It's the 1st of the Month! Tune in for our short and SUITE bonus episode series where we discuss news, upcoming events. trends, and anything of interest in the world of vacation and short term rentals.
We're at the VRMA Executive Summit this week in Palm Beach, Florida, moderated by the one-and-only Simon Lehmann. We have some BIG news to share today, so stay tuned to the end...you don't want to miss this announcement from Simon Lehmann and AJL Atelier.
CONTACT SIMON LEHMANN
Welcome back to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we are back today for the June 1 bonus episode of the month. And as we say, every month, it's just unbelievable that we're celebrating another first of the month episode. But here we are. And we've got some big, big news to share. So you'll want to make sure that you stay tuned to the end of this episode, just as a We've got a lot of exciting stuff to talk about today. Yeah, teaser. I will one. So this episode, of course, it is June 1, we are at the Eau Palm Resort for the vrma executive Summit. And so excited for this event. This is going to be Tuesday through Friday. And it is absolutely gorgeous. And it is going to be an excellent event. So basically the executive Summit. This is a smaller version of the vrma events that is just tailored to VP C level manager employees within an organization. And we're they go a little bit deeper into some of the topics that aren't always discussed necessarily at conferences or just in just in more detail. So we are going to be on site actually, this is part of one of our announcements, we're going to be on site to interview the brightest minds in the industry and get their take on this event. And so we've partnered with vrma, to be there for the event, we're going to be set up with our little chairs and a table and a banner that has Alex nanny and vrma on and we're super excited, and very appreciative of vrma, for agreeing to let us have this opportunity. So we're going to be down there and we can't wait to interview everybody. We've got a few planned but if you would like to give your take on the event, please just come up and find us. And we're so excited to just hear from everybody while we're there. Yeah. So I think the really neat thing about it is our friend Simon, he's going to be facilitating it. And we have said, I'm in Lehman. Simon Lehman already knows. I'm sorry. Yeah, we'll be he'll be the facilitator of the entire event. And we've gotten a sneak peek of the agenda. And the agenda is pretty, pretty robust. And I think it's good topics. It's timely topics. It's important information. And I think everybody's going to walk away with some really great ideas of how they make their business better. Yeah, absolutely. It's going to focus on the content on technology, mergers and acquisitions, business development operations. And as Simon says, the most important part, the human capital, that fuels the growth of each of these critical areas. So really excited, I think there's gonna be some great speakers and great panels and topics there. So that's going to be a great event. Besides that, looking back on the previous month, and what we have coming up for this month, we've been very busy. You know, we've had some really great episodes, I just most recently want to make sure everybody caught the one that came out last week with Marcus radar from host way. It was an incredible interview, I honestly, I still get chills by some of the information that he shared with us. He was just so insightful. And just I mean, candid and honest about what your companies go through when they're growing. And you're talking about the other side of that. It's not just about getting the money. It's not just about getting the investment. It's about learning from what you do wrong when you get that money, which is a really interesting tale, because we've seen that in a lot of businesses in our industry, but I don't know that everybody talks about it as candidly as he did. Yeah, I thought it was I thought was really telling about, you know, just the importance of making mistakes. And that, you know, you're gonna have to hire the wrong people in order to learn what the right people are like and what that right synergies are like with your staffing. So it was really I think it was really well received and very positive take on the industry. It wasn't just about the technology that his company is building, but what they are trying to do to change your businesses run. So it was really great. And I appreciated his honesty and willing to share kind of the mistakes that he's made along the way and the learnings and we talked about the importance of planting seeds and, and your statement of return on luck. It's you know, luck is all about planting those seeds along the way. So that's kind of I think, our new mantra. Yeah, yeah. It definitely is when you don't you don't realize it at the time and you know, it's funny we actually so Andy and I went on will slickers show, we just recorded that, and slick, slick talk hospitality. And he asked us about that interview, he said, You know, when have you and Annie planted seeds in your past that you now see come into fruition? And it's really easy to think of one when we first met at OPMA atma conference, which was, I think, three or four years ago, about the same time a year. And very similar in concept as the executive Summit. We're about to go to that we when we first met there, we had no idea that this was what was going to turn up all these years later, but
That was a seed that was planted that you never
did make us admit that we were women that our know. I mean, every seed that you put in the ground, every conversation and every person that you talk to, it all comes to fruition and all comes full circle, when you start seeing you'd have that for you can look back and tell how you're connecting those dots. Yeah, and I again, I think it was just it was really wonderful to have somebody of his level and his stature within the industry common just sort of just throw everything out on the table, like, the mistakes is lessons I've learned, these are the things that people can learn along the way. So it was great. And I know the comments that I've seen and received it, it was well received. And we hopefully will have more of those types of interviews. And then prior to that, we had Tracy Johnstone from McDonald's, who again, she's a hometown person, for me, a great conversation about women coming up in business and kind of the importance of uplifting your teams. And, and showing them that there is as she said, there's a there's a button to your elevator, and there should never be a Down button. And just I think it was it was, again, outside of our day to day not vacation rentals, not the traditional hotel area that we would talk about. But I think that's what we want to do is we want to diversify and offer pieces of hospitality because it is a pretty broad topic. So I would say to anybody listening, and anybody that is interested in a topic, let us know, because we want to bring these type of stories and these type of conversations to people because there we can learn from all of these leaders, regardless of what part of the industry that they're in. Yeah, I agree with that. And, you know, when we first started the show, that is something that we identified right away was that we weren't just going to bring people from specifically from vacation rentals or short term rentals that we wanted to talk to people outside of the industry, you know, whether completely outside of the industry or kind of in more on the outskirts, but similar to what two has somehow related to hospitality, but maybe different than who normally comes on these shows. But I think we've done a good job of diversifying like that. But yeah, Tracy is anybody interested in leadership and growing a business and learning from amazing corporate standards like she did with McDonald's, and then really overcoming adversity and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and made the decision to sell her McDonald's empire. And now on the other side of that she is doing great, and she's healthy, and the treatments are working. And now she's taking this new chapter of life as her time to give back to people like Annie and I and our listeners that she wants to come out and speak and just be a mentor for women and anybody in business or not in business, but that needs somebody to help them. So she she was great, very appreciative of her time to come on the show with us, too. Yeah, yeah. And that kind of segues nicely into someone that we just recently interviewed. Marva. Ashmore, AK, she's the CEO of hopefully, and just a what a what a empowered woman who is empowering other women, and we got into a really great conversation with her episode is going to come out next week. But I wanted to just give her a congratulations, her team, they just got $4 million in seed funding. Yeah, yesterday or last week. And that's just that's just incredible. And so I know that she talks about in the episode some of the challenges of being a woman, you know, being a female CEO, and, and how that all plays out. And so this is a woman with a lot of drive and determination and tenacity to get it done. Yeah. And just again, just could not be more happy for her and her team. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that episode will be out next week, and just really gives a different side of what you what she has been through or what women go through when they are in these fundraising rounds. And in traditionally, meetings where it hasn't in the past normally been a woman that's out pitching at this level, but I think things Things are changing quite a bit on that, on that side. And I think investors are looking to invest in women run businesses. But beyond that, I mean, she's an incredible woman, no matter where she was a woman, really. But she does an amazing job. And I think what she brings to the table talking about just the challenges of she's, she's a mother and you know, she has a very busy life with her family and how she balances that and how she takes that empathy and learning and applies it to her business and to the people that work for her. So yeah, another incredible leader. And at the end of the day, that's probably we've said this before, that's the best part of the show is just talking to these people and being able to hear these stories that it's so uplifting. I mean, it is definitely the highlight of our day or week whenever we record people like this because it's just it really shows you what leadership should be. And that is, these are five star leaders. Yeah, absolutely. And we just had the good fortune to go on another podcast in your market. Yeah. Today that'll come out sometime in the next couple of weeks. June 9 comes out. Okay. Yeah. So and what is it called the women women your mother warned you about I don't mothers warned us about? know why they wanted Annie and I on there. They didn't make us think
Yeah, that was the first question. But mother, it was a good conversation with other women. And again, they're not even in our business. They're their sales trainers. Yeah, coaches, and just a great conversation and really dynamic personalities. And I think the, what we have learned from this podcast is that the more opportunities present themselves and the more conversations that we have, and just having the front row seat to some of these things. And again, I saw the article about Margo, and Hostfully yesterday and it just made me so excited for her and, you know, anything that affects me, you know, day to day, but could not be more proud to know, all of these people that we have interviewed who are doing really great things, not just for vacation rentals, but for hospitality or their business. And then they're sharing it with us. And again, I think all the things that we're learning just personally and professionally, it's just been, it's been such a blessing and such a great again, more seeds planted. So yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, very exciting. We want to let's, let's share, let's share, we've got a couple reviews that we wanted to share. So this one is in reference here. This is from Terry White, and I think Terry listens to the show pretty frequently, which we love. Thank you so much, Terry, for your support. He really loved the episode that we had with Ed St. Onge, I don't know how anybody could not like. He's amazing. This was episode 28. And Terry wrote on our site, five stars, you don't want to miss this one. And it's short and sweet. He says 'this is this one is going to be hard to beat". So thank you, Terry. And he's right, that is gonna be a hard one. We're gonna we've set the bar high with that. But I think a nice thing. And Terry, if you're listening, which I believe you probably are, we want to have you on to talk about, because I believe you're now going to be working with Ed and Flipto. Yeah. So we would love to get your take. And maybe you can talk about it from a vacation rental perspective down the road, I did actually reach out to Terry to ask him to be on our show and asked him if he was going to be at the executive Summit. And he's not, but he does want to come on. He's very open to doing it. So I think we give him some time to get through the summer and settle down and have him on. Yeah, that would be great, I think to have him come on and tell his experience about how it's been working with flip to him. And that's been a super exciting part of the show, too. It's just connecting our listeners to the people that Andy and I do business with. And yeah, there's just a lot of opportunities there. And we're always open to if anybody has questions on different types of software vendors. Anything we we know, we know a lot of people within the space that cater to both enterprise level businesses as well as small businesses. So we are happy to make recommendations gerar and weed another really great review. And this is somebody at first I didn't know who it was. And then we finally figured out who it was it was just it just made it made made us both smile, but five stars, "two of the best. I've had the honor of getting to know these two giants in our industry. And I'm impressed with how good this pod is, how great they are and how great they are in person. Annie and Alex are two of the most knowledgeable innovators in our business. And it's so cool to watch them crush something new. And that is from Ben Coleman. He is with Wheelhouse and he has turned out to be one of our just greatest friends in the industry. And what a what a personality He is awesome. I'm so glad that you, you introduced me to him. When we were at the Women's Conference, he was one of the few guys that were down. And we went to dinner and kind of we got went to that oyster place we had the most oysters I've ever seen in my entire life for like four people, but we ate them all. And he talked my ear off that night. But we we had a ball. He is just such a, he's he's such a dynamic personality. I mean, he has so much energy. And he's just just a lot of fun and very smart, amazing in the revenue space. And just he's done so many different types of businesses really entrepreneurial. So super interesting talking to him. And Ben we appreciate you so much. And just for anybody who has left a review, we've got quite a few of them now, actually. And just thank you, we really appreciate it. If anybody else wants to share any feedback, we'd love to hear it. Any suggestions on content or people you'd like us to interview? Let us know. You know, we we've got a list of a lot of people coming up. But we're, we can add more people to it. So yeah. And speaking of kind of what's coming up, we obviously we've got Margo out next week. We've got a few other people lined up, but we are going to do a special with a previous guests that we had to talk about hurricane preparedness. So that's one thing that Alex and I both have had, unfortunately too many, too many experiences and having to be prepared and a lot of learnings come from it. And I think it's never it's never a bad time to talk through that how you're going to communicate to your guests or to you know, that's it just important. So I think we want to share that and have the conversation. Yeah, and we're blessed here and any I would imagine it's the same in your area too. But our chamber and CVB are very active in helping businesses prepare ahead of time too. And like there's all sorts of different classes and things that they put together to make sure everybody has that checklist. And it's not just to be truly prepared that and you're never totally prepared, the checklist is actually much more robust than you would have thought. And I know every year that we went through five years in a row and Myrtle Beach, that we either had a hurricane or a major water slash flood event, right. And the water events were worse than the hurricane or hurricanes that we had. And everyone's different. But getting that list of items that you need to have ahead of time from marketing and operations perspective is so crucial to keeping things running as smoothly as they possibly can. But you know, Annie, what you went through Hurricane Michael, you went through the absolute worst of it. But I think that's the information that we're going to share in this episode. I don't want to spoil it too much. It really lays out what teams need to be thinking about before you get to that point. And I mean, June is Hurricane month. So that's why we thought it was timely to bring that content this month. But we'll stop on that. We don't want to don't want to ruin it. But that's going to be a good episode. And I think that'll be very helpful for people, especially for managers that we've got a lot of people that listen to the show that they have bought short term rental properties that they don't live in those markets, they have teams that operate their housekeeping and their guest services and stuff. And there's they probably have never been through a hurricane of hope to God, we don't have to go through and knock on wood. But it's never too late to be prepared. I just will say this as a side, there is a company that is national and has an inventory in many, many markets. And when Hurricane Michael hit, I had friends that were working for that that organization, and they left to the team here in the market kind of out hanging in the wind, literally, they were very helpful. And and there was not a lot of communication to guess a lot of a lot of communicating communication to the owners. And I think again, it it just speaks to you have to have a plan that's going to work with every market because every market is different with Hurricane Michael, we had a total, complete catastrophic breakdown of just infrastructure. We had no water, we had no power, we had no cell phone. I mean, it was really just back to I think Tracy talked about on her episode, just going back to the Stone Age, we had to go back to the rudimentary communication with people and getting outside of our area to be able to communicate with people outside of our area. So there's a lot of learnings that we've all taken from that. So again, an important episode and hope everybody will listen to that one. Yeah, yep. Well, without further ado, I think we need to share our big news, Annie. Yeah, so so big news. So here at the executive Summit, and honestly, all of this kind of fell into place. timing wise, we didn't really plan at all to happen this way. But again, planting seeds it just does. We are very excited to have our first sponsor of the show. Come on. Simon Lehmann himself, the moderator of the vrma, Executive summit and pioneer and as we call them on our Episode Episode, four with with him, the renaissance man of vacation. That's really what he is. Simon Lehmann and ajl Atelier are coming on as our sponsor for the first of the month bonus episode. And what this is going to be going forward and you're gonna see the first part of it here in just a minute is on the first time on bonus episode, Simon is going to come on and talk to us for five to 10 minutes about something interesting going on in the industry and if anybody has a pulse on what's going on it Simon so we are very excited to have him participate in the show. And let's let's let's just let's let's start it up let's do it all right, all right, here we go. This is Simon says yeah, so again, super excited about this. We've been working with Simon for a couple of years now created a great friendship. He's been a mentor to both of us and so we have asked him to be part of our first of the month episode it will be called Simon Says and Simon is going to share with us every month something like a nice nugget of either information or what people should be looking out for the for the upcoming months. But I think for this episode is having has something special that he wanted to share for our listeners.
Absolutely. So first of all, we're super excited to support the brand and everything you do Annie and Alex for our industry also with your podcast, and we like to be early movers as well and being blonde myself as well as my wife Christina being blonde. I think we felt this is a perfect match for us. Together do do for us to support you guys and and do this journey together. In terms of the assignment says of course we're not going to put our hands on the head we have far more interesting things to do. We want to give some outlooks and you know, we call ourselves critical thought leader as AJL We see certain things that we want to make predictions on, and keep people up to date on what we're seeing also strength coming towards us. So in terms of announcements, maybe there is a couple of things we can quickly talk about. Or you want to talk about the VRMA executive later. So next week, we're actually we're moderating the VRMA executive in Palm Beach, in Florida, which I'm extremely excited about. And the program is going to be absolutely mammoth in relation to strategic planning, and in terms of resources, human capital, we talk a lot about that as well. We talked about m&a, we talk about financial hygiene, how important that is to have the books in order, and many other amazing topics. And, and the lineup of the attendance is absolutely mind boggling. And I'm really looking forward to be amongst some of the most influential leaders in the vacation rental industry and moderate that conference, which should be absolutely phenomenal. In addition to that, we are also expanding our footprint in the United States, which means we are announcing a cooperation with an investment bank and m&a firm advisory firm called Raincatcher. Based out of Denver, Colorado, we've had several conversations for a while, we see that the m&a activities in the industry are getting more active. And we feel that with our expertise that we bring to the table combined us as an industry leader and an ratcatcher as an investment bank, I think it's an absolutely incredible winning compilation, we share very similar values and the way we conduct business, we see ourselves as the bridge between the property management company and the potential future. And this is not just focusing on making transaction transaction transactions transactions. We know as something like that is far more complex. When you consider an exit, you know, what is my succession plan? And who do I have to take over that business with? Is there somebody I have in my own range? Do I want to sell it? Do I own a management buyout, I want to stay on board, but I don't want to carry the entire risk. So maybe I want to have a few shares sold and still stay on. So there's a lot of different things and and they need understanding of the individual they need understanding of the human capital people's needs. And and this is not just about coming in making a transaction. This is about understanding the person requirements, needs and plans, and try to match that with what are the solutions out there for a potential exit for a potential merger and other acquisition. So it's more financial advisory in the grand scheme of things than just advising on exiting and bases in the classical m&a form. Raincatcher is focusing on small and medium businesses in the United States. And that's the, that's what we liked about them. Because the type of businesses that they transact with are very similar in terms of their origin, their family owned or privately owned, they've been built with blood and sweat, there's a total different commitment of these people towards that asset. And that needs to be taken in consideration. And people need to be made aware of that. And that needs a different way of transacting business like that than just looking at it from a clear investment banking m&a standpoint, when a large organization they want transactions, we want to build relationships and help those people to find the best solution for their exit, whatever that might be. And that is extremely exciting. We've built our brand over time now in the United States. And for us to find rank capture as the ideal partner. Also, what I said before the relationship to value and how we value people and how we value, the industry has been a perfect match. And for us, we're very excited at AJL to have this cooperation with Raincatcher, which is Jason Thomas, the COO, and Marla DeCarlo, the CEO, great bunch of people, we've already working on a couple of transaction as we speak, which is fantastic. And we're really looking forward to bringing this this matchmaking team, to the table and to the industry and and do more in the future.
This is so exciting. First of all, congratulations, Simon and congratulations to all the team at ajl atellier. you've kind of been teasing that something was coming for a while now. So we've just been waiting to know and we're so excited to be able to release that information here today on the show. But I want to just a question for you. So how do businesses How will businesses engage with you if you're a small company that you want to buy other companies? How what is that going to look like from a relationship standpoint? Do they start that relationship with ajl? And then Raincatcher is working in step with you to help identify the businesses or are you leveraging more your experience and relationships to know what direction they need to go in?
Absolutely. Great question Alex. And I think it's actually both But I think primarily it is people approaching us and say, Hey, Simon, we need help, can you help us in potentially executing the business or whatever the cause might be help to clean up the financials get ready for an exit in a year to build some more traction before you want an exit. And that's a nice combination, because we bring the consulting piece to the to the table where we can actually help people to get there before the transaction actually takes place. So this is a great combination, but we would feel in relation to rain catcher that we're, we're coming in first, because we have the relationship we have, we you know, we have the brand in in our industry, and we have the recognition for the speaking engagements and other things we do in industry. So we will build that initial piece of the relation. But interesting to see, the transaction that which is currently doing in one of the urban markets United States is that when rain catcher comes on board, it happens very fast that this relationship will go over to rain catcher as well, while we're overseeing the process, we make sure expectations are being met, timelines are being met. And then it becomes sort of a blend of who's doing what within the transaction. And we obviously know the market on the buy side very well as well. So we've come back, we're bringing the sell side and the buy side together. And rain catcher is sort of the connecting piece in the middle to actually run the transaction, make sure to financial analysis in order that, that the documentation that we're using for the market is great. We're all the support that documentation as well for selling the business, but there's a lot of other steps in in the beginning. And let us remember one thing we our industry is built on trust, deep down, right. And that also starts with somebody who wants to sell his business he needs to trust the person. Is he capable? Do I trust him? Can you do what I'm what I'm expected. So this relationship is starts right at the beginning. And we see ourselves more material in that part of the of the transaction when entering catch is really has a lot of expertise in building a solid process of getting a transaction done in the best possible fashion with the best possible outcome for the seller as well.
I love the way that just knowing you, you've done this very methodically, you've done it over time. It's something that I know you've been wanting to do for quite a long time is get a footprint in the US, I think that you took the time and you vetted out a partner that was going to be the best strategic fit for you. So we're completely thrilled to be part of this and so excited for what is yet to come. And just and again, just thank you so much for joining Alex and I on this journey. And we can't wait to see what's next for ajl.
Thank you so much, Annie and I highly appreciate that maybe as a last piece of information to everyone else out there in the industry might be interesting to know is that Raincatcher was an inbound and that made us even more flattered. While we were looking for solutions out there and trying to say how can we combine our expertise for with investment banking and m&a experience. Raincatcher came to us and said, Hey, if we want to come into this market, we want to work with AJL because that will be a great combination. So that makes it even stronger for us. Well, we've been looking at and having different conversations, the inbound interest shown us that we're on the right track in building relationships and and, and trustworthy relationships and a reputation industry. And we're really looking forward to bring this to the next level. Thank you so much for having me. And I'm looking forward to supporting you both with your podcast going forward as well.
That's so awesome. I think we've we've tried to debate how we were going to bring sponsors on and we wanted to be creative with what we're doing. And so I think that Simon is fitting exactly into the creative aspect of what we're looking to do and share. And I think the nuggets that he's going to provide along the way are going to be great for everybody. He's announcing, obviously his relationship with Raincatcher, which is a game changer for ajl coming into the US and so we're just really excited to be part of it. So thank you, Simon. And thank you ajl. Yeah, thank you, Simon and ajl we appreciate the the partnership as Alex, Nanny brand partner of the first of the month bonus episode. And Annie, we've got to get off to the conference. We've got a lot of interviews to do and people to talk to and run it around as we always do these things. So if for anybody that's here, we can't wait to see you. If not, we'll have to see what the next event. In the meantime, if you'd like to contact Annie and I you can go to Alex and Annie podcast.com If you're listening to the show, be sure to subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Pandora, any any and every possible podcast app is out there we are there. So look us up, and we will see you next time. Thanks everybody.
CEO/Co-Founder AJL Atelier
Simon is one of the world’s foremost experts on short-term rental and vacation rental. He leads AJL Atelier, a specialised vacation rental and business consultancy while also advising multiple companies as Board Member and Executive Chairman.
A sough-after speaker, panellist and moderator, Simon loves to broach high-level and technical topics alike, from the future trends of short-term rental to the specifics of online distribution in the top 5 OTAs.
Previously, Simon was the Co-Founder & Chairman of Vacasa Europe, former President of PhocusWright and ex-Board member of HomeAway, to name but a few. He’s also an accomplished operator, having led Interhome as CEO, Hotelplan Group as Deputy CEO and Swissport as EVP.