VRWS Leadership Interview of the Day
In approaching the 10th 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.
Describe your career in the vacation rental industry and how you reached your current position in the company.
I joined the vacation rental industry over 10 years ago and have enjoyed being part of it ever since! The most rewarding thing for me has been getting to know and work with so many genuine, motivated and welcoming people. I have grown extremely passionate about the vacation rental industry over the past years and have built lasting relationships with many property managers, hosts and vendors.
The connections I’ve made in the industry led me to my current role just three years ago when I joined the Business Development team at HomeToGo, the marketplace with the world’s largest selection of vacation rentals. HomeToGo connects millions of travelers searching for a perfect place to stay with thousands of inventory suppliers across the globe. Our marketplace model is beneficial to both of HomeToGo’s customer groups: Travelers who visit HomeToGo’s websites gain access to the largest inventory in one place, and supply partners who use the platform’s reach and technology solutions are better able to serve a wide range of customers and generate more high-quality demand.
From the very beginning, I was inspired by HomeToGo’s vision of “making incredible homes easily accessible to everyone” and by how dedicated our team is to help property managers enhance their business potential. We do that by building valuable 1:1 relationships with our partners to support them in optimizing their listings and maximizing their revenues. We provide property managers with tools to stay in control of their bookings and give them the benefits of direct guest communication, tailored cancellation policies and reliable payment solutions – all of which have contributed to our mutual growth and success!
In your opinion, what are the main current challenges in the vacation rental industry, and how do you think your company can help overcome them?
I think we are all experiencing the impacts of the current macroeconomic environment and rising inflation as a major challenge this year. However, the travel industry has proven to be highly resilient in turbulent times and we still deliver record growth consistently. The good news for our industry as well is that vacation rentals continue to be rising as the preferred accommodation, with 22% growth above pre-pandemic levels, according to research from Skift.
Another challenge we see in the vacation rental space is balancing pricing strategy with demand. With increased supply overall, we see a pattern of lower occupancy rates. We believe HomoToGo is particularly well positioned to help PMs with this by putting their properties in front of millions of global travelers. Plus, HomeToGo guests are highly valuable as they book in larger groups, stay for longer periods and spend bigger budgets on accommodation. In the current highly competitive environment, diversification becomes even more important for PMs so that they aren’t reliant on any one given channel, and a correct pricing strategy is imperative so they can proactively fill their calendars in advance. HomeToGo is set up to support PMs with all of this so they can optimize their bookings.
Lastly, there is a lot of discussion around regulating short-term rentals, with plans proposed in the EU. The proposal’s stated aim is to introduce clearer and simpler rules that will help hosts avoid accidental errors of non-compliance with local regulations while making sure authorities have the information they need to act against any breaches. At HomeToGo, we believe any harmonious legislation that has clear and consistent guidance will support with ease of adaptation overall.
What are your expectations for the 2023 edition of VRWS in Barcelona, and what makes you particularly interested in attending this specific edition?
We can’t wait for VRWS in Barcelona as we enjoyed last year’s event tremendously! The team and I look forward to reconnecting with so many of our partners and getting to meet new ones too. We appreciate the extensive networking opportunities the event presents, which allow us a valuable pulse check on how our partners’ strategy overall and gives us key insights to evolve our support.
VRWS is also a fantastic setting for sharing and gaining valuable insights into the industry at large. I’m looking forward to the discussions and am particularly excited about the round table sessions.
Could you provide a brief preview of what attendees can expect from your participation during the Vacation Rental World Summit?
We will have a full team on the ground and a booth at VRWS, so we encourage attendees to stop by and meet us, and connect with us prior on LinkedIn if interested in setting up a 1:1 chat:
- Sonia Chennoufi, Head of Business Development Europe
- Natalia Rojas, Sales Manager Spain/Portugal
- Elodie Pacheco, Sales Manager UK/France
- Daniele Serapiglia, Sales Manager Italy
We have been working on lots of big updates, which the team is happy to dive into. One recent example that we are especially proud of is that HomeToGo recently launched our beta version of AI Mode. AI Mode is a generative AI-powered travel planner that provides highly personalized recommendations for vacation rentals and destinations through written conversation. This revolutionary product is beneficial for both travelers looking for a more curated search experience and partners by providing more access to highly qualified leads. We are especially proud to be the first vacation rental-focused marketplace to test and launch an AI product in the vacation rental space, improving the entire search experience. We are excited to share details on this and much more during the summit!
For more information reach out to us on LinkedIn or in the VRWS app. We’re looking forward to connecting!
You’ll have the opportunity to meet Sonia at VRWS
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