VRMA International Conference 2018 Wrap Up

VRMA International Conference 2018 Las Vegas
The 2018 VRMA International Conference was held this year in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. This years event saw tons of vendors from all parts of the vacation rental industry and property managers from all over the world.

As industry experts, RealTech was also there on site taking part in all of the action. The RealTech team had many great conversations with other vendors, as well as property managers looking for website solutions.

Representatives from Google kicked off the conference sharing insights into the future of travel with the world’s largest search engine. Reports from Google and our own expert analysis show the company moving into the vacation rental space. In fact, Google will l soon offer the ability for users to search for vacation rentals right from search results.

The vendor showcase was packed with many different companies and several engaging showcases, such as Streamline’s Streamtown, which was a walk into the past. They had a espresso bar, movie theater, popcorn, and many prizes to give away. All of the staff was in full costume with a showman’s theme and enjoying the fun.

There were many great sessions being had throughout the conference. The VRMA conference ended with a posh pool party at Wet Republic Ultra Pool with great food, drinks, DJ, and performers. We’ll be looking forward to next year’s show!

Some takeaways from this year’s VRMA Conference and 2018 are:

Drive More Direct Bookings To My Vacation Rental Business

Property managers continued their quest to find solutions to drive more direct bookings to their business. As competition increases from online travel agencies, Google, and large management companies like Vacasa, managers are finding it even more difficult to drive direct bookings on their sites.
Property managers are looking for differentiation from other companies, while OTA’s are working to commoditize their offerings and consolidate the vacation rental industry. Property managers are focused on the guest experience where OTA’s are looking to grow revenue and lower costs. Many property managers are hopefully guest are realizing that the OTA model is not based on locality of the company. People in call centers at the OTA’s may have never walked into a single property or sever stayed in the destination that the renter is looking to travel to, which does not provide a fluid and knowledgeable experience when inquiring about properties to stay at, which local property management companies are able to offer.

RealTech has the experience and expertise to make sure that your website is being found online and that guests are easily able to trust and book on our clients’ websites and keep them coming back direct year after year.

Google Expansion Into the Vacation Rental Market

Google is slowly moving into the vacation rental keyword market and seeking to driving customers directly into their Google Travel program through Google Search. Customers’ options are being funneled away from organic results and into the Google Travel section of the platform that is currently in beta testing in a few select markets and for select rental terms in search results pages throughout the US.

Expedia is moving forward with their momentum into the industry as HomeAway watches the Booking.com brand partnerships with Google emerging and becoming the main source of sales through Google for rentals.

This is definitely going to cause some shakeup in the industry as well as generate new problems for property managers to get customers directly onto their websites. This also creates a predicament for companies like Expedia who run and pay for Google Ads and yet Google will be more so driving users into their Booking.com partners and away from companies like Expedia and HomeAway.

Growth & Acquisitions in the Vacation Rental Industry

2018 has been the year of growth and acquisition and commoditization for many companies and follows a recent trend of corporate dominance and acquisitions of smaller companies. This year Vacasa acquired 21 vacation rental management companies, over $100 million in funding, and will soon become a publicly traded company. They are poised for great growth in the future and a leader in the industry.

Last year Red Awning was able to secure $40 million in funding for growth equity and they have been putting that money to good use. They recently acquired Leavetown Vacations, a company that helps market multi-unit rentals. Red Awning also acquired Blizzard Internet back in May, a well known online marketing firm. Red Awning rebranded from RedAwning.com to the Red Awning Group as it continues to grow in its offerings and capabilities.

Another growth move was made recently by BlueTent who acquired Visual Data Systems, a longtime leader and pioneer of the online vacation rental industry for the last 30 years. VDS’s clients and staff will integrate seamlessly into BlueTent moving forward

RealTech Webmasters also made some moves this year by becoming a preferred partner of Barefoot Technologies as well as continuing to be a longtime partner with Rental Network Software, one of the oldest software companies in the business. RelaTech continue to grow our relationships with software companies and are now producing integrations with some of the industry leaders including Escapia, V12, CiiRUS, and Streamline.