We operated from the assumption that one person speaks for many; for each concern someone raised, at least ten others in the room were probably thinking the same thing. That room of over 200 homeowners represented those of you who couldn’t attend well, and your colleagues told us what was on your mind. The owners have spoken and we heard what you want (in fact, all of the quotes below are from surveys or the Summit itself).
1) Transparency: “We want to have access to statistics about our rentals”
The message came through loud and clear: owners want transparency from HomeAway and more information about rental booking habits. You want to know your inquiry-to-booking ratio, percentage of repeat guests, and which sites are statistically better for your rental’s geographic location. We understand that to effectively run a business, you need to know what level you are performing at before you can measure your improvement.
2) Community: “Why isn’t there an online forum on the Owner Community?”
We heard your cries for an online community forum loud and clear. The Owner Community team is the first to admit that we’re chomping at the bit for a community forum on our site. Rest assured we are working on this, but in the meantime there are ways you can network with other owners in your area.
First and foremost, become involved with an owner network in your area. We know from first-hand experience and from the owner network panel that it’s a powerful thing when owners band together. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment— you can take your discussions to an online message board or a Yahoo! Group, both of which are customizable to meet your needs.
3) Protection: “What can I do to protect my vacation rental property against recent bans?”
We hear from more and more owners everyday who are seeking information from us regarding rental bans. These emails catch our eye every time— it means that more and more of you are going up against vacation rental regulations every day, but luckily, HomeAway is in a position to help. Start with the Owner Community’s section on short-term rental bans and contact us if you think we can help with a local rental alert mailing.
4) Help: “Can you look at my listing?”
The listing workshop was one of the standout stars of the conference. Our Customer Service Representatives said the majority of their appointments were not filled with technical problems or questions, rather with owners who wanted their listings critiqued. Fortunately for those of you who couldn’t attend, you can do this at home! We’ve got many articles on the Owner Community that will help you reevaluate everything from your headline to your photo captions. Visit our Writing Your Vacation Rental Listing section and you’ll learn more than you ever thought you could know about writing a stand-out listing.
5) Networking: “Hi, my name is Bill and I own in Florida ”
It pays to be non-competitive with other owners. Lately we’ve spoken with owners from all over the world who have amped up their networking to let the sharing and learning run free. In the end, that’s what Owners Summit was about— a gathering place for all owners to share what’s worked, and what hasn’t worked, for them. To network with other owners in your community now, consider starting or joining an owners network.
6) Diversity: “I’m new to renting. Where do I start?” vs. “I’ve been renting for 30 years.”
A typical conference consists of the same types of people. A vacation rental owner conference turned out to be very different in that each and every owner has a different career, lives in a different state, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Simply put, you all come from different walks of life, but you are all connected by your vacation rental.
This level of diversity also extends to your vacation homes. HomeAway represents properties that range from condos to mansions and from cities to remote mountaintops. This means that your needs as an owner will be different from the next owner’s needs. We strive to keep the information we put out as diverse as our owners, and will continue to satisfy every owner at their different levels on the Owner Community.
7) Behind-the-Scenes Info: “Hearing Brian speak gave me chills. He’s doing so much for our industry”
Brian is on the cutting edge of the vacation rental business and constantly looks for ways to mainstream our industry. No wonder our State of the Industry session with Brian was voted the #1 favorite panel at Owners Summit. Hearing our CEO speak gave you confidence, not only in our company, but the entire vacation rental industry as a whole.
8) Answers: “Why…. How… When?”
Vacation homeowners aren’t a shy bunch by any means. Q&A sessions at conferences usually signal the obligatory bathroom break because you can practically hear crickets chirping, but not with vacation rental owners. We had a line that wrapped around the audience and even required one session to be extended. Next year, we’ll have longer Q&A sessions to ensure that everyone can get their questions in (and so we can get to the cocktail hour on time!).
For those of you not in attendance, if you have a burning question that you want answered now, you can email the Owner Community team here. We are here to help!
9) Support: “ By following your advice we have managed to do quite well with our rental. Thanks to the HomeAway staff! ”
HomeAway, Inc. is divided up into many different brands, but there is one thing that unites the whole staff: growing the vacation rental marketplace. To do so, we have to invest in our owners. After all, there would be no properties to rent without you! Sometimes you just have questions and need answers, and we know that you depend on us for advice. Our How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner seminars and Owners Summit provide a chance for you to do this face-to-face, but that’s not where the help ends. Visit ownercommunity.com for advice in renting your property 24/7.
10) Another Owners Summit? 100% of attendees would recommend Owners Summit to a friend*
Good news: we want another Owners Summit, too! We are currently in the early planning stages of our 2nd Annual Owners Summit. The information shared between HomeAway staff and owners was so valuable that we couldn’t imagine not doing it again. For those who could not attend in May, we hope to see you next year! Watch your email for news and announcements regarding Owners Summit 2011 and bookmark our Summit site.
* From the survey sent out to attendees after Owners Summit