Q&A: Damian Sheridan, director of the 2020 Book Direct Show

Barcelona: ShortTermRentalz interviews Damian Sheridan, director of the upcoming Book Direct Show, to hear about why he and his co-hosts [Deborah Labi and Gianpaolo Vairo] decided to push ahead with the show in the middle of a global pandemic and what virtual attendees can look forward to on 29-30 September.

  • Please introduce each of yourselves and explain a bit about your background, both in the short-term rental and direct booking space.

Damian Sheridan is a search engine optimisation [SEO] consultant predominantly working in the short-term rental industry. Having observed a noticeable lack of direct booking education for both himself and other property managers in recent years, Damian focused on establishing the first industry conference dedicated solely to actionable direct booking strategies.

In February 2020, the More Bookings Direct conference in London drew delegates representing 33,000 properties globally. The Book Direct Show is the rebranded online event set for 29-30 September.

Deborah Labi is a creative minded entrepreneur with a passion for travel, food, people and hospitality. A digital nomad for the last ten years, working from “home”, wherever that may be, also defined by wherever she unpacks her coffee pot.

– Founder of Have You Got: a global guest referral platform for short-term rentals.

– Co-host of the Book Direct Show: driving this is her favourite word in the English language, FREEDOM. Hence business independence and direct bookings!

– Co-founder of Hubstr, the hub for short-term rentals: a global educational, sharing and networking platform.

– Founder of Ruby’s Holiday Residences, offering short and long stay holiday accommodation in Sydney. Integrity, unity and collaboration are the driving forces behind her businesses.

Gianpaolo Vairo is a short-term rental consultant based in Barcelona with over 15 years of experience. Under the Vacation Rental Rocket brand, he offers holiday rental business development consulting, helping any holiday rental-related businesses, to establish, grow and scale-up in Southern Europe [Italy, Spain, Portugal] due to his extensive network of contacts and his deep knowledge of these markets.

After five years organising successful holiday rental educational events in Spain under [FU] Turismo brand, he founded Host B2B, the first real short-term rental industry conference in Italy, which has the main aim of consolidating the industry and to train hosts and property managers on how to improve their businesses and reduce their dependence from online travel agencies [OTAs].

  • Why have you decided to push ahead with holding the Book Direct Show at this point in the year?

After the More Bookings Direct Conference in February, we knew we had found a much-needed solution to a growing concern for thousands of property managers – how to generate more direct bookings.

We were always going to run a second event later in the year. A post-summer virtual conference was important to consolidate sooner rather than later.

  • To what extent do you think the Show will take on extra significance given the current global uncertainty and concern surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic?

I believe we are at a major crossroads. Do we sit on our hands and expect three or four global booking platforms to lead us through this crisis? Or do we steer our own ship to not only rescue our own businesses but regain a degree of independence which we never enjoyed before? For many, there is only one answer.

As a result of some OTA decisions in the early weeks of the crisis, many accommodation providers are re-evaluating their partnerships and are excited to learn about alternative routes to direct bookings. Diversification is key. The last six months has shown us that we must be adaptable to an unpredictable market. We must have more control over our own businesses.

  • How will the Book Direct Show build on the More Bookings Direct Conference that was held earlier this year in London?

Bigger, better and truly global.

The London conference was a hit. The Book Direct Show later this month will eclipse that. Deborah and I spent the best part of three months curating content and liaising with prospective speakers. The result is that we have expanded from 11 speakers in London to over 50 industry experts from around the world. All will be presenting actionable and insightful direct booking strategies.

We have focused on the most popular topics of interest according to those who came to London and early Book Direct Show registrants. Speakers will talk about booking conversion, branding, content marketing, email marketing, Google, guest experience, repeat guests, SEO, social media, technology, website design and much more.

  • What are some of the highlights of the Show that people can look forward to over the two-day event?

It’s almost impossible for us to highlight any of our sessions. We’re so proud of this community of speakers and #bookdirect advocates. We believe every presentation will offer incredible value for attendees.

  • What do you hope attendees will be able to take away from the Book Direct Show that they can implement in their business operations?

There will be something for every property manager or company regardless of whether they are starting up or manage thousands of properties. We have sessions dedicated to short-term rentals, hotels, serviced accommodation and glamping providers. Attendees can watch all presentations over three months.

Our ultimate goal is to help every single attendee look positively towards their future and enhance their businesses in a new post-Covid world.

  • How can people sign up to register for the Book Direct Show?

To sign up, just check out the Book Direct Show website. Follow the links to the speakers, schedule and partners.

The 2020 Book Direct Show takes place virtually on 29-30 September, and will feature 57 speakers covering 59 topics over the two days.