Aug. 10, 2022

Predicting a Wave of Tech Consolidations, with Matt Loney, CEO of Xplorie


Today we're joined by Matt Loney, CEO of Xplorie, for a conversation about the current state of guest experience and tech in the vacation rental industry and what the future holds for consolidation between overlapping products. 

Matt predicts there will be 3 main sectors of vacation rental technology that will see consolidation: 

  1. Guest Communication/Acquisition / CRM
  2. In-room technology
  3. Operations (housekeeping & maintenance) 

The influx of new technology pouring into vacation rentals has undoubtedly streamlined many aspects of the business, but take one lap around the vendor hall at a vacation rental conference and you'll quickly see the overlap between several of these new providers. At the end of the day, profitability is key and in a low-margin business, there's only so many services you can add on before you start seeing diminishing returns. As Matt says, "the tech stack is just getting too big." 

Developing an exceptional guest experience is a vital part of building a book direct brand that encourages repeat business and reduces your reliance on OTAs. When evaluating products or services to enhance the guest experience, be sure to ask yourself: Will this help me win NEW guests? Will it help me KEEP existing guests so they book direct next time, and don't leave to go stay with a competitor? 

You'll also notice, there's a story within this episode - Lance Stitcher, owner of Seaside Vacation Rentals, joins us to share how using Wheelhouse for their revenue management has enabled him and his wife Elaine to 10x their business over the past 2 years. It's all part of Wheelhouse's Spotlight on Exceptional Property Managers. 

Wheelhouse is offering listeners of our podcast 50% OFF your 1st 2 months - use promo code ALEXANNIE or mention this podcast when you talk to them!  http://www.usewheelhouse.com/?afmc=Alex%26Annie 

Wheelhouse
is a proud member of Alex & Annie's List, presented by Rev & Research - launching soon! Sign up for for the official launch announcement here: https://www.alexandannieslist.com

CONTACT MATT LONEY
Xplorie.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. And I'm Annie. And we are joined today with Matthew Loney, who is the CEO of Xplorie and good friend to Annie and I in the podcast. Welcome to the show, Matt.

Matt Loney:

Thank you very much. Glad to be here. I've been listening to you guys for half feels like a little while now maybe like six, seven months, since you guys been doing this, and congrats on all this success. But and thanks for having me.

Alex Husner:

Absolutely. Thank you so much to you. And we appreciate your support. And just sharing stories over the last six or seven months has been has been fun between us. And you know, the other podcasts that are out there. And actually, it's funny because I went on your show about this time last year, I think we recorded and was also on Wil Slickerss right after that. And then they both aired on the same day and almost had the same title. It was yeah, it was funny. But um, but I think that kind of further got the bug in my ear about podcasting. And Annie and I had been talking about it for a few months ahead of time. So I would say we owe a little bit of that to you. Because that just kind of got me excited about it. So appreciate what you guys do, too, because we have some excellent content.

Matt Loney:

Well, thank you know, we have a lot of fun doing it. And as you guys have figured out it's it's not it's not easy, right? It's a bigger time commitment when you get into them when you get into it. But it has been fascinating, just the people that you'll get a chance to meet the quality of the questions you get to ask and and get people's thoughts on. I told somebody the other day, you know, for our guest X podcast, I said that most of these people would never have taken my call if I just said, Hey, will you give me 30 minutes of your time. So I can ask you a bunch of you know, questions, but they'll come on to the show and, and really be real open and honest just about their experiences and building their businesses and where they see their industries headed. And so it's been a lot of fun.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. I

Annie Holcombe:

couldn't agree with you more. We've we've had some great conversations and to your point that there are people that never would have taken my call because I'm on the sales side of things that they would have been like. But now they want to talk to me. So it's great, but not for our guests. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and where you are now you're the CEO and President of Xplorie, but kind of give us your history and how you got there.

Matt Loney:

Yeah, so like a lot of people it was not a straight line to where I am today, right? We took a lot of zigging and zagging. But I like to tell people, I'm a recovering attorney. I practiced practice for maybe I don't know, six or seven years. I knew really early on that this was not for me. To which my wife reminded me of how much debt we had gone into to get me through law school. I put in my I put my time in the practice of law, but no, I ended up wanting to get into business didn't really know what that meant. I liked you know, I was on the m&a side, doing some hotel work, some franchising, and so had the opportunity. A client of mine Mellow Mushroom in Atlanta. When I was up there. The founders were getting to a point where they were ready to retire. And I had been doing their real estate, site selection, their franchising work and asked me to come on and really kind of run the day to day. And I, you know, jumped at the opportunity. I went home and I told my wife and I'll never forget, I still reminder, her first response was you can't make a bowl of Fruit Loops. How are you gonna run a

Alex Husner:

great way of saying it!

Matt Loney:

Yeah, it was, you know, he for all of us who have our partners who you know, who you know, support us that wasn't my first reaction. I thought she was gonna get me to kind of stop me in my tracks and like, she's right. I don't know anything about I'm sure they got people for that. And so anyways, did that for a little bit and then went and also ran another pizza company for Oregon capital up in Atlanta and did that for about six years and got out and said, Okay, I figured out I really do like business but the restaurant industry is brutal. Vacation Rentals. I think vacation rental industry is really hard. It's really operationally heavy, I think. Restaurants as much or even more so with thinner margins. Yeah. And yeah, so I got introduced to our founder who had really just kind of exploring it, which at the time was under a different name. He was an opera. She's really a lifestyle company. For him. His kids didn't want the business. And some angel investors who had made a lot of money in real estate came to me and said Willa, will you look at this concept just consult for us and help us out. And I went down to desert and met with Darryl, spent a week with them and was blown away at what he had built just from the business concept and what he was doing. And he was really in like two markets. And I went back to the investors and I said, Look, if you guys put some money in this, you really build some good tech there. The business concept here is, is outstanding. And, and so they called me back about a month later, and they said, Hey, we're going to do it, but you need to go down there and run it for us. And, and, and so I thought about it. And I said, you know, I really liked the space. I mean, this was seven years ago now and is really growing even back then it was starting to take off and and so I came in I did it. And I never looked back since I will tell you it is this is this is the most enjoyable job I've ever had. I tell people every day I hope I retire in this in this role. And we're just having a lot of fun with this with this industry. And with guest experiences. It's really come into its own. And yeah, that's how we that's how we got here. So today, you know, almost 140 partners, probably managing now. 15,000 Plus vacation rentals, we have some hotels that we work with are starting to work with some RV resorts. Really high end RV resorts. So it's it's exciting.

Alex Husner:

That's awesome. Yeah. Very unique starting point, for sure. The for loop.

Annie Holcombe:

How to make a pizza, or do you know how to make or Well, I guess it's just said, Do you know how to make Froot Loops now? Yeah, I

Matt Loney:

can make Froot Loops. I can make a mean pizza. I got behind the line and started to figure it out. Yeah. So it's been fun.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah. It's interesting. One of the things you said, though, that your wife said, Well, what do you know about pizzas? And that's one of the topics that we've not pizzas. But that's and one of the topics we've kind of covered with some of our female CEO guests that we've had on the show that I've said, you know, women get in that situation a lot that they want to go for a job position, but they don't feel like they fit all the criteria, or they might not know everything there is to know about the specific industry. And for that reason, they just they don't end up pushing themselves out of comfort zones to apply for these types of roles that might be different than what they know. But looking back at that time, you know, what, what gave you the courage to say, It's okay, like, I'll just figure it out. Because I'm, you know, how did you get there?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, that's it. And I can understand how people and we can really think about I had that same same feeling, really, when I came to vacation rentals, I knew nothing, I think we'd stayed in a vacation rental or two, right? I probably would have been one of these people would have referred to it, you know, back then it was mainly HomeAway. You know, I stayed with Homeaway, right? Yes, I wouldn't even have known that that was a who was managing the property. And I think, I think a lot of it one is building a really good support system. We all need, you know, people talk about it is really important. You need people who understand your weaknesses and and can help you, you know, really put a mirror up to who you are. But at the same time, we all need those people in our lives who, who said, you know, who are more of the yes, people like get confidence. Right, the confidence, right? And you know, for me, I will tell you, I have that and my wife now have been neck this month, 16 years. Hope I did that math correctly. It'll be 16 years. But and, you know, she she's always been the one who said, Look, we'll figure it out. Like we're not if it doesn't work, we're not going to end up living under a bridge. Yeah. You know, and sometimes I think that fear of failure for a lot of us is bigger in our heads than it needs to be. You have to quiet that voice. So yeah, I would say that's the biggest, that's the most important piece. Because I think once you get into business, there is some real truth to the fact that, you know, the p&l is look different, you know, the how they make their money and kind of the margins and those type of things look different. But at the end of the day, it's about people. Right? Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, that's where I got really good in the restaurant industry. I think what gave me some confidence coming to exploring and really launching exploring as a brand was that the one thing where we really succeeded in our restaurants was building a better guest experience and the success we had had there. And I think at the end of the day, if you understand that and how you can eliminate friction for the guests. There's not many industries, you can't take that To be really, really successful, right? And also, then I'd say the other piece is people on the your employee side, can you get them to understand the why rally behind it? Yeah, and understand their peace in it. And again, if you can do that, it doesn't matter to me if you're making widgets, or running vacation rentals, or what have you, you're going to be really successful at whatever you choose to do. Yeah,

Alex Husner:

it's interesting, you got started on guest experience before guest experience was even really a term that people threw around, you know, I mean, when you first started at explore, I doubt that that was something that you heard people specifically categorizing it as and thinking about it in the in the way that we do now, you know, I mean, there's so much more of a focus on it, which is really a great thing. And obviously, that makes sense why your podcast is the guest X podcast, right? But just bringing that information to the forefront of the industry. You know, in the last few years, I just, I feel like there's been so much improvement on how all of us as operators look at that side of the industry and how important it is. And it's not just about getting people checked in, checked out, clean the beds, and on to the next one.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, I think, uh, you know, it's interesting, because I started in the hotel world and the hotel world, the guests experience was directly related to the amenities that you had at the property. Yeah. And so you know, that was the guest experience was always part of the culture of a hotel. But the problem is not every hotel had amenities. So there had to be something that was created. And what you were able to do is create this experience that again, goes back to why do people go to a destination are going to experience a destination, and it's not necessarily within the walls of a building, it is what is going on, it's, you know, coming to the beach, going, you know, all of the activities in our market, seeing the museums, those type of things. And so I think the guests experience that it became a more a broader, a broader term, you know, broader subject that you could work with. So that what you build up, like, when you started, where did you? Did you have a vision of where you wanted it to go? Or was it very, very simplistic start, and then you just, it just kind of, has taken a life of its own?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, I'd love to say that I, I knew we would be where we are today, seven years ago, but you know, that I just don't think that's realistic, and it wouldn't be true. I, I do, you know, my feeling is I set three year goals for our team. And every year, we add in a year, so it's always it's a running three years, we do have that kind of bigger than life goal. That's kind of somewhere at the end of the rainbow. But it's, it's less. At that point. It's not really around. We don't know exactly how we're going to get there. Right. And so that's how we, we try to think about it. And I think what's been really helpful is you guys bring up the guest experience, what I'm excited about is what you guys have talked about, which is the guest experience now in hospitality and in lodging really has expanded to be the entire guest journey. Yep. Things explore. He's not even into, you know, right now. But from the time they decide they're going to go on vacation to that moment in time when I try to get them to think about going on vacation again. Yeah, it's really now everybody looks at that as guest experience. And they should, and they should, because it really is from the time they begin interacting with your brand. To through that whole lifecycle is now the guest experience. We've I think everybody's thinking about that. And how to connect the dots in a way that's a lot easier for the guests because the guests don't really care and nor should they how hard operationally our business. Yeah, our jobs to make hard look easy. Right. So that's fun.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think you guys have done an exceptional job with connecting the dots there. And you know, really, when you the way we've always looked at guest experience is more, you know, I think there's two sides of that. It's one is how you make your guests feel, right. I mean, it's an emotional thing. And then there's also the tangible part that yes, it's great to get, you know, tickets to go to attractions and things like that. But it's kind of a combination of the two. And I think from what I've seen with what Explorer does, you know, you you are part of the guest journey and that communication path and making sure that when guests are ready to book tickets that they have the service to be able to do that. And that's that's always been the struggle for accommodations providers is that we don't have the staff to do a full concierge. Like it just doesn't make sense for most of us and our business models. And I've shared this with you before we've tried to do it on our own a few times. We've failed a few times and we're kind of in that no man's land right now trying to figure out some yeah on different ways to move forward. But it's, it's a struggle, because I think no matter how you do it, it's going to be a significant financial and operational resource employment or deployment. So it's you just have to have the right mindset of what the value is on the other side, which is creating that return. Guest. I mean, that's, that's the most important part. Because if you look at how much we spend on our advertising and OTA commissions, if you have to continuously keep spending that every year, because you're not getting guests to come back to you, you know, that's that's the longer run, look back. That's a challenge.

Matt Loney:

It is. And you know, it's interesting, because I think part of part of the success of exploring has been around to hear exactly what you're talking about Alex, which is making it easier. So our why really is we want to make it easier for local businesses to support other local businesses. If you think about that, there's a lot of there's a lot of friction between how do I get guests these tickets? How do I get them accurate information? What happens if they want to cancel? You? It's like most things you get into and you go, this shouldn't be that hard. Yeah, but but it is, yeah. But then if you can get these types of systems in place, you really, you get an entire community, which is what's really cool about leisure, right? Our towns or cities tend to be smaller,mean Destin is, like 12,000, full time residents I know. Annies over in Panama City Beach, which is bigger, but still not a large Myrtle Beach. But, you know, you get these communities and you give them the tools so that they can all promote each other and promote what's great about their communities. And it gets them all pulling in the same direction. And I think, at their core, they all want to do that. It's just like you said, Alex, the how and the in the logistics of making that happen is is difficult. And it's gotten harder, because now guests don't check in, in a lot of places. I know they do with you, Alex, but they allowed him to go straight to the door. And so you don't you lose that opportunity to tell them about your community?

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. Yeah, I think it goes nicely with what like trip shock does about their training team to have those conversations with people when they're you booking to kind of, you know, help them find what does that package look like? What is their get? What is their experience going to look like within the market. And so, you know, all of these, all of these things coming from hotels, to vacation rentals, I know, when I was at vacation rentals, we would spend all winter going around to partners in the market to say like, you know, how can we package a deal that has attractions to shipwreck attractions, you know, to attractions, Miracle strip, and all these putt putt places and deep sea fishing, and it was a lot of work. But at the

Alex Husner:

end, that's not your core business model. Probably more complicated to put all that together. Absolutely.

Annie Holcombe:

But to your point, at the end of the day, like we're all we're all working together, we're all we're all we're a village, we're all working in the same village to make sure that these people come and visit our village and want to come back. And so it's great to have something like an Xplorie to help kind of , again, connect all those dots, get all the pieces together. And so what you're doing is tremendous. And where do you see like what so on that I Alex I have noticed a lot of the people that we've interviewed come from the panhandle, so we have minds as well. Yeah, there's something in the water down here. So I'm drinking it and hopefully I'll have my million dollar idea. Do you see do you see exploring branching out into like, you're in the US domestically? I know you're actually in Hawaii right now. You're so you're working with Hawaii properties. But do you think that this this is something that can take over to Europe and do well over there? I would think with museums and people wanting to travel that the US traveler would feel comfortable using a US company like exploring to set their travel up for overseas.

Matt Loney:

Yeah, we do. We do. So I mean, this year, we'll well we should be in the UK this fall. We're starting there. We think it's a little easier to doesn't have quite the language and some of the other issues. And yeah, and not only for us travelers, I think headed abroad, but really, you know, the vacation rental market is so much more mature over in Europe is just part of the culture it has been it's it's where the the entire industry really was founded and so but they're also they the guest journey is very similar to what it is here in the US which is you've got people going into markets and they're they're there on leisure to really experience those markets. You know, London's a great example and the off everything to see in London. So helping gas To be able to more easily navigate the best things to do, and, and buying the tickets and where to go and, and getting all of that set up is we think a huge opportunity for exploring, I think guests today have shown they want more than just an online marketplace where I can go and and pick from eight different museums, they need that to be, you know, they want the recommendations, they want to have somebody who maybe helps facilitate, is this good for, you know, a 10 year old or, you know, things like that, where can I take my children? So, we think we think that's a huge opportunity. And I think the other opportunity is really starting to build tools. And and we're starting this year, we'll come out with a few that start to help our partners on the lodging side, better utilize their data that they're getting now once they understand what guests are coming into the market to do. And that that I think, ultimately is the real value of participating in this ecosystem is the more and Alex is a genius when it comes to the marketing stuff. So I know she she probably salivates at the idea of really understanding this guest comes in, they've got two kids, and they like to do these activities where this couple comes in. They have no kids, and they play golf every day. Yeah, you just you talk to those guests differently. on marketing, and you should. But I think that we've still got some pieces to tie together to make that happen.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, for sure. And we just yesterday, we had our Myrtle Beach chamber and CVB marketing summit and spent a lot of time diving into that. And we actually we just had and St. Onge from flip to on the show. His episode aired on Wednesday, and he does a lot of work with us at the CVB. And really what they've developed for us is exactly in line with what you're saying, Matt, that, you know, we need to be able to have a better idea of why people are coming to the market and then making sure that from that point forward. We're commuting, communicating with them appropriately because somebody that's coming for a golf trip doesn't necessarily want to see you know, the sea screamer and dolphins and all this other stuff, you know, or girlfriend getaway. So it's the more that we can personalize that journey. I think that's where there's going to be a lot of wins for the destinations. And the companies that can do that. Because I think though TAs are doing it to a certain extent, but it's more just based on its its heart product of products. You know, you you came here last time and you search these dates and you looked at these properties. And it's very mechanical feeling where I think vacation rentals is much more of an emotional buy. And actually I was I was in private. It's been a long week. I feel like this was years ago, but or two weeks ago, earlier this week I was in your market I was in Destin. And I went to the northwest, Florida vrma Little meetup that they had and spent a lot of time talking to Richard Oliver us from Ocean Reef resorts. And he said it so perfectly. He's like, you know, we in our advertising, we show pictures of families, and we show the emotion and you just don't get that on the OTAs. And that's how we all and we're the exact same way. I mean, that's how you make your brand stand out differently and build those connections with guests. And just the more you can connect the dots on the experience, the better. But do you pass the information that you gather? Through what guests book mean? How is that then recycled back to the property manager to use for future communications are future stays like what does that part of the journey look like?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, so our clients receive all their data. Usually once a year in our, in some of our ski markets, it's twice a year, we'll break it up by season. And it is down to here's

Alex Husner:

in the same room that you're staying in. Exactly, the guest. Here's what they did. Here's how many people went on that, that that tour. So we're breaking all of that down for them. And we're actually now finishing a partner portal where they'll be able to log in and kind of see it in real time. I think then the ability to help them utilize that to retarget because you brought it up. That's exactly right as when I exactly. Yeah, yeah. And look at the Advantage and Part of the reason people often ask

Annie Holcombe:

so on, on all that all the different pieces of me are OTAs in our industry going to get where they've gotten where Expedia has gotten with the hotels, right where they've really flipped the power. And I don't think so because we are the vacation rental industry is is so local, that they have such an advantage and really understanding these guests and their motivations. And you know that I've never had anyone who's told me this, but I would venture to guess and I would challenge that they said it's not true that maybe they're not giving us closer booking.com bought Fare Harbor fair robbers largest active Anybody reservation management system? Everybody says, Oh, it's just sell them sell people tickets on their site. Yeah. There's some truth to that. But really what they want to know is what are people doing? Because they can't get into the units? Yeah, yeah. Right. And once that guest shows up, they lose all real understanding. And Airbnb spent $100 million reportedly building Airbnb experiences. But they really just want to know more about their guests, because they see what you said, which is, right now, our search algorithms are just very mechanical, as though you go each trip you take is for the same reasons technology that are involved in I think one of the things that we talked about with you, and you have a pretty good, I think view of it, from your perspective is the consolidation that's happening in the industry and with technology, and there's good, bad and ugly, and I think everybody's got an opinion or a take on it, just depending on which part of the ecosystem you sit in right now. So from your perspective, what do you see as I guess, the good, bad and the ugly of all this consolidation?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, I think that the good of the consolidation, and the growth in the industry is you're seeing really some really cool incredible products on the tech side that are coming out. And it's, it's attracting great minds, great minds tend to follow industries where they can make a lot of money, right, and, and so they're they're coming, people who maybe were in hotels or in other areas of hospitality are coming to the vacation rental industry with some really good tech and some really good experiences of how other industries have done it and the pitfalls of mistak they have made. And that, ultimately, will make our industry better. There's no question that I think one of the struggles I see right now is with our partners is that the tech stack is really getting too big. You there's a limit to the amount of tech that these lodging providers I think, and these vacation rental companies can pay for to have. And so with that, I think and then you throw on top of that, because tech is being developed so quickly in our industry, a lot of the tech doesn't talk to each other. Yeah. So I think I think as you start to see consolidation, it will, it will trail the consolidation on the lodging side, but we're already seeing a lot of that whether, you know, some of the big players, the Vacasa obviously comes to mind, but there's a lot of groups that are out there Avantstay has raised a lot of money. Sonders raised a lot of my who are looking for consolidation, what will follow with that is consolidation, then, I think within TAC and what you're going to see and it will be I think a benefit for everyone involved is the you're going to see Tech really in two or three areas, you're going to see what I would say guest acquisition technology. So that group will consolidate. I think you'll see consolidation in the in Unit kind of experiences, category, guests communications, there's a lot of great solutions out there around guests communications, the apps does is that the way we go is it tablets is it voice, you know, but there's got to be some consolidation there, I think then guest retention on the backside. And then the fourth bucket would be operationally housekeeping and maintenance, I think you're gonna see one or two really premium players in each of those four categories, kind of rise to the top and start to consolidate in within their, their segment there. And then what will be great for the industry is then now you're going to have some top players who can really spend some time figuring out how do we better connect these technology solutions. So that through to all the guests kind of in marketing experience type solutions, which then flows right into the retention and what these guests were doing so that those solutions can help the lodging, bring those guests back hopefully direct. And if all those can get working together, it's just not practical. Right now. There's just too many explorers integrated with 30. We have 30 integration partners, and we'll build another 4 this quarter. And it's just you know, so but there's only so many we can build to and it really keeps diluting the value of those integrations the more you have, right.

Annie Holcombe:

We interviewed down LIna Maldonado and what you're saying brings back that conversation again, Lino, another great Dustin Panama City local. But he talked to Got the leaning tower of tech, I mean, just that we are just stacking things on. And I think Alex, Alex likened it to like a Jenga. You've got all of these things being stacked on top of each other. And at some point, one piece is going to fail, and it can take the whole system down. And I know when I worked at Expedia, that was when they were starting to kind of go through their evolution of consolidation within the travel, you know, getting Travelocity and Orbitz and all of the channels that they bought, and having worked there, all of us were like, well, when is when are all these channels going to integrate with us? So we have one portal one, system, one reporting, and you've talked to the people on the tech side, which you really ever never saw, they were kind of like the guys behind the curtain at the Wizard of Oz, they were just back there doing all this amazing stuff. But they said, and they said it was a similar situation where it was a Jenga, where they're each tech stack was built in its own way. And it did one thing wrong, it could bring the whole well.

Alex Husner:

And that's that's where I really, I'm just, I'm curious about your take on how companies will move forward, you know, with the consolidation side of things, because I know, even in our experience, and we have an in house tech team, but we're not, you know, massive, but when we've looked at some different companies and integrations and things that we wanted to do to consolidate ultimately, in some cases, we've we've said no, because the tech stack that it is built on is still so different than what we have. So it's like, what are you really buying, and you'd have to re architecture the entire thing. So I mean, obviously, that's where capital comes in, you've got to have the money to be able to do that. And maybe that is how some of them plan to, but I feel like it's still it's gonna be like what Andy said, it's going to be a lot of, well, when is this gonna really happen, because there is just still a lot of legacy tech that's out there. And there's a lot of newer tech that makes legacy tech look worse. But some of the fundamentals of it are right. So it's like our company, do you think companies are going to buy other companies to consolidate them and the methodology and the ideas behind the tech, and then just re architect it? Or are they going to try and make a Jenga work within their systems? This is Crystal Ball. I don't know, it's different for every company.

Matt Loney:

Yeah. I think so I think on the lodging side, right, you're gonna have those players who view themselves as operationally stronger than and that's that. So what they're going to acquire, not for the tax that the other group has, but it's going to be more of the position that groups have in that market. And then they're going to say, if you operate that the way we operate our current portfolio, we're just going to be a lot stronger. And then they're gonna bring they're there. These are the groups who really look outside for their, for their tech partners. You know, Vacasa has built, again, because it's built themselves, they, they built a lot of their own tech, and they've tried to put themselves forth as a tech company, we'll see what Wall Street eventually thinks of that I think their stock price would indicate that Wall Street's still unsure of whether they're just a real estate company, are they truly a tech company, right, because Wall Street's gotten caught Wework is a great example of, of a valuing something as a tech company, when it's really just a real estate company. So I think they're a little apprehensive. I think, on the tech side, what we need to see is it is going to be money. And that's going to drive this and I think what you're going to have is you're going to have some players who raise a good deal of money that allows them to acquire good tech, but also then do the backend work to truly integrate it so that it feels when you're when you're in. So once you've got the two solutions, it, it all seems to work really well together. And that takes a lot of money. And with the raise, what you're going to see I think, is the companies who aren't able to raise quite as much money right now, they don't want to sell you've got a bunch of founders out there who still believe that their solution is going to be ultimately the winning solution. And capital, capital tends to be very efficient. These are really smart. People, VC and PE groups, yeah, when they land on where they're going to put their money. It's, it's usually after a lot of research, and that's going to force some of these other founders to go look, I can be a small fish in a really big pond and and grow my vision with you know, being consolidated. And, and I think too, in our industry, there's still a little bit of a consolidation is a bad word. And I understand that feeling because some of the consolidations that's happened has not been done, right. Both from for the employees by the way. Yeah. And and all the employees out there in this industry know what I'm talking about. That's all I'm gonna say. And for the founders, yeah, who were told you were going to stay on and you were going to, you know, be a part of what we're building here. We need a couple of a couple of those to kind of go the right way. And and that's coming, I think. And once people see that, I think it'll gain some momentum. And then we're gonna see some really cool tech that combines, you know, guest acquisition with the in house with some of the retention. And that's when will I think get moving?

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah. You were on Will Slickers podcast sometime last year, and it was a really good episode, I remember a lot of what you were you were talking about? I'm not sure what the question was, but it's something along the lines of, you know, what's been one of the more frustrating parts of of the business for you. And you gave a really great example of something that, you know, we're we've been through and are kind of still going through, and that is re architecting, our entire tech stack. And you said, you know, it is it's one of the least sexy processes, because it's going on completely in the background. A lot of it like Annie, you said, it's these people are behind the curtains, and you can't, you know, people like us are not actually doing the work. So it feels like nothing's really happening. But of course, you know, it is, but it's definitely a, it's tough on your patience as a business owner, or the person that's leading the strategy to just kind of have to have a lot of faith to that it's going in the right direction, because we are all currently, I mean, we're we're writing the future of this industry and the tech that is billed, and a lot of that is still to be determined. So there's not a clear roadmap on where vacation rental short term rentals is necessarily going to go with all this. So there is a lot of guesswork, and it does require faith. But I think I think you're spot on Matt, and your assessment of how those things will continue to go. And hopefully we do see some better consolidations that do change people's minds about x. I think it is a good thing.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. And so in your mind, man, I guess just ask bluntly, like, is Xplorie looking to get into a consolidation situation where you partner up merge sell to someone in maybe another discipline? Or, you know, do you do you see Xplorie standing on its own for a long time?

Matt Loney:

We? We Yes, we are. We believe that's the Yeah, no, that's a great, it's a great question. And I, and I will just I was in my head, I'm like, Have I ever answered that publicly? And and I don't, I don't think I ever have, but I will give you an honest answer. Xplorie, we believes that we are well positioned to, to, for some merger and acquisitions through some mergers and acquisitions to buy some tech companies that can better assist the the vacation rental companies, if you also add in the guest data of what yeah, the guests are doing. So we believe that's a really hard piece to go get. And but we also believe some people have built some tech that if you power it with that data, that their tech while good now becomes fantastic. Yeah, yeah. And so what we've spent the last 12 months, really is re architecting, our data lake. So with the idea that we're going to be bringing on some companies through some consolidation, that I want them to then easily be able to plug into that data lake. And so we've done we've tried to do some of that back end work. And, and get ourselves to a position where then it's quick, because I think part of it is the vacation rental operators need to be able to say see quickly, why this is a good thing for whatever our acquisition is. That company is going to come with partners and those partners are going to be leery. Yeah, why would I do that? And I want to be able to plug it in quickly. Yeah, please give them examples of how this is going to make their business better.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I think that sounds exactly like the situation that that we're in and we're probably doing it for similar reasons, too. So it's totally get it. And I think laying that foundation is just it's critical. But like I said, it's it can try your patients sometimes. But

Matt Loney:

I feel like I'm the kid in the back seat who says Are we there yet? Yeah,

Annie Holcombe:

yeah, I think I think what's key that when you kind of touched on it with some of the acquisitions and consolidation that has happened is that you have to make sure that you have all the key, the key stakeholders at the table to have a conversation and don't shut out people that are on the front line from the backline conversations, because it's really important to understand everybody's stake in it and 100% You know, so I think that I know I've seen that the situation that I've experienced myself over the years where you just sometimes people just take it for granted and think that they are in a position to make a decision for the entire group, and it doesn't necessarily end up being the right decision down the road and they regret it. And you've wasted all that time. Yeah, doing the right thing. Well,

Matt Loney:

I Annie, I think you're right. And and I'd like to go back to the why. Yeah. If you've been in certain conversations need to have stay at a certain level, but when it's gone beyond and we're in this is actually a group that we're talking to right now. It's gone beyond the stage of okay, we want to do this right. Yeah. Then it's getting people in a room and, and letting them meet each other and starting to build some synergies between all of the employees and then laying out for the employees. Here's the why. This is what you're all here to do great things. Yeah. And now let us explain to you the why of why we think this is going to empower you to do even greater things. And I think with that you get by it. Yeah. Because there is there's that fear of where are you consolidating to eliminate jobs and for efficiency and things like that? And, and again, there's some of that consolidation happening. But I think you do have to be open about what because because ultimately to everybody says, explain to me how this is better. Why is this gonna be better for me personally, right? I invest, you know, 40 50,60 hours a week in this company, maybe a company, they have no stock and no interest, no equity. And, and you're going to come in, and you're going to bring these two companies together three companies together. I think they just want to know what's in it for me, like, what's this mean, for me? And that's a fair question. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think this generation,

Annie Holcombe:

the generation that's coming up is, is more aware of their role and more ready to step up. Whereas I think when I knew I got into the industry, you just accepted that the C suite, people were making all the decisions, and you just kind of went along with it. And sometimes you liked it, sometimes you didn't. And sometimes, if you didn't like it, you can just you can go elsewhere, but people want to be with something that has staying power, and they want to be something that part of something that's bigger than themselves, but at the root of it, it needs to take care of their their humanity than themselves. But so I know we could I don't know, Alex, we could talk about this for days. And I think it's such a good topic. Certainly, we'd love to have you back. And then when you are ready to announce whatever merger.

Alex Husner:

Yeah,

Annie Holcombe:

you do, come back. But we asked you a couple of questions that you would like to share with our guests, you know, how we wrap things up? And so I think on everything that we've talked about, one of the questions that I would ask is What do you think is probably the single biggest issue that's not being discussed in our industry right now? That needs to be?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, I think I think that growth, I think the why question is not being asked enough. Why Yeah, we're growing companies are growing, and that's good. But why? And? And then asking, does that make us easy to get into the growth for growth's sake? And, you know, Steve, Milo, and I don't, there's a number of things we, we probably we don't agree on. But I will tell you, you know, Steve likes to always talk about don't buy it, not companies that are profitable here. Profitability is a big sticking point for Steve. And I think there's a valid point there, which is, you know, to some extent, just growing for top line, or for number of clients or number of units. And, you know, we all see these announcements, and we go, Wow, man, that company must be killing it. Yeah. Yeah. You know, maybe not. Yeah, maybe step back and ask why, well, what's, what's the ultimate goal that we're trying to achieve as a company, you know, for each of us as a company? And then, and make sure that what we're doing really kind of furthers that, that that goal.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. I think there's just a big question mark

Matt Loney:

Yeah. Absolutely. on the future right now for our industry. And I think there's there's always a lot of good momentum and a lot of positivity, but it's just it's, there's, there's so much new blood that's coming in. There's so much inventory that's shifting off of the legacy providers, that's going to these

Annie Holcombe:

That was a great, that was a great answer. new investors, and they're using the inventory for different reasons than it has been used previously. And I think that's just it. It's a little bit leery for a lot of companies right now to know how to make those next decisions, but it's a VRMA I think, is doing the right thing by bringing the individual owners into things or into our events to be able to get everybody at the same table and talk about, you know what that future looks like. But I think a better alignment of what that future looks like and where everybody can still coexist is going to help determine where we go. But you know, the why is that for sure. And I think again, a conversation that could we could go down another path with so appreciate your time appreciate you getting up early in Hawaii.

Alex Husner:

Is it early or late? It's it's early is

Annie Holcombe:

seven or eight hours.

Matt Loney:

Six as from from you guys. It's six. From five, five from you Annie six from you, Alex. So I started about five. I think we started about 530 This morning, which is great. I get up early. When you're over here. You get up at like 230 in the morning. When I used to travel to Vegas, you're staring you're staring Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, thank you, Matt. Yeah, so appreciate you. If any of our listeners want to get in touch with you. What's the best way to reach out?

Matt Loney:

Yeah, you know, they can go the website hello@xplorie.com He Hello at and it's just x PLO ri e.com would love Yeah, reach out. I've even my own personal email address is mloney loney@xplorie.com. But I love talking to people in the industry.

Alex Husner:

Yeah. Awesome. Well, and your podcast, the website addresses guest X.

Matt Loney:

Yes. Yeah. Guest the letter X podcast.com. Give it a listen. We, every Wednesday, we put out new episodes. So this past one, Annie i or Alex, I thought of you sites. cottages Graham came on. Yeah, those guys are doing. Okay. Yeah. I mean, 23,000 rentals. It's impressive. And he's built a culture. Yeah. And he's shown that you can acquire most of it's all acquisition. Yeah. Yeah. You talk to people and they're all they all identify as sites, right?

Annie Holcombe:

They don't lose that local brand. Yeah, that's right.

Alex Husner:

That's all good. Well, I'll definitely make sure that I listened to that then. Sykes story is really fascinating. Yeah, that's a great one.

Annie Holcombe:

Awesome. If anybody's interested in in mergers and acquisitions conversation with Matt Loney, Alex and Annie, will broker that deal.

Alex Husner:

first on the scene. Yeah, absolutely. Well, yeah, if anybody wants to contact Andy and I, Alex and Annie podcast.com. If you're enjoying the show, we'd love to hear from you. You can leave a review on our website or go to Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcast. And until next time, thank you, everybody.

Annie Holcombe:

Thank you. Thanks, Matt. Thanks, guys.

Matthew Loney Profile Photo

Matthew Loney

President and CEO

Matthew Loney is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Xplorie, the leading provider of guest experience solutions for the U.S. leisure travel industry. Delivering best-in-life moments for millions of guests annually, Xplorie has quadrupled in size the past six years under Mr. Loney’s leadership, and is expected to make its highly anticipated international debut in 2022. Mr. Loney also serves as the Co-Host of the popular GuestX Podcast, a weekly look into the technologies and human-driven initiatives that are forever changing the guest experience landscape across the hospitality sector.