I’ve been thinking about this topic for a couple of weeks and wanted to share it with you. As a service provider in the Vacation Rental Management industry, I have the opportunity to have lots of conversations with employees and owners of vacation rental management companies and other providers in the industry.
One thing that always strikes me about this industry is how friendly (well for the most part) everyone is. This isn’t surprising given how most vacation rental businesses are started. Someone lives or visits a beautiful vacation location. They decide that they want to buy a second home or they meet a friend that has a second home and suddenly find themselves doing property management and taking reservations. The next thing they know, they are employing 20 people annually and opening a laundry division, or they are passing the baton to their children to run the business or even their grandchildren.
For these folks, and there are so many of you out there, HEART is the center of your business. It is how you understand the difference between providing more than just a home. You are motivated every day to help people come and enjoy the beautiful place where you live and work with hospitality. This is so different from so many other industries. When you do your job well, you are offering one of the most important things that people have – their memories. The time that is shared with friends and family cannot be replaced.
That’s why I find it so interesting that so many service providers in this industry don’t understand this perspective. Of course they see the potential money to be made in the industry and they run to throw up a shop in a tech hot spot, like Austin. They bring in a few software familiar folks who have been around in Silicon Valley (see a hilarious description of this type in the article “7 Signs Your CEO Needs to Grow Up” from entrepreneur.com from someone who has worked in the valley before). Next, they start to taut the latest and greatest product. They may end up delivering a product or they may just keep delivering the promise of the product. Either way, this isn’t the worst of this scenario.
What really ends up missing here is the lack of understanding about the HEART of the vacation rental industry. They don’t delve down into the very real needs of what you have to deal with day in and day out. For example, I recently hosted a breakfast meeting for folks to understand how to get to Airbnb through one of our partners My Booking Pal. A very nice representative from AirBnB delivered an engaging presentation about AirBnB, their intention for how they will work with professional property managers, and the benefits of doing so. The only problem is that the way they structure their payments put them in direct conflict with the real estate law of North Carolina. As one attendee pointed out, “this all sounds great until you are headed for jail because of trust fraud.”
To AirBnB’s credit, they understand that they are going to have a learning curve about the vacation rental industry and have devoted a team to figuring out these issues. As our representative put it, “we’ve handled governmental regulations around the world, we have the resources to take care of these issues.” Fair enough. Also, in the case of AirBnB, the principals of what the company was founded upon – local hospitality – does more frequently align with those of the vacation rental management companies.
My point here is to be wary of “bleeding edge” solutions and to some extent industry providers who haven’t been in the industry for some reasonable period of time. Because you are a unique tribe, you deserve the in-depth understanding of the heart in this industry. I am not suggesting that innovation shouldn’t be a top priority, just that there is great value in finding good relationships and partnerships with the vendors that should be helping you.Claiborne Yarbrough Director of Customer Engagement Barefoot Technologies firstname.lastname@example.org Claiborne has been in the software industry for over 25 years primarily focused on marketing. Her favorite thing about the vacation rental industry is getting to make so many friends.