Ready for a fun, educational and potentially life-changing trip to Lake Como? The date of Vacation Rental World Summit is fast approaching! To find out why you should attend the best independent vacation rental conference in the world, we spoke with VRWS Founder Antonio Bortolotti. He shared with us his tips on how to make the most of the event along with some content highlights, networking events and fun activities that await all property owners and managers at VRWS taking place October 5-6, 2019 at Lake Como, Italy.

Just as importantly, Vacation Rental World Summit offers our readers a special discount. Use RENTALSUNITED as the coupon code at checkout here.

What are the industry challenges that Vacation Rental World Summit will address this year?

There is a lot going on in the industry and it’s hard to keep up with everything. But you have to do your best if you want to stay in business, and knowing what’s coming can make a big difference.

Each year, things get harder: increased competition, reduced margins, changing travelling and booking trends, and lots more. This year we’re seeing the OTAs changing quite a few of their rules and models to gain bigger shares. The competition between them keeps getting fiercer and it’s becoming more and more frustrating for hosts and PMs who can’t keep up.

We’re also seeing an increase in demand for professionalising operation. The booking windows get shorter and shorter and the margins do the same: this forces operators to seek alternative ways to keep thriving and struggle less.

Mergers and acquisitions are taking place and over the next 12 months, we may see quite some changes in the current industry panorama. The entrance of new important players like Marriot or new models like OYO may bring further disruption to the industry that may force unexpected changes.

VRWS will address these topics and present solutions to face them accordingly.

Who is the conference for? Who can benefit the most from it?

Vacation Rental World Summit is geared towards property owners, hosts, property managers of all sizes (from 5 to 1000+ properties), industry professionals, innovators and SaaS providers.

OTAs, such as Airbnb, and HomeAway (Vrbo) will attend too, so it’s a great chance to meet them face to face and ask them questions you might not get to ask otherwise.

The winning formula behind VRWS since its inception has always been the “win-win” approach: it’s all about sharing experience and knowledge. You can talk to everyone and get answers to your most pressing needs.

What highlights in terms of content do you have in store?

We will dive deep into a range of current topics concerning the vacation rental industry. Some of the most insightful sessions will be:

The state of the vacation rental industry 2019-2020

We will take a look at vacation rentals from a data perspective, with insights from Transparent and AirDNA, the biggest data providers of the short-term rental space. Not only will they give us some insider info on the current state of the industry, but they will also explore how the market is set to evolve in the next 12-14 months. Hint: there’s a lot going on and 2020 will likely see a lot of important changes!

A thought-provoking chat with Europe’s largest property manager

He will share the best practices that have allowed him to successfully manage over 30,000 properties and get purely direct bookings. The purpose of the talk is to help attendees make changes to their business and shift their focus in order to keep thriving in an increasingly difficult market.

The VrTech Competition  final

Attendees will get to see the top three most innovative vacation rental startups of the year and vote for the winner.

The VRWS Guest Service Excellence Award

During this competition organised for the first time ever, a selection of great property owners and property managers from the audience will take the stage to present the ‘one thing’ that sets them apart. They will explain what they do differently and how it’s making their guests happy. In each case, it will be something that’s easily replicable so that the audience can model their own practices based on their genius and ultimately get more bookings.

5 practical ways voice technology can add value to your properties today

Rather than indulging the nay-sayers, we will dive into the uses of voice technology that are already applicable today. This forward-thinking strategy will place us at the forefront of yet another revolution that’s coming. We’re choosing to ride the wave.

Delivering locally while competing globally

We’ll take a new look at the new era of vacation rental management.

The strategy of getting involved

We’ll talk about how vacation rentals can benefit from being socially responsible, what that means in today’s world and how certain growing trends are defining new ways in which travellers choose their experiences.

Expert panel: an overview of the future

A panel of experts will discuss the challenges that the industry is facing and how to address them.

Who are this edition’s speakers?

The lineup of this year’s Vacation Rental World Summit includes some of the most respected and well-known names in the industry, together with hosts and property managers who are not as well-known, yet they manage successful businesses and are eager to share their best practices.

So this year we’ll have Graham Donoghue (Sykes Holiday Cottages), Andrew McConnell (, Simon Lehmann (AJL Consulting), Dana Young (Virtual Concierge Services), Vanessa De Souza Lage (Rentals United), Sascha Hausmann (Rentals United), Alex Nigg and Tammi Sims (Properly), Robin Clifford (Airbnb), Alessandro Pacilio (, Pierre Becerril (Transparent), Chris Hanley (AirDNA), Steve Milo (VTrips), Damien Harris (Picasso Suites), Henrietta Kiss (Treasure Rome), Kati Ruotolo (Buda Home Apartments), Enrique Alcántara (Stay U-nique), Bob Garner (Casal dei Fichi), Renee Binyon (Weekendinthecountry) the VrTech Startup finalists and a few others whose names we’ll be adding to the list soon.

As a reminder, VRWS prides itself to be the only major “single track” industry event, so attendees won’t miss out on a single session if they want to see them all.

Is there anything else that you’d like to highlight besides the talks?

We’re very pleased to say that we’re going to have five female speakers this year. These great ladies are all very successful at what they do and will bring great value to the audience, with practical tips and tangible insights that attendees can bring home and implement straight away.

In terms of networking, once again we’ll have informal pre-event meet-ups on the Friday before the conference, as well as dinners and several opportunities to make great connections and seal new deals. And when it comes to fun, we have a few surprises in store. Just like every year, they’ll make the Summit worth attending.

What changes have businesses made after attending previous editions?

Great question! Many attendees have made changes that dramatically improved their results and we’ve received several ’thank you’ notes and emails throughout the years.

For example, a property manager who was seeking a new PMS to address certain critical aspects of their operations found the perfect PMS after speaking to the right people in the room (fellow attendees). The PMS was not exhibiting at the event.

Quite a few people have implemented the tips I and other speakers shared on how to get more direct bookings. They saw the difference it made in their revenue shortly after.

Two small property managers from Milan, who came across each other at VRWS for the first time, started meeting on a regular basis well after the event to discuss how they worked and help each other grow to mutual success.

Some attendees looking to expand found the right partners to start new ventures together. And last but not least, a property owner, inspired by all the things learned at each VRWS year after year, has become an esteemed VR consultant and successful property manager.

There really are lots of positive real stories and I’m truly proud and happy to make this all happen.

How can attendees make the most of their time at the summit?

Come with an open mind: VRWSers are some of the best peers in our industry. Come early and be ready to join an informal ice-breaker happy hour on Friday afternoon before the conference. It’s where the networking starts big time to kick off the event in the best possible mood.

Following the huge success of its introduction last year, each attendee gets immediate access to the VRWS event app after registration. You can make the most of your time at the conference by seeing in advance who else is going and private messaging anyone within the app to set meetings prior to, during or after the event.

This year, we’ll also make the conference even more interactive with the use of a software that allows attendees to ask speakers questions in real time. Speakers will answer the most voted questions during the Q&A at the end of each presentation.

What are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to creating the special atmosphere of bonding and the sense of community and that makes VRWS attendees rave about the event once again. I can’t wait to see our attendees meet kindred spirits who are not only the best professionals and forward-thinking experts of the industry but also the most passionate, genuine and authentic people.

Come and make new friends, meet old ones and seal great deals, all in a spectacular location that’s worth the trip. And take home lots of invaluable knowledge that you can implement in your business!

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