About the author: Alexa Nota is the vice president of VRM Intel, the vacation rental industry’s news source. She is also a freelance journalist and content writer covering all things property management, travel, wellness, and sustainability.
The inaugural Vacation Rental Women’s Summit is coming to New Orleans on February 19 and 20, 2019. Presented by VRM Intel and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA), the event will bring together hundreds of professionals for two days of learning, connecting, and growth with a focus on the challenges and opportunities women face in the vacation rental industry.
Headlining the Women’s Summit are recognized figures Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and Big Magic, and Lady Carnarvon, countess and guardian of Highclere Castle, the real-life Downton Abbey. Lady Carnarvon herself is a member of the vacation rental industry with holiday cottages on her estate.
“Our objective for this event is to bring the smartest and most influential women in the vacation rental industry together to inspire and empower attendees, encourage a sense of community, and discuss high-level topics specific to this unique audience,” Amy Hinote, founder of VRM Intel, said in a release. “We will also be offering opportunities for creativity, innovation, and discussion that have the potential to dramatically change the trajectory of our businesses; and we will be celebrating the pioneering women who helped build the vacation rental industry into the force that it is today.”
The vacation rental industry is a unique slice of the hospitality business sector. Many of the established property management companies that make up its foundation are owned and led by women, and many of the catalysts of its rapid growth over the past decade and into the next have been female entrepreneurs. Among the former are the summit’s pioneer award winners: Rae Sloane Cox of Sloane Realty Vacations in Ocean Isle Beach, NC; Bert Feinman of Sand ‘N Sea Properties in Galveston, TX; and Sheila Hodges of SH Enterprises in Gulf Shores, AL. Each of these women not only built industry-leading property management companies, they built the communities around them into sought-after destinations.
More recent pioneers include keynote speaker Leslie Preston who grew her business from one vacation home 15 years ago into Bachcare, the largest full-service property management company in New Zealand and Australasia with 2,000 properties. Executives Tina Weyand, chief product officer at HomeAway, and Marylynn Clark, president of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, will also be leading keynote presentations.
Though the event caters to vacation rental professionals, all sessions will provide valuable takeaways for women in any field, such as negotiation, funding, exit strategies, building an influential executive presence, navigating risk, workforce development and diversity, conflict management, balancing data with intuition, work–life balance, and leveraging time and technology.
One of the most anticipated sessions is a live pitch for venture funding for a female-founded business from a male-led investment firm. Attendees will be able to see what a real pitch presentation looks like, how they work, and what they can expect should they seek funding themselves, including the potential for “prevention” versus “promotion” questions and how to answer them.
Additionally, multiple sessions will cover vacation rental regulations and government relations, a particularly important topic in New Orleans with the city currently in a heated debate on short-term rentals.
Themed networking events will celebrate the keynote speakers as well as New Orleans itself. “We chose New Orleans as our host city not only for its attractiveness and ease of accessibility as a travel destination but also for its vibrant culture, food, and history that will provide attendees with an unforgettable experience,” said Hinote.
Networking events include a French Quarter Brunch sponsored by Kigo, Downton Abbey High Tea sponsored by HomeAway, Mardi Gras Cocktail Party sponsored by Red Sky Travel Insurance, Big Magic Break sponsored by Breezeway, Empowerment Breakfast sponsored by Streamline Vacation Rental Software, and the Eat Pray Love Lunch sponsored by CBIZ.
Additional sponsors include LiveRez, Malie Organics, Bluetent, TruPlace, Key Data Dashboard, InterCoastal Net Design, Generali Global Assistance, Yapstone, CiiRUS, Ascent Processing, Rentals United, Rented.com, Vacasa, Abodeca, Weatherby Consulting, Booking.com, and NAVIS.
Members of the New Orleans short-term rental, hospitality, and business communities are encouraged to attend. Registration is open at VacationRentalWomen.com until February 17 or until tickets run out.