Former Yapstone CEO and current Co-Chairman Matt Golis is looking to serve on the VRMA Board of Directors. Golis is running against Tyler Hurst, Director of Sales at LiveRez, for the supplier seat recently vacated by Lee Hughes, CEO at CSA Travel Insurance.
We reached out to Golis 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.
Golis: After being an active member (including a VRMA sponsor) for the past 9 years and attending many VRMA meetings, I have always wanted to contribute my experiences in the industry for the betterment of VRMA. After being CEO of a fast-growing Internet payments company for the past 11+ years, I transitioned to Co-Chairman in May which is finally giving me the time to really make a difference within VRMA and several other boards. I have never run for a VRMA seat before because I simply was too busy – now I can help this organization grow and continue to prosper.
QUESTION: Do you feel like VRMA is currently moving in the right direction?
Golis: VRMA has made tremendous strides in the past year, as evidenced by increased membership and attendance at VRMA events. In addition, VRMA’s board has attracted fantastic talent to address both VRMA’s role in advocating for professionally-managed vacation rentals and anticipating threats and opportunities to the industry as a whole.
I think I can bring both technology expertise and a Silicon Valley perspective that can help VRMA keep moving in a positive direction.
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?
Golis: I think there are several ways to increase membership among vacation rental managers:
1. Consider both new locations that have not hosted a VRMA event, as well as locations that are easier to access by plane and/or are a “destination” themselves. Each VRMA conference, I have been impressed with how many attendees are coming to their first event because of the proximity to them. For VRMA to grow its membership (and engagement at conferences), we need to diversify where the events are held and consider locations that maximize ease of travel and new member opportunity.
2. Offering more VRMA-certified training classes that can be taught as web-based training to work towards different levels of professional management certification for vacation rental companies. For property managers that cannot attend events, VRMA has a great opportunity to market web-based training and classes that can both increase membership and potentially provide a great revenue source to the organization. Since many vacation rental managers are in vacation destinations around the US, it is hard for many to travel to a VRMA event. Offering web-based training (with a strong Internet marketing campaign) would be the best way to connect with these property managers that represent the 95%+ that are not active VRMA members today.
3. Continuing to invest in advocacy for the industry, and establishing stronger ties with news sources that are covering many of the short-term rental debates that are affecting professional vacation rental managers. If VRMA makes this investment, the halo-effect from VRMA fighting for the best interests of vacation rental managers can lead to increased membership.
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?
Golis: VRMA needs to play a significant and active role in government advocacy because we can’t afford to allow large short-term rentals that operate like hotel sites define us and our industry. Many of these sites cater to an urban population (i.e. New York and San Francisco) and they are framing the debate around helping hosts generate supplemental income in a down economy. They view vacation rentals as a threat, and have the resources to frame the debate. VRMA needs to both partner and act on its own to define how vacation rentals both operate very differently from other short-term rentals and how the audience that vacation rentals cater to is fundamentally different than those companies trying to profit from urbanites renting out their apartment, home, or couch for a few nights.
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?
Golis: I think the AH&LA knows how much both vacation rental and short-term rental sites are affecting their growth as an industry. I do think there are ways that the VRMA can encourage best practices that only helps the image of the industry, but I am not a fan of imposed regulation on the vacation rental industry. I think VRMA can demonstrate that it is both providing education to its base and training that can show the AH&LA (and hospitality industry at large) that professionally-managed vacation rentals care about maintaining a high standard of quality and service.
QUESTION: What business experience and leadership skills do you currently have which you believe will improve the VRMA?
Golis: Having served as a CEO of a company that has grown substantially, from a few to 250+ employees in the past 11 years, I have experience in both scaling teams and addressing the ever-changing needs of the industries we serve (like vacation rental managers). I would look forward to actively contributing my leadership and organizational experience, with a technology perspective that will consider new and better ways of helping VRMA thrive. I am fortunate to know many VRMA members over my past 9 years in this great industry, and want to continue to bring people together to anticipate how VRMA can expand and take on a greater role in making the industry pie even bigger.
The election is being held Tuesday at the 2014 VRMA Annual Conference in San Diego, CA.
By Amy Hinote, VRM Intel