Feb. 1, 2023

1st of the Month Bonus Episode: We Are Not Airbnb… So What ARE We?

On today’s episode, we’re featuring our recent panel at DESTICON, a virtual conference that brought together tourism and hospitality professionals from the DMO (Destination marketing organization) space. 

In our session, we discussed how professional managers can work with their DMOs and CVBs to promote responsible tourism. (DMO = designated marketing organization and CVB = convention visitor’s bureau. These organizations are typically funded by local and state tourism dollars, and exist to promote tourism to the destination.) 

There’s plenty of confusion as to what the difference is between our product and what Airbnb is as a company. Lauren Madewell, David Krauss, and John Flanagan represent different sides of our industry – and collectively, we attack the biggest questions and misconceptions.

Don’t miss this episode of Alex & Annie: The Real Women of Vacation Rentals – it’s an important one!


Lauren Madewell: The lack of ways to verify guests on Airbnb is concerning

"Frankly, every bit of it is concerning. So you're getting their name and you're getting their cell phone number. Thank God you're getting their cell phone but you're getting a masked email. You're not getting their address. You have no way to verify their identity. You are trusting that this listing company, this tech company, Airbnb, has fully verified their identity and said, it's cool. It's cool. Everything's good."

David Krauss: Create a voice for vacation rental on the boards                    

"I think that's fundamentally the area of opportunity is to be proactive, not let this conversation kind of happen without engagement, but in terms of the CVBs and the boards and the DMOs, generally speaking, I think that the more that accommodation option is valued and seen as a valuable contributor and a complimentary activity, I think that's where the conversations are productive."

John Flanagan: Regulations are actually good, restrictive bans are not

"One thing that I think that I would impress upon anyone listening is that regulations are not a bad thing. We actually want regulations from both the supplier side and the operator side in our industry. The threat to what we're trying to do for travel and short-term rentals is restrictive bans and restrictions on short-term rentals. The reasons that those things come into fruition and happen is because of a lack of education on what a real professional operator does and a lack of regulation is standardization."


This episode is brought to you by our Premiere Brand Sponsor, Casago, along with Co-Sponsors, Guest Ranger and Good Neighbor Tech.

Special thanks to Rev & Research, Presenting Sponsor of Alex & Annie’s List


Connect with our guests below:

David Krauss | Lauren Madewell | John Flanagan

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[00:00:00] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of vacation rentals. With more than 35 years combined industry experience, Alex Hener and Annie Holcomb have teamed up to connect the dots between inspiration and opportunity. Seeking to find the one's story, idea, strategy, or decision that led to their guest's big aha moment.

[00:00:22] 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.

[00:00:40] We'll start the show in just a minute, but before we begin, we wanted to give you a little more information about the episode you're about to listen to. Annie and I had the honor of hosting a panel at descon, a virtual event aimed at destination marketing organizations or dmo. S DMO S are the backbone of tourism.

[00:00:55] They exist to promote destinations, attract visitors, and develop a regional economy. Dmo S are responsible for everything from attracting major sporting events to promoting local festivals. We were asked to host this panel to help educate these organizations on the benefits of partnering with professionally managed vacation rentals in their market.

[00:01:11] There's a lot of misinformation about who we are as an industry, and unfortunately, we often get labeled as being just an Airbnb because of this. Destinations across the country are enacting restrictions that prohibit the bad and good apples from doing business. We hope that this episode sparks some ideas or shares a different perspective on what it truly means to be an exceptional property manager and not just an Airbnb.

[00:01:34] Here's what it looks like. 1908, the Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line onto a road that was occupied primarily by horses and buggies and had always been that way. It just was never contemplated that these rules needed to exist until the automobiles were already on the road. First part is on the key data side, and I think that's really interesting what you pointed out about the realtors, and we see this a lot too, that a realtor will tell these hopeful homeowners, and I love that that term, what their projections of, of what they think they're gonna make are normally vastly higher, right?

[00:02:04] Than what you're seeing in your heat data projection, no matter what market you're in, because you've got people that they're thinking they're gonna get a certain amount of return. And really what we've seen in our market, there's, you go on YouTube, you can see whole new breed of realtors that they are pumping out videos like crazy saying, in order to make your return, you have to have less.

[00:02:21] 20% commission basically steering away these new buyers from using professional companies. That's, that's a problem right there, right? , it's okay for people to do it on their own as long as they're operating in a way that still mirrors the professional tactics that, that you guys would do in, in any other professional operator.

[00:02:38] Don't just listen to the same three people that you've been talking to for the last 25 years. Things have changed and they're constantly evolving. So from a destination standpoint, you have to constantly be out there and, and assess and listen, have your ear to the ground, talk to the players in the market, but also talk to new people in the market.

[00:02:52] Someone who might have three units, they might operate 50 in another market and somewhere else, and have a lot of feedback and, and some destinations over the last, I'd say five to 10 years have started putting a, like a rental seat on their board. Mm-hmm. . So it is something that's very focused, because again, you talk about the complexity of operation.

[00:03:10] I mean, there's nothing like it on the planet. It is very. Talking about tech Stack, you're using something that, you know, in a lot of cases is 27 different pieces. Lauren, you're very fortunate to have one that has a lot of it embedded in there. But you know, the, these operators are, they're operating on so many different levels of discipline.

[00:03:25] They're technologists, they're an accountant, they're head of housekeeping, head of maintenance, real estate agents, you know, the financiers. They're doing all of these things where as a hotel general manager, you do a little bit of that, but you're not doing all of it. David . Dave, sir. Good morning and welcome to this session of Descon.

[00:03:46] We are not Airbnb. So what are we? Uh, my name is Alex Hener. And, and I'm Annie Holcomb . And we together are Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals, uh, which is a podcast, uh, about vacation rentals, short-term rentals, um, tourism and all things hospitality. And today we are joined with an all-star cast, um, of some of our, the best and brightest minds and great friends of ours within the industry.

[00:04:13] So, going around the table, we have David Kraus, who is the founder of Rent Responsibly. Thank you so much for having me. I, uh, I love spending time with the real Women of the Vacation Rentals, and, uh, I'm glad to share this story with the, a new audience. You, and you and John are the real men of vacation rentals today.

[00:04:33] you said it, you said it, , you said? Yeah. Uh, Lauren Mainwell, who is the operations manager for Auntie Bells Cabin Reynolds. Lauren, welcome. Thanks, y'all. Happy to be here. Okay. And John Fly again, who is the Director of Sales for Guest Deed. Good to see you, John. Thank you. Yeah, it's a, it's a new title. I'm like six days into that role, so still very much so getting used to hearing that out loud.

[00:04:59] Congratulations. Thank you. So this, this panel is, um, this panel is not meant to be a discussion on why Airbnb is bad. What it's meant to do is kind of help us, uh, foster the conversation of how we define vacation and short-term rentals. There's been a lot of discussion around, um, you know, what are we, who are we, what do we wanna be?

[00:05:22] And unfortunately, because so many people do use the platform Airbnb, and, and it is just a platform, it's kind of taken over as in the lexicon of what vacation rentals are. People say, I stated in Airbnb, I rented an Airbnb, and then the narrative becomes, well, Airbnb is bad, and, and you drill into. And that's where we get into regulation conversations.

[00:05:42] And so what we wanted to do was have a larger, a larger discussion with a property manager that would be Lauren with Dave, who kind of speaks into the, um, the, um, oh gosh, what is it there? , the regulations and, and the discussion around regulations and then actual technology that can kind of help all of the pieces of the, the puzzle work together.

[00:06:05] So wanted to get a take from each of you, and I think we can start with Lauren. If you define, um, vacation rentals and you own a vacation rental business and, and manage it, what would you say vacation rentals and short-term rentals is? Well, goodness gracious, big question. So, um, yeah. We are a almost 30 year family owned and operated company in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

[00:06:25] So in the Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge area, which is a very well established, uh, destination market and vacation rental market. And, um, as a professional vacation rental company, we are a. Property management company. We are a hospitality company and a property management company. We are hospitality with our guests, cleanliness, kindness, communicative, being there for them when they need us, uh, when they need help in their property.

[00:06:51] And then we are property management for the homeowners and the properties themselves, organizing the laundry, the maintenance, the inspections, the updates, repairs, general upkeep, working with local vendors to get work done and build decks and stuff like that. And then also hoping the homeowners with their taxes and, and their statements and just, uh, and basically allowing them to make truly passive income.

[00:07:16] You know, if you're, if you're hosting your property on Airbnb, that's, that's not passive income. It's truly passive income. We take care of the guests, we take care of the property, we take care of, of, of everything. Um, And I would say that's one of the misconceptions that has happened in the last few years since Airbnb has become such a, a behemoth in our industry, is that vacation rentals are this passive income stream that you can just buy a property and you just find somebody to put on Airbnb for you.

[00:07:43] But we all know that's not the case, right? Like this is, it's a hospitality business. It is a logistics and an operations business that it, none, no company has ran exactly the same. Each market is different. The dynamics are different from, um, from C V B to the municipality to how you all operate. So, uh, there's a lot of complexities that are, are overlooked and that when we say we're not Airbnb, we're trying to establish that short-term vacation rentals and professionally managed operators.

[00:08:11] We are good stewards of tourism and we wanna work with DMO and CVBs to help the communities in which we. Airbnb wants to be us. We , right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. But I think that goes to the point, um, you know, Airbnb, again, we defining that so people understand Airbnb is not a business of, of managing, operating, servicing, right.

[00:08:36] The, the rentals, they are just a listing site. But what we've fallen into is going back to those people that think it's a passive income stream, is that they can just, again, low barrier of entry, pop your unit on a site. It sell, you know, it rents, there's no service that has to be there. And so it's become the, the definition of what people expect about what they get with a vacation rental.

[00:08:55] I'm not gonna have service. I'm just gonna go check in passcode in a, you know, little, in a town somewhere. Never gonna see a human being. And vacation rentals and really short-term rentals, professionally managed, there's, there's hospitality at the core of that. And so I think that that's where we need to d we need to pull that part of the conversation out and understand that Airbnb is fine.

[00:09:14] We're not telling people not to use it. People need path to distribution, but they are not the definition of us. We need to better. What we are on their site and on other sites. So people understand that we're like hotels in that we are giving you hospital service. We wanna make sure your room is clean.

[00:09:30] We wanna make sure that you have the amenities that you need to enjoy your stay, whether it be business or you know, it be a family vacation. And I think that that's where we've run into, again, some muddy waters and have caused, um, within specific communities. But it's, it's definitely spread and I think Dave, Is that the misconception of what the rentals are is causing friction within local communities and municipalities.

[00:09:55] And so there's been a lot of, I say, a knee jerk reaction to try to put in some, um, regulations. And some of it has been regulations before there's ever been a problem because they heard another community had a problem. And so your organization, tell us a little bit about what you guys do at the market level, and, and obviously you're doing it in a larger level, but you're really getting in there to try to get all the key components of a market, including the dmo, which is the, a lot of this audience here today to be involved in the conversation.

[00:10:22] Yeah. Thank you. And I, I think just the fact that this conversation is happening, uh, at at Descon, you know, uh, Jen in the past session openers talked about responsible destro disruption, right? And I think that responsible piece, I mean, it's in the company re responsibility's name, but what we do is we're, uh, a community building and education platform for local short-term rental communities.

[00:10:49] And so that community isn't just the owner and the operator if there's a third party manager, but it's also the service providers. It's all the ancillary small businesses that go into making these operations run. These are generally small businesses. 70% of short-term rental owners own one property, and, uh, 54% of managers manage less than 10% of properties.

[00:11:14] There's, uh, about 20,000 management companies, about 600,000 hosts across the country. There's a lot of people that are all doing similar things in their destination that historically have just been disconnected from one another on the local level. And so our goal, our mission at Rent Responsibly is to help those people who are all.

[00:11:36] Doing either the same thing or reliant on each other. Uh, whether it's a, a contractor handyman cleaning business, Lauren probably has a roster of 40 vendors that she uses. They're all contributing to this really emergent and responsible, uh, accommodation option that has been longstanding in many cases and feels new in other cases.

[00:12:00] And so our goal, rent responsibility's goal is to ensure that that community can engage in those conversations proactively. Right. We've set up actually webinars where the local short-term rental alliance, which is generally what these groups end up being called, and the D m O, and they're introducing each other to, Hey, you're paying h o t, this is where it goes.

[00:12:23] Oh, you have these community guides and these calendars of events. And so then the, the short term rental community is saying amazing. Like that's information I've been looking for. So we are really all about collaboration. Uh, oftentimes these are in city hall conversations where the regulatory question comes up, but the long future is really bright when we're connected, and that's happening about as rapidly as any other phenomenon in this industry.

[00:12:49] It, it's a challenge though, Dave, right? And I, I think you've seen this play out in many areas that sometimes you're the C B B, you, you have to maintain a certain level, um, of the, the relationship has to be there with the municipality and you have to be careful about what you're trying to, what they're trying to push versus what the municipality is trying to push.

[00:13:11] I'm speaking from my experience here. I'm in the Myrtle Beach market and I actually, I just ended my term as the chair of the board of directors for our C B P. And you know, we very much a tourism driven market, but we also we're, you know, you're in that kind of hard part, part of the market where you're trying to guide things that are gonna be good for the destination, but you have to really be careful about those relationships.

[00:13:35] And right now in our area and several areas, it really just is more about education. That there could be some things coming down the line for us that. If Airbnb restrictions were to be put in place in Myrtle Beach, a lot of our municipality people do not realize that would wipe out the entire inventory of Myrtle Beach because the properties that look like hotels, they are individually owned homeowner properties.

[00:13:57] So technically those are Airbnbs, but that's not who they're going after. I mean, they're going after the bad apples. Right. And I think you had a really good story or a. The Ford Model T that I was wondering if you could share that with the audience. You don't have to twist my arm with that one, Alex. I, I, uh, I feel like I might name my first child Ford Model T.

[00:14:20] It comes outta my mouth so often. Ford's a great name. . What's that? Ford is a great name. . You know, I, let me put that on the list. I got a running list here. Sure. As wife won't agree with that. . So here's, here's what it looks like. 1908, the Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line onto a road that was occupied primarily by horses and buggies, and had always been that way.

[00:14:45] It just was never contemplated that these rules needed to exist. The automobiles were already on the road, right? And they were about went from 200,000 to 2 million automobiles in seven years. If you look at the curve of the adoption rate of the automobile a hundred years ago, and short-term rentals from 2010 to present, it's very similar.

[00:15:07] So we're go, what we're in is this period of you've had the disruption and now the responsible reaction needs to happen. Where people do show up, they introduce themselves, hi, I'm a responsible driver, so to speak, and the rules need to be made for responsible folks. And the the reality too is there weren't rules to get the irresponsible drivers off the road.

[00:15:31] Until there were, uh, you know, friction and these conversations happening. So we're in that moment right now. It is the 1920s and it is the 2020s. It is a mirror. And so what happened to get us out of that traffic jam? Excuse all the puns. I can come with them real hot if you want, but to get outta the jam, what we need to do is, hey, get in a room and discuss.

[00:15:55] Cuz the automobile drivers, the short-term rental owners, social managers, the Laurens of the world know how the automobile works. They know how the machine works, and then the government has the set of issues and then there's all the other stakeholders. So it doesn't happen in silos. And, and that's why being organized as a community is what the automobile enthusiasts did.

[00:16:14] It turned in the American Automobile Association back then, but they were the best at distributing education, helping find the right solutions, and everybody started working together. But it took a while. Then we just don't have that much time because these conversations are now. Absolutely. So John, why don't you, uh, interject some of your knowledge from the technology side on all of this and, and how you see things

[00:16:39] Well, sure. I think, I think the most. Fascinating thing that I've been able to witness over my 10 years in this industry is that when all of us on this panel joined the industry, Airbnb was very much so just getting started. And some of us even, you know, preceded Airbnb being a real thing. Yeah. And so when we talk about we are not Airbnb, then who are we?

[00:17:01] Uh, I know that Lauren has some input, uh, on what does a real professional property manager look like and how is it different? How is it better? And I can't wait for her to share that, uh, with our listeners today. But from my perspective on the technology side, it's been fascinating to see, uh, the growth and number of vertically specialized technologies that are available to operators like Lauren.

[00:17:23] And it's been, uh, just as equally fascinating to see the number of tech companies that have failed in trying to be a, a painkiller in solving things in the wrong way. I think. You know, what is, if we're not Airbnb, then who are we? Well, in, in our perspective, Airbnb is just a listing site, as Annie mentioned.

[00:17:42] So I do a little social experiment sometimes when people ask me what I do for a living, I say, I work in vacation rentals or short term rentals, and they say, oh, like Airbnbs and I, I say, no, like vrbo. And they said, what, what, what do you mean ? And so I had to go through the whole, I had to go through the whole thing of explaining that, uh, a vacation rental and like Airbnb is just a tech company, and vrbo, HomeAway is, is just a tech company.

[00:18:06] Expedia is just a tech company. And so there's this full suite of tools that real professionals use, uh, like distribution tools or channel managers as they're called to be able to distribute their inventory on vrbo, on Airbnb, on booking.com, Expedia Hopper, Wednesday, the line, uh, the list goes on and on.

[00:18:26] There's so many options for how you can get your brand out there. But on the, on the flip side, there's just as many tools. That allow that property manager to manage that guest, uh, throughout the entire stay. And afterwards, there's suites of tools to help them manage the property before, during, and after the stay.

[00:18:45] There's rigorous cleaning standards that most people aren't aware of. Cleaning standards that are more strict than what's necessary in hotel. Uh, things that have cost, you know, sometimes the normal traveler that is not educated in what we do in our industry. You know, Airbnb is, you know, $50 a night for this unit, but I've got a 400 cleaning fee.

[00:19:04] Well, yeah, I think some of that is some like amateur operators taking advantage of being able to do whatever they want on Airbnb. But sometimes there are legitimate cleaning costs that have to happen because your unit is being completely to pull houses, not just a hotel room. And so having the suite of tools available, uh, to not only automate where po where possible, but to be able to be extremely stringent, where needed as well, uh, for both managing the guests and, uh, the unit throughout the entire experience is something that has evolved greatly and improved significantly over my 10 years in the industry.

[00:19:37] That's great. Lauren, can you, can you shut some light on, again, you're, you're a actual user of technology, a professional manager, and talk about how the technology plays into the professionalization of your business and how it helps you manage your business and provide, again, going back to what the core of what we are that hop you can provide to your guests.

[00:19:56] Sure, sure. So, I, I think our, our tech stack is actually incredibly simple, but that is because the property management software that we use, Brightside is basically all in one. If a lot of companies, a lot of companies might be using a property management software, but in order to do accounting, they have to add more tech in order to do, um, property management, like maintenance visits, inspections, work orders, they have to add more tech.

[00:20:22] My property management system, Brightside does reservations, accounting, marketing, um, all the work orders, uh, the, the time clocks schedules, it does, it does everything. So, um, Yeah, we have our calendars. We have our, uh, our, our website, auntie bells.com. We do 85% of our cookings directly on annie bells.com.

[00:20:45] Uh, it's like four point something percent is Airbnb. Thank you. Thank you. Uh, five something is vrbo and then four four something is, uh, is smokey mountains.com, which is like the Airbnb and VRBO of our Smoking Mountains Market. So we have the property management software that does, uh, it's linked to our website.

[00:21:04] We do direct bookings, but we also have direct integrations with Airbnb and VRBO so that whatever happens on either of those listing sites in real time, it populates on our calendar and on our website. Um, that's been really, really nice. That's the power of Bright Side, but, As well. Like I said, we have a whole maintenance section where we can write work orders for every single property.

[00:21:29] We can assign it to maintenance inspections, housekeeping, various managers. We can assign it to vendors and email that off to vendors cuz we've built their, their info into our system and it just gives us it, it allows us to see what's going on for every single property. It shows it when it's new in progress, when it's complete, when it's on hold and when it's a priority.

[00:21:49] And we also, our property management software gives our homeowners a homeowner portal so that they can log in and see their reservations and their income month by month and see what work orders are going on and, and ask questions about it. So it allows our homeowners some transparency. I don't know if every company offers that, but, but we do.

[00:22:07] They can also make bookings that way. Um, Gosh, like I said, we can do our accountant, we accounting, we do our homeowner statements on our property management software. Um, we are, we have an integration with key data to access, uh, industry and market data so that we can figure out the, the best pricing and see the trends that are going on.

[00:22:29] And then also if we're talking to a, uh, I used to call 'em potential homeowners, but I'm calling them hopeful Homeowners now. One, I love Alliterate alliteration, but then two, I like that it's like willing them, um, to, to do, to do business with them. But if they wanna know like, When you're talking to a real estate agent, the real estate agent's gonna tell them, you can make this much.

[00:22:49] Yeah. In reality, right? You can make this much and Key data's gonna be like right in the middle somewhere. So you can run these reports, you can run these reports and show 'em to the homeowner. This is from Key Data, but this is offered on right side. You can show them to the homeowner, graphs, charts, all of it numbers with, um, comparative, uh, similar properties, and they can see for themselves.

[00:23:11] That industry data, they can see it. And I like to say I'm, I, I give conservative estimates, like I'd rather over-deliver. Um, so I always see that and then I'm like, I don't know. I would, I would budget for maybe 10,000 less than that, or, or whatever I think is fit because I can access my historical data.

[00:23:31] Mm-hmm. , because of Brightside, I can see what properties bring in through all for, through all the past years we've been with them for like been Brightside for like over, over 10 years. We're almost a 30 year company, so I have 10 years worth of data on them. But anything before 10 years, it's irrelevant anyways.

[00:23:47] Right. Um, yeah, so, so. Am I, am I answering your question? So, yeah, I wanna interject, I've got a couple things, , um, that, that I think will be relevant to this audience. So the, the first part is on the key data side, and I think that's really interesting what you pointed out about the realtors. And we see this a lot too, that realtors will tell these hopeful homeowners.

[00:24:10] And I love that that term, that what their projections of, of what they think they're gonna make are normally vastly higher, right? Than what you're seeing in your heat out projections. Dangerous thing what, no matter what market you're in, because you've got people that they're thinking they're gonna get a certain amount of return.

[00:24:26] And, um, really what we've seen in our market, there's, you go on YouTube, you can see a whole new breed of realtors that they are pumping out videos like crazy saying, in order to make your return, you have to have less than, um, 20% commission. Um, basically steering away. These new buyers from using professional companies.

[00:24:49] And that's, that's a problem right there, right . Um, it's okay for people to do it on their own as long as they're operating in a way that still mirrors the professional, um, tactics that, that you guys would do and, and any other professional operator. Um, one other thing I wanted to mention also that's interesting and I think relevant for this group is Gatlinburg is obviously a very well established tourism market, similar to a Myrtle Beach.

[00:25:12] The company that I was previously at Condo World, we were 95% book direct. So I mean 85, 90 5%, you don't hear numbers like that. Very, very rarely. I mean, topics of conversation at our vacation rental conferences are mostly about how to get more direct bookings because we all, as managers, we wanna get guests off of booking on Airbnb because.

[00:25:35] When they book an Airbnb, the product becomes an Airbnb. We want them to say that they're staying with Auntie Baums, that they're staying with professional property management company, not that they're calling us one thing. And I wanted to ask you, Lauren, can you explain to the audience what are some of the problems that you have with the Airbnb bookings?

[00:25:57] Like why would you prefer to have a direct booking? And through direct bookings, hopefully CVBs can help drive some of those. So that's kind of where that, that conduit comes together. Okay. Uh, frankly, every, every bit of it is concerning. So you're getting their, you're getting their name and you're getting their cell phone number.

[00:26:17] Thank God you're getting your cell phone, their cell phone number, but you're getting a masked email. You're not getting their, their address. You have no way to verify their identity. You are trusting that this, this listing company, this tech company, Airbnb, has fully verified their identity and said, it's cool.

[00:26:34] It's cool. Everything's good. It's, that is just truly trust. And then sometimes you see these names come through these reservations, and you're like, that's a username. Like, that's not, that's not a name, that's a username, right? Seems so crazy. So you're not getting all our information. You're trusting Airbnb in, in your property.

[00:26:54] Like, you don't even get to, like, you, you just don't know that guest. You, you don't know that guest. You don't have their information. You don't know their identity. And scams do happen on Airbnb. So, and because you don't have their email address, gosh, if you're trying to email them out, stuff that you're, that I'm emailing all, all my guests, like it sensors my information.

[00:27:14] Mm-hmm. it sensors, um, like phone numbers and numbers and, and all sorts of stuff if the email even goes through. So it's censoring the information I'm trying to provide the guests so that they have the best day possible. Like that guest deserves to trust me. I've done everything to earn that guest trust, that guest deserves to earn to, to trust us as well.

[00:27:38] And how could they do that if my contact information is being censored? Um, and, and then Airbnb wants all communication to happen through the Airbnb messaging app. And while I do, I, while I do understand. Why that is, and it's really worked to my advantage on a few occasions to have it all documented in-house like that.

[00:27:59] Um, it's not the convenient way to get ahold of your property manager, right, if you need something immediately. Um, and so it's incredibly important to have all your information in the cabin for the guests to see when they finally get there, so that if they find themselves in a situation where they, they need some comfort or they need some help or they're in an emergency, or who, who am I staying with?

[00:28:20] What's going on here? Like, my information is there. Yeah. Um, and then Sue like. Even the simplest of things. Rescheduling, cancellation, moving properties, adding a night, adding a pet fee. Um, I have a problem in my, in my cabin. Can you fix it? Or this thing is broken. I'm not gonna get refunded for that. Like we've been doing this 30 years.

[00:28:42] I know exactly how to handle those situation and help those guests in a very timely and efficient manner. But Airbnb, unlike its other, unlike other listing sites, like, like vrbo, Airbnb actually wants like 360 degrees of involvement. So if, if anything comes up between you and the guests, Airbnb's like, oh, excuse me, let me get in there.

[00:29:03] I actually, actually have my own opinions about how this should work out. And, but with no way to actually help. Right? No way to help wanna be interesting and knowing what's going on. I'm serious. No actual to help. That's not being dramatic. No. Go ahead Lauren. I wanted to actually kind of interject here, so something relative to like, you guys have been through this, Alex has been through this in Myrtle Beach.

[00:29:24] I live in the Panama City Beach market, so we go through natural disasters and so when you have a channel, some channel partners are great to get in there and really help you when you have a problem, but to, to the point that like you're right there when those fires happened. Yeah. It's not like hurricanes where we could prepare for it.

[00:29:39] Those fires came up and they moved and you had to be able to react really, really quickly. Yeah. So it's really important, again, you being. You being, knowing what roads or where, knowing where the emergency management services are, knowing the people at the destination, um, marketing office, the Chamber of Commerce, all of these people in the local market that Dave is trying to bring to the table, to have these conversations like that, that's where our definition is.

[00:30:04] Like we are boots on the ground in the market, knowing all of the, the factors that could come into play so that god forbid something happens, we're there to help. Like your, your team is there to help people navigate through those where an Airbnb in this example would not be there to help you. Oh yeah, absolutely.

[00:30:22] Absolutely. And like with the, with the fires, if I couldn't get ahold of the guest, I would drive, we would drive to their door and knock on their door and, and, and get them out of the house. And then two, we're, we're friends with other companies in town. And so we would be texting each other like, I'm gonna drive out to the Sky Harbor area.

[00:30:39] Do you have any properties you need me to check on? And they'll be like, awesome. I'm going out to th Highway 3 21 in Gatlinburg. Let me know if you have any properties. And we're communicating that way and spreading out our resources and helping each other to save lives. To save lives. Yeah. Um, and it happens that way just with winter weather, like.

[00:30:57] We were not expecting a nine hour so snowstorm the day after Christmas. Um, and it happened and it wreaked absolute havoc and we did as much as we can, and there was still so little that we can do. I can't imagine, uh, hosting a property from, from states away, not being aware of the weather, getting those panicked phone calls and not being able to do anything for your guests.

[00:31:19] Like the guests deserve these on the ground . And what, what do their Airbnb do help you in that situation, Laura, right? They didn't, no, no, no, no. Right. I think there's. If I could just, this is Lauren. I, first of all, I love your passion for what you do because you are so emblematic of what the, uh, core is of our community, and that is the, we don't, we look at it as cooption when you're working with your, your, uh, competitive companies.

[00:31:49] But it, it really is the local identity of that community is coming together. And I, that's what I'm, I'm really passionate about. Cause I see it all over the country that when you guys have five or six or 10 strong locally led boots on the ground management companies, and then they're, you're slapped a label.

[00:32:11] From somewhere else on that group, and it's referred to as something different than it is you guys are a group of, of local hospitality providers that know those back roads, that work together, that provide the economic lift, that provide those guest experiences that really make the whole. Dynamic destination happen and you're marketing that out too, right?

[00:32:33] So you are like boosting the D m O motion as well. And that's why when these things come together, I think it, it really is like the alchemy of a local community I is, is super fuel for something like a d m and i, I think that when you have a campaign and you have a theme and you have an identity that it is so powerful.

[00:32:55] We've seen it in Arizona, we've seen it in a variety of other places more recently, where they just see it as a necessity and kind of part of the job nowadays to really be engaged. And, and I, that's, that's, you know, if I'm whistling, attune, it's, it's part of the job to be part of your community. And I think, Lauren, you're emblematic of that, that means so much to me.

[00:33:16] David, thank you. And I think it's important kind of, uh, dovetailing off of that is that how you build your brand and how your brand becomes, uh, the ability for that brand to stand up on its own and stand out in the market. And so for the audience, you know, this is Descon. It's, it's, it's about working with destination.

[00:33:34] Marketing organizations. And one of the things that we talked about with, um, Jennifer Barbie and her team early on was that through Covid, a lot of these markets didn't realize the number of vacation rental, short-term rentals that existed in their market. And what they found was that their ability to survive through C O V I D.

[00:33:52] Was really, uh, key. The, the vacation rentals was really key in, in making that happen. And so it's how do we bring all these people together who have been operating their hospitality business, seemingly in the fringes in some of these markets, but they've always been there, but they've been providing their hospitality, but maybe their brand hasn't been strong because they're small.

[00:34:09] They don't have a, you know, a large number of units. Um, they like the, the size that they are, but they need some marketing support. So one of the things this, this, um, conference kind of, um, is trying to tie together is how to utilize your destination marketing organization, whether it be your Chamber of Commerce or like in Alex's case, the, the Chamber of Commerce.

[00:34:27] D M O is kind of one entity in Panama City Beach. It's, it's two for us, but they work, they work in t together. And I think, again, the. Buy the vacation rental to the destination, the destination's gonna help elevate the vacation rental. But if all these people aren't together in the conversation, like none of us are gonna win.

[00:34:45] So I would ask you, Lauren, um, you know, you've done a really good job in building the Antebellum's brand and you've done a lot of really creative things that haven't cost you a lot of money. They've just been creative and kind of in your face, and you've been using some of the social media tools that we have out there.

[00:34:59] Um, but you work with your destination and I think you mentioned, um, in a post recently that you just started working with your Chamber of Commerce, like handling, or you're on a committee and your work businesses in the market. So how do you see, um, the role of you as a business, but then the role of the destination to help elevate your business, but then overall within the market?

[00:35:19] Um, goodness gracious. I feel like that I, I don't know why I find that question so complicated, Annie. So, um, , so, uh, g goodness gracious, um, as just as representing a cabin rental company. I just think it's, it's so crucial to, like, so ambassador of the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce. There's gonna be, uh, 20 different local companies that I'm the point of contact for to, for the Chamber of Commerce, where I let them know, Hey, these are these, this is all the stuff that you have access to.

[00:35:55] This is all the privilege that you have. Your community cares about you. Here's my contact information. If you ever, ever have any questions, if I can help you with anything, like holler, I'm here to help. I want you to feel cared for and supported in this community. And so as a cabin rental company, now there's 20 different businesses in town where I get to, to talk to them, to meet them, to get to know a little bit more about them.

[00:36:20] They get to know a little bit more about me. I get to have the conversation of like, you do understand the difference between. Uh, vacation Rentals, professional Property Management, and Airbnb. Right. And if they don't, I get to explain that to them and why I am an advocate for my community and an ally for community.

[00:36:36] I mean, here I am here, we're talking, but like, we are different. We are here. We love this community. It's because of you guys why we thrive. Um, but, but I, but I get to meet them and learn what they do. And I can become a people connector and be like, you know what? I know a company who can really benefit from your services.

[00:36:53] Do you mind if I share your information or I'm gonna put you guys in contact, or, you know what, I, I could really use your services. Or I don't know. I can just be a people connector in town and I'll be learning so much about so many different company and so, so many different people that like, I can just, have you heard of?

[00:37:10] Do you know? I think you should know and just keep us. Like it, it's just keep us tight-knit, keep us a community, keep us feeling like neighbors, like a village, and we're stronger together. And, um, and I, I, I want, I want to be, yeah, representing my cabin rental company as an ally and partner and friend to the community.

[00:37:34] That's just really, really important to me. Like, I obviously don't need the locals businesses. They're, they're not booking cabin rentals, but it's important for them to know that a cabin rental company, Is working to take care of, of the community and is a resource for them if, if they need anything. Uh, does that answer your question?

[00:37:52] Y Sorry. Yeah. And, and I'll say to you, I think that's a really good point and something that I think is often overlooked, how important it is for your local, I mean, other local businesses, even your local competition. And of course you'll meet them through your engagements, through the chamber and C B B, but it's important because everybody who lives in a destination has family and friends that are coming to stay in that destination.

[00:38:15] And I, I'm from New Hampshire originally, and I've been in Myrtle Beach for 14, 15 years now. But on a, I would say on a weekly basis, I get at least one person and it ramps up around summertime with people asking, I'm coming to Myrtle Beach, I know you're in tourism. Like, where should I stay? Mm-hmm. . And that's not just me that people are asking from outta state.

[00:38:35] They're asking anybody who lives here because who do people listen to the most? They're friends and why do they listen to 'em? Because they trust them. So if they trust their friends, their family for their recommendations, and now you've made those connections with those businesses and they say, instead of saying, oh, cabin on Airbnb, if they say, I know this girl, Lauren and Auntie Val, and they're a great company.

[00:38:56] I mean, the power of that is so impactful. And I think that's, that's a great message for CVBs to be taken to heart and how you, you know, help your local vacation rental, rental companies and encourage them to be like Laurens that wanna get out there and organically make a lift within the destination.

[00:39:12] But I would, I, my question for you would be, in your market, is the, is, is the board primarily hotels or like, what, what does that makeup look like? Yeah. In Gatlinburg and in Pigeon Forge, it's largely hotels, but a lot of hotels are family owned and operated as well. Yeah. So kind, kind of same, same. But it is largely.

[00:39:38] It is largely hotels from my own experience and just from what others have told me. But, um, you know, gosh, we're such a privileged market. Like everything survives off of tourism, so we've just kind of just been chilling, you know, and, uh, and, but times have changed. Airbnb has changed everything. And so now we're like, oh, oh goodness, we need to protect ourselves before people start overcorrecting and making regulations.

[00:40:08] So now we are starting to, to get involved, but as well, like new blood is, is coming in. Younger, energetic, passionate people are coming in who want to get involved in everything and who are thinking long term. Um, and a lot of a, a lot of, um, There's a lot of retiring going on. A lot of people who have carried the property management companies through through time are getting to retirement age.

[00:40:36] So, um, yeah, it's, it's timing. It's necessary for cabin companies to get involved in our area now. So we're just now starting to see a slow drip influx of it. Um, but also, you know, it's, it's the new young blood needing to grow up a little bit and be like, ah, yes, put the pieces together and get in. And I will say, It was before the pandemic, just trucking along working.

[00:40:58] Everything was great. The pandemic rattled everything. So then your every day was just in the mud, dealing with the madness from, from the pandemic. And then now that we're kind of, uh, head above water again, that's when I realized just, just middle of last year, like, holy smokes, I need to get involved in my community.

[00:41:17] We've grown too big for our britches. We need to get some more control. We need to establish the narrative. Um, we can't let let Airbnb get the better of us. So I just realized like I need to get involved in my community. And I started putting it out there. So when I found, when somebody brought the ambassador program to me, I was like, yes, no.

[00:41:35] Looking back, I'm doing it. And then super cool too. On February 7th, it's called Hospitality on the Hill. Uh, hospitality professionals from around the state of Tennessee are invited to the Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee. For a breakfast and then mingling with the senators and the, the, the congress people, uh, and going to various sessions and stuff, which they were doing before the pandemic.

[00:41:56] And this is the first time it's come back since like 2019. And so I jumped at the chance of that and so it, yeah. That's great. . Yeah. I love that. I love that. Dave, Dave . Dave, sorry, go ahead. Oh, I, I was just gonna ask Dave, I mean, cuz you're, you're around all these people, what are you seeing in the areas that you go to between boards where they are hotel based and what effect that has on vacation rentals to be able to get their voice heard?

[00:42:31] Yeah, I would say that's an area where I'm learning a lot and that's why I'm excited to be here, is to understand just how the decisions and the influence and, and those types of things flow through. What I can say I've learned is that when the vacation rental, uh, Accommodation option is valued and seen as, uh, professionally driven.

[00:42:57] The, the conversation is generally different than when it's seen as like a, almost like an insurgent or a disruptive concept. And I think that's where there's an opportunity for that education and that conversation, not just to, for the responsible and the proactive and the Laurens of the world to go and, and meet and educate.

[00:43:18] Uh, like that's the opportunity. Um, just even clicking back to the opening session, I, I wrote it down cause it was, it kind of impacted me. Jen was talking about there's three types of change. There's slow, there's emergency, and there's opportu. And so if you see the slow change in the space in vacation rentals in your community, I think there's an opportunity to, you know, accelerate the in involvement.

[00:43:45] Like Lauren saying, I gotta get involved. I don't want this narrative to get spun outta control. And then, but frankly, a lot of the times people are dealing it on an emergency basis, right? The narrative is set. It's hard to walk it back. The kind of folks that are, have read, you know, three headlines in three months, think that everybody is, is driving, you know?

[00:44:06] Drunk driving, so to speak. Right. . And I think that's fundamentally, uh, the area of opportunity is to be proactive. Not let this conversation kind of happen without engagement. Um, but in terms of the CVBs and the boards and the dmo s um, generally speaking, I, I, I think that, you know, the more that that oper, that accommodation option is valued, uh, and seen as a valuable contributor and an al you know, a, a complimentary, uh, activity, I think that's where, that's where the conversations are productive.

[00:44:42] And, um, you know, we've seen some actually really good traction with folks who, who have gotten involved. We wrote an article about folks who are getting on the board, right? Mm-hmm. . So why not get on the board? Why not get on the committee? Why not go show up to the office, introduce yourself, ask how you can be helpful to extend the message and, and help promote the destination.

[00:45:02] And I think that goes back to, um, you know, if you wanna be heard, you have to be present. Yes. And for a long time. And for me, I can just speak to, uh, the destination that I've been in for 25 plus years. Panama City Beach, when the condominiums and the vacation rentals started to really emerge, there was a l there was a big pushback with the hotels there.

[00:45:19] Like, wait a minute. You're stealing our business, our market. All it did was just shifted the perception of the market. It brought in a whole new type of people. It brought in people that were actually vacationing a little longer, coming more frequently. You know, the, the calendar for the entire destination extended.

[00:45:34] But I think it behooves not only the operator, as in Lauren in this case, to raise your hand and, and be heard, but also from the destination. Like don't just listen to the same three people that you've been talking to for the last 25 years. Things have changed and they're constantly evolving. So from a destination standpoint, you have to constantly be out there and, and assess and listen.

[00:45:53] Have your ear to the ground, talk to the players in the market, but also talk to new people in the market. Someone who might have three units, they might operate 50 in another market and somewhere else, and have a lot of feedback and, and some destinations Over the last, I'd say five to 10 years, Have started putting a, like a rental seat on their board.

[00:46:12] Mm-hmm. . So it's something that's very focused, because again, you talk about the complexity of operation. I mean, there's nothing like it on the planet. It is very complex. Talking about tech stack, you're using something that, you know, in a lot of cases is 27 different pieces. Lauren, you're very fortunate to have one that has a lot of it embedded in there.

[00:46:28] But, you know, the, these operators are, they're operating on so many different levels of discipline. They're a technologist, they're an accountant, they're head of housekeeping, head of maintenance, real estate agents, you know, financiers. They're doing all of these things where as a hotel general manager, you do a little bit of that, but you're not doing all of it across.

[00:46:44] Miles and miles of a destination. And so I think that the complexity of, of the, of the industry is a valued voice and should be heard on every destination market, organization, whether it be on the board or having a separate subcommittee to, to bring, um, you know, more conversation to it. And again, you know, Dave, to your point, like it's there.

[00:47:03] There's so much going on all over the place. Everybody's gotta be involved and they just have to be heard. But you have to be present in order to be. Yeah. And, and I think one thing too, why it's so important to have either a designated seat for a rental company on boards or just making sure that that's encouraged is, I mean, as this sector has grown within each of our communities, you know, our, our C V B used to just look at, uh, s t R reports, star reports, which, that's not short term rental reports.

[00:47:29] That's the true hotel reports, right? Mm-hmm. and I was on a, a task force a couple years ago that they realized, okay, that's not indicative at all of what's going on in the vacation rental market, so we need to figure out what tool we need to be able to assess that data. And so they asked me to lead that and they said, okay, well, key data was one, um, that we looked at, and there were several others.

[00:47:49] This was a few years ago. As, as we looked at that, we said, okay, they need that. But it's still really tough to, to then draw comparisons because you've gotta layer the star data that we need for the hotels, but then also the key data and really deciphering. That's tough. And so, I mean, John, your background on that data side, I mean, you're, you're kind of the expert in this, but, um, how, how do you, do you have any advice for C b, B people on how they can really utilize data to help their organization grow?

[00:48:22] Yeah, I do. I do. Thank you for, for tossing That softball up for me. Earlier, I, I spoke a bit about some of the tools that, that operators like Lauren have at their disposal. This is a good opportunity to talk about some of the tools that CDBs and DS have at their disposal in regards to short term rentals.

[00:48:40] Now I know that the target audience. For Descon is, uh, typically a smaller CV v a smaller DMO who might not have the big budgets to do all different things. And so, uh, that's okay. Uh, this stuff doesn't necessarily have to cost you a bunch of money, but let's first talk about data, right? So do you know how many short-term rentals or vacation rentals are in your market?

[00:49:01] Uh, if you don't know, then who's the authority in your market? Is it Airbnb? Yeah, . Uh, you have an obligation, uh, to be the authority in your market, and so if you dunno who does, alright. So beyond that, do you know who the best operators are? Do you know who the worst operators are? Do you know what the split is between professionally managed units and amateurs in your market?

[00:49:23] So one thing that I think that I would impress upon anyone listening is that regulations are not a bad thing. We actually want regulations from both the supplier side and the operator side in our industry. Uh, the threat to what we're trying to do for travel and short term. And short-term rentals is, is restrictive bans and restrictions on short-term rentals.

[00:49:48] The reasons that those things come into fruition and happen is because of a lack of education on what a real professional operator does and a lack of, uh, well, regulation is standardization. So, uh, if you are not the expert in your market, in your destination, then who is? And that's the question I would pose to you first.

[00:50:07] So there are tools out there. Ok. There are tools like, uh, transparent where I used to work. There are, you know, competitors to them like, like key data that Lauren uses. Uh, these are all companies that can give you an insight into what's happening in your destination with historically and forward looking.

[00:50:23] From a short term rental perspective, this is not just supply, it's also demand, it's also rates. For example, I can tell you that the macro number in the US is that average daily rates are up depending on market, anywhere from 35 to 58%. Uh, Versus 2019, which is kind of our benchmark cuz Covid is kinda this weird anomaly for us as we talked about.

[00:50:45] Uh, if you don't know that, who does? Ok. Alright. So that's one thing. The other thing I would mention is, uh, This is maybe a kinda a bold prediction, but I think that from a tech side, there's something coming down the line that would be an opportunity for CVBs and dmo. And I think if we are not Airbnb and who are we?

[00:51:05] Uh, and if we are a destination and it is our intent to own the experience. Maybe we should be able to facilitate direct bookings as well through our destination site. And I think that maybe technology will enable that, uh, at some point in the future to where you are not only obligated to, but incentivized by partnering with the operators like Lauren and your, and your market that are the professionals and giving you some, uh, aspect of control over not only the supply, but uh, even the travelers who comes to your market.

[00:51:34] How do you market to them? How do you capture repeat guests? How do you differentiate versus your competitive destinations? And so I think that we'll see tech that is driven towards DS and CDs from the short term rental side and the very near future that allows us push this initiative forward in the right way, uh, with regulations, with professionals in such a way that benefits everyone from the traveler to the operator to you, the destination, John, for president.

[00:51:58] Yeah, that was really strong. . Well said. Well said. Sure. It's, we've, we've got 11 minutes left. I wonder if we ought to open it up to the audience to ask some questions so we also have some time to, you know, talk through some of those. Yeah. Are there any questions? I haven't seen any yet, but if anybody does have any questions, please pop 'em in the chat and let us know.

[00:52:20] We're happy to, happy to answer 'em. And if you are afraid to ask, like send them later and we'll be sure to make sure Yeah. That you proper answers. Yeah. Yeah. In the meantime, yeah. John inspired an idea, like, how cool would it be if, um, a community's chamber of commerce was like, The Airbnb sort of platform, the booking platform for that community in that you go to the Chamber site and it just tells you all the property management companies or the host companies, and it does it in like star rating, right?

[00:52:55] Not, it's not some convoluted way of a super host at the top and whoever at the bottom, like from the five star going down. And that's the list. And you can kind of just see the companies at a glance and click on it and it routes you to that company's website. Like, that'd be so cool. And that'd be a way to control the narrative of like, this is vacation rentals, not, not air Airbnb.

[00:53:17] Let's, let's, let's, let's dive into that. Cause I think that's a great topic for this audience and, um, one, I definitely have experience on it. I think you can, uh, defend probably either side and, and if anybody in the audience wants to chime in, this would be good. And in our market we've do, we've battled that.

[00:53:32] So the, our C V B. Visit Myrtle beach.com. It's a powerhouse website. Um, it used to be our model, it was a pay-per-click model at for us as, um, tourism partners that we paid a lot of money. I mean, this, this is heavy advertising dollars. Um, and what they ended up finding was because they were so beholden to this pay per click model that they had to generate the clicks for us, but they couldn't buy clicks from Google and be able to generate that ratio back.

[00:53:59] We had to change that model and our thinking really became at that point is the chamber CVBs role to promote. These, uh, you know, the hotels and vacation rental companies, or is it to promote the destination? And I think it's somewhere in the middle there. I mean, it's really supposed to be to promote the destination, but the sweet spot is when the properties and vacation rental companies, they work with the destination and you mirror each other.

[00:54:26] So if you look at advertising of a lot of the properties in our area, we are all very much in alignment with what the C B B is promoting. So it's more complimentary, I guess, than it is, um, direct that they are, they send us traffic for sure, and they, they promote us, but they are making sure that they keep a higher, their main goal is to pro promote Myrtle Beach and then get the people in the door that they wanna come here, and then they will find us.

[00:54:53] But it's a, it's a really valid question, Lauren, and, um, I don't know. It's, it's, it's a tough one. One, one thing that people always say is, And we talked about this, when's the last time that you went to go book an accommodation and you thought, oh, I'm gonna go to the Chamber of Commerce? Right. People don't really think that way anymore, but at the same time, there are CVBs.

[00:55:15] Well, yeah, and it's like, I don't know that, that's, maybe we can shift it back to that. I'm not sure it's, there's, that's a really good topic to unpack, but um, Airbnb is part of that, right? I mean, that's part of the problem that it's hard for us even as CVBs, even with big budgets to change that narrative of, of where people think of to go book accommodations when that's, you know, not even just Airbnb.

[00:55:39] I mean the, all the, all the OTAs. I mean, that's really where a lot of those bookings come from. Um, but curious anybody in the audience if they have feedback on that and, uh, what the sentiment is within their market. Uh, Jennifer had a question. She said, what's the best way for a destination to find out their who, their short term, who their short term rental leaders are.

[00:56:02] Leaders are so weren't for you. I mean, like, you know, just from my experience, it's, again, as long as the the players are present, identify them. But how would you suggest A, A C B B D M O go out there and find out who those people are if they're not present? It's tough. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm so, I'm just so new into this, this community involvement and this ambassador program.

[00:56:28] I, I genuinely don't know, but with time I will have an answer for that. Yeah. Yeah. John? Yeah. I make a suggestion and I wanna throw to Dave cause I know Dave has, yeah. Dave's got, I, I would start with data. Uh, the first thing you would look at is, uh, by supply, who has the most available rentals in your market?

[00:56:50] I would start there and then I would look for who's been the longest established, and then I would look for who has the most reviews and what is the quality of those reviews. Uh, and then from there, I would seek out relationships and I would do so in such a way that, uh, someone like Dave could probably help facilitate with a wonderful educational platform driven to this.

[00:57:07] Yep. Yep. I'll, I'll just jump in that it's easier now than ever before. Right. I think the idea of. Uh, rental company not having a front door on the internet. A their own dedicated website is, I mean, that's table stakes now. Um, so the things I would, you know, using the power of the internet, a couple things you can easily do for anybody who's interested in doing that is search your destination plus vacation rental manager.

[00:57:36] And you will probably get a few names that you may even know and maybe you didn't know they actually did that, but you've just seen their name around town. Um, that's an easy one. I think the other thing too is if you go on, on Google and search the same terms and then go to the news tab. There are rental managers that are creating positive news.

[00:57:58] Maybe they have done a charity drive, maybe they had, um, a particular, uh, social campaign that celebrated something about your community. They're, they're actively doing similar things to promote and get, uh, attract attention to your, uh, destination positively. That news tab is actually really powerful. And if it's an article about, I don't know, regulatory discussion, who do they quote in the article from the vacation rental community?

[00:58:25] Cuz that's somebody who's willing to show up and speak, uh, uh, speak out. And I think those are people that, that all communities should, should, uh, seek and embrace. And that, the last thing I would say is there are some really cool. Individual units that have their own social media handles. Mm-hmm. . And so you can kind of work your way back.

[00:58:44] You might find smaller operators there. There's thematic units, there's other, other really cool stuff. I'll talk about some in my session after this, but it's, it's, um, shortterm rental folks are very good marketers. Mm-hmm. , so it's kinda the intentionality to meet them. I don't think it'll be as hard as, as you'd.

[00:59:02] Yeah. I think to your point, Dave, like, uh, vacation rental operators, whether they're large or small, have had to be scrappy about their marketing. So they, they know all the levers to pull, they know all the creative ways to get it in front of people. Um, and if you're not engaging some of that creativity, you're missing out on a really good opportunity to, to create some great things for the market.

[00:59:21] I would, I would reference Lauren and what she's done with, um, antebellum. She's done some really cute, adorable, fun, um, guest, um, interactive videos, um, some things that she's put out on social media. Um, so do check it out. Go to Antebellum's, go to their LinkedIn page, their, their Facebook page. Just you have real, a lot of really creative people at your door, um, in vacation rentals.

[00:59:42] And again, because they don't have the budgets that a lot of these hotels or the larger brands of hotels might have to drive people to those properties. These guys have figured it out. They know what they need to do to, to draw people in and, and they're, they're a huge asset if you're not utilizing them.

[00:59:57] Yeah, absolutely. And Lauren, you're kinda, you're kinda famous now, Lauren, you know that me and the bear ? Yeah, yeah, yeah. If anybody's listening, guests love videos, they love goofy videos. Like I have a goofy check-in video that I sent 'em on their check-in day to prepare them. Like we try to make your cabin perfect.

[01:00:16] It's not if you have issues cuz issues happen, give us a call. It's real goofy. Um, I have a goofy checkout video where I do the checkout list and a bear costume just to draw their attention. But to show them it's a checkout list, it's not a cleaning list. Airbnb is given a bad wrap to these cleaning lists.

[01:00:32] It's a checkout list. Close the top on the hot tub, put the thermostat down, like put the dishes in the dishwasher. That's all I'm asking, you know? Yeah. Um, yeah. Put the cross. Come get it. Like those kinds Yeah, yeah. Managing expectations in a really goofy, personal way. And then it shows them a face to the company and it makes, it makes it feel like, oh, they're there.

[01:00:54] That's, that's who I'm talking to. And so when, when guests come and check in at the office, they've, some people just look at me funny. And I'm, and I'm like, maybe they, that's the video. I think they saw the video , it looks like they know me, but they don't know me. And yeah. So they're, they're watching it.

[01:01:09] Yeah. And it, it. Get made the phone people call now with their issues rather than wait and leave it in a review or people are doing their checkout list now. Cuz the video was fun, it was relatable, it just stuck. It just stuck in their brain. People love videos and that's great content for the CVBs to then be recurring onto their channels.

[01:01:27] You know? I mean they're, I mean, if you, if as a cvb, if you've got people like Lauren in your community that are out there and they're making their own content, that's, that's a, a dream , right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And pretty soon I'll start putting out videos where I'm just highlighting some, some local family owned and operated companies.

[01:01:43] Historical, new, but good, good businesses in the community. Like, just gonna take video of it and just post it online and say, Hey, if you guys want a pottery shop, here it is. If you guys wanna fix this shop here, it's, um, yeah, just freely supporting each. Yeah. And you're building, you're almost, almost building your own little alliance there.

[01:01:59] I love that. And I think there's so much value to it. And for any of the CBBs, I mean, even just to get started, if you're not in a lot of communication with short-term rental, vacation rental companies, former short-term rental alliance in your community, to bring those people together and, you know, magical things can happen when you bring competitors to the table together.

[01:02:17] Some of them probably know each other, some, some don't. But, um, that could be a great way to, to get everybody talking. And then, you know, they become more intertwined within the organization. It's only made us stronger and, and more passionate and, and we push each other to do better all the time. When you bring competitors together, yeah.

[01:02:35] Great. Well, thank you guys for joining us today. Thank you for bringing your welcome knowledge. I think again, being part of the destination conversation is really, really important. Um, I'm gonna say thank you for Alex and I for having us, the Alex and Annie podcast. Please check us out. Please visit Rep Responsibly, um, Antebellum's, Lauren, and then John is with guestie.

[01:02:54] It's a, a PMs that provides a great level of service to, um, property managers.

David KraussProfile Photo

David Krauss

CEO/Founder- Rent Responsibly

David Krauss is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rent Responsibly where he leads a passionate team creating the short-term rental industry’s first community-building and education platform.

David has been an STR owner and manager since 2012 and was honored by Airbnb in 2019 as one of the longest-tenured Superhosts in the world. Early in his hosting journey, an incident with loud partying guests inspired him to co-found NoiseAware, a “smoke detector for noise.” Through this work, he met thousands of passionate STR stakeholders with an interest in building a stronger community, getting better access to education and having their voices heard. In 2019, he decided to take the lead in building the platform that he too wishes he had when he started hosting. That platform is Rent Responsibly.

Outside of work, you can find him getting his daily steps (shoutout to FitBit), reading American history biographies (shout out to Doris Kearns Goodwin), screaming at the TV when Boston sports are on (shoutout Cs, Bs, Sox and Pats), and spending time with his wife, Courtney.

Lauren Madewell

Lauren Madewell is the Chief Operating Officer of her family’s 28 year old business, Auntie Belham's Cabin Rentals, located in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Known for their true Southern Hospitality, Auntie Belham’s has learned that operating with a certain mantra in mind… “What Would Dolly Do?”… will never steer them wrong in their mission to be the Friendliest Folks In The Smokies

John FlanaganProfile Photo

John Flanagan

Director of Field Sales- Guesty