Takeaways And Learnings From The 2018 VRMA International Conference

November 12, 2018 Lis Thomas

VRMA International Vacation Rental Conference

Las Vegas, Nevada; home of some of the world's top casinos, hotels, shows, and concerts, and this year, the venue for the annual VRMA International conference!  

The conference venue, MGM Grand, was a perfectly quintessential Las Vegas location and our team was honored to have speakers at four of the conference sessions. In addition, we took the opportunity to share some exciting company news at the event, which added to the conference's energy and excitement. Read the full press release here on our repositioning in the marketplace as the only complete Hospitality CRM!

Our team members who attended VRMA came home with some wonderful learnings. Read their insights and takeaways below:


What was different about this year, versus previous years’ conferences?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product: The conference was so much larger this year! There were lots of new vendors, which was great but also felt like information overload for a lot of the attendees.

Colin Morrison presentation on VRMAMark Bartlett, Vice President Of Sales: There was a bigger focus (rightly so) on making personalized marketing scalable. And foundational to that movement is the need to have data that is clear and actionable along the entire booking journey. I thought Colin Morisson, from our team, shared thoughts in his session that made a ton of sense and were easy to understand and implement.

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: Well, there were almost 500 more attendees! Which was amazing. That, and of course having the conference in Las Vegas was very different and interesting.


Where did you spend most of your time at the conference?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product: The exhibit hall was my home base! I spent most of my time talking with NAVIS clients and our industry partners.

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: The volume of attendees this year was mind-blowing. It definitely was incredible to see all of the new attendees and vendors. I spent more time in the booth than in sessions because so, so many managers kept stopping by to ask the NAVIS team for guidance on data security and guest management. Even though many of the managers I spoke with were new faces to me, I still felt as if the sincere, earnest consultative guidance that we were able to provide the attendees will be impactful to their business. It was very gratifying.

Adam Steele, Sales Development Representative: I spent the majority of my time at the booth hanging out with conference guests, answering questions about NAVIS, and our CRM model.


Did you attend many sessions? Which did you find most impactful?

Mark Bartlett, Vice President Of Sales: Amber Leto’s session on data security had a super engaged group. It was an obviously important topic to the attendees. There were lots of learnings and industry-partnership opportunities in and questions around privacy policy. There's definitely a desire for checklists and tools to help with GDPR changes in Colorado, California (and eventually on the national scene). For any VRM who isn’t prepared for this, you better get on it. Keep an eye out for tools and information coming out from NAVIS in coming months.

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: Outside of the boot camp that I able to lead with Sue Jones, Cliff Johnson, and Justin Ford, I would have loved to attend Simon Lehmann’s discussion on rate and demand intelligence. Since NAVIS clients rely on our unconstrained demand-tracking and reporting to help guide their revenue strategies, I wish I had made it to his session to hear Simon’s thoughts on complementary strategies. The feedback from the session was that it was super impactful.


What was your favorite part of the conference?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product: Getting to see our happy clients, catch up with our industry partners and be a part of such a crucial industry event.

Mark Bartlett, Vice President Of Sales: The variety of topics was great. It was a well-rounded conference, focused on helping VRMs grow their businesses, in a landscape that's more complicated than ever.

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: I just loved how all the attendees were handing out hugs left and right. People in this industry tend to stick around, even if they move to a new career home. And while there is a sense of friendly competition, almost everyone was genuinely excited to see their friends and colleagues. It absolutely shows the level of camaraderie that we have in the vacation rental marketplace.

Adam Steele, Sales Development Representative: It was wonderful to meet so many industry vendors, owners, and management representatives. Beings somewhat new to NAVIS, it’s great anytime I can meet my peers and grow that network!


Did you enjoy Las Vegas as the venue for this type of conference? Why or why not?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product:  The exhibit hall was pretty far from the classes, which caused a bit of a disconnect. Of course, Las Vegas is a ton of fun, but it is also a smokey venue, which isn’t my favorite.

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: I think that Las Vegas is a fun place to visit, but there are pros and cons to having a conference there. On the positive side, holding the conference on the west coast makes it logistically easier for businesses in Hawaii to attend. On the other hand, the sheer size of the venue, the MGM Grand, made it difficult for folks to quickly move from event to event and having to endure an endless cloud of cigarette smoke wasn’t ideal.

Adam Steele, Sales Development Representative: From my perspective, Las Vegas was a blast as the setting for a conference, but as you can expect, it was hard for everyone to stay focused on education when there were so many fun things to do. There was a lot to compete with regarding entertainment. But we all definitely had fun!


Did you get a chance to attend any shows or other Vegas-events in your free time?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product: Zumanity was my treat to myself while there, and it was amazing!

Jack Newkirk, System Consultant: Yes indeed! Since I arrived a day early to prep for my boot camp, I got the chance to go to Cirque du Soleil’s “O” with the team, which was absolutely mesmerizing.

Adam Steele, Sales Development Representative: Yes, we all went to “O” at the Bellagio, and went on the roller coaster at New York, New York.


Any other takeaways?

Amber Leto, Vice President Of Product: An overall takeaway I had at the conference was that the VR Space has grown so much and feels like it is on the brink of exploding. The industry needs more actionable paths forward for managers versus lip service. I’m excited to see how the marketplace evolves, and how NAVIS can support our VR partners in new ways over the next few years.

Mark Bartlett, Vice President Of Sales: It was great to see so many familiar faces and friends in the industry. It seemed like every corner I turned, there was someone NAVIS works with stopping to say hello to our team, and these wonderful partnerships make the industry feel close-knit. We look forward to this event every year.


The VR industry is changing quickly, as are all hospitality businesses right now, and conferences like VRMA International set the stage for positive change, growth, support and industry partnerships. Our team at NAVIS is grateful for opportunities to engage and attend these conferences, and we are looking forward to next year!

Interested in learning more about the NAVIS complete Hospitality CRM? Read our eBook A Complete Guide To CRM For Hospitality.

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