Sept. 14, 2022

The Billion Dollar Question: Can Limited Edition Be Scaled? With Matt Landau


Matt Landau is one of the most respected thought leaders in vacation rentals. Founder of VRMB, Matt has built an information-sharing media empire, driven by one simple yet effective concept. As he tells us, "If you have a tip, share it!" You will find more like-minded individuals to collaborate with and by sharing information we are all helping each other and the industry grow.

What does it mean to be Limited Edition, and how can you leverage this positioning to create your OWN lane and break free of the competition all together?  Tune in to hear Matt's thoughts on how industry leaders Vtrips and Casago have not only done this, but done it at scale - a feat that becomes much more complicated with growth across multiple markets. 

Matt is  a story-teller at heart, and deeply in tune with how important brand and guest experience is to the success of a business. In today's episode we talk about the upcoming premiere of his TV show, Homerunners, which debuts during VRMA International in Vegas on Sunday evening, October 23rd. We are also very excited to announce that we will be hosting the Red Carpet for this event as the official podcast!

Be sure to RSVP for this event
- attendance is limited, and you don't want to miss the most glamorous event to date in vacation rentals - claim your spot here: https://www.paperlesspost.com/go/y8RlVmeS3z93Rvf4B6DyJ

CONTACT MATT LANDAU
VRMB.com
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CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
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Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie The Real Women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex.

Annie Holcombe:

And I'm Annie.

Alex Husner:

And we are joined today with Matt Landau, who is the founder of VRMB. And I would say one of the largest and most well known celebrities within our industry and in the travel space. So this is super exciting to have you here today, Matt.

Matt Landau:

Thank you. Thank you for that introduction. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Thanks for being here. Really appreciate it. Would you? I I've been following you. Actually, I think I found you when I was at Expedia, and trying to educate the Expedia team about vacation rentals, any you would pop up. But can you tell us or our listeners a little bit about you and kind of where you kind of entered the space and what you're doing now?

Matt Landau:

Sure, in 2006, just after I graduated with a degree in economics, which I promptly did nothing with, found myself in the historic district of Panama City, Panama, called Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo. And I was completely smitten with this neighborhood as a traveler. And I was staying in the only nice place to stay in town, which was a vacation rental fleet run by two guys from Holland, and then ended up just having a transformative travel experience in this up and coming world heritage site. And it showed me in hindsight, that where you stay and who you stay with can really open doors and make a destination, it can give you your sense of place. Right. And I was really just intrigued by this neighborhood. I was intrigued by the vacation rental business. I ended up helping them with their website with some marketing, learning a little bit about vacation rentals, and purchasing their vacation rental business about one year later, Wally business partner Yes. And poof, all of a sudden, overnight, I was on vacation rental manager, oh my gosh, everything went wrong.

Alex Husner:

The economics degree did not come through. For all the things

Matt Landau:

everything went wrong. But because there was no competition in town, it was literally the only place to stay. We were able to not only stay afloat, but we were able to learn from our lessons. And we were able to build a pretty nice little business. And mind you this is back before Airbnb existed. I was doing the basics, you know, making a website building a brand, doubling down on our logo, things like that we had to do before there were these tools that generated unlimited inquiries. And Annie it was right in these early days that I started documenting what was working and what wasn't working. And I started sharing those tips with other vacation rental managers out there. And that's when I first got in touch with the team HomeAway. I remember Adam and Eileen, they reached out they said this is great. Would you be interested in writing some blog posts for us? I said, Sure. And next thing, you know, they invited me to speak at a HomeAway event in Arizona. And that completely blew my mind one that someone would be willing to pay for my flight. Yeah. To go somewhere, right. And to that there were all these other people that did vacation rentals for a living like me. And I was hooked. That was my first foray. I ended up building VRM B, alongside my vacation rental business. Until about three years ago, I sold my vacation rental business and started focusing full time on the educational side on VRMB.

Alex Husner:

Wow, that sounds a lot. It's got to be a very fulfilling thing. I would think doing what you're doing and the way that you did it. Because obviously, as you were building VRMB, you obviously you got a lot from the content that you were writing for the industry, but that you were helping other people be able to consume and grow their businesses and then to turn that over to now a full time thing. I imagine that's that's it's been a lot of fun for you. You always look like you're having fun, at least.

Matt Landau:

It's great advice for anybody in our space. If you have a great tip, share it, write it down, practice talking about it and share it people will eat it up. You'll make friends and it becomes fun. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

yeah. So true. I mean, just LinkedIn has become such a great tool for all of us in a way for us to really become a community globally in vacation rentals, and I think just being able to share Are you know what works our business and figure out how we can help other people. It's nice. It's nice knowing that you're not the only ones out there that are dealing with a certain issue.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, we talk about we talk a lot about the collaborative nature of the business. And I know having been in vacation rentals prior to my Expedia days. So back around the time you were doing this, I was in vacation rentals. And one of the things that I always noticed is go to conferences, and people were very protective. They didn't want to share, especially in their own market, they definitely weren't wanting to share any information, I think fast forward to, again, the boom of the industry on online bookings, and technology. And then obviously, we all went through with COVID. It made everybody realize like we're all in a community together, we need to work together better. So I kind of want to dovetail off of that and talk about what you've done with VRMB, because you've turned it into this whole other community that I know I talked to people all the time that will reference either something that you've posted, or I believe your inner circle and being a part of that. And so kind of tell us a little bit about how that came to be and again, what maybe the The goal was it initially and where you're taking it.

Matt Landau:

When I started sharing the tips, and I started seeing that people were using the tips and grading getting great use out of the tips and sending me back tips. That's nice. I kind of got hooked, yeah, and VRMB started off as vacation rental marketing blog.com. It was a blog that was designed to help not sell people, other vacation rental owners and managers in turn, building trust and respect for me, the subject matter expert, and I eventually created an ebook, it cost $97. And it was called Boost occupancy, how to increase your vacation rental bookings. And selling that ebook. All of a sudden made me realize there was a way to monetize the collaboration and the sharing of information, yeah, as the connector as the facilitator. And that's really my strength, I do not consider myself better at managing vacation rentals or brighter than any of our colleagues. In fact, they are the real geniuses when it comes to the hospitality. I just found that distilling information, observing reading as much as possible and presenting it to people in ways that could be used to their advantage. I just really enjoyed that. And VRMB really just started off as a as a blog that was selling an e book on the side, eventually, I learned that you may have a raving fan. But until you create an another ebook, you don't get one penny out of them.

Alex Husner:

Yeah.

Matt Landau:

And that was sort of the birth of the inner circle. We've since started referring it to it as VRB community, it's a private community. But it was originally created to store and share all of the ebooks and courses that we were putting together on a regular basis. But very early on, it became evident that vacation rental professionals love to collaborate, and they love to share and they're generous. And the community side of joining this private space and having access to everybody else, beyond just one subject matter expert, became the real strength of the community. And that started off with a couple 100 people, we recently crossed the 1000 person mark, I noticed Alex, you became a member recently if

Alex Husner:

I had to check it out,

Matt Landau:

to come in and check it out. But the premise is that all of the amazing stuff that happens when we collaborate in person at conferences, maybe via email with one another, that can and should be taking place online 24/7. And we believe that if we can speed up the data rate, the speed of information transfer between professionals, everybody becomes more efficient. And that's was and still is the premise of the private community.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's great. And there's so many things in there that I'm sure Annie you're you're thinking the same thing. I am that. It just reminds me of a lot of ideas that we've had for what we want to do with our podcasts and just kind of the premise of it that you know, the connector that's that's the word that Annie and I are always referred to and refer refer to each other as connectors. And that's really what we enjoy doing and connecting the dots between inspiration and opportunity. That's one of our tag lines. And I think it's great what you've done and I think I think the conferences they serve a wonderful purpose for all of us to be able to meet and have that in person collaboration. But really, it's about, like you said, just keeping information going throughout the year and in a timely manner that when you need an answer to something, you're able to get it, you don't have to wait until Verma springform or whatever the next event is to be able to actually, you know, get in front of some people, and not just vendors, I think that's an important part to that. It's, it's helpful to ask for vendors, they're the experts in whatever it is that they're selling. But it's also really helpful to ask the people that are using the software or trying to solve that challenge on their own, how they've made it through. So I think it's great. And I've really enjoyed poking around in the community so far. So I'm glad that you urged me to join.

Annie Holcombe:

On that, I think one of the things Alex and I have been really focused on is the need for education, we've got a lot of people that have entered this space in the last, you know, I'd say 24 months, because it became, you know, we always knew it was a cool place to be, but everybody else kind of figured it out. And there's a lot of people entering the space that either don't know where to go search for that information, or they just don't know what the questions are that they should be asking. So we've got challenges that kind of feed over into, you know, in municipalities where regulation is concerned. And so not only educating people, so they understand what it means to be an operator, but also that they are not indirectly by not knowing and not searching for the answers affecting what is being regulated. So I'd love to talk to you because I think you have a pretty good a pretty broad picture. And before we got on, we were talking about how different it is in Europe. And I think that there is a definitely a different mentality kind of in each super region as to how they operate. But having a good source of truth for education, and understanding and access to information is really important. And I'd kind of love to hear your take on where we are as an industry and how we kind of bring everybody together to further that education. So that you know, moving over into the advocacy conversation. everybody's on the same page.

Matt Landau:

That's a huge question and something I think about regularly. So yeah, I may ramble here.

Alex Husner:

Okay. So loaded questions good one Annie.

Matt Landau:

I think about hubs. And the VRMB community attempts to be a virtual hub, where people can go and connect. But more often than not, we're talking about physical hubs, geographic hubs, places that unite people. And when we look at advocacy, the destination is what everybody in that market has in common. It's what they're all defending, and what they all need to pool their resources towards. And I can't think through any big solution to that question, without an important role of local alliances. Whether it's a chapter of a bigger organization, or a grassroots alliance that formed, or just five leaders who get together one weekend, because they're scared that they're going to lose their businesses, and they step up and lead. So hubs are really important, whether it's an organization that you're supporting, like VRMA, whether it's a short term rental Alliance, where everybody must be on the same page to speak with a unified voice to effectuate any change, or else, or virtual spaces, I think where the best people congregate. And one of my big pet peeves prior to forming the community was how social media tends to reward, let's just say content that's not always the most educational, right. Yeah. Yeah, these algorithms arent built

Alex Husner:

for newsworthy content. Right. Yeah.

Matt Landau:

That's their goal. Yeah. And that makes for a lot of noise and distractions when you're actually trying to find a good answer to a good question. Yeah. So I always like to recommend that you're aware of the space, the hub in which you're working, you're aware of who is operating it and what kind of information you're seeing. You're aware of the objectives of the hub, I think, in the case of a short term rental Alliance, again, for those who are listening if you don't know if your destination has a short term rental Alliance. Go look right now. Hopefully there is and you can Join. If there's not, you need to begin to create one because until these local regions have alliances that unite voices, the regions will never be united together. Right? That is the hardest and longest slog in the industry right now shout out to groups like rent responsibly, and anybody who works on advocacy period as a slog. The other angle, of course, is from the top down, if one person can effectuate a whole bunch of change. That's also great on the advocacy front, that's a little bit easier. We've seen a lot of progress on that front in our industry over the last few years. But educating vacation rental stakeholders, and in a lot of cases, the people who interact with our businesses, such as neighbors and guests, that's the role of the professional. Whether we like it or not, we are ambassadors, and we are educators. For people in our industry. That means uniting and sharing best practices and attempting to speak with unified voices. And for others, it's calibrating the expectations so that people who are getting into the space for the first time, whether it's their first stay, or they're going to be a vacation rental host. They need to have realistic expectations. And I know you guys love the not an Airbnb comment is great. Not an Airbnb.

Alex Husner:

Right? Yeah, exactly. Question. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Kleenex. Yeah, there's a lot of work to be done on that. But I think we're we are excited about, there's definitely been a realization, I think in the in the last year of how important that's going to be going forward to make sure that we don't let that happen. Because, I mean, when, you know, Kleenex, or Xerox, or any of these situations have happened in the past where, you know, something became the brand of an of a whole product or industry, it wasn't going to put out a business, all the other ones that were that were their competitors, right. So this is a very unique situation that we're in that the stakes are very high. And I think you mentioned, you know, just the importance of bringing those stakeholders together right now, one thing that we talked about a lot on the show and that Andy and I are very invested in is how we get the local chambers. CVB DMO is more involved with short term rentals. And we've had some opportunities come about, one of which is going to be this fall a conference called Desticon, that Jennifer Barbee is putting this on in Louisiana. And this is going to be the first one but she wants to bring this to multiple markets across the US and to bring the smaller DMOS that might not go to the you know, international events or national events together to talk about how they can work with short term rentals in their markets. So there's definitely interest there. But you know, I think we both come from markets where the chamber CVB DMO would have ever it's referred to is very strong. And I know that's not always the case in every market. But if a market does have one of those entities, chances are they already have some really good legislative ties. And they have the ability to help further the mission of if you put together your own local Alliance or local Rent Responsibly chapter. So that's one thing that we're really leaning into, and hopefully giving some visibility because I think right now it's about everybody wants the same thing. At the end of the day, I really believe that I think the communication is just where things are missed. And there's a better way forward for each of those different organizations. So,

Matt Landau:

amen. I love that idea.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, well, there's a

Annie Holcombe:

lot of work to be done.

Alex Husner:

So one one thing that you talk a lot about, and I I've only heard it just through your your podcast, but I know at your events, you really go into detail on the theory of limited edition. Can you tell us more about that? I think it's just really incredible. Yes.

Matt Landau:

When I first moved to the historic district there in Panama, I was walking around with a realtor. And she explained to me that because this was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You there were strict restrictions on building you couldn't just build up or out. You always had to preserve the facade and approximately the floorplan of these historic buildings. And she said For these reasons, there will only ever be a fixed amount of properties on the market. She said For this reason, it's what I call a limited edition investment. I was like whoa, I love I'll take two.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, that's an urgency for sure.

Matt Landau:

But I just love that and I started using it. You as often as possible, I started watching Antiques Roadshow. Yep. Yeah, that's a great show, I watched way too many hours of that. And that's the show for those who haven't seen it in which people bring in objects that they found in their attic, or that their grandmother passed down. And a specialist explains the provenance, the background of that object, and its value. And oftentimes, the value is like, hilarious, you know, it's a pen. It's worth $200,000. Yeah, yeah. And I started observing the patterns of the most valuable objects. And they were not made of more expensive materials. They rather had this strict limited supply. So that pen that was used to sign some important document, there's only one of them, or maybe two of them, or maybe six of them ever created. So that strict limited supply was one running characteristics about about these objects. The other was that they were fetching top dollar compare compared to their average counterparts. That was commanding respect from the buyer, in a way that was drawing these loyal people who collect pens, right? To the object. And what happened after that was that these people who were obsessed with the pens became friends, okay, they created these little pen communities, right? Because they're all obsessed with pens. So I started connecting dots here. And I said, vacation rentals as a category is predicated on character. And personality. Yeah. And if we were to apply the dynamics of collector's items, with what we do for a living, suddenly you start to see these rules that you should be operating by that create a one of a kind positioning for you and your business. And especially in this time, when big money is flowing in. Those who create the limited edition, moat, aren't playing by the same terms. And they've created these niches for themselves that are so unique, that are valuable, the multiple of these businesses is significantly greater. And it is true to themselves. And so the theory of limited edition is comprised of four rules, four pillars, should I share them?

Annie Holcombe:

Yes, please.

Matt Landau:

The first is family owned and or operated? Yep. The second is local. Yep. locally based, headquartered across the country. The third is specialized. In a particular property type, or special interest, or even geography, it could be the same building Street Neighborhood. Yep. The fourth is surprises, the delightful surprises that you get when you stay at a boutique hotel engineered into the business model. So these four things family, local, specialized and surprises. If we focus on these four things, and we repeat them day in and day out in our businesses, we end up forging this limited edition moat. Yeah. And as a reminder, those letters spell out floss. Which is a reminder, you must do it regularly. Yeah, every single day, everybody on your team repeating this, these value propositions. And what you will find is that suddenly the guests that are choosing your rentals in their inquiries, they'll start saying, Oh, I noticed you were a family owned business. We have one as well. Yeah. Or we were looking for a locally based manager because the last time we stayed with someone who was headquartered elsewhere, yeah, exact Oh, specialized in lakefront homes for large groups. That's us. Yeah. So all of these things repeated regularly end up creating the limited edition positioning, which I believe is fun, and I believe is perfectly cut out for the vacation rental sector where if you lose that element of character, you've lost your place.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad that you've told us those four things and happy to say I think our business here at Condo World world fits all force that makes me proud to be Part of it, but that's the

Matt Landau:

best thing. Most people, they they're like, Oh,

Alex Husner:

we already do these things. Yeah. I mean, we just need to reinvent the wheel. But I think we need to but so that kind of goes into my next question of limited edition, the way that you started that story was when there was, you know, limited properties that you could buy there. And then the limited amount of pens. We, there's not a I mean, there's there's a cap, but we have a lot of properties. So if you're a company that has, you know, hundreds of units, it's not that it's limited, but it's more, it's more in the mindset, I think it's you have to be careful how you say that. So it doesn't look like you don't have a lot of it, I guess, so that the consumer doesn't feel that way. But how do companies at scale, take limited edition and do it well. And have you seen Do you have any examples of ones that have?

Matt Landau:

That's the billion dollar the $76 billion question, right? That's the question that our industry is riding on right now. Yeah, yeah. And I'm as awesome that you put your finger exactly on it. I think limited edition has evolved over the years. And I think of it now as relative phrase. So to accompany with 50 properties, somebody with one property who's just oozing character is significantly more limited edition, right? Yeah, for sure. To a ccompany with 5000 properties, the company with 50 is significantly more limited edition. Now step outside the vacation rental sector, and say to a company like Marriott, a company like V trips, or Casa go are supremely Limited Edition. Yeah. So we have to ask ourselves, one, what kind of limited edition do we want our businesses to be? That's really important, first and foremost. But in terms of how we scale it, I keep going back to the irrefutable, which is character is the number one reason people choose vacation rentals outside of the obvious. Number two, each home is different. Yep. Each home has its own homeowner. Yeah, yeah, in most cases, some weird new models out there. But in most cases, every home has its own home owner who bought it for a reason. They're each different. All the decorations are different. This is the both the best part

Alex Husner:

about it. And and the worst?

Matt Landau:

Yeah, God, not this again. Yeah. Well, because

Alex Husner:

it I mean, it goes to the professional side of things, you know, that concept of, okay, we could standardize, we could make all of our linens, you know, all white. So it's more like a hotel experience. But what does that take away from the experience of being in that home or that condo? And it does, but yeah, that's, I think you're you've you're spot on. I mean, the companies like a V trips or Casago that are doing that well at scale. You know, huge kudos to them. Because that's it's not an easy thing.

Matt Landau:

I also learned something from being on the road with both those companies for a number of months doing Yeah. Standards are a luxury. In our industry, standards give you first mover advantage. Which sounds weird to say, because if you have one property, you have standards, yeah. But your one property is one of a whole bunch in any given destination. And it's a complete crapshoot as a guest as a traveler, myself included, if I don't know someone in any given destination, I'm booking it's Russian roulette. It's unpredictable. And that's why some degree of standards that are served to the traveler, become suddenly a game changer. And you don't need to be the most limited edition business. If what you're focusing on is that wide scale standardization. Yeah. And those two companies that I just mentioned, that's what they do. Yeah. And I think that is tremendously innovative. And it's very different than the person with one property doing Limited Edition. But I think at at the core of everybody who's trying to make money and enjoy this industry, the core is exactly how you phrase it. How do we scale that one of a kind? experience that makes vacation rentals Great.

Annie Holcombe:

That's interesting. Living in a market where the largest publicly traded vacation rental management company purchased several groups over the years. They were the ones they purchased were limited edition, they had very specific ways of doing business and treating their guests and their branding. And they were very well known for that. And watching that get wiped off the market, the color, the flavor, the the impact that they had watching that go away was really disconcerting for me living here, but also disconcerting for me just being in the industry. And, and again, the I've heard people's you know, the homogenization of vacation rentals. And we can't get to that point, we do need some, some standards, we do need some things that I think people could say that they could, they always can depend on. But what makes vacation rentals, great is exactly what you're talking about. It's all the uniquenesses from every little community, you know, you've been to the panhandle, I'm sure a million times, Panama City Beach and Destin are completely different. And then right in between it, you've got 30 A which has 14 different markets within its own. And so I think that trying to, to draft a business model at 30,000 feet, to have everything be the same from Market to Market is a little it's just it takes away what the excitement is of vacation rentals. So I think what you're talking about is spot on. But I did want to you mentioned, you spent some time on the road with with the Vtrips and Casago ago. So this goes into the next part we wanted to talk to you about was your Hhomeowners. Were so excited to hear more of it. We got to watch, we got to watch the first one, a little bit Steve shared with us. And it was incredible. Having known of Steve and known Steve for several years, it really changed my personal opinion of him humanized him in a way that I didn't know was possible honestly. You did a phenomenal job. And I say that with all due respect. I think Steve, Steve knows he's a difficult person at times. And so it really kind of just brought him down to like, okay, he gets like what we all do every day and how challenging it is. And it's not just a business for him. There's a lot of passion derived from what he's doing. And you were able to bring that out. So great job, but kind of tell us about how Homeowners came to be Yeah,

Matt Landau:

sure. I will hand it to him in the early days of VRMBs film projects. So this was back when we were filming sense of place, which is our travel show. And at the time, it was sponsored by Booking.com. And Steve and I shared a taxi in Spain. And I had never really spent more than a couple seconds around Steve. And he I said, What do you think of the show? And he said, Oh, I think it's good. And he said, but you should really do one about the managers too. And I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, you've got this travel show, which shows how to experience a destination, like a local by choosing the right vacation rental property and the right owner or manager. What you should also do is the companion series, and go behind the scenes and show what it actually takes to do the management thing properly. And I said, Nice idea, but not for me. Right? It did sit in my mind for a number of years, we continue doing our travel show, I started getting to know Steve and his business, and eventually full circle about a year back. It dawned on me that he was correct. He was ahead of ahead of its time, at least in my mind. Certainly in my creative mind, but suddenly I realized what he was trying to get at. And the premise was, if we're going to be telling the story of vacation rentals to the world, we need to show the good, the bad and the ugly. And that bad and the ugly, is what was going ignored by pretty much every storyteller out there making money off of our industry from reality TV producers, to headlines about scams and crimes to get rich quick salesman, promising that you too can make a million dollars. Ferrari off of Airbnb. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

yeah, that's where my mind immediately went to when you said that it was a few years ago that he brought that up, and that it had to have been post COVID that you changed your mind on this was actually a great idea because that is what's happened and I think that's led to a A lot of the problems that Airbnb legislative issues is that the media has made it seem like it is easy to run these businesses and that it's a get rich quick and it's just passive income. And that's that's not not the case for what we're trying to defend as an industry that we all love so much. So I think the show will be very well received. And you've got such a huge audience now because I mean, short term rentals have just exploded that it's not just, I think it'd be interesting for vacationers, but I think your kind of b2b sell on that is is vastly larger than it was even a few years ago. So the timing on it seems like it's pretty good.

Matt Landau:

Yeah, it is. Because everyone knows approximately what our industry is. But knowing that there is a professional category in which a whole bunch of geniuses are running around building little hospitality empires and one one property. Yeah, but they're so bright, and they're so thoughtful, and they're revolutionising revolutionising hospitality. Yeah. And that's a story that we think the rest of the world will get into the same way that you don't have to be a chef in order to appreciate Chef's Table.

Alex Husner:

Right? Exactly. You just have to like food. It's about storytelling, you know, and you're, you're a great storyteller. And I think this is going to be a great show. But at the end of the day, what all we do is about people. And when you look at the companies that have scaled well, with limited edition, a Casago or V trips, they've done that, because they've invested in their people, they empower them to feel connected, that they are part of the outcomes and what this means to people and families that are checking in with them. I think when you get people invested at that level, that's really what ensures the success and in other companies that have tried to do it at a national level, I don't think that's been the case. So I think both of those two companies are set up well, to really take the limited edition to scale. But it's, we're so excited to see the whole event. Just unveil we saw the first episode with Steve and we saw the preview of the one with with Steven cost ago. But just very excited for all of it.

Matt Landau:

Can we tell people about our special event in October?

Alex Husner:

Yes, yes. I can't believe we waited so long.

Matt Landau:

We I'm speaking on behalf of all three of us. Yeah. In Las Vegas, on the kickoff evening of VRMA International, premiering world premiering the world premiere global world premiering the first episode of Home runners, it will be a free event, Please RSVP, we'll be adding a way to do that. But we're going to make a big to do out of it. And we'll have Phocuswrite there who will be doing some interviews with the cast up on stage. And we really want to just have our moment are coming out moment to the world. This is what professional vacation rentals are capable of, in a room full of our colleagues who do this regularly, we think you will laugh, we think you will scoff you may throw some fruits and vegetables. That's fine. That's vacation rentals. And so that's October 23rd. And maybe we can include a link in the in the show notes.

Alex Husner:

Absolutely. Yeah. And so are involved in on this. And thank you very much for asking us to participate. We are going to be hosting the red carpet as everybody enters to see the premiere. So we are very, very excited about that. And we've got a list of some different celebrities that we will be interviewing on their way in and we'll be making sure that all those celebrity guests have their black tie and formal gowns on that was on Steve Milo's requirements, so it's gonna be a lot of fun. We're very excited to participate.

Annie Holcombe:

Where do you where do you see? So you've you've filmed two episodes are you think you're still working on the second but how many episodes do you think it's going to be in? Where do you see this going? Like is this something that you plan on getting on Discovery network and it'd be coming or going on Netflix, something similar to the the the series that they have about the the world's most amazing vacation rentals, like something along those lines?

Matt Landau:

Indeed, we've always used YouTube as our primary distribution channel. And something not a lot of people know is that the way people used to spend money on television advertising, you pay NBC to show your ad in between the Superbowl let's write. That same dynamic can be wielded using YouTube paid advertising, which allows for much more focused and targeted demographic advertising than anything else. So we have historically loved that because it shows us where our viewers are coming from. It allows us to reach new audiences. It allows us to see what parts of each episode are viewed the most. And this is all super in You're staying for us because we feel really strongly about owning all of our content and all of our creative. In fact, this whole film thing got started when I was asked to film a makeover style vacation rental show. And it was by a reality TV producer that's done a bunch of shows that we all know. And immediately I said, No, because it was so obvious what they were going to do to my brand and my reputation, right. And that overnight, success just was not a narrative that I was ready to get behind. And they would have owned all the creative and owned all the content. So in passing on that opportunity, my mentor challenged me, he said, if you're gonna pass on something that big, you need to come up with

Alex Husner:

your own, follow it up with something else.

Matt Landau:

So that was our first big lesson in requiring that we owned all the creative and the content as we built it. However, YouTube can only go so far in terms of distribution, as you mentioned, there's different platforms that reach different groups in different ways. So our goal for Homerunners runners is indeed to continue filming, we just finished filming the Casago episode that's in post production, to continue filming, and to pursue these different platforms that likely don't know anything about vacation rentals, other than it's kind of a sexy topic, right? Yeah. We think we have a good case there. But we also have a pretty neat backup plan, which is a built in closed network of hundreds of 1000s of very highly targeted screens throughout the world. And that is the vacation rental management. Community. Yeah, yeah. So we started thinking to ourselves as a backup for if nothing else, who would this content be great for and back to our conversation about conveying professionalism, setting expectations, pulling back the curtain, even if it's ugly, we thought a good demographic for that would be people who are staying in vacation homes. And if every vacation home within the community had a place where you could watch home runners materials, we have kind of a built in way of packing the system in that sense. So this is new territory for me. But I tend to like looking at the resources that we currently have already, as opposed to crossing our fingers that we're going to find some kind of deal. While we pursue those options. This will be our our standing plan.

Alex Husner:

Okay, wow, that's a great plan. And no matter which way it goes, you're definitely going to help a lot of people and entertain people and make them laugh and make them want to go on vacation. So that's what it's all about is the end of the day.

Annie Holcombe:

Have you identified the next? Yeah, you're gonna work with? Yeah,

Matt Landau:

not yet. You know, it's quite, it's been quite a learning experience. This this project, our travel show was a relatively linear process, we'd go to a new destination, having pre chosen our host, through the community, having pre chosen an iconic vacation home, we kind of knew everything was gonna be great. We do the experiences, I'd write an essay, and then poof, we got ourselves in episode. Home runners is a very different creative process in that we don't know the stories that we are diving into, only, in fact, I think we probably still don't have a full grasp on them. But we go into like true documentarians, and we just start paying attention and taking notes. So we spend a lot of time with, with these companies in different destinations with different employees, different people that interact with the companies. Yeah. And slowly, sometimes more slowly than I would like. A story it starts to take shape. Yeah, yeah. And you start to see, okay, maybe these are the most important elements of this particular company that the world needs to needs to know. And that is such a nonlinear process. It's insane. So we made a rule. We're not taking on new projects until we have basically got the end of one project. Yeah, completion. We're currently towards the end of Casago episode, which will be just under 45 minutes, which should be ready around the time if not soon, after. VRMA International as well.

Alex Husner:

Oh, that's awesome. So we'll be able to watch both of those on YouTube. Once the premiere happens.

Matt Landau:

You know, we'll be able to watch them for anybody who's listening here will probably place a link whether it's YouTube or a private server one, one will work.

Alex Husner:

Okay. Okay, well, make sure you send those links to us so that we can get updated for everybody. But yeah, that's super exciting. So one other question wanted to ask you about, you just had an incredible retreat that you and Steve Schwab from Casago put on the Keystone retreats. Can you tell us a little bit about that concept and how they went?

Matt Landau:

Sure. And thanks for mentioning that, Steve had been nudging me, let's say, for years to take the virtual energy that was happening in VRMBs community daily, and to channel it into a physical event. And for years, I said, Absolutely not. Notice a theme about my brainstorming.

Alex Husner:

So you say no first and then because of

Matt Landau:

an idea, and then slowly, it takes me years to realize

Alex Husner:

what to No.

Matt Landau:

on this particular case, we ended up spending a lot of time with Steve and Ryan at Casago, filming. And we had a lot of the same concerns, a lot of the same ideas about the power of small group collaborations. And, frankly, I had never attended a retreat before, or a mastermind type group. I was in one on Skype, one time, but I know people talked about retreats in a different way than they talked about online stuff. And the way they talked about large conventions. And so the idea slowly emerged, why not have a little prototype event in which we have leading operators, we made a conscious decision not to have any vendors there. In which the costs of the event would be covered by ticket sales, which is to say there wouldn't be a need for sponsorship, which influences things one way or another. And to retreat, and to unite these small groups and to see what happens. And leading up until the first arrival day, I was completely terrified. completely terrified. I have some of my, the people I revere most in the entire world took a gamble to come attend this thing with no information. Yeah, and I'm gonna blow it.

Alex Husner:

What do you do they get there? I don't know what to talk about. No pressure,

Matt Landau:

I was not I was having nights in which I wasn't sleeping, oh, my God having bad dreams. And I would wake up and I would go refine my program. And I would, you know, go for a run or something like that. And it was terrifying. But the moment the first group arrived, all of that anxiety subsided. That's because back to your comment, Alex, about the people. When you put like minded people who are different from one another who are not part of the same old club, but who are new, who are strangers, when you put them in one space, and you allow them to interact. The programming stuff is actually just second fiddle. It's

Alex Husner:

in the background. Yeah. Background. Yeah. The relationships are being built there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No shortage of things to talk about. I'm sure.

Annie Holcombe:

Foster great conversation. Yeah,

Matt Landau:

yeah. Yeah, non stop talking. Like I had this cowbell that.

Alex Husner:

The opposite of what you thought you probably had a harder time getting everybody to refocus, because they were just in, you know, engulfed in their own conversations

Matt Landau:

completely. And they would have gone on forever had we not gone to the next, the next scheduled event. But what the big thing that I learned in that whole experience was growth requires uncertainty. And in leading up to the event, I was so uncertain, and I was so confused. And I had been challenged by various people put on these events for living with questions that I simply had didn't have the answers to. And only at the end of the fourth cohort, did I realize that I just went through the unraveling. Yeah. And then the building backup process that we designed for our attendees to go through that discovery process. I went through it myself in figuring out what do we want out of this little retreat? Yeah, and that was a really cool learn personal learning experience for me. I have started seeing things very differently. And I certainly still deeply appreciate everybody who showed up with no, with no way of explaining to their spouses what the hell it was. Yeah. Plenty of them afterwards were like, Honey, I still couldn't even describe it to you. But we know there's something cool there. The commentary

Annie Holcombe:

that came out of it that we've I know, that I've seen was just like, people just were, again, appreciative that somebody put something together just for them that there was they didn't feel the pressure of having a vendor that was there, this would make them feel uncomfortable. But to your point about you learning as you go kind of thing, and one of the things that Alex and I touched on, almost instantly, when we decided we're gonna do the podcast was like, just get so uncomfortable, like, the more uncomfortable you get, the more learnings you're gonna have. So you just had that experience. And now you're going to be able to do these events without even thinking about it and go to your net, you'll be pushed to your next really uncomfortable place to do something amazing.

Matt Landau:

That's beautiful. I think it's also worth pointing out that get do all the uncomfortable things. So long as you've got like some good people around you. Oh, yeah, right.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. Yeah, no, it's it's a, it's a great point. And just looking back over my career, and even the last year, you look back on the things that made you nervous or apprehensive to do and then now it's like, that's, that's nothing compared to the next thing that you have, that you're looking ahead on that now that is what is making you nervous. But life is definitely about connecting those dots. And those moments. And as you said earlier, you're a connector. Annie and I definitely are, too. So I knew we would have a lot to share today and a lot. And so

Annie Holcombe:

yeah, Matt, it's it's nice to finally actually meet you and talk to you. I know it's yeah, it's virtual. But I've just admired you for a really long time. And I know that there were some things that got reshard that you had posted several, several years ago. And I remember reading what you were writing and and again, I was at Expedia at the time. But having come from the management side of it, I was like this guy understands it. And I would tell people, you know, you need to read what he's writing. Like he gets it he understand. And this is what I'm trying to tell you. But because I'm not in it anymore. I can't tell you for certain that this is what's happening today. But you just have always had a really good eye and grasp and your ability to wordsmith everything in a way that is understandable by regard anybody in the industry, it's not so deep that it gets confusing. You've done a really great job. And you've been a tremendous advocate. So I'm honored to finally meet you. And I'm looking forward to doing this Homerunner stuff with you in Las Vegas and just the beginning of more things that we can do together.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. I hope so.

Matt Landau:

Amen Annie! And I think for all of our listeners, it takes practice talking about what you do for a living, because you do it naturally. That's your full time gig, talking about the best practices, takes practice, yes, and repetition. And all three of us started out by doing one thing, and that was sharing our original thoughts. And not just copying what everybody else was saying. But sharing our original thoughts as simply as social media or on a blog, or a podcast. Yeah. And that takes some damn courage. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

for sure. It does. It's

Matt Landau:

a little terrifying. But I think a lot of our colleagues who have it in them. Yeah, I really do.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. And we're we've got several, several of our upcoming guests were at the retreat that you just had. And they are part of what we've dubbed our All Stars of exceptional property managers that we're going to be bringing on to have conversations that sounds like similar to what what what you're talking about at these retreats. But we agree, I think there's so many great minds in our industry and a lot of them that don't always have a voice to share, or they might not feel comfortable at a conference asking a question or getting up and doing a presentation. I mean, that's that's still scary to a lot of us. So I think podcasting has been a great way of just giving, giving some voice and some very well deserved notoriety to these people that are really exceptional within their own businesses and communities.

Matt Landau:

And I think building your personal brand is something that everybody can probably do a little better. Yeah, a little more these days. Whether you're working for another company, right now or yourself. It compounds, the investing in that brand and sharing those original thoughts regularly. It adds up over time. Who knows you who you'll be working with five or 10 years from now, but every deposit in that piggy bank goes towards it.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Personal Brand is definitely very important.

Annie Holcombe:

We focus on that a lot. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

yeah. Well, Matt, Thank you so much for being here today. If our listeners want to get in touch with you, what's the easiest way for them to contact you

Matt Landau:

can use my email. It's on every one of our newsletters. It's Matt with two T's at vrmb.com. And if you want to sign up for the newsletter, it's a free weekly mailer. I missed the last couple of weeks because I was inside of the vortex. We'll be dealing with the mailers again, this coming this week. And that's VRMB.com.

Alex Husner:

Okay, great. And we will include information for where people can sign up for the Homerunners event also, and then as we get closer if there are any links, somebody's listening to this later on. We'll update to make sure that those are there for people to go back and watch it when everything's live and visible to the out to the world. If anybody wants to contact Annie and I,you can go to Alex and Annie podcast.com. And until the next time, thank you so much for tuning in everybody. Thanks, Matt.

Matt Landau Profile Photo

Matt Landau

Founder - VRMB.com

Matt is the founder of VRMB.com and creator of the upcoming docu-series, Homerunners. He entered vacation rentals after a visit to Panama City, Panama and never looked back. His devotion and passion for the industry is unparalleled as shown by his drive to provide educational resources to property managers large or small. He is the host of the popular Unlocked and How to Save Your Rentals Podcasts as well as the host of "The Vacation Rental Show". Matt is often a featured presenter or speaker at the industries leading events and has a loyal following through his VRMB Communities Inner Circle.