The Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FVRMA) announced last week during its annual meeting at the Xtravaganza conference that it is rebranding and changing its name to the Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals (FAVR). We caught up with Denis Hanks, the association’s executive director to learn more about the rebrand and what it means for the association.
What brought about the name change and rebrand to FAVR?
Denis Hanks: The change for our association and for the industry was imminent. The Florida vacation rental market continues to grow and evolve (especially post-pandemic), and the association is adapting to these changes and market conditions. Our Florida market is unique, setting records and trending with the latest industry standards and advancements consistently. Vacation rentals are taking their rightful place as the premier hospitality sector in the Sunshine State.
Over the last 12 months, over 70,000 new listings have emerged on the major platforms in Florida alone. Inventory is growing, and the industry is diversifying with mergers, buyouts, and entrepreneurship. FAVR (Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals), under its new branding, will take its 27 years of experience in the Florida vacation rental market to new heights.
One change will be growing our current base to unforeseen levels as a professional alliance of owners, managers and vendor partners that are working together for the advancement of the vacation rental industry throughout Florida. FAVR is also well positioned to advance our goals as we usher in our new association president, Nykkie Rizley from Royal Shell Vacations who will lead the association during its FAVR launch. Nykkie is a seasoned veteran in the vacation rental space and serves as director of operations at Royal Shell Vacations based in Ft Myers.
Does this help to distance FAVR from VRMA?
Denis Hanks: Over the years, FVRMA has been confused with being a chapter or subset of the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA). The fact is that the two organizations are separate and distinct operators and not connected at all. Crossover membership in both organizations is very small. Florida VRMA, now FAVR, has always been a stand-alone 501-C6 non-profit corporation, solely dedicated to the Florida vacation rental industry.
Florida VRMA is actually larger (1,400 members) than VRMA in both membership size and programming due to the sheer size of the Florida market and its inventory. Confusion has always existed with the two organizations having similar names. With the FAVR rebranding, our organization looks to clarify that we are the premier vacation rental association representing just the Sunshine State.
Are there new objectives or goals for FAVR that come with the rebrand?
Denis Hanks: FAVR will pick up where Florida VRMA left off, but with an all-inclusive focus and by forging partnerships and building relationships with travel and tourism partners, as well as with non-traditional partners. This has been the key to our growth and success as a leading Florida hospitality sector over the past 5 – 7 years.
While we will continue to seek growth in the membership and in sponsorship support, we are also hyper-focused on vacation rentals gaining the respect they deserve in Florida’s hospitality industry as a major contributor to the economy and as a supplier of superior lodging. This only happens with engagement, relationship building, and industry education. Our partnerships with tax collectors, elected officials, and destination marketing partners statewide is the most unique nationally. This is all in addition to attracting major suppliers, like Publix for example, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, which now provides vacation rental food-delivery services across the state. Our technology partners are also adapting programs specifically for the Florida market as we speak, and these will roll out in 2022. FAVR and our alliance partners will continue to break new ground in Florida and lead the way as the US market leader in vacation rentals with 26 percent of the inventory in the entire US.
What challenges in the industry are you working to address?
Denis Hanks: Without a doubt, our most time-consuming and important initiative is our local government affairs activity. This, in and of itself, accounts for one-third of all that we do. No other organization like FAVR has the depth of engagement and participation in legislation and government affairs in Florida.
Every dollar that Florida VRMA has raised for advocacy—and every dollar that FAVR will raise—stays in Florida. it is never used for out-of-state consultants or distributed to efforts outside of Florida. FAVR has just established its eighth regional chapter, and this continues to attract participation from our local members and partners to address issues on the ground locally. The end game is to establish one set of fair and comprehensive rules implemented statewide, just like all other lodging sectors enjoy throughout Florida.
One thing that has always set us apart is our education and certification. Florida’s vacation rental market has over 1,500 vacation rental management companies, but this also includes 70 percent of Florida’s inventory that is is managed by owner/managers with less than five homes in their portfolios. This segment of our vacation rental industry is a targeted audience for us and is in dire need of operational standards and education. FAVR will continue to expand programming and benefits with an all-inclusive focus on every operator, regardless of size and hospitality product being offered. We have expanded our educational curriculum and will continue to advance our MBA certification program under FAVR.
Do you have dates set yet for the next Xtravangaza conference?
Denis Hanks: Currently, we are anticipating a September 2022 Xtravaganza and Annual Meeting. Coming off the heels of a successful 2021 Xtravaganza with over 500 attendees, we look forward to celebrating our next Xtravaganza as FAVR and rolling out many virtual and in-person regional events leading up to next year’s conference.