Vanessa de Souza Lage, chief marketing officer with Rentals United, knows a thing or two about technology. She has discovered some trends on the state of vacation rental tech and will share findings during a presentation at the 2018 VRMA European Conference, March 4-6 in Paris.
Also part of the session, she will lead a panel with small, medium, and large property managers who will answer questions about the way they use technology to help with their daily workflow.
We caught up with de Souza Lage to get her take on how vacation rental managers can balance the tech explosion occurring in the market these days.
Arrival: Technology within the vacation rental industry has been progressing at a feverish pace within the past two years, and it appears that this trend will not be slowing down in 2018. What factors do you believe are driving this?
de Souza Lage: Demand drives the VR tech explosion. Property managers and owners are increasingly turning to technology to streamline their business processes - from distribution to operations and everything in between. As we’re becoming mainstream we have realized that in order to compete in the hospitality industry we need to automate as much as possible.
In addition, the amount of money this industry represents is sizeable and growing, partly because of the popularity Airbnb has acquired worldwide. Venture capitalists around the world are feeling more confident about backing up B2B travel tech - as a result young, bright minds are creating new start-ups every year, confident that there’s room to run in this less mature travel niche and that investment can be found if needed. The VrTech Competition celebrates this; last year we had more than 40 VR startups, created after 2015, competing to win the VrTech Startup of the Year Award. This year I expect we will double that number.
Arrival: Are there any factors or trends specific to international markets that are driving this in Europe?
de Souza Lage: While b2b cloud solutions can be accessed from anywhere, there are very few examples of U.S. vacation rental tech that have managed to penetrate the fragmented European market. This is true also within Europe; we found that many companies succeed only their local markets.
So one of the factors contributing to this boom in VR startups is that young entrepreneurs get inspiration from tech produced in other countries to then adapt it for their local market. To give you an example, we found over 700 property management systems worldwide that can take on vacation rental products … and every year the number is on the increase.
Arrival: Any advice to owners/managers looking to navigate the complex tech landscape?
de Souza Lage: The most important piece of advice I can give is this: Don’t subscribe to any system that doesn’t have an “open API” strategy. Sadly, many property managers have fallen in the trap of the software that promises to “do it all”. And when they realize that in fact it doesn’t do it all (or at least not all well enough!), they need to start working with other software on the side. If all these systems don’t “talk” to each other, for example by sharing the information relating to the booking or the guest, then you can expect manual work again and a lot of headaches. This goes against what we in the tech world need to help property managers achieve i.e. blissful automation!
Vacation rental tech companies that will succeed in the future are the ones that will allow you to seamlessly “push” the information between other specialized software. I see a future where you will have one place to manage it all, from marketing to operations. If property managers today start requiring that our software should partner up, that future may be a reality sooner!
Find out more at the 2018 VRMA European Conference, March 4-6 in Paris
In the vacation rental industry since 2004, Vanessa started off as a vacation rental agent with her own global website that at one point had 8000 online bookable rentals. In 2014, she co-founded Rentals United, a channel manager for vacation rentals. Her experience in UX and marketing helped support the company's mission: to become the most useful & trusted vacation rental software globally. Today Vanessa acts as the CMO of Rentals United, is often invited to speak at vacation rental events worldwide and also manages rentals in Barcelona and Sitges. She's passionate about technology and innovation and in 2015 founded the Vrtech events where tech companies meet property managers to further innovation in the industry.