The month of September welcomes a hugely anticipated online conference for the global, short-term rental sector. Following a successful event in early 2020, STR leader, Damian Sheridan decided to take things up a notch and has since, pledged to promote the Book Direct Movement, far and wide.
Mark the date in your diaries if you haven’t yet! The renowned Book Direct Show will go live on Tuesday 29th September. And from the Wednesday onwards, online attendees will have access to all the presentations, resources, and content from over 50 industry-leading experts, around direct bookings.
For property and short-term rental agency owners who are looking to maximise their profits (without the interference of Online Travel Agencies) the value of the Book Direct Show is simply, unmissable. We have now entered an age where the repercussions of COVID-19 could severely impact STR businesses, so the learnings from this online conference could not be coming at a better time.
Up until the peak of the coronavirus crisis, the growth of the short-term rental sector had been exponential. However, even today, in a post-COVID world, the STR space shows massive potential, with its future heavily relying on direct bookings. Needless to say, it is an honour for NeelyThere to be a Silver Sponsor of The Book Direct Show and help more and more industry professionals become less dependent on OTAs.
But what does it actually take, to host such a large-scale online conference, during these testing times? Amid all the exciting noise and promotions, I (Neely) managed to get a few minutes with host, Damian Sheridan who shared a little bit of the “backstory’ behind The Book Direct Show.
Neely: Congratulations on the launch of such a fantastic initiative, Damian. We’re seeing a lot of you online these days; but tell me, “Who is Damian?” – what else should we know about you?
Damian: Thank you, Neely! Ha, what can I say? I’m a pretty straight forward guy to be honest. What you see, is what you get. For me, life is all about family, fun, and business (in that order) and I try and engage with my hobbies and interests as much as I can. Quite difficult to do when you have two young children! But we make it work. I’m happy if I can get out for a few runs each week; and love catching the odd football/ rugby game on the box.
Neely: So, what about short-term rentals? What attracted you to this sector; or did you just fall into it?
Damian: Like many, I stumbled into the world of short-term rentals. I bought a small apartment in Spain in 2003, in order to offset the mortgage payments, I thought I’d try to rent it to holiday-makers; and had no idea where to start! Bear in mind this was pre-Airbnb days, when there was no easy way to simply list your properties on a platform and watch the bookings come flooding in. I made the most of print advertising, referrals, corner-shop window boards – you had to be creative back then!
Anyway, as I became efficient in bringing in bookings, it made me explore the industry a bit more. One thing led to another and here I am 17 years later as an SEO for property managers and a conference director. It’s been amazing!
Neely: Certainly sounds commendable; and truly exciting! How did the idea of The Book Direct Show come about?
Damian: I can take no credit for this whatsoever.
We all owe a lot of the kudos to Amy Hinote of VRM Intel who initiated the hashtag #BookDirect on social media a few years ago. This was the catalyst behind our early ideas. The annual Book Direct day in early February brings thousands of property managers together online in an attempt to educate travellers about the many benefits of booking direct over using third party OTAs.
I would simply like to think that the Book Direct Show is helping push this forward. If we can help our community to increase their direct bookings by even a small percentage, then this would make us very happy.
Neely: Brilliant. So, tell us a little about the “behind the scenes” stuff. What’s it like liaising with 50 plus speakers from all corners of the world? I’m sure many of us take this for granted.
Damian: I’m not going to lie, it’s tough! And the list of pending jobs seem never-ending. Testing technology, sourcing venues, sponsorship, curating content, advertising, social media posts, webinars, podcasts, etc. However, I have a small team involved this time (unlike the London conference in February) so there are fewer sleepless nights.
Event management is not something I ever thought I would be involved in. However, when seeing the distinct lack of direct booking education out there, I threw myself into it without too much thought.
Liaising with over 50 speakers (from 17 countries) is certainly time-consuming. However, I can honestly say hand-on-heart that it’s a pleasure dealing with every single one. These are pioneers in their field, happy to give their time and expertise. Our Co-Host, Deborah and I spent three months deliberating on presenters, so we were always very confident we had the best people onboard.
Neely: That is lovely, Damian. May I say, it’s a pleasure to be one of the respective speakers for the show.
As you know, we’re big on stories at Neely There; so I can’t let you leave without sharing one of your own! What is your most memorable story, from your experience in the short-term rental sector?
Damian: Nice, this is a good question!
So, around 10 years ago, my regular cleaners were unavailable to do a turnaround in-between guests, so I decided to do it myself. I figured, how hard could it be, right? What should have only taken around 2.5 hours took 4 but the job was done and off I went, happy in the knowledge that the place was sparkling.
Not quite. This turned out to be the only booking in 17 years when the guest complained about the standard of cleaning! Can you believe it?!
This was a lesson well learned. Leave cleaning to the experts (it’s a hugely under-appreciated skill) and don’t scrimp and save on costs.
Find out more about Damian Sheridan and his shared vision of transforming the short-term rental sector via direct bookings, here:https://www.linkedin.com/in/damiansheridan/
You can also get to know Damian’s fantastic team at The Book Direct Show, as well as about the expert speakers and their presentation topics at https://conference.bookdirect.show