VRS560 - Here Goes Nothin'…Matt Landau on Experiences, Retreats and Memorable Events

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This episode is sponsored by Lodgify, an all-in-one solution that will help you start, manage, and grow your short-term rental business.

Use Code VRF10 for 10% off their Professional and Ultimate yearly plans

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In this episode, host Heather Bayer welcomes back Matt Landau, a seasoned mentor and coach in the vacation rental industry.

He shares insights from a transformative event he attended in Morocco, which inspired him to rethink traditional conference formats and foster deeper business interactions.

The conversation delves into the significant role of retreats in fostering personal growth and professional development. Matt highlights how well-designed, intimate gatherings can spur creativity and innovation, allowing participants to step away from daily routines and reassess their business strategies and life goals.

Matt also introduces his new venture, "Here Goes Nothin'," a series of retreats, workshops, and discussions designed to equip business leaders with the tools to navigate the future creatively and courageously. He stresses the importance of taking creative risks and stepping out of comfort zones to propel business success.

Additionally, the discussion touches on the concept of experience design, which Landau believes is crucial in planning the customer journey to enhance satisfaction and loyalty, particularly in the vacation rental industry.

The episode concludes with Heather and Matt reflecting on the need for continuous innovation and creativity to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving vacation rental market. They encourage listeners to embrace new ideas and approaches, emphasizing the importance of being open to change.

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Mike Bayer:
This episode is brought to you by Lodgify. Lodgify is your all-in-one platform for managing and scaling your short-term rental business. From easily publishing your own bookable website, to managing all your day-to-day tasks just in one place. Whether you're a seasoned host or starting out, Lodgify can simplify your journey to building your thriving vacation rental business.

And with Lodgify, you can accept direct bookings and payments, sync your reservations across all major booking sites, and automate your workflows, helping you save time while increasing your revenue. It's the smart way to grow your business, keep your guests satisfied, and enjoy what you do. So get started today, and make sure you use the code VRF10, that's VRF10, for 10 percent off your professional and ultimate yearly plans when signing up.

Heather Bayer:
My favorite guest is back with me again this week. Matt Landau has been a mentor, a coach and a facilitator to individuals, groups and companies over the years. His inspiring and motivational presentations have kicked off a multitude of conferences and summits in our vacation rental space. And now he's taking all this to the next level.

Listen in to find out what's coming next and how it could revolutionize our industry.

This is the Vacation Rental Success Podcast, keeping you up to date with news, views, information, and resources on this rapidly changing short-term rental business. I'm your host, Heather Bayer, and with 25 years of experience in this industry, I'm making sure you know what's hot, what's not, what's new, and what's not.

And what will help make your business a success.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Vacation Rental Success Podcast. This is your host Heather Bayer. And as ever, I am super delighted to be back with you once again. Just as it always does, winter turned directly into summer this past weekend. Which was a long weekend for us here in Ontario.

It was our Victoria Day weekend. It's the sort of, the launch of the summer. And I realized that it's actually the first Victoria Day weekend that I've had in twenty four years of being, twenty one years of being in Canada that I haven't actually worked at the cottage rental business, or the vacation rental business.

I discount last year because I wasn't working in the property management business, but I was at the Scale Conference in Barcelona last year, so I didn't have the weekend off then. This year, I just reveled in my first real weekend, long weekend off for two decades. It was great. It was great. I had my grandchildren to stay and we went swimming. No, I did not go swimming. No one in their right minds goes swimming in water that was frozen up to about six weeks ago. Yeah, the kids went swimming and we just had a great time. And while we were having a great time, I was seeing all the feedback coming in from the Scale Conference in Barcelona, which apparently was really great.

And, there's been such a succession of conferences and events over the past few months. And it's interesting that more and more podcast hosts are calling out the organizers for the same old agendas we've seen for years.

Now, Nothing against scale. I wasn't there. I don't know how that came off. Everybody seemed to have a fabulous time. Really enjoyed it.

It really does feel as though we're in a bit of a state of flux at the moment in terms of how we all get ourselves together, how we educate, how we network. It's almost as though we're waiting for someone to do something different. So when Matt Landau's latest newsletter talked about an event he went to in Morocco recently and how it surpassed any conference he'd attended in the past, I was really intrigued.

And then I got another email from him, popped in my inbox, and this time it was to announce the launch of a new venture he's calling 'Here Goes Nothin'. Actually, it's not Nothin', it's nothin' without the G.

But the website tells us, and what it says on the website is, Business breakthroughs don't come from playing it safe. We all want to be more visionary, but how? Here Goes Nothin' is a collaborative series of retreats, workshops, and discussions that explores the steps leading up to big leaps and equips business leaders with new tools to navigate our unpredictable future. Here Goes Nothin' is a mantra that connects people who want to take more creative risks together.

Having heard about the conference that he went to and the launch of the new venture, how could I not bring Matt back to the podcast to talk about the House of Beautiful Business Conferences and the launch of Here Goes Nothin'. So without further ado, let's go straight on over to my interview with Matt Landau.

So I am super excited to have with me once again, I don't know how many times it is, Matt Landau, that you've been on this but yeah I've lost count of the times, but thank you for joining me once again. Welcome back.

Matt Landau:
It is always a pleasure to come back.

Heather Bayer:
It's always so lovely to chat with you anyway. The last time we chatted, we, it was just but always got so much to share that I wanted to bring you and your wisdom to the audience. We're going to talk today about something that has been on a lot of, it seems to be a lot of people's minds recently.

And we're not going to go do the same old thing. and just talk about how boring conferences have become. we're going to talk about alternatives and how we can take this whole idea of people getting together to a new level, and I know that is very dear to your heart. ready for this?

Matt Landau:
I am born ready, Heather, born ready.

Heather Bayer:
I know, I've heard you talking about, going away doing all these different retreats, and I hear from just about everybody I speak to or, I've spoken to recently, who've been talking about the key retreats that they did with you and Steve Schwab over a period of time, maybe the last year or two, and they rave about them, and I get FOMO quite badly. And this has been big FOMO. I have missed out on every key retreat that's been going. I would like to say I'm coming to the next one, I'm not going to Portugal. But we will talk about these. I think I read that you did twenty, or so retreats last year.

Matt Landau:
Last year I did 15. Each of them had about 20 people, so it was definitely more than 200 people. But it was a real crash course in hosting private events. It's a whole world, for those of us who have never hosted an in-person event before. I know Heather, you have a history with these things, but it is a whole different world than just online.

And you have to peel back layers and discover what kind of event do you really want to create? What kind of experience do you want to create for your guests? And I think it really began challenging my hospitality in a way, because this is the exact same experience that our colleagues are talking about providing to guests.

And there's so much thought that can go into creating something special. And it was a whole new world for me, but I learned a whole lot, made probably all the mistakes that, that one can make, but isn't that how we learn, right?

Heather Bayer:
Yeah, it is indeed without mistakes, where are we? But I want to talk to you first about Tangier and going to..., i've never heard of this one before called The House of Beautiful Business Conference. What the heck is that to start with?

Matt Landau:
Yeah. So that was recommended to me by one of the coaches that I work with. Actually, you've met him, Jordan Bauer recommended this conference and he said, these are your people. You have to go meet The House of Beautiful Business community. And I had no idea what that was. I looked it up and it's really an event series with people who are doing business more thoughtfully, more creatively, more courageously, more beautifully. And people came from so many different business verticals from art and culture to technology and AI to venture capital. And it was so different for me, because I'm so comfortable in my vacation rental bubble, and I've been attending conferences probably as far back as you have been.

In fact, you were probably the first person I ever met back at one of those HomeAway conferences and we just formed this kind of comfort zone over time. And it's a beautiful thing, seeing all of your friends talking about all the same things, the rants. This is how we nerd out. This is how we bond with one another when you're in a support group type environment, the flip side is that those kinds of eco chambers lose outside perspective and fresh energy. And I think this is just a constant battle of building a meaningful community is how do you keep the originals engaged while welcoming in new people who are driven with the same business values and this House of Beautiful Business thing, man, it completely turned my understanding of conferences upside down.

So first of all, it was in Tangier, Morocco, which is like, where the heck even is that?

Heather Bayer:
Hey I spent my first honeymoon in Tangier, in Morocco....

Matt Landau:
Oh, wow. You're the first person I've spoken to that's been there.

Heather Bayer:
....In 1974.

Matt Landau:
Wow. Were you a spy back then?

Heather Bayer:
I would have just had my 50th wedding anniversary, if I'd stayed. That was a starter marriage. Yes.

Matt Landau:
Wow. Heather, congratulations. You..... Tangier is calling. I'm sure it has changed since you were there, but it was first of all, the destination that was different, right? It wasn't a mainstream place where people have conferences. The venue was very different. It was a former presidential palace and the stage had been set up almost like a catwalk inside the courtyard, open air with these beautiful tangerine trees and just birds and the weather was perfect.

So first of all, experientially, when you walked into this place, you're like, holy cow, what even is this? It's not a conference hall. It's not anything familiar to what I'm used to at least. And then we started meeting the people. And like I said, there were so many different leaders and visionaries from different verticals than our own. I say, we, I went with Antonio Bortolotti, who was there researching his vacation rental world summit plan for this year. And together we were just really surprised, first of all inspired. Second of all, by all these sort of leaders doing such bold things outside of our comfort zones, outside of our wheelhouses.

But the third thing I would say we were was proud because they all kept coming up to us and saying, wow, you're telling me that there's this community of vacation rental professionals who work together and that you guys build stuff. Cause a lot of these people, by the way, are very high level thinkers, but they don't actually get down on the ground and build stuff.

And then Tony and I both have our experience managing properties. We both have experience actually building real communities, both in person and online. So they were like, wow, you guys like specialize in human connection. So in that sense, it was a nice kind of proud But just in general, it was going somewhere new that really challenged us and our own comfort zones to go somewhere new as well.

Heather Bayer:
So what did you do? You were there for three days. There's lots of people. What else?

Matt Landau:
So it was a combination of talks. Like TED talk type things. Someone with a subject matter expertise on any variety of business verticals would get up and give their spiel. They were awesome talks. They were about things that I've never heard about before, but they had these running themes of creativity and curiosity and courage.

So like one of the first guys that got up was a young Kenyan guy, who was the whistleblower on OpenAI and Facebook for exploiting Kenyan workers to train bots.

I'd never even...., can you back up a little bit? And this young guy got approached by a journalist and he shared everything that he knew. And then it just went wild. And all these new journalists started approaching him. And eventually he became one of the most influential people in AI for 2024. And he was just a dude like me and you you're a female dude, but he was just an approachable, centered, intelligent, hardworking guy, who was doing something absolutely remarkable. And I was like, wow, that is not a business or a business plan or a kind of work that I haven't ever met anyone doing anything like that.

There was people doing nuclear disarmament. There was people doing meditation. There was people doing all these things that were like so foreign to me and Antonio that eventually we were like, okay, we've got to go take a break.

We got to walk down and have some juice because it was just almost like an onslaught. And Heather, I cannot remember a time, probably back with you in Toronto, that I have been to receiving new information and just had almost like an onslaught of new information since than I did at this event.

And that was an exciting thing because suddenly it's whoa, I got a lot to learn here.

Heather Bayer:
Who are listening to this? What can they take away from this to apply to what they do? Whether it's professional property managers, or whether it's conference organizers or whether it's professional property managers thinking of putting on an event. What can they take from this?

Because you also went on and talked about that one of your key takeaways was the concept of experience design. So can you just talk about that a little bit and how that can be applied to what we do? Because we are in an echo chamber, aren't we? We're not going to do a conference where we invite lots of people from other different industries to come in. If we did, there would be the several hundred property managers and then a lot of other people and I'm not sure how that would mix, but maybe it will, maybe it could.

Matt Landau:
I think it's important to recognize that it's a spectrum, right? There's the people who have been talking about this stuff for years and getting up on stage and saying the same stuff for years, which I will put myself in that camp. There's plenty of great leaders who have been in that role for our industry.

So that's one end of the spectrum. Let's just call that the most tried and true side of the spectrum. But the flip side might be these people in entirely different industries, all of whom, when they hear that we're in hospitality, They're like, wow, I see the role of deeper connection and more humanity in your craft.

So that might be a stretch, but then there might be people outside of our industry who are familiar with hospitality or who are familiar with, let's say, experience design, who we absolutely positively need in our events in order to begin stretching what we consider to be the status quo. So this experience design is a great example.

I had no idea that this was an actual profession, a kind of expertise, experience design. I learned it because a number of the people at this event were experienced designers for a living. And I'm like, wow, I never knew that existed. What they do is they carefully orchestrate experiences. They design experiences from the moment a customer first comes in touch with the product or the service, all the way up until the actual delivery, into the actual delivery, and then even afterwards, what happens after the customer completes the transaction.

These are people who are designing that journey. around emotions and feelings and sensations that we do. I'll just speak for myself. When I was managing rentals, I knew that at the beginning I wanted to drum up a kind of Anticipation about this day. I wanted a little element of mystery, I didn't want to give them a huge overload of information all at once. I wanted it to be light and I wanted it to feel like they were visiting a friend I knew I wanted when they arrived to offer them a cold beer That was one of the things we did in Panama because it was so hot.

So I was like aware of these emotional pillars, or sequences that needed to happen, but I definitely didn't go at it intentionally. And what I learned here is that there's a whole sphere of people who do this for a living. And that when we start, for instance, looking at each guest stay, or when we start looking at how we're hosting our industry events, we don't do a whole lot of..., that's a whole separate skillset that I think deserves a world of attention and research for us, because, and this is like the bigger takeaway for me, you had asked what can people do maybe besides going and attending an event like this? The big takeaway for me is that we have gotten really good as professional vacation rental owners and managers. We've gotten really good at controlling a gazillion different variables in an operationally complex business.

It is such a complex business and the people who succeed are the ones who are able to manage all of those variables, to put as many controls on the little question marks as possible, to create standard operating procedures, to create systems, and processes and to be able to control to a great degree where we are and where we're going.

That's really what our secret formula for success has been over the years in this fragmented industry. That's so many of our listeners have gotten excellent at that kind of, let's just call it professionalization.

And this is also reinforced by the retreats that I hosted last year. Almost everybody, when they talk about business values, it falls under kind of a set of like professionalization. So there's a standardization element to it. There's a consistency element to it. There's a trust element to it. And these are all really important business values. And I just want to pause there for a moment because those still are the foundation of every great vacation rental operation.

And I think a lot of the new people who are entering the industry maybe overlook that. And that is still the core of any great operation. What we haven't necessarily been doing all of these years is the more creative individuality side of things. The more authentic side of hospitality of marketing. And this is not just Oh, let's flip a switch and be more authentic. It would be awesome if that's the case. It's Oh yeah, I'm just going to be more me.

What I've learned both from this event and really over the last sort of year and in a deep dive into the world of creativity is that it's like a muscle. And it really does require exercising. And most importantly. It becomes overshadowed and ignored when you let professionalization drive, because if you get too much into a wheel house, if you're efficient, if you're controlling things, there's really no time for this outside the box thinking. In fact, a lot of people may be thinking to myself, that's going to drive me off my course.

The aha moment for me. was in realizing that we need both that professionalism, that standard set. But we also need this more creative individuality, that those two things together are what customers, whether it's travelers, homeowners, are craving, and that's really the secret sauce here, I believe, to the vacation rental scale question.

How do I scale one of a kind? It's that balance between standards and individuality. And I think this individuality side of things, it's what deserves more exercising. So a great way to do that, and it's not just a flip switch, it's not just an ebook that you buy. It's not a formula.

Heather, you're probably talk with people about this all the time. You're training them. It's not just Oh, I want to add in a new creative element, all done now. It actually requires stepping away from the grind, stepping away from the operation as we know it. Both literally and figuratively, which already people might be like, Oh, that's making me nervous. Stepping away for even a day. Who's going to handle the situation. Exactly. If it makes you feel nervous, it's probably a hint that we're onto something here, taking some time away, both literally and figuratively and going somewhere new. Ideally, somewhere where we can be challenged intellectually by other people, the way that I spoke about the House of Beautiful Business being a great example, but retreats are also a wonderful example.

Even if it's you and your team going to a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place for a day or two days and detaching from the grind. I believe this is how we incorporate. We welcome back in the time and space to think about who are we anyway? What is authentic even mean to us anymore?

Heather Bayer:
Can you, I mean you've been there, you've done this over the last couple of years with Keystone Retreats. Can you describe a sort of a typical retreat experience, because I know there's people listening saying, what happens at these things what would I expect?

Matt Landau:
So first of all, nothing is ever typical. That's rule number one. The instinct is wait, we gotta make this cookie cutter and scale it. We got some magic here. Let's just put it all in a box and build it to the moon. The essence of this new kind of thinking is that it's not scalable in that way.

It's not standard operating procedure. Here's what happens. Step one, step two, step three, step four. That's not the way this works. In fact, if you've ever been to any amazing experience. There's an element of that behind the scenes, but what really sets it apart are the unique aspects, are the things, the personal touches, the human surprises and improvisations that we remember.

So that is not my way of completely avoiding your question. I'll share with you what happens at a Keystone Retreat, but I do want to state that like the whole magic here is that they're not, no one is the same. And that's the point. That said, renting out a beautiful space, somewhere quiet. Farms tend to be our best friend in this sense, to reconnect with nature, with water features and animals.

So many people say, it's been so long since I just was able to look up at the stars and not see any light pollution or not have any kids screaming in the background. It's been so long that I just had an afternoon and I could go for a walk and shoot hoops. So there's an element of like throwback to the farm that seems to work well from a venue standpoint.

The retreats always have a tone this is both important, this is a really potentially huge moment for me and my business if I choose to make it to a lot, to let it be. And so I need to be willing and open that I'm going to get intellectually challenged. I'm going to get new questions that I've never been asked before.

And I'm going to come to some conclusions that I've never actually said out loud before, despite maybe some friend or spouse telling you this over and over again. And it might be something entirely new that never existed before coming to the retreat. But the purpose of the retreat, the story arc, as I like to think of it, is, the hero ventures forth from the world of common day into this region of supernatural wonder where anything's possible. You get thrown off guard a little bit. You're meeting strangers you've never met before. You don't know who else is attending. And that's, by the way, another great little anecdote is when we don't tell people who else is coming to these things and they're like what if there's someone I don't like?

I need to know so I can book my chat. Sorry, we're not going to tell you. And you can just feel the anxiety of having to step out of our sweet spot, our comfort zone. And that again, should be a cue that this is a good kind of event for me. That, that it's actually making you feel a little bit uncomfortable.

Heather Bayer:
I remember doing a retreat such as this years ago. I worked at Reader's Digest in England. And everybody would go on a retreat each year. And you only did one in the time that you were at the company. And it was that you didn't know who was going and we were all we were all, we all had to be quite silent about who we'd been with, in fact. And it was a real challenge. It was a huge challenge. And it was clearly not choreographed, moment to moment to moment. Things were planned of course. But there was a lot of improvisation. And, yes, it was, I remember, I've never forgotten it. It's got to be 35 years ago, I did this thing. and I've never forgotten it. I've never forgotten the people I was with. Or, I remember the accommodation, I remember the food. It was a very special two days away, and it was complete, it was out in the country. It was, it we had, it was a manor house, and we had the entire manor house to ourselves, and everybody had their own rooms, and it was just, it was very special. Never forgotten that.

Matt Landau:
A big thing I've learned is the energy of the host, whether it's the CEO of the company, someone that's brought in is so make or break

Heather Bayer:
Uh Huh. .

Matt Landau:
If you as the host are rigid and uptight and nervous and sticking to a plan, then you don't really go into those new, places. Whereas if you set a tone upfront, like perhaps by sharing a personal vulnerable challenge that you've been through and suddenly people are like, wow if that's the tone that's set, I'm going to share something too.

And this has been my formula. My recipe is setting the tone at the beginning. And then with a number of different exercises, it's always different number of different kinds of like small group activities and larger group discussions and solo time. By the way, another great tip include plenty of solo time for digesting, because these are very deep conversations, if facilitated well, that you've never considered before.

Suddenly you're getting asked questions and you don't have an answer. Which is a great clue that you're on to something, because oftentimes when we have the answer rehearsed already, we've thought about it already. It's nothing new for us, right? We're where it's the same way it's always been versus having a group of strangers perhaps in a smaller group ask you some very personal questions, like, what is your next big leap?

And suddenly you're like, oh, I don't know what my next big leap is. Great, let's get into that. And there's something about walking people through that discovery process with one another, and with some solo time to themselves, that is so craved in today's day and age when the grind, and the noise, and the excitement, And frankly, the control, the rigidity that we've built for ourselves in our normal routines don't necessarily nurture.

And this is where the big breakthroughs happen is in this new place where we're thinking creatively and individually. And I believe this is what our industry was founded on. This sense of character that we've let stray over the years in favor of some of these more technical professional elements.

Heather Bayer:
I'm going to take a short break just now to hear about our sponsor. We're going to be right back with more from this great interview in just a few moments.

Well, it is great to welcome Dennis Klett from Lodgify and in this first section, I want to ask you, Dennis, what Lodgify actually is and how does it work?

Dennis Klett:
Sure, Heather. Great to be here. Lodgify is an all in one software for vacation rentals or short term rentals. It's essentially everything you need to manage and grow your vacation rental business.

In other words, it helps you to get more bookings and save time. Our main customers are private individuals and small property managers. So it's a software really suited to all kinds of sizes. So no matter whether you have one apartment or 20 or above apartments, we would be the great fit for you. And our software has three main modules.

The first one would be a site builder, which allows you to easily build your own bookable website to generate more direct bookings, which is great to save on commissions. Then it's a channel manager, which gets you connected to all major booking platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Google Vacation Rentals.

And that really ensures that your calendar is always up to date and prices and your content is always up to date on all those different booking channels. And then it's a property management system, or in other words, a reservation system. And that's like a centralized place where you manage all those incoming bookings from all those different types of channels.

And that system really helps you to automate the management of these bookings to save you time. So it has a centralized calendar. It has tools to automate your messaging to automate your payment collection. Including installment payments, it allows you to send a quote, automate the authorization of damage deposits and managing tasks.

And all of that, we also have in a native mobile app. So you can manage your entire short term rental business from your fingertips. And we're continuously adding more products and features on top of this. We just recently launched our dynamic pricing or revenue management tool, which allows you to intelligently price your nights so you can make the most revenue off your property.

That's what really Lodgify is about in a nutshell.

Heather Bayer:
That's great. Thank you.

Heather Bayer:
[Matt] Do you follow up with the people who've been on the retreats and ask them if they've had the transformations? I know some of these transformations have been quite public. There have been people who've gone and done things that they had always wanted to do and had never really thought about actually, those bucket list things and went on to do it.

You probably know people I'm talking about here and I'm not including names, but do you follow up or do you just let them go and do their thing? So I'm I guess I'm getting to, how do you measure the impact of a retreat? How do you measure how successful it's been?

Matt Landau:
I think the old me would try to snap back and say how many people took big leaps as a result of our two days together? How many people had ROI? And I try to snap outta that, and I try to embrace the fact that my own transformation over the last few years has been so nuanced and different than I would have been able to measure.

In the past, it's come with a new sense of energy and a new passion and a new kind of excitement that I felt like I was lacking for some time. How do you measure the impact of that? I don't really know all other than the fact that I know I feel it. I do, whenever I speak with someone who attended a retreat, I do ask how things have gone since.

And one interesting kind of surprising common piece of feedback, in addition to the people who did pull the trigger on a kind of bucket list thing, which is also great. Cause they were being whispered that thing before they even arrived, so together really was just to pull the trigger on it to do a Here Goes Nothin'.

But it was the people who talked about a slight change in how they think about something just a couple of degrees. Huh, maybe I don't have to settle with this grind. Maybe I could incorporate a little bit of my passion again. And what's really neat is that when that seed has been planted and you have that shift, that subtle shift, even if it's a couple degrees, let's say one of your colleagues says, Heather, You talk about really wanting to have free time to yourself again, to pick up painting and you could, you're the owner of the company, but you don't do it because you feel like it's abandoning or you feel like you're leaving your team or you're have issues relinquishing control.

Often the case, why don't you just do more of that? You can do it. Like you should, you deserve it. And merely that little shift of several degrees I've found. amplifies over time. It grows. So it's like you can keep coming back to it's yeah, Heather told me that I really deserve to be doing more painting and it becomes this It's a little foot in the door that begins to change the mindset.

And ultimately, I don't think there's necessarily a way to measure the impact of that. But I do believe that if you can make people feel excited again or feel nervous, Oh, what am I about to do here? Or feel anything, frankly, anything positive. That's the characteristic of a great experience. And I think we can say the same about food, about entertainment, about art.

That's the objective is to make people feel something new.

Heather Bayer:
It's a real therapeutic approach, and clearly we're not using that word therapy, but it's, it really smacks of what you'd conventionally think as a therapeutic approach.

Matt Landau:
And it's so true. Like I was like, Oh, this sounds like personal self help time. It feels that way because our corporate America, for lack of a better phrase, our educational system has hammered creativity and individuality out of our beings. Thank you so much. It's just squeezed it dry to the point that we are told to run an efficient scaled operation and there's no time for the personal stuff.

When suddenly we're caught adrift now and we're in danger of becoming like commodities and we see the way the biggest vacation rental operators are doing it. Are performing and the reviews that they're getting is wait a minute. Maybe that's not the best path. And that's when you're like, have to reevaluate what is your definition of self improvement?

What is the role of you and your personal, like excitement level in your business? I want to make the case that it's everything. And from the people who attend our retreats to even like the engagements last December, I did one with the team from OwnerRez in the Dominican Republic, and this is a software company, but everybody within the software company too wants to go there with one another, wants to be more curious, wants to connect on deeper levels, both with the team and with their customers.

So it's something everybody desperately needs right now, I believe, especially in this day and age of technology. Social media and speed and change it's something we all really want and need we just need to prioritize it more

Heather Bayer:
You mentioned Here Goes Nothin' let's go on to that, because this is taking what you've been doing in the past to, to, it sounds like to a different place, to a new level if you want to use that expression. But I want to hear how does the experience that you had from the time in Tangier reflect into what you're doing with Here Goes Nothin'?

Now, first of all, tell us what Here Goes Nothin', and it's not Nothing. There's no G on this. I had to practice this. Here Goes Nothin'. Heh heh.

Matt Landau:
It's a very American like colloquialism. I think it is first and foremost a saying and If you're not familiar with it the saying Here Goes Nothin' is basically like I'm not ready for this

Heather Bayer:
But I'll do it....,

Matt Landau:
I may never be,

Heather Bayer:
Heh, heh.

Matt Landau:
But I'm going to do it anyway. And there's an element of movement, almost like of taking a leap, jumping off a cliff, for better or worse.

Here Goes Nothin'.

It's not, Nothin', I'm going to jump off the cliff and I have absolutely no experience to back me up. That's very different. That's a very different kind of risk. So this is a much more of a calculated kind of business risk. In my book, it's a phrase that I said to myself just before I went in to interview Steve Hafner, who's the CEO of KAYAK, who is this famously pointed and fast paced, really bright entrepreneur. I've seen him on stage at all the big travel conferences, and I was intimidated. Because it's a little bit above my pay grade, to be honest. And I went into the bathroom just beforehand. I splashed some water on my face. And I decided that I was going to throw away all of the questions I had lined up and planned on including in one way or another.

I needed to include all of these bullet points. I decided to put those aside and to go with my natural style. And I made a bet on myself in a way at that moment. That actually, yeah, I know enough about vacation rentals and travel and hospitality. I know enough of the hard stuff. What I really want to dive into here is the organic, the feeling that the real genuine energy of a great conversation.

And so I looked myself in the mirror and I took a deep breath and I said, Here Goes Nothin'. And I said that, and I went into the interview and I did what I feel is the best interview that I've ever done. And that interview is live on the Unlocked podcast channel. And you can just hear the I think energy of a great conversation and all kinds of spontaneous, brilliant lessons came out of it, but it was just a bit of a gamble on myself and on a more kind of flowy, organic, authentic kind of interview style.

And I went home, I was like, man, that Here Goes Nothin' really worked. And so I went home and Heather, HereGoesNothin.Com was available.

Heather Bayer:
How did you get that? I know you got VRMB at a cost. Heh heh.

Matt Landau:
Yeah, that came at a cost. As my mother said, that costs more than one of her nice handbags. But no, Here Goes Nothin' with no G was available. Here Goes Nothing with a g. com was taken. But when I saw Here Goes Nothin' was available for $12.99 or whatever it is, I'm like, this is fate. So I decided to use this phrase as kind of the, the keystone in a way for the work that I'm getting more and more excited about, which is basically what we've been talking about today.

The case for more creative risks in our business. And Here Goes Nothin' is a new division of my work, if you will. There will be actual retreats, but also workshops done for organizations that want to incorporate more connection and curiosity and authenticity and creativity within their teams, more expression.

And most excitingly, what I'm calling experiences, which could take a number of different forms. They may be in small groups, or they may be large, they may have interactive elements, but they will all have kind of this case that we as business professionals who have already done great things in our respective verticals have huge leaps ahead of us.

With a little bit of nudging, and it requires stepping away from the grind again and being challenged intellectually to go places that, oh, I never thought of that before. And I'm at this conference in Tangier. I'm like, wow, we could do a whole morning at a vacation rental event. All about what it means to design the experience.

I was like, wow, this, I never even thought of this before. Just opening my eyes to something that existed that I was not aware of before, that requires some cultivating. And so I'm using this phrase, Here Goes Nothin'. com. And there's a simple landing page up to join the list. I'm using it as my mantra moving forward.

It's not just like a one time thing. Oh, I did the, Here Goes Nothin'. Now I'm done. It's this constant reminder that creativity needs to be a muscle that's exercised in our businesses. And I believe it's also the secret sauce to what vacation rental managers need to reinvent ourselves with. It's like this passion element that we need, we deserve forefront of our businesses, but it just requires a little bit of cultivating and that's the how.

Heather Bayer:
Yeah, I'm glad you got to that, the how. I remember, and I think you probably were there. It was VRMA conference years ago. John DeJulius did the opening keynote. John DeJulius, the author of the Customer Service Revolution. And he talked about this. He talked about the evolution of his hairdressing empire. And I'm thinking, what's that got to do with, and he was able to weave what he had done with that enterprise into what we could do as vacation rental managers. And I remember going away with that, really inspired with what he talked about. Now you talk about it and I understand what he was talking about was experience design. He was designing the experience of somebody going into a hairstyle, a hairdressing salon from the moment they picked up the phone to make an appointment and all the way through. And we call it to a degree, the guest experience. But I think it's an expression that is just bandied about. And I see where you're coming from now is now this whole experience design is taking that guest experience to something really new. Have I got it?

Matt Landau:
It's taken everything, it's taking the guest experience somewhere. Just imagine if you're returning from a huge injection of creative juice. If you're returning and you are excited and passionate to reinvent your business in some way. You could even be a teammate. And you're like, I've decided I'm going to up my authenticity game.

Your energy rubs off on your team. First of all, it's impossible to ignore and not to feel someone who is newly revitalized. It works its way into your guest experience because you're now putting this new level of energy that's not the kind of, Oh, we've been doing this for 10 years now. We got it down pat rather.

It's Oh I'm going to explore something new for myself. That's exciting or thrilling or daunting. And as a guest. You could say to a guest to be honest, I wasn't really sure if it was appropriate or if it was going to work this gesture that I made for you or this conversation that I wanted to have.

But it's so great to hear that you like it with your homeowners, a level of courage, a level of clarity in a vision. Guess what guys we've noticed the market has gotten more difficult over the years. It's been painful. We've decided to differentiate ourselves with an entirely new element of authenticity.

And here's our general plan to homeowners. That's even a more purpose driven value proposition that attracts people who appreciate this sort of stuff. And by the way, we have to be okay with the fact that they're the vice versa. There may be some people are like, no, I only like people who are wearing suits to manage my properties.

And that's okay too. I'm making the case that a more focused, creative individuality side by side, the professionalism is what everybody wants more of this in this world right now. And I want to circle back to one thing you said at the beginning of this conversation that you also just mentioned. You said you were inspired when you found this perspective from John and maybe a little surprised. It's like I never was expecting to learn something from a hairdressing expert. One thing worth pointing out is that not everybody is great to get up on stage and talk about their different vertical. There's plenty of bozos out there, let's just be honest. But someone who is good inspires in a way that is the polar opposite from criticism.

And this is something we talked about at the beginning of the conversation. You said, I don't want to get into the whole critique of conferences and players in the industry who are not operating up to standards. That for me comes from a place of lacking creativity is the criticism rather, what if we inspired with an idea or with a new excitement and suddenly that's something everybody can get behind. That's something that our industry is just craving right now. So I think avoiding the criticism and instead focusing on inspiration, how do we inspire ourselves and other people around us, that is like a beautiful thing.

It's not rocket science. It's not new. We've been so long in our echo chamber that we've lost sight of this whole other breath of air that belongs in great entrepreneurship. And I think we can't say it enough.

Heather Bayer:
Yeah, I'm, you're nudging me into a sort of excitement about the Vacation Rental World Summit because Antonio has always done something different. It's his conferences, summits are always, they're just not the same as the run of the mill. I'll be interested to see what he's taken away from his trip to Tangier to apply to the VRWS this year.

Matt Landau:
And Antonio, I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, but we had so many conversations leaving and since, about how do we incorporate new creative pursuits in what already works really well. And it's, wait a minute, I got a, I've been building this thing for 10 years, me and Christina, I'm talking about Antonio.

Now they've been building it for 10 years. They have a beautiful system down. It's profitable. They know what they're doing. They know their venues, like taking a step away from that. And trying something new is legitimately terrifying. And that's real. That is the realist balancing act that I think we, we are trying to make these days.

How do I balance what works and what I know is consistent and controlled with this new element of unknown. And I'm here to tell you that there is no one. Answer. There's no one exact proportion, but I'm also here to tell you that the creative side has been overlooked for a really long time. So leaning on the edge of let's try something new because, hey, this is boring, or this is on a negative trend and I don't see any way out, or I'm burning out or, any number of pains taking the risk.

It is really a risk to be like, I'm going to go explore something. I'm going to spend a couple of days exploring what a more creative juice could look like when incorporated into my business. That's the real discovery process. What you arrive at, what Antonio arrives at, by the time October rolls around, will have never been done before.

It will be this creative process that has never been done before. And the unknown is the most beautiful thing. It's also the most terrifying.

Heather Bayer:
Yes. Yeah. We'll see. Maybe. Anyhow as we wrap up, what would you say to somebody listening when they're thinking, okay, so how do I go and get these creative juices flowing and find something that's going to help me get through this? challenge the status quo of what we're doing now, which is, it is professional, but it is It's same old, it's same old. It's not making a difference for the future. What would you suggest somebody goes and does right now or in the next month or six months?

Matt Landau:
You first have to come to an understanding that it's, you're not happy the way it's panning out. You believe it could be better. You believe it could be worse. And I think that's a hard understanding, it's a hard pill to swallow a lot of times when you've put all this effort into one particular plan and then it's wait a minute. There's a different plan out there. So I believe you first have to come to the understanding that yes, there is more out there and it can be so much better. Your vacation rental business can be so much better. So that's the first point.

I'll tell you what I did. I started consuming as much creative stuff as humanly possible. So I started reading. I started listening to creative experts. I started signing up for art. Events, I became a member of a number of different art groups here in Miami, which meet weekly with people who think so far outside the box to the point that some of them, I'm like, this is ridiculous. That rubs off too, because you start just feeling what it feels like to be creative, right?

What it feels like to be an artist. I tried creative workshops in which a creative instructor would have me do each session a different, slightly embarrassing kind of art exercise. And by the end of it, I started thinking to myself about creation in a more open and comfortable way. So that was another like, wow, I was completely uncomfortable doing anything self expression at the beginning of this, and now I see that it is something that I can practice and it's not so scary.

I started meditating. Which, it's maybe not for everybody. I certainly never thought it was for me, but now I consider it to be my secret weapon. I spend two 20 minute sessions meditating each day, opening my mind to possibilities that never existed prior, all of these kind of creative exercises. Some resonated with me. Others did not. And I think the tip here is begin. Trying new things and stepping outside of that comfort zone. And if you're getting a little bit nervous or anxious about it, that is exactly the cue that you're moving in the right direction. If there's something that you're terrified by, that's probably something you should do because it's probably something you've been blocking for whatever reason.

There's plenty of people who talk about this stuff online. I'm just excited. And this would be a good call to action. I'm excited to share this kind of information that I'm learning with my community, with people who listen to this. So if you sign up on the landing page of Here Goes Nothin', you begin to receive creative exercises and perspectives that you really haven't ever considered before. That for me, Heather, this is where I'm most excited.

Resembles, the environment back when we first began, when there was just not really any quality information about how to run a professional, efficient vacation rental business online, you were the first one doing it. And I looked up to you a great deal. And then I made my little niche, but there was something magical about that moment in time in the market when people were really hungry for this stuff.

But they didn't know where to go. And I think about this world of creativity in business in a similar way. I certainly have had trouble finding like people I can really trust. And that's where I see myself as being a source for information and education and experiences and workshops in your location or elsewhere, where I can challenge people and push them outside of their comfort zones.

This is to me, like what I am absolutely most excited about, if you can't tell, and I like to think that for each of the people that I work with, the outcome is, wow, I have something that I can get really excited about again. And that's everything,

Heather Bayer:
That is. You are inspiring. You always have inspired me from the very first moment we met and you continue to do. I've signed up on your page. I'm, can't wait to get the first nuggets coming through into my inbox. I will be attending a retreat when there is one. I'm so looking forward to that. I'm not missing out this time.

Matt, you've delivered as ever. I love having these conversations with you. We're coming to the top of the hour. Reluctantly, I am going to thank you so much for being with me. And once again, I don't know how many times it is, but it must be coming up on 20 times you've been on the podcast in the last 10 years. you always deliver every time. Thank you so much.

Matt Landau:
My treat, and it is very cool, I will say, that we get to do this all together over the years, to watch one another grow and evolve and try new things and find what they're excited about again. This is one of the things I cherish most on Earth, is to be able to do this with people like you, who I just admire to the moon and back.

Heather Bayer:
Well thank you.

Heather Bayer:
Thank you so much, Matt. I also cherish the time we spent together and the multiple times that we've had these sorts of conversations and I'm always inspired and motivated. Saying that word inspire again, I think it was, perhaps use that as the theme of this episode. I hope you enjoyed that. If you enjoy the podcasts, I would love it if you would write me a review and post it on any of the platforms on which you listened to your podcasts. It's always great to have those reviews, they do encourage other people to listen. The more people listen, the more motivation I have to continue doing this. So if you have some time today or tomorrow or whenever you listen to a podcast and you feel the inclination to write me a review, I'd really appreciate it.

That's it for another week. I really enjoyed being with you.

Mike Bayer:
This episode was brought to you by Lodgify, an all in one solution that will help you start, manage, and grow your short term rental business. Use code VRF10 and get started today at

Heather Bayer: And I look forward to being with you again next week.