Despite the difficult year behind us, the vacation rental industry is continually growing and claiming its space in the world of travel. Property managers have shown incredible resilience in finding ways to battle the challenges they faced.

In their efforts, they were aided by vacation rental technology that’s more streamlined, more connected, more specialised and more empowering than ever before.

Technology and people are the two most important pillars of the VRTECH community. That’s why today, we’re celebrating the leaders and innovators of the moment who are shaping our industry’s future with their unwavering dedication to helping property managers optimise their businesses through technology.

While this list of industry movers and shakers is in no particular order, it features those who we believe are redefining the way we think about operations, marketing, pricing, and other areas of property management. And, they also use their platforms to educate people on the opportunities that vacation rental technology can open up for them. 

The VRTECH team has extensively debated this list, but if you think we have missed any other influential people in the vacation rental technology world who should have been included, please let us know. 

Now, onto the 20 most influential people in vacation rental tech.

1. Andrew Kitchell, CEO and Founder at Wheelhouse

“Our team is motivated by the challenge of solving a very difficult problem (‘How should I price my unique property?’) with an elegant and effective solution.  We love working with forward-thinking ownership groups that are ready to use data to drive better business results, and it’s a true honour when any team or individual trusts us to be a part of their business.”

Andrew Kitchell is CEO and Founder at Wheelhouse, a dynamic pricing tool for vacation rentals. Having previously founded another dynamic pricing company, Beyond Pricing, Andrew is an advocate for data-driven revenue management and aims to empower property managers to make better pricing decisions based on intelligent insights.

Andrew also founded Lyric, a network of tech-enabled rentals designed for the modern business traveller that developed properties in 14 US markets. Collectively, Andrew has raised $100mm from investors such as Airbnb, NEA, FifthWall, Barry Sternlicht, and other property/technology investors.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

The reason we all should embrace technology is to (a) make more money, (b) while doing less work, and (c) having more freedom. So, I’d recommend selecting software that drives success in all of those categories.

The goal should be to take a holistic approach to leveraging technology that includes the following categories of technology: PMS, distribution (e.g. Rentals United, BookingPal), revenue management (e.g. Wheelhouse, PriceLabs), IoT (e.g. Operto, NoiseAware), comms & ops software (e.g. Breezeway), and other tools (insurance: Safely, data: Key Data).

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

2021 will be the year software “eats” short-term rentals (referencing Marc Andressen’s “software will eat the world”). The professionalisation of our category is in full gear, and great investors and teams are building in the space as we speak.  

By 2022, hotel software will be emulating short-term rental software, as short-term rentals are, in many ways, a harder type of inventory to manage. Therefore, the hardest problems in operations, revenue management, and IOT are actually being solved by STR software companies.  

And, clearly, the demand for STRs is going to keep growing, relative to hotels. That bodes well for anyone who can make great products for cutting-edge STR operators.

2. Cliff Johnson, CCO at Rented 

“I try to be one of the ‘helpers’ in everything I do and think about the impact of the decisions I make on everyone involved. I want to make the world a little bit better each day with the way I spend my time.  My kids are my primary motivator to leave this earth a little better than I found it.”

Cliff is Chief Commercial Officer at Rented, a technology company that provides tools and services to help vacation rental managers optimise their portfolio of properties with smart revenue management. Rented’s new product, the Automated Rate Tool (Art) helps property managers leverage the power of dynamic pricing and set competitive prices for their rentals.

Before Rented, Cliff co-founded the full-service, tech-enabled vacation rental management company Vacasa and led the company’s growth for 8 years. During that time, he held various titles including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Development Officer and Head of International. 

Cliff is also an attorney and advocate for social impact businesses and nonprofits such as MAPLE Microdevelopment, where he has served as a board member for the past 10 years. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

I see the best tech as highly subjective depending on the type of business a manager runs. If they are heavily focused on driving as much revenue as possible out of each property, pricing tech or channel optimisation tech is a high priority. Whereas if their focus is delivering the best operational experience possible, it may be that Breezeway or some operational tech is the most critical piece to get things right.

Overall, I recommend that managers make sure they are using each software investment they make to the fullest potential and continually educating themselves on the ever-changing VR tech landscape to ensure they are adapting their tech stack to fit their business.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?I see an encouraging focus on the use of data to drive decision making and a focus on managers being more discerning with the quality of that data. These are both good signs as there is a lot of dirty data in the vacation rental industry so it takes a blend of analytics and understanding what data is missing in order to find the right balance between making decisions based on data and human analysis.

A perfect example of this is housekeeping efficiency. The data may show that you can clean a home faster and save money but the hidden impact of adding pressure to your housekeepers and decline in cleaning quality will eventually lead to reductions in revenue that will more than offset efficiency gains in many cases so you have to be careful not to view the data you are looking at in isolation.

3. Vered Schwarz, President and COO at Guesty

“My vision for the short-term rental ecosystem is currently happening right before our eyes – short-term rentals have gone mainstream. One of the outcomes of COVID-19, coupled with Airbnb’s recent IPO, is that alternative accommodations have become the go-to choice for travellers who prefer not to stay in a traditional, crowded hotel.”

Vered is COO and President of Guesty, a property management platform that provides short-term rental and independent hotel property management companies with an end-to-end solution to simplify and automate the complex operational needs of managing flexible inventory.

Vered has over 20 years of experience overseeing global operations in leadership positions at early-stage, mid-sized, private and public companies. Previously, she spent 6 years as the COO of Fiverr, the world’s largest marketplace for creative digital services, growing the company from 40 employees to 400. Vered is passionate about scaling startups and in her free time, participates in mentorship programmes focused on female entrepreneurship.

What drives you to do the work you do?

I’m driven by the sheer resilience of the industry, best exemplified by many Guesty users. I have seen entrepreneurs worldwide build their businesses off of Airbnb’s democratisation of the hospitality industry. And when faced with a truly unimaginable predicament, many were able to quickly pivot, adjust their marketing strategies, alter their business models and, for a few, even surpass their revenue projections for the year. This, and the promise of a future of recovery, continue to inspire me.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Property management companies should invest in proven, innovative, well-funded tech partners they can rely on as a true extension of their teams. Especially today, in which many have had to operate with less manpower, tech tools that enable you to automate your otherwise manual, daily operational tasks is crucial to achieving peak productivity. In addition, today’s environment requires property management companies to focus on data and analytics in order to make informed decisions about growing their business, while also utilising pricing platforms that enable them to adjust rates automatically in real-time.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Tech trends will be driven by guest expectations, especially those that have emerged due to COVID-19. No matter what type of accommodation they stay in, travellers will look for – and expect – light touch stays. This will result in the accelerated adoption of keyless entry systems, tools to monitor cleaning staff remotely, and automated messaging tools to communicate areas of the guest journey such as check-in/out. In fact, it’s no surprise that use of Guesty’s automated messaging tool jumped 25% from 2019 to 2020. 

4. S. Philip Kennard, CEO at Futurestay

“I want to give as many people as possible the access to become successful entrepreneurs. That’s why we’re focused on democratising tech for the independent manager at Futurestay. It’s obvious that tech is critical at the enterprise level to improve efficiency and profits – but empowering a small business owner to pay off her mortgage, or send her children to college is more than transactional. It’s generationally life changing. If we can make success incrementally more attainable for thousands of people, and scale that, we’ve made a difference.”

Philip is CEO at Futurestay, an innovative vacation rental management platform that helps independent hosts perform like pros, by automating payments, distribution, communication and compliance. Philip’s relentless focus on empowering independent managers with tech has made Futurestay one of the most award-winning companies in the vacation rental industry. 

Philip is a serial tech entrepreneur and software engineer with extensive experience at the intersection of real-estate and tech. Before launching Futurestay, he developed a real-time site plan software solution for residential developers and built ecommerce platforms for Fortune 500 companies. As a thought leader in technology and innovation, Philip often speaks at vacation rental events and conferences.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

For a professional manager, control. A dashboard or command centre within your PMS/Channel Manager. Anything that gives you a consolidated CEO’s-eye-view of your bookings, operations and performance metrics vs the market in a single place. To scale a business, you have to understand what’s working and repeat it, and what’s failing, and excise it. To do any of that, you need to see it all. 

For an independent manager, structure. An automation-based PMS with connectivity. There is simply too much to do as a growing vacation rental manager. Too many laws and rules to learn, too many channels to figure out, too many emails to answer, too many bookings and refunds to process etc. 

Working with tech that can automate the rules, list on the channels, answer the emails, charge the credit cards and refund the cancellations, allows you to skip the redundancies and do what actually drives value: making guests happy and growing your business.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

I’m encouraged to see the continued resurgence of direct bookings, driven by manager demand, tech solutions and search/ad platforms working in concert. Ownership of the customer, better margins, what’s not to love?

However, the tech ecosystem required to deliver these at scale is complex: Booking engine, credit card processing and website. KYC (Know Your Customer) platform. Insurance. Email automation. And of course, advertising and marketing. 

The CPA (cost of customer acquisition) for direct can ultimately be higher vs OTA if you have to scale your tech stack to implement it. But with the STR industry’s renewed focus on direct bookings, new platforms like Google Vacation Rentals growing in accessibility, and better tech to take advantage of it all, this is a trend I’m willing to bet on.

5. Amber Carpenter, Co-Founder at DemandIQ

“I love helping people.  Being successful in our industry is a lot of hard work. I try to create solutions and innovations to help make it easier.”

Amber is Co-Founder at DemandIQ, a vacation rental data intelligence startup. The platform, currently in beta mode, provides property managers with a combination of real-time search data and real-time booking data to help them make better, more informed decisions.

Amber is a hospitality technologist with over 20 years of hands-on experience working to build powerful software tools. Before starting DemandIQ at the beginning of 2020, Amber worked with well-known technology companies like NAVIS and large vacation rental property management firms like Wyndham Vacation Rentals. 

She is completing her Master’s of Science in Technology Leadership from Brown University in April 2021.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Your PMS can either enable your business to grow or really hold you back.   Invest the time and money in finding the right PMS technology partner.    

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Specialised software and tools that integrate seamlessly with the PMS are going to continue to proliferate.  The PMS having an open API to encourage a growing marketplace is ideal.   

To learn more about DemandIQ, watch the VRTECH Spotlight video below:

6. Guy Westlake, Founder at Lavanda and Professional Host Alliance

“At Lavanda, our goal is to make accommodation safer, more accessible, more flexible and more affordable. We are working to build a future where anyone can book any property for any period of time – a day, a week, a month or a year.”

Guy is founder of Lavanda, an award-winning technology platform that improves the performance of residential real estate assets with short and medium-term rentals. He is also founder and chairman of the Professional Host Alliance (PHA), a global community of short-term rental operators and property managers. Before launching Lavanda in 2014, Guy ran marketing at ecommerce delivery startup Shutl, which was acquired by eBay in 2013. Guy is a thought leader in omnichannel real estate and a short-term rental technology expert. He regularly publishes insightful articles on his LinkedIn page.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Improving profitability is the goal of any business, so to that in the end, the property manager has a number of critical levers at their disposal.

  1. Reduce operating costs (less cost = more profit). In the current climate, demand remains highly uncertain. The one thing you are actually in control of is your cost base. Investing in a PMS that offers advanced automation features will help property managers minimise headcount – their greatest cost as a business. Alongside that, operators should consider investing in their direct booking channel – this not only empowers them to engage demand directly and drive bookings, but it will reduce the cost of fees paid to 3rd party platforms.
  2. Increase occupancy (more bookings = more revenue). Channel management (multi/omnichannel distribution) and channel optimisation is key to maximising occupancy. N.B. in the current climate, having a direct booking website is equally important as it makes your business less reliant on 3rd parties.
  3. Optimise pricing (higher ADRs = more revenue). Dynamic pricing tech will help boost daily rates in line with local demand.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Digital nomadism is driving demand for longer stays of 1 month+ (i.e. people looking for a temporary home rather than just a typical vacation rental) – a trend that I believe is here to stay. New channels/OTAs will appear to capitalise on this, which in turn will lead accommodation operators to insist upon better access to this type of rental demand. I expect channel management to become more important than ever, and to evolve accordingly.

In parallel with the above, direct bookings have also leapt up the agenda as a consequence of the pandemic. Forced to comply with local lockdowns, many OTAs ceased taking bookings altogether – leaving any operator 100% reliant on them completely stranded. Post pandemic, ensuring profitability and business continuity are primary concerns. I expect major investment and innovation in this space.

7. Margot Lee Schmorak, CEO and Co-Founder at Hostfully 

“Every day I wake up and do this work because of Hostfully’s mission: to help property managers and their guests make the most of every stay. Travel improves the world because it helps people build better and deeper connections with people who are different from us.”

Margot is CEO and Co-Founder of Hostfully. She has spent her career working on community-driven products that help businesses and entrepreneurs get closer to their customers.

Prior to Hostfully, Margot worked at Apple, leading marketing initiatives for the first iPhone Developer Program before taking the reins at ServiceSource (NASDAQ: SREV) as VP of Marketing and Strategy.

In her free time, Margot is an avid traveller, having visited Yunnan (China), Vinales (Cuba) and Paris. Margot holds an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a BA in economics from Vassar College. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

A property management platform sits at the heart of a company’s operations. It centralises data and creates a foundation for automation and scale. Property managers who are successful have invested in this system, and also invested in connecting it to other services that are critical for their business. 

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

The most exciting trend is that vacation rental software does not need to be everything. With a new generation of connection protocols – APIs – software can be more specialised and work seamlessly with other software tools. This gives property managers, whose businesses are specialised, the flexibility to choose the tools that are best for them.  I love that we can give Hostfully users choices about which of the 40+ software tools they want to work with. It feels more respectful of their businesses and honours their expertise.

8. Michael Friedman, Director of Growth and Expansion at SkyRun Vacation Rentals

“What drives me is to help build an industry of respected, successful, professional, profitable vacation rental property managers. To help entrepreneurs start successful vacation rental businesses, to scale and grow. Also, to have guests experience the SkyRun difference, and have an exceptional travel experience. It’s about seeing people happy and helping those individuals enjoy and have a passion for the vacation rental business.”

Michael is Director of Growth and Expansion at SkyRun Vacation Rentals, a property management company that represents over 950 vacation rental properties across the US, Mexico and Canada. He has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and vacation rental industries. With a passion for helping others develop their skills, Michael co-founded Vacation Rental University, an online academy that educates and supports the VR community.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

I would have to say it’s dynamic pricing and data. Our dynamic pricing tool has been a game-changer. It’s helping our destination owners maximise their revenues, use data to make better and more informed decisions, and it is allowing us to out-compete our competition in the markets we’re in. If you’re not using a dynamic pricing tool and looking at your numbers daily… you’re losing revenue.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

More tools are being developed for improving the guest experience, which is great. Making the overall guest stay easier and more streamlined is essential. I also see many more tech tools for cleaning, maintenance and safety. All of these are critical to have a more fluid, easily scalable business and to provide a world-class experience for the guest, and also to make your employee’s jobs/roles less stressful.

9. Gianpaolo Vairo, Consultant at Vacation Rental Rocket and Co-founder at Host B2B

“Many small agencies and individuals jumped into the short-term rental business in times of deep crisis looking for a way to reinvent themselves. All of them need guidance, training, and tools to become professionals. This is driving me to accomplish my mission: to create professionalising training content and meeting opportunities for this industry.”

Gianpaolo is a holiday rental expert with over 13 years of experience. At first, he worked as a property manager in several well-known companies in Barcelona. Then, he moved on to helping the international expansion of vacation rental technology companies like Kigo and Guesty.

Together with his wife, he found his own vacation rental startup called Localler, an all-in-one marketing platform for property managers and local tour experience providers.

Today, he offers consultancy services for property managers and STR tech companies under the Vacation Rental Rocket brand. And, in 2018 he co-founded Host B2B, the first short-term rental conference in Italy, which recently became the first European Virtual Training Conference. Short Stay Week: 22-26 November 2021.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Technology had always been relevant in the STR industry, and this is exactly one of the ‘secret ingredients’ that helped this segment of hospitality to become mainstream in a matter of one decade. At the top of my list of essential tech tools for STR, you’ll find PMS and Channel Manager: both of them are essential pieces in the go-to-market strategy of every holiday rental company.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

In this new digital jungle, holiday rental professionals have to deal with digital consumers, optimising acquisition processes and personalising their experiences to win the competition with OTAs. So, the personalisation of the customer experience and tools to generate more direct bookings are the two niches that are going to grow faster over the next 2-3 years.

10. Vanessa de Souza Lage, Co-Founder and CMO at Rentals United

“Ultimately, our work in vacation rental tech is making sure that the traveller has a good experience and that the manager is making a good living. I started in the industry when double bookings were basically the norm and arriving at a rental where the photos actually matched the advert was like hitting the jackpot. So I’m in it for the professionalisation of this vertical and love to connect with customers (and future customers!) who think like me.”

Vanessa is an entrepreneur and experienced marketing professional. She co-founded the leading short-term rental channel manager Rentals United.

She is also the founder of VRTECH, a community that brings together vacation rental professionals to inspire each other, share ideas and accelerate innovation in the industry. Vanessa is a regular speaker at worldwide events. She is behind the #tieonstage movement which aims to raise awareness about the lack of women presenters on stage at industry events. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Of course, distribution tech. We still meet property managers who update their listings on OTAs manually, which is a completely unnecessary waste of time in this day and age. And those who are already connected to their channels via tech, they often don’t realise the difference between one distribution API and another. That’s one of the things we’ve been trying to educate property managers about: go for specialised distribution tech because the difference in bookings can be massive.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

I love everything related to home automation. Recently, I found a company that makes cigarette smoke detectors – which I think is brilliant.

I also see a new trend emerging in the home automation vertical: before, you had one provider for monitoring the air-con, another for controlling noise levels and a third for taking care of keyless entry. Now, you have all those integrated into a single platform, maybe even combined with guest communication tools.

One day, when you get a new booking, the whole process of the check-in, stay and check-out will happen in a completely automated way, without you having to lift a finger. Moreover, you’ll have the peace of mind that your guests respected your house rules and you’ll be paying less as you’ll be dealing with one company.

11. Emir Dukic, Founder and CEO at Rabbu

“We believe that the way people live and travel has changed drastically over the last year. Tenants and guests can now work from anywhere and are looking for a new type of accommodations as a result. Hospitality and residences are blending together and Rabbu aims to unlock this new opportunity for owners and tenants.”

Emir Dukic is Founder and CEO at Rabbu, a full-service asset management platform that allows property investors to maximise their revenue through short-term rentals. The startup provides an end-to-end solution, helping investors identify opportunities for great rental properties, find tenants, optimise the renter experience and manage daily operations.

Before launching Rabbu in 2017, Emir was Vice President of Operations at KYCK, a technology company in the sports industry which was acquired by NBC Sports.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Automation will be key to property managers and investors going forward. Automating distribution, operation, access, communication (to a certain extent) and revenue management. With hospitality and traditional residences becoming interchangeable, traditional management fees won’t cut it and technology will have to drive costs down (and margins up).

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

IoT devices inside properties. They will replace on-site managers and provide a better experience overall while elevating certain personal touches that will remain core.

12. Anurag Verma, Co-Founder at PriceLabs

“PriceLabs was founded on our vision that businesses small and large deserve the same cutting edge systems that help larger companies in travel like airlines or large hotel chains compete better and drive better revenues. Individual hosts and property managers don’t have an army of revenue managers working for them and can benefit greatly from using tools that can help them improve their revenue while saving time.”

Anurag is Co-Founder at PriceLabs, an easy-to-use, data-driven and highly customisable revenue management tool for vacation rentals. Having founded one of the leading companies in the revenue management space, Anurag has made some significant contributions to how the vacation rental industry thinks about pricing.

Before launching PriceLabs with his co-founders Richie Khandelwal and Sana Hassan, Anurag worked at United Airlines, helping the company improve its revenue management systems. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

I’d argue that to truly take things to the next level, property managers need an ecosystem that comes together to improve every aspect of the business, rather than one single piece of technology. If I was to choose one from the ecosystem, my answer might be a bit biased. But I truly think having technology that helps you get better top-line revenue through automating (or semi-automating!) pricing and stay restrictions is game-changing.

Of course, it doesn’t sit in a vacuum – to make good use of the dynamic pricing, you need them distributed automatically to all the OTAs (which is where the channel managers are critical), and once you have a lot more bookings, you need better systems for managing operations (PMSs, messaging, scheduling systems). It takes a village, as they say.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Standardisation. As the technology landscape in our industry matures, there invariably will be some standardisation in how data flows between OTAs, PMSs, channel managers while still serving a varied set of needs from guests and property managers. And this is for the better! The breakneck speed at which VR technology has been evolving in the past few years will make some room for ensuring that all the technology can talk to each other in a more robust way.

13. Wil Slickers, Host at Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast 

“This industry has given me a feeling of home. I can’t describe it other than that. Hospitality is home for me. The fact that this industry has saved and changed my life, I want nothing more than to give back, create, and unite with like-minded professionals worldwide and make a difference in our industry and people’s lives.”

Wil is the host of Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast, a podcast made for anyone and everyone in the hospitality industry who wants to stay up-to-date on travel trends and hot topics. He regularly interviews special guests, including technology experts, who share their unique insights with listeners of the podcast.

Wil is the creator of the Destinationaire Award, an award show for hoteliers and short-term rental operators who provide an exceptional guest experience. While running the podcasts, Wil also is the Co-Founder of Recreation Rentals in the US and a few other businesses around media and marketing.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

In my opinion, automation is huge and should play a big role in your business. That way, you and your team can focus on creating moments and experiences. Also, I think as an operator myself, having a place where everything lives and is consolidated is pretty important. I hated having 20 different systems and inboxes. Things get missed that way and cause more issues than it’s worth. Invest in something tech-related that will help you and your team have one hub.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

I am seeing the operator (PM) professionalisation rise, especially in the recent year, by investing in quality control of their inventory. We’re seeing hosts become property managers, and those property managers are investing in how they set up their systems and operations in a different way than what we were seeing in 2019.

Emerging tech is based around centralisation and the ability to use tech solutions to do better marketing and get more direct bookings is becoming more important than ever. At the same time, operators are starting to build a real brand for themselves.

14. Terry Whyte, Owner at Anna Maria Island Beach Rentals

“The difference between owners with less than five properties and PMs with hundreds of properties is that PMs embrace technology and owners fear it. What drives me is not only to compete with large property managers but also to compete with the hotel industry and succeed at levels not thought possible.” 

Terry is the owner of Anna Maria Island Beach Rentals. Due to his passion for property management software, he’s also known as the Vacation Rental Software Guy. When Terry is not busy running his property management company in Florida, he heads a research group that has made it their mission to learn everything about the vacation rental software providers out there and share its findings with property managers. Terry has also co-founded the Keystone Awards, the first-ever awards programme for vacation rental software. Read his thoughts on choosing the right vacation rental software and listen to him talk about finding the right PMS for your business here.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

The first trend I see is “separation” in the PMS sphere. The bigger, stronger, and more sophisticated PMSs will continue to push away from the less expensive, middle-of-the-road softwares. 

The second trend I see is home automation which has never been more important than it is now (touchless entry, no person-to-person contact, property efficiencies, remote lock control, remote thermostat control, door and window sensors, leak detection, and more). 

The third trend I see is revenue management. I believe it will be the single biggest story of the next few years.

We have revenue management conferences (see DARM), we have PMS revenue management modules (see Streamline Rev Max; Maxxton coming soon). We have market data software like Transparent, Key Data, and LSI. We have pricing tools like PriceLabs, BeyondPricing, Wheelhouse, and Art is getting a lot of attention. These platforms are going to reshape how we price our inventory. 

15. Mauricio Prieto, Partner at Travel Tech Essentialist

“We are in the early stages of innovation in the travel industry. It is motivating to work in an industry that impacts the well-being and fuels the dreams of billions of people around the world.”  

Mauricio is a Partner at Travel Tech Essentialist. As a consultant and advisor to the travel and media ecosystem, he works with a wide range of clients, from early-stage startups to publicly-traded companies. He’s also known for his biweekly newsletter Travel Tech Essentialist, where he shares his travel tech news with thousands of subscribers. Mauricio has extensive experience in the travel industry. In 1999, he co-founded eDreams, a Barcelona-based company that has since become the fifth-largest online travel agency in the world. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Automation and customer management solutions.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

IoT sensors, maintenance, touchless and ancillaries.

16. Luca de Giglio, Founder at Trips Community

“I always start from the technology and I try to imagine how it will change things in the short-term rentals space. I tend to focus on the long term, 5 to 10 years ahead.”

Luca is Founder at Trips Community, a company with a vision to build a decentralised, peer-to-peer booking platform on the blockchain. The goal of the project is to minimise transaction fees and reward participants for creating value by joining the community. Luca has worked in the short-term rental industry since 2001. Besides being a blockchain evangelist and a public speaker, he also advises vacation rental companies. He’s a Consultant at Yes.Consulting and CEO at Adormo, a vacation rental consulting firm. 

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Web3. The new internet, powered by open blockchains. I think everyone who invests time in understanding it now, before it goes mainstream, will be rewarded. That’s because no one can escape it. It’s just a matter of adapting now or later. 

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Decentralised projects, digital payments, tokenisation, DeFi in Travel, and everything else related to Web3. Automation, Big Data, and AI will play a big role too but these are already obvious, so the hedge is gone. The web is undergoing a real revolution under our feet and few understand it right now. There’s your hedge.

17. Tom Caton, CRO at AirDNA

“I don’t really know how I ended up in vacation rentals, but thank heaven I did. The reason I like the industry is there are (take the OTAs), no dominant players and everything is to play for. Not many massive industries can claim that.”

Tom is Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder at AirDNA, a leading short-term rental data solutions provider. AirDNA enables property managers to gain insights into the performance of over 10 million vacation rentals across 120,000 global markets.

Before co-founding AirDNA in 2014, Tom worked in a series of other web-businesses, as well as working in Global Strategy Group at Samsung. He has spoken at ITB Berlin, Tech Conference, VR Technology in Barcelona and has been interviewed for countless publications including the Financial Times, TechCrunch and CBC. Tom pioneers AirDNA analytics around the world, sharing the insights that big data on short-term rentals can bring to the travel, hospitality and PropTech industries.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

Outside of the data world that I’m from, when well-implemented, keyless entry devices can take so much of the stress out of property management (for guests and hosts). The endless quest for keys will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

The pandemic has already fast‐forwarded most technology implementation across the vacation rental space. Guests prefer having minimal exposure to all possible touchpoints. So, the digital-first and touchless travel technology that gives travellers confidence to travel again will be driving factors in better performance of vacation rentals. 

Throughout the course of the last year, high cleanliness ratings were directly correlated to high occupancy rates. It’s tough to imagine 2021 deviating too far from this theme. We expect hotel-like cleaning standards to be the norm of successful vacation rentals.

Airbnb also mentioned introducing a program to record the health of guests prior to a stay, so digital tools giving guests more control over their environment are likely to keep evolving. I think there is going to be some exciting innovation in proving vaccination and/or immunity to COVID-19 that the tech world will provide.

18. Steve Davis, CEO at Operto Guest Technologies

“My vision for Operto is to take our traditional hardware expertise ‘upstream’ and couple it with intelligent platform solutions that deliver value to the guest, the property manager, and the teams that run that property. As a company, we have been working in lock-step with our customers to really understand their business and identify common challenges that we can help them address through well designed and supported technology solutions. This is what gets me, and my incredible team, out of bed each morning.”

Steve is CEO at Operto Guest Technologies, the world’s leading property automation system for managing all types of guest accommodation. From vacation rentals to hotels and serviced apartments, Operto intelligently controls in-room smart IoT devices, while enhancing in-stay communication between the guest, owner and property service teams.

Prior to Operto, Steve worked as a technology executive across a wide array of global businesses, including Apple, TomTom, and Kantar Worldpanel. Most recently, Steve was CEO at Slalom Capital, a Vancouver-based VC fund investing in emerging technologies.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

At Operto, we believe in building technology that positively impacts the in-stay experience of the guest while making it easier for property managers and their teams to do their jobs. Our solutions strive to continually remove common friction points in this ecosystem.

This means finding the right balance between intelligent devices to create a seamless, bespoke guest experience, while also building tools that enhance in-stay communication between the guest and those servicing their stay.

I think investing in tools that put your guest in control of their stay is vitally important, but in the same breath, ensuring that you’re helping managers to better run and monetise their properties through operational efficiency and direct access to high value, in-stay experiences for their guests.

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

I believe we will continue to see demand technologies that deliver a touchless, frictionless guest experience. This is the obvious answer, given the realities of the post-COVID-19 world.

But where I really see the next wave of innovation happening is in the realm of in-stay monetisation opportunities for property owners. Seamlessly delivering a bespoke guest experience, with 3rd party service providers.

We are actively building software solutions to put the guest in total control over their stay while putting property managers in the best possible position to bring additional revenue into their top-line.

19. Julie Grieve, Founder and CEO at Criton

“At Criton, we work with serviced apartments and hotels and our vision is to give independent operators access to the same guest-facing technology that large chains already adopt. If you think about Marriott, Hilton, Airbnb, Accor, Hyatt and CitizenM, they have all spent a fortune in developing their own branded apps to streamline their guest experience and give guests everything they need on their own devices. Helping independent operators offer the same contactless guest services that chains provide is what motivates our work, day after day.” 

Julie is Founder and CEO at Criton, a guest engagement platform that enables hotels and short-term rental operators to integrate their disparate guest-facing technology into one place. This helps to simplify digital transformation, reduce costs, increase upsell and deliver a smooth digital guest experience.

Prior to founding Criton, Julie worked in the luxury serviced apartment sector for 3 years. She is a Director of Women in Tourism and sits on HSMAI’s Culture and People Advisory Board.

What technology has the biggest impact on a property management business?

A CRM will become more critical in my opinion because the storage of guest data and their preferences and sticking to that is now expected and you need a system to handle that. After that, I would say technology that lets you interact with your guests directly on their phone and gives them all the information they need is now something that expected. 

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

Our serviced apartment operators are moving towards offering their guests multiple ways to interact with them. Enabling that but making it easy for your team to respond with an omnichannel inbox and chatbots will become a necessity. If you don’t adapt a system like that, your team will spend all of their time moving between all of the different messaging apps, which is not a good use of time and makes it hard to track trends.

20. Michael Siebers, CTO and Founder at Holidu

“Holidu was founded in 2014 by my brother, Johannes, and I, following a frustrating experience while booking a vacation rental for a surfing trip to Portugal. After spending hours browsing through dozens of websites to find the right accommodation, we realized that some of the rentals were offered on multiple websites for different prices and availabilities. We decided to solve these problems ourselves with technology and took on the mission to finally make the search and booking of vacation rentals easy.”

Michael Siebers is CTO and Founder at Holidu, a vacation rental metasearch engine headquartered in Munich, Germany. Holidu allows travellers to compare over 15 million vacation rental listings from hundreds of websites, making it simple to find the perfect rental.

Before co-founding Holidu with his brother Johannes Siebers in 2014, Michael worked as an engineer at Zalando and helped build the company’s tech infrastructure. In 2019, Michael was featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. 

What new technology trends do you see emerging in the vacation rental space?

We believe that COVID-19 will act as a catalyst for many travel trends that have been emerging for a long time: domestic vacations, individual travel, a more eco-friendly and sustainable focus. In addition, digitisation and online business have made an enormous leap – also in the tourism industry. Important technology trends in the vacation rental space include looking at more AI options such as chatbots to help improve services available for travellers.

Another important point in the travel market is the possibility of cancellation. We see on the customer side that flexibility is very much in demand. The vacation rental market has lagged behind in this respect to date; more flexible cancellation conditions are already much more established in the hotel sector. We are therefore working flat out to roll out flexible cancellation models with our partners. Vacation rentals with flexible cancellation options generate two to five times more bookings.