Imagine stumbling upon a picturesque French island in the Caribbean, only for it to unexpectedly ignite a passion for data-driven decision-making. Thibault Masson’s journey from a spontaneous villa shopping spree to becoming a successful vacation rental manager will leave you awe-inspired. But hold on tight, because there’s an unexpected twist awaiting him on an exotic black sand beach in Bali. Find out how Thibault’s determination and understanding of market trends led him to triumph over challenges and thrive in the ever-evolving world of vacation rentals.

In this episode, you will be able to:

Know your market and cater to their needs. Understand who your guests are and create a memorable experience for them. Position your vacation rental as a place to create lifelong memories for special occasions. – Thibault Masson

Meet my guest: Thibault Masson.

Thibault is both a vacation rental property manager and a vacation rental technology marketer. He has launched and managed villas and apartments in Paris, Bali, and St. Barths. He’s the founder of Rental Scale-Up, a short-term rental news, analysis, and consulting business that was recently acquired by vacation rental dynamic pricing tool provider PriceLabs, where he continues on as the Head of Product Marketing. He has previously worked for international online travel agencies, such as ebookers and Booking.com. 

Connect with Thibault:



Maison Domingue, St Barths: https://www.saintbarth.com/domingue/

BelAmour, St Barths: https://www.saintbarth.com/belamour/

Bulung Daya, Bali: https://www.realbali.com/bulungdaya/

Sign up to Rental Scale-Up’s free weekly industry newsletter here: https://www.rentalscaleup.com/newsletter/

The key moments in this episode are:

00:01:26 – Thibault’s Introduction to the Hospitality Industry

00:07:39 – Understanding the Market and Guest Expectations

00:10:01 – Challenges of Remote Hosting

00:11:36 – Building Direct Bookings and Industry Insights

00:13:38 – Importance of Understanding the Local Market and Culture

00:14:05 – Balancing Life Between Two Homes

00:14:49 – Challenges of Owning a Property Abroad,

00:15:42 – Keeping the Team Together During the Pandemic

00:16:30 – Marketing Strategy for Two Villas

00:27:32 – The Importance of Strategy and Market Data

00:28:15 – Joining Price Labs and Rental Scale Up

00:29:38 – The Value of Short-Term Rental Data

00:33:56 – The Impact of Increased Supply and Direct Bookings

00:37:36 – The Rental Scale Up Newsletter 

Sign up to the Free Direct Booking Success Summit 2023: https://directbookingsuccesssummit.com/

Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/

Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess

Join the Marketing Hub Free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketinghubforholidayrentals

Sign up for the free masterclass – The 4-step framework for a profitable direct booking sales engine: https://directbookingsuccess.com/masterclass


00:00:32 - Jenn Boyles

Hello and welcome to another episode of Direct Booking Success podcast. I'm Jenn Boyles, your host, and today I have with me Thibault Masson. Thibault is the founder of Rental Scala and the head of product marketing for Price Labs. Welcome, Thibault. It's so nice to have you here.

00:00:53 - Thibault Masson

With me today, Jenn. It's a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. And hello, everyone.

00:00:58 - Jenn Boyles

Great. Now I really want to hear about how you got into the hospitality industry. We were talking a minute ago and saying how we find it so interesting to find out how people sort of fell into vacation rentals, short term rentals. It never seems to be something where you've grown up and said, I really want to rent out a villa or rent out an apartment. So can you tell me how that happened? Let's go back to the beginning. How did this sort of start with you?

00:01:26 - Thibault Masson

Sure. So when I was in my 20s with my ex, we visited a small French island in the Caribbean. Very nice, beautiful island, and you have these very nice villas on this island. And we're like, oh, that's so cool. That's so nice. And we're like, let's do some villa hopping, villa shopping. So basically, we talked with the local property manager and said, oh, we'd like to visit some villas. Let's pretend we could even stay there. So that's how we visited a few villas. And actually we talked with the property manager and he's like, you know what? It's not hard to own one of these villas. At the time, we lived in Paris. We couldn't even afford our own apartment in Paris. And he's like, yeah, but you know, on the island, all the banks know what a vacation rental is. They know it's a villa. If it's an existing villa, it has bookings probably for next year already in the books. So you go get your loan, apply for the loan, you're probably going to get it because with the value of the house in the upcoming bookings, the banks will lend you the money. I'm like, that's not possible. St. Bart's is SaFrench Island. So as we are French citizens, it was easy for us to get a loan, apply for a loan, and prove that with our French salaries back home in France, we would be able to pay back for this. But what was very interesting to us is that St. Bart's is an island where 70% of the guests, people coming to the island will be staying in a villa. It's a villa island. Basically, everybody lives from the villa business. So banks know this model really well. And again right. Again, disclaimer. That was 2025 years ago, right. So still a small family and people knew you a bit, it was fine. So that's how we had this villa. And of course, at the time we were working in France, so mainland France was pretty far away. So we gave the villa to a Geshe rental manager who handled the bookings. So that's how we basically got to know about it. So I was not yet into direct bookings and I will tell you a story a bit later if you want. But we got started on this. So getting to know what it's like to maybe have a house, but making sure things are not too personal and having the corner for yourself. That's a few of you. If you have your own vacation rental that's open to guests that you may know this dance where you have to at the end of your stay. Pack everything and make them sure it's safe and it's not too much in the way of the guests. It was very interesting. I think the first lesson I learned there, by the way, that came in handy, was to trust my villa manager. Basically her name was Sandra and she would be the cleaner, right? Let's say she started as a cleaner, but really, to me she was a villa manager because she was the face of the business. She would welcome the guests even though obviously there's a villa agency she would come every day to clean. Right. That's expectations on the island that the place would be clean every day. So she'd be my face in a and you know, people will leave notes in a guest book thanking us for the hospitality and mentioning Sandra all the time. So being able to trust her is very important and delegating. Right. It's like I'm too far away to make any old decisions. So quickly decided, you know what, something happens, something breaks. It's under $200. You go and buy the new coffee machine, you solve the issue. You don't depend on us. We trust you. Of course, give us the invoice later. But that's not so. That was my first lesson on remote hosting, is finding the right person and creating yes, definitely.

00:05:08 - Jenn Boyles

Having that right person on the ground, I get that now. I haven't actually calculated the distance, but now that I'm in Canada, my business is in England. I couldn't do it without that knowledge, or people on the ground dealing with it. Yeah, you have to have the right people on the ground.

00:05:27 - Thibault Masson

Don't and that's again, even if you're going to start your way to direct booking, that was the first lesson. Again, how to have a team or trust or making decisions or processes like this $200 threshold, that's a process in itself. Some point somebody makes a decision about the threshold, somebody else. But that's really how we kind of started thinking why we have a say about the business and how it runs.

00:05:55 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, I think that's really great. And it sounds so cool to have an island that's sort of built on vacation rentals. Is that the same today at St. Bart's?

00:06:05 - Thibault Masson

Yes, it's the same today. The island is very small. I mean, I'm so bad at miles, forgive me, but it's like 25 km². So it says tiny. Tiny, right. You just take your car and you go around it in less than half an hour. It's very tiny. Very tiny. Like 15 minutes. If you just go across, it's tiny. And there's not much room for hotels. The biggest hotels had 70 bedrooms. 70 bedrooms. It's big for the island. So really it's about houses, about villas. Some people come and stay on their yachts, but that's not the market. Yes, it's very much like it is. What's interesting as well, that's going to be one of the points I will have as well, is that you have to know your market. For example, sometimes in your location, where you are in your market, you have a local authorities or destination marketing organization that compiles data. In that case, that's where they could tell me 70% of the guests stay in a villa. That's an actual number I got from them. Same thing, right? From them I knew that a third of the people will come back next year. So marketing to people in that sense makes sense if you talk about direct book. Right. In our case, we do work on this because we know that some people will come back. So it makes sense to make an effort because simple things will come back. Also makes sense to even market to people who are on the island, even if not staying with us, because again, a third of them will come back next year. Why not stay with us? Right. Part of our strategy. So again, that's where I got so interested in data because I saw like, oh, if I understand data, I understand better in the market. I can also understand the person who's staying with us. And that's where I started reading really well, the guest book, for example. And the guest book was very interesting. It's kind of expensive. Jenn Boyles. Right, it's no secret. But reading the guest book, I found it. So you have like a third of people come back year after year, right. And then year after year, people would describe their twins growing up and about their life and even some notes we even noticed back in the guest book. Again, that was some years ago. People tend not to write as much in the guest books anymore, which is fine. You had these memories and people would reread their own memories. It was interesting. But then I was reading that a lot of people were coming to celebrate an event. Oh, it's our 25th anniversary, it's my wife's 60th birthday. I'm like, okay. So that really helped me understand that people come to celebrate an event. So when we had our own website, for example, I really made sure that to position the house as a place where you create memories, Direct Booking Success, for special people, special occasions. So reading the guest book really helped us understand who we're talking to. We're catering what we're looking for. We want to create memories. So let's make sure in everything we say it's about memories because it may be a hefty price people have to pay to stay on the island. But it's a great location. So they need to make sure that whatever event they're going to have their celebration, we're going to be there to make it the best possible.

00:09:15 - Jenn Boyles

Do you still own the place on St. Barts?

00:09:18 - Thibault Masson

Yes. So the piece of land we had was big enough so that we could build a small villa on another villa, like a one bedroom, which enabled us basically to stay on the island while we had guests on the bigger one. So I actually lived on the island for three years at some point my business in France and lived on the island for three years, so I still go there on and off by the and so having a second villa and then also really got me to think maybe I should start getting my own bookings. Especially us. As we were doing this, we had friends who were building their own villa in Bali, in Indonesia, and they invited us over and I'm like not even sure where Indonesia is. I was close to Vietnam. I didn't know where it was. And I went there and I was like blown away. It was so beautiful. And we're like, wow, there's a piece of land for sale next to them. Why don't we just step into their shoes and get their architect, get their notary and everything. It's going to get this done. It's so much cheaper than St Barts to build. We did this of course, it took us three years because we changed architects. We had issues with notary. Anyway, after three years we had this and after three years we had this beautiful villa. So it's a black sand beach, rolling rice fields, beautiful. But now we're from Seminyak, so it's a busy area in Bali. And I go to a property manager thinking I'm going to do the same as ten parts. I'm going to give it to somebody. Somebody would take care of everything. Look at the photos. Great place, love it. But no thank you. We're not going to take your property. Why? They say, well, you are an hour and a half away. So something happens to the villa. We have to send an employee of our vacation rental company. It's going to take 1 hour and a half to go there, solve the issue and come back. That's 3 hours. These 3 hours, we can't afford to do that. It's just too complicated. I'm like wow, what do I do now? Because I do have a loan to pay back. I need those bookings. I developed this whole direct booking strategy and I started doing this and I think learning from others and listening to podcasts. You should always listen to podcasts. Asking advice, asking for advice to people who knew. And I blogged about it. I started just blogging about my experience of getting on home away at the time, no verbal listing, on airbnb listing, on Direct Booking Success and I just was asking advice to people and I was blogging about it. That's how I got started with getting direct bookings and writing about the industry, basically.

00:11:56 - Jenn Boyles

And I guess you can add your experience from St. Bark's. So you would have gotten really good people on the ground that you could rely on.

00:12:03 - Thibault Masson

Did you have somebody say I mean, in a way having our first villa with a property manager helped. We didn't have to take care of the marketing but at least understanding that on the ground, people, that was a lesson. So in Bali we have six people, right? Six staff, because we're far away. So we need, for example, to have a cook. There are just not many restaurants around cleaners, a cook, there's somebody to take care of the pool of the gardens. Again, sounds super fancy, but it's not the same cost as Bali, as other places. And again, it's also expected from people. It's expected. It's not like I have a choice. So yes, we have staff. And again, the key here is that the manager again, manager is key. And this guy was the chauffeur, the driver at my friend's villa. And we noticed him like this guy is sharp and just like the aid in our villa in St. Bart turned into a great villa manager. This guy was a chauffeur, a driver. He became an amazing villa manager. And that's something I like is that you can give opportunities to people to grow and it pays back. It takes some years. You have to train people and then create trust and can let go more and more, of course. But it's really fantastic because he's the manager there, he solves everything and he still drives people around from time to time, which is great.

00:13:26 - Jenn Boyles

Well, he's the local expert. Isn't.

00:13:30 - Thibault Masson

Mean? In Bali we have staff from villages but they all come from different villages because in Bali religion is very important, right? So whenever there's a ceremony in a village, everyone has to attend. You don't have a choice. So if you all from the same village, you would have no one on tea days like several times a year. So anyway, things again, you have to know your market, you have to know the locals. And that's things you can only know if you talk to people and respect the way they are, the way they work and the religion, for example, and traditions. And then this way you can have your business running well and do you.

00:14:09 - Jenn Boyles

Still spend time in both these places?

00:14:12 - Thibault Masson

So it's a great question. So sandbox? Yeah, because it's my second home and just COVID made it a bit more difficult to come back. I still managed to come back and then we have two kids now, so we stayed a bit more in the Netherlands because we are a French Dutch couple. We stayed a bit more in the Netherlands but we do come back to Bali a little bit less. Bali basically was closed to foreigners for two years. Wow. So we're just talking now, maybe people are dreaming about owning a place somewhere. Far think that there are different laws and different regulations. Such as because of COVID they just closed the borders for more than two.

00:14:54 - Jenn Boyles

Years and you're a foreigner so you won't have the same rights as everyone else.

00:14:59 - Thibault Masson

Yeah, I could have come back with a work visa because I had there for a good reason. But again, that was again a good time to think what priorities are we for example, Mitch, to pay the salaries of all our staff because we knew when things would start again. We were so far away. Right. Disbanding the team would not make business sense because how could recreate the team? Because if we had disbanded the team they may have found jobs elsewhere far away from our place and it would be a complete catastrophe. Not only would I be not nice to them, not having no revenues during COVID but on top of this it made no business sense. So we did this and there were people actually spending the COVID time within Bali. Some people were in Bali, you could not come in, but you could stay. So some people just stayed Bali for quite some time. So a lot of rush, for example, in Bali. Interesting. Yeah.

00:15:54 - Jenn Boyles

Well, that sounds fascinating too. Especially that it was closed for two years. Hopefully we never go through a pandemic like we've gone through again. Touch wood. But wow, that's quite the story. I'm glad you kept your team together and that the country is back open. That's great. So tell me how you've got two villas in completely different places, both tropical. There is still a tropical theme there. But is there an overarching theme or sorry, a brand overarching brand for both of them? Or are you marketing them separately? How are you going about that?

00:16:34 - Thibault Masson

That's a great question. So they are marketed separately, but the strategy is the same in a sense that for St bart's, I have a website called Stbart.com, which is the French bedding for the island, basically. And it's a destination guided by the island. Same thing for Bali. I have realbody.com . It's a destination guide by Bali. So for each of them the idea was like, you know what, to get bookings we're going to have to compete with big players. So to differentiate ourselves, we need to look like local insiders. People have stuff about destinations, right? So it makes sense, right? How can you do otherwise? So the whole strategy for us, for both, on both sides is to talk about the islands, talk about the life there and give tips and say and I have a new newsletter and it's written by me and people see my face. For example, it's a welcome video when it's sent to the newsletter. And of course at some point you'll say hey, by the way, I am a local insider because I have a villa there and feel free to stay there's the blog and there's a page where you can see the villa and you have a booking can that's updated and it's up to date. You can book directly on the website. And that's it. So suddenly it makes sense because I give value, I create trust because I look like I know what I'm talking about. For example, COVID, I talked about COVID you could see, funny enough, a lot of vacation rental managers from the islands were not talking about like I was giving a date every month. The number of cases is red, orange, whatever the color was. If you're traveling from the US for sandbar, for example, because that's the actual information people want to know. Congratulations to your island. What do I need? What kind of vaccines? What do I need? And that was crucial. And we got so much traffic because of that. And again, you're creating trust. Or sometimes this water shortage on the island, it's an island, sometimes there's water shortage, we talk about that. I may be counterintuitive because you're like why are you talking about the problems? But again, makes you like no, this guy is talking about what's really happening. So he knows his thing. And apparently, I guess when he's going to be talking about his villa, he's also going to be transparent, right? And also that's why people would read a newsletter every month. Because if I'm just talking about my villa, how wonderful it is, it is like a boring, boring I thought it's fantastic, but I'm sure people would and also something I realized for St. Bart's, for example, so we opened an Instagram account for St. Bart's and at first I got it wrong. At first I thought we should be talking about oh, discovering the island and that's what it's like to go to St. Bart's. That was a mistake. People who are followers of that account, that simba Instagram account are people who love the island. We noticed that because we did like stories and surveys, like what is your favorite place, what's your favorite restaurant? And we had like 120 answers why people just so want to talk about this must mean they know the place. And so we're like made us discover and switch a bit the focus. That's the account for people who love the island. And again, it's great because it means that they would care about what's new, what's happening, and they want to share. I'm an insider, but they want to show that they are also insiders. They have also been there, they know some stuff and show to others that they knew a few things. So we opened a Facebook group for St bars. People share their own tips. Same thing on Instagram. So we really realized that it should not be just about me talking, but also, for example, asking questions on Instagram and sharing the answers as a blog post. Hey, that's the place. If you will recommend romantic stains and bart's as shared by our followers on Instagram. So it's even more interesting for people reading a newsletter because you get different viewpoints or recommendations from others. So again, that was interesting, but it means listening to people trying a few things and trying to see what's really working and maybe pivoting at some point to better target your audience.

00:20:55 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, I love that because we always talk about trust and also becoming that local expert. Because people aren't coming to necessarily stay with you. They're coming to explore the island, the area, and live like a local. And then they look and say, okay, where do I want to stay? And then they stack up the different villas or apartments or whatever. So I think it's really great to hear that that's the strategy that you went with. I think that's brilliant. And I'm going to put those websites in the show notes so we can go check them out and have a look and see what you're doing. Because you could have done it a lot differently. You could have done it just as beautiful pictures with no substance, which there's some counts on Face or on Instagram that are like that. It's just beautiful photos, but there's nothing really there to grab you or get you involved.

00:21:55 - Thibault Masson

Exactly. And again, I kind of know there's a summit coming where I will be talking more about Instagram marketing that's right, at your summit. But just to give a taste of that. Indeed. Right. What was interesting to us as well is that by being about a destination and having clearly an account about the destination, people started tagging us when they stayed on the island.

00:22:19 - Jenn Boyles


00:22:20 - Thibault Masson

I'm not saying they thought we were the official account of the island, but maybe or at least a travel guide by the island. So they were happy to tag us. They were like, oh, can we repost your great photo? And happy. So suddenly we had great content that people were happily sharing with us that we could show to others. That made our Swirl account look even more beautiful and useful because we had fresh content, just as given by people on the island right now. So as a remote host, that was very useful. But it is still useful. Yeah.

00:22:51 - Jenn Boyles

No, I love it. I think that's great. And like you mentioned you're coming to speak at Direct Booking Success, which is happening in October, and you're going to be speaking about Instagram. So we don't want to give too much away today, but I think your nuggets there about being the destination guide and promoting what's local ticks the boxes, doesn't it, of trust, something that we all grapple with, but also getting people that love that.

00:23:20 - Thibault Masson

Exactly. And during the summit, I will talk a bit more like, okay, it's great to have an Instagram account, but how does that turn into bookings? That's the key, right? That's what we'll be.

00:23:30 - Jenn Boyles

Yes. And I think a lot of people go, oh, Instagram, and oh, now Reels and now Threads and know Whatever is Next around the corner. And they jump on these bandwagons. They're not really looking at, okay, well, this actually brings me in bookings because at the end of the day, this is what they need and why they're there. So I think that's going to be really great. I can't wait to see your presentation on Instagram. Now, let's switch the focus a bit because you did mention that you started blogging about your trials of creating this space. Was it when you were doing the Bally Villa that you started blogging about your exactly.

00:24:14 - Thibault Masson

When I wanted to learn how to do it, I was just like, maybe documenting what I was doing and getting feedback from people. Why is it stupid? Let me know. That's how it started. And I spent a couple of years between Bali and St. Bart's. Basically, whenever it was low season on one of the islands, I would just move into the houses because it was better to leave revenue too. It was life changing in the sense that I went and for example, I went to speak at conferences at VRMA sorry, the big Vocational Rental Association at a conference in Europe. And I went and spoke about my own experience. And while there, because I was like, oh, blog about it, maybe find other people who need some kind of consulting for me, I can help them do the same. And instead of finding clients in the room, there was somebody from Booking.com standing there. So Booking.com obviously is huge in Europe, a bit less in the US. But they're growing. And it was like seven years ago, and they were like, we want to compete with Airbnb because we suck at this and that. So they were like, super honest people can be very direct, as you may know. I'm like, oh, wow, that's a pretty thorough assessment. I'm like, yes, you do. You're good at this. They're like, yeah, but we'd love to bring people who know the vacation rental industry a bit. We'll bring them in, join our team and the headquarters, and help us tweak the tools, create new features, and new marketing programs for the villa rental industry. I'm like, oh, that's interesting. I'm like, Where are you based, I have no clue. And they're like, oh, Amsterdam. That's where the headquarters is. I'm like, okay. So I moved to Amsterdam, and I stayed there for five years. But we're still blogging about the industry. Meanwhile, that's a deal I had with them. I want to be able to talk about the industry because that's what I'm known for, and I left it two years ago, and I continued on blogging on Rentalscaleup.com. So about talking about strategy of the big actors, what's airbnb up to, what's Booking.com up to? Because having worked within one of the big companies, I understand their strategy a bit better.

00:26:22 - Jenn Boyles

Or you're an insider again, you're an insider.

00:26:26 - Thibault Masson

Yeah, exactly. It was really funny when I joined Booking.com, people were like, oh, you're joining the dark, dark side.

00:26:33 - Jenn Boyles

Like you're looking for Darth Vader. Yes.

00:26:37 - Thibault Masson

I'm like, Worst case, know thy enemy. And I could tell you what to do. And again, it was really interesting to me because having a direct booking strategy was important. But also, seeing what the big platforms can do for you helped me really refine my direct booking strategy in the end. Because I'm like, you know what? Some things I can be good at, even better than them. Some of the stuff, like having a website in 42 languages. Can't do that, can't do that. But my core market, for example, the US. Travelers from the East Coast for St. Bart's. Yes, I know how to talk to them. But other people who may be interested, Brazilians, want to go to St. Barts. I can't write my content in Brazilian Portuguese. I can't take their payments. Let Direct Booking Success do that. So it was very interesting. So I left Direct Booking Success restarted. Rentalscape started doing consulting again, this time for tech companies. So really talking about the strategy, about what are the big actors doing and why, right? That's what's happening. This is why. And it's what you should know and what you can do about it. Or talking about data as well, market data. What are the trends in the US? What are the trends in Europe? What does it mean? So things are changing so much, COVID things change, and now things are going down. People are worried that data is very important. But sometimes it's kind of hard to understand data or to read it properly or just to make sense of it.

00:28:02 - Jenn Boyles

Because what does it mean?

00:28:04 - Thibault Masson

Yeah, we will give you a graph and some kind of explanation. And like, yeah, what is to? So I'm like, okay, let me try to read that for you and share it with you. And that made me work closer to Price Labs. So Price Labs is a dynamic pricing solution that's global. And talking with them, they were like, Why don't you come join us? And I'm like, maybe. Yeah, why not? And I realized that rental Scale-up. Now it's part of Price Labs. It's been a year. Actually, it's the anniversary now. It's a great home. For Price Labs, a great home for rental scale up because I love having access to data. And with Price Labs, I can just go into a tool, enter any market in the world and look at what's happening, how it's pacing. Okay. What's summer like in Austin, right? I'm looking at data in Austin, Texas, for example, like, oh wow, Occupancy is like 20% down, which is true compared to last summer. So markets are resilient. I'm a geek, right? And that's for short term rental data. It's great because again, when I'm writing about trends, I actually have data to check what I'm saying and say, you know what? And I'm also able to say, you know what? If you're talking about trends, about the whole market to the whole country, that's good. But that's not always relevant because the US. Or Canada is a big country, and what's happening in one course on the other is not the same thing as the country and the mountains by the sea, so many different things. That's great. So now basically, rentalscape is part of Price Labs. And they give me a job. I'm the head of product marketing. So product marketing is basically doing what I did@Direct Booking Success, which is like, well, making sure that Pricelabs understand vacation rental managers, vacation rental hosts really well. Develop features as talk to them and take these features to market and make sure people can use these features well. So that's what I do. For example, launching.

00:30:03 - Jenn Boyles

So let me see if I got this. So that blog that you started way back when you were dealing with building the Villa in Bali, you started blogging, and then that took you to speaking at VRMA in Europe and into Direct Booking Success, continued the blogging, and this turned into rental scale up, and then that has now brought you to Price Labs.

00:30:27 - Thibault Masson


00:30:27 - Jenn Boyles

Wow, that is quite the journey.

00:30:31 - Thibault Masson

Always in vacation rentals, right? I love and to me, it's the same journey in a way that whenever I send a news, every week I send a newsletter from rentals about market trends or what's airbnb up to or good things to do for direct bookings. And I'm like, I'm writing from a farm in the Netherlands, right? I'm like, who am I? Who am I writing about? It's very like, who am I, right? Sometimes. But having access to data or having maybe work for a big company, having our own properties, working for a tech company, I think kind of gives me some kind of different perspectives that help me maybe understand the market better or gives new lights.

00:31:16 - Jenn Boyles

Give me a word of insider again. Okay, so you're an insider in the head of an owner, you're an insider in the head of a property manager, a vacation rental property manager. You're inside with the OTAs, and you're an insider in the tech side and the data side. So that's quite maybe rental scale up should be the insider, you could rebrand it because that's what you're showing. And to your point about data, I don't think a lot of people understand how important it is. They're like, oh, my bookings are down, I wonder why. And not looking outside of their bubble into what is going on.

00:32:00 - Thibault Masson

Yeah. And what is fair? Then they would go, know a news website, an article, and there's a whole article about trends in the US. And you're like, Great, but I don't.

00:32:10 - Jenn Boyles

Live in the US.

00:32:11 - Thibault Masson

Your own market. Yeah. Or about the performance of your property within the market, for example, the market is going down, but you know what? Your property is actually not doing so bad, actually pretty well compared with the rest of the market. So maybe that means you should not slash your prices because you're doing pretty well, but you need to know what's happening in your own market. That's what to me, what these kinds of tools, like price labs with all the tools, right. Adna or all these tools with everyone. So I'm fine. But to me, it's more important that you start using one of those. Because again, if you go back to San Barts, Bali, in the end, you're the experts about your destination, right. So you'll be the one if you look at the graphs about Occupancy during months, you can really see now, of course, that it's high season on the island, or there's a very famous selling regatta that month. That's why Occupancy prices go up. You can read graphs so much better than anybody else because you live on this island. And then if you look at the upcoming data, the pacing data, what's Occupancy in the upcoming months or date bookings in the upcoming months, again, that gives you signals because you're like, you can see with your own performance whether you are performing better or not than the rest of the market. And that's the information you need to adapt, even for direct bookings, right? For direct bookings, you need to know that because on big platforms, you can sort of compare your prices with others. Or even sometimes big platforms give you hints. They say, oh, you are 50% more expensive than the rest of the market. They give you hints because they have that data. When you own your own, you need tools like this to have a feeling of the rest of the market because you can't just put your prices blindly and hope for the best. Right. You have to know when to adapt. And there's so much supply nowadays, right? So many new properties are going on the market. I think in the US. June 22 compared to June 23, there's 25% more listings. Wow. 5% more listings at a moment where the economy is going to be like this, supply like that. That's why we're hearing a lot of people say, you know what, occupancy is just lower this year overall, things are going well. Airbnb says, yeah, you know what? Revenues are up. Occupancy is up for us, yeah, for them overall. But if you divide this by the number of listings which has increased, it means each person is getting fewer bookings. Yeah. Again, overall, again, may not be true for you, may not be true for your own market, but that's overall I'm.

00:34:45 - Jenn Boyles

Hearing that from people that are looking at the big platforms and saying why is it down? But I'm hoping that you're saying that the supply is up. I am hoping that there'll be some kind of correction in that, that the people that are in it for, maybe they're more in it for a quick bug than in it for providing hospitality will be sort of edged out.

00:35:11 - Thibault Masson

But I'm pretty sure people listening to this podcast are people who have already secured past bookings right, and made sure to have the data, the personal details of their past. Guests then are able to write back to them and say, hey, why don't you come this year, here's an offer, and the rest. Because that's something that you have that people who are on your platforms do not have, right. Even in tough times, you have more cards to play, right? If you have your own list of customers or your own newsletter with people who may stay with you or anything, right. You really have to try to reuse that because it gives you more chances to get a booking, basically.

00:35:49 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, I completely agree. And I have to say that your weekly newsletter, I'm a subscriber, I get it every week and it's one that I look forward to and one that I read every word. I get a lot of newsletters and some I don't even read. They just go right into the bin. But yours I read. So I'm going to put the link to sign up in the show notes and tell us about the newsletter and what you include in it.

00:36:18 - Thibault Masson

Sure. So it's a free newsletter weekly and basically usually it starts with some kind of editorial where I share not just my mood, but stuff I see in the industry and I ask people to react and say, is this something you also see right now? And people reply to me, also keeps me real. Right. Keeps me in touch with markets and what's happening. And then usually again, I try to share about three articles. Could be, again, what Airbnb or the big platforms are up to and why and what it means for you. Right. Even as a direct booking person, you may know, oh, that's the trends, that's what they are doing to know some things don't have to be on them. But knowing why Airbnb is focusing on unique properties, categories, it does mean that people are looking for this, right. When big platforms release a feature, for example, Direct Booking Success is pushing a lot, its sustainability program. It does mean that if they're pushing this, believe me, I work there, they know, they make more bookings and more money. When these people do something, they think how can I tap that on the source and maybe try to surf on this wave as well. So, the second thing we do, as I said, is market data. So usually I also try to talk about a market or things I've seen or trends on how to get your own data, how to read this. So we try to cover new tech, what's new, what's happening in the market. And I'm very lucky that I've got somebody working with me whose name is Yuvika and she's really amazing. She's writing content nowadays with me so I'm not alone doing this. She puts together almost every month we do an online event. Basically I try to get two other people from the industry and we talk about one topic. It can be something about marketing, could be how to price your properties, could be how to acquire and supply more properties if you are property manager for example. And I try to get experts because again, I'm not pretending I know everything. Hopefully to say this, I don't know, let me pull in people who actually and that's what I try to do. So the newsletter would basically give you takeaways from these kinds of events. So if you have time to attend, I would insert a video and you can watch it on your own time. That's really what the newsletter is about.

00:38:32 - Jenn Boyles

About and I do recommend that you sign up for it. So I'll put the link in the show notes. Now I can't let you go without asking you what does Direct Booking Success mean to you?

00:38:44 - Thibault Masson

So for us, direct booking for me first, because even with my ex we still have the houses, right? So this Direct Booking Success has enabled us current partner and ex to keep taxes and these are just not investment to us, right? We build some of these houses and we pick these destinations because we love them, but we will not be able to afford them, to have built them or keep them without direct bookings because it just leaves us more margin to pay for what we need to pay. And as well kind of Direct Booking Success also is some kind of validation. I don't say that but feel you are some kind of entrepreneur, that's also a way to feel like yeah, I am an entrepreneur, it's working for me. So that kind of success like you know what, okay, even if I have a day job or something on my short term rentals, if I'm successful with bookings, you know what, I have a real business here. I'm an entrepreneur. So that's kind of sweet to hear.

00:39:45 - Jenn Boyles

It is nice, isn't it? It's a good pat on the back when you see it all working well. Thank you. Table. This has been amazing. I knew a bit about your journey and I know that this isn't the end of your journey by any means and I'm really interested to see what happens, what comes up next, but I didn't know everything in there. It's been really great. So I will put those links in the show notes. But I thank you so much for coming on today.

00:40:10 - Thibault Masson

Jenn, thank you so much for the invitation. I really look forward to speaking with you all during the summit.

00:40:15 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, that's great. So if anybody wants to join up and get on the waitlist for Direct Booking Success, it's happening the 3rd to the 5th October. I'll put the link there too. Direct Booking Success Summit.com come and sign up and you'll be the first people to know about getting your free ticket. Thanks again.

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