Here To Stay Conference - Should you attend? With Yoav Tourel, Pete Smith and Bart Sobies the easy way to increase bookings

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Event season is here – after No Vacancy last week I am gearing up for my worldwide trip! But before I leave Australia, there is one conference that you want to hear about.  

Today we talk about our very own, ASTRA HERE TO STAY conference that will be held in Queensland in October. It is Australia’s first STRA conference run by the industry for the industry. It will be the first truly independent national conference and networking event for hosts, owners, managers, and stakeholders of the STRA industry in Australia. With 30+ top-notch expert speakers, more valuable content than ever before, networking opportunities, a trade exhibition, and a cocktail gala, ASTRA’s annual short-term rental conference is the easiest way for newcomers and incumbents alike to learn, innovate, and collaborate.

It’s a double treat this week! We have two hospitality legends guests, Pete Smith, founder of Weekenda, and certified events junkie. We also have Yoav Tourel, Managing Director, APAC-Guesty. From their wealth of experience with high-profile events, and their interaction with event-goers through the years, Pete and Yoav have a unique perspective on the benefits of industry conferences and more specifically why you need to attend The Here To Stay Conference this October.

Pete Smith founded one of the most respected and innovative Short Term Letting Property Management companies in Australia and has grown it to a market-dominant position in Lake Macquarie and the Hunter Valley. Coming from a background in Corporate Computer Software, Pete has constantly integrated and implemented leading-edge technology while also focusing the business on Best Practice Customer Service and Owner Liaison and Retention. With a strong history of local and international speaking and media engagements, he is an open book on how he can help your business.

Yoav Tourel is an accomplished leader and technology savvy with close to 20 years of experience across customer success in APAC and EMEA. Leading Guesty APAC, a global property management software and based in Sydney.

You will want to listen if you want to know more about the conference if you are booked to come and want a sneak peek or if you run other accommodations and are curious as to what is happening in the Short Term Rental space. 

This is a conference you don’t want to miss if you are in the hospitality industry!
Have a listen!

What we cover in this episode:

  • What The Here To Stay Conference is about.

  • Why you should attend The Here To Stay Conference.

  • Who is attending?

  • Who are the sponsors and why they are important?

  • How networking will help your business grow.

📣   Listen to the episode here
👓   Watch the episode here


Hello and welcome back to the Accommodation Show. We help accommodation owners like you get the knowledge and skills you need to grow your business, improve your guest’s experience and increase your profitability. 

Okay, everybody, welcome back to The Accommodation Show. This week. I’m really excited to be joined by two legends of the short-term rental industry to be talking about the here-to-stay conference which is happening in Queensland in only a few weeks’ time. I am going to be joined or I am joined by the wonderful Pete Smith from Weekender and yo F Terrell from Guesty. Gentlemen welcome to the show. Thank you.

Pete: Thank you.

Bart: It’s awesome to have you both here. And I’ve invited you both because I’ve got a huge amount of respect for YouTube as an individual but also you run a terrific bit of businesses in this industry. And you’re both people that are willing to give back and spend your time trying to help others out. So it’s great to have you on but before we kind of get going How about you guys do some quick introductions, and then we’ll explain to everyone what we’re doing about the here-to-stay conference? So maybe you’re up to want to kick us off.

Terrel: Fantastic. Thanks for having me. Bing with the two of you here. It’s quite exciting. So I’m wearing two hats. One hat is the managing director of guests. The guest is a property management software that specializes in the short-term rental and has quite a strong operation here in Australia. My second half is I’m on the board of Astra, the Australian short-term rental accommodation Association. I’ve been on the Astra board for the last almost two years now. And you mentioned before giving back to our community and giving back to our industry that’s what’s in it for me. Being part of Astra the ability to learn more to learn from people like Pete and yourself, to give back to our industry to fight for our industry. And I’m very happy that as part of this involvement in Astra. We are also working now on this upcoming conference. So that’s me based in Sydney.

Bart: Good to have you on and Mr. Pete.

Pete: Hey, thanks bud, and a pleasure to be here with you and Yogi. I’ve been in the industry now for about 15 years. I started with a little cabin down in kangaroo Valley was just getting managed quite poorly by onsite management and we just decided to get involved with listing up on stays. And one thing led to another was really slow at first, a little side hustle. And eventually, in 2011, End of 2022 Let’s say about 10 years ago, we decided to become a professional property managers. And we’ve now got 220 properties a full-time staff and a super exciting business that is growing like crazy. And luckily I’m here to help them and we’re here to give back to the industry that’s been so good to me. I was previously on the board of Astra and this idea of a conference was floated some time ago I’m so excited to see it come to fruition and to be able to have a role to play now. And also at the conference.

Bart: Yeah, and look, it’s so awesome. We finally got there with the conference and getting it together and making these connections. We’ve done a few episodes in the past about different conferences and why people should go. And if you’re in the audience, you’re listening and you go What is this conference? Should I go to it? What’s it all about? That’s what we answering today. And as you can tell with the two legends that are on the show, they’re really I guess it’s all about giving back and forming a sense of community overall, that you’ll have Can you kind of give everyone an idea like from a high level the heads of state conferences and what it’s all about.

Yoav: The Here To stay conference and another reason why it’s great to have Pete here. He may be one of the few that actually envisioned that conference way back a few years. Rob, our chair is all always kind of speaking about how you guys wanted to do kind of what you see overseas, you’re in Australia. So this is the first time that a conference by the industry for the industry. Is created is established it’s come in probably perfect timing. We were after two years of COVID being one of the most lockdown places, COVID had a huge impact on our industry. A lot of it by the way, has a positive impact on the industry in terms of bringing new audiences and new guests to the short-term rental operators. It’s changed the nature of the industry, and the expectation of the guests. 

So that’s one element. The second element. We are now going through a period of time when there are lots of discussions about regulation. Use of Wales launched the Code of Conduct last year, and then the registration approach recently, the exclusion registry that’s happening in New South Wales, Byron Bay, there is now basically the activity or the discussion about the future there. We see it in WA in Queensland, South Australia, and different places. So it’s great timing to speak about it to understand the concern to voice the concern to see how as an industry we can deal with it. It together also a point of time when the industry wants to professionalize being in continuously growing. The industry wants to step up its game. 

They want to learn more about the guest experience, they want to learn more about how to perfect the operation, branding, and marketing. So bring everything together. That’s what this conference is all about to share. Or I would say even even even in before the first of all, bring us all together. We haven’t been together for a long time. Okay, so let’s network let’s meet each other. We know from the registrants how much they want to see each other, then to learn from each other to be they are I can’t remember kind of how many kinds of panels we have there now at the conference with the hot topics that some of them were requested by the audience, either we curated but to learn to get some insights to get involved a so this is in a glance or more than a glance what this conference is all about.

Bart: Yeah, I love it. And I think that your summary really goes pretty deep in terms of all the different facets that bring this sort of new and emerging industry together. And Pete, you’ve been in the industry for you said 15 years I think and you’ve seen it evolve and change and grow and adapt. Pete I want to go back to something that was said at the very start the idea was to try to bring a conference like the ones that we see overseas to Australia and I know that you’re firsthand. You’re one of the people that kind of inspired me to book my tickets to go over to the VRM ease in the US Well I kind of knew that I was gonna go but you gave me that push over the edge to say you know, kind of looked me in the eye man to man bar, you’ve got to go to this conference. Tell us a bit more about that particular part and that feeling for you.

Pete: So, you know, I feel like I’m a bit of a conference junkie. You know, I love going to conferences that bring value to add. I think the industry I suppose for such a long time. And this goes to his point about professionalization it’s been a bit of a cottage industry and as such, we’ve formed our own small groups and we’ve got together and we’ve met and we’ve talked and we’ve shared information and that’s been fantastic and really helped me to grow my business. And the time is now for us to professionalize that and I think the interstate conference through November is a brilliant way to do that. It’s it piggybacks off the back of the Burma conference, the vacation rental managers conference. In the States. It’s in Vegas in November. I’m pretty excited to be going to that conference. Again. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to go to that COVID restrictions. But that definitely is the gold standard. I think it’d be fair to say in conferences globally. And I’m super pumped about the agenda, and then the sessions that we’ve got for the Astra conferences. It’s been delightful actually and way beyond my expectations of what we might achieve in the very first time that we do this and Tommy will do this conference here I am  talking about scale. There’s Rebecca talking about Show Me the Money is bought you’re talking about Blue Ocean that they’ve been the big opportunity with booking direct, there’s just such a lot of sessions I’m not going to miss one single session on Well, I’m really excited to see what’s going on and be a part of it and conviction on facilitating a session that a panelist on another one and so exciting to be a contributor but just as excited to be an attendee learn from the industry.

Bart: Yeah, and on that attendee part, I kind of want to get into it a little bit more because I guess there are property managers that are you know, how 100 properties 150, 200 properties, and they’ve already got teams and systems, and process and that sort of thing. Then you’ve got smaller operators looking to grow. And you’ve even got mums and dads or investors that are looking to get in on the short-term rental path or to really understand a bit more about it. What I’d really love to know and I know that you’ve said you’re a conference junkie and there’s a reason behind that, but I kind of know the answer to this so it’s a little bit cheeky but your business do you feel that you would have got to where you are today had you not had the Verma conferences in these conferences that you’ve been to in the past?

Pete: Yeah, there’s no chance. There’s actually no chance that we’d be where we are today without the inspiration that I’ve drawn from those conferences. I suppose the very first attempt at this was done by stays on about six or eight years ago and they pull the industry together, but it was really a state-sponsored exercise. And we were sort of just coming along for the ride and while it was great. It sort of had that feeling really terrific. But this time around to be a totally independent and industry-led conference and to answer your question directly now that there’s no chance we’d be where we are today without attending the session learning and networking and linking up with these professional operators out there who are all doing just such amazing things. And I can tell you when I looked through the speaker list, I think I’ve met 80% of those people and learned a tonne of things most people are able to use. It’s helped me to get my business to where it is today.

Bart: Yeah, and there’s that real sense of community isn’t there? There’s pretty much no one on that, that lineup that you wouldn’t be able to give a call to and have a chat about your business with right?

Pete: Yeah, we’re genuinely an open book in this industry. It’s a really refreshing and delightful thing about our industry is that everyone’s there to share. And everyone says they open the books up and you can see what’s under the hood messages. It’s just a great place to be I don’t think there are too many industries by the way with genuine competitors will talk openly with each other about the challenges, the wins, the losses, and so on.

Bart: Yeah, and I think I think there’s still so the advent of us still being that kind of cottage industry. And as we professionalize, there’ll be more and more competition. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of traditional real estate agents that have ever signed up and that is coming to this conference as well. And it’s a whole mixed bag. Yeah, I think that’d be a little bit remiss not to quickly to mention a couple of things. One thing that I think is important so just for full disclosure, I am also a board member of Astra I got I got dragged in, over a year ago. To help with finding some speakers for this conference. And now I’m the kind of person that gives back so I want to be part of this journey. I want to be part of the conference. I want to help organize it and run it and create a future for Astra so they can be representative of everyone out there and to get this community together. We’ve got about 150, 200 people that will be attending the event, if not more. But I do want to mention the sponsors at this particular moment because it’s this is the one conference where had it not been for the sponsors? Literally, there’s absolutely 00 chance of this particular thing happening. And I think that I think one I don’t want to give them a mention, but also maybe give them a bit of context as to maybe give who’s sponsoring what that particular part look like. I think that could be quite interesting.

Yoav: Good. And yeah, we are fortunate to have some really good names in companies sponsoring us. I want I mentioned kind of the sponsor, but I want to also kind of to connect it to what you just kind of both of you just said there is something unique about our industry. They want to share they want to learn from each other and we’ve seen it also through the sponsors. We’ve seen through the sponsors that they wanted and they were very interested to sponsor the Astra event knowing that it’s the first one and you know, kind of everything can happen with the first conference, but they basically trusted us because they want to get involved as well as to learn and to be part of the discussions. So we have in the conference a few tiers of sponsors. The first tiers are the platinum sponsors in the platinum sponsors we have,

We’re one of the first ones that jumped in and wanted to sponsor the conference. Another platinum sponsor is a property management company called Holiday rental experts. We mentioned Rebecca Gribben, who kind of was one of the visionaries at the conference. So that’s it that’s air company, in the gold sponsors then we have a few interesting companies we have home Euro property management solution, we have home sure which they are kind of dealing with which insurance we have IoT locks, which are remote lock solution, and we have Guesty that’s another kind of disclaimer I mentioned that that’s the second net but also there a then we have in the seal responses. We have Hometime in the brown sponsors. We have another property management company Escapia. We have Alloggio property management company Price Lab and Touch Stay. We also have a few exhibition sponsors. Led by turnover b&b and a supporting partner destination Gold Coast. And there are still a few emails out there with sponsors that are waiting to get approvals. So hopefully we have a few more on that list. But we’re very happy to see the interest from the sponsors to be involved in this conference.

Bart: Yeah, and for those of you that are listening, and they’re going Why Why saying that doing a list of all the different sponsors. I think it ties into the whole puzzle that we’re trying to put together. So you’re an operator, and you’re figuring out whether you want to go to this conference or going because you want to support you’re going there because you’re gonna get a sense of community. We also get to connect with sponsors that have got great products that fit into the industry as well. So it’s this amalgamation if you really want to professionalize your business and be in the right circles. It’s a great opportunity to get something out of it. And what I hear all the time is if I can only take one tidbit from a conference and take it back to my business, it’s worthwhile. If you’re into short-term rentals, you’re not going to get one thing out of this right. It’s impossible, you’re gonna get hundreds of different things out of it. And if you don’t know any of those company names or any of those people that we’ve mentioned, that’s going to be a huge win for you just to be able to go and have a bit of a chat and see how other people are doing things throughout the industry. So that’s a really nice sort of way of smashing it all together. Folks, the conference is in Queensland at the sharks on the 10th and 11th of October. There will be a gala night which is basically a good opportunity to have some drinks, let your head down, and some bands playing that sort of thing. We will have some small awards as well for some recognition for people out there as well. So you’ll be able to take advantage of that. Look, I know that I’m not trying to sell this thing, I’m just trying to give everybody an idea as to what it’s all about. And that’s a question I get asked all the time is what is it all about what is going to happen on particular days? I think it’d be good just to wrap us up as well. Yo, if we could talk just about the number of speakers that we have involved in kind of where they’re coming from, from the industry as well.

Yoav: So we have according to the last count, I think more than 35 speakers that are really coming from it’s a pretty much a buffet of knowledge of our industry, if you want from a property management from the property manager, leaders, the life of an of Pete Smith, Rebecca Creepin, Allegro, we have a from the OTAs we have from we have from Expedia and from variable A we have from a property management software like pretty much everyone I should say. I think that’s also something kind of very nice by the way that all it’s like kind of it’s like the UN all the PMs are coming kind of together. We love the guys from Omi Iran from New Book and from res Li and from Escapia and from Iran and from guests so you will hear from them as well. A well-self Mubarak, our you see it’s kind of I’m forgetting because there are so there’s so much in it. We have Julie George is the emcee. We have the data, the data legends from tourism research Australia and Tourism Australia that are coming we have two speakers that each one brings a different angle domestic and international. We went through the briefing session with them amazing data and amazing insights are going to be presented. We have a keynote speaker from from Amsterdam that is coming into it to one of the discussions. You mentioned caring with scaling kind of the business part you recorded that’s recorded and shared on LinkedIn on our messing with my network. So if I’m forgetting anyone,

Bart: We’ve got Ron Lewis he’s the regulations guy. We’ve got Tracy Northcutt, who’s come here from Yes. And so it’s a real mix of people. We’ve got Matt Landau who will be doing an introduction for us as well. So I think where I want to sort of tie this off as well. And P you might have something to add here is people are putting their time, effort, and money into this event to try to make it better and try and make it good as speakers are doing it. Because not because we’re paying them lots of money. We don’t have any money to really pay them. They’re doing it to help everybody else and to spend that time and that energy to effort. There are folks that are coming from the hotel space that are also helping us correct. Yes, they are helping to professionalize, they understand that that movement going on and there are opportunities going both ways. So that’s a really kind of cool part. So you’re the sponsors. We’ve got speakers who have $1 events and all that kind of stuff. And then we’ve got all the knowledge now p i think that you’re coming down, are you bringing any of your team with you?

Pete: Yeah, I’m bringing half my team. I can’t take them all offline because no one’s gonna pay for the things that we typically bring up on teams at the conference and they’re super excited. This is the first time that all of them apart from me have actually been to a conference that these guys look at, they’re excited to be part of the conference. They’re excited to get away from the kids for a couple of nights. They’re excited about a whole bunch of things.

Yoav: The fact that you’re bringing your team and we are those on others that bring in a team that’s also part of the needs of the industry is to invest in our staff. We know we know how valuable they are and it’s also a good thing that we have that conference so we can that they can learn that some of them might be even acknowledged on stage. So that’s also really good.

Bart: Gentlemen, I think we’ve done enough to pitch this conference at the pitches event. And hopefully, if you’ve tuned in and you’re listening, and you do know about the conference, this has given you a bit more of an insight as to what it’s about and what you could potentially glean from it. As a business owner. I definitely recommend you give it a go give it a try. I like the fact that conferences are generally tax deductible for everyone. So that’s a nice one. And you know, the other thing is, is the West super approachable so if you’ve if you watch this episode and you want to come and tap pee myself or you have on the shoulder or pretty much anyone in the room, anyone will be happy to have a chat with you. So, gentlemen, I wish you a fantastic rest of the day. I’m looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time. And yeah, I think that’s a wrap. Is that right?

Yoav:: Thanks. But thanks for the opportunity to have a chance to talk.

Pete: Really appreciate both of you so much. Take care. 

Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can find us at where you can find all the show notes. links to resources we have talked about in transcripts in the show. I really do appreciate you listening. And if you’d like to support the show, and please subscribe. Leave a comment and share it with others.

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