Top Takeaways from ELEVATE 2024 Breezeway's Property Operations Summit

Lizzie Griffin
Lizzie Griffin

March 29, 2024

ELEVATE 2024 was our biggest event yet! We had big goals going into ELEVATE 2024, and are thrilled to say that this year’s event exceeded our expectations. While this was our 4th annual ELEVATE conference, it was the first year with a third day of sessions!

Over these three days, we embarked on a journey filled with 27 educational sessions hosted by over 70 expert panelists that brought together early 2,000 professional operators from around the world, spanning more than 15 countries. We want to thank all the speakers who participated in ELEVATE this year for sharing their expertise and energy with attendees and everyone who joined for sharing a part of their day with us! We continue to be amazed by this community and what we can accomplish together.

The goal of ELEVATE is to provide you with thought-provoking discussions that will continue to drive the hospitality industry forward. We covered everything from high-level topics like how to differentiate your company amongst increased competition and reshaping the hospitality landscape to tactical advice on developing sustainable preventative maintenance programs and leveraging best practices around deep cleaning.

In case you missed it, we’ve captured some of the top takeaways from each day in this article, and you can access the recordings to watch any of the full sessions that you need to hear more from!

ELEVATE Day 1 Takeaways

1. Differentiate your brand and exceed guest expectations with customer service frameworks like FORD.

In the opening session, Founder and Chief Revolution Officer, John DiJulius III of The DiJulius Group joined us as our keynote speaker to share tips on how to leverage the guest experience as your company's single biggest competitive advantage.

DiJulius spoke to customer service frameworks like FORD that can help differentiate your brand and exceed guest expectations. FORD stands for family, occupation, recreation, and dreams and emphasizes the importance of getting to know your guests. If you get to know your guest’s FORD and what they care about you can better understand what they’re looking for and provide an experience that no other competitor can replicate.

2. Communicate with guests, staff, and homeowners why there is a need for safety measures.

The safety of your vacation rentals and how you maintain your properties to keep guests safe is not something that can be avoided. We don’t always like to think about the dangers or concerns that can happen at vacation rentals, but as an industry, it’s something that we have to address. Panelist, Sarah Karakaian of Thanks for Visiting, emphasized, “For me not knowing couldn’t be an excuse.”

The safety session, moderated by Breezeway’s Head of Safety, Justin Ford, highlighted the importance of establishing vacation rental safety protocols and developing a communication strategy for existing property owners and integrating safety into the onboarding process for new homeowners who align with your safety vision. Both panelists agreed that operators should showcase the work being done not only to guests so they can be confident in their choice of rentals but to owners so they understand they are working with a professional who cares about the properties they manage.

3. Create SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Dave Roberts and Terry Gore from Outer Banks Blue shared actionable tips on creating goals to drive efficiency. These tips included how to implement SMART goals, setting metrics that correspond with these goals, and their framework for increasing work productivity and how they track results.

Setting goals is only the first part of the process. Getting buy in from your team and clearly communicating ways to achieve these goals is equally as important. Next, regularly reviewing goals and being willing to change them as you learn what works for your company and employees will help teams adopt the new processes and ensure ongoing success of the program.

By incorporating these simple operational adjustments, Outer Banks Blue experienced a remarkable 20% increase in work order completion.

4. Don't miss out on upsell opportunities - concierge services aren't just for luxury properties.

Rachel Alday of Abode Luxury Rentals and Nir Maimon of Maimon Group highlighted that concierge services are not just for luxury properties and can be used as a revenue driver to delight guests. Panelists agreed that vetting partners are essential to finding success with this additional revenue channel and helps build trust with guests.

Here are tips from the panelists on concierge services to start with:

  • Offer mid-stay cleaning services - easy to implement without having to vet new partners.
  • Grocery shopping pre-arrival - this can easily be done through services like Instacart where groceries are left at the front door, but to make it more luxury have someone from your staff actually go into the home and stock the fridge.
  • In-home private chef or spa services - think of typical hotel experiences like dining and spas and how you can adapt it at your properties.


5. Increase efficiency with weekly focuses for your cleaning & housekeeping teams.

During our session on "Innovations in Deep Cleaning: Simplifying Practices for Efficiency" Jonathon Wicks of Well & Good Professional Services, Alex Kachkar of Muskokoa Cottage Management, and Nick Curtis of 360 Blue shared insights and best practices around deep cleaning, including how often they perform deep cleans. Historically, deep cleans would typically happen during off-season or large gaps in reservations, but as the industry evolves, so do cleaning best practices.

Today these cleaning experts are conducting higher-level standard cleans with weekly cleaning focuses, for example, baseboards one week and cabinets and drawers the next. This way everything that’s visible to the guest gets cleaned at least every few weeks and deep cleans are reserved for tasks that include moving furniture, like under rugs or behind appliances.

ELEVATE Day 2 Takeaways

1. Regulations happen quickly, and operators can prepare by proactively compiling documentation and records.

To kick off day two of ELEVATE, both Tiffany Edwards of Coletta Consulting and Dru Brown of Island Time Hilton Head discussed smart ways you can be ready for future regulations - compile resources like tax records, records of owner-occupied nights, property data in Breezeway to show how you take care of the units and how many times you’re in the units.

Almost everyone in the industry has been affected by vacation rental regulations in recent years and should expect these to keep coming. Regulation might sound scary but not every regulation is cause for alarm. You have to pay attention to know what regulations will be a big risk and what will not, not every regulation will be your downfall. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be aware of what’s happening in your local market and form local alliances so that you can be involved in setting the standards for our industry and implementing fair regulations.

2. Give guests an experience they will want to tell their friends about.

In the session about brand identity, the panelists talked about not only creating memorable experiences, but also encouraging guests to be advocates and proactively ask for reviews, quotes, testimonials, and encouraging repeat direct bookings.

Here are a few tips from the panelists on how to increase direct bookings:

  • Getting the fundamentals right - make sure your brand is consistent across your website, email, social media, etc.
  • Leveraging user-generated content (UGC) - get guests to be advocates. Ask for reviews, quotes, and testimonials, word of mouth is the best advertising you can do.

“People don’t write reviews because you were competent, that’s expected, give them an experience they will want to go out and tell their friends about.” - Alex Husner, Directly Alex

3. The right operational KPIs should be shared with your team and used as incentives to drive high efficiency.

Operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the industry have been collected manually up to this point. Now with new tech in the industry businesses can actually track operational tasks, set KPIs, and report on efficiency.

Several sessions and panelists across the conference discussed the importance on not only collecting operational data, but also sharing it with your team. You can then use the data to reward teams and showcase the value of their work or give feedback and additional training. Showing the data also makes feedback to teams or individuals less personal, and shows there’s no favoritism, it’s just about the end results with the guest’s experience.

4. Utilize gap night messaging to boost revenue.

Modern guest communication goes beyond traditional methods like email and phone. Ensuring guests have access to crucial information requires adopting an omni-channel strategy, enabling them to engage through their preferred method. Whether through text messages, welcome books or 24/7 support, creating multiple touchpoints throughout the guest journey is crucial for delivering top-notch 5-star guest experiences.

In our session about guest communication, Travis Gibbon of Island Rentals of Hilton Head revealed how they’ve leveraged Breezeway’s gap night messaging to drive new revenue. He shared his secrets on timing (4 days before the stay begins and 2 days before the stay ends) and the offer (25% off). They’ve seen some really exciting results, and their owners are thrilled.

5. Framework for hard conversations with owners: Acknowledge, Educate, and Solve.

Managing owner expectations has become increasingly challenging in the post-covid landscape. Many owners invested in rental properties during covid and now expect occupancy and revenue to stay as high as it was during this boom. Addressing the trends of the industry head-on to reset owner expectations is crucial for managing and maintaining these relationships.

Luckily, our session with Jodi Refosco of Timber Rock Village, Kerrie Racicot of Tahoe Truckee Vacations, Brian Olson of Beachcomber Vacation Homes, and Greg Petrillo of Pocono Mountain Rentals had some great actionable advice about creating frameworks for helping set expectations with owners and approach tough conversations. Acknowledge - “I hear you”. Educate - “show data” and. Solve - “if and when the problem is solvable.”

ELEVATE Day 3 Takeaways

1. New Product: Upsells - Coming Soon

In case you missed it, we announced our latest product: Upsells!

Unlock a new revenue stream with Upsells—designed to monetize and automate guest offers. Integrated seamlessly with our welcome book or available as a standalone feature, Upsells empowers you to discover the full potential of your properties while delivering top-notch guest experiences.

With Upsells, you’ll be able to drive more revenue, monetize early check-in, extra linens, and guest experiences. Guests don’t need to download a new app - it’s easy to use via a secure link or in the Breezeway guide. And, you’ll have complete control to approve upsells directly in Breezeway.

2. New Product: Payments

Breezeway Payments offers a seamless solution for paying your cleaners right within the Breezeway platform.

Easily pay your cleaners with Breezeway Payments. Say goodbye to waiting for invoices – and tie payments to completed tasks. With Payments, all your payment and task history is managed in one place.

Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Centralized Payment Insights: Access all payment details in one place.
  • Quick Overviews: View outstanding payments, recent history, and pending actions instantly.
  • Simplified Actions: Complete tasks without navigating multiple pages.
  • Boosted Efficiency: Streamline payment processes for increased productivity.

The best part is, Payments is live now - Admins and Supervisors can turn this feature on in settings. Start paying your team using Breezeway!

3. Operations is still at the core of what we do at Breezeway

It’s no secret… you have a hard job! Getting work done is hard. You work with a lot of people - staff, vendors, owners, and guests - And across a portfolio of unique properties.

That’s why Breezeway is designed to help you store unique property information and standardize complex work. We’re not only working on new products, but we’re also focused on improving the features you already know and love in Breezeway Operations. We’re constantly updating features like advanced scheduling, automated workflows, and more personalization in templates to help make your job a little bit easier.

Interested in learning more? Access the full session recordings to hear all of the takeaways from ELEVATE 2024!