Our Top Five Takeaways From Rezfest 2018

Rezfest, presented by HomeAway held their annual conference this year at the JW Marriott Resort on Marco Island, Florida. There was a fabulous turnout with lots of top companies in the vacation rental industry in attendance. The breakout sessions were full of successful and long term vacation rental managers from all over the world looking for new information and tools to grow their business. There were informative presentations and great conversations being had all around the conference. Some of our key takeaways from the conference are:

Technology Keeps Moving Forward

We are seeing technology increasing at an exponential rate. The travel industry is the top revenue producing industry on the internet and it is going to continue to increase. Technology in this industry is improving each year and improving the experience for both property managers and travelers. Whether looking for 3D VR floorplans from Matterport and TruPlace, smart home technology and voice assistants for guests such as Amazon Echo, or informational devices, this conference had all the latest and greatest technological advancements & gadgets on display.

Big Data Is Here!

We have more data collection than ever before and the efforts to obtain more data and centralize information are becoming a primary focus for companies like HomeAway whose new data platform is top tier with the ability to predict future occupancy rates and pricing in your rental market.

There are more data aggregators coming into the industry looking to tap into the vast amounts of data available. Data in this industry has been fragmented for a long time, but now with the increase in revenue and investment dollars, market occupancy data is starting to become more available and easier to obtain. This could be a positive, valuable opportunity for property managers who are looking to maximize their revenue per rental unit.

Focus On Conversion Optimization

Developers across the industry and especially at Homeaway are looking for multiple ways to decrease a user’s time finding a rental on their sites in order to make booking a property easier and less time consuming. Homeaway has taken a tip from Zillow and now allows the ability to swipe areas in a map to filter rentals in the areas shaded. This provides a better user experience and improves conversion rates. HomeAway has also made it easier for guests to book the home they want by offering users flexible date search results. Map-based searching is an area where we expect to see considerable growth in the coming year.

Online Travel Agency Expansion

We continue to see large travel distribution providers moving into the vacation rental industry. With the growth of this industry and the opportunities it creates, companies like Booking.com are not only selling hotel rooms, but are increasingly selling vacation rentals on their sites.

In 2019 there will be two newcomers to vacation rental online distributors; Expedia and Google. Both see the revenue opportunities in this industry and are looking to capitalize on the current consumer interest in vacation rentals. Google will be allowing other online providers to show rentals directly on Google search results and will also have rentals from Booking.com and Expedia be shown and booked right from Google Map search results, like they have been for hotels.

RealTech always recommends that consumers book direct on your site and never with a third party. If they do book through a 3rd party, make sure your marketing efforts and guest service are bringing them back to book direct with you for their next vacation to your area.

Governance Is Ongoing Concern For Vacation Rental Industry

There are many local governments considering rule changes that can profoundly impact the vacation rental industry. All across the country towns and cities are struggling with how to manage the growth of this industry and how it affects local residents and the economies. Some areas are embracing our industry and the economic impact of growth while other areas are struggling with the blurring lines of residential versus commercial use zones. We continue to monitor the ever changing landscape of the vacation rental regulations and are always looking for ways to help educate local governments on the value that a thriving short term rental base provides. The VRMA Advocacy blog is a great resource for property managers to stay informed on pending issues on a state or local level.

Next Stop for the RealTech team is the 2018 VRMA International Conference October 27-30 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Check back for more info after the conference!