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Takeaways and learning lessons from VRMA Orlando (Ep 597)

get paid for your pad Ep 597

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In today's episode of Get Paid for Your Pad, we had a fantastic conversation with Moira Sedgwick and David Curtis about their experiences and key takeaways from the VRMA conference. Moira runs A Chalet Collective and can be found on Instagram at @achalet.collective , specializing in hosting and designing vacation rental properties. Meanwhile, David Curtis operates We Host Canada, which you can discover on Instagram at @w.e.host and their website, wehostcanada.ca They offer short-term rental management and property maintenance services.

Throughout the episode, Moira and David shared valuable insights from the VRMA conference. We discussed the significance of providing an exceptional guest experience, the growing impact of AI tools on the industry, and the emergence of travel insurance options for hosts. Additionally, we delved into the challenges posed by hotel lobbyists in some markets and the need for advocacy within the vacation rental community.

The episode emphasized the importance of being well-prepared for conferences like VRMA, managing your energy effectively, and making intentional connections with other industry professionals. We also touched upon the value of participating in panel discussions and how it can boost your credibility as an industry expert, ultimately benefiting your business.

For those interested in learning more about Moira and David's businesses, you can visit their respective websites and social media profiles. Don't forget to follow Get Paid for Your Pad for more insightful discussions and expert insights in the vacation rental and property management industry. Stay tuned for our next episode!

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Read The Script Here

David Curtis (00:00.284)

Jasper Ribbers (00:01.076)
What's up everybody. Welcome back to Get Paid for your Pad. It's been a couple of weeks since I've done an episode as I was in Orlando at the VRMA, the Vacation Rental Managers Association, the big event, the yearly international event that took place in Orlando. And today we are going to do a recap of the VRMA. We're going to talk about events in general. Is it useful to go to these types of events? Where's the value and some tips?

on how to make the most out of it. And I have two amazing people on the show today. Mora Setchwick, she's the founder of A Chalet Collective out of Baltimore. And I think she's also in the Poconos and she's also the founder of Mocha Interior. Yes, I did it right. And then we have Mr. David Curtis. He is the founder of We Host Canada. He services a number of different locations

Moira Sedgwick (00:50.053)

Jasper Ribbers (01:00.268)
Canada and if you're a frequent listener to the podcast, then you're already familiar with both these individuals because they both have been on the podcast before. They've also gone through our Legends X program. Their Legends X, we're still going through the program. And we also met up in person at the VRMA, which was super, super fun. So let's kick it off. Mora and David, welcome to the show.

Moira Sedgwick (01:25.511)
Thanks for having us.

David Curtis (01:27.334)
Yeah, excited to be on here again.

Jasper Ribbers (01:31.224)
Yeah, number two, number two. Well, let's kick it off with Mora, because you were actually one of the speakers at the conference, right? How was that?

Moira Sedgwick (01:40.631)
Yes, I was lucky enough to be asked by Hostfully to participate on a panel and that was actually really great. We had a very fun panel focused on Tales from the Trenches. So we were able to speak with other hosts who have gathered some interesting stories along their hosting careers. So we had all sorts of topics from Unabomber sex parties to bears

people eating boa constrictors and red rooms of pain. So we spanned a lot of topics and I'm sure fellow vacation rental managers can relate to those stories. So it was a good time.

Jasper Ribbers (02:26.012)
Yeah, I actually attended this talk and it is definitely one of the more entertaining talks that I attended at the VRMA. Some interesting, very funny stories always to hear. I think one of the people on your panel was from Costa Rica, right? And he's kind of like in the jungle, so there's all sorts of animals and different types of dangers out there.

Moira Sedgwick (02:44.974)

Moira Sedgwick (02:51.719)
Deadly animals, to be clear, exactly. So a lot of good takeaways are, you know, make your guests aware of what those deadly animals are, even if it's a bear, but I think a boa constrictor might make people a little bit more scared than the bears that I experienced in the Poconos, but hopefully you had some other good takeaways too.

Jasper Ribbers (03:14.456)
I definitely did. Yeah. It was, uh, and I laughed a lot, which is also important, you know? So, um, but yeah.

Moira Sedgwick (03:20.347)
That's my general MO.

David Curtis (03:20.95)
Yeah, I came in on the tail or a little bit late, so it was a lot of people in there and I had to stand up and kind of look around the corner, but caught some of the bear stories and definitely some good takeaways on that.

Jasper Ribbers (03:37.212)
Yeah. And that kind of leads into the first, a couple, a couple of quick takeaways that I had from attending this event was number one, there was a record amount of people and every talk that I went to, like, I don't think I sat down once. You know, like every, every single talk was like, you know, it's completely full. There was so many people there was, I think there was like 2,700 people and I heard last year there was 1,700. So that's like a 50% increase in the attendees.

Moira Sedgwick (03:49.839)

David Curtis (04:04.878)
Wow. Yeah.

Jasper Ribbers (04:05.192)
So a lot, there's a lot of people at the, at this conference. Um, and there was, there was a, there was good energy there. You know, I would say the general vibe was pretty, pretty positive. You know, even the, even though like a lot of you're here, a lot of hosts talking about slowdowns and everything, but I felt like there was still a, you know, a, I would say cautiously, people were cautiously optimistic, um, for the end of this year and for, for next year. What, what do you guys, um, how did you guys feel?

the vibe was like, Moran, let's start with you.

Moira Sedgwick (04:37.583)
Yeah, so I think to your point, the amount of people is really indicative of the explosion of rental managers and the growth in our industry. And lots of folks getting into it with a few properties or multiple properties, I met some operators that generally had around 40 to 50 units. So it was interesting to connect with them. But that growth in the industry, I think is really important because it's pushing this conference and its vendors.

to start to think more about the pain points that we experience as vacation rental managers and hosts. And I think that the tech that we're seeing come out is indicative of what we need to run our businesses more efficiently. And so we're seeing that on the VRMA floor in that exhibitors hall.

Jasper Ribbers (05:28.556)
Mm-hmm. Well, what about you, David?

David Curtis (05:32.326)
Yeah, for sure. I think, you know, you've like just add a point to that. What Mario was talking about, you figure out a solution for something. You find it something in tech that like solve something and then immediately afterwards you see something new comes out and then you're like, oh, you know, that this is even better. I'm still going to switch over that to that. I found, you know, going from exhibit booth to the booth.

It was like, you know, on my tech stack, it's like, I got to, you know, switch to go over to another new solution, you know, so it's like, yeah, there's, it's constantly changing, you know. But another thing too, everybody was optimistic. What I thought was the general consensus is like, you know, rentals are like some numbers are down.

from last year, but last year was just so great that it's almost like a return to norm, which is super positive anyways. Like it's more like 2019 numbers, which was great. You know, when 2019 was happening, I thought, you know, it was excellent. So it's kind of like we went through this, you know, whirlwind up and down, and then now it's kind of like coming, coming down back to the norm. You know what I mean? Cause the, the rush last year was just

Moira Sedgwick (06:56.199)
Thank you.

David Curtis (07:01.71)
crazy, you know? So, yeah, I think that's a really good, yeah, everybody was super positive. Great to see.

Jasper Ribbers (07:08.248)
Mm-hmm. So let me ask you guys this, because for me, going to the VRMA and other types of events, there's a lot of value. Because first of all, I get to meet our students in real life. Is this awesome, like you guys? And obviously, we talk to other operators who then are interested in joining our mastermind or taking our courses.

You know, so there's a lot of value for us as kind of educators in the space. But I'm curious, like, how is it like for you guys? Like, do you, because these tickets are not cheap, right? I mean, it's like, you know, a thousand dollars or something like that per ticket. And then you have to travel there. You have to rent a place to stay. So, you know, it's not the cheapest thing to do. Are you getting the value and

Moira Sedgwick (07:43.431)
Thank you.

Jasper Ribbers (08:01.056)
Yeah, let's start with that. Like, do you guys feel like you got the value out of the event?

David Curtis (08:08.786)
I feel like I did. Because there was a pause on usually jump in on the pauses. But yeah, I feel like I got I got a lot of the value out of it. It is expensive for sure. There's a premium on it. But, you know, and it was just so happened I was going to be in Florida at the exact same time. So it worked out really well for me. But I'm glad I went and I'll definitely go to the next one.

Jasper Ribbers (08:09.246)
Who goes first?

David Curtis (08:37.462)
You know, you can make a trip out of it, but the connections that you make and, you know, the information that you get from it, it's almost like, I don't think you would get that otherwise. And it's nice to go to a place where, you know, you feel like, Oh, I can talk about all this stuff and not annoy anybody. You know what I mean? Everybody's talking about the same stuff, having the same problems, you know, we're all speaking the same language. So it was really, um, uplifting.

and refreshing to go in and just, you know, as you walk by people, you can just hear them saying, yeah, my cleaners are doing this, or, you know, my access is like this. You know, it's very similar to what I'm always talking about and it's nice to just be in a room full of people that are, you know, experiencing the same thing. And, you know, so I really enjoyed that. I think it is worth it just to be kind of like on the ground of like innovation and…

finding out what's in the future and talking to those people and meeting people that are a little bit ahead in progress type of thing, I guess, in building their company. So you get a lot of ideas.

Jasper Ribbers (09:52.736)
Where do you see the most value? Is it like meeting other operators and just kind of having side conversations or at the parties? Or is it the vendors, right? Cause like the main conference hall, you have a ton of vendors and, you know, obviously they're all trying to, you know, get, get interest for their product. So it kind of feels, I don't know about you guys, but when I walk around.

David Curtis (10:14.006)
Yeah, salesy.

Jasper Ribbers (10:16.004)
Yeah, like I don't like it when like people, you know, kind of like reach out like, Hey, you know, come over here. And I just want to walk around. I'll choose who I want to talk to. I don't like that. Yeah, exactly. I don't like that. Uh, I get it. Like they're trying to sell their stuff and like, you know, you got to be proactive, but, um, but yeah, like, so there's, you know, you, you have the vendors, you have the exhibit hall, then you have all the talks, right? The, the, you know, you call it the talks on specific topics.

David Curtis (10:19.414)
Yeah. Come here for a minute. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Yeah.

Jasper Ribbers (10:43.62)
And then you have like the fringe events, the parties, and you know, really like connecting with other operators. So out of those three, David, where did you learn the most? What was most valuable to you?

David Curtis (10:53.602)
I think I had the same experience with the exhibit hall. You know, you go in there and it's like, I didn't really like it too much. It was good to go in there between seminars. I liked going in and looking at the seminars schedule for the day, picking out the ones that I thought that I would enjoy the most. So I ended up going to a lot of like the owner retention ones and some of the like the data and.

Also, what was the one about how to get more finance-related seminar? I can't remember what it was called, but it was basically talking about how to get financing for your business and also set up your business to be a possible sale target type of thing. But that was all interesting. In between, I didn't like going to the exhibits because of the sales thing, but…

And then the parties and meeting people at the conference, in between and even during some of the meetings or the seminars, I thought that was very valuable. I met some people that I can tell that I'm gonna be talking to for a time after for sure and reaching out to and going to the parties and meeting up with them. And I thought that was pretty special. Definitely the most valuable part is the connections.

Jasper Ribbers (12:19.896)
Got it. Awesome, dude. Mora, same question for you. Do you feel like it was worth your time and money to attend this event? And then where was the most value for you?

Moira Sedgwick (12:34.831)
Yeah, I think it's a great question and we're always evaluating this beforehand. And in my business, in a Shelly collective with my partner, Carlos, we always look at the value as twofold. One is as a guest, because we can travel and experience a new city or maybe an old city, but just experience the stay that we're booking, the culture in the city.

and reflect on that as we go as a guest, because we're always so in our head, focused on what we can provide to a guest and be the host. So it's very interesting for us to be a guest and we always make that part of the experience to add to our value. And then the conference itself, similar to what David said, we map out our schedule and look at what we think can benefit our company the most and then attend those events. But also I'm an event producer.

as well in the food and wine world. So I know that all of this takes a bit of stamina. So you're considering your schedule, you're considering the folks that you want to see, but you're also considering how much energy you can put out at night when you go to those after hour events and just taking a pace that works for you so you can also digest all the information coming at you. And because it is so varied with so many vendors competing for your time,

I do see ways in which the conferences could tweak themselves to be a little bit more, I don't know, not speed networking, but something in a way that provides a more meaningful connection other than what you had experienced Jasper of a vendor asking you to come over because you know that you'll get a sales pitch. I think it's great to have engaging content with the sponsors and with the vendors so I can see how our…

colleagues in the field are relating to the products and how they use it. So I think there can be some tweaks in that way, but the overall value, I think, is really high based on what you want to get out of it. So again, we consider our travel as part of it and what we're attending at the conference and then those after parties too.

Jasper Ribbers (14:51.74)
Yeah, that's a good point, right? Because for us to stay at other short-term rentals is very important, right? That's a business activity to experience other short-term rentals as a guest. And that kind of leads me into another very interesting observation I made, which I thought was very ironic, which is the…

Did you guys see those little boxes that they were handing out at the VMRay? At the, I think it was at the registration desk. It took someone like, what was in there?

David Curtis (15:24.382)
Yeah, I took some. I took some. Yeah. It was just standard soap, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. And I was definitely low because we showed up to our place and we had nothing.

Moira Sedgwick (15:26.183)
I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

Jasper Ribbers (15:37.418)

David Curtis (15:46.178)

Jasper Ribbers (15:46.244)
And that's what I found so interesting. And I don't know if this is Orlando specific. And I hope the person that manages the home that we stayed at is not listening to this podcast, but, um, or maybe, maybe they should, but yeah, we had the same. Yeah. I mean, you know, Eric and I rented a five bedroom home and, you know, we had some of the, of our students staying with us, which, which was awesome, but it was like.

David Curtis (15:58.935)

Moira Sedgwick (16:01.167)
Maybe it's a bonus for them, yeah.

Jasper Ribbers (16:14.272)
bare bone when it comes to amenities, right? I mean, the house was awesome, you know, pool, hot tub, all of that, but like nothing, right? There's no cutting board. I was trying to cut a steak and I was like, there's no cutting board here. Like, am I gonna cut it on the plate? You know what I mean? It's like, it's those little things. There was, yeah, there was no like, I think we had like two pieces of soap or something for like six people.

David Curtis (16:31.554)

Jasper Ribbers (16:38.764)
And it was this, I asked around, I asked everybody at the VMware, you know, like, where are you staying? Like a lot of people staying at the hotel, but everyone who's staying at a short term rental asked them, like, what was the experience like? And I hear it over and over the same thing. It's like, yeah, it was, it was clean and it was cool. And you know, it was okay, but you know, it was not, you know, it was not like a great experience, right. And it just, it just, uh,

Yeah, I find it very interesting that it seems like, because all these units are professionally managed, right? Like Orlando has huge, huge inventory and a lot of professional vacation rental managers. And it's just interesting, it sounds like the, it looks like they're still in the mindset of like, we're just providing a space, right, for a guest versus like thinking, putting yourself in the shoes of the guests and thinking like, okay, the guests arrive. What do they need if they wanna cook? You know, what, you know, actually cook.

cook in the kitchen and see what you need and add everything that you need to cook a nice meal, you know, and all the amenities that you mentioned. We didn't have any dishwasher tablets or, you know, and it's just so annoying that you have to then go to the supermarket to buy like, you know, free dishwasher detergent little blocks because, you know, and you have to buy everything. It's just like, it's not what you want to do when you enter into

short of rentals, the first thing is like you find yourself looking for stuff and then realizing that it's not there. Right. And then thinking, okay, well, we're going to have to go to the supermarket and get our own stuff. So I thought it was ironic that the VMA, they probably knew the organization probably realized that, and that's why they're handing out those, those little boxes. That's what the property manager should be doing, handing out those boxes, not, not the VRMA.

David Curtis (18:04.13)
Not there.

David Curtis (18:21.406)
Yeah, it's good advertising for the people. Sorry. Go ahead.

Moira Sedgwick (18:22.503)
Right. I think we had.

Moira Sedgwick (18:28.831)
I think we had similar disappointments in ours where just a few basic touch points were missing. For example, our adorable container home had a hot tub and a Keurig with coffee, but no cream or sugar. And things like that are just a huge missed touch point because in the morning when you're waking up and having that coffee, that's not when you want to be running

And I think acknowledging how people take their coffee in the morning is just a hospitality point that could be looked in at. And I think we take it as an opportunity to connect with the hosts after we had both placed our reviews to give them a few insights that we had and they can obviously take it or leave it. But I do think it's important for us to continue to share and educate in an uplifting way no matter what our experiences.

Jasper Ribbers (19:28.512)
What about you, David?

David Curtis (19:31.783)
Yeah, I think the biggest…

I think when you have a place like Disney nearby and all the other resorts, I think a lot of the businesses or property managers here are kind of like a little complacent and find they don't really have to do all that kind of stuff because they know they're gonna get booked anyways. I know even looking for, because we extended our stay here and looking for another spot.

around the area and I noticed that yeah, there were some pretty low ratings with a lot of reviews, you know, and they're just, you know, I was considering booking them because it was available, right? So I think that's a big part of it too in these markets where like there's, you know, you obviously you're going to get booked. There's less attention to detail, which is too bad. But I did.

Moira Sedgwick (20:12.646)
Thank you.

David Curtis (20:37.026)
take some, you know, I took some takeaways from our own business about the toiletries that are provided. And, you know, even those toiletries that we took from VRMA, you know, I kind of like those. And it made me think about, you know, what we provide and like we provide soaps and everything. But sometimes it's, you know, stuff that you get from Costco. And now I'd like to go out and get like a

we have a wholesaler for like linens and stuff, but I think it pushed me to kind of make the move to, you know, those smaller shampoos and body wash to have in each room type of thing. And not have it in the bathroom, because then like you said, right, you just have this one little body wash for everybody, but put it at each, in each room on a bedside, and then have a spare set.

in the drawer or something like that. So you have enough for everybody for sure. Right.

Jasper Ribbers (21:41.108)
Yeah, and you know, like, I don't know if, so this is Orlando, right? Obviously Orlando is a, is a very interesting market because of Disney. Right. So my, I don't know, maybe in other markets, like property managers are, you know, putting more attention to detail.

But at the same time, like, you know, we have some, some managers in our community out there and, uh, it doesn't seem like the, it's, it's a great market right now. I mean, there's so much supply and like, I don't know what you guys were paying, but like we were paying like, I think we paid like for four nights, including fees. We paid a thousand dollars for like a five bedroom home with a pool and a jacuzzi. So I was, I was thinking, you know, I don't know how, how lucrative this market really is.

So I don't know if it's the fact that the market performs really well so that the managers don't have to perform at a higher level. I feel like the owners, they don't get enough pushback from their owners probably. That's what I'm imagining. I mean, if I was an owner, I own a couple of homes that are managed by property managers, local property managers.

David Curtis (22:43.965)

Jasper Ribbers (22:54.42)
Like if I, if I would stay at my own home, I would, the first thing I would do, I would call the, my manager and I yell at that person and be like, seriously, like, what, what are you, what, what are you doing? You know, and find somebody else. Um, but I feel like in Orlando, maybe a lot of people, there are probably vacation homes and people live far away and they just don't really pay attention. And there's, you know, they get a check every month and, you know, maybe they're just happy with that. Do you guys, do you guys get a lot of pushback from your owners?

I did checking like the performance and you know, holding you guys to a higher standard.

David Curtis (23:25.106)
Yeah, definitely. Um, we definitely, you know, have follow-up, uh, questions and stuff. Um, they go there and they stay there. Um, you know, a lot of them, a lot of our, uh, owners are from. Like St. John's, so they have a special connection there, I think, you know, as opposed to maybe in, in Orlando, you know,

Moira Sedgwick (23:28.103)
Thank you.

David Curtis (23:51.166)
a lot of people buy there to vacation there and it's just they're happy to have that spot next to all the resorts and the so maybe that has something to do with it. But I think also to maybe this is not the case but I think having a short-term rental specialist property manager is very important because these kind of details are you know in our wheelhouse and that's what we specialize in.

Moira Sedgwick (23:51.824)

David Curtis (24:20.962)
guest experience and I think if you're going for a property manager that's going to manage your short-term rental or vacation rental and they're kind of doing it all long-term and everything, I think you're going to have these kind of issues with them. So maybe that has some type of factor to it because I know even going to the guest services at where I'm staying here now, it's pretty clear that they're not really focused on

Um, the guest experience, I felt like a lot of the times they're there to be more of a security guard and treated me as such. There was a couple of times where they kind of enforced some rules on like our family, pretty not rude, but very, I don't know, aggressive, I thought. And I just, you know, it nearly came to the point where I said I was going to say something like, you know, you're, you're working in the hospitality industry, right?

not you're not a security guard you know we're just going to the pool you know we don't our wristbands are in our pockets we're here for two weeks I'm not going to keep my wristband on the whole entire time you know but there's that was kind of an issue so maybe that has something to do with it

Jasper Ribbers (25:39.936)
We will talk tomorrow.

Moira Sedgwick (25:40.151)
Yeah, I think, yes, for our business, I think it's just what David said is that we are a niche service provider. We focus on five star experiential hospitality. And it shows in our reviews, we consistently have five stars and we excel in our amenities because our goal is to provide everything to the guest before they even know that they needed it. And for us, that's

having the luxury soaps in all of the showers, having lotion available, and having an outlet next to each bedside or couch side or table side. Just all the things that you would want to be hyper comfortable, we focus on that. So luckily, that's not something our owners that we work with give us pushback on because our…

job when we contract with them is to have them understand that we are providing an elevated hospitality experience. And if they're not interested in that, if they don't want to provide the nice soaps, the nice sheets, all of our brand standards that we have when you sign on with us, then we actually are not the company to work with you and we're just not the right fit. So for us, we have a set of standards that we present as a non-negotiable to work with us.

That's what makes it so interesting when we come to these markets like Orlando and take note of these small touches that are missing that could just elevate the stay. And I would also say I'm not a fan of microfiber sheets. I'm into organic cotton or just basic cotton. And for me, that's one of the signs of a dialed in luxury host, if you will, is having those type of sheets that are not just going to

help your bottom line budget. And I think that is what we saw in Orlando is holding that bottom line to the budgets. And perhaps you hit on it, Jasper, with the high inventory of houses and those low rates. They're looking to save anything anywhere they can. But at the end of the day, you know, we were all guests in this market. Would you return? Would you want to stay there again? And that's what you're looking to build is that brand loyalty, whether or not

Moira Sedgwick (28:01.491)
you are a single property or a multi-unit property with hundreds of units. So I guess that's my question for Jasper and David. Would you go back to the properties where you stayed?

David Curtis (28:15.454)
I would go back because it's cheap, maybe, because we got a pretty good deal. But yeah, if there was something that was a little bit more expensive and I knew it was a brand that I could tell they spent a lot of time on their guest experience, I would definitely stay there instead. The place here is…

Jasper Ribbers (28:15.688)
No, I don't think so.

David Curtis (28:45.306)
even the vents and the air filter and the AC, none of it seemed to be really maintenance very well. So it was like shoddy and then the filter was just like warped and hasn't been changed out in a long time, I could tell. So a lot of this stuff like that was like definitely has been not up kept. So.

Jasper Ribbers (29:12.168)
Yeah, I mean, you know, the reason that we picked this home was mostly for the location, right? And by the way, if you ever go to Orlando, it's huge. I mean, I looked at the map and we're like, oh, we're right next to the conference center. And then, you know, we sit in the car, put it on Google Maps and it's like, wait, it's a 25 minute ride. How's that possible?

Moira Sedgwick (29:33.511)
I found that to be the case as well. Everywhere was like 25 to 30 minutes, so that's why I ended up choosing a cute container home because I wanted a little bit of an elevated experience since it seemed like everywhere was going to be a tough drive.

David Curtis (29:33.847)

Jasper Ribbers (29:48.808)
Yeah, that's a good, smart move. But yeah, I mean, you know, I think, I think they, you know, that might be the case, like people might try to, because the rates are low there, people might try to kind of really economize on a lot of stuff, but there's certain things that, you know, like a cutting board, how much does a cutting board cost? Like 10 bucks. How long does it last? Probably like a year or two. Right.

David Curtis (29:49.386)
Yeah, we were just about 13 minutes away. Our location was pretty good.

Jasper Ribbers (30:15.276)
That's not a huge investment. I mean, I'm not expecting like, you know, super expensive, you know, body washes and I don't need like the high end luxurious stuff, like that's not what we're there for, but, but just like, just spending like, spend an hour as a property manager, spend an hour and walk into the home and think, think about like, imagine you're just getting off the plane, like what, you know, what are you going to need and just providing those basics, it just blows of mind that

you know, that people don't go through that process. But anyway, people, I'm sure that people are listening to this podcast, they'll do that stuff. So, all right, I wanna move into a different topic, which is, so we've talked about like the value of going to these conferences. I think we, you know, we all agree that there's a lot of value in going. The next question is how do we maximize our experience?

going to a conference. What are some do's and don'ts? And by the way, was this the first conference that you guys went to in the short-term rental space? David, let's start with you. Sorry, ladies first.

Moira Sedgwick (31:23.8)
I mean, oh, go ahead.

David Curtis (31:26.299)
Yeah, it was my first time, so I was a bit of a rookie. I found sometimes I was like, it took me a little bit to kind of get my bearings. But once I kind of figured out a good system of, you know, scheduling out my day and going to the, what do you call it? The exhibit hall in between the seminars. And then just, you know, the lunches and the breakfast.

I kind of found a comfort level and then like Maura said, when I got tired of going back and forth seminar to seminar, talking to people, I was just like, you know, it's not even the end of the day, but I think I should just like take a breather, go home, rest a little bit and then go out to the party and then, you know, do the same thing, kind of meet people. So I think next time I'll be a little bit more efficient with my time.

Jasper Ribbers (32:18.775)

David Curtis (32:26.178)
I thought it was a good first go.

Jasper Ribbers (32:32.812)
What about you, Moa?

Moira Sedgwick (32:34.951)
So I've been to other conferences, both for short-term rentals and just at large. And as I said, I produce food and wine events that are more experientially focused. And I think for me, my speed, I like something a little bit more boutique that could focus on the local culture and would give me an opportunity to connect with people more authentically and closer. And this one, I think VRMA is a great entry point.

for folks that have a good understanding of the industry and it might be very overwhelming if you're new because there is so much to take in and there are so many events to go to. I wanted to have three of me so I could go to multiple events that were just conflicting times and being held at the same time. So I think the topics are good and they are

topics that I want to invest in and can help my business. There's just the issue of it being so big, how do you pick and choose? So that's a factor when you're looking to plan for these conferences too, is are you able to actually attend the right topics and seminars that will help your business along?

Jasper Ribbers (33:54.024)
Yeah, yeah, for sure.

David Curtis (33:55.566)
To your point on that one, I'd like to add something. So next time when I go, I'll be bringing a couple of my team members for sure. I'll be paying for their tickets so they can, because yeah, there was a lot of conflicting schedules for seminars. And I think it's very valuable for you to bring your team there as well with you. So that yeah, you can go to a seminar, they can attend a seminar. And at the same time, they can get that, like that motivation and…

kind of like enthusiasm that you get coming back from one of these events, you know? And then it comes back and your whole team is invigorated and talking about the solutions they've learned about and the new products that they wanna get involved with and have that whole sense of morale boost, I guess. So I think it's really good to bring your crew there too.

which I saw from some other people, some other companies, uh, like founders that I've met at the, at the conference.

Moira Sedgwick (34:58.823)
And I would say as a counter to this large event, I did attend a lovely boutique, a one called TFVCon from the folks for Thanks for Visiting, Sarah Karakayan and Annette Grant. They had a very approachable, small boutique-ish event that was all geared towards hosts and short-term rental owners. And I think for me, I like that a lot better. The flow of the day.

allows you to get as much information as possible. So just a quick little shout out to them on how they set up their conference.

Jasper Ribbers (35:36.402)
Did you find value because I know you were on one of the panels, right? Did you find value in being on the panel?

Moira Sedgwick (35:43.295)
That's an interesting question. I think our panel was great to connect with the folks that were on our panel and people who had similar stories wanted to chat with us after. I don't know that this particular panel would grow our business or anything like that, but it definitely provided an opportunity for camaraderie. And I think that's important because

That's why we come to these conferences is for community. And ours was very community centric. Like you're not alone. We all share these stories and looking out in the crowd as we're telling these horrific things that we experienced as independent operators and just the acknowledgement of folks in the crowd really helped us feel connected to those that were there. And we like these conferences because we get that sense of community. Otherwise we're just in the field.

Our heads are down, we're focused on our own work, but this gives us the chance to connect with folks. So I think, yes, there's value in community on the panel that I was in, and I think it depends on the different topics of what you're on, and can you position yourself as an expert in the industry in some way or another.

David Curtis (37:03.702)
I think that's the big one. So, it's great advertising for yourself, NPR, to be on that panel, show that you were on the panel. It shows that you're an expert in the industry. If you have potential clients that will look at it at your website, and you have just a simple post on your social about you being on a panel speaking in front of other property managers, that shows that you're somebody that you know what you're talking about.

So I think that value is, you know, the value is there for that, for sure.

Jasper Ribbers (37:41.032)
Yeah, I would agree. I mean, I've been to quite a lot of conferences in my life. And I always try to be on panels and get speaker opportunities. And that's something that you don't have to be super well known in the industry or something to do that. Anybody can submit requests. I don't know if the difference per conference how this works, right? But at the VMRA, at least, you can

David Curtis (37:59.384)

Jasper Ribbers (38:11.072)
You can submit a request and there's like an education committee that will review everything and then they'll decide like who gets to be on the panels and do the speaker engagement and everything. But it's worth a shot because like, I mean, there's no real downside to it, right? Other than like you might get a little nervous like being on stage, but that's good too because you know.

growth happens outside of the conference zone. So I would highly recommend anybody go into these conferences. And you have to, we kind of decided last minute. So, if you're like free for maybe, I don't know exactly what the timeframe is, but like if you're well advanced, you decide that you wanna go, like check out if there's an opportunity for you to submit a request to either be in a panel or speak on a certain topic. And I mean, you know,

We're all experts in the space. I'm sure anybody, any property manager out there who's been in the business for at least a year or so probably has something that they could share, has some value that they could share and educate others on. So I would say that's probably the biggest kind of tip that I have for people. See if you can get on stage. Number two, and to your point, David, that could really help with owner acquisition as well, if you're managing.

Right. I mean, I would a hundred percent more, I would a hundred percent put a photo of you on that panel on your, on your about us page, on your website. And, you know, let, when you're doing like pitches to own two new clients, like it, let them know, right. Let them know that because in their mind that, you know, they, they think, wow, this person was on stage at one of the biggest industry events, right. That gives you a lot of credibility. So definitely leverage that. I think number two is.

David Curtis (39:41.399)

Jasper Ribbers (40:02.932)
You want to be prepared. To your point, David, what you were saying, I think it's always a good idea to take some time and really think about what do I want to get out of this conference? Where do I need some support in my business? Who do I want to meet? Who do I want to build relationships with? And when you arrive, you already have a list of people that you want to connect with. So being very intentional about that versus just kind of

randomly talking to people that you happen to stand next to. And then I would say the last part is, and I think one of you guys mentioned this too, but managing your energy at a conference is also important because it can be very overwhelming. I mean, it's like seven in the morning until, you know, three, four a.m. in the morning for some, it's nonstop, right? So don't.

Moira Sedgwick (40:54.331)
Thank you.

Jasper Ribbers (40:58.464)
Don't think that you can do anything else. Like definitely don't, make sure you don't schedule any, anything, any work or anything like that. You're not gonna have time, right? It's a full on like you're sleeping or you're in, you're at the conference pretty much. So yeah, exactly. So it's like a few days also like, you know, planning your flight as well. Just, you know, just make sure the days before you go to the conference, like you get good sleep, you know, don't do like a red eye or something. Cause like, he's gonna be exhausted when you.

David Curtis (41:10.946)
to Gauntlet.

Moira Sedgwick (41:13.327)

Jasper Ribbers (41:28.296)
you know, on day one, and that's going to compound over the, over the few days. So I think, uh, yeah, definitely managing the energy, making sure you're, you're eating healthy, um, drink a lot of water and, uh, you know, just keep the, keep the energy going cause, uh, cause yeah, like every, you know, every, uh, every couple of hours that you miss because you're, you're tired is, uh, is going to eat into the value that you can get from the conference.

David Curtis (41:57.035)

Moira Sedgwick (41:57.135)
Yeah, our motto is schedule and stamina. And I get that from producing large food and wine festivals that are four days long. And you're eating all these things, you're drinking all these things, but are you really feeding yourself and you're going to be tired just by being there and by being on. So do have that self-care. And hopefully the place that you're staying at has some self-care amenities to help you achieve that.

David Curtis (42:26.41)
No doubt. Yeah, it was good that you, like I mentioned before the podcast, all the emails that you get leading up. And then, you know, VRMA is pretty good where, you know, what do you, when you sign up, register to go to the conference, they say, you know, what kind of topics do you want to learn about at the conference? And you can select them. And then based on those selections, you just get bombarded with all these emails. So as hard it is,

Jasper Ribbers (42:26.484)
Yeah, good points.

David Curtis (42:56.162)
to keep track of all those, I was going through it and kind of taking note of what companies I wanted to talk to and even some of the companies that I currently use and I go and talk to them at the exhibit to talk about the problems that I'm having even was good. And I did sign up, I did find a couple solutions. I got a good deal on the Stafi.

Devices because I was at the conference. They gave me a good deal and then I talked to the guys with host share Landon shout out there. That was great So and then I also I learned a lot about the insurance part you know the opportunity to upsell on insurance and then You know with generale I sat in on that seminar and that was you know, that's definitely something I'm gonna be

Jasper Ribbers (43:45.547)

David Curtis (43:54.61)
looking into right away and seeing how I can put that in my business because it's almost like a no-brainer to have that there. It's good for the guest and it's also good for the host as well. But the next time I go, I'm definitely going to keep in mind about the stamina thing because I did find I was getting super tired and just being like, oh, here, there, there. Talk to this person, talk to that person. I'm tired.

Jasper Ribbers (44:23.272)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Also managing your voice. Because like I, I've lost my voice a few times at conferences and that just is not fun. You have to talk to people and you're just like, you know, just writing notes on your iPhone and showing them like I lost my voice.

David Curtis (44:24.415)
You know.

David Curtis (44:29.501)

David Curtis (44:35.954)
Yeah, I remember walking in.

David Curtis (44:41.91)

I saw you walk in and you're like, Hey man, I'm like, Oh, wow. It's like your, your voice is gone. Like, yeah, like, Oh man. Woke up this morning or whatever. And then as soon as we walk in to the doors, uh, somebody comes up to you, Hey Jasper, I'd like to get your opinion on this and you know, puts the camera on you and starts interviewing you right away. I thought that was, that's like, Oh, perfect timing, you know? Yeah.

Moira Sedgwick (45:10.103)
No photos, please. You need your own manager.

David Curtis (45:14.466)

Jasper Ribbers (45:16.665)
Yeah, yeah, I know. But I managed to keep my voice for the entire conference, so I was happy with that. Then afterwards it's just like, all right, I'm not talking for like two days. And then I have to do a recording podcast, right? Awesome. Any final thoughts before we wrap up this podcast, Mora?

Moira Sedgwick (45:23.943)
Well done.

David Curtis (45:27.799)

Moira Sedgwick (45:28.327)
That's right.

David Curtis (45:31.606)

Moira Sedgwick (45:40.111)
You know, I was looking back at what some interesting things were, and for me, there was a huge emergence of AI tools. And I think there were about four sessions dedicated to AI. So I can see that is changing our industry, both in just small ways, like with us using chat GPT, but also the integrations into our tech stack.

So for me, I really like that as a game changer. And then also shout out to BNB Finder, who's coming in hot, really working its way through the different hosts to change the fee structure of how hosts connect to guests. So they were a big takeaway for me. Just, I had used them in the past to book adorable BNBs when that was a thing, maybe in the 90s.

but, or early ops, let's say that. But I really enjoyed seeing that as part of the conference, both AI and then BNB Finder.

Jasper Ribbers (46:44.552)
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, they're crushing it. David, final thoughts?

David Curtis (46:49.27)
I had a long conversation with the founder of BNB Finder at the Cassiola party and yeah, it got me really excited about what they're doing there. For sure. I think the biggest takeaways I had from the conference, that's what you asked, right? The biggest takeaways or final thoughts. Yeah. I think.

Jasper Ribbers (47:01.281)

Jasper Ribbers (47:08.152)
Well, it's final thoughts, you know, we're wrapping up and I don't know, you might have something that you wanted to say, but you didn't say it yet.

David Curtis (47:17.686)
Just around the insurance, the travel insurance, was I think the biggest thing that I'm gonna work on right away. I sat in on a lot of the owner retention seminars and just to hear what other property managers are doing for their owners was really cool. Everybody sends out the standard gift cards and stuff, but I heard a lot about owner parties, which was really cool. And it sounds like a lot of…

Big operators are having these really nice fun owner parties and you know sending out invitations to all their owners and having a very extravagant event and You know, even if the owner can't make it It's still you know valuable for them to get that invitation knowing that they can go if they wanted So that's something that we're gonna be looking at for sure because it's fun and You know, I think it's valuable to do that

I think another big one is advocacy. So, you know, there's a lot of fundraising for advocacy at the VRMA. A lot of talks about it because it's a big issue in the, or it's the biggest threat, I guess, to the industry. And what's going on in Canada and BC, I just want to touch on that. It is important for, I guess.

the general public to know what's going on there, because it is gonna cost them more money, right? What BC is doing is they're cracking down on the short-term rentals, and they're gonna be reducing a lot of those. So that's gonna drive up costs for people to travel, right? Especially during some of the big events that are happening, I believe it in Vancouver, they're having…

the World Cup or something like that. I think it's the World Cup, but they are having, sorry, somebody's just walking in, but they're having hotel prices likely going up to like $1,200 a night for that, just because of the loss in vacation rentals. So, and then right afterwards, you hear a lot of government officials talking about the big investment that they're gonna have in the hotel's developments.

David Curtis (49:46.23)
Because they're taking away demand. And then that demand is there. They're taking it away. And then somebody with a big pocket saying, hey, we know the demand is there. Let's go in and build a big hotel and take that.

Moira Sedgwick (50:02.327)
Yeah, I think the stat that was released to us was 30% of inventory will be lost in some crucial markets. And a lot of that is because of the hotel lobbyists. And we like to think of Airbnb and VRBO and booking.com as these big conglomerates, but that's just three.

And if you think about all of the hotel chains that are out there that are powerful, the Hilton's, the Marriott's, and the list goes on, they have the deepest pockets when it comes to what's impactful, which is lobbying. And that's where the actual reform is needed because they can push through things that impact us as small business owners and why shouldn't folks who are traveling have the option to either rent a home or a hotel room?

there's abundance and enough for both. So how come we're being squeezed out? And it really does have to do with the hotels lobbying us.

Moira Sedgwick (51:04.417)
lobbying against us.

Jasper Ribbers (51:05.068)
Great final thoughts. Lastly, Moray, you want to let everybody know, like people want to reach out to you, connect with you, or know more about your brand, potential property owners who might want to work with you. Where can they find more info?

Moira Sedgwick (51:22.147)
Yes, thank you. And also just shout out to Orlando folks that seem like they might need some of our professional help. You can find me on Instagram at achalet.collective and we can work with you to host your property and design it and make it look amazing.

Jasper Ribbers (51:42.604)
Sweet, David.

David Curtis (51:44.662)
Yeah, you can find us on Instagram at w.e.host and then on our website wehostcanada.ca. And yeah, we can help you if you need a short-term rental specialist and you know, you want to provide a really good guest experience, that's our wheelhouse. And then also we can also provide support too with cleaning and other property management maintenance type services.

Jasper Ribbers (52:15.138)

David Curtis (52:15.586)
in St. John's, Newfoundland. Ha ha ha.

Jasper Ribbers (52:19.184)
Awesome, man. Well, thank you guys so much for joining today. Very interesting to hear your perspective of this conference. And with that, oops, something's falling behind me. With that, this is the end of this episode. So I hope everybody enjoyed this one. We'll be back on Monday with another episode. Starting today, we'll be back with like two episodes a week as we usually do.

So lots of good content. We're almost at 600 episodes. Oh my get my get paid for your pet get paid for your pet book just fell behind me. If you're watching, if you want to see.

Moira Sedgwick (52:50.608)

David Curtis (52:51.894)
Yeah, wow.

Moira Sedgwick (52:56.699)
That's a good sign.

David Curtis (52:58.336)
I was looking at that mic you have behind you. Is that a reward? The gold mic?

Jasper Ribbers (53:03.704)
Uh, yeah, I don't know. Like my wife designed this and, uh, but things are kind of falling off the wall now. We might have to revisit this.

David Curtis (53:08.604)
Oh, okay.

David Curtis (53:13.98)
Looks like a podcast award that you got from some type of award ceremony or something. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, there you go.

Jasper Ribbers (53:19.124)
Let's keep it at that. Yeah, let's just say it's an award. Yeah, it's an award. It's the best podcast in the world award.

All right, guys, thanks for joining. Uh, thanks to the listeners. We'll see you next time.

David Curtis (53:32.622)
Take care.

Moira Sedgwick (53:34.215)

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