October 14, 2015

3 Things We Learned at RezFest 2015

Hundreds of vacation rental managers and new businesses pioneering the growing vacation rental space flocked to meet and hear the experts from HomeAway at RezFest 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Having attended several HomeAway events in the past two years, including last year’s RezFest, I remain impressed to say that HomeAway consistently provides relevant and up-to-date information that makes it worth coming back year after year.

This is what we learned this year:

This year in Vegas, those of us from Rented.com felt there were three major themes that uniquely stuck out from the conference. The first (and honestly least surprising) of these was that rental regulations are playing, and will continue to play, a critical theme on the minds of those within the industry. Even in cases where regulation legislation exists and seems favorable, Matt Curtis from HomeAway warned about “Christmas treeing,” which he explained is a practice where lawmakers continually and slowly add legislation that makes it worse and worse for short term rentals.

One way to combat harmful regulations and poor legislation is to prove the negative consequences of having onerous regulations, as they ultimately lead to a lack of compliance. Curtis gave this example: In some markets, when regulations were simply made easier to follow, the city was able to pull in up to an additional 2MM in taxes in one year—enough to cover an annual Parks and Recreation budget. One interesting data point surrounding the amazing potential for tax revenue if sensible regulations existed was the Papal visit to the United States. The visit resulted in a 16% spike of Airbnb listings in Philadelphia, and 17% in NYC; that’s 20,000+ Airbnb listings in a city in which short-term rentals are currently illegal.

A second major theme we saw at the conference (and was appropriately the title of a very popular session) was the “Rise of the Urban PM.” Put simply, the second most popular summer destinations after beaches are cities, and that’s placing them ahead of lakes, mountains, international travel, resort destinations, and national/state parks. In fact, the top U.S. markets in terms of demand per listing were Chicago, NYC, Boston, Miami, and Atlanta.

We at Rented.com were likewise well aware of this organic transition within the industry, and it was an influential factor in rebranding from “VacationFutures” to “Rented.com” With so much growth and demand in urban cities across the country, we did not want to limit ourselves to the traditional vacation rental markets with our name.

Finally, the third major theme we recognized was that the market growth within the industry remains strong overall; however, it is coupled with property management consolidation. The half-hour session titled “Sell a Vacation Rental Business the Right Way” seemed to represent about 70 companies that seemed to illustrate the trend of larger management companies increasing market share through consolidation and/or acquisition.

What trends have you seen in the vacation rental industry? And what did you learn at RezFest? Let us know in the comments below.

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