Our Thought Leader Spotlight series is a monthly profile of interesting and notable ‘game changers’ in the international vacation rental industry.

We ask these industry experts, all with different backgrounds in the industry, questions that aim to get to the core of what they view as both the challenges and opportunities facing the vacation rental industry. We also delve into how our Thought Leaders personally relate to the industry, and what they, and their businesses, bring to the collective table.

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Vanessa de Souza Lage – co-founder and CMO of Rentals United and founder of VRTech Events

What businesses, organizations and enterprises are you currently involved with, in the industry?

I’m the co-founder of Rentals United, a vacation rental software specializing in global distribution. I act as the Marketing Director for the company.

I’m also the founder of the VrTech Events: a group of innovative vacation rental service providers and forward-thinking property managers. We meet after work in various locations around the world to discuss innovation in the industry.

I also often speak at Vacation Rental Events including the VRMA, the VRSS, and the VRWS. This year I’ve also been invited as a speaker for hotel industry events… they’re very curious to hear what’s going on in our industry!

Lastly, I’m a property manager for 3 rentals… and an Airbnb super host!

 

What do you consider to be/have been the key (s) to your success?

Without a doubt the key has been our genuine drive to help our customers and the industry as a whole.

I’m a great believer in “help don’t sell” and my entire marketing approach has been based around that: from creating excellent and helpful content for the blog, to help promote other companies in our industry with the Who’s Who of the Vacation Rental World, to creating a platform for young start-ups to promote themselves via the VrTech Events and the VrTech startup competition.

Apart from having a really powerful software and a great customer service team, I think this philosophy has truly helped us gain the trust of our customers and partners.

In your view, what are the biggest challenges and or threats to the vacation rental industry, and what counter measures would you suggest to minimise these risks?

Regulations are definitely a threat. Amsterdam just had a restriction on 30 days max rent per year and Paris property managers are really suffering with the new 120 days restriction.  To those property managers I’d like to recommend to:

1) Make sure you fill everyday that you have available by maximising your distribution with a vacation rental software like ours (which gives you access to 60+ global websites with travelers from every continent – not selling… just saying! it’s crazy today not to take advantage of something as powerful as this!)

2) Become a member of a local vacation rental association and do as much as you can to support it. They’re plenty around and in fact this just gave me an idea for a Rentals United blog post “Vacation Rental Managers Association around the World” … stay tuned!

Furthermore – and I really don’t know when or if this will ever happen, but Hotels are highly regulated especially in terms of safety. They can be charged heavy fines and they’re taxed very heavily. If/when this comes to our industry I expect many players will have to close doors as it will get very costly to run a VR.

 

What do you view as the greatest opportunities for both individual property management businesses, and the industry as a whole, both now and in the short to medium term future?

I think technology is the biggest opportunity today for individual owners and property managers. Two years ago, hardly anyone knew what a channel manager is, today it would be most industry players’ nightmare to run the business without it. And because there’s so much money, in our industry we’re attracting a lot of smart people so vacation rental softwares are getting better and better.

But marketing tech is only 1 aspect of the whole renting journey… There are tech services now for every step of the journey including operational tasks. I would highly recommend downloading the Who’s Who to see what’s out there and start trying services out: they can make you gain time, bring more bookings and most importantly help you delight your customers.

 

If you were to start over again in the vacation rental industry, what would you do differently?

I’m sorry but I’m afraid this answer will be short: I wouldn’t do anything differently! I’m very proud of my journey so far and have great plans for Rentals United & VrTech in 2018. Watch my smoke!

And finally….. what and where would your dream vacation rental be, and who would you invite to share it with you?

I’d like to buy a piece of land on a rolling hill with a view of the sea. On that hill I would place a fully sustainable pre-fabricated house… oh yes that would be my ideal vacation rental!

Who would I share it with? As long as it’s a two bedroom I’d share it with either Richard Brandson or Elon Musk! They could both enlighten me on the future of travel! If it’s a one bedroom, well…………… “some questions are better left unanswered” ! : )

Feel free to post your comments below or ask Vanessa any more questions.

 

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