I was able to get down to Atlanta this weekend to attend the first ever Vacation Home Expo dedicated solely to promoting vacation rentals as a mainstream lodging option to vacationers.
A number of industry round tables and topical presentations were available on Friday for attending suppliers and local travel agents. I was actually a featured presenter and estimated about 75% of the session attendants were travel agents, which was an interesting new dynamic we haven’t observed at standard VRMA events. (This becomes an important point later in the story.)
Saturday was the first day of the consumer focused show. I thought vacation rental managers and destination organizations did a wonderful job putting together professional and engaging booths. Many companies were offering free weekend giveaways and various knickknacks to engage browsing consumers. Overall – a solid and inviting layout.
In terms of consumer foot traffic I would estimate 2K consumers attended the first day of the show. Overall, consumer traffic was a little low; however this was offset by solid travel agent attendance (read on for more details).
Consumer attendance was stronger on Sunday, and many property managers reiterated their positive feelings for the show. Specifically, the breadth of travel agents in attendance who made an invested effort to better understand the advantages of the vacation rental product was a big win for all participants.
Ultimately the vision of the Vacation Home Expo is to promote the entire vacation rental category. As such, influencing 100 travel agents is the equivalent of speaking with 50,000 consumers. Travel agents play a critical role in the travel discovery process and equipping them with the vacation home rental story lifts the tide for everyone’s boat.
If you are interested in more info visit http://www.vacationhomeexpo.com/.
Here are some photos I took at the show.
It wouldn’t be a show with out Disney.
The Show Floor was separated into geographies.
These guys got extra credit on their booth.