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Unlocking Success: Recap of the 2023 STR Conference Season

January 12, 2024

Discussion stage at VRMA conference in 2023

As an aspiring or seasoned player in the short-term rental (STR) industry, attending conferences can be both invigorating and challenging. In 2023, the calendar was alive with conferences here and there, all year long, creating a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) like never before.

If you’ve never been to a STR conference, I’m here to tell you, it’s well worth your investment and this blog will outline why you should attend, some of our 2023 conference recaps, and some tips and tricks to conferencing like a champ and making the most of your (or your boss’s) money.

Networking Opportunities
Conferences bring together industry professionals, experts, and like-minded individuals. It’s a fertile ground for networking, forging valuable connections, and discovering potential collaborations. The best part though is that you get to meet folks who have been in the industry for 20+ years and someone just starting out; some with 5 properties and others with 500. Oh, and the vendor connections – meeting new technology providers or connecting with those who help you do what you do every day – are well worth the trip, even if you don’t talk to anyone else (not suggested though!)

Knowledge Exchange
Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the STR industry. Conferences offer a wealth of knowledge through workshops, seminars, and keynote speakers. It’s nice knowing how others are performing or how they successfully challenge and motivate their teams. You’ll typically find a plethora of topics at these events from operations and marketing to data comparisons and best practices on how to implement new technology.

Business Growth
Gain insights into strategies that can help your STR business thrive. Learn from successful entrepreneurs, hear their stories, and adapt their approaches to your own ventures. It’s always amazed me how wiling-to-share this STR community is. I’ve learned things like Owner-marketing, Owner retention, how to scale, and so much more.

Conferences often feature inspirational talks and success stories that can reignite your passion and motivation for the industry. To-date, my favorite keynote so far was Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love).

In Breathe Easy Rentals’ commitment to staying at the forefront of the STR industry, our team attended several key conferences in 2023:

TLDR: In my perspective, this was a small sized event – ideal for any local operators in the FL Panhandle, with attendees spanning from Port St Joe/Panama City Beach all the way to Gulf Shores, AL.

Our recap: Sharon and Paula attended the FAVR conference, soaking up the latest insights and innovations in the industry. This was a one-day event, perfect for locals looking to hear directly from operators in the area on best practices, insights, and so much more.

Breathe Easy Rentals' staff, Heather and Jenn, at conference FAVR Xtravaganza

TLDR: In my perspective, this was a small sized event – ideal for any both new and seasoned STR operators of any size.

Our recap: We sent Heather and Jenn down to this conference – they’d never been, so this was a real treat to engage and learn. They loved the scheduling, the content, and the closeness to Universal Studios theme park 😉

TLDR: In my perspective, this was a huge sized event – ideal for any seasoned STR folks looking to network and engage with one of the biggest vendor halls I’ve ever laid eyes on. Brittany was on 2 panels at the 2023 VRMA International Conference.

Here’s Brittany’s recap:
NETWORK 🤝🏼 – get uncomfortable & find creative ways to share your name/brand

VALUE 💸 – spend more of your time in meaningful conversations rather than doing everything and seeing everyone

KEY TRENDS 🤓 – consistency is king, AI is coming, STR tech is fragmented (good & bad)

JEDI TRAINING 🤺 – learning new things/movements is awkward and uncomfortable. But, with a little practice, you can figure out the steps on how to save the planet (or hit the bullseye more often 🎯 IYKYK)


For those of you who attended my 2 sessions, thank you from the bottom of my heart. My thoughts on those discussions:

🫶🏼 “Hospitality” to me can mean different from you. Neither of us is wrong. Embrace what you aren’t good at 👈🏼 Yep, read it again & let it sink in.

🫵🏼 Negotiate with vendors & recognize that your relationship with them needs to be cultivated as much as Guest and Owner relations.”

Breathe Easy Rentals' owner, Brittany Blackman, at a conference booth at The Next Big Thing

TLDR: In my perspective, this was a small/medium sized event – ideal for any industry who participates in the local Walton County, FL area.

Brittany’s recap: “What an amazing experience the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce’s The Next Big Thing 2023 was! This was my first non-STR conference where I presented and had a vendor booth, and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity!

Not only did I meet so many amazing folks in our community, but I was able to spread a little BE swag around (one new friend of mine even wore her Breathe Easy Rentals shirt on the 2nd day to show her support!!)

Supporting local means the world to me, and man, do I feel the love as well. I seriously love this community!

Huge thank you to Louisa Baldock from Solely Beachfront who presented with me today on educating others on what it means to know your “why” in life/business; how you use this knowledge to evolve and grow your business/relationships; and key takeaways of how to find your roadmap in life. You wouldn’t get in a car heading towards a destination you’ve never been before without directions or a map. You wouldn’t build a home without a plan/design. Why do you choose to live your life without knowing why, where and what you are truly after?

Lastly, huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to my support system, the ones who have not only had my back but also encouraged me to challenge myself by stepping further into the unknown than I ever would have without their support : Stan Blackman, Mom, Jessi Presley, Jodi Bourne, and My Life Coach.”

TLDR: In my perspective, this was a small/medium sized event – ideal for STR newbies and the experienced who are looking for a more cozy, woman-empowerment environment.

Our fearless leader, Brittany Blackman, attended the VRWS and had 2 speaking engagements: one solo session and a panel with Better Talent. We asked her for a recap; it sure sounds like it was a real sparkly, boot scootin’ time! 👢

Breathe Easy Rentals' owner, Brittany Blackman, at the Women's Summit

“Women supporting other women.

We each go into these conferences with a desire, an urge to hear something that resonates deep within.

This year, it didn’t fully hit me until afterwards while Stan (my husband) and I were sitting at the Grand Ole Opry. 2 hours of up-and-coming artists, all getting the authentic support and rallying of Lainey Wilson, an established name in the country music world.

And there it was 🪄

How many times do we credit the people “who have made it” for having it all? In all the glory, we forget they started out scared, doubtful, probably been stuck in Wonderhell a time or two. They were just like “us” at one point.

But here these bold people are. They stand before us and they lift others around them. They take the newcomers into the industry, or maybe even those that have been here for a little while and are just a bit confused, off-track per say, and guide them towards a path of success.

Because that’s all we want. We each want to find our own success. Our paths are all different. We’ll all wind up in different places. And that’s the beauty of this life we live.

Here in the vacation rental world, we happen to have a stellar community of friends, all around the world that we can rely on for support.

No one is fighting for the center spotlight. We just don’t want to be alone on stage 👭
Hats off to you, Women of our industry. I’ll be yeehawing you all along (while still trying to figure out how the heck to line dance).

P.S. for those of you who attended my “Presence is Power: How to find your inner Elle Woods” presentation, thank you so much! This was my first time presenting alone, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the grace you gave and the packed room where I could hopefully shine a little light into your lives.

"If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships."

In the dynamic world of STR, staying informed and connected is paramount. Attending conferences offers an avenue for growth, learning, and building relationships that can shape the trajectory of your STR journey. As we navigate the upcoming 2024 STR conference season, we invite you to embrace these opportunities and make the most of your conference experience.

With love from Breathe Easy Rentals

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