On Tuesday, April 12, at the Vacation Rental Management Association’s Spring Forum in Chicago, the organization held a surprise kickoff to its 2022 advocacy fundraising campaign. The results could ultimately impact regulatory discussions in several key markets this year.
Hotels and real estate associations have a long-standing history of government affairs funding within their membership. The VRMA Advocacy Fund started a few years ago at the urging of Steve Milo, president of VTrips. Milo had extensive experience fighting regulations in Florida and understood that success can be costly.
“If we are to defend our industry from misunderstanding and overreaching regulation, it is imperative that we have the financial means to do so,” Milo said. “The reality is, the fight isn’t going away, and having the resources to support our members and the industry allows us to protect consumers’ right to rent throughout the country.”
To date, the VRMA Advocacy Fund has produced economic impact studies, marketing campaigns, housing affordability studies, and lobbying assistance direct to member alliances in need. In 2021, the fund raised $420,000, a record high. “When we started [the Advocacy Fund] only a few years ago, I never imagined that we would grow at this pace, to nearly half a million dollars in support,” said Toby Babich, VRMA past president. “It’s truly outstanding.”
As the Spring Forum’s opening session drew to a close, VRMA President Miller Hawkins asked for continued support. “We have a goal today to raise $250,000, and I would like to invite anyone willing to donate $10,000 or more to please come to the stage,” he said. One by one, VRMA members made their way to the stage without hesitation to pledge.
Within 10 minutes, VRMA had raised more than $300,000. The chatter throughout the room grew louder as Milo took the microphone to say he would match any donation that Inhabit IQ pledged. Inhabit IQ has been the single largest contributor to the fund in the past two years. Kimberly Lang, executive vice president and managing director of Inhabit IQ, committed $60,000, the single highest pledge, and Milo followed with a match. The final total, including online donations made by members in the audience, reached an all-time, single-day fundraising record of more than $400,000.
In 2021, VRMA began a marketing campaign to position professional managers as taxpaying, local, and consistent in their high standards. The campaign targets elected officials and government staff to highlight best practices and local community involvement. This year, VRMA will expand on this campaign, in addition to developing advocacy resources for its members. The fund also has committed to producing economic impact studies annually, such as what was recently done in Maryland and South Carolina.
Thanks to the following companies, VRMA is in a position to lead comprehensive efforts to protect the ever-growing vacation rental 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
These donations mark a total of $432,600 raised at the VRMA Advocacy Fund kickoff.
To pledge your support, visit the VRMA website.