How AI is Impacting Vacation Rentals: A Conversation with Three Industry Veterans

Author: Sara Gates
Posted: 1/31/2024

How AI is Impacting Vacation Rentals: A Conversation with Three Industry Veterans

We’re big fans of the no BS podcast, where vacation rental veterans Mateo Bradford-Vazquez and John Stokinger go deep with industry leaders and insiders. So this January, our CEO and founder Nick Mote was stoked to join Mateo and John and geek out on all things AI: how it’s shaping the industry, his own role in bringing machine learning to vacation rental pricing, and how our AI copywriting tool can be an equalizer for property managers everywhere.

Check out the full episode on YouTube, Apple, or Spotify — or read on for a few key highlights from their conversation.

How AI-powered pricing — and daily rates — came to the vacation rental industry

Nick recounts how he started experimenting with AI and machine learning after joining Vacasa in 2015 — back when the company had just over a thousand properties.

“We were going into all these new states and cities, and wanted to have the best rates when we showed up,” Nick says. “And without having an analyst that had experience in that market, how did we know that we’re putting out good rates and understanding the seasonality? Because when you show it to a potential owner, they know their market — we had to have rates that made sense from the get-go and performed well. We started experimenting with machine learning at Vacasa to see if we could take our datasets and build good rate predictions.”

In 2017, Nick developed an algorithm that performed well across new and existing markets — better than what an analyst could do by hand.

“That model was, from my understanding, the first 365-day daily pricing model that was out,” says Nick. “At the time, vrbo — back when we called it V-R-B-O — didn’t have daily rates yet. They still had time periods, and they adjusted their API to allow us to 365-day rates back then. That was an inflection point: we have a machine learning model in production, that’s doing something, and making millions of dollars’ worth of decisions for pricing every day. It was really exciting, and I knew then that I wanted to stay in the machine learning space from here.”

AI’s ever-increasing reach into short-term rentals

Pricing may be one of the earliest use cases, but today, many areas of property management and guest touchpoints can be impacted by AI — especially after the launch of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. 

“AI’s expanding beyond the areas in which it was traditionally being used, like revenue management,” says Mateo. “Now it’s in marketing and guest communications…it’s moving out of ‘Oh, this is something that dev guys use to build tools.’ Now it’s ingrained into the hospitality experience — it’s in bots, it’s in remote questioning, it’s in every aspect of the business and continually growing.”

Why salespeople and operations people can benefit from AI

John and Nick discuss how using AI to generate property descriptions can be a significant time-saver for sales and operations teams — folks who aren’t professional writers, but are asked to handle property descriptions when onboarding new homes.

“They’re just going through the motions because it’s part of their job descriptions,” says John. “You’re taking some photos, you’re setting up this listing, you’re onboarding a new unit — make sure you write this description up.”

The importance of quality descriptions in property listings

The guys discuss how crafting a good description is an art and a science — your writing should be high-quality, but you also need to know what to include in order to make your listing stand out.

“In a world where there’s so much inventory, how do you differentiate your listing from the others on the same street with the same bedrooms?” says John. “A big shining star is a quality description and a quality title. The data we’ve seen over the years shows that’s what converts.”

AI as an equalizer in the short-term rental industry

We love how Mateo describes the role of AI in the vacation rental space: to help property managers stay competitive and deliver better experiences.

“To me, this is an equalizer,” says Matoe. “Anyone can engage with [AI] at any size or scope, or for whatever reason you need it. People who are just getting started in the industry, or who don’t have the resources to go out and hire a copywriter, or who don’t know what to say if they’re going to write the descriptions themselves.”

Balancing automation and the human touch in hospitality

But let’s be real: AI isn’t the answer for everything. The conversation ends with Nick’s reflection on how the vacation rental industry needs to balance the ability to automate with the need to maintain a human touch in order to deliver exceptional hospitality.

“I think the question is, what do we automate and what shouldn’t we automate?” Nick says. “How do we use this tech to elevate the hospitality that we give our guests? It’s the challenge I’m trying to chew on. I hope our future features or products live up to that — they help property managers and people in our space elevate the guest experience.”

Curious to learn more about AI in the vacation rental industry? Follow Nick on LinkedIn for his latest insights and hot takes.

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Who We Are

Vacation rental veterans. Automation expertise. 

Nick Mote
Lead Consultant
Vacasa (Director of Innovation),
Rented (Engineering Lead, Contract),
JetML (Founder),
Nike (Senior ML Engineer, Contract)

View My LinkedIn

Sara (Gates) Mote
Vacasa (Director of Brand Experience),
Rented (Content Strategist, Contract),
AskNicely (Senior Content Strategist),
SKGates Studio (Content Strategist & Writer)

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Nick helped us get our product further and faster than we imagined
Andrew McConnell
Founder & CEO (, VacationFutures)
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