Hold on Tight: Tech Stacks are the New Norm

Adam Norko
Adam Norko

August 14, 2019

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Ferris shared these words of wisdom waaaaay back in 1986. Life is moving much faster these days! 

It's amazing how much is changing, and how fast these changes are coming at us. We are continuously dodging and weaving, trying to make the best decisions with rapidly flowing information. The scope and pace of this change is becoming very evident in property management; especially in short-term rentals. 

Let's cherry-pick one recent example of rapid maturation in vacation rentals - the inaugural VRM Intel Data & Revenue Management Conference this past month (great work Amy Hinote). Not only does the VRMA International Conference seem to have record attendance every single year, but now, a specific topic within the industry can sell-out its own conference. That says a lot about how far we have come.

I've been knee-deep in the VRM industry for 10+ years, and whole-heartedly agree with Simon Lehman (the conference MC) when he said that there's been more change in the last 6 months than in the prior decade. With this change comes great opportunity...but only if you're willing to adapt. The vacation rental industry has been pushing for "all-in-one" software solutions for a long time, but the changes that are sweeping through the industry have updated this vision. 

These days, we pretty much 'tech stack' everything in our lives...and your property management business is no different. In fact, the need for specialized tools is becoming more pronounced.  Last week HomeAway announced it will sunset V12 - and I'd argue this could demonstrate a seismic crack in the all-in-one grand plans.

Even more telling is the collective voice of the industry. Steve Milo recently pulled together industry leaders to form the Vacation Software Advisory Group. This group met at the above-mentioned conference, and advocates for an open API to enable the following interconnected technology: 

  • Reservation Systems (formally known as PMS)
  • Website
  • Distribution (i.e. Channel Management)
  • Operations
  • CRM
  • Pricing (i.e. Yield Management)

The fragmentation of the industry's technology is another sign of maturation, and the collective "we" is taking this maturation very seriously. Revenue management is amazingly complex and offers a huge opportunity for growth. But I think we can all agree that client experience (guests and homeowners) is the core of hospitality, and that operations is the backbone that makes great experiences possible. 

In order for the short-term rental industry to continue to mature, the industry must tighten vacation rental operations. Guests and homeowners will not return to properties with sub-par experiences. High-quality reviews will not be left for low-quality experiences. Guests know great operations - either we collective rise to meet these expectations or we fail as the next-great hospitality option.