April 20, 2022

VRMA Spring Forum Recap: All In On Advocacy, with President Miller Hawkins

VRMA Spring Forum Recap: All In On Advocacy, with President Miller Hawkins

Tune in for this special episode where we speak with VRMA President, Miller Hawkins, about the recent Spring Forum in Chicago. Advocacy was top of mind at this event, as vacation rental managers came together to find a way to protect the industry from the infringement of short term rental laws that are spreading like wildfire. While local governments are enacting these laws to prevent the problems that come from the "bad apples" that have accompanied the surge in popularity of short term rentals, they are also jeopardizing the livelihoods of the professional companies who operate above-board and are vital (and big tax contributing) members of their business communities. 

As the opening session drew to a close, Miller took the stage to ask for continued support of the VRMA Advocacy Fund that Steve Milo of VTrips formed a few years ago. The goal was to raise $250,000 at the event, and Miller asked anyone who was willing to donate $10,000+ to join him on stage. Several companies jumped right up, with enthusiasm and check book in-hand, and within 10 minutes, more than $300,000 had been raised! By the end of the day, total donations came to $432,600 for the VRMA Advocacy Fund. Way to go Miller, VRMA Staff & Board of Directors, and of course, the companies large and small that stepped up to protect our industry! 

 • $60,000: Inhabit IQ, VTrips
• $50,000: Vacasa
• $20,000: Avalara, C2G Advisors, Dormakaba, Elliott Realty, RedSky Travel Insurance, TravelNet Solutions, VacayHome Connect
• $10,000: AvantStay, Behome247, DoneRight Management, Got2Go, Panhandle Getaways, PriceLabs, Scenic Stays, Silicon Travel, StoicLane, Weatherby Consulting
• $22,600: Donations made directly from attendees 

Topics we also cover:

  • Airbnb's new policies
  • Executive Summit
  • VRMA International

Watch on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/4BburRFTpug

CONTACT MILLER HAWKINS
https://www.vrma.org/
miller@booerealty.net
LinkedIn

CONTACT ALEX & ANNIE
AlexandAnniePodcast.com
LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram
Podcast Sponsored by Condo-World and Lexicon Travel

Transcript
Alex Husner:

Welcome to Alex and Annie, the real women of vacation rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we're joined today with Mr. Miller Hawkins President our vrma and President of bu Realty Miller. Welcome to the podcast.

Miller Hawkins:

Thank you ladies. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, we're so excited to have you here. And we actually this is kind of a special episode, we might start calling this this is Monday that we're filming or recording Monday minutes with Miller. Maybe it's something that we continue. But in the meantime, we brought Muller on to talk about our recent trip to vrma in Chicago, that was just a couple of weeks ago. And it was an excellent conference as always, but we wanted to have Miller dive in on some of the highlights of the show. But before we get into that, Miller Can you just give our audience a little bit of history of who you are and your background within the organization and industry.

Miller Hawkins:

Thank you. I'm Miller Hawkins. As Alex said, I'm, I'm the owner of Blue Realty here in Myrtle Beach, usually sunny Myrtle Beach, but it's pouring down rain today. The I got into the business when I bought blue Realty back in 1995. Been a member of vrma since the late 90s, over 20 years now. And I joined a ran for the board of directors and 16 or seven, I believe 2017 And was the elected to the president elect position, the year that COVID hit. So our executive, our interim executive director at the time, froze the board. So I was actually president elect for two years, and then got promoted to President, which is the role I'm in now. And then next year, I'll be the immediate past president and going to call retirement. But we we have a lot of work that we're doing with vrma. And which we'll get into today, but I'm just down the street from Alex, up in North Myrtle Beach. And it's a happening spot around here, this part of the South Carolina. But again, thanks for having me here. And I look forward to today's discussion.

Annie Holcombe:

Thanks so much, Miller. We're so excited. And we appreciate you've been spending some time with Alex and I kind of toss around ideas about how Alex and he can sort of help the industry and where vrma is going. And for me, this is the first spring conference that I've been to ever, I've always gone to the international ones. So it was great to see the turnout. And I think everybody was excited to again, be back in person and feels like we're on a good path to have a good year for conferences and engagement. One of the things that I think we wanted to touch base on was just where advocacy is with in vrma. That's a hot topic, I think in every municipality across the country and probably globally. But I think you've been very active and vrma has as well. So maybe give us a little bit of update about what happened at the conference. And we're advocacy is going in terms of what vrma is doing this year.

Unknown:

Great. Thanks for that. Thanks for asking that question. Along with being president vrma. This year. I am the chairman of the Advocacy Fund committee. And as I stated on the stage in Chicago in the beautiful Grand Ballroom. Three years ago, we raised $50,000 for advocacy and the money was spent to help different pockets around the country that needed you know, that was fighting regulate regulatory issues. Year after that the fund was raised and the goal was raised $250,000. The year after that we decided we and I was on the committee during these times we raised a goal to $250,000 which was last year. We ended up raising little over 400,000 last year to to fight these. These these bands proposed bans this year being the chairman of the committee set the goal at $500,000. And advocacy as you said is is rearing its ugly head more and more. The especially after COVID came through some of these municipalities around the country. We were coming out of COVID. And they were putting, you know, proposing bands, vacation rental bands and regulatory issues for noise and parking and fire and trash and everything else. And, you know, literally every pocket of the country was being hit. And as I said, on the stage, it's not a matter of, of you know if but it's when your your, your, your town, your locality is going to get hit with some sort of a proposed ban. For places in South Carolina, which is where we're our primary industry is tourism around here. And you know, we've gotten hit in North Myrtle Beach and Alex's backyard, we've got hit and Folly Beach. And we've got a big problem going on in Hilton Head right now. And then a few weeks ago, they banned short term rentals in Greenville out the western part of the state. So that's just South Carolina. But there are there are proposed bands, you know, and, you know, you pretty much can't name a state that has vacation rentals that doesn't have some sort of an issue right now. And because of that a lot of state coalition's are being formed. One here in South Carolina, you know, North Carolina already has one, Florida has one Vermont was was there in Chicago, representing the Vermont coalition. And you know, all these, all these, these companies and associations around the country are looking toward vrma to help them fight these regulatory bands that are popping up. And some of these things are ridiculous, these are some some vacation, you know, rental laws have been in place for decades. And all of a sudden, they're trying to just because of a few bad apples out there, they're trying to ban short term rentals and the entire county or the entire state, you know, so there's a lot of work to be done. And, you know, with the money that we were raising, which we'll get into in a minute, the money we're raising with vrma in our Advocacy Fund, is there to work with our collaborative, vrma collaborative, to go out and fight and produce these studies, these economic impact studies, and cost to comply studies and housing affordability studies to help these these areas, you know, to help help us, you know, help not only the VR vacation rental managers, but we need to help the suppliers to because their business is being effective if there's bans imposed.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, it's amazing. And just a couple years ago, you didn't really hear advocacy as such an important part of what's going on in the industry. But yes, post COVID and Airbnb and just the influx of vacation rental bookings, and issues that have stemmed from that and, you know, the non professionalization of the industry. It's it's definitely something that I'm glad we're all focusing on now. And to see vrma Step up and really be leading the charge on that is awesome. And, you know, that's probably the biggest takeaway that I had from this event was just everybody was all in on advocacy. I mean, this was that was the most important part because it's affecting so many of us. And, you know, Miller, you said this test when we went to lunch a few weeks ago, you know, just because you're in a beach location. Now, that seems like it's tourism friendly, doesn't mean that you're protected, because you get a couple of different people on city council that they don't understand. And all of a sudden, you know, the deck of cards comes crumbling down right in front of you. But it's, you know, the, the main event that you had there, I think, what was it the goal was 250,000, you ended up raising 400?

Unknown:

Yeah, we, um, we set we have advocacy, fun, we had a meeting before the conference, and we came up with this idea of bringing these donors who had verbally committed to donating to the efficacy fund this year, we thought we'd have a an aha moment where you could come up on the stage in front of all your peers, announce your name, what company you're with. And if you wanted to announce how much you were donating, you could. So we came up with the end of our $500,000 goal for the year, we we were we shot 250 Let's said let's just try to raise $250,000. We got the rest of this year to raise some money. Let's try to get 250. So after I spoke, and then we had the session with Tiffany Edwards in the panel, the microphone was given back to me and it was kind of like a, you know, a telethon. You know, Hey, come on up here and make your pledge. And I looked over there and there was about 10 or 15 people that had already lined up to come up there. And they announced their name. And we, you know, we asked for the donors for at a $10,000 level and up to come up. You know, we didn't want we'd love to have 50 or 60 people there but we would have been there for a couple of hours and people doing that. So we provided a QR code on the table for people that wanted to donate less than $10,000 and then for anybody 10,000 up they lined up and when the when the dust settled we had run pays $440,000 In that one session. Wow. In addition to that, we raised a little over 20,000 with the QR codes on the table. So in that one session, less than a half an hour, 45 minutes at the end of that we had raised almost $470,000, which is incredible. But we're not done. I mean, we've got, we've got several more events rest of this year, we're still actively, you know, contacting the people who had donated in the past years that have not committed yet or the people that we're we've got a list of who we're going to be reaching out to. So we set $500,000 as a goal. I think we're gonna blow through it, you know, before the executive Summit, and which is not saying we can't stop it eight or 900,000, we because we need the funds because the people need us. Yeah. Can

Alex Husner:

you go into detail a little bit about the study that you did in the last couple of years to help the issue in North Myrtle Beach? Because I think that really brings it home. It certainly did for me as to what the importance of the work that you do and why you need this money to be able to support these communities.

Unknown:

Yeah, when when I'm in North Myrtle Beach, would have been and I have a few properties in North Myrtle Beach on the southern end of North Myrtle Beach. But if you ever if anybody ever goes to North Myrtle Beach, I mean, it's completely full of restaurants and theaters and vacation rentals. You know, there's not a whole lot of big hotels up there. Everything up there is is condominiums and beach houses. And when this issue came up, Rick Elliott brought it up to me that the city council had was going after the vacation rental industry in terms of smoke detectors, and parking and noise and trash. And they were trying to put a ban. And so he came to came to SS vrma. And part of the part of the solution, Rick and I formed the South Carolina vacation rental Alliance, which is our state coalition that I mentioned a while ago, to help fight the issue. But vrma came in and did a cost to compliance study. For for with with North Myrtle Beach in mind, that was presented to the city council fought with the City Council and we won. So the bands, the proposed bands were voted down up there. We didn't stop there. We went ahead and went to the proposed us doing an economic impact study for the state of South Carolina mainly focused along the coast. And we spent 75 $80,000 I believe it what it was to do an economic impact study which produced a The results were that the tourism in the South Carolina economic impact on South Carolina was $4.8 billion to the to the state along with 48,000 jobs that are created along the coast that was just produced about a month ago but the the study that with with North Myrtle Beach, there was a cost of compliance study that helped fight that out and we had a large team spent a lot of time on the ground up in North Myrtle Beach and Rick Elliot's office up there to you know, to fight this so and Rick is Rick is one of our tier one donors for the Advocacy Fund as well. But yeah, this thing reared its ugly head and we fought it, but But uh, put boots on the ground up there and one and a lot of those boots are in Hilton Head right now.

Annie Holcombe:

Curious Miller, in in your mind, do you think that there is some of this that's being pushed by Hotel and Lodging side for against vacation rentals. And the reason I asked that is when COVID hit and in Florida, they wouldn't let vacation rentals open and the justification for opening hotels was oh, well, the governor said we need to be able to house any of the aide that comes in, we need to be able to house the truckers that are moving around. We need to be able to house all of the people National Guard all these things. And you know, in my mind, I'm like, well, accommodations or accommodations. But it seemed to me that there was a definite divide in kind of the haves and the have nots. And the Hotel Lodging Association had a much more organized voice and bank accounts to fight some of these things. So I'm wondering how much could be related to I don't know, I want to say backdoor fighting, but people that are like maybe fighting behind the scenes from the hotel, lodging side. And just curious if you had any thoughts on that?

Unknown:

Oh, that's a that's a great question. And I probably would have answered it differently a few years ago. But no, right now, especially in in my area here which I'll touch on in just a second. Around the country, or the hotels behind some of these regulatory bands. Maybe I think it's more of ignorance of the general population. And the city councils and the County Council's and governors have no idea what vacation rent Those are, for instance, in Florida. We had a there was a team that met with Governor DeSantis. And his eyes were opened up when he realized, hey, you all aren't the Airbnbs that people think we are. And when he was when he realized that, that we're professional, we're a professional association and we represent professional vacation rental managers, not the the mom and pops that just rent their place out and so on. It was a it was an eye opening experience to Governor DeSantis to where, you know, he's he's now advocating for vacation rentals. Now, there's probably some places around the country that are the, I think in the western part of the state here in Greenville. There was a big, big push up with the hotel motel lodging there, and they voted five to four against, you know, for banning rentals and everything in Myrtle Beach, I would say they're not behind it at all. I had a conference recently with with Alex and she and I were on a panel. And the room was split between Hotel Motel and vacation rental managers. And we're working together here in the Myrtle Beach area for Myrtle Beach tourism, and to bring tourists to Myrtle Beach and not only bring them here once but to keep them here and get them to come back year after year. So we're we're forming a coalition and a partnership, the vacation vrma And what I'm trying to do on with whatever I could do on my side is to work with the hotel motel Lodging Association around here and Alex's Chamber of Commerce and the hospitality association to create some sort of a coalition to where we can advertise to you know, the eastern side of the Mississippi River let's say which is most of our tourists come from to say come down to Myrtle Beach, stay in a hotel stay at a campground state of vacation rentals stay anywhere but please put your head in our bed and then come back next year and while you're here and join the golf courses in the theaters and the 1500 restaurants and so on. So in Myrtle Beach No there's not a I don't I don't strongly feel that there's the hotels and motels are not behind any sort of a band down in Hilton Head I don't think the hotels and motels are behind that I think it's a group of individuals who don't understand what vacation rentals are and they think that we're a bunch of Airbnb ease and you know they got bad press over the weekend yesterday you know with with what the Airbnb did and everything and again all of a sudden people think that all vacation rentals or Airbnb is now and that's not fair to Airbnb but it's not fair to us just as well.

Annie Holcombe:

Right absolutely. And and hopefully I have a partner that's dealing with some some problems in Texas through Airbnb and Airbnb is advocating for the guests when these it was you know, a house party it was similar situation didn't get his book didn't get you know what happened in Pennsylvania. But again, I think you know, Airbnb needs to come to the table. And I'm not seeing them come to the table as as they should, in my mind. And I guess on that one, have you engaged with them? Are you engaging with them or trying to get them to come to the conversation,

Unknown:

all I can really say about that is we're trying the doors open and the offer has been extended, the handshake has been extended and we're trying to work with with Airbnb, we've got a fantastic relationship with VRBO and Expedia and booking.com we've got home to get homes to go. We've got you know, our vendor showcase in Chicago was was full Airbnb was there. But we are we are trying to work with Airbnb to offer the offer, the handshake has been extended.

Alex Husner:

And I'm glad that you did offer that handshake to a wider exposure in the fall when you opened it up for individual managers to come to vrma for the first time. And really, you know, I know that decision kind of, you know, made some people upset. But the more that we think about it, it really I do understand where it came from. And it is the rising tide floats all boats mentality here that we all need to be working together to professionalize the industry because one the individual hosts, they're not going away. But if all the rules are put in place, because they are the ones that are breaking, or they're setting the problems, then that makes us the professional managers can't do their job. So it really does make sense but curious, did you were there individual owners at at the spring event? I didn't meet any personally I know, in San Antonio, there were quite a few but

Unknown:

there was we had over 800 attendees in Chicago last week. And I don't know if there was any individual owners per se. Backing up just a little bit we've I was reached out to by John Suzuki with with VRBO. He is their evangelist with VRBO a couple of years ago and this is when I was on the board, just a board member and on the membership committee And he said, There's got to be a way we can do something between VRBO and vrma to increase membership as well as we can help you, you can help us and you know, we've got a platform of 440,000 members. And let's try to do something what can we do? Well, two and a half years of conversations, we've we've put together a partnership. It's not just with VRBO, it's with anybody, any tho TAS out there, you know, can do this. We put together a program to where we reached out to their individuals. And the reason we reached out to these individuals wasn't to open the door to the, to the evil ones that are out there, these rent by owners that are destroying our whole industry. That concept was pushed out there that what we're trying to do is bring these individuals in and educate them and professionalize them, show them what it's like to be a vacation rental manager. Our past president Toby Babbage started with zero properties. And up, you know, I think he has around 100 now, and he's, he was the past president of the vrma, Jody Refosco, who just went off the board, she started with one property join vrma. And I think they've got 460 properties now. So by bringing these individuals in, and you're right, it was not met with the the greatest of congratulations, when this thing was unveiled. We opened the doors up and I talked to several people on the telephone when I told him what we were doing. And it was to bring these bring these individuals in educate professionalism, show him what it's like to be a vacation rental manager and do the right thing. And we had a few 100 of them join. And we're not done yet. And we're not done yet with VRBO. And we're not done with with opening this up to booking an Airbnb and anybody out there, you can join vrma with in a particular category, the zero to five, you can join one property, you can attend the shows like we had in Chicago, there's there's sessions for you, you can you can meet, you can network and get you know, somebody who knows, five years from now, you may have 25 properties, who knows, 10 years from now, you may be the president of vrma.

Alex Husner:

Right? I mean, everybody had to start somewhere. But yeah, and really, I think what it comes down to, you know, a lot of these hosts, now they're realizing the technology offerings that are out there to them that are going to make them be able to deliver a better guest experience. And, you know, just elevate the quality of the industry there. So I think that's the good thing on it. And you know, we've got several of our listeners any that fall into that net of let you know, they have between one to 10 units, and they're asking us what kind of software they should use, what kind of scheduling apps they should you. So they're, they're realizing that there are better ways to run their businesses. And I think those are the hosts that we definitely want to continue to support and bring in and, you know, there's, there's enough, there's enough business for every everybody to go around. But we're definitely all in it together at the end of the day. Yeah, when

Unknown:

they, when they when they show up to these conferences, and they're looking for something to make their life better. There's nothing wrong with with a husband and a wife or, or partners or whoever that have one or two properties. And they've got a whole a completely separate job in a different industry. And they need help running that you know, one or two vacation rentals that they have in their town or in another town. And when they come in, they're the different products that are in the vendor showcase out there. I mean, if you want to get into the if you're wanting to get into the business, come to one of these shows go into vendor showcase. And you could spend a whole day in there talking to people that are going to help you anything you want to do in vacation rentals. It's really incredible.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, I think we've talked to a lot of vendors, in the last few months that they're moving into that space, they've always been in sort of the traditional, you know, professionally managed, or large group enterprise style management companies, but they're opening up their technologies of these people that can you know, access all of this information and access all of these tools. And again, I think it just speaks to everybody, you know, from the professional side wants to help these new guys be professional from the get go, which is a matter of how do we you know, what's that outreach? And how do we get to them. And so, Alex and I have been really surprised at the number of people that listen to our podcasts that are kind of in that space. And so hopefully, they will listen to this episode. And we'll obviously include information in our show notes. But you know, being able to get them the information that they need so they can make good decisions and be a good steward of the industry is very important for all of us.

Alex Husner:

Absolutely awesome. So going to some of the sessions, Annie and I've written out a couple of takeaways, and it does kind of silos in there quite well. But Steve Milo Andrew McConnell and Jason sprinkle had a panel about the difference between pro versus RBO and how to communicate that value to your owners. And it was I think, their points were spot on. And really what it comes down to is that the pros are the ones that are maximizing the rates that you don't have to have the highest amount of occupancy year round. It's really about maximum As in right, especially with COVID, we don't all want to have 100% occupancy, we don't have enough staff or supplies, resources to be able to fulfill that in a lot of cases. So you know, really that taking that different look at it. And I know, for us at condo world, we certainly look at it that way. And we're always trying to figure out ways to better maximize income revenue for our homeowner, homeowners and the business. But that was a good session there. And I think they did a really good deep dive, I think that's, that's those are the topics that need to be talked about, especially when you bring in these smaller owners that are coming into it, you know, I mean, they've got to see that side of it, too. Yeah, you know,

Unknown:

the thing that 20 years ago, we would go to these conferences, and they would have a revenue enhancement session, and you won't get there. And you would go and you'd have your pad of paper and you're gone, okay, someone's going to talk about a, a rev, reservation processing fee, and someone's got different ways of ways to make money and so on. And now the revenue enhancement sessions that we're talking about now are, you know, look more toward profit than revenue. And look, and you don't have to have, you don't have to have 100%, you know, to, you know, then all this, if you're looking at the revenue, you know, as as a whole, that's one thing, but at the end of the day profit, you want to be able to make the most amount of money that you can make, and that and that may not be 100% occupancy, that may be higher rates, lower occupancy, as you said, what we're having to deal with, with housekeeping everything, you know, higher rates, lower occupancy, but at the end of the day, he made more money this year, and did last year. That's that's what it's geared toward now with this enhancement.

Annie Holcombe:

Yeah, absolutely. I think people are also looking, again, you know, two point people added on all the fees to make extra money, but they're not looking at everything from top to bottom. So they're looking at what fees should I be charging? During what time of the year? What occupancy? Should I be driving? What rate should I be driving, and it was really good for me coming from the channel management side, because we talked to people all the time that just say, Oh, I've lost all these units, owners want to rent them individually, we tried to give them kind of data points and information to go back. And I think Jason laid it out very clearly, that if you looked at you look at the data points, you know, the management companies that are professional are driving, even after all the fees and taxes are taken out and all the Commission's are paid, they're driving more revenue for their individual owners than an individual owner can do, again, because of all this technology that's sitting out there. So the more we talk to each other, and the more we engage with these smaller groups and individual owners, I think everybody will become educated and the industry as a whole will just continue to

Alex Husner:

get better. Yeah, and homeowners that are paying attention to things when if they say that they can drive more occupancy on their own, but I mean, their units getting just, you know, use all the time. It's not good, either. I mean, you want your unit to be used the least and make the most. So somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot there.

Unknown:

Well, it's a good time, you know, in the in what after the 2021 season that we had, you know, back in the recession times you'd call up these homeowners and say it's time to put some money into your property, enhance and then go get me some more Raylan coming out, well, well, now the tides kind of turned when you're looking at him this year. And the inspections we did, you're looking at him you're going you can't talk to me about real income because you were formed from April May until September, October. So your your property got abused. You know, last year with in and out every week, it's time to start enhancing some of these properties.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, and I will say our homeowners kudos to all of them. This past year, we've had so many that have invested heavily in their units, I mean, just completely redone them from top to bottom. And, you know, I get copied whenever our pictures come in from the photographer, and I opened I'm like, gosh, these are absolutely they like absolutely gorgeous. I mean, all new floor tile, paint furniture. So it's good to see that they're, you know, understanding that you've got to put it back in I mean, we can't continue, we can all continue as managers to push price can more through the roof for product that's not also increasing with it. I mean, if you want to maintain those prices, you have to increase the product.

Annie Holcombe:

So I think a couple of the other takeaways from the conference was we're kind of going back to Airbnb and not to put them out there as the bad guy. But they interviewed err, introducing new rules. I did see on Friday that they've stepped it back a little bit. But you know, Miller, from your position sitting on you know, as the President of the Association I'm sure you hear feedback as to how this should be addressed. You know, did was there any conversations that you had with people about Airbnb and kind of their stance has been outwardly we want to work with the managers but then when it comes down to it, they tend to side more with the guest.

Unknown:

We're we're the conversations we've been having with Airbnb is more on the same line of what we are having with Expedia and booking and so on, is a way that we can park Under together to fight advocacy issues around the country. And again, the handshake has been extended to Airbnb and we are not doing anything with Airbnb, we're trying. But as far as the individuals, we don't really get that involved in that in depth. You know, because it's not really our position at vrma. To to talk to Alex about you know what you're doing with with Airbnb, because that's more of a Alex Airbnb kind of issue. You know, and I just know that we try to provide a level playing field for everybody in the vendor showcase. And, and, you know, these are TAs, I mean, VRBO, you know, they got hit a few years back reputation wise, and, and I think they've come out of it, you know, shining, and everything. And I know, there's some opinions out there about Airbnb, or we all have opinions about, and, you know, it's just whatever they want to do. But as far as the individuals go, I really don't really have a comment on that. Because I mean, I don't I don't deal with Airbnb. I don't I don't, I don't use Airbnb. You know, but I do. Personally, I use VRBO, and booking and homes to go and so on. But as far as you know what I can comment on the vrma. We are trying to work with Airbnb to fight these issues around the country advocacy watch.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I remember a couple years ago, when VRBO put out the rule that they were was like, what was it called the match back or look back, match back where they if a booking happened off the platform that came from them, they were going to automatically charge you the commission. And it was just, it caused a complete uproar in the industry. But the good thing was, I mean, they were at the table and said, Okay, we probably shouldn't have done that. And they back that down and worked with us. But with Airbnb right now, and I just had found this out at the conference that the new thing that they're doing is that if there's an issue with the accommodations, if the guest has a problem, that Airbnb will rebook them in another Airbnb property, and the manager is responsible for the difference in price. So, you know, I mean, cash in the summertime, when we're all full, that's one, it's gonna be hard for even Airbnb to do. But that's really rarely, I think, that's overreaching in terms of what a channel should be able to do. I mean, that to at least, you know, coordinate with the manager to say, okay, these are the options, do you have any other options, maybe, but for them to just go ahead and do it themselves, it's like, they're making money on a on somebody's problem, which I feel like, that's not reasonable. But, you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, we all have a choice on what channels we put our inventory on. And, obviously, Miller, you've chosen not to put your inventory on there. We just started this year on the channel. And, you know, when we're feeling it out, we do much better, we do really well on verbo, and on our own direct channel, or 95% book direct as it is, but, you know, we didn't, we're not going to put all of our eggs in a basket, that it's the whole building your house and someone else's land theory that we talk a lot about how dangerous that is, this is just another thing that you can really have the rug wiped out from under you. So when I hope that they'll come to the table, I want to work with us, but I think everybody just has to be a little bit cautious about making sure your your distribution mix is is very different that

Unknown:

right? It's you need to diversify. And not only, you know, and I've said this for years, you know, diversify in your own business, I've got a sales department and I've got an annual rental department, along with my vacation rental department. So COVID did not affect me hardly at all, and everything but the same way with the OTAs is, is don't get too dependent on one. And whether you go therapy and B or booking or VRBO whoever it's it's your choice, just you know, make sure you've dotted all your I's and cross your t's because it could come back and bite you, you know, in the summertime, like you just said and everything but it's it's there's a lot of them out there. And there's a lot of ways to enhance your revenue, you know, by using these these OTAs and and that are that are out there. Now there's more and more popping up to

Alex Husner:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Looking looking ahead. We've got two more events coming up. So the executive summit and then the International Conference. Do you want to just briefly touch on both of those events? We know what we have to look forward to?

Unknown:

Yeah, actually we got four events coming up. Well to two I can't I don't anyway, the the executive Summit is coming up on June 1 to the third and the O palm EIU o Palm Resort in Florida it's just outside of West Palm Beach. Fantastic lineup Simon layman who you to know very well it's gonna be Bill Tater and moderator for the for the day and a half event. So really looking forward to hearing what Simon and Education team are, have put together. This will be our third executive summit and this is So this is becoming a very, very popular event. The topics are different than what you'll hear at a at a regular springform international conference. It's geared toward the executive level. The executives are there, the decision makers are there. It's high level, it's wonderful. And it's gonna be an A, A, we're on the East Coast. Now we've had it two years out in LA this year is going to be in West Palm Beach. The international conference that you mentioned, that's our granddaddy of all events. I had a long conversation with Matt Landau in Chicago. And I told him, I said, I'm a very optimistic person. And the most we've ever had an international conference is like 2020 100. And I said, I'm gonna shoot for 3000 this year. So Matt, Matt coined that mission. 3000 fold him up,

Alex Husner:

I was gonna give him permission 3000

Unknown:

I'm looking at this will be you know, not only we have 1700, last international of San Antonio, which during the middle of the overdrawn blow up, we had to get 1700 people was big, but now that we're really back together, and it's going to be in Vegas, it's always a popular event. I'm shooting for 3000 3000 people in in Vegas. In addition to that, we have our regional connect events. These are one day quick hitters, and we're we've scheduled one we budgeted one, we've scheduled one for late summer, details are being worked out, it'll probably be out west. And then in November, the November time period, we're looking at having one in the mid Atlantic, probably hopefully geared toward efficacy in the DC area, it may be in in you know, Ocean City, Maryland, or something like that, or Annapolis or whatever. But so we're gonna have two quick hitter events. We call it the VRLA vrma connects, we'll have those two, in addition to the executive Summit and the International Conference.

Annie Holcombe:

It's incredible. It's so so good to hear. And again, I'm so excited that we've got so many events this year. And Alex and I've talked to quite a few people overseas, Julie doors, obviously down in Australia. She's excited to be able to come she had FOMO last year when we share that we were all in it together. But I think the the international contingency is going to be fairly large this year there. Yeah, there's definitely chomping at the bit to come to the US. So I think that your 3000 is probably what you're doing really good with your goals this year. So I have a feeling we'll see.

Alex Husner:

Yeah, I was gonna say already hit the advocacy. Blood is one out of the park.

Unknown:

It'll be it'll be good to get everybody back together, we're gonna have a golf tournament. Again, this supports many in the industry know who Stuart couch was up in the Outer Banks and what he did for our industry. And so a couple of years ago, when we were at an international conference in New Orleans, I was at dinner and I was like, You know what, I miss having a pre conference events been going on and where we show up a day or two early and take a tour of the city or do something fun, you know, social wise, instead of just going straight into the sessions. So we came up with an idea of having a golf tournament. And so we had one in San Antonio and it benefits the steward couches foundation first and then the whatever's leftover goes to the efficacy fund with vrma. So we're, we've narrowed down we've got a course in Vegas, I'm gonna go out there a couple of weeks on a different conference, but I'm gonna go take a take a visit out there to this course and shoot a marketing piece with my with myself on a on a YouTube so I apologize. Awesome. The unprofessional way that I'm going to shoot this video anyway, so we'll have we'll have the golf tournament the day before on October 23 The day before the conference kicks off. So okay, we have a whole lot planned looking forward to

Alex Husner:

we want to do it this year. We didn't kinda well we didn't do it last year. But when everybody got back from it, it just looked like it was so much fun. So I'm definitely gonna be getting our team together and you're welcome to join to do you golf? I don't even know if you go off.

Annie Holcombe:

Me I have golf clubs they have they have cobwebs all over them.

Alex Husner:

Well, I can join as I'm driving the car.

Annie Holcombe:

I can drive a car or drive the hospitality car.

Unknown:

Two things. One, we're limiting limiting it to 80 players this year because of the we've got a great tee time to start at 10 o'clock so we can get done and get back for the conferences at players but you don't have to be a golfer because and hopefully hopefully she'll listen to this podcast but at least the justice with silica and travel was on a team does not play very much golf at all. And I love her like a sister but she got she wanted the closest to the pin. There was also on dun grindlays She was on like Bradley's team and they won the tournament last year so

Alex Husner:

oh my gosh.

Annie Holcombe:

Call her Alex. We could put her on a team with us. Yeah. Good luck. Yeah. Yeah, seems like it seems like awesome.

Alex Husner:

Well, thank you, Miller so much for this was like quick notice for you to jump on the phone with us and record this, but we definitely appreciate it and enjoy the time with you and the rest of the vrma staff and everyone else at this conference and really look forward to seeing everybody at the next one. Perhaps the executive Summit, I'm not sure but we will be at all the ones that we can.

Unknown:

Well, and thank you all I'd like to really, really kudos for what you two have done. You know, in the, in the short time you've had this podcast you have you've really really you know, there's a lot of waves going into the vrma Listen to about you all talk about you also keep up the great work and any way that we are making can help you and support you. We'd love to and you know I just admire this is this is a great podcast and I love the you know the marketing and what y'all did in San Antonio, I mean, New Orleans going down the street and it's really good. So up the great work

Alex Husner:

very much. All right. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. We'll talk to you next time.

Miller Hawkins Profile Photo

Miller Hawkins

President /Owner

Miller Hawkins President and Owner of Booe Realty in Myrtle Beach since 1995. He is currently the President of the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) which serves the vacation rental industry worldwide. Miller also serves as the Chair of the Advocacy Fund Committee that raises funds to fight proposed regulatory issues around the country.