Aug. 1, 2022

1st of the Month Bonus Episode - Simon Says: It’s Time to Put Egos Aside to Strengthen the Industry


It's the 1st of the Month! Tune in as we recap the previous month and look ahead to the next, discussing  industry trends, pacing, events and more. Simon Lehmann of AJL Consulting joins us each month for "Simon Says", where we discuss the latest hot-button issue facing the vacation rental  and short term rental industry. 

Simon Says..."It's Time to Put Egos Aside to Strengthen the Industry"
 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which organization is doing what, so long as they are working for the betterment of the industry; what matters is that they are working together to effectively leverage resources to help all stakeholders.   Either we win it as an industry, or we lose it all together.  As one of our favorite sayings goes, "if you're not at the table - you're on the menu." It's time for everyone to pull their chair up to the table and tackle the issues that either threaten the existence of our industry - or in rosier terms - create a future in which everyone can succeed and thrive.

Introducing "Alex & Annie's List"
 

Tune in to also hear our BIG announcement of the concept behind "Alex & Annie's List." We're almost done curating the list...and checking it twice! HUGE thank you to the amazing companies that have partnered with us for this exciting journey of upcoming webinars and group episodes. Tune in for the September 1st of the Month Bonus Episode for more details!

In this episode we mention Miller Hawkin's excellent article on Linkedin regarding advocacy - check it out by clicking here.

Shout out to the VIPs we mentioned in this episode - Steve Milo, Anthony Gantt, Lauren Madewell, Stuart Butler and Robin Craigen! 

CONTACT SIMON LEHMANN
LinkedIn
AJL Atelier
Raincatcher 

CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram

Alex Husner - Linkedin
Annie Holcombe - Linkedin

Episode in Partnership with AJL Atelier

AlexandAnniesList.com is brought to you by Rev & Research 

Transcript
Unknown:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. With more than 35 years combined industry experience. Alex Husner and Annie Holcombe have teamed up to connect the dots between inspiration and opportunity, seeking to find the one story idea or strategy or decision that led to their guests big aha moment. Join them as they highlight the real stories behind the people and brands that have built vacation rentals into the $100 billion industry it is today. And now it's time to get real and have some fun with your hosts, Alex and Annie

Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real limit of vacation rentals. I'm Alex and I'm Annie. And we are here today for August 1 first of the month bonus episode brought to you by AJL Atelier Simon Lehman stay tuned to the end, because just like all of our other first month bonus episodes, or at least since June forward, we have Simon coming in to talk about a very important topic that everybody I think will enjoy hearing from him. And we're just we're so excited, you might notice. Annie his background is the same mine, if you're watching on YouTube is different. We are at home filming this. And he's always home, I'm at home. But it is eight o'clock at night. And the reason that we're filming this late at night is because Simon is down under he is in Australia on vacation. So we are meeting them down under and doing what we have to do because we just love having him on the show.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, I appreciate the fact that he was willing to do this from from that far away. But you know, maybe we'll have a koala bear visit us who knows? Ooh. Yeah. So we've had a really, really incredible month. And just, you know, the guests that we had this month. We started off obviously with Simon and a really great conversation about, you know, things going on in the industry and having a discussion about all of the consolidation, and the mergers and acquisitions and kind of where it's going. And then we went into a really wonderful friend guy doing a great, great service to he Well, not only did he serve his country, but now he's doing a great service to military families and travelers with his OTA Anthony with AtEase. And gosh, that was such a fun conversation.

Alex Husner:

It was absolutely it was we got to look back on the executive summit and all the fun that we had there and conversation. It's to me, I think one of the most fun things about this is meeting people like that, that are so passionate, and have such a drive and a reason behind why they do what they do that it's just it's inspiring. And their their energy is just infectious.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, I love I love that we get to talk to people and again, uncovering their aha moment. But when their aha moment is something that it happened to them, and they were immediately knew that they had to, you know, find a solve for the issue that occurred and Anthony's storie certainly backs up that that theory that you know, if you have something happened to you experiencing experience something you're probably a good person to try to solve for it if you have the passion and the drive to do it.

Alex Husner:

He certainly does. Yep, yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. And then after that we Milo none other Yeah, Steve, Milo, founder of Vtrips, and what an episode and, gosh, what a great supportor Steve has been pushing the podcast back out. You know, I think this was an episode we were a little bit nervous about, you know, maybe Steve can be a difficult person to interview. And I mean that in the best way. But he really he knows his stuff. And we wanted to make sure that we asked the questions that we're not gonna be softballs that we're going to, you know, really let him tell the story of the trips, and also differentiate what his model is compared to some of the other ones. And I think it went went really well. And it was received very well. And since then, we've actually heard from the Vacasa that they want to get on the show, and they want to talk to us. So that'll be coming in the coming months. So we don't have that scheduled yet. But I think they want to do a little bit of a rebuttal.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. Well, I mean, it'll be interesting to see. So you know, we were talking about they're going to do their earnings call here shortly. And, you know, it'll be interesting to see what what they say. And so maybe some of the questions that we might try to ask them don't know that they'll answer but we can certainly give it a try. Yeah, yeah, that's right. And then after Milo, we had our dear friends who are our kind of inspiration for starting this podcast Annette and Sarah from Thanks for visiting and I just, there's so much fun, and I'm so grateful that we met them and again, how often do you meet two people in a bathroom and become friends with

Alex Husner:

and start a business from it? Yeah, the least likely place to find inspiration in this world, but we met them and, you know, unusual circumstances. And if you don't know, go back and listen, because it's fun. And there they are, as we call them. The examples of good apples. We talk a lot about the bad apples in Airbnb and the hosts that are not professional and that they are bringing down the quality and professionalization in our industry and these two are certainly not that They are the people that we want to support and get them to support other hosts that look up to them as as guides, and they really have their incredible audience that follows them. So we love supporting them. And they've been great to us. And last but not least, Stuart Butler. He was our episode on July 27. And, gosh, I feel like we've teased this episode forever. And finally, what a guy as you say, Stuart's just a incredible marketing mind. And we talked about branded media and entertainment and how brands and companies and DMOS specifically CVBS need to be thinking about that is that can be your competitive edge. And you and I know this very well. And I think if there's one thing that we do very well, it is branding, both in our individual companies, as well as with the podcast, and it was fun to get to talk to him and hear his perspective on how that is how DMOS and companies are really leveraging that, that mindset. So

Annie Holcombe:

yeah, I think it's timely to because I know that we've been having conversations separately from the podcast, just in our day to day jobs, and just interacting with people that reach out to us about the need to be engaged with your local markets and understand it. And one of the things that's become very apparent to me is that a lot of these operators, Annette and Sarah aside, because again, they're the they understand what they're, you know, they understand where the rubber meets the road, they understand what they're doing, and, and how it's, it's a full time job, what they're doing. And I think that people are getting into this business in I think the what you would deem the STR space or more urban environment and not understanding that it's not just about putting a unit up on a channel, and that's going to take care of itself. I mean, there are so many other factors at play. And if they come from, in the case of several that I've talked to a finance background, so they had the money or they understood the savviness to to get in when the market was low or the market was right and get make a good real estate deal. They don't understand the marketing aspect and how that's a full time job in its own right, and that they need to understand the ebb and flow of the market. They need to understand what people when they're coming in why they're coming in and know their chamber know their, you know, their DMO, their their marketing organization. And I think that it's one thing that from our podcast, we know that we can help on the STR spaces help educate those people. And so, you know, one opportunity that's come across and we'll share more about this later is working with Jen Barbee from Destination Innovate and doing an event with her in the fall to talk about just that, as you know, destination marketing within the smaller destinations and for the vacation rental hosts.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. We're super excited about that event. And I think that's going to be an event that if it goes well, she's gonna be able to scale to other markets and bring in some of the smaller DMOS that they might not be able to go to destinations International, which that's the equivalent of vrma If you're in the DMO side, but get these other smaller players in there that they honestly they don't a lot of these DMOS as we know about cities and municipalities and local governments, they don't know the difference between Airbnb and what we are also. So they're thinking this is this whole new thing and it's not but they do want to work with with short term rentals, vacation rentals, because they know that's how they get bed tax. But you have to make sure that the people that are renting these are remitting the VAT tax. And that is where the rubber meets the road and where vrma and us as a podcast and several others feel very strongly about this is really where we need to come down hard on cracking down on the bad apples professionalizing those that want to play by the rules and elevating the industry. Of all of accommodations together. Yeah.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, absolutely. I there's just there's so much opportunity. And I think that's one thing that we've uncovered, and we'll continue to iterate on these conversations with our partners as we go through the year.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, we have a very big announcement that we've been kind of teasing up for, I'd say maybe a month or so. But this is actually this is something that goes far beyond that. So this is something that Annie and I have put a lot of thought into. And in we really value and appreciate the listeners that tune into the show support that we have, and the questions that we get. And if we were we've talked about how we bring sponsors on we've had a lot of interest from companies that have come to us and they want to sponsor us. But we felt that it was very important that in order to do that we needed to stay true to as Annie says her word of the year authenticity to state that we want to make sure that if we're going to bring on a sponsor, it needs to be somebody that aligns with our values and our understanding of the industry and that we really need to either have worked with them or have very intrinsic knowledge of the service that they provide and feel strongly that these listeners all of you that you are going to benefit from working with them. Yeah, that being said, we have come up with a concept that is called Alex and Annie Is list. Similar to Angi's List, if anybody remembers that website, I think they just call it, they now just call it. And we're obviously anywhere on the list, they're taken off the list, but somewhere in the middle there. And basically what this is going to be Alex and Annie's List is going to be a curated list of our top picks in the industry, for suppliers. And you know, I've been in vacation rentals now for 14 years operator with a company that represents 500, condos, very experienced with a space for experience within marketing and branding. Annie has been in all sides of the industry, from property management, to channel management to OTAs. I think between the two of us, we've got a really unique skill set of being able to read between the lines, and help our listeners and others find what is the best solutions? Because at the end of the day, we all feel FOMO when we go to these conferences, I know I do, because there's so much technology, there's so many new things that you can do. And it's hard to determine what are the things that are going to take your business to the next level? What are the things that are going to help you grow? Or what are the things that are going to be a game changer? And you can't do it? All right. I mean, if we could do it all, then we would have negative margins, because that's ultimately one of the big hate Yeah, face is that we don't have the margins to do all these different systems. So this program is going to be our curated list and recommendations for based on category and we're limiting it so that we can really hone in on what the value of these partners are that we really support, and help connect the dots, which that's part of our mission of this podcast to be able to help our listeners, you know, find those vendors and suppliers and grow their businesses. So we're very excited to announce that and we are making the list or checking it twice. And we are in the process of signing people up right now. And Andy do want to give an update on just kind of how that's been.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah. So I think we were a little taken aback by how well received it was I think we went to vrma in Chicago. And that was our first indication that we were on to something and that so many people wanted to sponsor so we really wanted to be methodical about how we put it together. And I think just in the first two weeks, we signed up about 10 partners, we haven't we know we have some learning? Well,

Alex Husner:

given you the update, no,

Annie Holcombe:

no. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, that was that was in the first two weeks. I mean, I think we wait around three weeks now. So we're, you know, we're at 20. But again, it's just we know that we are on to something that people want to participate in. And I think the fact that we are not looking to just take on anybody to take on anybody and kind of in my mind, you said you were making a list and checking it twice. And I was like, but we're not going to point out who's naughty and nice. But if you made the list your nice think it's great. And what it's affording us to do is be a little more, dig a little deeper with the people that someone we've interviewed, some of them we will interview. But we can be a little more collaborative, and maybe bring some things to, to our listeners, maybe doing some webinars doing things along, you know, along different lines, we're going to keep thinking and coming up with new things with the partners. And it's anybody's guess how big the list ends up being.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, and I think one thing that's, you know, kind of overlooked, because a lot of us we regularly attend these events, but there's a lot of people out there, vacation rental managers, operators that don't go to these events, get to hear the content and meet the people that we get to meet but they still want to know and need to know what the best software is out there what the best providers are for different things. And I think podcasting has quickly become the way of consuming information in our industry. Like I really think that there's just been a sizable shift in the last six to eight months that I feel like, you know, everybody within the industry listens to few core podcasts. And we're just, you know, honored to be one of them. But we are super excited, we are going to we're going to wait, we're going to pause on that we don't wanna give anything away, but we will wait and announce who is on the list on September 1. And like Danny said, we have so many ideas for this. We are marketing minds, we are spinning off ideas all day long. This is just the beginning. So for everybody who has already signed up, we appreciate your vote of confidence and we are going to build something incredible together. So very, very excited on that. We do have to tease we have to tease one thing. So we have our episode that comes out on Wednesday on August 3 A week before DARM which is the data and revenue management conference. We have Andrew Kitchell from wheelhouse coming on the show and wheelhouse won the Innovator of the Year award last year at DARM. And yeah, we said on their episode that was like the unveiling of of this company that not everybody really knew about or I didn't know about and then all of a sudden all I hear is about Wheelhous. Right? Yeah. Yeah. So we're excited about

Annie Holcombe:

that. Yeah. And we got a announcement on that episode to talk about Andrew and I think we're looking forward to DARM ism. Well, we're going to be doing a panel on as I keep saying the sexiest part of vacation, rentals insurance. That'll be fun. And then Alex and Annie are going to do a OTA panel. So that's going to be a lot of fun and hope everybody, if you haven't got your tickets to DARM, check with Amy Hinote, see if there any left, but I know you can still buy by the video access. Yeah, the video access, but it's gonna be a great conference. And I know Amy puts her heart and soul into it. So I expect this one will be just as good. It'll be better than last year's as they always are.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, we're very excited about that. Okay, we've got two last things to do. So we wanted to share a couple of reviews from listeners that have come in because we've had some reviews from just incredible people within the industry that we respect so very much. Yeah. Do you want to do what you wanna do the first one?

Annie Holcombe:

I'll do the I guess I'm Lauren. Yeah. Yeah, so Lauren Madewell. She is with Auntie Bellhams Cabin Rentals in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area. And her her review is just so much fun. I haven't met her in person and I could not be more excited to just the way she writes. Her review is five stars excited emoji face. I listened to a lot of hot a lot of podcasts, a lot of audiobooks. And every morning, I spend time getting them all queued up for my daily drives, and downtime at work. I believe in order and maintain that structure throughout my day. That is unless Alex and Annie drop a new episode. When this happens, I mentally shove everything off my desk and onto the floor to make room for their podcasts. Reason being they've got they've got a listening presence that is just sort of comfortable for any setting. It's like having a couple of friends and their guests Chataway wherever I am, without having to make any effort to pay attention. Well, I hope people are paying attention. I'm happily absorbed and everything they're talking about. And I often find myself nodding in agreement or proclaiming. Right and mmhhhmm as if just listening to a couple of pals talk about the same things I'm interested in professionally. Maybe that's an odd thing to say that their podcast makes me comfortable. But hey, that's the sincere statement. I'll stick to it. Ladies, thank you for all you do. I am so so happy to have you in my impressive arsenal of inspiring things to listen to.

Alex Husner:

I mean, I don't know you could say it any better. I really I mean, that's from the heart right there. Yeah, I met Lauren probably five years ago or so we were first starting to look for some partnerships in Gatlinburg and met met her her dad is John Madewell that owns the company and her and her sister kind of run the show now and just I really admired her when I met her I could tell like that she really runs a great ship and a wonderful company very well respected and Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge area, and it's so funny how you ended up crossing paths later, she was actually on the panel at the Women's Conference. Oh, that's, yeah, that Xplorie hosted. And that's kind of when we started reconnecting. And at that point, the podcast was still very new for us. But yeah, she's been wonderful just to chat with and to talk to and just be what she's in our arsenal to and we just went like that. So yeah, super excited. We had another great review from another operator that is very well respected in this space. Robin Craigan with moving mountains and he's just their company and him and his wife and their team are just truly Yeah, we got to meet them at the executive Summit. He said, Five stars insight entertainment Alex ansd Annie are real down to earth and entertaining, their podcasts has become a regular favorite of mine. As they dive into the challenges of the vacation rental industry, sharing their time with dynamic expert guests to help all of us unlock the wealth of knowledge that makes us better at what we do. If you're a newbie or an experienced Pro, I can guarantee you get something good for each episode and a few laughs along the way. Thanks, ladies. Thank you, Robin. That means a lot He's respected person in our space. So

Annie Holcombe:

yeah, it was exciting to meet him and I've joked with him a couple of times about us coming and doing the podcast from one of those cabins and or cottages or whatever mount up in the mountains. And he was like, just come on just anytime. So yeah, I think Alex and Annie will do a mountain episode.

Alex Husner:

Absolutely. Yeah, so last but not least, we're gonna get to Simon in just a minute here. But this kind of preface is what we're going to talk about Simon so on Steve Miles episode, he talked about how vrma Vrma needs to do a better job or his do a job promoting that. Vacation Rentals professionally managed vacation. Those are not Airbnb. We are not Airbnb. And we agree with that. And I think Vrma agrees with that. And Miller agrees with that. And anybody in our in our atmosphere vacation rentals does too because unis valleys that are cracking down on the bad apples or not trying to crack down on the condo worlds of the world and the Millers company boo Realty and you know, these great operators, that's not who they're doing these rules for. So Miller posted an article on LinkedIn that it came out on July 26. And if you haven't read it, I recommend going to read it we'll include it in the show notes but he talks about he calls it TLC, I think it was really well written a difference between what we what we do and he broke it down to we are taxpaying, we are local and we are considered Don't say any better than that. Yeah, that's totally the difference between what the bad apples that we're all trying to work that we don't want to do business in our towns are not that they are, you know, not not ribbiting the taxes from Airbnb that they need to which hurts municipalities hurts DMOS. They're not local. They're not in the destination in Myrtle Beach area. We just had a meeting about this recently that one of the biggest problems is if you're in a homeowner that bought a short term rental here, and you're in Chillicothe, Ohio and your unit, the toilet went or there's a flood or some issue with it, that guest if they can't reach you, they go down to the front desk. And now the front desk who is operating in good standards and are good apples, they have to deal with the bad apples because they can't just let the people sit there. So it's a complete drain on all of us as operators and the consistency that being consistent the experience should always be about the same. I mean, not you know, there's always some fluctuation vacation rentals. But for the most part, it should not be night and day when you stay in a vacation rental from one company to another

Annie Holcombe:

person. Yeah, and I think the good thing is, is that VMI finally recognizes I think what we've all known is, is a need and they're going to really take a stronger stance and work with the RBO to try to again do something that you and I have been talking about for months now is kind of bridge that gap between these unprofessional and it's and I don't think all of them are unprofessional. I think a lot of the world they are doing it 100% Professional. Yeah. And I am with them. Yeah. And I've talked to some real estate friends who are like I'm telling all the people I sell condos to or units to to rent them on their own. And I'm like, Well, how are they going to do that? So I think we have to we have to reach out to realtors, we have to do a larger, a larger conversation. Totally

Alex Husner:

agree. I think that the National Realtors Association needs to be more involved in these conversations, as well as destinations International, this takes 100% a village and a global community to solve this, but it's vrma it's the Realtors Association is destinations international all coming together. Because you're 100%, right? The Realtors need to be communicating to these people that you know you won, you need to get a business license to you need to remove your taxes. And and, you know, we don't know what's going to happen in 2023. This is this could be an economic downfall from a real estate market perspective, these people that they are basing their numbers from their short term rental inventory, or income on numbers from 2021, which that's not going to happen. We've already seen there's no way that that's gonna happen again. So 2022 would even give potentially a hard thing to hit so but we will pause right here because when we come back, we are going to have Simon layman so with that, cue it up here come Simon Simon. Simon, welcome back. It's so good to see you from Down Under.

Simon Lehmann:

Thank you, Alex and Anniei. I'm so glad that we're connecting again, for this month episode of Simon Says, and I'm sure we have plenty to talk about.

Alex Husner:

We sure do.

Annie Holcombe:

We wanted to talk about the state of advocacy in vacation rentals. One of the things that Alex and I have felt passionately and very strongly about is that there's a need to work to have everybody worked together And so it seems like there's a lot of different conversations going on between VRMA, between private companies, between municipalities and Rent Responsibly. And so we really thought you have a better pulse on what's going on than anybody because you're all over the world and thought maybe you could share how we know your perspective and what you're seeing and what you think needs to be happening as we move forward.

Simon Lehmann:

Absolutely, it's, it's a great topic and obviously AJL and myself are extremely passionate about advocacy. And let us think about why are we talking about that now in today's so vacation rental industry. I mean, you know, I had a lobbying group going back in Paris in 2012 which is now 10 years to to fight regulations and things like that in Paris when I was still with interhome and it was interesting that we put a good strong group of property management companies together in Paris to speak to the local legislators and everything and we couldn't be they wanted to run their own thing so you know, this is not new. But now as as regulation comes stronger into the into the into into our industry It's needless to say that we need to work a solid together and and build advocacy and tell people what the true value of vacation rental is and and only together we can win and interesting is that you know, the hotel lobbies, no matter where you go Spain also America, in Europe, in general, Switzerland, hotel organizations, hotel associations are always very strong, well connected, have been lobbying and working with governments and local regulators and everything and organizations for decades. Right. And, and we have never done that, because our industry is hyper fragmented and working together is, is very challenging. And so far we didn't have to, because we could just run into barriers and vacation rentals and promote everybody become a property manager, you just need a property. And, and then you can start working. And you know, it's interesting, when we now go out there and see, no matter where we are, I'm currently in Australia, and we're talking to a lot of property management companies here. And when we ask, you know, what is what is your challenge, it's a regulation, its regulatory issues. And, and even this year, the first time starting with vacation rental Association, actually organizing a conference and start talking about it. So. So you know, I think advocacy is absolutely important. But what's more important is that we're working together as an industry and not as individual fighters out there, because we're not going

Alex Husner:

to. Absolutely, and we agree with that 100%. And we've seen that just in our own local markets where any is and when I where I am in Myrtle Beach, I mean, it really it takes a village, both on the local level and in the national level. And really just understanding I think, at this point, one of the the struggles that a lot of areas have is they need to find another market that's similar to theirs and how they've responded to certain challenges that that's kind of the easier way to segue into being able to work with their local governments, municipalities that might be putting these restrictions down. It's like, okay, we've got to find somewhere else that's like a Myrtle Beach, how have they dealt with Airbnb and how they've done these different things. Because you really use you have to give those examples. And all these issues have come about really, because the rise in Airbnb in the last couple years, and the ability for people to rent their properties and the bad apples, as we call them. And, you know, for the most part, we just talked earlier in the episode about there are a lot of good apples, you know, there are a lot of good individual hosts that they create amazing guest experiences. And they, you know, Epitome are the epitome of what a short term rental experience should be. But we want to elevate those people and professionalize them and give them the tools that they need to grow their businesses, the taxpaying you know, community contributors to their to their local governments and good good members. But we need to make sure that we are cracking down on the bad apples. And to that effect, I guess my question would be, from a larger standpoint, we've got vrma that addresses advocacy at a high level and also rent responsibly, and just want to get your take on, you know, how do these organizations, how do they work together? What do they do? How can they complement each other, to work together for the betterment of all of us? So they know, that's what we all want?

Simon Lehmann:

Yeah, totally. Right. And I think that's a big concern, no matter if it's Rent Responsibly, VRMA, or any European Association, I think Europeans have stored with European holiday Association, and then having the country and then the local associations on the need to start working together a lot stronger, you know, at the end of the day, it's not about who wins this ad, we win it as an industry or we all lose together. Absolutely. That's what it's all about. And, and we want to support that as AJL, no matter who we're working with, with a vrma with a Rent Responsibly, who will support with European holiday Association, and the local associations, you know, we found work with the Scottish association or whatever. But, but they are seeing the value of of working together, creating these cases, Alex, that you mentioned, which, which is absolutely fundamental, first of all, understanding what this is all about, where's the value creation taking place? And how can we educate? And there's still a lot about this education. And I don't see now obviously, vrma has raised a lot of advocacy funds as well, rent responsibly with David his team had had this idea of, of bringing the communities together as well. And I think everybody tries to do it in its own best ability. But at the end of the day, I think we need to help each other and learn from each other to get a strong industry voice. We have also Astra in the United States, as well with with Heather and Heidi are pushing ahead on the on the individual owners. So there's, there's a lot of initiatives, but we're not talking together and we're not sharing stories or whatever. And I think ultimately, we first need to educate and understand what is about and what is the value creation. And here comes a very important point that I'm very strong about what I like about Rent Responsibly. With Rent Responsibly takes a more holistic approach in terms of who what is the community who are the stakeholders of the thing history, and let's bring them all together. This is not just about property management, because one thing we're forgetting at large is that s TR is not just taking living space away and increasing living spaces in an urban or rural area. That's how it's you know, regulator and you have noise we have. So we have noise issue, we have also criminal issues. And we've seen this very single minded in terms of str, this needs to be regulated, but more people forget. And that's what what we need to do is actually communicate the value that STR creates for our community. And in order to do that, we need to include the entire community to the conversation. So it's not just the STR that runs a property management company in Myrtle Beach, it's actually the restaurants, the local service providers, everybody else, because one thing I love about short term rental is that the short term rental at is creating actually more value or GDP for a destination that our hotel does, because hotel is classically more hostile, which is you check into a hotel, you don't leave it for a week, you spend food and everything else in the property. And that's what the hotels want to get maximum return on the guests, str is none of that we provide a good experience. And then you go to the restaurant, you go to the local shops, you go and go to the local tourism activities, and we need to include them into the conversation. And that's something that I always liked about the approach of Rent Responsibly, or they said, Hey, we want to include the entire community into this conversation because we all going to suffer on regulations. And once the regulators and lobbyists and everybody else that is looking at these regulations, understands that short term rentals value creation for a destination is actually far bigger. And there's more stakeholders, they're just the property manager. So and this is why we need to work together and property managers need to support advocacy. And at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter through which form is it VRMA, Astra it's a Rent Responsibly, but at the higher level, we need to make sure we're collaborating as sharing our success stories, and maybe fund projects together. And it's no use of your main funding a lawyer when rent responsibly funds a lawyer as well. Right? Yeah, see, and regulation?

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, as long as we're all swimming in the same direction, or paddling in the same direction, that's really all that matters. Yeah. So I think that it's interesting, just in talking with people, I think that there's just there's so many things going on in different markets, you've got different regulations in ski and beach and you urban and, and to Alex's point, you know, there's these bad apples that are causing some of the friction and, and I feel like some of the bad apples aren't necessarily trying to be bad, they just don't have access to information. And so one conversation that we've had with some folks at VRMA, is that, you know, how do we, you know, there can be people on both sides of the conversation, some people are not happy about letting in individual owners are smaller, the smaller operators, and some people are happy about it. And my stance is, what does it hurt us to bring them in? If we're going to give them the tools, if they choose not to use and then fine their bad apples and we're never going to change their mind. But for every one of those bad, there's probably nine that are good. Well, yeah, I agree with

Alex Husner:

that. 100%, I think we have to do our part as the professional operators that these people, if they don't know, we're here to teach them, we're gonna give them the tools. But if they don't know, then that's where it's, this is the fine line of we're going to take you to the water. But if you don't want to do live, you're done. Because that is when legislation to prevent the bad apples that are in a community. That is where it needs to come into play, not for the condo worlds of the world, and the good operators that they're doing the right things by their guests and have for decades. So I think that's that's the balance there. And but I agree with you, 100%. And I think where this the rubber meets the road, and where I feel like this is all leading, and we've had so many of these great conversations is that we need to have the right people at the table. And that's a lot of different organizations. It's not just people within an organization. So it is vrma It is rent responsibly. It's destinations International. It's the National Association of Realtors. I mean, like these are the core people that okay, if people are buying these units, the realtors need to be providing them with the right information. Right. And a lot of them are not, that's a key problem right there. They need to have the destinations that are national approach that they're understanding what their involvement is be in the community. And there's there's just a there's a disconnect there. But I think that we're moving in the right direction and people seeing, you know, the long term effects of this is critical to aligning those forces. So we'll see.

Simon Lehmann:

I think, I think to that point, Alex, and when you said Annie as well. One thing I thought I would want to bring in is is what is the definition of advocacy? Because if you look at the word advocacy, it's actually meant different aspects. And I am so glad you're bringing this point up in relation to the bad apples or whatever. First of all, what I see versus the hotel industry, by the way, is we're extremely protective. And we're like egoistic, in our approach. And we just want to defend our own interest, and not at large. So we're not very good in sharing our information deeper of Yes, we love to collaborate and learn from each other. But at the end of the day, when it comes to love and bolts, we don't want to share, we want to protect ourselves. That doesn't work, we need to do it together. Number one, advocacy is all about education as well. It's about professionalism. I mean, that's something that you know, everywhere, we talked about profitability. In the past, we talked about, hey, Airbnb has become the acronym has become the Uber in the cleaning industry, without doing anything to protect us and support us just making it worse. And let's think about where this is coming from. So people need to be educated education, professionalism, profitability, you know, entry barriers, have we have, we sat together as an industry and said, Hey, we need to create our own standards, we may need to create labels, we need to, you know, if you want to become a professional property management company, you need to certify you, we, I could even push ourselves harder to become professional managers and say, Hey, we need to put certain processes and maybe approval processes or labels or oral licenses into place to say, hey, we need to raise that entry barrier, it's too easy to become a property manager, you just need a property right? and off you go. You don't need to know anything about hospitality, nothing about health and safety, you can just go for it. And and this is why we're being regulated. Without a doubt, banks don't tell say, hey, we, we have to comply with all that stuff. And these guys can do whatever they want. So we need to have to encourage ourselves to think about, can we start regulating our business ourselves and come with suggestions to these regulators and say, Hey, we are willing to put minimum standards of safety into our properties, this and that andthe other end to actually make the entry better hire and to push more professionalism in our industry. So

Alex Husner:

very big word. I will give credit to Marriott homes and villas on that front, because I think they've kind of been kind of the first step in that direction. And it's a tough thing, you know, but I mean, the first one is to try and do it. And from a brand standards perspective. I mean, they understand that, you know, certainly, more thoroughly than than we do, I mean, vacation rentals are we've we all have standards, but not to the level of a Marriott. But I think it's a great conversation to have. And I think it's one that it's so difficult, because how it every market operates differently, every company, even within a market operates differently. But ultimately, in order to get to where the industry needs to be from widespread adoption, and that comfort level and safety of going to a vacation rental, there has to be some of those standards. And it's almost like we need a coalition that's built just on figuring out what are the things we can all agree upon, you know, in the professional industry, and if you want to be considered a professional, you have to adhere to these things. And then if you're the bad apple that doesn't isn't part of that, then you can't be and I feel like that's where VRMA That is like the National Organization for our industry. That's where that would be a good role for an A good task for them to tackle.

Simon Lehmann:

I totally agree, Alex and I think with Marriott gave me a good leeway. We're now the topic that I want to bring in, you know, we need the big boys on the table very quick of Vacas you know, bad good or ugly Vtrip, as long as it's in the interest of the industry and all the names of themselves. They need to be at this table here. They need to push this in Europe the same as InterChalet and Novasol, and the big brands in Europe, because Because one thing and then I stated vrma executive that that I'm so passionate about is the biggest problem that we have you said Marriott so when you say Marriott, you immediately have an idea of product expectation, etc, etc. You know what you're talking about, right? vacation rental is still vacation rental and no brands. We have no brands in our industry we have zero brand, right? Zero brand. And this is this is not good for our industry. So this means if a guest experience is bad for someone, then it's not that that particular brand that suffers because somebody had a bad experience. It's the rental industry itself as well

Alex Husner:

as Airbnb. Airbnb has stepped in. Yeah, yeah. And that's the problem.

Simon Lehmann:

Yep. And this is a big problem because if you know if somebody does not deliver what they're supposed to deliver, the entire industry suffers because it's a rental or it's the Airbnb industry, which you don't want to call it but the short term rental industry that suffers and this is why the big boys need to come to the table and and make more noise to protect all sorts Small one, the market is large enough, let's face it, and the hyperlocal aspect of our industry is not going away. I'm absolutely adamant about this. So so that means it's not about the competition, people are so protective here, whatever. But you know, this is not rocket science anymore. So, you know, the way we're going to differentiate ourselves is delivering a best possible guest experience. So minimum standards in the unit, is there a price there, you know, these types of stuff. So we know the consumer can expect the minimum type of service as well. So there's a lot of stuff we can talk about. And I believe Marriott has the capabilities to do that. And I always said that on the first day married, announced that they're coming into this industry is at the moment, they still need to sort of push their execution to more vacation rental friendly approaches, I guess, overall. But in terms of setting standards, I always said Marriott has the ability to have a massive impact in its industry.

Annie Holcombe:

Marriott, Marriott, I think the one thing I've I've been kind of in the loop with them, since they announced to several years ago and looking at what their original package of standards and requirements was versus what it is now, it's clear that they listened. And they understood that it wasn't the hotel business, it was a vacation rental business, and they needed to not bend, but they needed to make their policies a little more friendly to the industry that they were trying to be part of, and not make the industry part of what they already were. And so I applaud them for that fact is that you know that they do listen, and maybe they're not as fast to adopt, as people would like them. But I know I work with them on a weekly basis and having conversations with different property managers, and the questions that I get from their team is they want to learn, they want to understand so I think if we take their approach, you know, and give that to these people that are coming into the industry and say like, we want you to learn, we want to give you the tools. And it seems to me and maybe that's where this is going is that's what Rent Responsibly wants to do is they want to give people the tools to make sure that they're operating in good standing good stead for their market, and that they're not going to ruffle everybody's feathers, whether they have one unit, or they have 100 units. And that's where they're coming in and putting these things in play that we could all learn from and work together with.

Alex Husner:

And I think that's where that's again, it's bringing everybody to the table that needs to be there that it's bringing rent responsibly, VRMA, and it's bringing the branded entity that is Mara, that they're the only one that's come into the scene, to the extent that they have from a hotel side, and from a major operator, you know, worldwide, you know, let's let's all talk, let's figure these things out, because I think they've had to bend to be able to get inventory, but they've bent in a way that they're not bending over backwards. I mean, they're still holding standards to a certain point, they realize some things are not enforceable. But there's there's a way that we leverage and we should leverage the extent of their knowledge and how they've built their business and their standards. And I think there's a lot to be learned from each other. So hopefully, we can, you know, bring those conversations to fruition.

Simon Lehmann:

Absolutely. And the bottom line there, it's at the moment, unfortunately, still more about egos than more about the industry and the industry and, and, you know, this is why we are also pushing the experience of vacation rental so much we don't need to badmouth each other, we don't need to fight against each other in terms of who is a better operator than the others. You know, we remember these Tom and Jerry times between Vacasa. And and, and Tturnkey, you know, that was always a battle there. Now we have battles with Vtrip and others in the industry, which will self destruct in our industry. But absolutely, we need to share to the entire world how wonderful it is to stay in a vacation rental no matter where it is, you know, because we still don't have a brand that that sets itself apart. So we need to, we need to communicate the experience and the value short term rental creation. every stakeholder is part of that every vacation rental, every property management company, every tech company is part of this story. And this is why we've been very engaged in in sharing the world how wonderful it is to stay in a vacation rental. So that starts trickling down hotels, you don't need to explain even though our industry is older than the hotel industry, we struggle. Individuals who who fight for our own interests and bring that together is definitely a massive task. But I think it's great that Alex and Annie are addressing that and say, you know, how can we do a better job, my my work to that is we need to work stronger and a higher level, bring these key players to the table, have open conversations and what we can do. And we can see companies like an Expedia and Booking.com are very engaged, especially if you look at the advocacy of Expedia. Also with the work they're doing with VRMA and Rent responsibly. They want to make this happen and they are great players to have on the table. I guess Airbnb will have to get there too. They're still sort of very much running on their own, which is, which is a shame but but you know, we need to stand together as an industry and not as individuals, all the words, regulation

Alex Husner:

in any, in any part of business. And this is something that just I've observed in all the roles that I occupy, it's about bringing everybody to the table, like I've said, and really, if you're not at the table, you're on the menu. And that was a phrase that I learned from mentor of mine many years ago. And I think that's now more than ever applicable to what's going on to, like you said, even the Expedia side, I think it's super important that we have their influence as part of these discussions, too. So we're excited to have this podcast as an outlet to bring thought leadership like Simon, like you and like, ajl Atelier who you've been around and you know the ins and outs of the industry. So well, you know, the key players and we, we really respect what you bring to the table for that effect. And really just your foresight on things, and look forward to having more conversations and bringing these people to fruition. And hopefully, we can all get everybody here and we'll be working together. But thank you so much for joining us today. And until the September 1. First in the month bonus, a bonus episode. We hope you and your family are doing well and have a great rest of your vacation.

Simon Lehmann:

Thank you so much. It's been a great pleasure as usual. And trust me, I'm definitely going to be on the table and on the menu. Take care and speak to you soon.

Annie Holcombe:

All right, thank you Simon Simon.

Simon Lehmann Profile Photo

Simon Lehmann

CEO/Co-Founder AJL Atelier

Simon is one of the world’s foremost experts on short-term rental and vacation rental. He leads AJL Atelier, a specialised vacation rental and business consultancy while also advising multiple companies as Board Member and Executive Chairman.
A sough-after speaker, panellist and moderator, Simon loves to broach high-level and technical topics alike, from the future trends of short-term rental to the specifics of online distribution in the top 5 OTAs.

Previously, Simon was the Co-Founder & Chairman of Vacasa Europe, former President of PhocusWright and ex-Board member of HomeAway, to name but a few. He’s also an accomplished operator, having led Interhome as CEO, Hotelplan Group as Deputy CEO and Swissport as EVP.