culture.
Presenters: Darik Eaton, Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals; Alan Andersen, Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals
 
 



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Distribution


Third Party Channels: An Introduction
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
This panel of experts explains the evolution of third party travel channels for vacation rentals and how they are influencing leisure travel in the vacation rental industry. Learn how travel portals have evolved in Europe over the past five years—and what these changes mean for the U.S. market over the next 3-5 years. Discover the true impact of third party channels in the vacation rental industry and what you need to do to survive in today’s landscape.
Presenters: Jean-Pierre Mampaey, Maxxton; Alex Aydin, BookingPal; Amy Hinote, VRMIntel



Third Party Channels: How To Set Them Up
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
Looking to distribute inventory on third party channels? This session will walk through various options when setting up bookable inventory. You’ll learn the pros and cons of several different options to set up third party booking channels, as well as tips for getting live calendars to sync on these sites and allow your inventory to come up higher in the search filters. Find ways to manage and reconcile payments from third party sites and learn the difference between using a third party channel’s gateway or a direct feed into a vacation rental software gateway. You’ll also learn options to compensate for booking fees.
Presenters: Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros; Peter Scott, Blue Tent Marketing; Bill Furlong, HomeAway Software

 
 
Third Party Channels: Why They Are Important
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
This panel discusses why vacation rental managers should strategically use third party channels.  Dive deeper into ways to make these channels financially feasible, tips for diversification of inventory, and how to track results.
Presenters: Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros; George Volsky, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations; Ben Edwards, Weatherby Consulting LLC/ Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.


Break Away from Listing Site Conglomerates
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Vacation rental management companies are vocal about their dissatisfaction with current major marketing providers. But it often feels as though there is no alternative to the big guys - they have demand volume, they're inexpensive, and they own the whole marketing stack. This presentation will show you a way out - a way to maintain and even exceed current levels of demand and PMS quality, while diversifying reliance across a number of vendors.
Presenter: Kirby Winfield, Dwellable; Richard Vaughton, Discovery Holiday Homes; Ed Ulmer, Barefoot Technologies; Scott Breon, Vacasa; Michelle Acquavella, Sea to Sky Vacation Rentals

Insights on Driving Inquiry Conversion from Third Party Listing Sites
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Want to maximize revenue? Many vacation rental professionals have effectively done this by managing the distribution of inventory listings on third party sites. This increased exposure can deliver meaningful revenue results, but requires investment and careful management to maximize your return. Managing distribution programs effectively requires effectively converting travelers who call or email. If you’re interested in learning how to profitably increase revenues by driving listing site inquiry conversion, this session is not to be missed!
Presenters: Michelle Marquis, NAVIS; Bill Furlong, HomeAway


The Pros and Cons of Distribution Sites
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
To distribute, or not to distribute: When it comes to marketing your vacation rentals via distribution sites, what's the right approach? A panel of vacation rental managers  will discuss why they do or do not use distribution sites.  Discover how each manager has approached the market differently based on location, destination style, and marketing campaigns. You'll learn what has worked--and what hasn't-- to help shape your company's distribution strategy.
Presenters: Jodi Taylor-Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
; Brandon Ezra, Grand Welcome; Lynn Thurston, Finger Lakes Premier Properties; Steve MIlo, Vacation Rental Pros


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Human Resources

Hiring for Success:  Hiring People Isn’t Just Happenstance
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
You can’t build a great business without great people. This session will challenge your current hiring practices and will give you practical tips and advice on separating the best from the rest during the hiring process. Learn what to look for in your positions and how to tie it to your recruitment and selection process so that your next hire is successful.
Presenter: Sue Jones, KLS Group


Independent Contractor or Employee? Exempt or Nonexempt? Is My Business at Risk?
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Worker misclassification is one of the most common mistakes business owners make. When the lines are blurred between independent contractors and employees, or when an employee's exemption status is misclassified, employers can face costly consequences including litigation, back pay, taxes and penalties. This session provides helpful hiring tips and best practices to assess your company's employment classification risk and exposure.
Presenter: Sue Jones, KLS Group


Reservation Agent Accountability & Coaching to Increase Productivity
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Want to get the most from your reservations team and really move the needle? If you are spending the majority of your time coaching your lowest performers and neglecting your middle or high-level agents, or you struggle to deliver your message, this session is for you! Learn the latest techniques that inspire peak performance among all your agents, improve your team’s booking ability, and make your coaching more effective.
Presenter: Brise Carpenter, NAVIS


Using Employee Feedback to Boost Employee, Homeowner and Guest Loyalty
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Employee engagement and loyalty are critical to your business success. Despite their importance to both the guest and homeowner experience, few companies measure employee engagement and loyalty, and even fewer make them a priority. How do you define employee engagement and employee loyalty? How do you measure them, and why should they be a top priority? This presentation will explain how, when and why you should capture employee feedback and ways you can use it to strengthen your business.
Presenters: Nicole Greener, East West Resorts; Scott Hannah, Guest Research, Inc.

 
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Information Technology

5 Steps To Upgrading Your Old and Tired Reservation System
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Many rental management companies have been in business for a very long time and many are still using software that is old. Old software is not necessarily bad software, but newer software may offer significant benefits to the company's operations. Changing software is difficult if done without the proper planning and discipline. This session will walk through the questions to ask, the pitfall to watch out for, and some important recommendations for success.
Presenter: Tom Leddy, Leddy Associates, Inc.

 
Don't Invest In Technology That You Don't Invest In!
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
All too often, a new technology looks really slick and you are convinced that it can help your business.  All too often, you buy it and get busy in your day-to-day and wonder why it isn't reaching its potential.  Technology has the potential of making your personnel more efficient, providing your guests and owners a better experience, and making you more visible to the marketplace. This session will look at various technologies available in the industry and what it truly takes to bring them into your business. You’ll learn  to critically evaluate your current technologies and any that you are considering purchasing. Discover the steps you need to take to maximize new technology and how to commit to the effort of making it work.
Presenter: Tom Leddy, Leddy Associates, Inc.
 

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Marketing


Are You Missing The Mobile Boat?
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
The mobile ship has sailed. Your competitors are accessing the mobile market easily and effectively with their website, email marketing, pay-per-click, social media and other marketing channels. How are you stacking up? 
Presenter: Susan Blizzard, Blizzard Internet Marketing 
 

Digital Attribution in a Multi-Device World
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Digital attribution is a critical component when analyzing the effectiveness of direct to consumer online marketing campaigns.  This presentation will consist of a deep dive into tracking, scoring and applying attribution across channel and across device to more effectively report on ROI.  There will be three simple, practical takeaways for the audience to assist in planning and purchasing digital advertising that really works.
Presenter: Matthew Renner, ResortsandLodges.com 


Elements of a Perfect Website
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
What are the must-have features for your website? Discover the elements you need on your site that will increase conversion rates and make the most out of your site’s traffic. Whether you have a new website already in the redesign phase or if you’re just thinking about a redesign, you will leave this session with a better understanding of the elements of a perfect website based on research and real world statistics.
Presenters: David Hutnik, InterCoastal Net Designs; Brandon Sauls, InterCoastal Net Designs; Conrad O’Connell, InterCoastal Net Designs
 

Learn from the Pros: How to Successfully Harness the Power of Guest Reviews
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Surveys indicate more than half of travelers won't book a property if it does not provide at least one guest review. But how many is enough? And how do you manage the words of your past guests? The session will highlight understanding guest review best practices, how to craft the perfect response and when to hold your tongue. 
Presenter: Koryn Okey, FlipKey 


Marketing Executive Discussion Forum
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
From one-to-one marketing to PPC spending to email best practices to marketing attribution to advocate marketing, vacation rental marketing executives have their hands full. Bring your concerns and questions to this marketing 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: Michelle Marquis, NAVIS 


Marketing to Multiple Generations: Boomers, Xers and Yers
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
If only things were simple. In today's vacation rental world, generic, one-size-fits-all marketing just doesn’t cut it. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (1960s-1970s), and Gen Y (1982-2000) think, compare and decide in radically different ways. To hit home with these groups, you need to understand who they are, what makes them tick, and how to give them what they want in a rental.
Presenter: Jon Goldman, Brand Launcher 


Public Relations 101: Putting PR To Work For Your Company
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
Public relations is the single most cost-effective marketing tool available to vacation rental managers, but many companies don’t take full advantage of the power of PR. All companies can benefit from a PR program, regardless of size, season and the number of staff on your marketing team. But how do you begin to define the scope of a public relations program—much less make it work for your company? This session will walk through the basics of building a public relations program from the ground up, such as understanding the differences between PR and other types of marketing, building a media list, how to engage media in your market, how to find the right stories to pitch, how to write and distribute press releases, how to measure PR’s effectiveness and more. The team of public relations expert presenters will ensure you walk away with an action plan that you can immediately implement to begin building awareness and positive perception about all your company offers. 
Presenters: Sara Moore, All Star Vacation Homes; Diana Romeo, MMGY Global


The One Page Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Bookings
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Do you want more bookings and higher occupancy in 2015? 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: Matt Bare, Q4Launch 

 
Top Ten Ways To Use Social Media for Your Vacation Rental Business
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
How effective is your social media strategy? Is the time and energy you are putting into social media converting into goal completions and tracking e-commerce for online reservations? Learn how social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest will convert your traffic into valuable guests. 
Presenter: Nicole Guevarra, Visual Data Systems 
 
 
Unearthing and Utilizing Loyalty Data
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
A standalone guest loyalty program is no longer necessary to have or market to loyal guests. Two vacation rental managers will present strategies for capturing, analyzing and utilizing guest loyalty data from PMS and lead management systems in order to provide the highest return on marketing time and resources. Learn about capturing data for guests of guests, loyalty outbound campaigns and how to get rid of those pesky rewards points.
Presenters: Julia Lane Willis, Island Realty; Valerie Finlay, Island Realty


Using Email Marketing To Manage The Guest Lifecycle
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The proper use of communication tools such as email marketing throughout the entire guest lifecycle will increase the likelihood of building long-term relationships with your guests. Discover best practices for emailing guests throughout each stage of the guest lifecycle and specific messaging tactics that are most effective in building brand loyalty.
Presenters: Nicole Guevarra, Visual Data Systems; Emily Thompson, Visual Data Systems
 

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Property Services/Quality Control


Creating a Successful Laundry and Linen Program
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Evaluating whether to invest in an in-house linen program can seem like a huge undertaking. This session will illustrate how one company built their laundry facility and structured their linen program, detailing the associated costs, initial challenges and ongoing successes. You will gain insight on analyzing start-up costs and inventory requirements, along with best practices and systems to run an efficient and profitable laundry operation. This session is geared towards small and mid-sized companies.
Presenter: Carrie Efird, Tybee Vacation Rentals


Fundamentals of Housekeeping
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
A systematic way of cleaning will help the housekeeper clean quicker and better over time. Housekeeping in a vacation rental is hard work, and it's the work that the guest or owner will see the most. This session will provide a standard to train with and work toward to improve housekeeping quality. You'll learn the "follow the wall" method of cleaning, the importance of the four-step cleaning process, the neccessity of inspections, and why owner inspections are needed. 
Presenter: Durk Johnson, Vacasa
 


Housekeeping Ideas for Seasonal, Small Vacation Rental Companies
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
If you run a small, seasonal vacation rental company, your housekeeping department has no room for error. Learn from a manager with a 6-8 week season who operates a profitable, nearly complaint-free housekeeping department. Gain insight on managing your housekeeping supply purchases and how to effectively hire, incentivize and motivate your housekeeping staff.
Presenter: Maureen Regan, Seaside Vacation Rentals


Managing Piece Rates
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
Managing housekeeper piece rates can be a challenge. There are a myriad of questions that need to be answered: Do I pay overtime? If so, how much? How do I calculate the piece rate for each property? These and other questions will be discussed and answered so you can know the best way to manage your housekeeper piece rates.
Presenter: Durk Johnson, Vacasa

 
Standard Home Experience: An Inspector's Role
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Housekeeping is crucial to the vitality of a property management company. Inspecting every property before arrival is the best way to ensure the housekeeper has done their work properly and to make sure the property is rent-ready for the incoming guest. While every property is decorated differently, a standard unit appearance can be used on every property. A standard unit appearance lets the inspector and housekeepers know: where the remote goes, how to hang the towels, how many towels are needed, if spices left in the property, etc. This session will discuss how to create a standard unit appearance, how to implement it, how it may adjust over time, and how inspectors can help ensure these standards are met. 
Presenter:Joe Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations

 
The Untapped Potential of Maintenance Teams
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30. - 5:30 p.m.
An in-house maintenance team can be one of your company’s greatest assets. In this session, learn how your maintenance team can allow you to have greater control over the guest experience, greater care of owner assets, market to prospective homeowners and improve continuity of service. Whether you already have an in-house maintenance team or your company is just contemplating starting one, this session will include tips, ideas and programs to help your team get up-and-running, become more efficient and become a profit center.
Presenter: Lyndsey Garza, Pointe West Properties

 
What’s the Best Approach for Staffing Housekeeping and Maintenance Positions?
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 2 | 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
The “best” approach depends upon your business. There is no single approach that is better than another. In fact, there are several successful approaches to staffing housekeeping and maintenance positions within our industry, whether it's hiring employees, utilizing independent contractors or outsourcing workers through a staffing agency. Attend this interactive panel discussion to make an informed decision about what is best for your business based on what works well, what doesn't, and why.
Presenters: Sue Jones, KLS Group; Durk Johnson, Vacasa; Bill LeMasters, Hummingbird Cabins; Carrie Efird, Tybee Vacation Rentals

 

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Sales & Customer Service

 

Closing Bookings Over the Phone: 7 Traits Shared by the World’s Greatest Reservationists
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Most vacation rental managers get bookings two ways: online and over the phone. And, while recently so much emphasis has been put on increasing website conversion, sometimes property managers forget about trying to improve phone conversions. This presentation will examine the qualities that drive the best reservationists to close bookings better and faster while also explaining how you can cultivate these traits in your staff to create a team of all-star reservationists.
Presenters: Tyler Hurst, LiveRez.com; Lyndsey Garza, Pointe West Properties



Delivering World-Class Customer Service
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Providing superior customer service to travelers and owners can be a lasting competitive advantage for a vacation rental management company. The basic foundations of customer service haven't changed—but the communications landscape has and new thinking is developing about designing customer interactions in a digital age. There are new opportunities to leverage and pitfalls to avoid. Learn how to translate these trends into practical techniques you can implement in your operations tomorrow.
Presenter: Dan Rourke, HomeAway 


Driving New Revenue Through Agent Incentives
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 5 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Motivating reservation agents can be difficult in today’s hyper-connected, over-stimulated world. If you’re challenged with finding fresh and creative ways to improve team performance, this session is for you! You’ll learn to assess what motivates your team and structure incentive programs that drive results  for your business and for your agents.  See fun, real world incentive program ideas currently being used by vacation rental management companies.
Presenter: Colin Morrison, NAVIS 


From Lemons to Lemonade: How to Turn Negative Reviews Into Returning Guests
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 6 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
You can't please everyone. Listening to the initial guest requests is key to a positive guest experience. One vacation rental manager will share her formula for maximizing revenue by responding to negative feedback and acting upon legitimate guest complaints. In this economic and time-pressured climate, people tend to be more demanding and expect more of your vacation rental. It’s our job to figure out how to respond and turn lemons into lemonade.
Presenter: Cara Middleton, Freshwater Vacation Rentals 


Make Price Irrelevant
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 1 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Based on Monday's keynote presentation, John DiJulius will walk through what it means to provide such an outstanding customer experience that price becomes irrelevant to your guests. Learn how to create a day in the life of your customer story so your employees will have more compassion and empathy for your guests. You'll discover how to create a Customer Service Vision Statement and develop non-negotiable standards everyone in your organization will follow.
Presenter: John DiJulius



Recruiting New Homes and New Homeowners: Best Practices and Pitfalls
Tuesday, Oct. 28  | Session Block 7 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
A panel discussion on the best and worst ways to find, attract, and onboard new homes. From online marketing to offline outreach, and from innovative business models to tried and true sales pitches, we will discuss what works and what doesn’t.  We all know adding more properties is the best way to grow. The panel will teach you the best-in-class ways to add more of the properties you want, and less of those you don’t.
Presenters: Jodi Taylor-Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations; Eric Breon, Vacasa; Brandon Ezra, Grand Welcome; Lance Sticher, Vantage Resort Realty; Andrew McConnell, Vacation Futures


Reservations Sales Training Tactics, Circa 2015
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 3 | 3:15 - 4:15 p.m.
The balance of power has shifted to the caller’s side of the equation. In the past, callers had minimal information such as your catalogue of rental properties. Now with all of the information available online, most have researched extensively and don’t want to hear scripted messaging, nor do they want to simply hear a list of what’s available. This session covers updated sales techniques for today’s over-informed callers who have viewed too many options online.
Presenter: Doug Kennedy, Kennedy Training Network 


Winning with Difficult Customers
Monday, Oct. 27  | Session Block 4 | 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
No matter how amazing you are at customer service, there are always difficult customers. Dive deeper into the psychology of a difficult guest to learn how to work with these types of customers and turn them into loyal customers by the end of your interaction.
Presenter: Ali Cammelletti, Cammelletti Consulting 

 

 



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 2014 Annual Conference registration. 


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.

Ask an Expert table topics and experts subject to change.
 
Topic Expert
Administration  
Quality Seasonal Staffing  Kelly Hanig, Brindley Beach Vacations
   
Property Services  
Housekeeping: Staffing Sean Sober, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
Housekeeping: Quality Durk Johnson,  Vacasa
Keyless Locks  Chad Taylor, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
Laundry and Linen Service  Joe Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
Maintenance Lyndsey Garza, Pointe West Properties
   
Sales & Marketing  
Personalized Marketing Jason Ring, NAVIS
Peer Web Critique  Alisa Holmes, Visual Data Systems
Reviews Koryn Okey, FlipKey
Social Media Joe Joyce, Blue Tent Marketing
Working with your CVB Maureen Regan, Seaside Vacation Rentals
   
Strategy  
New Owner Acquisition Jodi Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
New Revenue Sources Andrew McConnell, VacationFutures
Rate/Yield Management George Volsky, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations
 



Buying or Selling a Business: What's the Big Deal?

Think it's easy to buy or sell a vacation rental company? Think again. This session will provide intricate details as well as real-life testimonials to show how confusing and difficult this process can be without the proper structure and format.
Presenters: Jim Olin, C2G Advisors; Ben Edwards, Weatherby Consulting LLC/ Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.; Cori Davies, Resort Realty



Your Complete 2015 Online Marketing Strategy
In this high-level overview of digital marketing techniques for vacation rental marketers, we’ll overview things like SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing and conversion rate optimization. You’ll get an action plan checklist handout that covers the top aspects of your online marketing. We’ll cover quick tips and actionable takeaways that provide attendees a game plan you can take back and implement right away.
Presenters: Brandon Sauls, InterCoastal Net Designs; Conrad O'Connell, InterCoastal Net Designs; David Hutnik, InterCoastal Net Designs

 
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