3rd Annual Vacation Rental DARM Conference (vrdarm.com)
August 16 – 18, 2021
Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC
Monday, August 16
5:00 – 6:00
Inhabit IQ’s DARM Welcome Happy Hour
Tuesday, August 17
8:00 – 9:00
Registration and Breakfast Pickup and Meetup, Colonial Ballroom (Lobby Level)
9:00 – 10:15
10:30 – 11:10
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Which metrics matter and how are they calculated and compared across vacation rental systems?
Successful revenue management not only requires access to comparative data, but it also requires a comprehensive understanding of the data, including definitions, equations, and why they matter. Cliff Johnson will take us through the terminology and KPI equations used by revenue managers to craft, implement, and evaluate effective pricing strategies.
Rate Strategy: Building revenue management strategies in the new travel landscape
Dynamic pricing is nothing new for vacation rental operators, but the strategies behind it are shifting to adapt to the new travel landscape. What key market indicators should revenue managers be looking for to signal rate adjustment? How can an effective revenue approach support local operations—and deliver results for homeowners—during peak seasons or, conversely, fill gaps in the booking calendar while maintaining price integrity? During this presentation, attendees will get answers to all those questions and more from Vacasa’s vice president of revenue management Natalia Sutin. Sutin will address how strategies shifted during the pandemic, as well as the fresh pricing challenges that emerged, and which trends she expects to hold as the travel industry continues to rebound.
The Theory of Limited Edition 2.0: Leveraging the things that do NOT scale as your superpower to growth and happiness
Matt Landau believes every independent vacation rental manager is sitting on a goldmine of unique selling attributes that differentiate from the bigger, richer, flashier competition. But that without some very intentional sculpting of these attributes, those same managers can easily slip into a commodity price race to the bottom. After several years on the road documenting some of the world’s most profitable and sustainable vacation rental brands, Landau reveals the common denominators of their stealthy positioning and the direct impact it has on data, revenue, and lifestyle design.
Long-Term Value Building: For executives, building value in your business to accomplish long-term goals and exit strategies
You are busy building your business, but are you building the value of your business? Understanding the fundamentals of business value is the key to creating a valuable enterprise that you can convert to personal wealth, funding your lifestyle, retirement, or family legacy goals. Beyond the basics, Odell will review VRM market trends and valuation dynamics which can inform your value creation strategy, examine the impact of risk, answer your question regarding ownership transition options, and discuss best practices successfully used by other company owners, as they prepare for their future.
11:20 – 12:00
Rentals Recovery Roadmap: What industry trends will prevail?
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US economy—specifically, the hospitality industry—has gone through an unprecedented contraction and recovery. Jamie Lane, vice president of research at AirDNA will outline how government stimulus, easing lockdowns and travel restrictions, and pent-up demand for travel allowed certain sectors and markets of the vacation rental industry to recover and outperform other segments of the US lodging industry. He will present an updated economic forecast and outlook of the VR industry for a variety of U.S. locations.
Lane will then provide an overview of industry trends including historical and future demand pacing, how record occupancy is impacting ADRs, and where supply is growing fastest. Other topics include a review of the host wars (how successful Airbnb and VRBO have been at attracting new hosts), how exclusivity of supply has changed over time, the overlap between platforms by location type, and if/when international travel will return.
Revenue Strategy Levers: Pricing levers vacation rental revenue managers pull to influence booking activity
Revenue managers have more than rate at their disposal to impact reservation activity. PriceLabs founder and CEO Anurag Verma will define and explain industry pricing levers including minimum night requirements, booking window, promotions, channel policies, fees, cancellation policies, and more. In addition, he’ll give examples of how each lever can influence booking activity across channels and discuss different strategies involving a combination of levers and channels.
Generating Bookings with a Comprehensive Digital Advertising Strategy
In this presentation, O’Connell will talk about the data-driven strategy and tactics behind his company’s managed ad spend (over $1.5M in the last 12 months) across Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram & more. He will share best practices in targeting, reporting, measurement, and budget allocation, and share how you can spend effectively no matter what your monthly ad spend is. O’Connell will also cover updates around the iOS 14.5 updates and the future of ad tracking for vacation rental managers.
2022 Forecasting: Predicting revenue when historical performance is unreliable
Year-over-year (YOY) data sets are unreliable in today’s current environment. In addition, 2021 was an extraordinary year for many property managers. Looking ahead to rental projections and budgets in 2022, how can vacation rental managers predict revenue and set expectations for homeowners? We’ll discuss how companies are looking at the upcoming competitive environment and planning for the future when recent historic data may be an anomaly.
12:00 – 1:15
Farmer’s Market Lunch and 2021 DARM Battleground (Part 1), Carolina Ballroom (Meeting Level)
1:30 – 2:10
PMS Data: Finding data and business answers hidden in your property management system (PMS)
Hidden inside your PMS software are many of the answers you need to accelerate your company’s growth and provide better guest, owner, and staff experiences. Getting to these insights typically requires connecting data that most systems don’t provide out of the box. In this session, we’ll showcase ways to unlock insights like how to rate and incent house cleaners using guest satisfaction scores, data that helps you pull the different distribution channel levers that maximize occupancy and profitability, and smart methods for segmenting guests to boost marketing performance.
Optimizing Listings and Pricing on Vrbo/Expedia
Panel Discussion: Expedia/Vrbo Revenue Team and Cameron Felton, Director of Revenue Management, Evolve; Sarah Franzen, Director of Revenue Management, Natural Retreats; and Jordan Locke, CEO, RevPARTY
Expedia’s revenue team for lodging and vacation rentals will join a panel of revenue managers to discuss how PMs can optimize their listings and pricing display on Vrbo and Expedia, and they will answer questions about how to execute the latest strategies and maximize and monitor performance.
How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) REALLY Works for the Vacation Rental Industry
SEO is always referred to as a “dark art” due to its technical nature and the years of knowledge and experience required to master. For this reason, property managers often rely on outsourced SEO companies for prime placement in the search engines. The cold hard truth? Many SEO companies don’t focus on what really matters. Audits and scores from online tools don’t rank your site better, but the methods in this presentation do. Geared toward both beginner and advanced technical levels, Hanak will explain what’s important for search engines in the vacation rental sector and how to stop the wool from being pulled over your eyes from outside agencies. Join a twenty-year SEO veteran as he walks you through some eye-opening myths about the SEO game and what a property manager can keep an eye out for to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck.
Margins Matter: Benchmarks across 100s of P&Ls that lead to profitability
In a world in which well-funded multi-destination short-term rental companies are buying growth with zero attention to margins, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain both profitable and competitive. We’re being told that an EBITDA of 5 – 8% is normal. However, leading managers are bringing well over 20% to the bottom line. Margins are critically important for both long-term growth and when buying and selling companies. Having reviewed—in-depth—hundreds of P&Ls, Edwards will shed light on what property managers are spending in key areas as a percentage of revenue and will discuss how to increase profitability in the current and future competitive environment.
2:20 – 3:00
Data-Driven Property Managers: How to set up your benchmark metrics for success in your Key Data Dashboard
Like all well-run companies, property management companies should be data-driven at their core. With so many different software platforms that don’t all integrate together, this can be hard. The best companies are still finding a way. We will discuss how to identify, measure, collect, report on, and―most importantly―act on your data. Companies making clear data-driven decisions are leading our industry and will continue to do so. Jennifer and Taylor will walk through how to set up and monitor metrics in your dashboard, how to build reporting, and how to identify ways your company can start improving today.
Optimizing Listings and Pricing on Airbnb
Airbnb will join a panel of revenue managers to discuss how VRMs can optimize their listings on Airbnb and will answer questions about how to execute the latest strategies and maximize and monitor performance.
Play Bigger: Tips & Tricks to Drive Direct Bookings
Not all clicks are created equal. Conversion is still king, but clicks at every stage of the guest journey are critical to overall direct booking success. We’ll explain how different channels drive clicks that boost overall traffic, and how implementing specific digital marketing tactics at each guest journey stage can dramatically improve your booking performance. Attendees will learn how to deploy a full-funnel digital marketing method that increases direct bookings. They’ll learn tools and tactics for increasing traffic and conversions, how to effectively measure ROI for decision making at each stage, and the measurable business results that Property Managers and Hoteliers are experiencing by using this more effective approach.
The VRM Technology Mix: Pros and cons of a company’s “tech stack” when buying and selling companies
The theme of this panel is to learn what components of a seller’s “tech stack” are important to buyers. We will also hear of common pitfalls that have happened in the past and ways to avoid them in the future.
3:00 – 3:30
Fruit, Cheese, Caffeine, and Chocolate Break, Colonial Ballroom (Lobby Level)
3:30 – 4:10
Driving Results with People Data: Using data to identify job candidates and put your team members in the right seats
What is people data and how can you use people data to measure behavioral drives and cognitive abilities while taking into consideration the total person when evaluating candidates and leading team members? This session will present ways to collect and utilize people’s data to improve overall company results. You will learn how to identify, hire, and inspire your company’s most important (and costly) asset―your team.
Channel Management Checklist
If you have a direct connection through your PMS, why would you need a channel manager? Rentals United cofounder and CEO James Burrows will discuss what channel management features you need to look out for to drive ROI. Along with case studies with customers from around the globe, Burrows will answer questions from revenue managers about how they can optimize existing channels and new opportunities with Google Vacation Rentals.
Merchandise Properties and Maximize Bookings on Your Own Website
Across enterprise-level vacation rental management companies, over 50% of bookings are coming directly . . . not through third-party channels. Too often when looking at revenue management, we neglect our own websites. This panel will discuss how to merchandise property listings, optimize sort algorithms, display pricing and policies, use strike-through and urgency pricing, and maximize promotions on your own website to increase online bookings and keep guests on your site.
Mitigating Risk: A Roundtable Discussion about the “T” (threats) in a VRM’s SWOT analysis
In a SWOT analysis, the T stands for threats. In an uncertain environment, PMs are finding it necessary to perform a solid risk assessment and strategize to mitigate these risks. In this open discussion, we’ll sit down with executives, identify these threats facing both the industry and individual companies, and discuss how PMs can plan for the future.
4:20 – 5:15
The Future of VR Data and Revenue Management, Carolina Ballroom (Meeting Level)
Wednesday, August 18
8:00 – 9:00
Lowcountry Breakfast, Colonial and Carolina Ballrooms
9:00 – 10:15
10:15 – 10:45
In-Case-You-Stayed-Out-Too-Late Refueling Break, Colonial Ballroom (Lobby Level)
10:45 – 11:25
Analyzing Operations and Property Data: What’s changed (and hasn’t) in the last 18 months
The growth of the short-term rental category is well documented―not only with respect to the number of rentable homes and management companies, but also the identity, challenges, and priorities of vacation rental operators. In this presentation, Breezeway’s founder and CEO Jeremy Gall will reflect on this growth by presenting three different sources of internal data: operations survey data from spring 2020 and 2021 (e.g. biggest property care challenges, plans to differentiate their business, frequency of client communication, number of software tools in use, etc.), and data on five million property care tasks from the Breezeway platform (average length of cleans/inspections/repairs, most frequently repaired items, most urgent guest requests, etc.). Jeremy will discuss different trends that the data reveal and share his perspective on what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for industry operators.
Hotel Revenue Management Strategies: When to use, when to adapt, and when to toss
As more hotel-trained revenue managers enter the short-term rental sector, hotel revenue management strategies are being tested and evaluated for vacation rentals. What are the similarities and differences between the two lodging sectors? This panel will explore what attributes are the same, what is different, which strategies translate, and which do not.
The Battle for Direct Bookings Is Hand-to-Hand Combat, Not Aerial Strafing
Doug Kennedy will show us how to secure more direct bookings via textual selling, in-platform messaging (on OTA’s), and via every guest/staff conversation. Participants in this session will walk away with a list of specific training tips to help their companies secure more direct bookings and reduce their reliance on costly third-party channels that can also be a barrier to return bookings. While the war for direct bookings does require “aerial strafing” (digital marketing), the most important battles in VR distribution occur through human and not digital interactions. Whether by phone, chat, email, or a random in-person conversation with a maintenance tech, it is the people that make the difference.
Building a 2022 Revenue Optimization Team: What does the org chart look like for a high-performing team (sales, marketing, distribution, and revenue management)
Whether big or small, how are your sales, distribution, revenue, and marketing efforts working together? Revenue in general is always a top-line goal and KPI for companies. In this panel, we will have industry experts discussing how these four areas collaborate together successfully in order to reach top-line revenue goals/KPI’s.
11:35 – 12:15
How to Hold a Revenue Strategy Meeting
Richer Logic’s Heather Richer will discuss how to construct an effective agenda for a revenue strategy meeting, including who should be there, what KPIs are monitored, how revenue managers are being held accountable, and how marketing and data teams fit in. Whether your team is in-house or outsourced, holding regular and effective meetings will keep everyone on the same page and on track.
Length of Stay (LOS) Strategies: Using LOS tactics to manage channel performance and optimize occupancy and revenue
One of the primary levers used by revenue managers is the length of stay (LOS). Jeff Paglialonga, CEO, Teeming Vacation Rentals, was able to fast-track revenue growth using LOS strategies. In this case study, Jeff will discuss his objectives and then demonstrate with his software provider, Streamline, how he executed the strategies and was able to get ahead of his competition.
Increasing Repeat Business: Converting guests into repeat customers
Looking ahead to what could be a highly competitive 2022, having confirmed reservations on the books is worth gold. What are PMs doing to increase repeat business, and how are they converting OTA travelers into loyal guests? Tyann, David, and Matt will lead this discussion on building repeat business and will talk about tech ideas with StayFi’s Arthur Colker and NEC’s Suneel Goud.
VRM Staffing Challenges Abound: Addressing the #1 challenge for vacation rental managers
Finding, compensating, and retaining staff are some of the biggest challenges facing industry professionals today. Property managers have learned that finding and retaining employees takes creativity with compensation and flexibility with schedules. No longer does a one-size-fits-all approach work. Remote workforces have opened up staffing alternatives across the US and internationally. Join Sue and Ari for a lively discussion on ways to approach your staffing needs.
12:15 – 1:45
Taste of Carolina Lunch and 2021 DARM Battleground (Part 2), Carolina Ballroom
2:00 – 2:40
Rental Inventory and Homeowner Metrics: A guide to measuring and improving what really matters for your inventory
After speaking with hundreds of VRMs, Vintory CEO Brooke Pfautz quickly realized that most professional property managers are in the dark when it comes to understanding the key metrics of inventory growth. Join Brooke in this session for an insider’s look at metrics and data never presented in our industry before. Quickly become an expert in running growth numbers and calculating the ROI of a new property for your program. See where you stand vs your colleagues and competitors. Metrics for metrics sake are not very useful so we’ll move beyond the numbers and get to the bottom line―what leadership must focus on to drive a successful vacation rental business.
Channel Technology: Implementing revenue management strategies across all channels using channel managers, PMSs, and direct connections (Part 1)
Revenue managers have questions for channel managers, and this panel has answers. In this discussion, vacation rental managers will have the floor to ask questions about connectivity and strategy execution, hear about their roadmaps, talk more about the Google Vacation Rental platform, and suggest new functionality.
Gold In Plain Sight: Email marketing strategies to grow revenue
With inventory filling fast this year, too many email marketing strategies got put on the backburner. Covering tactics around automation, crafting personalized messages, and more, learn how your email strategy is key to building guest loyalty, keeping units filled, homeowners happy, and getting the most revenue per booking.
Executives Look Ahead to 2022 and Beyond: Revenue optimization, consolidation, competition, and homeowner retention
Panel Discussion: Moderated by Andrew McConnell, CEO, Rented, with Sarah Bradford, Winter Park, and Steamboat Lodging Company; Tim Cafferty, Outer Banks, and Sandridge Blue; Max Schuster, Stay Marquis; and Steve Milo, CEO, VTrips
For company owners and stakeholders, Andrew McConnell will moderate this important discussion with industry leaders about what the future holds in the vacation rental industry in the areas of revenue optimization, industry consolidation, the upcoming competitive environment, and homeowner retention, communications, and loyalty.
2:40 – 3:10
Ice Cream Social, Colonial Ballroom (Lobby Level)
3:10 – 3:50
Traveler Demand: Why you need the data now!
To date, we have all relied upon booking data to reflect traveler demand. While this tells the picture of the demand you captured, it doesn’t tell the full story about the demand you failed to capture, or the market-level demand that never made it your way. This session will help you understand Demand Data: What is it? Why are you losing money if you’re not using it? And how do you get started putting it to work for you?
Advanced Revenue Management Roundtable Discussion: Revenue managers sit down tech providers (Part 2)
Today’s revenue managers are struggling to execute pricing strategies using available technology and connectivity. Many managers have built their own technology as a result. This panel will discuss what they’re able to accomplish in proprietary tech vs what the PMSs, channel managers, and pricing tools are able to.
Building Competitive Sets: Developing comp sets and tools available
Building competitive sets, aka comp sets, is challenging but necessary in building rate strategies. After last year’s DARM Conference, we realized that revenue managers were in need of a tool for comp sets. As a result, AirDNA and Key Data set out to help. In this panel, revenue managers will meet up with comp-set-tool providers to talk about what factors are used in building comparable comp sets and will discuss how to use technology to monitor competitive performance.
The Future of VR Technology: How are technology companies approaching the future? A panel with tech leaders about future plans, consolidation, and connectivity
During this panel discussion led by Amy Hinote, we’ll learn more about what the VR tech environment is going to look like in the coming years. We’ve assembled a panel of C-level tech executives in our sector to discuss private equity, consolidation, road maps, and how we’ll connect in the future.
4:00 – 5:00