Tyler Hurst, Director of Sales and Marketing at LiveRez, is looking to serve on the VRMA Board of Directors. Hurst is running against Matt Golis, former CEO and co-chairman at Yapstone, for the supplier seat recently vacated by Lee Hughes, CEO at CSA Travel Insurance.
We reached out to Hurst to learn more about his motivation for wanting to serve on the board and his feelings about the association and where the industry is heading.
Hurst: My motivation is driven by my desire to help professional managers. The VRMA plays an important role in driving the direction of the industry, and I want to lend my perspective to that effort. Every day for the past six years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the challenges faced by not only professional managers using LiveRez, but managers from all over that are looking for technology solutions. The VRMA has done a lot for the industry that I work in, and serving on the board is a way to give back.
Question: Do you feel like VRMA is currently moving in the right direction?
Hurst: To this point, I think the VRMA has served our industry very well. Right now, however, is a monumental time in the history of this industry. Having both a technology background and a good understanding of the needs of a wide variety of managers of different sizes and destinations, I feel like I can accurately represent the collective voice of these managers and help ensure that the VRMA continues to act in alignment with their best interests. Specifically, having someone with a background in technology will be extremely important as more and more of the industry moves online.
Question: Currently, the VRMA membership represents less than 5% of the total vacation rental management companies in the U.S. If elected, what do you believe can be done to increase the number of members?
Hurst: Moving forward, there’s an opportunity for the collective VRMA membership – both the vendors and the professional managers – to work together to leverage their own networks toward the goal of increasing VRMA membership.
Historically, LiveRez has played a big role in promoting the VRMA and helping drive membership, not only among the professionals that we partner with, but also the greater industry in general. As the Director of Sales and Marketing, I’ve helped spearhead many of those promotional efforts. And, if you look at the new VRMA members listed each quarter, a large percentage of them are LiveRez partners that have been exposed to those marketing efforts. That leads me to believe that our efforts are working.
If elected, I can bring the knowledge I’ve gained in those promotional efforts to the VRMA itself and hopefully work together with other vendors and professional managers to expand those efforts.
Question: Lately, Portland and San Francisco city councils chose to legalize short term rentals in primary homes, but restrict short term rentals in traditional vacation rentals? In addition, municipalities all over the country are facing challenges in regulating vacation rentals. What role do you believe the VRMA should play in government advocacy?
Hurst: The VRMA should be the collective voice of professional managers. And, right now the voice that is needed is one of education and awareness.
As an industry, we all know the important role that the vacation rental industry plays in local economies. And, we recognize that many of the issues that have driven the need for regulation spawn from a lack of best practices and originate primarily from homes that are not professional managed.
So, I see the VRMA’s efforts as a two-prong attack: Continue to promote best practices and highlight the professionalism of vacation rental managers, while also spreading the word about the positive impact that vacation rentals have on the economy. We need local officials to realize that they don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Question: This year the AH&LA initiated a campaign to demonstrate the lack of standards in vacation rentals. What do you believe the VRMA can do to build, ensure or encourage standardization in the industry? Or do you believe the industry should not be standardized?
Hurst: It’s important to note that vacation rentals are not hotels, and don’t want to be hotels. In many ways, we don’t want to take the same path as hotels have. If the hotel industry was truly superior to vacation rentals, they wouldn’t see vacation rentals as threats and wouldn’t initiate negative campaigns against the vacation rental industry (like the one in question).
However, there are a few things we can learn from hotels in terms of standardization. While our inventory will never be as standardized as hotels, the level of service and convenience we offer guests can be. This goes back to promoting best practices among professional vacation rental managers and encouraging the adoption of technology that benefits not only guests but also professional managers and the home owners they work with.
Question: What business experience and leadership skills do you currently have which you believe will improve the VRMA?
Hurst: I have more than six years of experience working directly with professional vacation rental managers, speaking with them on a daily basis to understand their needs and find solutions that make real impacts on their businesses. In the process of doing just that, I’ve helped LiveRez grow to become the industry leader in vacation rental software (and in just a short period of time).
I also have a background in politics. I’ve worked on a variety of political campaigns, both local and national. And, I currently serve as the chairman of Idaho’s Young Republication Association and on the executive committee of the Idaho Republican Party. Nobody wants to hear from a politician, but certainly they can appreciate someone that helps build consensus.
The sum of this experience is that I know how to grow businesses, form partnerships and work with a wide variety of people to accomplish goals. I hope to lend this experience to the VRMA Board and Membership.
The election is being held Tuesday at the 2014 VRMA Annual Conference in San Diego, CA.
By Amy Hinote, VRM Intel