2022 Book Direct Show Speakers
Confirmed Live Conference Speakers
Matt Landau is Founder of VRMB.com, an education and media platform for vacation rental professionals. Matt's work is comprised of podcasts, film & television shows, and VRMB Communities, a private forum dedicated to direct bookings collaboration. And in tribute of the Book Direct Show Miami 2022, Matt will be debuting a fresh riff on an old classic: "Listing Site Independence 3.0" will outline the deepest cutting ways to make OTAs work for you in the next 3 years. The original Listing Site Independence framework was released in 2016 and stands as one of the sturdiest frameworks for marketing diversification recognized in the vacation rental sector.
Amber Erickson-Hurdle is a longtime hospitality veteran with proven hotel, vacation rental, F&B, and event production chops, who is now recognized among the top 10 branding professionals in the world, thanks to her proprietary branding philosophy.
Amber teaches the combined value of personal brands, employer brands, and business brands to increase market share and profitability, reduce turnover, and amplify satisfaction among customers and employees alike.
She is a featured expert in an upper-division college public relations textbook, has won multiple business awards, and has been covered in Entrepreneur Magazine, Fortune Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, and beyond. As the author of The Bombshell Businesswoman and host of The Bombshell Business Podcast, Amber offers a sub brand to empower and educate women specifically, while serving everyone through her coaching and consulting.
Along with her relatable humor, Amber’s straight shooting “velvet machete” and warm personality never fail to motivate professionals to up their game in business and in life.
Steve Milo is the founder and CEO of VTrips, a growing and innovative vacation rental management company which leverages technology to maximize occupancy, revenue growth and profitability. Mr. Milo is a graduate of the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce and previously held several senior level ecommerce and internet marketing positions before forming VTrips and Vacation Rental Pros.
Steve Milo is considered an industry thought leader regarding the evolution of the highly fragmented Alternative Accommodations industry, and is a key note speaker on the subject at conferences throughout North America and Europe.
Heather Bayer has been fully immersed in the short term rental industry for over 28 years, firstly as an owner of multiple properties in the UK and Canada, and for the last 20 years as CEO of one of Ontario’s leading property management companies. Heather is committed to developing quality education material for the vacation rental industry at Vacation Rental Formula (formerly Cottage Blogger). She’s also the voice behind the Vacation Rental Success podcast – with over 430 episodes of interviews and over a million downloads; owner and manager features, and her own musings on this great business.
David Krauss is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rent Responsibly where he leads a passionate team creating the short-term rental industry’s first community-building and education platform.
David discovered his hospitality and entrepreneurial genes through becoming an STR host 2012. Before hanging up the keys in 2019, he was honored as one of the longest-tenured Superhosts in the world. Early in his hosting journey, an incident with loud guests inspired him to co-found NoiseAware, a “smoke detector for noise.” Through this work, he met thousands of passionate STR hosts and managers who wanted to build a local STR community but lacked the tools or support to do so. In 2019, he and his co-founder, Alexa, decided to take the lead in creating the industry’s first community-building and education platform. That platform is Rent Responsibly.
Outside of work, you can find him getting his daily steps (shoutout to FitBit), reading American history biographies (shout out to Doris Kearns Goodwin), screaming at the TV when Boston sports are on (shoutout Cs, Bs, Sox, and Pats), and spending time getting lost in nature with his wife, Courtney.
Evan is an innovative real estate entrepreneur and early disruptor in two of the hottest asset classes: warehousing and short term rentals (STR). Trained by world renowned hoteliers at the Rosen College of Hospitality, Evan acquired his first STR at the age of 19.
Following a masters degree in Sustainable Real Estate Technology from NYU, Evan co-founded Enhance Acquisitions. He’s currently developing millions of square feet of warehouse fulfillment centers to support the ecommerce boom.
After partnering Enhance’s portfolio with a major developer, Evan joined Jarvis ML - founded by the ex-Google AI leadership. As the Head of Predictive Hospitality, Evan boosts direct booking websites with OTA-grade machine learning to transform them into advanced ecommerce operations.
By predicting what guests want before they have the thought, Evan leverages a best-in-class tech ecosystem to blur the line between hotels and STRs. He leads by a simple principle: “If you make the stage grand, guests will assume their roles.”
The Queen of Guest Experience for Touch Stay digital guidebooks, podcast host of The Guest Cast, industry leader and consultant, author, speaker, and owner/manager of two boutique vacation rental brands in Missouri.
Her favorite properties include her 1902 bank building with original vaults where guests may legally launder during their stay and her purpose-built lake home with custom handmade thrones inspired by those at Stirling Castle.
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. the lodging industry’s best source for training programs and related support services in the topic areas of reservations sales, hospitality, and guest experience excellence. For over three decades, Doug has been a fixture on the lodging and tourism conference speaking circuit, including VRMA, FVRMA, and several VRM Intel Live events, as well as our 2020 “Virtual” Book Direct Show.
It is estimated that over 40,000 people have participated in more than 2,100 small group training workshops he has presented for hotels and vacation rental companies. Thousands worldwide read his monthly hotel, tourism and hospitality industry training articles in publications such as Hotelier Maldives, HotelNewsNow, Hotel-Online, Hotel News Resource, HTrends, HotelMarketing.com, VRM Arrivals, 4Hoteliers.com, and VRM Intel.
Vince Perez's expertise spans across multiple disciplines in the hospitality and technology fields. Prior to his successful technology ventures, Vince was a respected executive in the hospitality industry serving in Senior Executive Leadership roles in Operations, Sales and Marketing for premier companies, including Japan Airlines, Nikko Hotels and Hyatt Corporation. Vince is a partner with Beach House Rentals, a thriving vacation rental management company located on the California Coast.
Vince is also the founder of Fetch My Guest. Fetch My Guest is the underlying technology that powers the Stays Group, the largest network of independent vacation rental brands in North America that is driving the #bookdirect revolution. The exclusive members only cooperative marketplace delivers on the promise of transparency, quality and the trust members have earned over the many years in their respective communities.
Vince is a regular contributor to VRMIntel and Short Term Rentalz publications. Vince has also been featured on “Sarah and T” and Cottage Blogger podcasts. Vince is also a regular speaker at industry events including; Vacation Rental World Summits, VRMIntel Live, Northwest Vacation Rental Professionals, VRMA events, IMN Short Term Rental Forum and the Book Direct Show.
Marcus Rader is co-founder and CEO of Hostaway, the leading all-in-one vacation rental management software. Originally from Finland, Marcus has lived in many countries around the world including Sweden, Poland and The Netherlands before settling in Canada.
It was this passion for travel and dedication to learning about the vacation rental ecosystem that enabled the creation of Hostaway. The company was then built from a deep expertise in technology with over a decade of tech start-up success between its founders.
In his spare time, Marcus enjoys following the latest in the venture capital markets alongside playing guitar and listening to death metal with his daughter.
Jodi Bourne is on a mission to connect amazing hosts with exceptional guests through direct bookings. As a consultant and web designer, she takes a personal and fun approach to building seriously successful businesses. She works hand-in-hand with her students and clients to teach destination marketing strategies, create beautiful, elevated book direct websites and build professional and independent hospitality businesses. When Jodi isn’t behind her desk at her home in the Texas Hill Country, you can usually find her catching up on the latest true-crime podcast, hanging out with her family or on a road trip with her husband Michael and their black lab, Jolene.
After a decade of working in hospitality, in front-of-house, training, and senior recruitment roles, Neely combined her love for the industry with her lifelong passion of writing.
What started in the front room of Neely’s one-bedroom apartment, (where Neely and her daughter would survive on Instant Noodles and the kindness of others) is now an ode to the art of storytelling; and how it continues to build trust and loyalty in the hospitality industry.
Very much “a writer” before anything else, Neely has a delightfully unique approach to all her work. When she is not working on epic long-form articles - of thousands and thousands of words, you will find her writing short fables, poetry, and breathing life into make-believe characters for her clients’ brands. No day nor project is ever the same; and even Neely struggles to sum-up her creative portfolio of work!
While Neely frequently takes on projects such as website copywriting and email sequences, much of her time is devoted to meatier, long-term projects. In 2021, she has been working on books (to be published) for clients in the hospitality and short-term rental space; and continues to create organic and research-heavy content for big brands such as Boostly, I-PRAC, Zeevou, Syncbnb and Hostfully.
John Stokinger is a Senior Business Development Manager at Hopper Homes and Co-Host of the no BS short-term rental podcast.
John stumbled into the industry via a remote sales role and the people are the reason why he will never leave.
He has a passion for all things vacation rentals and this has also led him to lead several side projects - Vacation Donation is a currently paused project that helped feed those with food insecurities. John commissioned an art piece called Short Term Rental - Long Term Vision with the help of an amazing artist friend and an industry veteran council.
He was pivotal in bringing DEI to the forefront of the professionally managed short-term rental space by asking the questions that others were afraid to ask. With the help of his close friends, they organized a townhall style webinar attended by leaders all across the industry that welcomed and asked the hard questions.
John absolutely loves his role at Hopper and is excited about what the future brings for the industry!
As a Short Term Accommodations (STA / Rentals) and Hospitality Evangelist. Mateo has spent the past 5 years supporting the professionalization of the Short Term Rental industry. Guiding Hosts and Professional managers through the use of the right technology and the proper strategic development practices for their businesses.
As a former Global Strategic Partnership Director he assisted STA/STR professionals with successfully scaling their businesses through the implementation of revenue management technology and data science-based revenue strategies.
Mateo is a proud graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA where he currently resides. Mateo’s love of hospitality keeps him busy and active in the Industry. His current endeavors include; Vanportland Management LLC, (a boutique hotel management company specializing in unique hotels and short-term rental properties); The NO BS Short Term Rental Podcast (Co-founder and Co-host); and as the strategic advisor for At Ease Rentals Corporation.
Mateo is a champion for diversity, inclusion, and industry advocacy and currently serves as the Vacation Rental Managers Association DEI committee co-chair.
Driven by the transformative power of digital technology, Jason Lugo has established a career fostering growth and innovation within market-leading brands where he witnessed first-hand the potential of a cloud platform that offered intelligent and simple solutions to its users.
In 2016, Jason joined the world’s leading open hotel commerce platform, SiteMinder, where he remains today, leading the company’s fast-growing footprint throughout the dynamic Americas region. His intimate understanding of the different landscapes and market trends that exist within each country has proven invaluable for local hoteliers looking to best compete for today’s traveller.
Cathy Cook is Executive Director of Training & Development for Kennedy Training Network, Inc., the lodging industry’s best source for training programs and related support services in the topic areas of reservations sales, hospitality, and guest experience excellence. After growing up on a small family dairy farm in Central PA, Cathy began her career as a front desk clerk in select-service hotels and luxury resorts.
After joining Marriott in 1990, she worked her way up from Night Audit Supervisor, through various operations management positions for prominent Marriott properties, joining Marriott’s corporate-level Learning & Development team in 1998 where she eventually served as Manager of Global Learning And Development. Cathy is an accomplished member of Toastmasters International, having achieved highest level of DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster).
FabStayz provides LGBTQ+ inclusive education, certification and marketing for short-term rental hosts, property managers, boutique hotels, RV rentals and other accommodations types.
Learn more about getting your property Certified Fabulous!™
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertbarrygeller/
Francois is the co-founder & CEO of Enso Connect, a venture backed guest experience platform that leverages AI, multi-channel communication tools, and smart home technology to deliver personalized guest journeys in over 15,000 properties across 32+ countries.
Francois graduated from the University of Toronto with an honors degree in Computer Science, and Cognitive Science, focusing in computational linguistics. He recently completed his Masters of Entrepreneurship with high honors at the University of Cambridge, writing his thesis on the convergence of hotels and short-term rentals.
He was recognized as the City of Toronto Entrepreneur of the Year by the Entrepreneur’s Organization (GSEA), voted the most innovative Proptech CEO of 2020 in the UK, was a finalist for the Royal Bank of Canada Innovation Award, and represented Canada at the G20 Summit for the Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance group.
Francois’ passion for technology and travel is central to his career and desire to create a global community.
Confirmed Online Speakers
Lorraine is an entrepreneur and business owner born in Conway, Arkansas. Lorraine served on the staff of US Congressman Ed Bethune in Washington DC after college. She has been recognized for her work in marketing/communications for local television, non-profit hospitals, for-profit healthcare systems and national non-profits like Easter Seals North Carolina.
Lorraine is a life-long advocate for people with disabilities. She created the National Barrier Awareness Foundation and reached out to Snoopy creator Charles Shultz who designed the logo for the Barrier Awareness Foundation.
In response to the invisibility of people with disabilities in print materials and on websites, Lorraine founded Realistic Reflections which portrays people with disabilities doing a wide range of everyday activities. The leading international stock photography company, Getty Images, bought the rights to Realistic Reflections photo stock increasing Getty images by nearly 300 percent.
Lorraine then founded Lorraine’s Canes providing custom artistic walking canes for children and adults. Lorraine also created a handicap accessible vacation rental at Carolina Beach, NC, and a company that sells custom wheelchair covers for the upper back of wheelchairs that showcase the user’s personality.
Lorraine’s newest endeavor, Becoming AccessABLE, which will create accessible rental properties at vacation destinations and near colleges and universities.
Lorraine is married with two grown sons and shares every chair and lap in the house with two spoiled Maine Coon cats.
Mark Simpson is the guy that Airbnb doesn’t want you to know about. After being involved in hospitality since the age of 4, Mark started to work with hosts from all over the world in giving them the tools, tactics, training and most importantly the confidence to increase their direct bookings.
Boostly now is the #1 recommended website design agency in the industry with over 2000 clients and £1m in direct bookings generated in the last quarter alone.
This year Mark has released and published TWO Amazon Best Sellers in The Book Direct Playbook and Hospitable Hosts and is working on his third book as we speak.
Conrad O'Connell is the founder of BuildUp Bookings - a digital marketing agency that creates winning marketing campaigns for hospitality clients (vacation rental managers, B&B owners, resorts & boutique hotels).
Specializing in search marketing, social media advertising & email marketing, Conrad has spent the last 7 years working with short-term rental companies all over the world, from single properties up to listing sites with millions of annual visitors. Conrad is based in North Myrtle Beach, SC.
Founder and Chief Executive of the Australian Revenue Management Association
Melissa Kalan’s life philosophy is centered on the principle of "always learning", and with this, she empowers organizations to lead a revenue management culture from the top down that influences both profits and staff retention.
Having successfully founded ARMA – Australian Revenue Management Association and the APAC Revenue Management Summit, Melissa makes the specialized but critical business discipline of revenue and yield management achievable for all accommodation operators by providing quality and accessible education pathways for their people.
Her background includes revenue and yield management positions within Qantas Airways Limited, and The Ritz-Carlton, Hotel Company.
Melissa implemented best-practice techniques at various The Ritz-Carlton properties in the Asia Pacific region, owns the first nationally accredited VET short course in revenue and yield management, and developed online courses that form a pathway of education and industry certifications from beginner to Masters.
She also developed the YIELDMAX ®simulation game licensed to academic institutions globally.
Melissa has consulted on various revenue strategy and commercial projects for organizations such as BIG4 Holiday Parks Australia, Discovery Parks, ALH Group, Majestic Hotels, Wyndham Hotels, Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific, Apollo Motor Homes, and Coral Sea Resort.
With a passion for upskilling, building thriving communities, and driving member value, Melissa has created a fast-growing global network of revenue and yield management focused professionals and academic and corporate partners.
Our community has said, "Melissa de-mystifies the revenue and yield management process by designing training material at exactly the right level for their employees and with quality material, customized e-learning solutions, and real-life broad industry experience".
Co-Owner of Villa in the Vineyard and Sustainability Strategist & Chartered Marketer (nikkimattei.com)
Nikki has over 30 years of experience in marketing, starting her career in trade shows including the leading global event World Travel Market. She moved into the ethical arena 15 years ago still working in marketing for B2C brands as well as project management for campaigning organisations. She entered the green tourism market in 2018 when she moved to Italy and has become an advocate for sustainability within the industry.
In late 2021 she took the decision to offer her experience and knowledge to businesses who want to be involved in doing what’s right for people and planet. She offers full sustainability strategy and communication covering the 3 key areas of climate action, protecting the natural world and respecting people.
Nikki is driven to empower other property owners to be part of the growing movement of purpose-driven businesses. Better for planet, better for people.
Christophe has in-depth experience of the short-term rental industry. In 2005 he started out as a property owner and progressed to being a property manager after leaving a career in digital marketing working for a multinational company.
Having decided to pursue his passion full time, he founded Costa CarpeDiem, a company managing 40+ properties on the Costa Blanca in Spain. He co-founded Revyoos, the 2020 VrTech Award winning all-in-one review aggregator platform for short-term rentals, after identifying a gap in the market.
In April 2021 he was shortlisted by industry experts as STR disruptor in the Shortyz Awards.
The LODGEA founders, Ricarda Kies and Jan Kammerath, are an experienced management team, which bases its current expertise on decades of industry experience in the field of technology as well as marketing & sales in tourism. The knowledge ranges from area management to all implementing activities.
As part of their previous activities, the founders were responsible for 8-digit sales and EBIT increases in the 2-digit% range. After more than 15 years of experience in the field of tourism and technology, Ricarda and Jan with LODGEA now use their experience and international market knowledge to enable anyone to build their own OTA for short term rentals and hotels with a self-service direct booking & marketing engine.
Elizabeth Ellington started out her vacation rental journey in Fiji in 2005 quite by accident. After being the top earner in the country, (even during a coup!) she's been in the driver's seat of her business.
She wrote a book in 2013 and was picked up by International Living and asked to write a course for them. She now has 3500 students and speaks internationally on vacation rentals. She has designed over 30 vacation rentals, and knows how to flip a property into a cash flowing vacation rental.
Emily Vandall has close to 15 years of experience in the vacation rental industry. Before joining the Ascent Business Development Team, she worked in rental operations for several companies.
She was most recently the General Manager for Vacasa’s Luxury Rental Program on Kiawah Island. As a partner account manager for Ascent, Emily works closely with our partners to ensure the success of mutual clients.
April has a passion for hospitality. As an Senior Account Executive at ICND, she gets to work with her passion while helping vacation rental companies develop conversion focused websites and digital marketing presence.
April has been working in the hospitality industry for over 25 years and understands guests' needs. She enjoys working with her clients to help drive direct bookings and increase their online presence.
Her experience includes presenting on a variety of topics at many national shows, she was also integral in creating and presenting curriculum for hotel schools around the world.
When April isn’t working closely with her clients she is serving as ICND’s Director of Fun, running team building activities, kickball tournaments, chili cook offs and more for team ICND.
Denise Páne is the Founder and CEO of Access Design Studio, the leading expert in ADA compliant, accessible websites. A lifelong advocate of people with disabilities (starting with her own Special Olympian brother), Denise boasts over 20 years of business design expertise, with a special focus on making websites compelling and inviting for people of all abilities.
Denise is an Accredited Accessibility Expert and a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals and the World Wide Web Consortium. Learn more about Denise at AccessDesignStudio.com.
Amber Williams started her career in marketing and transitioned to the vacation rental industry in 2018.
Before joining PriceLabs as a Solutions Consultant, Amber served in Revenue Management for two prominent property management companies in the Northwest Florida region. Amber resides in Panama City, Florida with her fiance and boxer dog.
Arthur Colker is the Founder and CEO of StayFi, the #1 provider of WiFi marketing services for vacation rental companies. Vacation rental managers use StayFi to brand WiFi, collect guest data, and increase direct bookings – all while providing a better WiFi experience for vacation rental guests.
Arthur holds degrees from Columbia Business School and Georgetown University. Prior to founding StayFi, Arthur led digital marketing strategy at several start-ups and ran his own marketing and branding consultancy.