It is event season! And I am excited to talk about some of the events that I will be speaking at and attending. If you are looking for top-level events that you should attend, there is something for everyone.
In September I head out to No Vacancy in Sydney where I will be talking about Social Media and Direct bookings with the wonderful Holly Galbraith. In October I will be speaking at the inaugural ASTRA conference in QLD (more to come). Then later in the month, I will be heading out to Miami for The Book Direct Show (read more below), and to wrap it all off, I will end up in Vegas for VRMA International.
Now! I want to bring you more information about The Book Direct Show and why you SHOULD attend.
After a couple of years of uncertainty, cancellations, and virtual gatherings, things are changing. Not only is travel picking up again, but hospitality professionals can look forward to in-person, hospitality industry events once more.
You’re in for a treat! In this A-ha moment episode, Damian Sheridan, the founder of The Book Direct Show, and I sit down and talk about our trip to Miami and of course why you should get on the Book Direct Show bandwagon if you haven’t already. (Book Direct Mode = On – ibooked.online). I’m excited to share a drum with the hospitality industry’s top global talents, owners, shareholders, and anyone attending who wants to make an impact on the industry, hopefully, that’s you! Damian shares his passion for empowering hosts and property managers with the tools and mindset necessary to be successful in this space by helping organize conferences and events for players in hospitality.
Damian has worked in the short-term rental industry for over 20 years managing his own properties. Over the last 10 years, he has helped property management companies as a SEO consultant. Damian is also the founder and director of the Book Direct Show and Scale Rentals Show.
From helping you to get more direct bookings to streamlining your business’s revenue management, the Book Direct Show will host educational sessions from speakers from all over the world. Hospitality conferences and events also give you the perfect opportunity to get educational insights from industry experts whilst also providing fantastic networking opportunities with fellow accommodation providers and tech suppliers.
Even if you have time to register for only one event, it could prove to be an investment not only in yourself but also in your business. Enjoy the episode!
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.
Bart: Okay everybody, welcome back to another episode of the accommodation Show. This week I’m going to be talking to Damien Sheridan. Damian Sheridan is from the book direct show. I’ve known this chap for quite a few years he’s been doing some awesome work. Welcome to the show. Damian
Damian: O’Brien thank you so much for coming, real pleasure.
Bart: It is a real pleasure to see you and to have you on. I think guys since I last saw you got some more hair on your head. So things have changed quite a bit.
Damian: That’s what Covid will do, you try out new hair experiments that you never would have even thought of 10 years before.
Bart: That’s right. I’m doing a bit of a baby look at myself. I’m gonna try to grow this out. But look, thanks for joining me it’s really it’s really a pleasure to have you on. It’s been a real pleasure to watch you grow with the book direct show but also to branch out and to be a real contributor to the industry to really get out there share knowledge, and encourage people to get together and collaborate and come together as one.
Tell me about sort of that journey over the past couple of years and then we’ll talk about the book direct show in Miami.
Damian: Yeah, well, you know, you hit the nail on the head straight away there, collectively, together networking. It’s so important to each one of our businesses and even for our own, you know, mental fortitude. I think we all need to know that we’re not alone. You know, we are and it sounds like a bit of a cliche. You know, together we’re stronger all of that but it’s so true, you know, having opportunities to get together if it’s online if it’s in person or the better. But you know, knowing that there are other people out there in the same situation as us who are really slogging it out all day long every day 24/7, 365 a year.
This is not an easy industry. So, what I where I’m coming from is that I have had a couple of properties over the years, but predominately work in SEO as you know, so search engine optimization for property management companies. Now I’ve seen the struggles over the years. It is not easy, but also we have this huge reliance on OTAs and this is where the backstory for the book direction comes in. Whereby we not only spend a lot in commissions every month through these huge behemoth platforms but also we’re losing complete control over our business. We’re losing our data, we’re having to, and we’re losing the ability to apply our own T and C’s. And so really, you know, it was three, three years ago I made the decision that there’s something I can do here to try and stop the Roth effectively. And you’ll know this as well as anyone else out there that something needs to pay. And you know, there are a few of us out there trying to do that and try to build a movement that is collective really globally.
And the book direction, was a part of that. So really, we wanted to create something and experience once or twice a year whereby property managers of all sizes can get together and really just embrace that movement and kind of realize that there are other people in the same situation and that there’s there are actionable strategies that we can all employ to to to get that level of control back into our own business. And really just to push forward and see more of a success in our businesses because after all, it’s not the OTAs businesses. You know, sometimes we might feel like we’re working for them, but they are there.
Bart: Yeah, and look, I find that book directors a really hot topic, right? And it’s something that’s been growing over the years and gaining more traction and people are really backing in and believing in it and that sort of thing. However, the OTAs are stronger than they’ve ever been before. Airbnb, for example. It’s got more traffic to its website than it has ever had in its history. Alright, so it’s doing incredibly well and these businesses are growing and they’re getting more dominance and market share. So I guess that there’s that more impetus to get involved in direct bookings. And I think that’s a no-brainer, right. As we know that direct bookings have gotten a lot of value. And I don’t think I want to spend time today just convincing people that booking direct is good, but I think the real question is and the real thing that I want to focus on with this episode is just to talk about why we have to go to an event in Miami, so I buy the likes and everyone knows full disclosure, I’m going to this event I bought my ticket, I’m going because I believe in it. But why Why should people go to the book direct show beyond just direct bookings? What what’s happening over there? What are we doing? What are the reasons for going? Lots of questions there?
Damian: Excuse me. Yeah, well, I could obviously here I don’t want to bore people and go through a list of a dozen reasons why you have to come to the book direction. However, I’d say there are a few fundamental reasons why it should be on someone’s radar. Anyway, who’s someone who’s in our business? I think one, the general experience of being a conference and that’s not just about the book direct show, there are dozens out there and I know you’re working on one in Australia as well, roughly the same time of the year. So it’s just that that level of networking and just seeing that there are other people in the same situation as you.
I think that’s a really important experience in itself, regardless of the book direct movement, regardless of what event you’re at, to be able to spend time, over one or two days with other property managers is invaluable. It’s not cheap, you know, there are significant travel expenses, accommodation ticket systems, etc. But it is so worth it. I first went to conferences probably about six years or so ago in Europe. Now I go to several per year at considerable expense but it is so worth it. And it changes your mindset because it’s all well and good. We, for example, the book director have what we feel are the best speakers out there. But really the level of education you get from your fellow here is unrivaled. Really that’s what it comes down to at these events. Just learning from little tidbits from your peers and your connections is huge. So they’ll probably be the first thing let’s say, regardless of the book direct show, the experience of the actual event, and the conference itself. And we hope we can supply that to you when you’re over in October. We
We were going down as you may have seen, we like to we want to have a very green ethos for the book direct show this year. As we have in the past. We’re really trying to push that out this year. So we’re not going down the traditional hotel, function room, kind of avenue for our venue. We’re going somewhere totally different, like a green eco community whereby we’ve got this like new New York style warehouse that we’re fully decking up with stage and lighting, etc. So I think and we want to minimize things like plastics and waste of any store from our sponsors, etc. So we really want this to be something that’s unique in terms of a kind of greener or eco-friendly experience as well. So I think that’s something that sets up direction apart. As well as other conferences out there.
And look, the book direct elements are is huge, you know, and we would very much want to, to that movement to everyone. You know, there’s a lot of people out there who probably think it’s just I can’t be bothered, you’ll experience this day to day. It’s very easy to see success on one or two platforms. You know, you can we can all just get our listings out on Airbnb and booking.com and do very, very well there’s no denying that you know, as much as we are advocates of the book direct, that is the case. However, there are ways you can do things to actually just help your business a little bit more and help push direct bookings by having more data about your past guests. And knowing how you can contact and communicate with your guests in a better way. These are invaluable tactics.
So one of the things I would say as well about the book direct show is that we were not trying to teach things that are a little bit unattainable for property managers, everything that we have our speakers talk about and present debates online or in person. It’s all very actual, you know, this, this is an important message from our team and that the actionability is there for everyone. If you’ve got one property through to hundreds, there are tactics that you can employ that are easily doable. They do take time, though. It’s a time investment. And, I’m not going to tell everyone that the first thing you should do is SEO because that’s a very technical procedure.
And it’s a time investment that takes months, if not years to be successful. But there are many things that we can do, you know, email marketing, for example, to speak with our guests, SMS marketing that nobody does. Little things like this that is very easy. Nobody’s doing it. So what we really want to do is just highlight those niche tactics that everybody can employ or at least consider to make life a little bit easier for themselves. So a couple of things there that, for example, that we could, that I consider being important as part of the book direct show, but really, as part of a conference experience in general. I could also say we have some amazing speakers as well lined up. You’ll know Matt Landau, for example, and rehearsal. We’ve got Vince Perez, these are all people who are the direct booking movement is really at the heart of their soul. And they’re the kinds of people who work who will hashtag book direct all over the place. It’s an important message for them. So we want that to look the best because they’re coming from all over the US and beyond. I think we you know, we take time to curate those speakers for many, many months. And unfortunately, we just we timewise we just missed out on yourself. But we’ve got we’re looking at that for the future.
Bart: We’ll spin around the world and do it again. So it’s all good. I think that there are a few key points there that I want to sort of point out to everyone that should facilitate and make things a bit easier in terms of a decision to do something like this. One of them is if you’re running a business, you can tax deductible this so you’re effectively going to a new location, a new place, checking out somewhere brand new, and you’re authentically and genuinely going there to help build your business. So therefore you can claim it on your taxes. Which is a huge, huge reason to do these sorts of things.
The community thing I had to come back to Damien because I think it’s important that the other big one, that whenever I’m coaching my clients, whenever I’m teaching people, I always try to emphasize that that education piece, it’s not about just getting educated. It’s actually pulling on the knowledge of someone that might have done it 100 times before you. You don’t have to make the same mistake or even learn how to do things better so you’re making more money or avoiding costing yourself money and that alone is there that knowledge and that’s what you’re going for. You’re going to grab that knowledge from somebody and you could say, well, I could just watch this online and I know you’re doing an online element in a conference, right? But being there, it’s kind of like it’s almost meditative or complaint when you’re contemplating things and you can sit there and spend that extra time and energy thinking about the problem.
And then also, you can do up to this bigger afterward and you can talk to them and you can be like Hey, what did you mean by this? How do I apply this to my business? All the speakers I can guarantee will be more than happy to help. So you’re getting here. If something’s relevant to you, you’re getting 10s of 1000s of dollars worth of value, especially when you go and equate it to the savings or the extra profit that you make in your business alone. And that’s not even talking about all the connections that you can make with people within that community that are there and people that are like-minded. And that then that sort of thing. So look, I love those different ideas. The one that I didn’t hear you say was you go to Miami which is kind of cool. Very excited about that.
Damian: Yeah, so I went away to source the venue in January. And I’ve never been to Miami before. And wow, what a place. I won’t say much more than that. But it’s there’s a brand new coming especially if anyone has not been to Miami before. There is a level of anticipation there. It’s a crazy place but one that will be hugely enjoyable. And especially if you’re considering going to Vegas, the week afterward it’s going to be an interesting 10 days or so.
Bart: Correct. We’re going to be flat out. Okay, and then so lets I don’t want to make this too long. I think this is quite a simple one. But I do want to kind of give people an idea as to what’s going on and what to expect whilst they’re there. But before we talk about the online element, I just want to go back to that community and make connections. And you know, I think you’ve done more conferences than a lot of my peers out here. Especially you know, going in Europe and Barcelona and me, your Mr. networker. Tell me about the value of those connections. And also the other thing that I want you to address if you don’t mind is a lot of people don’t like networking. You know, like yes, I want to meet people but then I feel uncomfortable and I hate it when there’s the break and stuff like that. Maybe some tips or strategies to help combat that and what can people get out of that networking?
Damian: Yeah, that’s a great point. And I’ll start with that. If you’re coming to an event on your own. Yeah, it can be quite daunting. I hold my hand up. I’ve been in that position many times. You know when you arrive on day one you don’t know one person in the room. And it can be really tricky and really inhibiting for you to start the the the conference. What we try to do is we try to introduce a couple of events the day before and the night before to send some welcome drinks. So we invite people to come to those and just at least one or two other people as part of that. And so at least you’ve got one or two people to know before you when you arrive on the day.
We do choose our sessions, they vary strategically as well as to who’s going to open up etc. So for anyone considering our opening session is going to be amazing. And I think it’s going to be something that will capture your attention and also whoever is going to be around you is going to be a conversation starter as well. So I think that’s gonna help in that, in that respect. Going back to your point about the community, that’s by far and away the biggest part of our conference experience. You know, I could talk about the speakers that we have and the effort that goes into me having them there, etc.
But it’s not about that and that’s something that I’ve learned over the years is that it’s you where it’s the people who were there on the ground. No, these are the ones who were doing it day in and day out and have gotten really probably more experienced than some of our speakers do now. Yes, a lot of our speakers have been there in the past and doing that and as you said, we can learn from them. But it’s just been able to be amongst having a chat with somebody during the break and just and you know what this knowing perhaps not even learning something new, but maybe it’s even just learning something that you’ve done and thinking, Ah, I’m doing the right thing here, that’s the way forward, you know, at least advocating something that you’ve done or thinking yeah, this is the way forward. I think that in itself, just is worthwhile and can you know is worth files within itself. So I just think making sure that you’re doing the right thing is a really important
Bart: Yeah, look, it’s interesting. So I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve got my own startup, I’ve got my team. I’ve got people that I work with, but it’s a very lonely world, you know, and the only time that I really feel that sense of like, oh God, there are other people that understand me they’re in the same situation that have got the same fears and, and same challenges as well and the world of responsibility on your shoulder. You feel like you’re bearing it on your own. And then you go to an event like this, hold on, there are other people and you just want to give them a hug and say, oh, when the same. We’ve got the same problems and of course, you’re not gonna get along with everyone, but it is creating that opportunity.
Look, if you haven’t been to a conference before, I highly recommend it to go to something like this, especially if you find that some of the topics that we’re talking about are relevant to you and your accommodation space and, and we’re talking like anything from a property management company, a small property management company all the way through to a small hotel or even a motel or even a bigger hotel might be relevant as well. So make sure you get yourself involved if you do want to go now, the last thing that we’re going to end up on and we did talk about this before wise, there will be an online element to the conference. So if you want to take part in that Damien has agreed also that he’ll put together a little bit of a discount code. So make sure that you jump on to the links on the bottom and there’ll be a little bit of a discount. It’s not a huge amount, but the idea is to give the accommodation show listeners a bit of a chance to engage with the content, start to engage with the community, and then maybe when the accommodation code show comes book direction comes to Australia, you’ll already be hooked up to the network, but Damien can you tell me a bit about the online session, please.
Damian: Absolutely. So at the start of October, we’re going to have an online session which we call the online series, which is going to be made up of about 15 presentations from a book direct advocates from across the world. And we are going to release them on the third of October through to the fourth of October. So everyone has access to that for free as well. And then we also Yeah, so that’d be my 25 to 30-minute presentations, and again, actionable direct booking strategies. So everyone can sign up for that at no cost at all. And you can watch them on those days. And then those who want to purchase a ticket will have access to our in-person live, first-day conference events, the recordings, plus the online series, and they’ll have those on demand thereafter. So we will Yeah, very happy to give all your listeners and viewers a discount on those tickets.
Bart: And okay, we appreciate it. We really do. I think you should be buying stuff without a discount anyway, just to support Damien and his team. They do. Fantastic work. So look, Damien, thank you so much for coming on and telling us about the event. To all the listeners. This is a bit of a plug of a show there’s no vested interest in it from us, but I like to back the things that I genuinely believe in. So make sure that you follow on sign up, get yourself involved and come and meet me in Miami. And if you do feel uncomfortable about meeting people, use me as your sounding board and I’ll be the first person you can talk to if not talk to Damien.
Damian: Absolutely, yeah. We’ve never met in person that’s for the guard as well. So yeah, absolutely. Order I might be looking a little bit stressed throughout day one, but please yeah, I say that all the time. Please do,anyone can come up. Say hello. You know I’m sure there’ll be a few beers going on later on in the day as well. And it’s going to be a lot of fun to you know, this is not going to be a stuffy conference with a corporate kind of theme. This is going to be fun. And we want everybody to enjoy the two activities.
Bart: Thank you so much once again, have a good one and I’ll catch you in tickets. What three months now?
Damian: Take care, my friend.
Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can find us at theaccommodationshow.com where you can find all the show notes, links to resources we’ve talked about in transcripts from 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.