Dana Young is the founder of Virtual Concierge Service (VCS), a platform that’s going to redefine the guest experience for short-term rentals through voice technology and smart speakers. Dana has an impressive track record of bringing large technical teams to accomplish what others thought wasn’t possible. Oh, and he’s also a seasoned vacation rental (VR) owner with 12 years of experience.
Today, Dana shares with us what he’s seeing over the horizon and what he’s most excited about in the vacation rental industry.
What do you think is the most exciting thing going on in the VR industry at this very moment?
There’s a recognition that the general public actually prefers VR experiences when they go on vacation. There’s a bunch of reasons for that. First, there’s a niche property for every type of traveler. Second, VRs open up the hospitality market, and that means travelers can find great places that fit their budgets. Third, guests are now fully aware that VRs offer a much better local experience than staying at hotel chains.
What’s great is that this trend is translating into an influx of investment into our space. And when that happens, companies like Hostfully and VCS can create innovative technologies to meet VR owner’s needs and boost the guest experience.
What action have you taken in your business recently as a result of emerging trends in our industry?
First off, VCS is pioneering the integration of smart speakers with concierge services. This technology in direct response to the growing trend in the VR industry of providing personalized and local experiences to guests.
Second, VCS is working hard to collaborate with other solution providers to facilitate the implementation of virtual concierge technologies throughout the industry. Integrating VCS’s technologies with Hostfully’s local guidebooks is an excellent example of this.
Finally, we believe that in the VR industry, growth comes from partnerships and camaraderie. If we all work in collaboration, we can keep growing the VR industry, and that’s great for everyone in the space.
What is your biggest pain point as a VR professional?
There’s a lot of variability on regulation and bylaw front. In some spots, we’re seeing the pendulum swing way too far and the implementation of policies that are harmful to the local VR industry.
In a way, the reaction is understandable. Governments and municipalities that face permanent housing shortages have to find solutions for constituents and residents. But going after the VR industry to free up beds doesn’t fix the problem and is detrimental to tourism. I’d like to see a more nuanced discussion when it comes to regulation and bylaws for short-term accommodations.
What is one source of news and ideas that you couldn’t live without?
I’m a strong supporter of the work Matt Landau and longtime VRMB members have put into the VR community. I think VRMB represents ideals that characterize the best of what the vacation rental community has to offer.
What new digital tool are you using in your business that has saved you time and money?
Zoho is our choice for customer relationship management (CRM) software. It makes it incredibly easy to connect with potential customers and ensure a smooth follow-up. I think this software is a must for any medium to large company that deals with customers and leads – and that extends to VR hosts as well. Oh and a helpful tip: there’s a Chrome plugin that allows you to connect your Gmail account straight into Zoho.
What did you wish you knew about the VR business when you first started?
I’ve been in the industry for about 12 years now. I wish I would have realized much sooner how much growth potential there was and jumped on it. That said, I don’t dwell on that point too much as the VR industry keeps posting substantial growth numbers every year. What’s great about this is that in a growing space, we can all continue to carve out our piece of the pie without stepping on each other.
What is your favorite VR event?
I had an awesome time at Antonio’s Vacation Rental World Summit in early October. Fantastic speakers, stunning location and venue, and real community. It’s regularly a great event and Antonio always has some extra surprises up his sleeve. One of those this year was the announcement that next year’s event will be at the Imperial Palace in Annecy, France—wow!
What does the guest experience mean to you in our digital world?
Leveraging technology to make it easier than ever before for guests to experience the best a property and an area has to offer. We want to empower them with knowledge on how to best use their precious vacation time. That’s why we’re excited about voice technology – it’s the easiest way to get information.
What book has helped you out the most in your business?
There were a lot of great insights in “The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life.” It’s a great read that’s science-based and straightforward to implement. What resonated with me the most was The Zorro Circle: a simple technique that helped me break down seemingly impossible projects into bite-sized and manageable tasks. I highly recommend this book to anyone who runs their own business or is in charge of projects.
If you had to pick a market outside of your current area of operations to expand to, where would that be?
We think voice technology will have a broad impact – with use cases across hospitality, real estate, and senior care, to name a few. Our platform is really well suited to extend into these adjacent use cases.