December 10, 2021
Vacation Rental Women’s Summit Reflections
Takeaways From the 2021 Vacation Rental Women’s Summit
The Vacation Rental Women’s Summit wrapped up just a week ago, and what an experience it was. Amy Hinote and her team from VRM Intel have created a conference quite unlike anything else in the vacation rental space. As Rented’s CEO Andrew McConnel said in his LinkedIn article on the VR Women’s Summit, it was as if there were two conferences happening at once: There was the one about vacation rentals, and there was the one about how to be a better human being happening at the same time.
Through the combination of the hosts, the presentations, the camaraderie of the amazing women AND men attending, the venue, and the special moments that glued it all together, it was challenging to pick our key takeaways from the 2021 Vacation Rental Women’s Summit. Here’s what we came up with.
As a Whole
We have to start with some context. Because if you attend as many VRM events as we do, vacation rental conferences do start to blend together. But Amy and her team have taken a few unique steps to make sure that the VRWS is an Experience with a capital –E-, standing out loud and proud from any other VRM conferences you may attend.
The conference was held at a Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, and if you’ve been to NoLa, you know that it is an experience in its own right. With a unique and colorful culture, amazing beauty, and a city truly filled with tenacity. It’s obviously the perfect setting for this event and the vacation rental industry! And the Ritz is over the top (just like all the attendees!) and makes you feel very special, just like every attendee should feel. As we know in the vacation rental industry, the atmosphere, the design, the location, the story, and the ‘feel’ are instrumental to what we do!
Okay, so food is NOT the top reason one should attend a vacation rental conference. But it’s safe to say that conference food can sometimes leave much to be desired.
Not so with the Women’s Summit. The Ritz-Carlton knows how to prepare and present a meal, and Amy and her team made sure to stay on theme with meals like the French Quarter breakfast and a High Tea afternoon session (down to the white-gloved service and super fancy little gastronomic delights. And what other conference do you know of that serves gourmet cupcakes for snack time?
The Women’s Conference also included a variety of activities to keep attendees engaged with each other. There was an Inspiration Message Board where attendees could write encouraging messages and quotes to one another. There was a red carpet where everyone could take photos, flanked on each side by a very tall and lush Christmas tree. But the trees were not merely for decoration! The “Ornament Exchange” Trees, where attendees were encouraged to leave an ornament representing their market, and take another one as a keepsake.
Also was the “Gratitude Tree” where attendees could write little thank you notes to mentors, colleagues, advocates, and others who inspired them. Don’t forget the ‘80s-themed happy hour on the first night where so many of you came decked out that it felt like a time machine! And a champagne toast on the closing day (just saying, it’s a great idea that deserves widespread adoption!). It’s little things like this that can really bring a conference to life.
If you ever wanted a moving and inspiring New Orleans Choir for your brunch, with an amazing range and repertoire leading off with “This Little Light of Mine” (including April Burns!!!) you got it, and more.
The 2021 Vacation Rental Women’s Summit wasn’t all fun and games, of course. There was plenty of rich educational content. And not just about the industry as a whole. Several speakers focused on industry-adjacent topics such as identifying and stopping human trafficking and domestic violence as short-term rentals, as well as topics on professional development. Here were some of our favorites.
A BOMBSHELL Opening Keynote
Kicking off with a Velvet Machete, Amber Hurdle inspired the crowd, brought much laughter and quite a few tears with her very personal conversation, with a BIG list of takeaways. The author of “Velvet Machete Leadership, The Confident, Compassionate Path to Personal Power” was also included in the amazing swag bag each attendee received. Build your personal branding, practice confidence, just like piano or tennis (hint: no one is born with it!) and find your people and ask for help when you need it.
The State of the Vacation Rental Industry
Melanie Brown from Key Data Dashboard shared KPIs for key regions and destinations, comparing 2021 to 2019 and 2020. Her key findings included highlights like:
- APR increased 10% from 2019, from 44% to 54%
- Rates increased 20% across the board from 2019
- The US RevPAR has hit $126, 48% higher than the years previous
- The booking window is getting closer to its pre-COVID state at +/-3 days
- Christmas occupancy is up 6% YOY
Growing With G.R.I.T. in 2022
Michelle Marquis and her team from TravelNet Solutions took the stage to share their new growth strategy: G.R.I.T., which stands for Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity. With G.R.I.T. as their North Star, Michelle and her team talked about ways to transform operating procedures through creative problem solving and today’s technology.
Career Growth: Navigating Jobs, Life, and Personal Passions with Margot Schmorak
Margot Schmorak, CEO and co-founder of Hostfully, reflected on her career switch from a corporate marketing executive to startup founder while balancing her love for motherhood and personal growth. She shared frameworks to help find your passions, prioritize what’s important, and leave space for creativity. We love how Margot starts by talking about cognitive dissonance and how to change your mindset. You have behavior and belief structure but they have to come together, if they don’t what do you change? She’s a charismatic speaker, and very relatable, humble, and forthcoming.
Rented’s COO Karen Fleck closed out this incredible conference with a presentation on overcoming adversity—in her case, a stutter since she was a young child. Through personal and professional experience, Karen has been able to move past this, creating a life for herself where she is thriving and confident. Our team is proud and honored that she was so candid, thoughtful, funny, and amazing in this presentation!
Yes, there are amazing conferences that are so very helpful to each of us throughout the year, with insights to be gained from each. While you may have limited availability to attend them, keep this one in mind for you and your team. This is not a women-only event, it is a people event, and educational, inspirational, and truly meaningful. The video package will be available soon, with each and every session, so please consider this as you plan your educational budget!! Details here! The cost is minimal compared to the value and it might just hold you over until next time, can’t wait to see you there!!!