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Plenary Sessions

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Tamara Lohan, Co-Founder Mr & Mrs Smith, Entrepreneur and Technology Strategist

Staying Relevant in a Crowded and Ever More Digital World

Monday, 18 March | 9:00 – 10:00

Tamara Lohan started a business from scratch in the travel industry and luxury space at a time when the world was changing and going digital. As CTO and co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, she has a unique perspective on the digital transformation she has experienced—from the working practices of the business to customer service, marketing, and interactions. Tamara will lead the audience through her entrepreneurial journey, sharing her views on curation of product and what it takes to cut through and stay relevant with a discerning customer base. You won’t want to miss her take on how Mr & Mrs Smith has evolved and adapted to be resilient in times of change.

Join Tamara for a “fireside chat” following her presentation for an enhanced discussion about the boutique hotel travel club and expectations of today’s modern traveler.

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Monday Afternoon Plenary Session
Simon Lehmann, CEO and Co-Founder, AJL Consulting LLC

European Holiday Rental Market Overview: Data, Trends, and a Look into the Future

Monday, 18 March | 17:00 – 18:00

The holiday rental management landscape continues to shift, with new trends emerging and innovation offering greater possibilities. In this session, Simon Lehmann will explore data from a recent survey of European property managers and examine the most important takeaways – from trends relating to marketing and distribution to technology and more.

In this session Simon will:

  • Discuss where the industry is headed in terms of OTA utilization, direct bookings, urban growth, traditional market trends, and more
  • Compare and contrast Europe to the U.S. market
  • Identify opportunities for European businesses to excel

About Simon Lehmann: Simon Lehmann previously served as the CEO of Phocuswright before becoming CEO and co-founder of AJL Consulting LLC. Over the years, Lehmann has made a name for himself beyond the Swiss borders as an online expert of the travel industry in general, but especially in the vacation rental industry. His past experience includes serving as CEO of Biketec AG, the producer of the FLYER E-bikes located in Huttwil, and CEO of Interhome, the European market leader in placing more than 32,000 vacation apartments, vacation homes, and chalets in 29 countries. He was also deputy CEO of the Hotelplan-Gruppe in 2012, where he was responsible for the Travel Related & Online Services Division.


Tuesday Morning Plenary Session
Gianbattista Vespucci, Global Commercial Director for Partner Services, Booking.com; Hadi Moussa, General Manager, Northern Europe, Airbnb; Martijn Leenders, SVP of Distribution & Managing Director of Belvilla AG; Merilee Karr, CEO and Founder, UnderTheDoormat; Simon Lehmann, CEO and Co-Founder, AJL Consulting LLC

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Building Successful Relationships in an Evolving Market

Tuesday, 19 March | 9:00 – 10:00

From a fireside chat with industry thought leaders Gianbattista Vespucci and Hadi Moussa to a panel discussion with some of the sharpest property managers in Europe, this spirited plenary session will dive deep into the outlook for the holiday home industry and explore how to create meaningful relationships to succeed in the growing market.


Tuesday Afternoon Plenary Session
Graham Donoghue, CEO, Sykes Cottages; Davide Ravalli, Co-Founder and CEO, Hintown; Julian Ritter, Co-Founder and CEO, AirGreets; Alex Nigg, Founder and CEO, Properly, Inc. 

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Fast but Risky in the City Versus Slow but Steady on the Beach: Perspectives on our Industry from Leading Managers

Tuesday, 19 March | 16:15 – 17:15

For the last decade, the urban segment of the vacation rental industry has grown by leaps and bounds, and today claims an undeniable portion of industry revenue. However, this growth has often come in fits and starts, as regulation exacts a heavy toll. "Traditional" vacation rentals, by contrast, have grown more slowly – but also more consistently. What causes this contrast between the markets? 

In this panel, the brightest minds of both urban and “traditional” vacation markets will come together to examine and dismantle the stereotypes of their respective markets before diving into topics that challenge the industry as a whole: attracting new generations of guests, navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment, and more.

The premise of this session is that our problems and opportunities are increasingly shared. We believe the best path forward is not to engage in a battle royale, but to bring our diverse skills and perspectives to bear on the problems we mutually share, so that our industry can continue to thrive in every market.