Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk#12 – Good growth, VRMA, the wants and needs of Gen A and AI is growing up

Unless you’ve got your head buried in a big fluffy cushion protecting you from the world of LinkedIn, you’ll know that the US Vacation Rental Management Association has been in some turmoil.

As an industry matures, the organizations in a position to lead must mature alongside it. As that transformation and growth process does (or doesn’t) happen, there is inevitable fall-out and tension.

This is why the feedback loop is so crucial for all kinds of growth. It’s circular and should flow both ways. All leaders know that listening to your stakeholders, understanding their challenges, and responding accordingly is the key to good relationships and progress.

Based on the quite remarkably humble and candid email sent to members from the Chair of the VRMA Board yesterday, which showed a real willingness to listen and take on feedback, it looks like the association will be leading well into the future.

Good Growth

We’re deep in the spring conference season and last week, in London, was the UK STAA’s Short Stay Summit. A resounding success by all accounts. And truly International —1,300 industry folk from all over the world attended. One client told me they estimated that only about 25% of the visitors to their stand were from the UK. As a global PMS, they were delighted!

Which brings me to the question of what is good growth? This Summit was remarkable in its commitment to providing a sustainable experience for exhibitors and attendees. Everything from nonglue ‘loo roll,’ re-fillable hydration stations, water cartons not-bottles, and eco stands that not only looked fantastic but also made life easier for the exhibitors. No lugging of pull-ups and banners.

But good growth isn’t just about the ‘green stuff’ or being in step with the times. It’s really about how you build without imploding having royally pissed off your customers. It’s about keeping ‘experience’ at the core of what you offer. It’s a difficult path to traverse, but every hospitality provider across every land fundamentally understands this. It’s innate in their DNA.

What does Generation Alpha really want?

One particular talk at the Short Stay Summit has left me pondering long after the speaker left the stage. It was brave, and it was different. Ayleen Lehmann, aged 12, presented to a room full of hospitality operators what her generation, Generation Alpha, really want when they stay at a vacation rental. We are all consumers, and ‘guest experience’ is a common theme. But we rarely hear straight ‘feedback’ from a hospitality customer on a main stage. It was refreshing.

Ayleen articulated how much her generation wants (quite rightly) from a vacation rental and why the experience is so prized by her generation. She covered everything from feeling wanted and welcomed – no locked cupboards, automated check-ins for smooth access, space for connection as a family, and space to be apart. A sustainable property was at the top of her list. Providing good service goes beyond just a good booking experience, a nice property and clean linen. It entails listening.

The conversation about AI is growing up

Finally, we’re moving on from endless chat about Chat and how it can transform copy, remove three quarters of the workforce or just generally change the world in some undefined way.

We’re now discussing how AI is becoming the bedrock of much business. But what’s most interesting is that we are now talking about how the skills businesses need are changing.

On stage at the Summit, Steve Davis, CEO of Operto, best articulated where we are when he said, “Today, our dev teams are no longer playing in the orchestra. Today, they are the conductors.”

Finally….In Conversation

The Abode Worldwide team recorded interviews with ten industry leaders last week. You can view our ‘In Conversation’ series here. They are good (and short!)

Next stop for me in my own growth journey is the Vitur Summit in Malaga next week and then Scale the week after in Barcelona. See you there!


About me – I’m the CEO, and founder of Abode Worldwide, a public relations agency focused on raising the profile of technology solutions and operators, transforming the global lodging, hospitality and living sectors. We work across STR, hotels, multifamily, coliving, senior living and PBSA.

Pillow Talk is my ‘newsletter’ sharing musings, learnings, and insights about the pioneering lodging technology brands and operators transforming how we work, rest, and play. I hope you find this interesting. If not, there’s an unsubscribe button at the bottom.

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