The Vacation Rental World Summit (VRWS) is a premier event designed for the global vacation rental community, encompassing hosts, property managers, industry professionals, and vendors. The summit was conceived with a vision to connect industry players from around the world, share invaluable insights, and provide actionable strategies to enhance business operations, boost bookings, streamline workflows, and ultimately, maximize rental income. Christina and Antonio Bortolotti are the souls of the event.
The 2023 VRWS Edition
The 10th edition of VRWS returned to Barcelona, held at the picturesque Museu Maritim. This event continued the tradition of providing a fertile ground for thought leadership, innovation, and collaboration. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in a variety of sessions, ranging from dynamic pricing strategies and sustainability in vacation rentals to regulatory challenges and the convergence of hotel and vacation rental demand.
A key VRWS asset: the Roundtables
The Vacation Rental World Summit (VRWS) distinguishes itself with its roundtable sessions, a feature not commonly found at other conferences. I was lucky to have been picked as a facilitator for a table of vacation rental hosts. Here’s a concise overview:
- Interactive Format: VRWS schedules four roundtable sessions over two days, fostering interactive discussions among participants.
- Expert Facilitation: Each table is guided by a facilitator, ensuring focused and fruitful discussions.
- Targeted Topics: Discussions revolve around pivotal industry themes: Growth, Operations, Tech Stack, Marketing, Safety, and Guest Experience.
- Icebreaking and Conclusion: The first session is designed for introductions, while the final one focuses on consolidating learnings and planning their application.
- Peer Learning: Roundtables act as peer groups for sharing challenges and solutions, emphasizing the reciprocal exchange of ideas and experiences.
- Actionable Outcomes: The roundtable sessions are structured to ensure participants leave with practical insights and strategies for their businesses.
Embracing the Wave of Dynamic Pricing
The burgeoning interest in dynamic pricing was unmistakable. Our PriceLabs booth became a hub of curiosity, with numerous attendees inquiring about our services, especially the newly launched Hyper Local Pulse algorithm. This interest reflects the industry’s eagerness to adapt to economic uncertainties with innovative pricing strategies.
Sustainable Practices: The Inevitable Shift
A session that truly resonated with me was the one on sustainability, featuring voices like Eric Bergaglia (Booking.com), Bob Garner (EnviroRental), Vanessa de Souza Lage (Sustonica), Morvan Le Boulanger (Olala Homes), Marc Ribail (Qalia), Sophie Desnoulez (Location Lac Annecy), and James Cassidy (Expedia – Vrbo). The key message was clear: embracing sustainability isn’t optional anymore. With OTAs highlighting green practices and guests filtering for sustainable stays, the industry is moving towards a greener future. The advice was pragmatic—start small, be transparent, and continuously improve.
Unraveling Market Dynamics with AirDNA
Jamie Lane from AirDNA presented a fascinating analysis of European markets, revealing a striking comeback of urban destinations to their 2019 supply levels after three long years. Contrasting this, leisure markets have been thriving. This session underscored the critical need for market-specific strategies in our industry.
The Hidden Potential of Mid-Term Rentals
Richard Vaughton of Yes Consulting shed light on the Mid-Term Rental/Relocation market, revealing a realm of opportunities for short-term rental owners and property managers. Although the demand is substantial, the real challenge lies in effectively connecting with this segment, often necessitating the use of specialized agencies.
Communication: The Key to Enhanced Guest Experience
In a session that struck a chord with many, Tyann Marcink Hammond and Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies of Touch Stay illustrated the power of communication. They suggested that engaging with guests 5 to 6 times could significantly enhance revenue and reviews, emphasizing the critical role of customer interaction in our industry.
An Evening to Remember
One of the event’s highlights was the Vacation Rental World Summit dinner, a convivial gathering that fostered camaraderie and exchange. Sponsored by PriceLabs, RentalReady, and Nuki, it was a testament to the community spirit that VRWS embodies.
Google’s Game-Changing Innovations
A session that captured everyone’s attention was led by Google’s David Robles Fosg, who introduced groundbreaking search features that amalgamate vacation rental and hotel options, offering a seamless travel search experience. This convergence signifies Google’s commitment to facilitating diverse lodging choices and transparent pricing comparisons for travelers.
Navigating the Regulatory Landscape
A compelling session on regulations, energized by the tunes of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up,” unraveled the complexities of political motivations impacting our industry. The session was packed with storytelling techniques despite the subject’s complexity. Key concerns discussed included the EU’s intricate VAT system, potentially impacting OTA bookings by January 2025, and the looming expiration of Barcelona’s STR licenses. Notable contributions came from:
- 🔹 Eduardo Botelho Miranda – President of ALEP – Associação do Alojamento Local em Portugal) and Chairman of the European Holiday Home Association (EHHA)
🔹 Viktorija Molnar – Acting Secretary General of the European Holiday Home Association (EHHA).
🔹 Enrique Alcántara – President at Apartur and CEO & Founder of Stay U-nique.
🔹 Marco Celani – President of Associazione Italiana Gestori Affitti Brevi – AIGAB and CEO of Italianway Spa.
Storytelling lesson: My version
The event concluded with a session about how vacation rental managers must tell their stories. It did not go well. Here’s what I would say about it, in a constructive way:
As I left the VRWS conference, I found myself deeply contemplating the art of storytelling. It’s a nuanced craft that transcends mere recitation of personal anecdotes. Professionalism in storytelling is about creating narratives that not only articulate our perspective but also echo with our audience, particularly when we tread on the complex terrain of sensitive subjects.
It’s not a question of muting our voices; rather, it’s about enriching our narrative by empathizing with our listeners, ensuring we’re mindful of the wider context to foster genuine connections. It’s not about changing your story but making it relatable and pertinent to those who hear it.
A narrative that’s too deeply rooted in a personal viewpoint, without pausing to consider not just your own experience but also the multifaceted layers involved, risks failing to resonate with part of our audience. No matter our intentions, such a story can unintentionally appear oblivious to alternative perspectives, potentially eclipsing the collective narrative of a professional community uniting.