VRS148 – The Ultimate Vacation Rental List of People and Companies to Follow Part 2


Following on from Episode 141 when I sat down with Matt Landau to compile our Ultimate List of People and Companies to Follow, we’ve added some more.

We wanted to include some of the great communities and resources available for owners and property managers, as well as some great people we love and trust. In this episode we continue the tag format and share our favourites. [Read more…]

VRS147 – From Vacation Rental Rookies to Seasoned Veterans


This year has seen an upsurge in new owners coming into the rental market – at least in my neck of the woods. Our rental agency has had the highest rate of new owner enquiries since the business started in 2004, and in talking to them the message we are receiving is loud and clear…

It doesn’t make economic sense to have a property sit empty, and renting out has become an integral part of a second-home investment strategy.

This was the case with both Gary Miller and Jan Kahlen, who we first met on Episode 137 as they were both preparing their newly acquired cottages for rental. Now, 10 weeks later, I catch up with them as they reflect back on a whirlwind season of full occupancy and discuss how the reality of back to back rentals matched their expectations.

Given the short time frame they had in getting their properties to market, Jan and Gary decided to use rental agencies, which proved to be a wise decision for both of them.

In the episode we discuss:

• Their overall impressions of the first season of rental

• Managing changeovers and maintaining standards

• How power outages and fallen trees brought home the need to prepare for emergencies

• The highlights and lowlights of a summer of rentals

• Hospitality and guest satisfaction

• The challenge of managing a hot tub

• Guest connections and porcupine invasions

• The value of attending the Vacation Rental Success Summit

Jan’s Cottage

Gary’s Cottage

Vacation Rental Success Summit

VRS146 – Three Weeks, Three Countries, Three Vacation Rentals

If ever there was legislation governing the operation of a vacation rental property I would want there to be a clause requiring owners to have stayed in a property other than their own on at least 3 separate occasions, with a group comprising the maximum number of occupants.


Because that’s the real way of understanding how your guests feel when they come to your place.

Because it’s the only way to appreciate the power of a first impression, and….

……owners need to fully experience the issues guests face in an unfamiliar environment in order to create the best one for their own guests.

In this episode Mike and I share our learning from the three homes we’ve stayed in the past couple of weeks, in England and Germany, and include a conversation with Andy & Niki Renals – the owners of our vacation home on the wonderful island of Cyprus.

As ever, we have a lot of takeaways from the trip and share the improvements we’ll be making when we get back home.

We talk about

  • the booking experience
  • what wowed us – the power of first impressions
  • the little things that make a difference
  • beds and bedding and the importance of a good night’s sleep
  • How to use guest feedback to implement changes
  • Hands-on owners vs property managers

Links mentioned in the episode:






Villa Carpe Diem

Ferienhaus Wieke via Booking.com

Ambermill Farm – via Home Away


VRS145 – How to Invest Wisely in Vacation Rental Property with Erica Muller


Buying a vacation home has become far less of an emotional journey for many new owners, and more of a carefully balanced investment. With the rise in popularity of vacation rentals, the plan to rent out a second home when it is not in family use has become part of the overall purchase strategy for investors.

There’s a lot to consider before taking the plunge into vacation rental investment though. Location, regulations, licensing implications, the ability to source property management, seasonal variations in demand and tourism demographics are just some of the factors that can impact a decision to buy.

And that is where the first choice becomes all-important – finding the right realtor. Get that part wrong and even the most savvy investor could find himself in a financially damaging situation.

Orlando vacation rental realty expert, Erica Muller, joins me to discuss the changes that have taken place in the real estate market in the two and a half years since she last joined me on the show.

Erica shares:

  • How custom developments are shaking up the VR market in Orlando
  • How to choose an effective realtor when buying or selling
  • Why some owners are finding it difficult to sell
  • The surprising inclusions needed to be competitive when selling a vacation home
  • What buyers need to look for in a vacation home
  • Why thorough research into niche markets can be a valuable time investment
  • The questions to ask a property management company
  • What you need to have in place even before you start looking
  • Some tips for independent owners going it alone in marketing and management

Erica is giving away two great downloads:

The Evaluation Spreadsheet – this allows you to select a property based on a variety of criteria and will help to find the best neighbourhood to get the highest ROI

10 Questions to Ask A Property Managerchoosing the right manager is key to rental success but there are a lot of pitfalls if the choice isn’t sound. Use these questions to aid the selection process.

Links to sites mentioned in this episode:

The Flamingo Group


Where you can find Erica:











VRS144 – What it really means to be an Airbnb host with Evelyn Badia

“Yes, I have dealt with missing guests, a broken door, two hurricanes and the never-ending laundry. I’ve been rewarded by getting to know the amazing people that have come to my home.  Yes, I still do all the cleaning!”

This is from Evelyn Badia’s About Me page on her website, and you may think it’s no different from many of us who manage our own vacation homes. There is a difference though.

Evelyn lives in the same house as her guests; shares the bathroom and kitchen with them; is there when they arrive at 2am after a long flight, and listens to them share their adventures after a long day in the city. She doesn’t make their breakfast, but may be in the kitchen while they are brewing up their coffee and eating their toast in the morning.

And yes, she has rules. As she explains in this episode, you have to set expectations and boundaries when hosting in this way. When guests are sharing your space there’s a lot to consider because they are there with their needs and wants and demands, which is a little different from getting a phone call to tell you the garbage truck didn’t pick up the recycling.

Evelyn has hosted 100’s of guests, many of whom are now repeats, but she says she you never forget the first. For her, it was a Professor named Ed.

After nearly an hour of talking with Evelyn I completely understood why her guests love her and her place. It was like finding a new best friend.

In this episode Evelyn shares:

  • The real differences between remote operations of a vacation rental and a traditional Airbnb host
  • What she loves about her guests, and a little of what she doesn’t
  • Why she likes hosting in this way
  • How important communication is before, during and after a guests’ stay
  • How she deals with difficult guests
  • Her pet peeve about home sharing
  • The basics of a comprehensive property manual
  • Her favourite organizational tools

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evelyn Badia.com

Airbnb Listing

The Hosting Journey (Facebook Group)


Where you can find Evelyn:













VRS143 – Getting Automated in Your Vacation Rental with Brad Huber

Technology has revolutionized the vacation rental business in ways you wouldn’t realize unless you have been involved in it for a couple of decades. From print catalogues, classified newspaper ads and road signs being the only way of communicating a listing, to mailing keys or hiding them under a flowerpot, the old ways of doing business have been mostly digitally replaced.

Nowadays we have a techno-solution to just about everything. We can automate our emails and newsletter output, connect with cleaners and property managers to monitor their progress, and take a booking within seconds of a guest finding your property.

The tech has moved onto complete home automation so that owners and property managers have control over access, heating, cooling and lighting, and a way to monitor for emergency situations such as flooding and freezing,

My guest in this episode is home automation expert Brad Huber, the CEO of Parakeet. We talk about the general adoption of technology throughout the vacation rental industry; the practical to bizarre applications of it, and how different systems can help owners and managers become more efficient as they create improved guest experiences.

Brad shares:

  • The three tops uses for home automation
  • How owners can benefit in a cost effective way from implementing these systems
  • Ways of retro-fitting, from self-installation to getting professional help
  • How we can detect a party-in-the-making (and don’t we all want to do that?!)
  • How you can stop worrying about your keys being copied
  • What you can do to get automated


Mentioned in this episode:


Technology for Airbnb Hosts

Where you can find Brad:











VRS142 – Building a Vacation Home on the Experience of 5 Years Vacation Rental Living with Lynne Martin


When I last interviewed Lynne Martin, she had just published her book, Home Sweet Anywhere, was excited about having an article featured in the Wall Street Journal, and had stayed in half a dozen vacation rental homes on their worldwide adventure.

Just over 2 years on, I wanted to catch up with Lynne and find out what’s been happening in the nomadic life she and her husband Tim have been leading.

And I found that not only has her best-selling book been published in 8 languages and now available on Audible, Lynne is now a bone fide journalist with a press pass, she is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Travel Advisor to Travel Smith and will shortly be seen on a TV ad with a major brand.

And that’s not all. She and Tim have just welcomed their first guests to their custom built vacation home in California – a property created to their criteria, developed from five years of living in vacation rentals.

In this interview Lynne shares:

  • The most memorable experiences of a five year trek around the world
  • Why a simple couch made such an impact
  • The practical tips she is now applying to her own vacation rental
  • 10 simple learning points brought back from a sea of experiences
  • The benefits of using staging and photography professionals
  • How she plans to manage the property when they get back on their travels
  • What’s next on the Martins’ adventure list

Sites mentioned in this episode:

Home Free Adventures

Travel Smith

Home Sweet Anywhere

Alanna Schroeder – The Distinguished Guest

Tyann Marcink – Photography

Where you can find Lynne:













VRS141 – The Ultimate Vacation Rental List of People and Companies to Follow


The ever popular mash-up with Matt is back again – this time with the list of companies and vacation rental experts we love.

Over the last year or so I’ve interviewed some great people, from established niche listing sites to tech startups to independent authorities on topics relevant to our business. Matt came up with the idea that we do a tag team episode on our favourites so off we went.

Tweet: An amazing list of #VacationRental companies and people to follow. Thx @CottageGuru @BookMoreNights http://ctt.ec/0OT7m+ Tweet: An amazing list of #VacationRental companies and people to follow. Thx @CottageGuru @BookMoreNights http://ctt.ec/0OT7m+


This is who we spoke about: [Read more…]

VRS140 – Consolidation and Convergence with Andrew McConnell of Rented.com


Having worked in the vacation rental industry for over 20 years, as an owner of multiple properties, and latterly as the CEO of a rental management agency, I know how easy it is to get mired in the detail and to lose sight of the big picture.

In the day-to-day running of any type of business, there’s a tendency to focus much more on the operational side of it, and leave the strategic management to a few days of planning once or twice a year.

The risk we all run by doing this, is when the time comes to poke your head above the parapet and see what’s going on, the industry may have moved on too far for us to catch up.

That’s why I follow Andrew McConnell of Rented.com, my guest in this episode.

Andrew is a former McKinsey consultant and founder of Vacation Futures, which he talked about in episode 27. In late 2012 in recognition of the convergent nature of the vacation rental industry – Andrew talks about the more in this episode – Vacation Futures was rebranded as Rented.com

I’ve been following Andrew’s insightful posts on the VRMA blog for several years as he explores the patterns and trends in the business, and when I saw his contributions on a couple of articles on Skift recently, realized we needed to have him on again, and ask about where this is all going.

In the interview we talk about the predictions for the global vacation rental market which suggest will be worth $170 billion by 2019, and what independent owners can do to maintain their position in it.

Andrew shared his thoughts on:

  • The market for self-managed homes and why there is still room to achieve success
  • Why the typical traveler isn’t differentiating between an Airbnb business stay or a traditional vacation rental – it’s all ‘accommodation’
  • What convergence means to the independent owner and how he/she can grow their business through an understanding of it
  • The five tactics owners must use to maintain a competitive position in the market
  • Regulations and the importance of getting proactive
  • The demise of Napster and its relevance to the sharing economy

Link to items we discuss in this episode:

Why the vacation rental industry is blowing up right now

The vacation rental industry is reaching a digital tipping point

Fighting restrictions in Seattle

The travel sharing economy is having its Napster moment right now

VRS Episode 027 (Guaranteed Vacation Rental Income Explained)

Ultimate Guide To Vacation Home Ownership 

Where you can find Andrew:









VRS139 – Conferences and why vacation rental business owners need to go to them



It looks pretty much like conference season at the moment, and while political conference are not my thing, I’m fascinated by the emotions they evoke and how enthusiastic and passionate the delegates are.

Our Vacation Rental Success Summit was a drop in the ocean compared to these massive events like the DNC and RNC and to another level, but equally as large and boisterous, Comicon.

But, size just doesn’t matter because regardless of the amount of attendees, and the surrounding razzmatazz, it’s what you come away with that makes it worth your while.

It’s the value for money you feel you have got; the connections you make; the amazing nugget of information that someone shared over dinner; and the knowledge that you invested focused time on learning when normally you might just skim a blog post or pay half-attention to a webinar.


The idea for VRSS came from the first Podcast Movement conference I went to in 2014. It came about as a Kickstarter project and the founders had no idea what a phenomena they would unleash when they got 300 passionate podcasters together at the initial event. This year there were around 1200 and my son and business partner Mike, was there to experience it.

Mike is not a podcaster although he will be at some time in the future. However, he manages the technical side of this podcast and does the promotion for it, which is a major part of the production, so he learned a lot about streamlining the process.

What really made the most impact was the structure and management of the event and how the organizers were able to retain the intimate feel of the original smaller event while maximizing the opportunities a larger conference can bring.

Take a look at this video from Podcast Movement 16 to see what Mike was attending.

Podcast Movement 2016 recap! from Podcast Movement on Vimeo.
In this episode Mike and I talk about the overall value of conference attendance, what we find the best aspects of them, and why we feel the return on investment is the biggest reason to go to at least one a year.


We discuss

  • Our favourite events of the last few years
  • The factors of the best conferences
  • How to justify the cost
  • Ways to evaluate what workshops you should attend
  • What to do when you get home & how to keep the networking going
  • The five takeaways you must have to know you’ve been to a successful event
  • 4 Events in 2016/17 you should consider attending


Links for conferences we recommend:

VRSS (Heather, Mike)

VRMA National Conference (Heather)

Home Away Summit

Airbnb Conference

Podcast Movement 17

Social Media Marketing World


Converted (Mike)