The Summit and how to get the most from it
The 4th Annual HomeAway Summit is coming up — it’s May 17-19, in Scottsdale, AZ. I attended the Summit a few years ago, and will probably attend again next year. Sadly, I cannot make it this year.
Some of you have asked me: “should I go”? Well I can’t really answer that question for anyone. But if you do go to this event, or any vacation rental conference or seminar, below are my recommendations on how you can get the most out of the experience.
You will find that networking with others in the vacation rental industry at events like this will provide great value.
Before arriving at the Summit, form questions you could ask people you meet. These questions should be things that are important for you to know, and easy for them to answer. Having some questions makes it easy to start conversations with those you don’t yet know.
Some good areas to discuss are:
- The Person’s VR(s) — Where are they? How many do they operate? How long have they been doing it? What pain-points do they experience? What tools do they use? What’s the biggest “aha! moment” they have had recently?
- Reason for Attending — Why are they here? Are they sponsoring? Speaking? Is it their first time here?
It’s usually easy for others to talk about themselves — their VR property or properties, their role in running their VR business, the things they like about it, the things they need help with.
Showing a genuine interest by asking questions of this nature helps break the ice, put both of you at ease, opens the doors to finding common ground, and will almost inevitably teach you both something new.
There is typically a part of the event dedicated to exhibitors and vendors.
Take a look at the list of exhibitors before you go to the event and see if any may be of interest to you or your company. You can always learn about things that can make your VR business more efficient — or at the very least, use this as an opportunity to learn about the new tech that’s out there, even if you’re not looking to make any purchasing decisions right away.
If you are interested in exploring new tools and technologies, get a face-to-face demo when possible. You should also ask for some case studies or customer examples.
Huh? We get to party? But of course! There will usually be some type of party — whether a simple happy hour, or an elaborate shindig that lasts into the wee hours of the morning.
At first glance, you may think these parties aren’t worth attending — after all, you’re there to work, right?
Summit parties are not only supposed to give attendees a break from the full day of learning and sessions, they’re designed to make networking easy and natural. You can learn a ton from just talking to other people: their VR challenges, what they are doing about them, what major trends they’re seeing in the VR marketplace, and even recommendations for other people or vendors to work with.
HomeAway usually makes it easy to spot the employees who work for the company (all wearing the same color shirt, etc). Don’t be shy about pouncing on them at every opportunity. That’s why they are there.
The party is “free food & drinks,” but more importantly it’s where deeper relationships can be forged that you can maintain long after the event is over.
OK, this one gets the “most obvious award”. But before you go to the Summit, set your goals and expectations. Your top priority should be to attend the sessions that you believe will help you run your Vacation Rental better and more efficiently than you do now.
Because events are so ripe for networking — not to mention everyone’s in learning mode — it’s a great opportunity to share the tips and techniques that work for you with others you have lunch or dinner with. It can be quite gratifying to help others who might just be starting out, or who have wrestled with some thorny problem that you might have a perfect solution for. You don’t have to have a speaker slot to do that, either.
The Summit can be exhausting. It spans multiple days. Trying to go to everything on the agenda might not be possible. Look over the schedule, and think about what parts of the conference you must go to.
After the Summit is over, we’d love for those of you who attend to leave some comments here on what you thought were the best parts