April 19, 2023

2023 Update: Markets, Revenue, Bookings & More with Melanie Brown of Key Data

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For today’s episode, we talk to Melanie Brown. Melanie is the Director of Data and Analytics at Key Data, the leading analytics and benchmarking company for the vacation rental industry. Melanie has a strong background in data-driven decision-making. She is excited to help property managers and destinations around the world better understand their data.

Key Data is the leading provider of trusted, real-time short-term rental market data around the world. Key Data Dashboard was created BY property managers FOR property managers. They offer an ensemble of business intelligence (BI) tools that tell the story of your company’s key metrics with easy-to-grasp dashboards of the 30-plus KPIs that are most important to you. Seamless PMS integrations provide trusted and anonymous data exchange with competitors in your local and regional markets.

Tune in to our latest episode to learn how Key Data tools can help you better understand your vacation rental data and stay ahead of the competition!

Highlights of the Episode:
01:45 - Guest Introduction: Melanie Brown
04:10 - Ahead of the hotel sector on the availability of data
11:41 - Key Data in relation to pricing tools
15:25 - Trends shown by the data
17:50 - Status of available units
19:30 - Comparing markets
22:45 - Why some destinations are not doing well
29:30 - Markets that are not on dynamic pricing
31:39 - One key tip for property managers
35:38 - Big things on the horizon (What’s next?)
37:18 - Companies that have properties in multiple markets
39:37 - How hotels are using Key Data

Connect with Melanie:

Website|LinkedIn (Key Data)|LinkedIn (Melanie Brown)|Youtube|Twitter

This episode is brought to you byCasago,Guest Ranger, andGood Neighbor Tech

VisitAlexAndAnniesList.comto view our top picks for the best suppliers in vacation rental technology and services. 

Special thanks toRev & Researchfor being the presenting sponsor of Alex & Annie’s List.

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[00:00:00]Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we are joined today with Melanie Brown, who is the executive DIR Director of Data Insights for Key Data. Melanie, welcome to the show. Thank you so much, Alex. Happy to be here. Yeah, we're excited to have you here.

We've been longtime fans of key data in both roles Annie and I currently have and previously had and have just enjoyed working with your team over the years and getting to see your presentations at conferences too. And, you know, not everybody gets to go to the conferences, so we thought today would be a great day to have you come in and share some of the things that, that you're seeing across the many markets that you monitor.

But before we. Started, can you give our audience just a little bit of background on who you are and, and what your experience has been within vacation? Yeah, so I joined the Key Data Team in 2018. It[00:01:00]was my first introduction to vacation rentals. Previously, I was doing a lot of data and analytics helping translate that data into actionable decision making items for people.

And it's been really, it's been a wild ride in the vacation rental world. 2018 and such, like an interesting time to kind of join it from a tech and data perspective. As both the industry has grown, like the sophistication of those involved in the industry has grown. And so it's been, it's been really cool to be a part of.

Within Key Data, my team tracks a lot of trends in the space. We do a ton of presentations. We build a ton of presentation decks and then we write a lot of articles and blog posts about what's happening in the. To make sure that, you know, people who are maybe not as dialed in still can have a feel for what's going on.

And hopefully some understanding of how to make decisions and respond to those trends. That's a lot of, lot of stuff to deal with, I think. One of the things that, one of the things that Alex and I have, have seen over the last couple of[00:02:00]years, and we've talked to a lot of people about is the availability of data for people to look at.

And it's coming from so many great sources where, you know, you go. Pre Covid and even right after, well, leading up to Covid, there was not a lot of great sources. I mean, it was still like, everything was kind of in its infancy. And so you know, what are, what have you seen just in your, your time with key data in terms of the ability for managers to get that data and get good data, and do you feel like we are leaping ahead of the hotel's sector on the availability or access to data?

Yeah, it's been interesting.

See the availability of data grow and then also people's ability to use and interact with that data grow. I think when I came into the industry and the role in 2018, it was very bare bones like, What's an average daily rate like? We're not used to seeing competitive data, so suddenly people are learning about all of these different data[00:03:00]sources.

So direct versus scraped and then how to actually like use and view that data and then. As another layer on top of that, like what data is worth using, what data source is best what data do I look like in terms of comparison to hotels, like we've had a lot of catch up to do. It's also interesting.

To learn more about how hotel data collection works. Mm-hmm. It's so different for vacation rentals. Right? Hotels, obviously, they don't have to deal with owner stays. Their units are blocked less for vacation or for, for like maintenance holds. And so much of it is, is self-reported. The hotel is sending data to a data aggregator.

We've tried that a few times and it's, it's. And so having these direct integrations to the property manager's reservation systems kind of takes that middleman out of it cuz they're not emailing a spreadsheet to somebody on a weekly basis. So I think now, like we have[00:04:00]maybe called up to a lot of the hotel performance data aggregators, and we're figuring out that we, we have to do things a little differently than the way they did things because the industry is so, so fragmented.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, it's interesting too, I mean, looking at it from a destination marketing organization, chamber commerce c v b perspective, I know Key Data has made massive headway there for, for these organizations in the last few years. And I'm in the Myrtle Beach market and you know, we've always used the S t R Star reports.

And the funny thing is, we, we had mark from Boley on our podcast last year. And the episode title was, I've got 99 problems, but s t r ain't one of 'em. And we, we met short-term rentals, but my hotel friend said, oh yeah, like I was having a problem with my star reports this week. That's so funny. I'm like, that's not what we're talking about.

But it's got an entertain, changeable now, but. That that is one issue that many of these destinations really have had that we use those reports, but that was[00:05:00]not indicative of the vacation rental indu inventory in a market. And you know, to your point, emailing in spreadsheets, like, ah gosh, I feel like that was yesterday, that that is exactly what people were doing.

Or, you know, some of the scraped data was not even scraped. It was so manual that. People going to each other's websites and checking availability and, and marking it down in a spreadsheet. So we've come a long ways and I will say that I think key, key data has been the big proponent behind that, that lift.

So we appreciate it for, for that. And people are so resourceful, right? Like they knew that data was needed, so the gap was being filled. Like I know I've, I've worked with Coastal Carolina University on Myrtle Beach Vacation Road. Yeah, that's what Myrtle, and they're like college students out here, like scraping the OTAs Yeah.

To learn about data collection. And it's, it's so cool that those little grassroots. Efforts exist and that like really a lot of schools, especially on the east coast, have stepped up and, and plugged that gap. But it's also been fun to say like, Hey, here's the[00:06:00]actual data. You know, we're collecting it directly.

We have these relationships with property managers in your market. Like, here's what short-term rentals are doing cuz so many destinations. Really didn't know. Yeah. And then now we have a lot of hotel chains reach out and they're like, Hey, what's happening with short-term rentals in our market? Because now they know they're the Direct com competition.

And it's interesting, like seasonality can be different. The booking windows are so different. And so now we're working on some partnerships where. You know, people on the hotel side of things you're looking at, okay, vacation rentals book so much further out. Their booking windows, are so much longer. Can we use vacation rental, booking and occupancy to help project what hotel occupancy will be three months from now because of, again, of that different in booking windows.

Yeah, and it's so, it's so smart of them to do that. Cuz I think for the longest time we were sort of deemed the, you know, the redheaded stepchild of hospitality. Like we didn't know what we were doing because we just didn't have a lot of automation into your, you know, earlier point everything was spreadsheets.

And[00:07:00]I'm in the Panama City Beach market and I remember we went through a couple of different iterations of like, how do we re. And it was, we would use the star data and then we would get together in groups and say, well, does this look like what you're seeing? Does this look like what you're seeing? And then they, you know, our CV B got together with the Haas Institute and was using that, that source.

But what was interesting about that was people, okay, to your point, self-reporting. And so we had one person in the market that was like, I'm running 90% occupancy all the time and we. There's no way, like it's not possible, but you couldn't tell on the report, but it would just skew everything to such a degree that it was, it was throwing everybody off and it finally came to light of who it was doing, and they were just like, look, either you report honestly or just don't participate, because it's just making everything harder for people.

So to be able to get that direct source data, Is so helpful because it helps all of us make better decisions, not just the operator of a vacation rental, but real estate market knows what's going on. I mean, again, for the hotels, it helps them forecast because, let's face it, hotels generally aren't gonna book that far out, but they can forecast[00:08:00]where that demand's gonna be and raise their rates when they need to, and, you know, put their rates out lower where they need to.

But it, it helps the whole market. Yeah, and we've, you know, it's taken some work to come in and provide structure and standardization. So, you know, this company that's reporting 90% occupancy will, okay. What was going into that calculation? Were they including owner nights? What? Oh no. They were just lying.

They were just laughing. They were just lying. No, no. I, yeah, they were just flat out lying. Yeah. You don't always know. Are you just like, trying to seem like you're the, the best operator in town, or you just like Yeah. Not good at data and you're miscalculating it. So it's been fun to come in with all of the, I mean, it's, it's hard, right?

Our integration and developers spend so much time on that to make sure we're pulling the right thing from these reservation systems and aggregating it correctly and doing like a really fair apples to apples comparison across all of these companies. Yeah. Yeah. One thing that one thing that I, so I was recently in the channel manager's side, and prior to that OTA and then prior vacation rental,[00:09:00]so a little bit of everything and kind of understood the different conversations that we had.

But when I was at the channel manager I would deal with property managers who would say like, you know, do I need a a, a dynamic pricing tool? And I was like, well, yeah. I mean, if you, if you have more than like 50 units, you definitely wanna do it, especially if they're in one market. But one of the things that I think that there was a misnomer about for a while is that you either had to.

A, you know, dynamic pricing tool or key data, but that the two didn't work together and they're not the same Yeah. At all. Right. And they're not, but, but I found the partners that used both of 'em were making the best decisions mm-hmm. That, that they could possibly make and probably better than anybody because they had so much like real source data from their PMs and then the the, the scrape data from their pricing tool.

And, and so I feel like they're, you know, for, I don't, maybe it's not as, Prevalent as it used to be, but there was definitely a conversation of you only needed one, but you didn't need both. And so how do you, how do you see key data in relation to those pricing tools? Yeah, we still run into it on a daily basis.

Our sales team is like, people still[00:10:00]think that they just need a dynamic pricing tool and not key data. You know, we, we talked early on about like the level of sophistication with data. In the industry and how that's grown. We've seen this in other industries too, where people are like, oh, I have data.

Like all my decisions need to be based on a model or the hardcore data. The reality is, is like so many of these destinations and companies have been operating For decades, right? There are years and often generations worth of experience in terms of, you know, here's how my market will fluctuate.

Fluctuate. Like here's when I'm expecting reservations to come in. Like here's how things are shifting. And so I wholeheartedly believe that you have to pair that, that local knowledge and the operator knowledge. 

With the data and revenue management tools, right? You need both to make sure your, your pricing and your units are being, you know, adjusted correctly.

[00:11:00]One phrase we've used a ton, everybody's heard it, is set it and forget it. That's what you don't wanna do, right? Yeah. Yeah. You don't wanna leave your company's pricing and revenue strategy in the hands of a, a machine learning model. Yeah. Two years old, right? Mm-hmm. And so use that, especially for like the little daily adjustments, but you've gotta check in and make sure that your, your local knowledge.

And your own experience in the industry and with your specific properties and your specific market is kind of providing a check on that pricing system as well and making sure it's doing the right thing and not just slashing rates by 20% when it, when it's shouldn't be. You know, people will start booking.

Yeah. And I, I remember a couple years ago, the first, or maybe like three years ago, the first data and revenue management conference that Amy Hyno put on, the one that was in Atlanta, some folks from my market here in Myrtle Beach went and their, their perception of it when they came back was I. No way.

I'm not, you know, I'm not, I'm[00:12:00]not putting my data, my rates in the hands of, of these companies that they're new and, and I, I just, I can't turn over the, the keys completely to that. And like you just said, and to your point Annie, it's not about turning over the keys. It's about having access to the right information to help you with informed decisions.

And, you know, we, we. Work closely with, with Wheelhouse, who is one of our sponsors of the show. And they, you know, the way that they explain it is, I mean, like you're in the driver's seat with the tool that you choose and then you use Key data to supplement that. But I think it's, it's a good point because I think there is still a lot of confusion between, well, I don't need both, I just need one.

And that's not, not true. And we work with a lot of these pricing companies as well. Like it's, it's so cool what they can do and it, you know, take some of like the daily attention from a revenue manager professional out of it. So I like, I don't want this to come off as they're not incredibly useful tools, but especially some of them you can, you know, start setting those[00:13:00]rules around like, okay, you need to.

Drop your price if it's not booked two weeks out or start jacking it up, but x, y, or Z is happening. Mm-hmm. And to create those rules, you need both, like your historic experience within that market but you also need some market level data that's coming directly from your competitors to help you figure out what those rules should be and where they should be set.

Yeah. And so we know you have a ton of data. So Inquiry Minds wanna know, like what kind of, what kind of trends are you seeing in all that data right now? Yeah. It's been an interesting readjustment in the US of this season. So currently for q1, we're pacing a little behind where we were last year.

And that's continuing for the rest of the year. And so if we're looking at like year over year occupancy rates, last spring started off really good. Demand was, high. Supply was still a little lower. So, so most short-term rentals in the US were more occupied spring 2022 than they were spring 2021.

Sometime around May and[00:14:00]June that started shifting. Demand stayed. Plenty of people were still booking, but supply really started to take off. Yeah, we were seeing like 20% year, year increases in the number of vacation rentals available in the us. So, so more people were booking than in 2021, but they had more choices, more options to stay in.

And then towards the fall we started to see like a rebalancing of normal seasonal travel trends. So 20 20, 20 21. Everybody was traveling during September, right? July and August we're so booked. They were like, I don't wanna pay those rates. It's gonna be crazy. But I'm working from home. My kids are still remotely schooled.

Like, well, let's take a nice September trip to the beach. I. And so that shoulder season occupancy is really high. A lot of Hmm. So fall of last year, fall 2022, occupancy and seasonal trends started to come back down to kind of where they were pre pandemic. Right. And since then, that's just kind of where it has seemed to balance out.

This is, a lot of[00:15:00]indicators are pacing ahead of 2019 but behind the previous two, They were just like so amazing for short, short term rental occupancy. So occupancy started to kind of come down a little bit, and we're seeing that through the next couple quarters. And through the summer as well. So obviously it's still really early to look at summer cuz so many markets have pretty short booking periods.

Right? But in the US, just to put some numbers behind it, for June through August on the books, as of yesterday when I pulled this data, we're at 18% occupied compared to 22% in 2022. So just, you know, four or five percentage points behind, which is similar to what we saw during the first quarter of this year as.

Now, have you seen a decline in the actual available units at all, or is that still high like it was last year? It's still high like it was last year. We've seen. Supply growth is kind of like normalized this winter. It's kind of just stagnated. We're not seeing the huge explosion of units that we[00:16:00]did through from like May to September last year.

It's hard to know. Some of that is normal, right? People are maybe Yeah. Assisting their unit for peak summer. And then if they're choosing to, you know, go back to justice now their second home. Or they're gonna do a long-term rental, like they're gonna wait until after the end of the summer season when they've made all their money and then take it off.

What we haven't seen is like an explosion in a new inventory the same way we were seeing during 2021 and 2022. Yeah. Interesting. It makes sense too. Cause I'm sure this coincides with real estate and everything that was going on. You know, this time last year, I mean this, this time last year, the first two quarters, real estate was just booming.

So those people that were buying properties, they were immediate, immediately putting them up. Right. For rent. And you know, it's interesting when you look at the markets, That you've put out some, some reports this week on LinkedIn on what markets are emerging and kind of surprising markets. I would say that they're not, they're not markets that are traditionally a vacation spot, but they're more urban.

[00:17:00]But they are probably just, I mean, in is, is the data that you're reporting there, is it proportional to the, to the its own market or, I mean, it's not comparing that people are going to. One of the cities, I think it was like Cincinnati or something. I mean, they're not going there more than they're going to a Myrtle Beach, but are you comparing it proportionally within that market?

So those were just the number of guest reservations for those markets year over year. It was not controlled for the amount of rentals. And so some of these, like the list you're referencing Yeah. Had places like Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yeah. Manhattan, New York was on there. That's obviously like a huge urban destination.

Places like Huntsville, Alabama. But those markets, we've kind of seen a turn towards some of the more, more rural travel. Mm-hmm. Right. Maybe they're choosing like these, these last like typical leisure destinations, like a, a beach and maybe they're going to, like Lake of the Ozarks had huge explosive growth in 2021.

Mm-hmm. And so really these are just like the markets that had the. Most opportunity, the most[00:18:00]room for growth. So it's not the most visitors. Right. Orlando, Myrtle Beach, like some of these huge destinations, they're still gonna be there. Yeah. Get the biggest share of visitors, but they're already so popular, they're just, they're not gonna see the same like year over year increases as some of those smaller markets work.

Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. I was surprised to see. Something sat down. I'd never heard of looking at the list right now. Bella Vista, Arkansas. I'd never even heard of that before. But the fact that it was, the fact that it was in the top 10, it was number six. I mean, that's interesting. I mean, I think, you know, Huntsville, Alabama can see that a lot of people go to like the Rocket, the rocket center there.

Mm-hmm. And Las Vegas. I mean, some of the cities is like, okay, I can see some of that, but. Old Orchard Beach Main. Another one. Never heard of it before. Oh, I, I love Old Orchard Beach. Oh, somebody knows it. Ok. It's been a long time since I've been there, but Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's a great, so it's really, it's really interesting and, and it's funny, so I grew up in the Arlington, Arlington, Virginia area.

So to see Alexandria on there, I'm like, well, they should always be good. But again, to the point people were staying in hotels, it wasn't a vacation rental destination, but there were more[00:19:00]available units that are up for rent. You know, 10 years ago you would be PR hard pressed to find a rental in that market.

Yeah. Right. Yeah. And then some of this is the dynamic of returning urban travel. Yeah. As well. So I was looking at markets that are doing well for summer and, and where our professional managers are. It's these urban destinations like Denver. In Philadelphia that are pacing ahead of the previous year, like New York City.

And you see some of those on that list of the, the top emerging spring break destinations as well, right? It's Manhattan it's Las Vegas, Nevada. Some of these markets that, that people were a little less keen to travel to in 2020. 2021 really starting to come back. And then that has, we are seeing some year over year declines.

Right. I just also wrote an article about Florida Spring break. We're seeing some Florida market struggling, not just the ones on the West coast that were hit by Ian last fall, but some like age old destinations like Orlando are not doing as well[00:20:00]year over year as some of these like newer emerging markets.

And what would you, what would you tie that to? So Orlando, to me, seems to be, A situation of oversupply and we don't have the international coming back in, in the, like, that's, that's a market that in the state, it's hyper dependent on international for a va, a very large chunk. So to me that makes sense.

But with the other markets, do you think it's pricing is too high, there is too much supply? What are you, what are you seeing? Yeah, I tried to tie it into pricing, right? With the economic situation, we're all like, okay, well maybe like the lower rate destinations are not doing as well as the luxury travels that travelers that still have their money.

That was not the case when I was looking at Florida Spring break in particular. Orlando was more a case and some of these like classic Florida markets like Panama City Beach where they had, they were pacing really well through like the 1st of February. And then it was the last minute reservations that people were expecting that[00:21:00]stopped coming in.

Mm-hmm. So they were, they were looking great. In January, I didn't check again, and then in February I got a call from one of our partner success people, and she was like, Melanie, help me. I don't know what's happening in Florida, but people are panicking. Mm-hmm. And it really was, booking activity had stayed strong until it was the people who usually make a reservation two or three weeks in advance of spring break just didn't, were no longer making those reservations interest.

Yeah, and I think some of it is probably those are, those are lower rate stays being booked. Those are people who weren't like, well, I booked this trip six months ago, so I'm definitely going. They were people who maybe their economic situation changed in the last month. They maybe had a little less disposable income, a little less cash on hand, and decided to not take that trip like they normally.

Yeah. And Panama City Beach, I mean, I can't speak from Myrtle Beach, but I feel like it's pretty similar. The people that do come here, the last minute ones are those paycheck to paycheck kind of families. Like they, oh, I got, you know, I can, I can do, do the beach this weekend. And they do wait till the last minute.

So[00:22:00]in that, like, are you, are you noticing any share shifts for markets like, Market, you know, Panama City Beach to me in the panhandle, it, you know, Pensacola Beach or Fort Walton Beach would be similar on 30 a Dustin, not so much. But are you seeing higher growth say, over that direction towards the, the west than, and maybe that's where they're going, or you maybe think they're just maybe going urban or not going anywhere?

Yeah, I think maybe they're not going anywhere this summer. Yeah. Or the spring. Places that had the longest booking window were doing the best because all of their reservations were in for spring break by like the end of December. And so they weren't as impacted by that downturn. And kind of like the shorter booking window booking activity that happened.

That started happening in February and it's still happening. So it was really, it was, it was regardless. Of rate of the average daily rate, places like like Annamaria Island, like their spring break season looks excellent, but it's because it was already fully booked by right the end of December.[00:23:00]So it was wild.

One thing we are seeing, so for q1, some places that are doing really well for the first quarter a lot of these ski markets like Lake Tahoe Oh, ski season's been extended. Yeah. So yeah, park City had a great one. Like Hawaii is still just Everybody's going. Yeah. Hawaii places in q1, they had lower occupancy rates.

Were were places like the Maryland. The North Carolina coast places where they benefited again from that, that crazy off season activity. But now that it's back to normal, they're seeing year over year decline. So 2023 doesn't look as good as 2022, but it's just back to how things were pre pandemic, where nobody's going to like the outer banks in January cuz it's not a fun place to be in January.

Yeah, I guess we all knew it was coming. It was just, you know, the ride is over. We have to get back to what the, you know, business as usual, I guess to some. Yeah. And it's, it's tough, right? Because I think there's always the hope that it will continue, that will continue to make a ton of money. The occupancy will stay high.[00:24:00] 

And I know the people that our managers are struggling and our partners are struggling with the most is those first time or second time homeowners. Yeah. Who bought a house. Mm-hmm. Or started listing in 20 21, 20 22. And so now that expectation is set that I'm gonna. $80,000 during the summer on my five bedroom beach front house.

Right. And maybe now it's $65,000 instead of 80. And I know a lot of homeowners are like, what'd you do wrong? And the rest of you? Yeah, exactly. It's just market chefs and so we're telling people like, Hey, share this market level data with your homeowners. Get out in front of it. Let them know that like you're doing everything you can to get these reservations and be competitive.

But the market is different than it was a year. Yeah, that, that's, that's definitely something that we've been hearing and reporting on on the podcast as well, that it's, you know, this year aside, this always happens when it's a year. That's a little bit down compared to the previous year. We've had, you know, several, even before Covid that it's like there's some years are just softer than others and[00:25:00]it, those are the years that homeowners start moving around and not.

Their man, their management company has done anything wrong, but they're gonna think something's wrong if their revenue's down. And in lieu of having correct information or any information from the management company, they just assume that, and then they go start talking to other companies and they're gonna say, oh, yeah, yeah, I, we'll do a better job for you.

But it really, it comes full circle that if you lose some homeowners that are making those decisions, if you haven. Given them enough information to know that that's just the market, you're also gonna gain some too. And you know, that's, that's just the nature of the business when, when there's a downturn.

But it's a good opportunity to make sure you stay in front of your owners because keep the ones that you have and then you're still gonna get those leads from the other ones that might not think that their rental company is doing so good. But, and you guys have great tools that managers can use to be able to, you know, really visually show that they are the experts in that market to those owners.

And if you're not the expert, like now's the time to[00:26:00]step up and become that expert and figure out, yeah, what tools you need and what decisions you need to make, and how to readjust some strategies to make sure that you're not letting your homeowners down. Yeah. Yeah. I was on a panel just at at V R M A and we talked about the trends of 2023, and one point that came up that I've noticed now in my role at casa Go as I'm talking to operators from all across the country, not just here in, in South Carolina, is that there's a lot of markets that's.

Still have not embraced dynamic pricing. And they're still kind of in that, you know, old school mode of this is how we set the rates and, you know, we, we might manually apply some discounts here and there, but we definitely don't do any dynamic pricing. But, and then I, I've, there's been several, I'm like, and, and you know, some key markets in North Carolina and Florida that.

Fall into that, but are, are you seeing that, and if you are, are they also still, are they still using key data but they're just kind of looking at it and they're just can't make the leap to doing dynamic pricing?[00:27:00]Or are they not even looking at the data at all, would you say? We're all over the place, right?

We have property managers who you know, use the product once a month and make some decisions and then check back in a month later. This is just representative of how the property management ecosystem works. There's also property managers who are in there. Every day, like multiple people at their company are spending multiple hours every day in the dashboard.

I will say like our users tend to be on the more sophisticated end of that spectrum. That's where scrape data can be really useful to see those property managers who are not using a dynamic pricing tool, they're not using a business intelligent tool like key data dashboard. And so they're probably not adjusting their prices.

As much, right? Like that's a big blanket statement that there are a lot of people out there who don't use technology but are still doing excellent jobs of managing their mm-hmm. Yeah. Right now what we're seeing with prices is, yes, you'd be at the risk if you're[00:28:00]only setting prices at the beginning of the season.

You're saying, here's what happened in 2022. Here are my rates. Like here's my brochure. They're posted, you know, on a bulletin board somewhere, there's a huge problem that your rates could be too. Right now because you are expecting another year over year increase and not the situation that we currently have right now in a lot of US leisure markets.

Mm-hmm. We're also seeing a lot of management companies. They're holding prices high for the summer and for booking periods maybe like 60 to 90 days out, they're hoping that those reservations will come in, so they don't wanna drop prices too early. So right now, if we look at summer rates, they're still significantly higher than 20 22 by maybe like $75 or so on a national average.

But everything we're hearing is people will drop those rates as we get closer to those statements. Gotcha. Sorry, what what if, if we were gonna[00:29:00]give property managers one tip for 2023, what would it. Yeah. Everything I keep saying is your competition is back. Why way higher? Through last fall we saw demand stay really high, but now demand's a little lower than last year.

Even on the OTAs, fewer people are booking than they were this time last year. Mm-hmm. So. Jason Sprinkle, our CEO has always had like, it's time to put your hands back on the wheel, right? Like, yeah, we cannot be in self-driving mode anymore. So it's time to re, you know, adjust your rates. To what's happening in your market for your types of inventory.

Take a look at your marketing strategy. Make sure that you are, you know, back to maybe some email blast. Make sure that you're like, fine tuned on the OTAs to get the type of customers that usually book with you. So it's, it's time to start being competitive again because both hotels are. back But then also vacation rental supply has increased so much in the past year[00:30:00]that people have a, they have a plethora of choices, and you have to make sure that they're choosing to stay with you instead of somebody else.

Yeah. And I would say one other trend that I've noticed as I've talked to companies across the country this year is that there's a lot of companies that they just have, they don't do any guest marketing, which is crazy to me cuz that's all I've ever really done is, I mean, I would say 95% of our efforts have been in guest marketing, but.

Homeowner marketing too, but in the last couple years, it's like that was kind of, you know, guest marketing was. It became less important because for everyone, Airbnb was just driving so much business, and especially to these new operators that they. You know, didn't have the time or didn't really have the need they thought to be making, you know, efforts on their own book direct strategies or where that would come in down the line.

But I think as we go into this year, you know, those channels are gonna be also still as competitive or go, it's gonna be more competitive on those channels. So to get more out of the bookings that you previously had, really digging into the names, hopefully if you've been collecting email addresses from those[00:31:00]vrbo, Airbnb guests, when they check in.

Make sure that you are, you know, developing that book direct strategy and really, you know, try and get those guests back with you. I mean, show them a difference between the price when they book on those channels versus direct. But it's I think this, this year is gonna show a lot of those people why we've been preaching direct bookings if they hadn't currently, you know, been doing 'em.

Yeah, and it's so interesting because if you look at the share of all bookings that are coming from, like through direct sources versus VRBO versus Airbnb it's easy to say like, oh, Airbnb as a percentage of guests has gone up and direct as a percentage of guests has gone down, and that has happened in the last few years.

Mm-hmm. But if you look at the number of reservations coming through those sources, like all of your people who book direct are still gonna book direct with you. Mm-hmm. You're getting new guests from the OTAs who may not. They don't even know you have a website and that they can get a cheaper rate if they book with you directly and not on the ota.

So there's so much[00:32:00]like renter education to be done about, like, okay, well when you come back, here's our website, you'll, you'll get, you know, a slightly discounted rate over booking on Airbnb. Like, we'd love to have your return. Yeah, absolutely. I think that's where the technology comes into play, because we got so hands off as an industry, like, don't see the guests, don't touch the guests, don't feel the get like nothing.

But in order for you to get the guests back, you have to be able to capture that information. So there's like some great pieces of, of great tools out there that you can use within your rental. I'm curious beyond trends, like what, what are the things on tap for key data? I've been talking to Jason about some stuff that he's gonna test out for me, and, and we've been, we've been talking about some things that I personally need for my organization.

And he's been, you know, thinking about ways to do it, but I know you guys are constantly like thinking and iterating and, and really putting out some incredible tools for partners to use. 

But is there anything big on the horizon that's coming out to the next, you know, before season, I guess, When we put out super recently that everybody should go check out is[00:33:00]there's a new pickup report that's part of the core product and helps you understand like where your pickup is coming is one of those, like you could kind of, you could work your way into it in the dashboard, but it's so nice to just have it in one place for pickup reporting at both like your property level and then your company level as well.

So that's a huge one. I love that. Yeah. There's a new host product that has officially launched that for those smaller people, maybe people who don't have a property management system. I don't know if they're your listeners, but we do have a host product that has some super incredible market insights.

So that's out and it's constantly being fine tuned. We're also doing some super funding. So I work closely this is where I get excited with our data science and data engineers. Right, right. We meet on a weekly basis. They're just doing some incredible work around things like rental projections so you can have a better understanding of what a potential property would make.

They're working heavily with our scrape data set, our Airbnb and vrbo. And using our direct data to inform that[00:34:00]data to make sure it's reliable and it's gonna give us, you know, way more like national coverage. And again, making sure we're capturing those rental by owners or the hosts. And then also the, the smaller or maybe less sophisticated property managers who are not using the key data dashboard.

Hmm, interesting. 

What about companies that have properties in multiple markets? Are they still able to see multiple markets within the dashboard? Oh yeah. My team is also responsible for a lot of the mapping that goes into our product. Mm-hmm. So that's actually my first year or so at the company was like, let's map out all of these vacation areas and destinations around the world.

And then obviously heavily in the US where we have a ton of customers. And so when a lot of markets they can go in, they can go into their dashboard and they can click on their specific condo building if they're somewhere like Myrtle Beach or Gulf Shores mm-hmm. That has a ton of condos. And then if we don't have enough direct customers, they can now see scrape data benchmarking.

So even for your specific[00:35:00]building where your, your rental unit is, you can benchmark to other. Units in that building, which is wild. And then multi, multi-region companies we've always had good solutions for, they can filter down to their, their entire company or a specific region, a specific market, or on a state or county level.

Mm-hmm. And that's super important, right? You right now, especially, you don't wanna, like we said earlier, you don't wanna be including your Lake Tahoe Rentals and your North Carolina Coast rentals in the. Same reporting because Right. They're behaving totally different. Yeah. And I think a lot of the newer investors or short-term rental owners that have come into the space in the last couple years, a lot of them have taken that approach that they are trying to have one property here, one property there.

And I think this is gonna be a very interesting year for them to see the differences between the markets. But, We'll see. I, I hope that, I hope, I hope that they can, they can make it work, but I, I think we've seen a lot of movement on that side. That[00:36:00]makes me a little bit nervous. You know, I think there's a reason why so few large vacation rental companies exist in multiple markets because the complexity, you know, of operating in the, in those areas, but doing one listing here and there, you know, perhaps that might be a strategy, but to be able to compare the data is gonna be big for them as.

I had, I had one last question. Going back to the earlier about hotels. 

So are you seeing hotels being interested in using key data or are they just looking at, they just wanna be able to access the data? Like, so are, are they fundamentally using it or is it just access to the overall data from market standpoint?

It really depends. We, if it's a. Like a regional hotel or b and b or resort in a leisure destination. Like we have integrations with systems like opera and they love working with us. Mm-hmm. Because we're a little closer to their level of reporting.[00:37:00]We, you know, their competi competitive set is short-term rentals in their market.

So we, we work, we do have a lot of customers that are. On the chain side of things like multi-region chains, usually they're just interested in the, the vacation rental performance data, right? They have another system that does all their reporting for them and their business intelligence, but what they wanna know is, okay, how are the short-term rentals in my destination behaving?

Yeah. Mm-hmm. It's, it's, it, it is kind of, I don't know. I don't know. Kind of satisfying to finally see the hotels, like wanna look and see. Yeah. Wanting to have Exactly. I mean, it's, it's kind of feels good, but it's, I guess we'll see where that goes. But well Melanie, thank you so much for joining us and I think we, we'd ha love to have you back like in the fall and do a recap of what the summer looked like.

I think that would be really telling and interesting. But if anybody wants to get in touch with you, what's the best way to reach? I'd say go to our website. It's just key data dashboard.com. My team does a lot of writing about trends in the space.[00:38:00]We may have written something about your market, so check out our blog.

Mm-hmm. And then we're on LinkedIn as well and post a lot there. Awesome. Thank you. We will include that in our show notes, and if anybody wants to contact Andy and I, you can go to Alex and andy podcast.com. Until next time, thank you for tuning in everyone. Thanks.

Melanie Brown

Executive Director of Data Insights at KeyData Dashboard

Melanie Brown is the Executive Director of Data Insights at Key Data, the leading provider of real-time data for the short-term rental industry. Melanie’s team tracks trends in the global vacation rental industry in order to help property managers, destinations, and investors better understand and respond to what’s happening in their market. She spends a lot of time writing, working on data visualizations, and creating or delivering presentations in order to share those trends with others in the industry. Melanie loves data and can get buried in spreadsheets, SQL queries, and GIS at times but her main goal is to always make vacation rental data reliable, understandable, and actionable. Melanie lives in Colorado and enjoys CrossFit, hiking, and mountain biking.