2020 Spring Forum Virtual Session Information 


VRMA is proud to provide education that addresses current issues as well as resources to rebuild and grow your business as guests resume travel. 

Live education sessions occur on Tuesday of each week. All new pre-recorded sessions are released on Monday of each week. Registered attendees of Spring Forum can access the recorded sessions here


Tuesday, May 19

★ OPENING KEYNOTE: Cottage Industry 3.0: The New Era of Hospitality is Coming Home


From industry steward Matt Landau comes Cottage Industry 3.0: a bold vision for the future of hospitality where professional vacation rentals are strategically positioned to win. Landau argues the COVID-19 pandemic has caused gradual shifts that were happening over time to accelerate and form a new hierarchy of hospitality. With roots in the original cottage industry, Cottage Industry 3.0 is fueled by personality, craftsmanship, and lifestyle design proving that with the right technology in place, small and specialized is not just a long-term plan, it is the future.

★ Growing Pains Never Felt So Good: Surviving and Thriving During Economic Disaster

PRESENTERS: Jodi Taylor Refosco, Taylor Made Deep Creek Rentals and Sales; Jennifer Frankenstein Harris, GreatOceanCondos.com

We all learned the hard way that your world can be turned upside down in an instant. You have worked hard and built a small to medium sized vacation rental company but are now living in a time when it is important to expect the unexpected. How can you survive and even thrive and grow? This session takes a deep dive into lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Get actionable tips on everything from cloud-based software and tools for working remotely to cutting fat from your budget and building a nimble management team.

★ Brave New Workplace: Transitioning Employees Back To Work Post-Coronavirus


Day-to-day decisions, surrounding PPP loans and employee benefits, consume business owners and leaders while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. However, eventually companies will also need to plan for when we all comeback to the workplace. With that, new questions arise including employee safety, operational efficiency, and overall workplace morale. Many of the polices enacted during this crisis, such as the FFRA and the CARES act will stay in effect until December 31st. Business owners will be re-forecasting their annual budget and hiring goals will change. Many will need to make tough decisions on how they can bring their workforce back in a financially conscious and safe way.

So what does the new workplace look like? While a full picture may be unclear there are many factors that you will need to think about. Join HR4VR’s Sue Jones as she walks you through navigating what to do when it is time to reopen your doors and bring back your employees.

This session will discuss:

  • What to keep in mind in terms of renegotiating pay rates and health benefits
  • Redefining skill sets with employees
  • Managing expectations of seasonal employees
  • Discovering how to operate in a more flexible work environment
  • Looking at how guest and property service operations could be done differently
  • How to approach over all morale in the workplace

▣ 7 Strategies to Increase Bookings Quickly After CoVid

PRESENTER: Matt Bare, Q4Launch

The last few months have left us all reeling a bit. You may find yourself needing to drive traffic and bookings quickly to rebook your summer, or you may be simply looking for long-term strategy ideas. This hands-on workshop will include a workbook for each attendee to complete as we move through the content of the workshop. We'll be diving into the 7 strategies the most successful vacation rental managers are using to increase traffic and direct bookings. We'll dive into each with successful examples from various vacation rental managers. The workbook will help you get on the journey towards successfully implementing what you learn. We'll cover key revenue generating activities like SEO, content creation, email marketing, lead generation and marketing automation.

▣ Train Your Reservations Team for the Coming Wave of Deal-Seekers

PRESENTER: Doug Kennedy, Kennedy Training Network

As the vacation daydreamers look to reward themselves after a hard stretch, voice reservations sales is going to emerge as a primary distribution channel. Those who call are going to be looking for deals, specials, and concessions. This session will provide tactics and sample scripting.

★ Sponsored Education:  Why Speaking the Same Language Levels the Playing Field

PRESENTER: Daniel Bowen, Kigo, a RealPage Company

In this session, we will examine how creating and following industry standards helps all vacation rental owners and operators. From the words we use to describe amenities to cleaning guidelines, MITS and certifications, the $190B vacation rental business tends to leave a lot up to discretion.  While that works great for some, many need more direction, and our guests certainly do. We invite you to join Kigo in what will surely be a lively forum as we ask the questions which impact the entire industry. 

▣ Sponsored Education: How Is the Vacation Rental Industry Emerging from the COVID-19 Crisis?

PRESENTER: Pierre Becerril, CEO, Transparent Intelligence

Transparent will use their industry-leading data collected from over 34 million listings to illustrate the impacts and inflection of the current crisis. Through diving into reservation, cancellation and occupancy trends across the world, you will gain a thorough understanding of how the international recovery is shaping up.

With further insights into length of stay and domestic/international guests, we will discuss data-indicated strategies for property managers emerging from the downturn.

Tuesday, May 26

★ Social Impact: How VRMA Members are Helping their Communities and What You Can Do

PRESENTERS: Lynn Thurston, Watersound Management; Heleena Sideris, Park City Lodging, Inc.; Carole Sharoff, Atlantic Vacation Homes; Margot Schmorak, Hostfully

Social impact initiatives create tremendous value for you, your owners, guests, and employees. From a global survey of more than 117 VRMA members, including property management companies and vendors, a powerful set of initiatives and funding strategies has emerged. Join this session to learn how VRMA members are contributing to their communities and how some of them are making an impact without writing a single check. Hear what experts are saying about social impact's role after the pandemic. Should you wish to support new initiatives or improve the ones you currently have in place, a checklist of best practices will be shared.

★ Maintaining Positive Owner Relationships in Challenging Times

MODERATED BY: John Suzuki, Vrbo
PRESENTERS: Chris Wheeler, Scenic Stays 30A; Amanda Franta, CB Island Vacations; David Duncan, Beach Blue Properties

Building and maintaining positive relationships with homeowners is critical to a successful property management business. Property managers need to demonstrate their value to owners by acting as a strategic partner during the good times and times of crisis. The challenges we are actively facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented, with massive impacts on the vacation rental industry. Working closely with homeowners to weather the storm together and plan for a rebound has never been more important. In this panel session, expert property managers will share examples from their own experience working with homeowners to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll hear how they are approaching this unprecedented situation, how their policies have evolved, and how they are planning for the future.

★ Tech in a Post Coronavirus Epidemic World: Technologies VRMB’s Can Use Now or In the Very Near Future to Adapt to a Post-COVID World

PRESENTERS: Sean Miller, PointCentral; Andrew McConnell, Rented; Jeremy Gall, Breezeway

The presentation will help attendees find the balance between the old and the new, the established and the experimental, the safe and the unproven. What tech is available that can help us keep our guests and staff safe, while protecting owners homes. What tech helps me balance my unique brand vs being efficient. What do we need it to do in order to make sure that we are driving the disruptions that our customers, our owners and our organizations need tomorrow.

★ Product Demonstrations: Equipping You With New Safety Products For the New Normal

PRESENTERS: Justin Ford, Breezeway

Safety, now more than ever, is a top priority for audiences across the vacation rental industry. From housekeepers and property managers, to those working in guest relations and property owners, knowing which products are available and how to use them will prepare you for the “new normal.”

 Join Breezeway’s Justin Ford  as he demonstrates for you the top cleaning and safety products on the market, so you are prepared for when you begin to book your properties and turn them over for new guests.

▣ Owner Retention Strategies: Leveraging Market Data and Dynamic Pricing for Optimized Revenues

PRESENTER: Colin Morrison, Beyond Pricing

Dynamic pricing is the act of adjusting your rates based on fluctuations in supply and demand. Access to the right data is imperative for understanding those fluctuations and without the right data, you are putting money in your competitor's pockets. This session will demonstrate how to dynamically price your homes and how data and dynamic pricing can be leveraged for homeowner retention (and even acquisition!)

Participants will:

  • Grasp the fundamentals of dynamic pricing and how to implement them within their own business (whether they use a pricing tool or not!)
  • Walk away with specific action items for leveraging dynamic pricing in owner retention and acquisition strategies

▣ Navigating the Purchase & Sale Process in Turbulent Waters

PRESENTER: Ben Edwards, Sanctuary Vacations and Weatherby Consulting

COVID-19 has changed the face of the vacation rental landscape. In light of these changing circumstances, many businesses may be considering buying or selling your business. Ben Edwards will share market experiences derived from more than 100 successful vacation rental purchase and sale transactions to Demystifying the Purchase & Sale Process by Separating Fact from Fiction. Vacation Rental Managers will learn how to properly value their business during these trying times, navigate transaction pitfalls, understand key deal points and ultimately prepare their business in a manner that will garner maximum value.

▣ The Vacation Rental Survival Guide: How to Survive Today and Position Yourself for the Future

PRESENTER: Ron Rosenberg, QualityTalk, Inc

Maintaining customer relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic is more important now than it's ever been before. The implications of "shelter at home" orders, financial hardships, and travel restrictions have significantly impacted the vacation rental market in ways that would have seemed unimaginable just a few short months ago.

That's why now is the time to tackle challenges of this unprecedented situation head-on, recognize the unique opportunities it offers, and take immediate steps to stay in touch with your customers, position yourself for success, and take definite and immediate steps to exceed your customers' expectations and dominate your market!

In this program, you’ll discover seven proven proven marketing strategies including:

  • The critical importance of timing your customer communications
  • Why your messaging has to change dramatically to maintain interest and loyalty
  • How to incorporate new markets, new products, and new delivery methods
  • Why your website may be doing more harm than good
  • How to use "downtime" to retool your business for the future

This is an essential program that will help you navigate this uncharted territory and do everything you can to be prepared when we emerge into the "new normal."

Tuesday, June 2

★ Vacation Rental Strategies and Opportunities: Insights from VRMs on COVID’s Top Challenges

MODERATED BY: Tim Cafferty, Outer Banks Blue
PRESENTERS: Steve Milo, VTrips; Sharon Walker, Walker Luxury Vacation Rentals; Vince Perez, FetchMyGuest

Without a doubt, COVID-19 is changing the face of the vacation rental business and is changing it fast. There are a lot of decisions to be made about how you are going to run your business in this changed landscape, and this session gives you the opportunity to hear from three forward thinking and very successful rental managers, who are faced with the challenges of COVID-19 and are navigating this unchartered territory with the rest of the industry.

Moderated by Tim Cafferty of the podcast "Sarah and T - The professional vacation rental manager's podcast," this session will cover a number of strategies and opportunities on how you may run your business in this new world. There will be plenty of questions and answers provided in this extremely fast-paced session.

▣ Creating a Strong Relationship Building Sales Team

PRESENTER: Ali Cammelletti, Cammelletti Consulting LLC

From creating the foundation of a healthy minded sales team to continued sales education weekly and monthly. The presentation will include understanding how to set the stage for a strong team, building trust in the team, focusing on training hard vs soft skills and the importance of continued training.

Ali will cover how to embrace empathy as staff comes back into the workforce and provide examples of soft skills and interactive conversations on how to coach employees. She will also discuss creating an emotionally safe work environment after everyone has felt triggered and fearful during the pandemic.

▣ The Rise of #Bookdirect: COVID-19 Impact and Opportunities

PRESENTER: Vince Perez, Co-Founder, Fetch My Guest

Now more than ever, independent vacation rental professionals need to rethink, re-envision, and look inward to better understand how their brands will perform on “reset." Travelers are coming back and expectations are higher than ever. See how seasoned vacation rental professionals have prepared for the coming changes by making investments in their brands, and reaching the travelers with messaging that drives our values and commitments to service like never before.

▣ What Strategies Would Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs Be Implementing Right Now if They Were Vacation Rental Managers?

PRESENTERS: Brooke Pfautz, Vintory; Steve Schwab, Casago Vacation Rentals

We are at the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in our industry. More vacation rental inventory will be spawned out of this crisis, and during the next 6-12 months, we will see more management contracts change hands than we’ve seen over the last decade. As counterintuitive as it seems, don’t hunker down. If the forward-thinking of Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs can teach us anything, it is that great results can come out of a time of chaos and uncertainty.  

In this session, we will have an action packed session of successful inventory growth practices that vacation rental managers can implement into their business today. We will show attendees simple, actionable strategies that can be incorporated into their businesses immediately, with great results.  Tactics and strategies such as direct mail campaigns, technology recommendations, effective messaging, and referral strategies will help grow inventory. Attendees will also learn effective sales presentation techniques and collateral tools to convert this new influx of leads into signed property management contracts. This is a must-attend session for anyone looking to grow their inventory!

Sponsored Education: How to Prepare for Travelers Booking on Vrbo

PRESENTER: John Suzuki, Global Ombudsman and Evangelist for Property Managers, Vrbo

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented, but we’re seeing early signs of recovering traveler demand in some markets. To stay competitive, property managers will need to prepare to meet changing traveler expectations for flexible policies, enhanced cleaning protocol, and amenities—and at Vrbo, we’re here to help.

In this session, you’ll take away actionable insights for your business, including:

  • The latest data on what travelers are looking for in a vacation rentals
  • Best practices to get your listings ready to meet new traveler expectations
  • Opportunities to capture valuable bookings in 2020

Tuesday, June 9

★ Rising to the Challenge Together: Industry Marketing Experts Talk Strategies to Prepare You for the Comeback

PRESENTERS: Alex O. Husner, Condo World Resorts; Charles Reed, Put In Bay's Island Club Rentals; Kim Hermon, Big Bear Vacations; Lindsay Bolton, Finger Lake Premier Properties; Lee Sims, Winter Park Lodging Company

Join a panel of industry marketing professionals to discuss how to go about preparing the right marketing message, what we can do now, and what the new "normal" looks like. Panelists will walk through a variety of questions, what they have been doing, what are they working on, and how they have become creative in times of low budgets and limited revenue. The goal is to provide industry expertise to arm you with confidence in planning and executing your marketing plan through this pandemic.

★ COVID-19: Resources for Property Care, Communication & Safety

PRESENTER: Jeremy Gall, Founder/CEO, Breezeway

Many of us at Breezeway have been in the vacation rental business for more than ten years, and have a deep connection with the industry. With our platform focused on quality property care, helping managers respond to this crisis is core to our business. We wanted to leverage the experience of thousands of Breezeway users to provide tangible resources that you can use to prepare your properties and communicate with guests, owners and staff during this time.

★ Sponsored Education: Navigating the New Normal: A Data-Driven Roadmap for Post COVID-19 Success

PRESENTERS: Ryan Hutchings, General Manager, Escapia; Ben Edwards, President, Weatherby Consulting

No matter where your market is located, traveler expectations and property management operations have changed in a significant way. Leveraging a combination of Vrbo and Escapia data plus insights from hundreds of property managers nationwide, join us for a 3-phased business strategy reflecting the evolving state of travel. Escapia General Manager Ryan Hutchings and industry consultant Ben Edwards will draw on decades of experience to share powerful steps you can take today.  From operationalizing your software to readying your team, you’ll leave with a data-based roadmap for COVID-19 recovery and beyond.

★ How to Cut Through the Noise and Focus on the Data that is Relevant to Your Business

PRESENTERS: Cliff Johnson, Rented.com; Sarah Franzen, Natural Retreats

This session will dive into some specific case studies to show which data is relevant to different markets and property types in order to help managers understand what data is available and how they should use it to make decisions to improve their businesses. Managers are encouraged to bring real life examples of challenging properties so we can break down how to identify the right pricing and strategy on a property by property basis.

Participants will:

  • Discover about the different data sources available for the industry and how to determine which to use and when
  • Understand how to apply a revenue management strategy to different property types on an individual property basis

▣ Blueprint for Digital Marketing Success: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Digital Marketing Plan That Works

PRESENTER: Jessie Hjorth, Bluetent

Now more than ever, independent vacation rental professionals need to rethink, re-envision, and look inward to better understand how their brands will perform in the "new normal". Travelers are coming back, and expectations are higher than ever. See how seasoned vacation rental professionals have prepared for the coming changes by making investments in their brands and reaching travelers with messaging that drives our values and commitments to service like never before. During this session, attendees will receive an introduction to the basic principles of digital marketing, and then an opportunity to apply those principles to YOUR market and your business both during and after the effects of COVID-19. Attendees can expect a digital marketing worksheet for the next six months before the session.

▣ Standards and APIs: What They Are, How They Work, and Why You Should Care

PRESENTERS: Margot Schmorak, Hostfully; Steve Milo, VTrips; Lynn Thurston, Watersound Management; Stephan Osmont, Hostfully

A panel of experts will share insights on APIs and standards in the vacation rental industry. Panelists will focus on what standards and APIs are available and how managers can make the most of software and automation to manage their business. Join a facilitated roundtable discussion to hear a cross-section of experts speak about recent changes in evolving standards and APIs in vacation rentals, and where the industry is going next.

This is a great session for managers who are using their downtime to consider different software options and how they can be coordinated. Panelists will discuss a few case studies of specific companies who are innovating with APIs inside and outside the vacation rental software landscape. Viewers will also hear insights from a study on vacation rental technology standards (VSAG) that was conducted in 2019 by Tom Leddy, Steve Milo, and Lynn Thurston.