Feb. 15, 2023

Revenue Management Tips & Trends for Vacation Rentals in 2023, with Rev & Research

In today’s episode, Alex and Annie welcome Ben Coleman and Rebecca Ballart, Revenue Management Consultants for Rev & Research. They share the trends they observe in today's market, with the most notable being shrinking lead times.

They discuss how to communicate with homeowners, manage CEO-level expectations, and organize the portfolio according to lead time. With more competition and softening demand, Ben and Rebecca suggest being proactive and using a data-driven approach to achieve growth.

Find out more about Ben and Rebecca's top tips and trends for vacation rentals in this latest episode of Alex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals.


Ben: Buying vacation homes today has a focus on ROI

"I think the mindset from a rental perspective is changing in that of it's not just a place that I can take my grandkids or a place I'm gonna take my kids, or a place I'm gonna pass down to my grandkids. It's more of a, Hey, we want a good ROI on our asset. We want a good ROI on our investment."

Ben: Manage expectations from the top due to softening demand

"When I say expectations, I think it starts at the property management level, at the owner, the CEO level of creating true sales budgets, of creating true expectations on what is by the unit portfolio, What are those ADRs? As we see demand softening, like we were talking about, I think there is a good potential for RevPAR growth."

Rebecca: Take a surgical approach to see where you are bleeding

"We pulled a key data leaderboard report just for those spring rates and we organized it by the units, what their year-over-year revenue was, and we were able to pull out 10 units that were behind ADR, they were behind occupancy real quickly. And so we look at it and go, okay, occupancy's down. We go over, oh, their ADRs 30% over the year, over year. Well, there's a problem right there."


This episode is brought to you by Casago, Guest Ranger and Good Neighbor Tech

Visit AlexAndAnniesList.com to view our top picks for the best suppliers in vacation rental technology and services. 

Special thanks to Rev & Research for being the presenting sponsor of Alex & Annie’s List. 

Check out our previous episode with Ben:

Bee Boppin' with Ben Coleman: Revenue Management vs. Revenue Performance


Find out more about Ben

Get to know Rebecca:

Connect with Alex and Annie and get more real vacation rental goodness:

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[00:00:00] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of vacation rentals. With more than 35 years combined industry experience, Alex Hener and Annie Holcomb have teamed up to connect the dots between inspiration and opportunity. Seeking to find the one's story, idea, strategy, or decision that led to their guest's big aha.

[00:00:22] Join them as they highlight the real stories behind the people and brands that have built vacation rentals into the $100 billion industry it is today. And now it's time to get real and have some fun with your hosts, Alex and Annie. 

[00:00:39] We'll start the show in just a minute, but first a word from our premier brand sponsor, Casa Go, and co-sponsors Guest Ranger and good neighbor Tech.

[00:00:48] Casa Go's. Founder Steve Schwab has been quoted as saying you can only be a local in one place. The simple yet profound statement is the basis of Casa Ghost's franchise model, which allows locally owned vacation rental management companies the ability to compete at a national. By leveraging the system's, software, and support and buying power of much larger organization, 

[00:01:08] as a CASA franchisee, you have the freedom to run your business with the support of a community of like-minded professionals while leveraging the economies of scale and buying power to increase profitability and reduce operating costs.

[00:01:20] Guest Ranger is the premier guest screening and chargeback protection solution. Leveraging ai, their tool effectively detects fraudulent activity, fake IDs, and underage guests, while also performing comprehensive dynamic background checks with guest ranger businesses can rest assured that their customers are safe and secure.

[00:01:38] Good neighbor Tech allows you to manage your properties remotely and intelligently protecting your owners and your guests. Their smart wifi locks allow you to provide temporary access to home and garage from anywhere, and keep track of when guests and service providers are in the property. Good Neighbor Tech provides the ability for you to collect email addresses from all guests.

[00:01:56] Staying in a property, not just the one who booked the reservation. Every guest who connects to the internet will see your branded welcome page and be prompted to provide their email address in order to connect to the wifi. 

[00:02:07] Visit casa go.com/franchise guest ranger.com and good neighbor tech.com for more information.

[00:02:14] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Medals. I'm Alex and I'm a. And we are joined today with two of the sharpest minds in revenue management. We have Ben Coleman and Rebecca Ballard from Rein Research. Welcome to the show, guys.

[00:02:30] Hey, thank you so much for having us. 

[00:02:32] Absolutely, super excited to have you.

[00:02:35] So today we are going to, we're gonna first, uh, if you guys can give a little bit of background just on, on revenue research. Um, and we wanna hear a little bit about your forecast for 2023, what you're starting to see in some of the markets, and then we're gonna move on from that. We've got two revenue tips and one strategy that you have come up with that you think our audience would like to hear and we're super excited to hear.

[00:02:57] So with that, um, if you guys just give a, a, a brief intro on, on. Yourselves and revenue research. 

[00:03:03] Yeah. Um, revenue research is a done for you consulting, servicey service when it comes to revenue management. Uh, me and Rebecca have both done revenue management at scale. We both were responsible to a balance sheet, so I feel like we have a different way that we look at revenue management.

[00:03:18] Um, we organize data, uh, we organize data to present back to that property manager, then to present to homeowners, to really set their expectations, to really hone in a, a true strategy. That we're gonna implement. Um, and then also with contingency plans, uh, like what we're seeing in 2023 with the market soften, it's, it's kind of one of those you don't ever wanna be in that situation of now what, Hey, when that now happens, you already know what to do.

[00:03:43] Um, and so we enjoy our days talking to property managers, talking revenue strategy, um, and then helping also, I think our real passion too is homeowner acquisition and homeowner retention of really presenting the data that homeowners these days want to see. Um, what they want to hear. And then teaching our property managers how to take the professional stance From a revenue management side, we've done a great side on the operations and the service side, and I think now our homeowners are looking for us to, to take the professional side of revenue management there and present that to them.

[00:04:14] And that's really the core heart and focus of Rev and.

[00:04:19] Excellent. Excellent. So, and we've had Ben on the, on the show before you actually were on for Bebopping with Ben, and we'll include that in the show notes. That was one of our top five episodes of 2022. But Rebecca, we have not had you on the show yet, and we're super excited to have you here, just having met you and spent some time with you at last conferences.

[00:04:39] But can you, um, just give a little introduction, um, about yourself. 

[00:04:42] Yeah, absolutely. Uh, so I am located in Gulf Shores, Alabama, right here on the coast, which is great. I love living at the beach. Um, my husband and I, we moved from Rockford, Illinois six years ago, and I didn't know anything about the vacation rental world.

[00:04:58] Um, we moved here kind of looking for a fresh start and we learned about this industry that, um, was huge down here. And so that's where we kind of started to get my feet wet and a lot. The time that I spent, um, at the property management company that I was at, um, was focusing on growth and focusing, um, was a fresh, fresh perspective.

[00:05:19] Um, I hadn't been in the industry a long time. I asked a lot of questions, the why's, why do we do this? What's the goal here? Um, so it gave me a really interesting look. Um, and as I kind of went through as a reservations agent manager, um, doing revenue management for close to 400 properties. I really became very passionate about the education side because I think that's part of really lacking in the industry.

[00:05:47] Um, no one sat down with me and was like, this is how you do revenue management. It was just like, oh, hey, you have a pulse. You show up. Here you go, . 

[00:05:55] Like, 

[00:05:56] you're not wrong. 

[00:05:57] Yeah, figure it out. And there was a lot of, a lot of frustrated days where I just wasn't really sure. You know, I was looking at my goals, going, okay, I hit the.

[00:06:08] But is that goal good? Like how do I that right? Um, how, how, I'm a very results driven person and so it just became, I wanted to dive in more, to know more, to understand more, and, and there's conferences and there's different webinars and things that I was able to be a part of, but something I'm really passionate about is the education side in the industry.

[00:06:32] Is helping people understand the revenue part. Um, bringing both sides of the art of revenue management with the science of revenue management, getting those to be one. Um, In whatever your portfolio looks like. So when I had the opportunity, um, to join Ben on the revenue research side, it fueled a passion that, that I've had for a long time.

[00:06:57] So I'm really excited to work with companies all across the United States and different portfolios, um, to learn how they do revenue management. 

[00:07:05] It's so, it's so exciting having been in the industry for a long time, seeing that we bring in people from all different areas and walks of life, but the passion is across the board is, I think is unmatched.

[00:07:16] Yeah. I worked in the hotel side previously and I don't think that the hotel side possesses the same drive that vacation rentals is. It does, and I love, I love, um, the fact that as an industry we're really coming together to understand like what are those benchmarks that we need to be watching? What are the things that we could be doing to be better?

[00:07:33] And for the longest time, everybody just did kind of what you did. It was like, I, I, okay. We put a number out there, we reached up at what does that really mean? So it's great to have people that are kind of, you know, having organizations like revenue research that are gonna help people master the skill or master the art of revenue management.

[00:07:50] So we're excited to have you here. Thanks. 

[00:07:52] Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, without further ado, um, how are things going so far? Uh, what are you guys seeing so far in 2020? 

[00:08:01] I'll just kind of take a big picture side and then let Rebecca kind of, kind of bring it down to what we're seeing in some specific markets.

[00:08:07] Um, I think the, one of the, the most noticeable thing across the country is a shrinking of lead times. Kind of what we saw in the back end of 2022. I'm, I'm still seeing, we're still seeing lead times shrink. And Alex, we were talking just before and, and we were talking just before we recorded, like what is it looking like in beach markets?

[00:08:25] And um, you know, we're really used to seeing. Start opening up around Thanksgiving for spring break, Christmas, new Year's for summer. Um, I feel like we had a pretty good pop over the new year and that normally opens us up to more of a consistent flow or a consistent velocity or pace of bookings. And I don't think we're quite there yet.

[00:08:40] I think that we're gonna see, um, we're gonna see those booking windows continue to shrink. Um, I think that's got to do with demand softening a little bit. But also, and I know y'all talked about it on the show quite a bit lately, but supply. You know, supply is increasing at, at a fast, fast rate. And I think that's what really is driving down booking win or driving down booking windows in lead time.

[00:09:00] Sure. Mm-hmm. . Sure. Do 

[00:09:02] you think, um, with, and I don't even know, I don't even know where to go, like, there's so many different things to unpack on that, you know, with the inventory growing, do you think that that's gonna sustain for this year? Because I, I feel like. There are going to be people and just reading the tea leaves through LinkedIn and the conversations that are being had at those kind of less than 20 unit groups, um, they're, they have, they started seeing a softening, you know, six months ago.

[00:09:27] And a lot of them just again, didn't have a plan, didn't understand their brand, having a brand, building their marketing, all the things that, that a larger organization would put together. I feel like some of that inventory is gonna fall back out and maybe go back into like long-term rentals. Um, are you seeing that in specific.

[00:09:44] Areas yet? Or is it something that you don't have a lot of touchpoints in it to know? 

[00:09:49] Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's really hard in our industry to track true supply. Yeah, it's really, really hard. I haven't seen that happen yet. I think that that I, I could definitely see it happening though of, you know, when you were first talking, I was thinking, yes, I think that that'll fuel some, some more mergers and acquisitions.

[00:10:05] I hadn't really thought about it going from short to long term, and so I think with those two, I think we probably will see some of that supply. Come off. Um, the one thing that we are seeing when it relates to supply, like especially down in the panhandle of Florida, is you've had a lot of older vacation homes be sold in the last few years.

[00:10:22] They're not vacation or second homes anymore. They're almost, they're almost investment properties, right? Are a hot mixed, or they don't, they don't wanna pay that full mo, that full mortgage. And what we're saying is, Hey, these, the vacation homeowners, you know, from three years ago and in the past, hey, they wanted Memorial Day, July.

[00:10:38] Labor Day, they wanted their spring break. And I think we're seeing that kind of flip to where we need to rent those weeks and we'll kind of come in, in the, the softer or the less demand, um, weeks in the summer. So I think it's definitely buildings, like buildings and units are coming in, but also bookable weeks are, bookable nights are flooding in too, from a supply site.

[00:10:57] I've done every position in this company. I'm gonna start it from a ground up. I was done right. I, I just did everything. So I've done it. Not to say that I don't still enjoy vacuuming. I love that , you get burned out a little bit and you lose your, you know what I mean? You're like, I dunno if I can do this anymore.

[00:11:11] That's Kelly Hill CASA's franchisee from McCall, Idaho. Her company, dun Wright Management had been a leader in the market for many years, but as larger national companies started to gain ground, Kelly felt like she was losing control of the.

[00:11:26] I was my way out the door before Costco came. I really was, I think I was considering selling the company because I was, I was at that point where I was getting like, you know, maybe this isn't for me.

[00:11:36] Ryan had approached Ryan and Steve approached me and it was like they sang a song to me because I was like, this is what I need, I need, I need direction, I need. They already have the tools they could present to me. And, um, and a lot of the other things, some of the other challenges is that, you know, I'm, I'm looking at the bigger companies and I'll say, you know, Picas is out there and, and I admire them for a lot that they do.

[00:12:08] They have, but they have a lot of bandwidth here. They have, you know, bulk and so they can get, do things a lot cheaper and their systems are great and I. Costco is, is the opportunity that we needed to, um, to get there, to have some of those advantages.

[00:12:27] We asked Kelly about the transition to becoming part of Costco and her thoughts on the benefits of becoming part of their franchise model.

[00:12:34] We had just switched to a different, um, uh, p m s system that same year, so it was a real challenging year, but it was so worth it because streamline is just, I mean, it's, it's the best of breed and I love touting that when I meet with owners. Yeah, or we use streamlined software. It's the best in the interest.

[00:12:52] That's one main thing is that the training and the support that they've given us, I mean, they are just there. I mean, anything we need, anything we need. Knowing's story is one that resonates with many of our franchisees. Switching software is a big decision. Casa O's full-time support staff are here to help make this process significantly easier and more efficient than a regular software switch.

[00:13:15] Ryan and Steve, they just really said, you can, you can still do this. We're here for you. And if we have all these things in place, your company can run smoothly. And it does. And I think that, um, I mean, I, I can, I can take off for a week and I know I'm gonna come back and everything is running as good, if not better than when I was here. So it's great. 

[00:13:35] Visit Casa go.com/franchise to hear more stories from franchisees like Kelly and inquire about territory opportunities and 

[00:13:42] available markets. 

[00:13:45] Mm-hmm. ? Yeah, there's a, in, in the panhandle, specifically Panama City Beach. I know this to be true, is that there's a large development that's going in just north of the beach called Margaritaville, and it's, but it's a, a, uh, residential 55 and up community and we went and visited just to check it out and, um, not that we're 55 or approaching 55 or anything, and.

[00:14:04] One of the things that we asked was, where are these people coming from? And the, one of the realtors that we talked to said the initial like influx that they got was actually people who bought properties. They were up north, they bought them as investment properties on the beach and they thought they were gonna retire here.

[00:14:19] And so like they were coming down like from Canada, you know, new England up in the, uh, you know, the plains coming down here for the winters, running it all summer. And they're selling their units and buying into these communities because they decided like they didn't wanna live in. You know, a tourism corridor, if you will, um, when they retired.

[00:14:36] So they're selling off their properties and, and some of 'em maybe aren't selling 'em and they're just gonna put them on rental like year round. But I think that, that they, he said that, you know, like, I think he gave us a stat of like 50% of the first thousand were all people that had actually invested in the panhandle in, um, real estate, came for the winters and decided that, that they just didn't wanna live on the beachfront once they actually retired.

[00:14:59] So that's, yeah. That's interesting. I think it'll be interesting if, if we see those trends go in some other places. Yeah. What happens with those units and, and especially I think when you get, you start getting into those, you know, 8, 10, 6, 8, 10, 12 bedrooms. I mean, there are a lot. That's a lot of investment right now.

[00:15:14] Yes, the housing market is. Um, and so all of a sudden is that person buying a 12 bedroom house, buying it with a group of people as an investment? Are they buying it by themselves as an investment? Um, and all of a sudden, I think the mindset from a rental perspective is changing in that, of it's not just a place that I can take my grandkids or a place I'm gonna take my kids, or a place I'm gonna pass down to my grandkids.

[00:15:34] It's more of a, Hey, we want a good r o i on our asset. We want a good r o i on our investment. 

[00:15:39] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's gonna be a very competitive year. And really when you think back, 2019 was a very competitive year, so that feels like a world away in terms of what we've dealt with the last couple years.

[00:15:50] But still, it's like now we're back to even keel, you know, fighting for every reservation essentially. And you know, I know in the markets that, that I'm experienced with the most here in Myrtle Beach and, um, you know, Annie, Dan down in the panhandle, but it's. There's, there's two different ways people look at revenue management.

[00:16:09] Either that you start your prices high and then you just keep dropping and dropping and dropping until you get till arrival by sale, sale, sale. Or you go the opposite end that you start low and you book your repeats and then you go up hopefully as, as demand, um, you know, increases. But it's, it's gonna be the wild west, I feel like.

[00:16:29] I mean, people have to really go back to the drawing board and sharpen their marketing toolkit This. 

[00:16:34] A hundred percent agree there. I think it's, I think, I think with a revenue strategy is gonna be, uh, is half the piece. I think kind of bridging that gap. And we talked about it on the podcast last time and we have these discussions all the time.

[00:16:44] Yeah. Marketing to revenue management. Mm-hmm. , and we see this all the time. Hey, what does a actual good email campaign look like and what does it do to reservations? And we've had multiple clients that, that have really kind of hammered down and closed the loop on that marketing side. And we're seeing the effects on it from the revenue side in ways that we're like, oh wow, this is, it's interesting to see this many reservations come in at these rates just from just from the week after this marketing email.

[00:17:10] Yeah, and you know, what's just been eyeopening for, for us is that there's a lot of companies that don't do any email marketing whatsoever. And I mean, they really are just beholden to the pricing strategy is super important and whatever the channels are doing is important. But besides that, I mean, they kind of leave everything up up to how the, the pieces will fall.

[00:17:30] But I, I'm glad that you guys are working with some companies that are taking things into their own hands cuz that really, that that steers your direction and gives you power. Yeah. And 

[00:17:39] I would say if you're not doing a marketing campaign, you're real, and I, we already know that you're spending a good bit of, a good bit of time and service, a good bit of time in providing that experience to drive that repeat guest.

[00:17:49] So you've almo you've done 50 or 60% of the work, but now it's time to reach back out to these people that you've provided great service to year, over year, over year to grab those direct bookings as much as you can. Mm-hmm. . 

[00:17:59] Absolutely. So looking at the, the top two tips that you have for our audience, what is tip number?

[00:18:07] Tip number one is expectations. I think that it's, it's, it's kind of hard to get your expectations settled. You know, sometimes I wake up in 2023 and feel like I've got it figured out, and then a week later I'm like, oh man, it didn't do what I thought it was gonna do in the last week. And so when I say expectations, I think it starts at the property management level, at the owner, the c e o level of, of creating true sales budgets, of creating true expectations.

[00:18:28] On, on what is a, on, what is it by the unit, Arthur Portfolio. What are those ADRs. As we see demand softening, like we were talking about, I think there is a good potential for RevPAR growth. Mm-hmm. , I think there's a good, a good, a good opportunity for that, but that's gonna be a completely different strategy than the last two years.

[00:18:46] All of a sudden, we're gonna have to recognize that each, you know, the first four, you know, every four weeks in July does not have the same demand this year. That it, that it's previously had. And so understanding that at the top of the property management company and getting that to, to drip down to your homeowner acquisition team or your homeowner retention team and being very proactive in explaining this new strategy that, Hey, we're driving not just rates, we're driving revenue now.

[00:19:13] Hey, we need to drive historic rental revenue into your asset, and this is our clear-cut strategy right now. And when that changes, hey, we already have two or three other contingency plans to be proactive and stay on 

[00:19:24] top of that. Would you say that's one of the biggest challenges that the companies you work with or just that you're familiar with have, is how they actually explain that to homeowners?

[00:19:33] Cause I know in, in my experience, that's always something that, you know, we know it as property managers, we know it as the revenue team. But to be able to, you know, explain that in layman's terms to homeowners sometimes can be a challenge. But are, do you see that as, 

[00:19:48] And that, that's why everybody that we work with likes Rebecca more than me.

[00:19:51] Cuz that is probably delays 

[00:19:54] it out. , 

[00:19:55] that's not, that's one of our bigger asks on the consulting side, and I'm gonna let Rebecca handle this cause I haven't met anybody that can look at complex data and then break it down to five bullet points that not only can the property manager understand that, then they can put it down into layman's terms for a homeowner.

[00:20:11] Yeah. Interesting. . And 

[00:20:13] I think that as we were kind of talking, once you, as the head of the organization understand where you wanna go in 2023 or what your strategy is, it, it all comes from the top and it comes down. So once you know and you're able to communicate that with your team, you're communicating that with your marketing team and getting them in the right place, and your reservations team, your cleaning team, you know, then, then it falls to your.

[00:20:40] Because we have really, our owners have been very, very blessed in the last three years. Like the silver lining of Covid was, they saw the most revenue that they've ever seen. For Mo Yeah, for most markets. Um, they were spoiled. Um, rates were, you could just throw things up. I mean, it became a game to me. It was like, how big is this?

[00:21:07] Like, okay, we have an owner cancel in July for a weekend. And they just said, throw it up for $2,000 a night. They were, they were normally happy with 800. Wow. It worked within 15 minutes. Oh my gosh. For a Riley. I mean, it became a game. It was like, we felt like in the stock market, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, , you know, and that's not, that's not the case this year.

[00:21:33] So you have the hard part of, you have a a, a new group of owners who've, who've bought in Covid who got those. Covid rental checks, you know? Yep. Yeah. Who had stimulus money, who have been very, very spoiled to now see, looking at their calendar going, what is going on? Mm-hmm. , what are you doing? Yeah. Where this is not what we thought we were gonna get.

[00:21:58] Um mm-hmm. , you know, so it's, It's being very proactive. I know that talking to owners can be very difficult. It is one of the harder parts of this industry because it is their baby. It it is. It may be their retirement, it could be their college, you know, their, the money that they're gonna use to send their kids to college.

[00:22:20] It's, it's not all private equity money. They're, they're right. Stories connected to these people that have to make mortgages that, you know, it's, it's not all just people that can, you know, take a hit. And so, right. Yeah. You have to be proactive and that's, that's difficult, um, because you, like Ben said, have to know what your strategy is to be able to explain your value to these homeowners.

[00:22:49] Mm-hmm. , because they're getting multiple. Publications to move management companies if you think your owners aren't getting solicited. 

[00:22:59] Yeah. Yeah. They're, yeah, they're, this, this is a, it's a really good point. This is a big year for anybody listening. This is the year you pick up inventory because really every, everybody's gonna be, uh, you know, down in certain areas or, or properties, um, in terms of revenue.

[00:23:15] But what that ends up being, it's not that you're necessarily doing anything wrong, but it's just that's what's going on. But, The owners, like you said, they don't know the difference. So I mean, they're thinking that you're not doing a good job as a management company, right? But on the other end, that'll help you also pick up inventory for somebody else that's at another company thinking the same thing.

[00:23:32] So having that proactive marketing approach for homeowners is definitely important this year. Yeah. 

[00:23:38] Yeah. And it's as easy as pulling your key data owner reports. Yes. It's as easy as p pulling. What is the market doing? Explaining where they are in terms of their occupancy, where they are in terms of their adr, and asking them simply, what is your goal?

[00:23:55] Is your goal to make it as much money as possible? Or is your goal to have a vacation home for your family to come to every weekend in. Yeah, because those Strat tho, once you know that your strategies for those units is, is very different. It's very different and you have to have those tough conversations, but come to the table prepared because you want to explain the value and build that trust so that when they look at their calendar, they know Alex has it under control.

[00:24:27] Like she knows she's doing, she's looking at the data, she's making those decisions because you as a property manager, you can't be on the phone all day long talking to them, asking them if they can go down $20 or, uh. Right. Like that's not sustainable for large, for large 

[00:24:44] growth. Yeah. Not scalable at all.

[00:24:47] Yeah. How, how important would you say key data is to all this? I know you guys use, use that and you recommend it, but. How, how important of a tool and how helpful of a tool is that? 

[00:24:59] I think a lot of it comes for what your market is using. Like in some markets, we couldn't function without it. , um, cuz a lot of property managers use it.

[00:25:12] Now we are in a couple of different markets that they don't have a lot of professional managed property managers. Mm-hmm. so they don't have a lot of people on key data. So that's where we kind of use the wheel set com sets. We use wheelhouse market data because it's pulling from OTAs and it's pulling from other avenues.

[00:25:35] Um, Where I would say, Ben, I would, I think you might agree, 80 to 90% of our markets heavily rely on key data information. Yeah. And say that others, we have to kind of get a little bit more creative with getting market data just because there aren't a lot of companies participating with the service. Yeah.

[00:25:57] So 

[00:25:58] once you've had these tough conversations and you've asked the right questions and given the information, um, I think your, your next tip is, is pretty important. Um, Ben, you mentioned organizing the portfolio. So when you, when you talk about organizing the portfolio, are you talking about setting up like your, your, uh, groupings for your data sets?

[00:26:17] Like what, what is it that you would say is the, is the thing. People need to focus on when they organize, cuz there's a whole host of ways to organize it. But what is your feedback on the best way 

[00:26:25] to do that? Um, I think especially as you're, as you're coming into revenue management, especially if you're coming into it kind of fresh and, and you're, especially if you're new to the industry, you know, the, the obvious temptation is just to group everything by bedroom types and neighborhoods.

[00:26:38] Mm-hmm. , which is definitely something you wanna have it organized that way. But the first lens that we like to look at is actual lead time across the portfolio, at the unit level. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Um, because it really, that enabled when you get tho when you get your portfolio organized by lead time, you can create real benchmarks based on time.

[00:26:56] Yeah, and for an example, like, hey, say it's a 90 day average lead time for these 20 homes for the month of. Hey, I know at day 120, Hey, last year I was 75% occupied by 90 days. I'm at 40% at day one 20. Mm-hmm. . So not only does it give you a benchmark throughout time, it also gives you kind of checks and balances to to your rates because, hey, if you're over occupied, hey, maybe my rates are too low, but if we're under occupied and we're holding a ADR too high, all of a sudden.

[00:27:25] We know that for this group of units, and it becomes very easy for those outliers to stick out because you know, one, if you organize it by bedroom count there, you're gonna have some high performers, mid performers, and low performers. We all know that's gonna happen, but with lead time, since we're looking at it more from an occupancy level, based on time, those outliers become easier to see.

[00:27:45] Um, the other great thing this does is all of a sudden when you log into wheelhouse or you go into your p m s, you go into key data. Even when it, it's so much you got a hundred properties, that is a ton of properties. I mean, I'm not smart enough to know what a hundred times, 365 days is, but that's a lot of rates to handle.

[00:28:01] So what about if we take it, organize it into three, four, or five different segments and, hey, I know every day I'm gonna work on this segment. Those, that segment, they're all similarly booking at the same time. I know the day before I need to pull some data, so when I come in in the morning, hey, the data's fresh on my mind.

[00:28:17] I can dive into it. Now all of a sudden, I'm getting little bitty wins every day, and all of a sudden I'm being, I'm more into my data and I'm understanding the, what's really happening in the market now, not what I know may happen or what 

[00:28:30] has happened. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's pretty, I mean it's uh, definitely a more sophisticated approach, what you're talking about.

[00:28:37] I mean, going from just looking at the bedrooms to the A areas to now, you know, really looking at it more granularly, but it makes a big difference on your, on your bottom line and what shows on that p and l if you're really watching that. But it's tough. For some managers to be able to, to do this not only from time, but also expertise that, you know, this might not be their strong suit and they might not have somebody that, uh, makes sense within the business to be watching over.

[00:29:02] And that's why I love what Reverend Research has done, because until this point, There haven't really been revenue management consulting agencies like you guys out there. I mean, the big tools like, you know, beyond and and Wheelhouse, they offer a little bit of that, but you guys take it to that next level and I think that's where your role will continue to grow.

[00:29:21] Uh, because not everybody can have a full-time revenue management person. And what you're talking about is pretty, is sophisticated, you know, that's a very time consuming. . 

[00:29:31] No, it is. And I think that, you know, if you get somebody and you, you're not comfortable in Excel, you're not comfortable, like moving data around Key data provides so many good KPIs.

[00:29:40] So does Wheelhouse, uh, where your lead time is. Mm-hmm. . And then it seems just finding the similar ones and just getting them in a group. I think the main thing about organization, we like looking at it from lead time. The main thing is getting those similar groups of units that you can move through. Much quicker than go, like trying to just go, Hey, I'm gonna take the first 20 today out of my system.

[00:29:58] I'll take the next 20 tomorrow. But getting a system, getting a process in place that, hey, I know on Mondays I'm dealing with these two bedrooms, or this lead time, or this building, and we're dealing with similar things. So outliers stick out more, becomes easy to make those easier decisions. And then as you move forward doing it, you know, doing it every day, doing it three, four times a week, and you start seeing the results, you can start replicating those results and those strategies across the portfolio.

[00:30:25] Yeah. That's really, really great. 

[00:30:27] Again, have people look at it from a different perspective because I think again, the natural, the natural inclination is like, again, group of by building location, unit type, and I think you're taking it again to a whole different level. And I loved, um, I've used key data a lot with a, a lot of clients over the years and, and one of the things I loved.

[00:30:44] The, one of the reports I have is that, um, underperforming, basically the underperforming units. And so you can really get a, a really good sense of what's happening and if you're grouping 'em in the way that you're talking about that is gonna give you so much more granularity in, in what's happening in the market within your portfolio, and be able to go back to what you were saying, Rebecca.

[00:31:02] And have those tough conversations with the owners and say like, this is normal. This is what's happening. It's not just you. It's, it's what the market is doing. And I think that that's where a lot of owners, you know, going back to the setting those expectations, if they bought any time in the last 18 months, they bought at the height of the market, they paid way more than they should have for a lot of these properties.

[00:31:22] Yeah. Um, and so their expectations are already elevated. And so for you to be able to dial it in and like show them the data like that, it's not. You as an organization that's underperforming. It's just, it's what the market is and you have to understand and tell those owners that sometimes you have to be with the market wants you to be and not tell the market what you think it should be.

[00:31:40] So, yeah, it's very important. 

[00:31:42] Well, and I think too, when you take kind of that surgical approach, you. See where you really are bleeding a lot quicker than probably what you think. Um, you know, we were just looking at a client's, uh, in a beach market that was down 6% for spring break, which okay, 2023, not too bad.

[00:32:03] And we pulled a key data leader report, leaderboard report just for those spring rate rates, and we organized it by, um, the units, what their, um, year over year revenue was, and we were able to pull. 10 units that were behind a d r, they were behind occupancy real quickly. . And so we look at it and go, okay, occupancy's down.

[00:32:26] We go over, oh, they're 80 Rs. 30% over year, over year. Well, there there's a problem right there. Okay. Right. So we down, yeah. Here's the next ones. These ones are 35 or 40% over an occupancy. Okay. Well now we have a ability to raise rate here. Like we are pacing way ahead and you can't really. You have to have an organization to your data to be able to see those things so quickly, right.

[00:32:54] And be able to make those changes. Because if you just go, oh, hey, find your problem with spring break. Yeah. Okay. Well, it's, it's not a one size fits all. It's not a just a put 20% discount on everything and just hope that you make last year's numbers. With this strategy, we can turn 20 units. We will make up 6% and be ahead of last year.

[00:33:21] Like, but that's where we, I think as revenue managers, we talk about strategy a lot. We talk about strategy, but nobody really wants to say, what does that strategy look like? What is a strategy ? It's, it's not just throw right out and hope that it books. Like that's our strategy. Um, but we really try to take the data and turn logic to it and that's where.

[00:33:44] You come up with a revenue strategy mm-hmm. That, that's kind of the definition of it. And that's, um, what we spend a lot of time doing. And that kind of comes full circle to those conversations with homeowners you're behind. Your ADR is too high. Right. That it, it, it all comes full circle. Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:34:03] And I think for those, those managers that are out there, that there's still a few of 'em that I know of personally that are still set it and forget it, set their rates in January and let them ride for this. Yeah. You just blew their mind. You know, , I can't, they're thinking I can't do this. If they need to call you Reverend Research, Ben and Rebecca, and they need to, they, you guys will offer cons consultation, right.

[00:34:22] To kind of help people understand what this is all about. I think there's, there's, there's a lot of opportunity for people to, if they just understand their numbers, how to grow their numbers. If they just understand 'em and people just don't take the time to understand it because they one don't have the staffing, the bandwidth or, or maybe it's just the capacity cuz it is so much to think about.

[00:34:40] And 

[00:34:41] they need to know what their market is doing. Yeah. Like it's very easy to be internally focused and head down, this is what we need, but you also have to be very aware on what's happening around you because if you're seeing big things change or you know, a big thing, you know, people are occupancies downs are, they're dropping rate because they have owners that are upset, that want their calendars full.

[00:35:06] Well how, what is your approach? How, as a company, what is your response to that? Um, so you need to be aware of that because you're showing up in the searches along those other units, um mm-hmm. , but it, it really does go hand in hand. There, there, there's a lot to look at. 

[00:35:22] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So what is the next part?

[00:35:27] The, the two tips, but what is the strategy, the executable thing? , 

[00:35:33] I think that it, you know, where I'm just saying it's being proactive. Um, yeah. I've said this many, many times that the key to revenue management is not to be perfect. The key is to be proactive enough that you win the market. It's not my clients this all the time.

[00:35:47] It's, it's not, you don't need me to be perfect. You need somebody in your rates and in your data so much. It's active. Yeah. If I do make a decision that's not perfect, hey, I figure it out before, you know, we fix, we're in much that it's about being proactive. And I think it goes back to that organization. I think it's very easy or it's much, lemme say, much easier with an organized approach to be proactive.

[00:36:09] Mm-hmm. , I mean, just with human nature, if we start getting those little bitty wins every day, and maybe you just start with 20 or 30 minutes, I'm gonna look at these 20 units, Hey, I'm gonna pull market data and I'm gonna make some decisions and I'm gonna check 'em in a week. I'm gonna check 'em in five days.

[00:36:22] Mm-hmm. , and all of a sudden you start seeing some little bitty wins. It's just that kind of addiction that's hit me and Rebecca of here are the results from decisions that we've actually. Um, and then I think I want to say one more thing on the proactive side of talking to homeowners. Mm-hmm. , you know, when you get that homeowner call, what is that call coming from?

[00:36:39] Why, why are they calling? Is it about money? Is it about occupancy? I think the real answer there is they wanna feel safe in their investment in comparison to their neighbors or whoever they're talking to at that stuff of thing, right? Mm-hmm. . And I think that's why it becomes so important to have those expectations set with your homeowners.

[00:36:58] because, you know, we, I've, I've heard some people taking units from other cl like from other property management companies in the middle of January because, hey, they had no bookings for the summer and their neighbors did. Oh yeah. Yeah. Now that could have been, that could be, that could be proactively averted if we would've said, Hey, look, our strategy is to hold rates for the summer up here until we get to this point.

[00:37:19] Mm-hmm. , maybe the rates were too low and hey, maybe the owner's not feeling safe because eight of their summer weeks are gone. And everybody else, all their neighbors have foregone and you've underpriced my property. But once again, if we were proactive speaking to a homeowner about our, our strategy, how we're gonna react to the market and telling and, and convincing homeowners that we are in here every day, that we are looking at your rates.

[00:37:39] And hey, if you're thinking about your asset, you're thinking about your home. I want you to know that we are, we as a team are as well. Yeah. And being able proactively explain that to your homeowners. And I think the, one of the bigger. The biggest benefit should be homeowner retention there. Mm-hmm. , the other benefit.

[00:37:53] Mm-hmm. is a time saving as you move forward through the year with not having those calls. If you can have mm-hmm. , you can have a five to 10 minute call now that saves you 15 emails this year, or 15 phone calls. I'd wanna go ahead and have that. 

[00:38:04] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that really the overarching lesson there is just the relationships with the homeowners that you really need to be investing in.

[00:38:13] I mean, whether you're talking to 'em about rates or anything else, but when you have their trust, I think they're also more willing to say, okay. I trust you, you, you know, you know best, you're the professional that I hired. But that comes from having open communication. That's about all parts of what's going on, you know, within the business and your market.

[00:38:31] And that can be, you know, sometimes it's a one-to-one touch. A lot of times it has to be that, but sometimes it can also be in the form of a quarterly newsletter or something that you can do more at scale that can go to all the owners. But a, anything you can do in that front is gonna be better than, than not talking to them at all.

[00:38:47] Because in the absence, Communication people make up their own stories of what is or isn't going on . 

[00:38:53] Yeah. And I think it goes back to that, that that general sense of like society, if you see something, say something. So yeah, you start to see something, reach out to your owner and tell them, because the worst thing you can do is think like, oh, I can fix this before they know.

[00:39:05] Yeah. Because generally they're gonna figure it out before you fix it. Yeah. And then they're gonna be concerned that you didn't tell them. But I think, uh, you know, the larger, I just in my personal experience, owners lie to each. All the time. Oh, my unit's doing great all the time. Yeah. and half the time it's like, yeah, your unit looks blocked, but you have it because you've got it on maintenance block for the month of July.

[00:39:23] Right. You know, so. Right. There's, I I think that, you know, having owners know the que, like arming them with questions that they can ask other people, ask other management companies when they are approached and having that data for themselves and being comfortable, comfortable and confident in their investment and who's managing their investment is gonna be, is gonna help them.

[00:39:42] Have better rapport and trust in you because you've armed them with a way to the way to handle any kind of attack or, you know, kind of, um, competition that's gonna come, come their way with their neighbor. 

[00:39:54] Yeah. And that was the, 

[00:39:56] that was be my next comment, like literally, I regiment 

[00:40:00] always 

[00:40:01] and say way better than I do.

[00:40:03] Oh, 

[00:40:03] well I'll try. That's what happens when we be up with Ben. Up with Ben . Yep. Oh, man. Well, thank you guys so much. This was super informative and we loved. Getting the updates on what's going on across the markets that you're seeing. I love that you do work in a variety of markets. So to be able to get more of a bird's eye view of uh, just the overall tourism landscape is super interesting.

[00:40:25] We're gonna have you back again, probably a few more times this year, but, um, probably at least again within the next, um, couple months cuz I think we, we want to look to you guys to kind of be our trusted advisors on, on what is going on and then any other, uh, tips that. Thinking of along the way that our listeners can benefit from.

[00:40:43] So thank you again for joining us. No, thank 

[00:40:46] you so much for having us. This was an absolute pleasure. 

[00:40:49] Yeah. If anybody wants to contact you, do they go to reven research.com? They 

[00:40:54] can go to reven research.com. They can email, um, rebecca, rebecca reven research.com. Um, and I think, Annie, you've mentioned like we do consultations.

[00:41:02] If anybody wants to kind of, kind of go on a little bit deeper conversation than what we've had today, feel free to email us. We don't charge for those. So we, we like talking about this stuff too much to charge for consultations, so anybody's more than happy to reach out to us. 

[00:41:16] We're on LinkedIn. Yeah, 

[00:41:18] we're on LinkedIn.

[00:41:20] Wonderful . Awesome. Well, if anybody wants to get in touch with Annie and I, you can go to Alex and Annie podcast.com. If you're enjoying the show, we would love for you to write a review on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to the show. And until next time, thank you for tuning in. And thank you guys for joining us today.

[00:41:38] Thanks everybody.

Rebecca Ballart

As a rising industry leader, Rebecca Ballart has humble beginnings in her career that started in customer service over twenty years ago. Since those humble beginnings, Rebecca has given only the best of herself to every client that she has assisted, as well as to every team that she has worked alongside. With her obsession to details, excellence is the foundation of everything that Rebecca does.

As an experienced vacation rental manager, Rebecca has helped set and achieve revenue goals for several hundred properties and has created many successful operational systems and policies. With her experience and industry expertise, Rebecca’s consulting services are able to help tailor and apply a results-driven approach to your team needs that will have a lasting successful impact on your company.