Any positive depiction of our industry that helps familiarise the greater travelling public with the brave new world of vacation rentals is a wonderful thing. HomeAway, for instance, just launched a Show on A&E, and Airbnb is partnering with Vice to promote Experiences. The more mainstream travellers learn about vacation rentals, the more accurate their expectations become, and the more sustainable our industry grows. Woohoo! But what can be equally (if not more) powerful than a single company’s narrative is a unified industry voice that everyone can hear a bit of themselves in…a voice that we can all be proud of. Independently, owners and managers are scattered and isolated. But together, we are a movement. A Sense of Place acts like a “magnetic north” — a vision for the future of what vacation rentals can look like when done really well — like a common orientation marker that pulls everyone forward in the same direction.
It’s approachable. Typical travel shows feature a celebrity host with a VIP rolodex and exclusive experiences that are not accessible to the average Joe. These shows are more entertaining than they are actionable. What makes A Sense of Place different — heck, what makes the vacation rental movement different, really — is normal people doing extraordinary things. All our properties cost less than the comparable hotel room down the street, all our hosts fell into the vacation rental business unexpectedly (no formal training), and all our featured activities are available to other guests of that vacation rental business. Our goal was for every episode to leave viewers with one idea or inspiration to actually implement on their next trip, no matter where they go. The easiest decision? To choose a vacation rental over a hotel?
Our industry is united by aspiration. The hope or ambition to achieve something greater than we currently have. For hosts, that aspiration drives us to make upgrades to our properties, to go the extra mile for a guest in need, to do something thoughtful even though no one is looking. For travellers, it’s the desire to be a slightly more adventuresome, generous, memorable versions of ourselves.
It may be crazy to think that a simply vacation rental can actually be the catalyst for this kind of thing. But throughout Season 1 — learning about Bob and Ian’s bottled water project or seeing CJ’s hub-and-spoke philosophy or watching Henrietta help at-risk children through art— the aspiration was infectious.
Every day, video plays an increasingly central role on-line. Cisco reports that video traffic will be 82 percent of all IP traffic by 2020. According to Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn, in five years’ time, Facebook will probably be all video too. I think video is especially important for vacation rentals because the industry is so new and we need to convey a lot of information in a quick period of time.
Does that mean everyone has to create a vacation rental show? Of course not. A high-definition webcam for video emails, hiring a local film freelancer for special events, even exploratory videos in town with your iPhone…video is one of those secret weapons that we should all be experimenting with to better connect with our guests.
Season 2! Our first Season was very experimental — trying out lots of different ideas, styles, locations…etc. When it finishes in February, we’ll be looking closely at our analytics to determine what viewers like, and what they don’t…what resonates, what doesn’t, our biggest areas for improvement…etc.
So the plans for Season 2 will be to double-down on what’s working, find unexpected corners of the globe, and tell more inspiring stories. We’ve been very fortunate to partner with terrific sponsors, Abundle and Liverez, who believe in our overarching mission……..