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Educational Program

The educational session schedule with dates and times can be viewed hereReview the below content for pertinent session details, including speakers and session descriptions.

Keynote Sessions


Short Term Rentals in Tourism: Strategies for a Sustainable Future

Monday, 16 March | 9:00 – 10:00

Presented by:

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Luis Araújo
President, Turismo de Portugal (Portuguese National Tourism Authority) 

Luis Araújo has been the President of the Portuguese National Tourism Authority since February 2016. Previously, he served as a Board member at Group Pestana, responsible for the Hispanic America hotels operations in Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba. 

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Alessandra Priante 
Director, Regional Department for Europe, United Nations World Tourism Organization

Alessandra Priante is the Director of Europe at the UNWTO, the UN agency that promotes sustainable and responsible tourism globally. Priante has successfully merged her strong experience in corporate finance and M&A operations with her cultural expertise, actively participating in the preparation of the 2017-2022 National Strategic Plan for Tourism. 


Raising the Bar: Elevating the Industry and Enhancing the Guest Experience

Monday, 16 March | 17:00 – 18:00

Presented by:

Untitled design - 2020-02-24T093113.272.png Gianbattista Vespucci
Commercial Director, Booking.com
Untitled design - 2020-02-24T091022.468.png Travis Riner
Global Head of Operations and Quality 
Homes & Villas by Marriott International
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Robin Clifford
Head of Supply, Northern Europe, Middle East & Africa 
Airbnb


Moderated by:

IC Speaker - Simon Lehmann.png Simon Lehmann
CEO and Co-Founder, AJL Consulting


Elephants in the Room: Navigating the Changing Property Management Landscape

Tuesday, 17 March | 16:45 – 17:45

Presented by: 

Untitled design - 2020-02-24T093857.270.png Eric Breon
Founder, Vacasa 
Untitled design - 2020-02-24T093641.266.png Graham Donoghue
CEO, Sykes Cottages


Moderated by:

IC Speaker - Simon Lehmann.png Simon Lehmann
CEO and Co-Founder, AJL Consulting


Business Strategy


The Future of Vacation Rental Business Strategy: Why CSR Is The Missing Piece

Presented by Henrietta Kiss, TreasureRome and Kati Ruotolo, BudaHome Apartments

The traditional concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has now been replaced by a holistic, all-encompassing Triple Bottom Line approach permeating every aspect of running your business as a socially responsible business.

Sustainable initiatives and social consciousness have a growing focus in the travel industry. Giving back by those in the VR sector can have not only a meaningful impact on society, but a solid return on investment for the business.

How do we go from having an idea for a charitable initiative to actually implementing it and integrating it into our business? Speakers will introduce a 5-step template with tested methodology to create and maintain a social project and achieve tangible ROI. Attendees will learn to identify a project that is most closely aligned with their business strategy and also reflects the United Nations Sustainable Development landmark goals for 2030.

Through a case study from the VR community, we will show how to integrate giving back into the business that will have lasting benefits for your brand (e.g., press coverage, competitive advantage, excellent reviews, guest engagement, repeat guests and referrals).

Women's Leadership Panel: Creating for Growth: Opportunities, Strategies, and Challenges of Building a Successful Property Management Business

Presented by Jessica Gillingham, Abode PR; Susan Doull, Commendable Rentals; Emily Bruce-Watt, Air Peace of Mind; Filipa Leitao de Aquiar, Rent4Rest; Vered Raviv Schwarz, Guesty; Vanessa de Souza Lage, Rentals United; Noelia Novella, DoInn; Tammi Sims, Properly

This is a panel discussion with female founders of successful property management companies and tech leaders for the industry. The focus of this discussion will be on how these leaders bring their unique skills and vision to building successful property management businesses in today’s dynamic industry. 

The session will cover:

  • Opportunities, strategies, and challenges of building a successful property management business
  • Managing a team and leading with purpose
  • Balancing ambition with responsibility
  • Working with collaboration and insight
  • Risk-taking, innovation, and strategic skills

Executive Fireside Chat: The European Vacation Rental Landscape

Presented by Merilee Karr, Under The Doormat; Wolfgang Pagl, Expedia Group; James Burrows, Rentals United and Chris Stephenson, Marriott International

The vacation rental industry is constantly changing, spurred by a highly competitive environment where there are investments and innovations targeting the full breadth of the VR value chain,:the property owner, manager, distributor, and end consumer.

In this session, panelists will discuss the general role of Online Travel Agencies in the industry and the value they bring to property managers, as well as an honest exploration of how PMs can optimize their experience and working relationships with OTAs, including the positive role that technology can play. With representation in the hotel space, panelists will also explore convergence of hotel brands moving into the vacation rental space and its impact on the wider industry.

Property Manager Roundtable

Presented by Steve Milo, VTrips and Eric Bordier, LiveRez and RENTeGO Prague

In this moderated and facilitated session, property managers speak freely among themselves on important topics including software systems, technology platforms, marketing channels, regulations and much more. Eric Bordier and Steve Milo will moderate this roundtable in a manner that facilitates an exchange of multiple topics.

Scale Up: The Secret Sauce of Large European Property Managers Revealed

Presented by Vanessa de Souza Lage, Rentals United; Graham Donoghue, Sykes Holiday Cottages; Alexander Limpert, Guest Ready; Menno van Bavel, Happy Holiday Homes and Maxime Leufroy-Murat, City Relay

There are many ways a property management company can grow today, and on this stage, attendees will hear four very different approaches. Sykes Holiday Cottages has a huge amount of inbound leads and is also growing through M&A; Guest Ready grew from 0 to 2500 rentals on two continents in 3 short years via mainly M&A; Happy Holiday Homes is opening franchises throughout Europe and City Relay is dotting London with its high-street offices. Panelists will talk business strategy, technology, and marketing in a session not-to-be missed for all those looking to scale in the very competitive European landscape.

Recession Proofing Multifamily with Vacation Rentals

Presented by Vered Raviv Schwarz, Guesty; Gonçalo Ribeiro, Altido and Bob Milne, Vacasa  | Moderated by Simon Lehmann, AJL Consulting

Owners and developers are now partnering up with modern short-term rental brands to increase operating income and reduce overall tenant churn. How much of an impact can short-term vacation rentals have on the bottom line? This panel will address this along with how to create a combined model (short, mid, and long-term leasing).

19 Lessons Learned for 2020

Presented by Steve Milo, VTrips

The vacation rental landscape continues to dramatically change especially for property managers. In this very candid session, Steve Milo of VTrips provides unfiltered detailed information on the real lessons learned for software, hiring, owner acquisition, social media blackmail, regulations, new competitors, growth strategies, adding new guest fees, smart home technology, property inspections, service departments, strategies for fighting charge back fraud, and more.

This presentation will provide property managers with real, actionable strategies to improve both their top line revenue and bottom line expenses.

The Path to Operational Excellence

Presented by Bob Milne, Vacasa; Ladi Hatyina, Vacasa and Julia Daly, Vacasa

The day-to-day operations of a vacation rental company always come with new challenges, and new opportunities. Field staff are constantly balancing check-ins, check-outs, guest requests, and urgent maintenance repairs. It can prove difficult to make time to streamline processes and enhance efficiencies.

In this session, attendees will hear from senior operations professionals from Vacasa on how to structure their teams, minimize operational confusion, and empower employees to set priorities.


Data and Revenue Management


Man vs. Machine: Crack the Ranking Algorithm to Boost Your Visibility and Get More Bookings

Presented by Alessandro Pacilio, Booking.com

In this session, attendees will learn actionable ways to influence the ranking of properties on Booking.com. Why are things displayed in a certain way? What factors influence your position? Is the ranking the same for all users? This practical, action-oriented session with immediately actionable insights will explain how the ranking algorithm works and the ways in which property managers can make the most of it.

Revenue Management Beyond Dynamic Pricing

Presented by Thibault Masson, Booking.com; Richard Vaughton, Stay Alfred; Jake Gingerich, Beyond Pricing and Roi Schur, Sweet Inn

Increase your bookings and your revenues by combining your market knowledge and tools already available to you from online platforms, while keeping homeowners happy. Join this panel of experts to hear more!

The Current State of European Vacation Rentals

Presented by Pierre Becerril, Transparent Intelligence, Inc.

Transparent will take attendees through the results of our 2019 European study and will provide an introduction to Transparent's market intelligence platform.

Presenter: Steve Milo, CEO, VTripsand Eric Bordier, founder of VR Partnership.world and Owner of RENTeGO Prague

In this roundtable session moderated by Steve Milo and Eric Bordier, property managers will speak freely among themselves on important topics including software systems, technology platforms, marketing channels, regulations, and much more. Audience engagement and questions are the backbone of this session, so bring your ideas and questions!


Financial, Legal, and Advocacy


European Regulatory Best Practices For Vacation Rental Property Managers

Presented by Jean Philippe Monod, Expedia Group; Shomik Panda, UK Short Term Accommodation Association and Inline Policy; Edoardo Miranda, ALEP - Associação do Alojamento Local em Portugal and Henning Ehrenstein, European Commission

Join Jean-Philippe Monod, Expedia Group’s VP of Government & Corporate Affairs for EMEA - APAC - LATAM regions for a wide-ranging and candid conversation on the state of short term rental regulations across Europe.

Government officials from the European Commission, policy expert Shomik Panda, and local property manager advocate Edoardo Miranda will add specific examples in a deep dive discussion of current issues shaping the regulatory environment in Europe, such as the Portuguese national law on short term rentals (known as Alojamento Local). How the regulatory approach in Europe may impact or exemplify regulatory trends seen across Europe at large. What’s the European Union priorities on the sector? What’s the industry doing across Europe? Come hear answers to these questions and more.

Grassroots Advocacy: We're Better Together

Presented by Carla Costa Reis, Turisma

This session will discuss recent efforts to inspire, encourage, and lead the Portuguese STR community. Getting a grassroot movement organized has led to strategy development and implementing concrete actions that achieved real results against the issues that the community constantly faces. Getting the STR stakeholders in Portugal to engage in helping each other and advocating strengthened short term rental owners participation in decision-making about public policies and programs, and to promote a transparent and participative political culture.


Guest Relations


We Analyzed 2,000 Guest Reviews: Here's What We Learned

Presented by Astrid Lindstrom, Properly, Inc.

Properly has been gathering data from thousands of reviews to discover what matters most to guests. What do they complain about most frequently? What do they rave about? What makes the difference between a 4-star and a 5-star review  and what's almost certain to land you in 1-star territory? Our in-depth analysis of over 2,000 reviews provides clear answers to these questions. When you walk out of this session, you'll know what needs most attention at your properties, and exactly how to make the improvements you need to ensure happy guests.

Hospitality & Revenues: The Impact of Guest Reviews and Property Quality on the Revenues of a Property Management Company

Presented by Thibault Massoon, Booking.com; Alexandra Persson, Oyo Vacation Homes; Romain Ourdan, Onefinestay; Graham Donoghue, Sykes Cottages and Alexander Limpert, GuestReady

Join this dynamic panel discussion and learn from industry experts how to deliver the best possible guest experience and get better reviews and therefore increase your revenue.

Presenters: Tammi Simms, Vice President of Customer, Properly, Inc

More details coming soon.


Marketing


Here for the FOMO: Social Media Marketing to Drive Bookings

Presented by Christina Burgess, Vrbo and James Shaw, Sykes Cottages

With more than 3 billion active users spending, on average, more than 115 minutes on social media each day, the ability for property managers to reach travelers on social media is tremendous. One survey found that 87% of Millennials looked to social media for inspiration for their next vacation. Another recent survey showed 97% of Millennials share their experience on social media while traveling

Attendees will learn about the power of visuals, effective storytelling, digital guestbooks, how to promote the best-performing posts, and effective ways for engaging travelers.

Partnering with Your Local Tourism Organization to Generate Direct Bookings

Presented by Alma Bair, Paradise Villas and Vacations, LLC; Ira Rockman, Smiling House; Moriya Rockman, Smiling House and Manuel Paiva, Holiday Lovers

This panel will share innovative marketing strategies offered by destination management organizations and how to maximize them and how the tools provided for vacation rental managers, can maximize exposure and increase growth.

A VRM from Puerto Rico will describe the tools that the partnership with the DMO, Discover Puerto Rico, provides, elaborate on their marketing strategies, and successes they’ve experienced.

VRMs from Switzerland will describe their experiences working with their local organizations to grow their businesses.

VRM's from Portugal working with their DMO, Alentejo will discuss their relationship which started in 2014.

Given the excellent work of Turismo do Alentejo in promoting the region and Its relationship with the various tourism sector entrepreneurs in this promotion that included VR from the beginning, we consider that the Tourism of Alentejo should be presented as an example.


Property Services


Creating the Standard Housekeepers and Inspectors Are Held To

Presented by Durk Johnson, Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals

Without a written standard, housekeepers and inspectors will establish their own. Create and maintain your Standard Property Appearance for your housekeeping department. Get rid of the guessing factor and save time and learn how to create a Standard Property Appearance.

Safety Inspections of Your Vacation Rentals: What's Important

Presented by Justin Ford, Breezeway

This session is Vacation Rental Safety 101 on a global level. International safety expert, Justin Ford, will walk attendees through a complete and thorough safety inspection of a vacation rental explaining why each item is important to address with real case studies. Justin has shared a similar presentation to standing-room-only audiences at VRMA conferences since 2016  but this will be the first time it takes on a global audience with global vacation rental references. It is a presentation that every vacation rental professional should attend in the early stages of their career.


Technology


Smart Home, Smart Management: Easily Transform Your Bookings into ‘High Tech, High Touch’ Stays to Achieve a Maximum Guest Experience, Improve Your Returns, and Manage Guest Safety

Presented by Jessica Gillingham, Abode PR; Michael Driedger, Operto Guest Technologies; Sapphire Stein, Wishbox; Henry Bennet, YourWelcome; Dana Young, Virtual Concierge Service and Noelia Novella, DoInn

This panel, moderated by Jessica Gillingham, will look at how property managers can make sense of Smart Property technology solutions for their properties and how connected devices, digital guest books and keyless entry can benefit the guest experience and improve returns. How can property managers also ensure that they are still providing a ‘high touch’ experience for guests despite (and with) the use of technology? Listen to this panel of experienced experts to learn more!

The Holiday Home of 2025: The Next Guest Experience and Implications for Property Managers

Presented by Sean Miller, PointCentral

Sean Miller will lead attendees on an education presentation that envisions how guests will interact within a holiday rental and how managers can get ahead of it when it comes to adaptation. Attendees will discover what AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) role is in the holiday rental of the future and understand the offerings currently and what can be.

Property Management Software Execs Talk the Tech That's Powering the Future of the Short Term Rental Industry

Amiad Soto, Guesty; Sebastien Grosjean, BookingSync; Benjamin McGee, Kigo and Manuel Giner Nadal; Avantio

Moderated by Simon Lehmann, AJL Consulting

Hear from some of the widest-used property management systems worldwide on one stage where they provide insights into the future of property management, and offer predictions on where the market will go next. Audience members will not only gain insight into how such platforms can help them streamline the complex operational needs of their businesses, but will better understand how the world of STRs has resulted in the need for platforms that help manage such businesses effectively.

Connectivity Panel: Leveraging Technology for Your Success

Presented by Lissa Terrel, Booking.com; James Burrows, Rentals United; Ivana Paradinovic, Adriagate and Marianne Van Ooteghem, Smoobu 

Join this dynamic panel focusing on leveraging connectivity to drive success from the perspective of providers, property management companies and Booking.com.