VRWS Leadership Interview of the Day

In approaching the 11th edition of the Vacation Rental World Summit, we’re releasing a series of interviews to leaders, key players and highly motivated people in our industry whose companies make a deep impact in our space and will be present at VRWS.

The aim is to get you some insight into these leaders and the company they founded, manage or work for, as well as getting some behind the scenes on their thinking, their motivation and their drive.

JULIE BRINKMAN

JULIE BRINKMAN

CEO - Beyond

1. What do you do for a living and which part of your job do you enjoy the most? 

I’m the CEO of Beyond, the leading global Revenue Management System focused on short-term rentals (STRs). As the CEO, I lead all aspects of our business – from our product strategy to our growth plans to how that all comes together. And what’s also true is that I rely on an incredible global team of Beyonders who are focused on helping our customers make their dreams of owning a vacation rental business come true. 

The passion, humor, joy, and collaboration I see and feel every day at Beyond are what I enjoy most. We’ve grown from a few dozen people in San Francisco to hundreds across the world, all with a shared obsession of delivering value, caring for each other, and moving fast without fear. It’s been truly humbling to build a global business and be able to recreate our culture throughout the world. Short-term rentals have been around for decades, and while the online travel agencies (OTAs) made accessing short-term stays easier, they failed in a critical aspect – they failed to help the hosts and property managers themselves build solid businesses. That’s where Beyond has picked up, helping STR owners and managers turn their hobbies, their investments, their projects into true, sustainable growth engines. 

2. How does your company innovate or adapt to the evolving needs of the vacation rental space? 

As I mentioned, the STR space has been around for decades, and very few people really know that. Until 10 years ago, this space was a blip on the hospitality industry map, a niche at best. But with the advent of OTAs and online travel, the everyday traveler was able to access what they always wanted: more flexible, more homey, more spacious stays. This has meant this “niche” is now a true category, and is a leading component of the overall hospitality industry because travelers have spoken. And that’s where Beyond comes in – we help STR operators deliver the best experiences and stays to travelers worldwide by providing them with the cutting-edge software they need to make their investment or hobby a truly sustainable business. 

STR operators are up against Goliath – from the multinational hotel brands that have endless cash to the challenging headwinds of the macro environment. So these operators need to make sure that their growth and revenue engines are completely optimized, and Beyond is there to help them adapt to the evolving needs of the travel space by offering a comprehensive revenue management system that extends beyond just dynamic pricing. Our suite of advanced solutions leverages real-time data and predictive analytics to create solid revenue streams, streamlined operations, time-savings for our customers, and enhanced portfolio performance. Beyond not only drives revenue and maximizes profits, but also automates labor-intensive tasks, allowing property managers to focus on their lifeblood: guests and owners.

As the leading revenue management systems for STRs, we push the envelope. Over a decade ago, we saw how underserved the STR market was for any type of revenue software, so we pioneered dynamic pricing focused solely on STRs to help solve the pain we ourselves felt as STR operators. And our passion for innovation and building game-changing features has only grown. Most recently, we have brought the only intent-based predictive pricing offering to the STR market – which means that STR operators’ revenue strategies react in real-time to signals guests are giving them. In the same way that the Google Search algorithm delivers the most relevant results to consumers, Beyond’s search-powered pricing delivers prices that precisely match guest demand. 

On top of our obsession with technology and innovation, we know our customers’ passion for hospitality, and that’s the care with which we take in serving our customers. Our never-ending commitment to continuous innovation ensures that our customers have everything they need to build and grow their STR business.

3. How do you view the various predictions about AI’s impact on society, ranging from dystopian scenarios to transformative advancements, and how does your company approach or integrate AI technology?

Well, as much as I love a good dystopian novel, I sure hope that we won’t be bowing to robot overlords anytime soon! In all seriousness, I view AI’s impact on society as a mix of challenges and incredible opportunities. While there are valid concerns about job displacement and ethical issues, I believe the transformative advancements in fields like healthcare, education, and everyday convenience far outweigh the negatives. At Beyond, we’re more about embracing the transformative potential. We see AI as a tool to enhance efficiency and innovation, helping us create smarter solutions for our customers in the vacation rental industry.

Beyond’s journey with machine learning (ML), a branch of AI, began in 2018, enhancing our price prediction accuracy and improving performance by over 5x. Since then, we have continuously advanced our AI-driven pricing engine, achieving thousands of updates annually. These improvements have utilized cutting-edge AI and ML techniques, including Large Language Models (LLMs) and proprietary Deep Neural Nets (DNNs), to boost customer revenue, save time, and offer market insights.

Key highlights of our AI-driven pricing algorithm include:

  1. Market and Price Predictions: We use advanced methods to forecast market trends, cluster dynamics, and price variations.
  2. Event Detection: Our system identifies significant market events that impact pricing using sophisticated anomaly detection techniques.
  3. Product Testing: We systematically test and measure changes to our pricing algorithm.
  4. Amenities Normalization: We standardize amenities data across listings using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and LLMs for accurate analytics and recommendations.
  5. Profit Optimization: Our algorithm balances rates, availability, and demand in real-time to maximize property profitability.

In essence, AI is at the core of our pricing algorithm, driving significant benefits for our customers.

4. What would you like to achieve by attending the Vacation Rental World Summit 2024 in Porto with your company? 

I’m so looking forward to my first VRWS in Porto, and I’m immensely looking forward to connecting with the people who have worked so hard to make this industry what it is. I’m excited for our whole team to chat with industry leaders, property managers, and vacation rental hosts to hear about their challenges, successes, and what’s on their minds. My goals are to stay at the forefront of trends and innovations, to ensure we’re focused on solving problems and helping our customers grow. 

And of course, we’re excited to launch what we’ve been working on for months at VRWS. I can’t tell you much more about the product we have up our sleeve, but please trust, that we know STR operators everywhere will be thrilled with what we have in store. 

5. What are your passions, including any hobbies or sports, that you enjoy discussing and sharing with others outside the professional setting?

Well being the mom of three very active kids, and one very large dog, I have to be really intentional about my hobbies and passions. I carve out at least a little time every day to ride, dance, and sweat on my at-home spin bike or catch a hot yoga class. These cathartic activities help me both manage stress and keep me in shape – which is surely needed in my life!

You’ll have the opportunity to meet Julie directly at VRWS in Porto

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