Lessons learned from speaking at Vacation Rental Conferences in Europe


I’m hooked! Stepping into the spotlight at Short Stay Week in Barcelona, Spain was electrifying. 

With over 500 enthusiastic attendees hanging on to every word, I had the tremendous opportunity to share my front-line insights as an artificial intelligence (AI) consultant for leading vacation rental managers (VRMs).

I’ve never had a week full of conferences before – it was a whirlwind of ideas, discussions, and connections that ignited innovation. Everyone was energized (even before the drinking began), and I left the stage with an even stronger conviction that knowledge-sharing and collaboration are the secret ingredients for success in the dynamic world of short-term rentals (STRs).

While the United States has a growing conference scene, it felt that the European conferences have a more mature ecosystem heavily focused on fostering deep connections, meaningful discussions, and true innovative thinking.

Here are some lessons learned that I would like to share with my US-based friends.

The first step to improvement is identifying the problem. So, what can US-based conferences do better?

  1. Unleash the European collaboration: European Short-Term Rental Managers (STRMs) are true masters of teamwork, creating an atmosphere of knowledge sharing that transcends competition. The hallways were jam-packed with pods of managers brainstorming all types of problems. Vendors & managers work together to solve real business problems in Europe. 
  2. Break free from the competition frenzy: Enough is enough. The cruel rhetoric on Linkedin vilifying competition is the root of our attitude problem. Unlike the fierce American mindset, Europeans thrive on cooperation and understand the power of unity in achieving common goals. I watched multiple rivals sit at the same table and discuss ways to move the entire industry forward. This creates real value for the European community.
  3. Let’s lift the entire industry together: Whilst most content is curated for large property managers and corporations, there are 25,000+ managers in the USA craving education relevant to them. We can foster collective success by recognizing the importance of catering to everyone’s scaling goals. Together, let’s build an inclusive educational community that elevates every manager on their unique path.
  4. Partner with vendors: VRMs are hospitality professionals and business owners. Technology is a layer that currently augments their operations. We need to establish trust between vendors and managers because, in actuality, we both can learn from one another. I’ve been to many conferences that keep excluding vendors from the conversation. This excludes an important point of view from these discussions and limits the industry’s evolution as a whole.

I’ve been to over 12 US-based conferences in the last year and I’m grateful to have participated in all of them. However, I still see many opportunities to improve and unite the industry as a whole behind one common goal: long term VRM autonomy.

Learning from history

Putting my real estate development hat on, let me share a lesson on why cities spark more ingenuity than suburban environments. For most of humanity, rural villages and towns were the primary structure of communities. Until the last few centuries, the concept of forgoing space & land for a cramped living environment was unthinkable. 

But with the rise of forward-thinking leaders & agricultural advancements, dense cities began to form. Instead of walking several miles (or kilometers for the rest of the planet), residents could step outside their door & acquire all their essentials within minutes. These cities began with a few peddlers and quickly transformed into epicenters of commerce, education, and innovation. 

Negotiations and philosophical discoveries progressed daily rather than waiting for the next pony express months later. Cities became the model of innovation by concentrating human brain power into one community. 

With that said, the biggest lesson I learned throughout my journey across the pond was that the power is in the community.

The future is truly in our hands. Thank you for the enlightenment, my European friends. It was an honor to headline Short Stay Week & educate the European community on the future of artificial intelligence within our industry – particularly AI personalization for VRMs.

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Evan Dolgow
Evan leads the predictive hospitality efforts at Aidaptive, helping property managers of all shapes and sizes realize the value in their data.

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