7 Takeaways from attending VRMA, BPCON2023 and Hostcon

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In this podcast, Mark Simpson shares insights from recent vacation rental conferences. He emphasizes the importance of direct bookings and announces a free virtual event from November 27 to December 1, featuring industry experts.

Mark highlights the influence of short-form videos on guest decision-making, discussing platforms like TikTok and YouTube. He also delves into the rising significance of sustainability in the industry, citing the partnership between booking.com and Sustainica to showcase sustainable properties.

Additionally, Mark advises property managers to conduct net promoter score surveys every six months, stressing the importance of quality partnerships over quantity. He touches on updates from Google Vacation Rentals, indicating its increasing influence in the vacation rental space.

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Key Takeaways

Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Mark: All right. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening and welcome wherever you are tuning in from around the world. I know we've got people all over, uh, America, Canada, UK, Europe, and Australia that tune into these, uh, live recordings of the podcast. So my name is Mark Simpson giving hosts all over the world, the tools, the tactics, the training, and the confidence to go and increase your direct bookings.

[00:00:24] And it's been a couple of weeks. It's been a couple of weeks now because I've been, uh, just got back from America. We've done, uh, three weeks, free conferences, uh, spread around, uh, Orlando and, and Houston. It was the, the Verma conference, vacation rentals managers association, 3000 people between just up to 3000 people in that room, which was, which was a massive event, bigger pockets, uh, which again, just up to 3000 people, um, more real estate focused, but about 30 per cent of the people in that room were around short term rentals.

[00:00:54] And then finally, but not least, HostCon by Rob Abbasolo and his team in Houston, which was about 400 people, uh, which was an amazing event. All events are great, especially ones when you can pick the really good ones and all three of them are so well run, and put together. And the, the, the reflect on the back of it was, was fantastic.

[00:01:14] You know, I do love. Go into America. I only can get over once or twice a year, max, just because, you know, with life school and all that over here in the UK. Um, but whenever I do go over, I always come back. Just, you know, the fire in the belly is there. Um, the need for direct bookings is so huge over there.

[00:01:37] We are still educating, educating, educating everybody about it. And it's still in its infancy to be perfectly honest around, uh, direct bookings over there. And so whenever I get a chance to go over, whenever I get a chance to speak, whenever I get a chance to, you know, educate, it's, it always is. I come back really excited for, the next phase, of what we're trying to do here at Boost Lead with the podcast, with everything, the community, et cetera.

[00:02:03] So that's good, which also brings me to the fact that I've got a special announcement to make. While I was away, I had an idea of running a virtual event because in-person events are fantastic and I encourage every single one of you to go when you can. Obviously, by the time you watch this, depends on when you watch this, the big bash that is happening next week in the UK, I'm so excited to be bringing so many of you based in the UK together.

[00:02:28] We've got people coming from Canada, from Europe. Uh, for this event, people driving, getting a train, et cetera, which is so cool to get everybody into York at the race course, having such a good evening of meeting up, seeing people in the flesh because it's all well and good doing this virtual stuff that we've been doing.

[00:02:44] And, you know, I've got a virtual event going to announce in a second, but when you get to see someone in person, when you get to chat to somebody that's more than just a zoom, that's more than just a, you know, a WhatsApp from a Facebook post or et cetera, it does mean a heck of a lot more. Um, I say that the people that I remember most of the conversations that we had at these events in Orlando and Houston.

[00:03:05] So, you know, if you can do. I know it's hard sometimes with life and everything that's going on with business to get to an event. Even if it's just a small meet-up or if it's a big industry event, I encourage as many of you as possible to get to them. Um, but what I've also realized is that there is such a need still for, for really good, solid education.

[00:03:24] And I have done five-day training in the past, but it's been around just me and one core topic, whether it was a giveaway, whether it's around AI, whether it's around email marketing. And so I was thinking, Well, if I've got five days, if I can get everybody into a group into five days and we can get, you know, between 1000 to 5000 people in a group, that's gonna be around not just one topic, but many topics and bring in experts from around the world.

Late November plans

[00:03:49] How cool would that be? So, um, that's what I've done. So I'm very lucky. After doing this for seven years, I've got a pretty extensive phone book list. My little black book is not so little anymore. Uh, and I just basically sent out messages to some of the top people that I know, some people that I've seen do talks this year, which I think, you know what?

[00:04:08] I think they need to come together and sort of, uh, come into our group. So it's going to be the 27th to the 1st of December, the 27th of November to the 1st of December. So we're going to get Thanksgiving out the way, get Black Friday out the way. Just before the Christmas rush show, the last week of this month, um, it's going to be free, 100 per cent free.

[00:04:24] And The people up are pretty spectacular. So we have got Maddie Rifkin from Mount. She's gonna come in and talk about what I believe is gonna be the number one tool for all of you to use next year, which is upsell experiences. Um, and it's You know, Mount is a free service.

[00:04:41] Rentmount. com. Go check it out. New branding. Cool. Uh, we've got Jesse Vasquez, uh, who is bossing it over in America. He's talking about, uh, 30-day stays plus medium-term rentals. He is, he's sort of, uh, really carved out a niche in attracting healthcare workers, but what we're going to talk about is marketing tactics and tips to attract those longer-term bookings, which, you know, for everybody doesn't matter whether you're focusing on the short term model.

[00:05:08] Medium-term model or regardless, you need to listen to this guy. Phenomenal. Uh, we've got Jamie Lane from AirDNA. Jamie's going to come in and share some key stats and predictions for 2024, which everybody needs to listen to. Uh, we've got Mr. Paul Anderson, the social media hotelier. He's going to come in and share some of the latest Instagram tactics and tips because I know you all love a bit of Instagram.

[00:05:32] Um, we've got, um, Somebody who's quickly turning into a bit of a mentor. Mr Simon Lehman. Uh, he is one of the, you know, he's one of the OGs. What he doesn't know isn't worth knowing. And again, he's going to give his feedback from, from, from everything that he's done from running all of his companies, growing all of his companies, working all of his companies.

[00:05:49] Boostly is working with AGL Italia at the moment. He's going to come and give his predictions for 2024, which again is going to be a phenomenal talk. And I'm excited about that. We've got the fantastic Daniella Derin, uh, who is going to come in and share with you how to use WhatsApp to increase your direct bookings, I've seen this talk at Scale London this year, and I know how good it is.

[00:06:11] The impact of it was so good. And again, I'm going to come in and share those tactics and tips. Uh, we're going to have some other special guests. We're going to talk about sustainability, going to talk about guest communications, and I want to. Do a special session on trust as well, as well as I'm gonna do a session on AI and how you can use it today in your business ways.

[00:06:30] You can do it and I've learned some new ways. So it's gonna be a jam-packed week. We're gonna have sessions in the afternoon. We're gonna have sessions in the evening and we're gonna have sessions later in the evening as well. There's gonna be in total of 10 sessions. It's free and we're going to get everybody together into a Facebook group.

[00:06:44] Now if you want to be part of that, 27th of November to the 1st of December, doesn't matter if you miss it, all the recorders will be available for free. Then let me know in the comments below whether you are. listening on Facebook, and watching on YouTube. If you're on LinkedIn, if you're on the audio version on Spotify, jump over to Facebook and let me know or send me an email.

[00:07:04] Mark at boost. co. The UK mark a boost. co. uk and I'll get you the link on how you can get your name down again. It's looking like we're gonna have between 1000 to sort of 3000 people, maybe even maw for the first time. I'm gonna be running some Facebook ads to this. Just really drives the awareness of it because I can see the need for it.

[00:07:23] So it's been called a direct booking virtual summit, totally free. We're going to run it during that week and I'd love for as many of you to be there as possible. This podcast and this video are a little bit about that, but it's also about my major takeaways from these three events. Verma, BiggerPockets, and also as well, HostCon.

The first takeaway

[00:07:43] The first takeaway, and again, we, uh, We, um, there was a big one because it was very much a lot of solid education. Uh, Verma is where you get the big, the big players in the industry. Um, Google, Airbnb booking dot com. They were all there and Google did a special session and they were talking about Google vacation rentals.

[00:08:05] Now, if you're part of the Boostly community, if you're part of the private Boostly group, I've done my separate Google takeaways in our group because you get all the information there first. If you want to find out about being a part of the Boostly community, go to Boostly. co. UK, B O O S T L Y. But some telling signs for me is watching out for Google in 2024.

[00:08:26] I feel like we've been saying this every single year, but this is the year where they've ramped up their attention to, uh, the vacation rental space and Google vacation rental is not slowing down. It is heating up and. Some of the stats that they shared were pretty key. Now, I've talked about the five stages of the guest booking process many times.

[00:08:47] There's a full five-part documentary series on this channel, on the YouTube channel about it. But what's happening right now is, um, short-form video. It's driving the guest, uh, decision-making process. So what do I mean by that short-form video is tick-tock its reels and its YouTube shots? And a lot of people are using short-form video as a way of doing their research into a place to visit that they've never been to for the, uh, never been to before.

[00:09:18] So this could be whether it's more of a destination. Whether it is a city, wherever it could be short form videos is playing a huge part of that. Now, YouTube is owned by Google and they showed the stats. They didn't include reels in this. They didn't include TikTok in this, but they showed that short-form video is a major driver in getting somebody from being in that decision-making process into the decision-making process.

[00:09:44] I want to go to Boston. I'm looking into Boston. Okay. Now I'm ready to go to Boston. So that is a big driver. Obviously what they're doing is these short-form videos and then driving people to a Google search and they showed the percentages and I shared all the slides in the group with this, but, these percentages are quite big.

[00:10:03] It's a very high and it's only going to get bigger and Google search, Google map. Google Travel is predominantly going to be showing up on, um, on the search and with the emergence of AI and Bard playing a huge key part of this, you'll be able to go, your future potential guests will be able to open up Bard, talk to the device and say, Hey, find me a place in.

[00:10:27] X because I want to go my parameters. My filters are a family of six. I want to go on these dates. My budget is this. I need to be, you know, a mile, two miles, three miles, 100 meters away from this location, whether it's a, you know, we're taking part in an event, a race, a meeting, et cetera. And then it will show them based on what's on Google vacation rentals.

[00:10:48] Now that's pretty key to me. So Google is going nowhere. Um, unfortunately, you can't optimize a Google Vacation Rental listing. It's very heavily dictated by what information is pushed from your property management software tool. If you don't know the difference between Google My Business, and Google Vacation Rentals, again there's a full video on the YouTube channel about this.

[00:11:09] Um, just type in Google Vacation Rentals Boostly Full load of information on that for you. So that is big. Number one. Well, number two.

Sustainability is key Β 

[00:11:17] Number three is sustainability. It is currently the big buzzword. A high percentage, over 80 per cent of people, um, are searching for it. And it is such a key factor. Booking.

[00:11:28] com have, have, uh, linked up with, uh, Sustainica. Um, which, and now they're, they're showing listings on their search that, uh, properties are sustainable. And, you know, it, it obviously shouldn't be a buzzword. It should be something everybody should be paying a bit of attention to because it's the planet we live on our kids and our grandkids and our great-grandkids are going to be on.

[00:11:48] But if you are a sustainable business, if you practice it, you need to start talking about it because you will get more visibility than those that aren't in 2024. He big, a big proponent of this and a big reason why. is a Gen Z. Gen Z. Now the oldest age of a Gen Z, I believe is 25 26. Very many people have disposable income, very many people that are travelling, even if they aren't paying for it if they're travelling with their families, they are dictating.

[00:12:17] on giving their opinions on places to stay. And they are, believe it or not, looking for this. So again, if you are a business that is practising it already, you need to start shouting about it and talking about it because you will get more visibility. Another takeaway, uh, this is more for the managers. So these are those who work with landlords and homeowners.

[00:12:37] Uh, I watched a talk with Julie George, Rebecca Cribben, um, Stacey St. John and, uh, I can't remember her name, Christina from AirDNA. Anyway, Rebecca Cribben said something to me that, uh, well, not just to me, but to the whole group that stuck with me and you should be running NPS surveys. net promoter score surveys to your managers and your owners every six months, because the reason being is that you want to see how happy they are.

[00:13:06] Now, uh, Rebecca, uh, Cribbon, uh, go find it on LinkedIn on, on Facebook, et cetera. Grown a massive portfolio business in Australia. Uh, she's now doing coaching. I'm sure she's going to have some content around this in the future when she's not busy travelling around all these conferences, I'll try and track her down and get to do something for the Boosley community.

[00:13:23] But this was a really important thing to me because We've been doing NPS, uh, net promotes scores at Boostly, and I can see the benefit when people can give feedback, which is ominous to us that will help us improve. And I never thought of putting this into the world of hospitality, but it makes so much sense.

[00:13:41] And again, if you're doing this every six months, um, It is beneficial to you and your business to make sure that everybody is happy with you. But also as well on the back of that,

Don’t be afraid to sack clients

[00:13:51] Takeaway number five is don't be afraid to sack your clients. Don't be afraid to sack the homeowners. Don't be afraid to sack the landlords that just Dicks it's so easy when you first get going to say yes to everything.

[00:14:06] This is specifically for those who are doing the management model. Okay. If you're a homeowner yourself and a landlord, and you're doing the own-to-rent model, forget this. But when you first get going and you decide to do the management model, it's so tempting to say yes to everybody, every opportunity that comes your way.

[00:14:19] And if you're good, then they will naturally opportunities will just fall into your lap. But when you maybe get to property seven property, 10 property, 20. You'll realize that there are 20 percent of your managers, and 20 percent of your homeowners that take up 80 percent of your inbox, 80 percent of your time, and 80 percent of your stress.

[00:14:38] And at the end of the day, if your business is super stressful, then you've just got a stressful job. And the reason why you maybe come away from your, you know, job, your nine to five or your H two or whatever you want to call it. is because you want a little bit of that less of that stress. You want a little bit more control in your life, especially in your business.

[00:14:57] So don't be afraid to sack your clients. Rebecca talked about this, you know, Julie George talked about this. Stacey talked about this key, key, key, key. Um, you've got your ways, you've got your methods, and if they don't fall in line with that, don't be afraid to say, you know what, this isn't working. Go and work with somebody else.

[00:15:13] Okay, you'd rather be working with 10 people that are quality than 100 people when 90 of them are just a pain in the ass. That's a big one. And my last takeaway, takeaway number seven is direct bookings are now more important than ever. While I was away, the cleaning fee announcement on Airbnb dropped, and the updates were made.

[00:15:36] I could see it. There were conversations in the room. Listings had disappeared literally off the platform because the updates were not syncing in with the PMS providers. The APIs were broken and people were panicking. And if your listing disappears for 24, 48 hours or, uh, you know, a week, that could have a massive detriment on your profit.

[00:15:53] It can have a massive detriment on your revenue. And again, if you're doing the rent-to-rent model management model if people can't get paid. You're going to have some pretty unhappy clients. Okay, and that's before you even talk about your profit and loss. Right? So direct bookings are more important than ever.

[00:16:09] I did two separate talks in America, bigger pockets. I talked about marketing tactics and techniques. I shared the top 10 that everybody can do in 2024. That video is on the YouTube channel right now. And the second big one at Houston, which was the blueprint. the foundations to put in place. You know, I spoke about, I spoke about the need of getting mount into your business.

[00:16:30] Free software helps with experiences. You get an upsell from it. If someone books, that's rent mountain dot com. I talked about I prac, I hyphen prac dot com about building trust in your business. And I talked about the importance and the need for super hog again, guest verification, host protection.

[00:16:45] And we spoke about a direct booking website and how important all of those things are. Um, and The overwhelming feedback is how people just didn't know about these things. They didn't know about the importance or the power of, uh, direct bookings. They didn't know about these software and solutions to help them.

[00:17:02] And the market and tactics and techniques that one of bigger pockets. I have never had such a amount of people come up to me afterwards, whether it's on Instagram or face to face and just say, Hey, I'm gonna try this in my business, which is cool and effective. So this is why I get so fired up.

[00:17:18] This is why I'm so enthusiastic to come back and keep on doing what we're doing. This is why I'm putting on these five days on the 27th of November. I want to get as many people as possible into that room because I know that when we get so many people into a virtual room. Um, it's going to be very impactful, the accountability and the, you know, we get everybody fired up and we get everybody moving towards it because, at the end of the day, it's not just going to be one person that is going to boost the knowledge and the word of the book direct, it's going to be.

[00:17:45] Every single one of you. So whether you're watching with me now, we've got quite a lot of people tuning in when we just under a hundred people tuning in with me live right now, or whether you are watching this on the replay or if you're on an email list, you know, there are about 10, 000 people on the email list right now.

[00:17:57] We've got 6, 000 people in the, in the, in the free 2, 500 clients. The word is going to spread not just from a single person, but from everybody. And what we have to do now is educate, educate. Educate, educate other hosts, and educate your guests about the power of direct bookings, why they should book directly, why you should encourage direct bookings, and why you should start to build this foundation into your business so that you can scale it, you can grow it, and who knows, potentially one day sell it and have that ultra cost your life.

[00:18:25] So, that being said, um, thank you so much for tuning in. As always, stay proactive, do not be reactive, and let's go and get some direct bookings. If you want a link to the five-day direct booking virtual summit. leave a comment below wherever you're tuning in from. Um, and I will get that link to you. All I ask in return is just share this video, hit the share button, please right now, share it on Facebook, share it on LinkedIn, share it wherever share it to your wall, share it to a Facebook group and just spread the word of what we're trying to do here.

[00:18:57] And I will get that link to you. Thanks for watching everybody. And I'll be back very soon.