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2014 Western Seminar
April 28-29, 2014
Hilton Salt Lake City Center
Salt Lake City, Utah

#VRMAWest
 


Western Seminar Sessions and Programming


Some presenters have provided handouts and session materials available for download. View each session description below to access these materials. 



Western Seminar General Sessions

(NEW!) General Session: Government's Positive or Negative Influence is Everyone’s Business: Case Studies We Can All Learn From
What would happen if governments used vacation rentals to their benefit? What would happen if vacation rentals became illegal in your area? What would happen to the homes that would otherwise sit vacant; the jobs created; the tourists and the revenue they bring with them? Fortunately and unfortunately, managers around the world are increasingly facing these realities. Currently, various state, county and city governments are considering changes that could work their way across the country and have wide-spread positive or negative impacts on vacation rentals everywhere—including your back yard. In this session, you’ll learn how the legislative process really works and discover proactive steps to have a place at the table, including how to build your case by conducting an economic impact study and how to effectively communicate with legislators, city and county councils, city and county administrators and others. 
Presenters: Matt Curtis, HomeAway; Mike Ostermiller, Kyler, Kohler, Ostermiller and Sorenson, LLP; Sean Stinson, Visit Salt Lake; Tristan Webb, Vacasa; David Whitehead, Santa Clara City Council; Brad Winget, Utah's Best Vacation Rentals

General Session: 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.

Topics include:

Administration
  • Contract Vendors vs. In House Employees 
  • Information Technology
  • Insurance (Homeowners) 
  • Managing Remote and Season Employees
  • Payment Best Practices: Credit Card
  • Payment Best Practices: Other
  • Revenue Management
  • Revenue Sources
  • Software - What's Best for You? 
  • Yield Management
Guest Services
  • Guest Loyalty Programs
  • How to Handle Problem Owners
  • Pet Friendly
Property Services
  • Bed Bug Prevention
  • Hot Tubs and Pools
  • Housekeeping Quality 
  • Laundry and Linen Service Best Practices
  • Maintenance 
  • Managing a Housekeeping Department
  • Keyless Entry: Pros and Cons
  • Staff Incentives for Housekeeping & Maintenance Employees
Sales & Marketing
  • Managing Third Party Channels
  • Overcoming Objections; Reservation Sales
  • Packaging 
  • Peer Web Critique  (Website Best Practices)
  • Reaching International Travelers
  • Reviews
  • Social Media/Blogging
  • Staff Incentives for Reservation Agents
  • Working With Events/Groups


Breathing Life into Seminar Takeaways: Real World Strategies
People attend conferences for two primary reasons: learning and networking. And if we’re particularly astute, we use these opportunities to seek solutions to issues we’re currently facing in our workplaces. A disconnect occurs, however, when newfound information and knowledge is misplaced or forgotten during our travels home. Think back and be honest: When’s the last time you left a conference with an actionable plan linked to key takeaways garnered throughout the event? This interactive and highly engaging closing general session will help you recognize both lessons learned and areas of opportunity for further exploration. You’ll also be guided through a fun and simple process for identifying next steps, establishing timeframes and finalizing details. Expect to leave with a renewed motivation to improve and enhance practices upon your return to work and with an action plan that’s designed to meet your unique needs. And it doesn’t stop there! Following this session we’ll stay in touch to celebrate your accomplishments and to support the implementation of your action items.
Presenter: Aaron D. Wolowiec, MSA, CAE, CMP, CTA
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Concurrent Sessions

The Western Seminar offers a record 21 concurrent educational sessions to choose from. 




Administration

Conducting Interviews with Confidence
Let’s face it: Interviewing can be a challenge. Conducting interviews isn’t always fun and it doesn’t come naturally to many  people.  Are you getting the most out of your interviews? Do you ever wonder if you are asking the appropriate questions?  This session will enhance your interviewing skills, knowledge and confidence and help you choose the right candidate by using behavioral-based interviewing techniques.
Presenter: Sue Jones, KLS Group
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Managing Employee Performance 24/7/365
Every employee can reach higher levels of performance, including your average and best performers.  Employees desire meaningful performance feedback from their supervisors, not just a ”Good job!” or “You can do better,” every now and then.  Managing employee performance each and every day is key.  This session will teach you how to conduct employee performance reviews in a meaningful and effective manner whether they are formal written reviews or informal, unscheduled coaching sessions.
Presenter: Sue Jones, KLS Group
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Professionalism

Delivering World-Class Customer Service
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. So 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 Software
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Overcome the Challenge: Difficult Guests and Owners
With every transaction, managers service two clients: the guest and the homeowner. It's crucial to produce a high level of service to both parties in order to deliver success and maintain loyalty. Situations tend to arise with a disgruntled guest or owner that leave you not only frustrated but challenged to service them and deliver a positive outcome. This session is comprised of knowledge from managers who have seen the disruption caused by unhappy clients and have equipped their teams with the tools to master the situation. Learn the fundamental steps that you and your team can execute in these situations and watch your client loyalty increase while the level of internal frustration declines.
Presenters: Sarah Bradford, Winter Park Lodging Company; Sharon Clark, LiveRez.com; Carole Sharoff, Atlantic Vacation Homes; Mark Winget, Utah's Best Vacation Rentals; Jill Zignego, Five Star Rentals of Montana
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Property Services

Creating and Maximizing a Laundry/Linen Program
Establishing a laundry/linen program for your company can result in increased consistency for your guests and an added bonus for your homeowners. Hear case studies, successes and lessons learned from managers who have successfully implemented profitable laundry/linen programs. Learn the pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced laundry, tips on buying linens/towels and steps for building your program from the ground up.
Presenters: Mike Harrington, Resort Realty, Steve Milo, Vacation Rental Pros      


Evolution of an Efficient Maintenance Team
This presentation will show you how to evolve the maintenance department to meet the needs of a growing company. The work done by the maintenance department carries over to accounting, owner relations and guest services; how are work orders assigned, invoiced, and communicated to the owner/guest if necessary? Discover the step-by-step evolution of work order management, starting as a small company with just a few properties up to a company with 150+ properties.
Presenters: Sarah Bradford, Winter Park Lodging Company; Al Furlone, Winter Park Lodging Company
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Housekeeping Ideas for Seasonal, Small Vacation Rental Companies
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.
Presenters: Durk Johnson, Gulf Shores Vacation Rentals

Standard Home Appearance Part 1: Getting Buy-In from Housekeepers, Inspectors and Owners
Do you have a standard home appearance checklist? Take part in this interactive session and bring back many ideas that will welcome your guests to their home away from home. From how the blinds are set to how the towels are hung, each item shows that you care and that you will go that extra mile to ensure their vacation is a memorable one.
Presenter: Durk Johnson, Gulf Shores Vacation Rentals


Standard Home Appearance Part 2: Inspections 101
This interactive session will teach you tricks and tips on vacation rental property inspections. Become more efficient and more thorough simply by following a procedure on inspecting a home. We will also discuss tools that will help you communicate better while in the field, car kits for inspectors and items that will help the guest familiarize themselves with their vacation home.
Presenter: Durk Johnson, Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals


The Untapped Potential of Maintenance Teams
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 expeirence, 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: Ryan Goodman, Kokopelli Property Management
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Where Do You Buy Your Toilet Paper? Turn Purchasing Into Profit
How do you buy for your business? If you fail to give attention to your purchasing, your cost of doing business could rise to unnecessarily high levels. As operating expenses increase, profit margins shrink—and no one wants to raise prices or lower profits. Learn purchasing secrets that will allow you to keep your costs under control, keep your prices at competitive levels and maintain a desirable profit.
Presenter: Angela Prather, OnePoint
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Sales and Marketing



Customer Service & Social Media: How Everyone Affects Your Reputation
Satisfied customers tell three friends, angry customers tell 3,000. This session offers an engaging and interactive discussion between an experienced vacation rental manager and a marketing agency about how to integrate social media into every aspect of your business with maximum execution. Social media is used by everyone in a positive and negative way; how your company's online reputation is perceived and how you handle it the right way is vital!
Presenters: David Hutnik, InterCoastal Net Designs; Brandon Sauls, InterCoastal Net Designs 


Each Call is Unique: How to Sell to Different Types of Guests
Every caller looking for lodging is a bit different, but there are common types we see over and over - the guy who is all about price, the woman who can't make a decision, the grandma who wants to tell you all about her life and experiences before you're allowed to get a word in edgewise. You can turn any of these characters into buyers, but you need a bag of tricks and the right thing to say to each to make that happen. During this session, we will be asking a panel of three reservation experts for their recommendations of what to say and how to handle each type of caller.  Walk away with key phrases and strategies to turn these leads into bookings and happy guests.  
Presenter: Sarah Bradford, Winter Park Lodging Company; John Dirgo, Aloha Coast Realty/Hawaii Holiday Vacation Rentals; Cindy Lucero, SummitCove Vacation Lodging
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Likeability= Profitability
In the vacation rental industry, being likeable is valuable. Based on the likeable social media model by David Kerpen, sales managers and agents will learn 11 thought-provoking steps to becoming more likeable by peers, homeowners and guests, leading to increased productivity and sales.
Presenter: Ali Cammelletti, Cammelletti Consulting

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Executive Level Track



Advancing the Vacation Rental Industry
Vacation rentals are increasingly positively or negatively impacted by local, county and state governments and homeowner associations. Managers can organize, finance and unite to advance and protect their industry. This hands-on, interactive session will provide tools vacation rental executives can use to secure a more favorable environment for their business. 
PresentersMatt Curtis, HomeAway; Mike Ostermiller, Kyler, Kohler, Ostermiller and Sorenson, LLP; Sean Stinson, Visit Salt Lake; Tristan Webb, Vacasa; David Whitehead, Santa Clara City Council; Brad Winget, Utah's Best Vacation Rentals


For Your Eyes Only – Management Company Owners, Presidents and General Managers
From staffing to liability to marketing, vacation rental executives have their hands full. 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: Kyle Buehner, NAVIS 

New Revenue: Innovative Revenue Models from the Vacation Rental Industry and Beyond
This session is for experienced managers. With the growth of alternative channels and rent-by-owners, the vacation rental management space is increasingly competitive. This session will address ways to get out of the commission negotiation game and will share new and innovative sources for new revenue. George Volsky, Ryan Goodman, and Andrew McConnell will cover: 1) How to acquire new inventory; 2) How to make more from the inventory you manage; and 3) How and where to expand into new business lines. With these tools at your disposal you can can control your company's growth and make sure each year is better than the last. 
Presenters: Ryan Goodman, Kokopelli Property Management; Andrew McConnell, VacationFutures; George Volsky, Railey Mountain Lake Vacations

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Speak Up, Part 1: Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking Once And For All
For vacation rental managers only
You are an expert in the vacation rental business and have a lot to share, but you’re uneasy with actually speaking in front of others or putting together a presentation for a city council meeting, community event or VRMA conference. Sound familiar?

You’re not alone; many people say they are more afraid of public speaking than death. But by shying away from speaking engagements, you’re missing opportunities for personal, professional and business growth. Never fear: This session provides a safe coaching environment with a panel of public speaking experts who will give you the tools you need to overcome the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a presentation. Learn how to find public speaking opportunities that matter and will help you achieve your goals. You’ll find out how to identify and relate to your audience and how to best structure information within a presentation. You’ll also learn tried-and-true practice tips so that by showtime, the nerves will be gone and you’ll be ready to confidently take the podium.
 
You may attend Part 1 of the Speak Up series without attending Parts 2 or 3; each session in this series is presented independently so that you may focus on the skills you want to learn most to help you become a pro at public speaking.
 
Presenter: Tristan Webb, Utah Vacation Homes


Speak Up, Part 2: Effectively Using Visual Aids
For vacation rental managers only
If you’ve ever been asked to present at a community or industry event, this situation may sound familiar: You’ve done your research, know your material and have an outline for your presentation. But how will you make sure your audience retains the information you present? When used correctly, visual aids can help you reinforce key messages, engage your audience and leave a lasting impression long after your presentation has concluded. This session will teach you how to take your presentation to the next level through the effective use of visual aids and will offer tips to help you easily and efficiently create these visuals.
 
You may attend Part 2 of the Speak Up series without attending Parts 1 or 3; each session in this series is presented independently so that you may focus on the skills you want to learn most to help you become a pro at public speaking.

Presenters: Ed Ulmer, Barefoot Technologies; Tristan Webb, Utah Vacation Homes 


Speak Up, Part 3: Tips for Delivering a Rock-Star Speech
For vacation rental managers only
If you’ve ever been asked to serve as a presenter or speaker for an industry or community event, you may have felt a pang of terror thinking about standing up in front of so many people. But what you need to know is this: Everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. This session will offer a safe coaching environment with a panel of public speaking experts to help you confidently take the podium. Learn how to communicate your message both verbally and non-verbally. You’ll discover the secrets to opening and closing your presentation, pacing your speech, choosing the right words, emphasizing your key messages and more. Discover simple non-verbal cues that will help engage the audience and reduce your nerves. You’ll walk away knowing how to turn those pre-presentation jitters into an effective speech that will help you build credibility and likeability with your audience, community and industry.
 
You may attend Part 3 of the Speak Up series without attending Parts 1 or 2; each session in this series is presented independently so that you may focus on the skills you want to learn most to help you become a pro at public speaking.
Presenter: Tristan Webb, Utah Vacation Homes
 

The Keys to Recruiting and Retaining Owners for a Successful and Profitable Business
Recruiting new homeowners should be done purposefully and with a plan. How you manage the type and quality of your inventory determines how successful and profitable your company will be. As a manager, what is your strategy for recruiting and retaining homeowners? Industry experts will share their tried and true methods to increase inventory and the bottom line.

Presenters: Linda Hess, HomeAway Software; Jodi Taylor Refosco, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations
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