When Heather and Mike Bayer first asked me to speak at the 2016 Vacation Rental Success Summit (VRSS), I declined.
I was flattered to be invited, but I have two small kids at home and a full schedule of other work-related travel commitments and conferences.
For the last couple years, I've taken The Distinguished Guest to every conference I could (2014 VRMA conference in Salt Lake City, 2015 VRMA West in Portland, 2015 HomeAway Summit in Colorado, 2015 HomeAway Summit in Los Angeles, 2015 HomeAway Summit in Austin...)
In 2016, I vowed to be strategic. After all, I'd left my demanding day job to spend more time with my kids. Plus, flying across the continent from California to Toronto would be a huge blow to my 2016 travel budget!
So, with regrets, I told Heather and Mike I couldn't make it. I figured I'd try again next year at the 2nd annual VRSS. By that time, I'd have a clearer idea of what the VRSS is all about and whether traveling 2,300 miles to get there was the right move.
Then I watched as Mike and Heather put together a truly amazing conference. They booked a stellar line up of speakers and workshop leaders and a sharp venue. They worked their butts off to create a different kind of vacation rental event worthy of motivated hosts and managers looking for an anchor (and a community) in the ever-shifting world of vacation rentals.
A couple months before the conference, I decided to go. I'd find a way to make it work!
Looking back, I'm so glad I did. Here's why.
6 Reasons I'm Glad I Attended The 2016 VRSS
1. I Got To Support A Fellow Blogger. The VRSS a huge undertaking - and a sizable risk - for Heather and Mike. I simply wanted to support them as a "thank you" for all they've done for the vacation rental industry. Heather's Cottage Blogger has always been one of my favorite resources for vacation rental knowledge, and I love Heather's guest-centered, "help-don't-sell" philosophy.
Plus, selfishly, I wanted to say I was lucky enough to attend the first annual Vacation Rental Success Summit. I just knew one day, a decade down the line, everyone would be nostalgically discussing that first event, and I wanted to be able to say "I knew you when." (Call it FOMO - fear of missing out!)
2. The Networking Opportunities. The line-up that Heather and Mike assembled for VRSS was nothing short of impressive. Like-minded and active vacation rental owners, bloggers, and industry experts traveled far and wide to attend, some as far as Australia and the UK!
Beyond the dream team of vacation rental experts (a.k.a "rentalprenuers") there were social media, SEO, digital media specialist and website gurus in attendance, as well. Who wouldn't want to rub elbows with that crew?
3. The Collegiate Atmosphere.We were spoiled for choice when it came to panel presentations and keynotes at the VRSS, and not one of the experts was there to sell their services. It was a huge relief to not have to avoid eye contact in fear of being roped into an hour-long business pitch.
Instead the tone was, in one word, collegiate. Owners helping others owners…industry experts on the scene to answer individual owners' biggest challenges…and everyone discussing the future of vacation rentals in a time of big change.
4. The Intimate Venue. The BMO institute in Toronto was the perfect learning environment (which makes sense; it was designed for just that purpose!). I loved the large room for the keynotes and opening/closing addresses and the intimate, classroom-style breakout rooms for panels and discussions. On top of that? There were some excellent perks. Dining facilities, conference facilities, a bar and lounge area, a gym, a pool and the attached hotel, all on-site. No shuttling between buildings!
4. The Video Replays. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend all of the wonderful sessions. But lucky for us, Heather and Mike hired a film crew to record each keynote presentation and breakout panel of the entire conference. (And I get a complimentary copy for speaking at the conference!) I can’t wait to settle in with my laptop to catch up on what I missed.
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6. It Was Just Plain Fun. In between VRSS events I found plenty of time to mingle, eat good food, toast over wine, and put faces to names I’d only known virtually. It was great to reconnect with old friends and meet some news ones. It reminded me that this industry is full of kind, open motivated people who are, above all, just a pleasure to be around.
A huge thank you to Heather and Mike Bayer for the wonderful finished product that came out of all of their hard work!
And I have good news. Word on the street is...you heard it here first…the 2017 Vacation Rental Success Summit is a go!
More info to follow. But I do know that we’ll be returning to the BMO Institute in Toronto and that it will be well worth the cost of admission (and the plane ticket).
No doubts this time – I will be there next year, and every year for as long as they’ll have me. Thanks again, Heather and Mike!