A Recap Of The HomeAway Annual Conference, Rezfest 2018

October 5, 2018 Lis Thomas

The NAVIS Team attended Rezfest and it was great!

What goes with vacation rentals, vacation rental managers and the industry? Well, of course, Marco Island, Florida, warm weather and Rezfest! Our team and vacation rental leaders from across the country had the pleasure of attending the conference September 25-27, 2018, in Marco Island, Florida.

In case you missed the event, or just want a little more insight into what our team attended, and our key takeaways, read on!

From our perspective the attendees at Rezfest were focused on a few key topics:

  • Focus on the full guest experience. Engage with guests during arrival, in-stay, departure, etc.

  • Customer love is key. Remember who you’re doing it all for and why they should choose you!

  • Artificial intelligence is here. It’s the next big guest-learning machine.

  • Property reviews are gold. They matter and will absolutely increase bookings. Setting them up correctly will set you up for success.

We also chatted with the NAVIS team attendees when went to the event, and gained their key takeaways and insights. Read our interview below from Jack Newkirk, NAVIS System Consultant, Tobias Edwards, NAVIS Sales Development Representative, and Brett Hallinan, Director Of Product Marketing.

Our team at Rezfest 2018

NAVIS: Did you spend the majority of your time at the booth, on the conference floor or in sessions?

Jack: For me, it was a 50/50 mix of spending time in the booth and attending private meetings with our clients. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend a single session, but I hear they were great.

Tobias: I spent most of my time in the booth chatting with attendees.

Brett: I spent my time split between the booth and sessions, and found that there was a good mix of attendees doing both.


NAVIS: What sessions did you attend?

Brett: I might be biased, but NAVIS’s Colin Morrison had a great presentation about Monetizing the Guest Journey, providing insight on taking a "complete" view of the booking and sources of demand. It’s a topic that’s front-of-mind for a lot of owners and managers, and he provided some great insights. HomeAway’s presentation on What’s Coming was also great, as was the presentation with Simon Bailey.


NAVIS: What was your biggest takeaway from the conference?

Jack: That Rezfest is quickly becoming the preeminent conferences in the vacation rental space, and that Rezfest is starting to take over--or at the very least equally compare to--VRMA.

Tobias: My biggest takeaway was there is a lot of energy in the vacation rental industry and that embracing new technology seems to be the norm. Compared to other hospitality conferences for hotels and resorts, like HITEC, the principals in the vacation rental industry are very open to technology and improved systems and services. It’s refreshing to be a part of such an engaging event.

Brett: Vacation rental owners and management companies are very entrepreneurial. There were a lot of people figuring it out how to make their businesses work and run more efficiently. Our research shows that many of the smaller operations will grow into incredible lifestyle businesses.


NAVIS: Was there a quote, theme or concept that you are still thinking about?

Tobias: Lots of focus was around channel management–and making sure you are communicating with your guests effectively on each channel (phones, text, email). These are all pieces of the overall CRM puzzle that is a big focus in the industry right now.

Brett: Simon Bailey’s presentation was really inspiring. He talked about this “Spark” concept and translated it to hospitality space. He’s definitely, a presenter to catch if you can at an upcoming event.


NAVIS: What was the hot topic that everyone was talking about?

Tobias: There was quite a bit of conversation around consolidation within the vacation rental industry. Certain companies are being quite aggressive in their acquisition strategy. It’s a topic to watch for sure.

Brett:  Most people that I talked to had a major focus on the education they would gain at the event. It was the overall theme--to walk away with tangible and executable strategies.


NAVIS: What were the biggest differences between this year and last year’s program?

Jack: There was a larger mix of attendee owners and management companies--In fact, there were a lot more large management companies at this year’s event. It also seemed like the attendees were more focused on getting work done and walking away with an education.


NAVIS: Did you eat any amazing food? What was it and where?

Jack: RezFest always puts out a good spread, in particular, the seafood/sushi buffet at the closing party was amazing. I’ll be looking forward to it again next year!

Tobias: We put on a dinner at the Oyster Society, and the oysters proved to be incredible.

Brett: The banana fritters with caramel sauce were superb--full disclosure--I ate four! But the salted caramel with bacon on top was also amazing.


NAVIS: Anything else you want to share.

Tobias: Overall I found Rezfest to be a great conference with a lot to look forward to in the industry. Owners and operators alike seemed to have great pride in their respective businesses and that is always a wonderful trend to be a part of, and participate in. 

Brett: It was absolutely worthwhile to attend!

Thanks, Jack, Tobias, and Brett for your feedback! We’re already looking forward to next year’s event.


Want to read more NAVIS blog posts, check out some of our latest eBooks, white papers, and/or videos? Check out the NAVIS Library for more great content! 

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