VRS318 – 2020 Vision of Short-Term Rental with Andrew McConnell of Rented.com

This is the third year to hear from co-founder of Rented.com, Andrew McConnell as he talks about the wider perspective on our industry, looking back over 2019 and his thoughts on what might happen in 2020. Sharing insights that include a shout to paleontology, unicorn definitions and why he believes the direct booking movement is misguided, Andrew takes us on a journey that should motivate and inspire anyone in this industry to lift their heads above the parapet, adapt and focus on the changes that are imminent.

We begin by exploring what I termed ‘complacency’ in my own company that had us caught wrong-footed in June of last year.   It was a costly mistake and could have been avoided if we’d realized earlier we were not special, and the patterns and trends in the business would eventually catch up.

Andrew draws on the theory of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ to explain this saying that it’s a confluence of many different circumstances and changes over the past few years that have compounded and created a snowballing effect. In simpler terms, we weren’t keeping up with changes in traveler behavior and paid the price in a massive drop in bookings.

In discussing regulations, Andrew muses on a poorly attended VRMA presentation by Matt Curtis when he was Director of Government Relations at HomeAway. Curtis said then, “if you think it will never happen in your area, I promise you it will”. And of course, it has. Everywhere.

We moved onto talking about the continued flow of money into the short-term rental space which as at the end of the decade showed no real signs of abating but Andrew poses a question here – “Is the party ending?” This was a redo of a discussion I had with him in New Orleans at the VRMA conference where he explained to me the real story behind venture capital and funding. For someone who works mostly at the operational end of the business, and is less savvy about the financing behind it, this was fascinating, as we delved into liquidation preferences, unicorns and the idea of vast amounts of money (4 trillion dollars) sitting around needing to be invested.

Interestingly, Andrew mentions Reid Hoffman and an article written back in 2015 called A Herd of Unicorns. This got me down the rabbit hole of Hoffman’s writing – more on that another time!

There’s so much more in this episode which is thought-provoking and insightful so listen all the way through. It’s really worth your time.

  • How the first collapse of a start-up could have a chilling effect on investment
  • The definition of a true unicorn – hey people …..that could be us
  • What may be driving investors into a fear cycle
  • Why the direct booking movement is misguided and why you should be using OTAs
  • The importance of branding once the guest is in place
  • The two essentials for succeeding in this business
  • Why you should be customer-funded
  • The important message behind a Vacasa founder cleaning toilets on Independence Day