VRS135 – Learning in the Vacation Rental Industry


When I first started in this business I didn’t have much of a clue as to what to do to make a success of it. In fact it wasn’t until I was into equipping my second property that it dawned on me that cheap wasn’t working.

I’m not a slow learner – it was the speed in which we purchased properties that slowed the learning curve. But once I began to make changes and then saw the results in properties three, four and five, it was as if a veil had lifted and that’s when the business really took off.

It was at that time I wrote Renting for Profit, which was subsequently reprinted as Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit. I wanted to share everything I’d learned in buying, preparing and operating six vacation homes. So, it’s little wonder I get on my soap box when yet another online course is launched or a Kindle book published, by an owner who has been in the VR industry for six months operating a single apartment.

The ‘instant expert’ is out there in every business – from WordPress to digital marketing, social media to branding, and if you are not careful you can spend a lot of money on useless courses and books, delivered by people who have no experience in creating good training or writing readable material.

In this episode Mike and I explore the world of learning in our industry, from conferences to online courses to forums and groups. We share what works for us. Both of us are certificated teachers in adult education so we have a little experience in how training should be delivered, and how you can sift through the myriad products and publications out there and find something that is really of value to you.

This kicks off our learning theme for July as we evaluate the educators, and the material that’s currently available, so we look forward to hearing what works for you and what doesn’t.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Online Creators Launchpad – Facebook Group

Vacation Rental Professionals – LinkedIn Group

Vacation Rental Formula


Alan Egan – Rent More Weeks

Matt Landau – Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

Antonio Bortollotti – Vacation Rental Secrets

VRS134 – Filling a Unique Niche in Vacation Rentals with Dianne Denton


It’s always a pleasure to talk to owners about their properties, and even more so when they are as unique as Dianne Denton’s Sea Horse Diamond Beach Cottage.

Not only is this a gorgeous property, with a swimming pool and a short walk from the beach, which would be an attraction for anyone, but it’s also fully horse-friendly filling an almost empty niche.

Dianne has been involved with horses for years and runs a successful rainwear company at Muddy Creek Raingear.com. She and her husband Chris also own a vacation home on Diamond Beach in New South Wales, about 3 hours from Sydney, and when Chris originally suggested they offer it for rental, she wasn’t so sure she wanted strangers in her much-loved beach home. But once persuaded, she has never looked back.

In fact, when I asked Dianne for some tips to share with someone who might want to start a similar business her first answer was to get over the concept of it being ‘your baby’, and treat it as a business first and foremost.

In this interview we explore the marketing strategies Dianne uses to attract pet lovers to her place – it’s just as dog friendly as it is a horse paradise – and discuss the professional video she and Chris had commissioned as a primary marketing tool.

Dianne also talks about the submission she is involved with in the New South Wales Tourism Awards, and how doing this has got her looking at all aspects of her business in a new light.

Finally she shares some detail on her new project – another vacation rental in the village of Diamond Beach. This is one that will attract a different audience but I am sure it will succeed in exactly the same way as Sea Horse has.

Dianne talks about:

  • How she was a reluctant entrant into the vacation rental business
  • The niche that no-one has filled and how her property attracts the right audience
  • Why using print marketing works for this niche
  • Her strategy for engaging on Facebook
  • How commenting on other Facebook pages and groups attracts traffic
  • The production of the video and the importance of getting the weather right
  • Why she feels it would be a huge benefit to win a tourism award
  • Her most challenging part of managing the business
  • Her approach to the new project, Seafarer’s Cottage
  • The importance of vetting guests and why she would never accept BIN reservations
  • Her most valuable tips for new entrants to the business
  • NSW Tourism Awards criteria
  • Muddy Creek Raingear

Where you can find Diane:







VRS133 – Getting Ready For My Vacation Rental Season


It’s that time of year again.

The cottage country tradition in Ontario has been part of the culture for generations, and in many areas the families that make the trip have been going to the same cottage for years. Then there’s the new Canadians – our most recently arrived immigrants who learn that the annual vacation to the lake is a rite of passage, and the first visit is often the catalyst to the cottage buying bug that impacts just about every one who experiences it.

Over the years, expectations have risen, and I have the conversation with every new owner about it, and say the same thing over and over. [Read more…]

VRS132 – Vacation Rental Property Management with a Difference with Darik Eaton


I had the pleasure of co-presenting a workshop session at the Vacation Rental Success Summit with Darik Eaton of Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals.

In my discussions with Darik beforehand we explored the differences between our two companies and they could not have been wider. In this episode he explains why his model works and how his clients benefit from the control he takes over their properties.

Our discussion covers how he started his company which now manages 40 properties in urban Seattle, and how he works with his wife – an interior designer and stager – to bring a consistently high standard of property to his guests.

We talk about his approach which is very different from most property management companies; the design options the company offers; what he outsources and what he keeps in-house, his choice of reservations systems, and why has always has a Plan B!

Darik shares:

  • The lawsuit that started it all
  • How the combination of his business acumen and his wife’s design and staging expertise helped them achieve 80% occupancy of their condo in the first year.
  • His varied business models and how they combine to create a successful whole
  • Why he wins owners and guests with a unique model
  • The design options his owners can choose
  • Why he has a list of 1500 items essential for vacation rental
  • Why IKEA is a four letter word
  • His arguments against paying for an owner’s poor choices
  • How and why 2 condos with the same floorplan consistently show a $3K – 5k difference in income when the only difference is design
  • His method of attracting investors
  • Why he has a high staff to owner ratio
  • The challenges of success and the battle between operations and marketing
  • How design pays for itself in terms of income as well in an increase in the value of the property
  • Why he doesn’t write his own blog posts
  • His reservation systems – and why he chose the one his competition wasn’t using
  • The #1 question to ask when looking for a new reservation system
  • Why having a Plan B is always worthwhile


Links mentioned in this episode:

Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentology

Seattle Oasis on Youtube

Where you can find Darik:









VRS131 – Remote Vacation Rental Hosting with Alex Nigg & Tammi Sims

I had the great pleasure of meeting Alex and Tammi at the Vacation Rental Success Summit in Toronto last month, and although I wasn’t able to attend their workshop, I heard it was a resounding success. Since they had already delivered a presentation to a packed house at the Airbnb Summit in Paris, we knew it would be a winner and were so happy to have them with us in the big TO.

This episode of VRS gave me an opportunity to ask all the questions I wanted about their experiences as hosts, as well as to explore their new app – Get Properly.

For years I’ve been coaching my housekeeping staff to do things the way I like them done. From the way the beds are made, to how to arrange the towels on the bathroom shelves to the way I wanted my welcome package to look. …and a lot more.

You could call it being finicky, but if you are a dedicated vacation rental owner, you’ll know exactly what I mean. We want perfection and it’s tough having to rely on others to interpret your version of it.

With several properties and different staff in each it’s been difficult to keep a handle on how those instructions are carried out, and if they are consistently maintained. Thanks to a new app – developed and tested by Alex and Tammi and their team – the uncertainties about how your place looks when your guests walk it, is a thing of the past.

Alex describes Get Properly as a visual checklist app. A means to show exactly what you want your place to look like, and to provide housekeeping and maintenance staff with visual references every step of the way.

And that is just the start.

As a busy property manager handling 200 properties, each with individual owners with their own cleaning teams, I see this a real breakthrough in quality management and I’m looking forward to trialling with some of them.

And did I mention that Get Properly is free for the moment! So go on over there and download the app now!

Listen to Alex and Tammi share their thoughts on:

  • The challenges they’ve each had in renting their homes from a distance
  • The differences between residential and rental cleaning/housekeeping services and how to manage the conflict between them
  • The importance of trust in the owner/cleaner relationship
  • Why they choose to stock their pantries with herbs, spices, oils etc
  • How Properly allows tasks to be assigned
  • Visual checklists and how to use them
  • The importance of the little things involved in a changeover…even lacy underwear!
  • How the app allows a more customized guest experience

Links mentioned in this episode:

Get Properly

The Remote Superhost II: How to create effective checklists for smooth turnovers

Where you can find Alex and Tammi:







VRS130 – Paid Advertising For Vacation Rental With Conrad O’Connell

It was a real pleasure to invite Conrad back onto the podcast for Part 2 of our interview – this time featuring his great insights into paid advertising.

Our property management company has been in business for 12 years and we’ve never seen the need to use paid ads. Over the years we’ve built up a solid reputation and through the development of content we regularly hit Page 1 of Google for our keywords. In other words, we do well on organic search even for the some of the high ranking keywords.

This year we’ll be launching a new website and taking steps to really move on our competition so I wanted to learn a little more about the type of ads we might use…and the investment we’d need to make.

As before, Conrad over-delivered and gave an information packed interview, covering Google Ads & the Google Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, Google Display Network and talked at length about Facebook ad campaigns and the best ways to implement them.

And….don’t forget to sign up on Conrad’s mailing list so you don’t miss his posts .

Conrad explained:

  • Why it is important to know your market and do your research before investing a penny in paid ads.
  • How to research keywords in your area
  • How to find out what the cost per click is for your keywords
  • Why ‘fishing in Ontario’ may not be worth the investment for my market
  • The best thing about Google adwords and capturing traffic when their intent is high
  • The reason Adwords may not be the best direction for an independent owner to take – and when they should give it a try.
  • The importance of getting Google Analytics installed and configured
  • Setting goals in Google Analytics & why and when to use ecommerce tracking
  • How Facebook ads works
  • What the Facebook pixel is and why you need to set it up on your site today
  • How to track everyone that comes to your website and has a FB account
  • How to serve ads to your audience
  • Why Facebook Boost button is the easiest but the least effective of options
  • The best option to choose when targeting your audience
  • Using Google Network Display for retargeting

Links to sites mentioned:

VRS116 – Digital Marketing for Vacation Rentals with Conrad O’ConnellGoogle Display Network

9 Facebook Ad Campaign Ideas For Vacation Rental Marketers

Facebook Ads Manager

91 Digital

Google Keyword Tool

Where you can find Conrad:







If you liked this podcast we would really appreciate it if you could leave a review for us on iTunes. You can do this by clicking on the icon below. This will open itunes and direct you to the Vacation Rental Success Podcast. Here you can review and subscribe.
Many thanks for listening.

VRS129 – May Vacation Rental Mash-up with Matt Landau

I like talking with Matt on months beginning with an M – it gives a nice alliterative title!

This month’s mash-up covers a good range of topics from the Vacation Rental Success Summit to the upcoming release of Matt’s beginners course to vacation rental.

We covered the use of Prezzi for presenting information; why owners are not using Snapchat; finding mentors and why Summit attendees were not complaining about Home Away fees.

Finally, Matt shared more about the gang intervention project he is involved in. If you haven’t heard of Esperanza head on over to the website, and prepare to be inspired: [Read more…]

VRS128 – Live from The Vacation Rental Success Summit Goldfish Bowl


Mike had this great idea at the Vacation Rental Success Summit, to set up a podcasting studio so we could record at the event. So, on the Saturday night we took over one of the small rooms – the goldfish bowl, so called because of the windows that gave everyone a great view of what was going on.

I got myself comfortable and Mike co-opted willing victims to come in and have a chat, tell me what they thought of the event and a little bit about themselves.

Sadly we had a bit of a technical glitch and some of the mini-interviews were just too choppy to use. I’ll bring those folks back over the next couple of weeks so you can get to hear what they say.

For now, this is who we spoke to:

Jessica Vozel – Guesthook

Bob Jenkins – Lead Pages

David Angotti – Smoky Mountains.com

Nikki Woodson-Blair – Clanventure

Matt Landau – Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

Gary & Natasha Miller – No property yet….but working on it!

Erica Townson – Town Events Management

Alanna Schroeder – The Distinguished Guest


Apologies to:

Alex and Tammi – Properly

Celine Girard – Villa Mercier

Darik Eaton – Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals

Don Fehst – 3KlicksAway Vacation Rentals

Rex Brown – Holiday Matters

If you liked this podcast we would really appreciate it if you could leave a review for us on iTunes. You can do this by clicking on the icon below. This will open itunes and direct you to the Vacation Rental Success Podcast. Here you can review and subscribe.
Many thanks for listening.

Well, that’s a wrap!


As I looked around the now-empty auditorium with just the audio tech finishing off his packing up, I felt a little emotional.

Maybe it was still the adrenalin in my system, or the euphoria generated by the goodbye hugs and farewells from new friends who I knew I’d be in touch with again soon.

Or maybe it was the satisfaction of a job well done…you know…that feeling you get when despite all the odds, something you worked at long and hard came together successfully.

That’s how it was at the end of the Vacation Rental Success Summit.
[Read more…]

VRS127 – Takeaways from the Vacation Rental Success Summit 2016


For two days in Toronto, there was a place where everywhere you went the conversation was on the same topic. In the hallways, the social centre, the dining room, and even in the fitness centre – the talk was vacation rentals.

The Vacation Rental Success Summit brought together some of the most interesting, influential and motivated people in our industry. Attendees came from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, the UK, and all across North America.

Workshops and presentations covered innovation, social media, digital marketing, video and photography, copywriting, emergency management, website creation, restrictions and regulations, social media and much more….

…and the venue was stellar too!
[Read more…]