If you were one of the more than 1,500 attendees at VRMA’s three spring events, you likely heard VRMA President Mike Harrington or myself talking about our event strategy moving forward. VRMA, through the leadership of the board of directors, is making some big, exciting changes that will benefit our members and attendees.
In the coming weeks, look for some video that we captured with Mike Harrington, explaining this shift in strategy. In addition, we’ll be discussing it in our promotions for these various events. And I’d like to take this opportunity to give a quick overview of the shift and the thought process behind it.
On a very high level, this will be VRMA’s general event mix from this point forward:
- VRMA International Conference (formerly known as our National Conference), taking place every fall, including this October 27-30 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. Registration is open now; save $200 per attendee if you register by June 15.
- VRMA Spring Forum. Instead of an Eastern and Western Regional Conference, we’re now doing one big event in the spring. This is more than just consolidating events; it’s a new format, as well. More info below.
- VRMA Connect. Our new one-day (typically) events taking place all year, some as one-off events and some in partnership with other organizations. These are designed to accomplish the original intent of the Regional Conferences. More info below.
- VRMA European Conference. This will stay the same, every year likely between March and May.
To elaborate, the next big VRMA event is our fall conference. We’re changing that up a bit, in a very good way. Our 2017 fall conference included attendees from over 20 countries. The industry is expanding and professionals from other countries are coming to VRMA to learn with us, network, and share best practices. We want to make sure they have an opportunity to do that.
And our 2018 conference coming up in October in Vegas will do just that; we’re re-branding it as the VRMA International Conference. If you’ve been to our annual conference in the past, it won’t feel incredibly different. We’re not taking anything away that’s been there, we’re just adding new content. We’re adding an international track, and a supplemental networking opportunity for international attendees. We’re not taking away anything. It’s just going to be bigger and better.
We already have speakers lined up from Google and Amazon. And we will be presenting our own version of Shark Tank in partnership with Phocuswright. Additionally, we received over 180 submissions to fill just over 50 breakout session spots. On top of that, the exhibit hall has been sold out for months. It’s going to be huge. Registration is open, and despite the fact that the conference is bigger and we’re offering more to attendees, we’ve actually lowered the price if you register by June 15. So save $200 per attendee and register now.
We also want to ensure that the event is relevant to your entire team. So we’re also partnering with the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals. They are going to be playing a big role in this International Conference, providing at least two whole additional tracks of education focused on housekeeping and maintenance. That’s more than 15 additional sessions, making it a total of 65+ educational breakout sessions.
Regarding the Regional Conferences, while 2018 was technically our last time hosting both an eastern and western event, they will actually be replaced by more events. The two spring regionals will be combined into one “VRMA Spring Forum” in 2019 and beyond. This will be a bigger event that gives us some flexibility to add themes and specific workshops within the event; it will be a slightly different structure from the Regionals you’ve experienced. More hands-on, more roundtables, more users groups. It’s going to be very exciting, and not just a “mini-National.” It will be its own thing, and you’ll want to attend both our spring and fall events.
But as I mentioned, we’re not just consolidating events. We’re doing more; more localized content, to accomplish the original intent of these regional conferences. We’re calling these events “VRMA Connect.”
They’ll be taking different forms, but will typically be one day of education and networking in key areas. Just this year alone, we’ll be doing four; Hawaii, North Carolina, New England, and Belize. Dates and locations are listed on the website, which we’ll be continuing to build out.
These events give us the opportunity to partner with organizations and offer VRMA content where it hasn’t existed in the past. We’ve started by partnering with the Mountain Travel Symposium, where we will have a full day of VRMA education and networking at their event in Whistler in 2019. We’re also working with Hawaii Life to partner on the Hawaii event later this year. And we have other similar conversations taking place.
Our goal is to reach as many people as possible; if you’re interested in us hosting a VRMA Connect in your area, let us know! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting VRMA and our events. It’s through your support that we have this opportunity to continue growing and expanding in order to reach more vacation rental professionals and elevate the level of professionalism in the industry. Let’s keep this momentum going!