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Short Stay Week 2021: Rented.com’s Andrew McConnell on unlocking underutilized inventory

short stay week 2021

Andrew McConnell is the CEO of Rented.com. In the run-up to the 2021 edition of the Short Stay Week, he has accepted to answer questions how he came to the industry and about how his company builds solutions for property managers. Andrew has also recorded a 3-minute video where he showcases what his product does.

This article is part of our Short Stay Week 2021 series. Rental Scale-Up is the proud media sponsor of this European online holiday rental conference. Rental Scale-Up readers get a 20% discount on all available passes and tickets for the event, with the code RSUP20 .

Where does your passion for the vacation rental industry come from?

When I first started researching the industry I learned there were 6 Billion hotel room nights available each year. At the same time (2012) there were 7.2 Billion unused vacation rental/second home/investment property room night equivalents available. I realized we had these amazing resources already available. 

We did not need to build hotels, cut down trees, produce cement, etc. We had everything we needed already, it just needed to be better used. I then made it my mission to figure out how to unlock more of that underutilized inventory, through supporting the professionalization of the sector.

What’s been your biggest aha moment when it comes to the vacation rental industry?

Just how local and manual the business is. When I initially came in from the outside, I thought it would all become consolidated and look like hotels, with big brands. The more time I have spent in the industry, the more I learned, and appreciated, just how important on the ground management is.

What did you do at work yesterday?

I started the day with 1:1s with my direct reports (Rented’s COO Karen Fleck, CTO Erik Kettenburg, and Director of Revenue Management, Kevin Lincicome).

I then had a catch up for 30 minutes each with two other team members (rotating depending on the team members’ preferences as monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly). I then had a break from meetings and did a little reading and research for a new Forbes article.

Once I was happy with where that was, I spent 2 hours with two different clients (one in Washington state, the other in North Carolina). I closed the day reviewing my calendar for the next day, and following up via email with things I had not been able to cover or address during the day.

Then I took my daughter for a swim, and had dinner with my family.

What is a unique thing that your company can deliver?

Rented provides both full-service and self-service revenue management solutions. Our revenue management team has provided dynamic pricing solutions for more than 4,000 listings globally for over three years, with hands-on service the property managers have realized RevPAR increases of over 30% consistently even through the very difficult periods of COVID travel challenges. 

Having worked with all tools in the market, our team provided the product roadmap for our own Automated Rate Tool (Art) which was launched this year. Art allows short term rental managers to have access to a very powerful, yet simple to use pricing tool which is unique in the space. Our data warehouse is fueled by proprietary source data, historical market data provided through our partnership with KeyData and billions of data points through scraping all channels. The models and cohorts built in Art are focused on demand, and our dynamic pricing is future looking, and unique in the space. 

The combination of data sources, and professional revenue managers is unique and we are proud to partner with professional property managers globally, as a growth partner. At Rented we celebrate our partners’ success!

How do the teams behind your solutions listen to the needs of the industry? How does it feed into your product development and marketing?

The Rented team are property managers, revenue managers and support staff all from the industry. They have managed, marketed and built relationships from and within the industry with many years of experience. Because of our background in short term management and revenue management, we know all the aspects of the role of vacation managers, from operations to sales. 

Our team of revenue managers are the driving force behind our product roadmap, they have had hands-on experience with all the pricing tools on the market. This experience led to Rented creating a powerful yet easy to use tool, with very robust functionality. 

What are common misconceptions that property managers have? How can these misconceptions be detrimental to them?

Managing pricing by using seasons as a baseline. Pricing in the travel space has become very sophisticated with airlines and hotels leading the use of dynamic pricing, data warehousing, and consumer demand strategies.

Vacation rental managers now have the ability to to use powerful and sophisticated rate management tools to implement a dynamic pricing strategy. Timely and consistent pricing updates on the manager’s website and OTAs is critical to ensure maximum returns for you and your homeowners. OTAs also see when hosts manage rates, and the frequency of pricing changes is a factor that positively contributes to search result listings.

Not managing pricing using dynamic tools and a revenue management strategy most assuredly leaves money on the table. Property managers will have increases and improvements to all the KPIs that they are tracking, including ADR, RevPAR and net revenue.

What is the best question a property owner or manager can ask before making a purchase decision when comparing solutions like yours? Why?

Managers should ask the Rented team, “Why is your Automated Rate Tool the best solution for our company?” Also they should ask about our data, and how we build the cohorts for their listings. We were very intentional in how we built Art, and love talking about the tools, our team, and our strategies.

All of that being said, the proof is in the results. Don’t just take our or anyone’s answers as truth. Test it yourself and see. We like to say: “Don’t trust us, test us.”

Video: Discover Rented's vacation rental pricing software

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Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

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