The short-term vacation rental industry is thriving. It’s a sector which has witnessed a huge change in recent years, been disrupted more times than we can count and shows no signs of slowing down.
Inside this ecosystem, there is an almost endless number of providers, services and software which attempt to solve the various problems and needs of owners and managers.
Amongst these service providers are a number of admirable women who are making a real contribution to the industry. Not only are they helping to support its growth and championing the success of small business owners, they are also key players in educating upcoming professionals in this sector.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at 17 women who are truly making waves in the vacation rental industry. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we will be adding to it in the future!
Just one year ago, Jessica Gillingham decided to hone her PR expertise to focus solely on the niche industry of vacation rentals. And what a year it’s been! Gillingham has since presented at three major international industry conferences, is a frequent contributor to VRM Intel and VRMA Arrival magazines and, along with her team at Abode PR, has provided services to clients around the world.
As the founder and editor of VRM Intel magazine, Amy Hinote, is responsible for one of the most respected publications in the vacation rental sphere. On February 7th, Hinote launched the annual #BookDirect movement, an initiative to help owners educate guests on the benefits of booking directly. The inaugural campaign reached an estimated 3 million travelers and 18.2 million consumers in total.
Appointed in 2015 as Airbnb’s Head of Global Disaster Response and Relief, Kellie Bentz has helped revolutionize the way the platform can be used in times of crisis. Her role has directly impacted response efforts around the globe, which have so far allowed 3,100 hosts to give away 3,590 nights to those most in need.
Vanessa de Souza Lage
Besides being the CMO and co-founder of channel manager, Rentals United, Vanessa de Souza Lage is also the founder and curator of VRTech Events. These invitation-only meetups bring together vacation rental industry leaders to help educate property owners and managers. In the past year, VRTech has hosted these highly interactive events in Edinburgh, London, Rome, Paris and Barcelona.
Cottage Blogger Heather Bayer is known for being one of the veterans of the vacation rental industry. Her more than 20 years’ experience, published books and highly rated podcast, Vacation Rental Success, make her an established expert voice for any owners and property managers looking for advice.
More than an interior designer, Mercedes Brennan also knows all about marketing vacation rentals. Her website, 1 Chic Retreat helps educate owners on the specific design strategies that can increase website click rates and the guest experience to maximize their vacation rental ROI. As well as free resources and useful blog articles for any budding vacation rental professional, 1 Chic Retreat also offers tailored interior design advice on a one-to-one basis.
Considered the industry leader in vacation rental photography, Tyann Marcink also has the advantage of being a property owner herself. Her passion and expertise for what makes a good photo gallery has led her to co-found VR Mastered and Vacation Rental Boot Camp. In addition to all this, Marcink recently joined Touch Stay as Community Ambassador and regularly speaks at industry conferences.
The owner and founder of Sea to Sky Rentals, Michelle Acquavella is known for working super hard to put together the NWVRP event each year, for serving on the VRMA board and for fighting the city of Seattle to protect the future of short-term rentals. She helps educate the industry and shares her expertise with others who want to own/operate vacation rental companies.
Alanna Schroeder is the founder and curator of The Distinguished Guest – an online resource which helps other owners find high-quality linens, towels and personal care products on a budget. Additionally, Schroeder has wonderful networking capabilities and manages a number of Facebook groups in the industry which foster an environment of encouragement and support to owners, managers and hosts. She is a major contributor to educating owners, both on her website and through #vacationrentalbootcamp with Tyann Marcink, where she is co-creator and co-mentor.
Co-founder of Guest Hook, Jessica Vozel, is a selfless educator in this industry. She has traveled to many conferences and has provided educational materials for the short-term rental community for years. Her expertise helps owners around the world to tell better stories and create excitement and anticipation for guests.
CFO at TurnKeyVR.com, Jen Ford has brought a lot to the table. Along with her extensive experience and deep passion for travel, Ford developed the company’s first business intelligence function, which is tasked with harnessing powerful data to drive business insights that support decision-making. She also implemented new systems for accounting, HRIS, and payroll administration. As a fast-growing company, having access to the right information at the right time and in the right format has played and will continue to play a crucial role in TurnKey’s growth.
Louise Brace’s expertise lies in creating digital marketing channels for vacation rentals around the world. As well as over 15 years’ experience in the travel marketing industry, Brace is also the go-to expert on short-term rental regulations in Spain and owner of Rental Tonic. She has even appeared in The Sunday Times giving advice on how to maximize your vacation rental!
Hannah Zarley is the VP of Product Management at Kigo. Her peers describe her as an inspirational and passionate leader who is dedicated to helping the vacation rental industry become more professional every day.
Founder of host2host.org, Debi Hertert has long been an advocate for home-sharing, especially in her local area of Portland, Oregon. This robust community platform is now going global to provide education, awareness and support to hosts worldwide. Hertert is dedicated to the vacation rental cause and is working hard to bring like-minded industry professionals together.
President of NASTRA, Megan McCrea was the fighting force behind the state of Tennessee, grandfathering in existing homeowners to run legal short-term rentals. She has and continues to be an unrecognized force in this industry. Her peers describe McCrea as a leader for good, a successful short-term rental owner and a talented designer.
Rocío Lane is the founder of Cleancio, a fast-growing and innovative startup which provides on-demand vacation rental cleaning services. Originally from Bolivia, Lane has a strong background in real estate, combined with a natural flair for entrepreneurship – as demonstrated through previous positions at companies like Spothero. Cleancio joined the sixth cohort of WiSTEM in 2017.
As the CEO and co-founder of VirtualKEY, Resha Shroff is a strong representative for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the vacation rental industry. As well as being an engineer, Shroff is also a savvy businesswoman (a vacation rental host herself), and she started VirtualKEY to help automate the mundane and time-consuming aspects of managing short-term rental properties.
Vacation rental owner and founder of the Say No to VRBO group, April Salter is also the Chair of AVROA (the Association of Vacation Rental Operators and Affiliates). Over the last 18 months, Salter has worked tirelessly to launch AVROA as a non-profit and boost its credibility as the association for representing independent owners as well as property managers. Her knowledge of public relations and working with non-profits has been an enormous benefit to AVROA.
Annie Switzer is a co-founder and moderator of the Say No to VRBO Facebook group which now boasts over 5,500 members. Along with her own expertise, the invite-only community she leads is a constant source of education and support for managing properties and managing listings on OTAs (VRBO, TripAdvisor, Airbnb). In addition to this, it provides direct marketing support for business owners.
As this industry grows and evolves, we’re looking forward to getting to know more influencers who are helping to shape the future of vacation rentals. If you’d like to suggest an addition to this list, use the button below!