One of the annual highlights for the short-term rental industry, the Vacation Rental Management Association’s International Conference took place last month in New Orleans. We caught up with Alessandro Pacilio, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Booking.com, to learn more about his experience.
Click.: For those that have never been before, what is the VRMA International Conference like?
Pacilio: It’s a really fantastic event that brings to life the real sense of community that has been forged throughout the short-term rental industry. There is such diversity in the industry, professionals from many different walks of life all making a big impact on the market. We really value these qualities and the opportunities that the conference creates for building great personal connections.
Each year we’ve seen the commitment to professionalisation grow. Having the opportunity to come together and reflect on what’s been achieved in the twelve months prior and explore future developments is a great reminder of how far we have come.
We spend a lot of time in the lead up to the event engaging with many industry influencers and the event organisers, and throughout the conference this extended to property managers from all around the globe. So many valuable connections are made and we always hugely value the feedback that partners share with us during the event.
Click.: What were the big moments for Booking.com this year?
Pacilio: The launch of our global quality rating created a lot of noise, and it was great to feel such a positive reception. We’ve really tried to create something that will benefit the industry long-term, so it was an exciting moment sharing the project with all the attendees.
We talked about the experiments that we are doing around providing more visibility to property managers, in particular when it comes to new properties, along with the new programmes we are piloting to enable property managers to leverage Booking.com as a growth platform. It was also great to get so much feedback on the Group Connect Bulk Editing tools and Connectivity solutions we have been working on.
A big moment for me, personally, was also to hear Steve Milo, CEO and Founder of VTrips and notorious industry opinion leader, speaking positively about us on stage. I know that Steve always expresses his opinions candidly and so hearing this made me confident that we are indeed moving in the right direction and really listening to the partner needs. Of course, now we need to keep the momentum moving forward.
Click.: What were the topics and trends that got the crowds talking?
Pacilio: There were many fascinating discussions and it’s hard to pinpoint just a few. One huge theme was the rise of quality supply and particularly the announcements around Marriott entering the short-term rental space. Responses to this development were pretty varied, but whatever your stance it will definitely be a trend to watch out for in the coming months.
The importance of revenue management came up and short-term regulations were, as always, an interesting topic, with the impact in various US cities being a particularly provocative subject.
Tech was, of course, prevalent - with everything from voice search and automation to digitalised customer journeys being discussed. But this was also balanced with the acknowledgement that operating a property management company can still be very time-consuming and localised, with scale being an ongoing challenge. Connectivity solutions and the integration of various technologies in a single system came up lots too, with lots of focus on how to streamline the industry.
Click.: What was your biggest takeaway?
Pacilio: We’ve been attending VRMA for several years now and there has been great evolution in that time. We’ve made great strides in how we are partnering with professional property managers, and to see those steps being so well received and gaining so much positive feedback was very encouraging. There were so many exciting conversations taking place, I’m already looking forward to seeing how those ideas come to life in the next year and beyond.
- The 2019 VRMA International Conference took place in New Orleans, US, with over 2,000 short-term rental industry professionals in attendance
- Olivier Grémillon, Vice President of Segments, shared details of the recently launched global quality rating at the event
- Hot topics included the rise of quality supply, revenue management and tech in the short-term rental industry