|Vacasa Taps Whimstay as Booking Partner for Last-Minute Guest Travel|
JANUARY 6, 2022THE LATEST FROM ARRIVAL
Maximizing Sales Via Textual CommunicationsAs is the lodging industry in general, resorts and vacation rental companies are well aware that direct bookings not only help hold down the “costs of acquisition,” but also increase our guest loyalty to our brands and not to a distribution channel partner. Therefore, it is certainly important to train your team to sell via the voice channel.
However, it is also essential to ensure that your team is properly trained on best habits for textual selling via online and digital channels. For one, there is often an interplay of the voice and online bookings. Secondly, many guests first reach out by way of the written word, which still distinctly shows intent.
Here are some of many textual selling opportunities…Read MoreVRMA NEWSShare Your Property Photos With VRMAVRMA Arrival is looking for property photo submissions to feature in upcoming issues of the magazine. Your photo might even make it on the cover!
Send your high-resolution, print-quality photo to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration and possible publication in a future issue of Arrival. Please include a caption with each photo, as well as your full name. By sending us your photo, you acknowledge you have the right to publish the photo, and you grant VRMA the right to publish it.INDUSTRY NEWSSOCIAL IMPACT
Airbnb Will Hide Guests’ First Names in Oregon Until Bookings Are Confirmed to Fight DiscriminationStarting January 31, Airbnb hosts in Oregon will only be allowed to see the initials of guests’ first names until they confirm a booking request. Once confirmed, the guest’s full name will appear, and this change will be in effect for at least two years. The move by Airbnb is intended to address discrimination, but hosts in other states will not have the same mandate imposed on them. The company said in announcing the update that it is consistent with the voluntary settlement agreement it reached with individuals in Oregon in 2019 “who raised concerns regarding the way guests’ names are displayed when they seek to book a listing.” In 2017, Portland resident Patricia Harrington sued the company, saying because Airbnb requires guests to disclose their full name and include a photo for review before booking acceptance, the platform was allowing hosts to discriminate against Black guests in violation of Oregon’s public accommodation laws. Two more Black women in Oregon joined the lawsuit, which Airbnb eventually settled. Airbnb spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco said the company has limited the update to Oregon because “the impact of this change is unknown.” She added that Airbnb “will evaluate the impact of this change to understand if there are learnings from this work that can inform future efforts to fight bias.”Gizmodo (01/01/22) Jody Serrano
HomeToGo Acquires AMIVAC From Groupe SeLoger, Growing Its Operations in FranceHomeToGo, the marketplace with the world’s biggest selection of vacation rentals, announced its acquisition of AMIVAC, the vacation rental business unit of Groupe SeLoger, which operates the French brands of amivac.com, vacances.com, and vacances.seloger.com. The brands offer subscription listing services for homeowners and professional agencies, which will contribute to the expansion of HomeToGo’s Subscription & Services platform. The merger aligns with Groupe SeLoger’s strategy of focusing on its real estate search business. HomeToGo CEO Patrick Andrae said the acquisition “will give AMIVAC’s customers and professional agencies an added benefit of the advanced technology solutions that HomeToGo offers, while also serving our customers with an expanded offering of unique, high-quality vacation rentals in France.” Groupe SeLoger Country Managing Director Caroline de Gantès commented that their focus on “simplifying and improving real estate search,” will seek “to improve the property buying, renting, and selling experience for all in France. We are convinced that with the ongoing consolidation of the vacation rental market in France and abroad, HomeToGo’s leading stature in the alternative accommodation industry offers compelling new opportunities for the AMIVAC, SeLoger Vacances, and Vacances.com brands.”Travel Daily News (01/04/22) Vicky Karantzavelou
Western ‘Zoom Towns’ Take Aim at Short-Term RentalsFirms such as Airbnb, Vacasa, and VRBO facing short-term rental caps in Western towns have been aggressively soliciting property owners in quieter, unincorporated seaside communities with fewer restrictions on rentals, and business has surged. According to a public records request from retiree Monica Kirk in Depoe Bay, Oregon, the number of licensed short-term rentals in unincorporated neighborhoods in Lincoln County have grown from 385 to 601 since solicitations began. The transition of so many homes into short-term rentals has added to the difficulty for working people to afford homes in the county. Kirk and her neighbors collected signatures for a ballot initiative passed in November that will eliminate short-term rentals in unincorporated communities in Lincoln County over the next five years. Western tourist towns were short of affordable housing even before the pandemic, which gave rise to so-called “Zoom towns,” while owners of second homes also found it easier to list vacancies with Internet-based property firms. Whitefish, Montana, has seen long-term renters forced to move because their landlords decided to turn their housing into short-term rentals. “There’s this national thing where hospitality people aren’t returning to hospitality because the wages are too low, or they’re sick of dealing with the public or whatever it is,” said Lauren Oscilowski on the sustainable tourism management committee of the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But that’s just a piece of it. The bigger piece for us is really housing.”Seattle Times (01/02/22) Erika Bolstad
Read MoreREGULATORY NEWSSnowmass Village, Colorado, Town Council Chimes in on Short-Term Rentals DiscussionThe Snowmass Village Town Council has discussed the Colorado town’s options for regulating short-term rental (STR) properties without proposing an actual policy. “We should be looking at it, making sure that we are adequately protected from abuse,” said Councilor Tom Fridstein. The panel directed staff to identify STR-related issues and to devise possible regulations to address them. Councilor Alyssa Shenk recalled the dreadful misbehavior of people who rented a duplex in Aspen she used to own but acknowledged that she does “appreciate people that want to be able to get their little slice of heaven and come here. And the only way they can do it is if they rent their property some of the time.” According to Snowmass Village’s latest transient inventory study in 2018, the town has 1,699 STR units including 880 through hotel rooms, 735 in condos, and 84 in private homes, making roughly 4,768 housing and lodging units in total. Residents like Mike George think the council should not regulate STRs in reaction to a problem that it does not fully understand, arguing that property values are too high to expect a cap on STRs to “magically produce a large base of housing for our workforce.”Aspen Daily News (Colo.) (01/04/22) Matthew Bennett
Read MoreStonington, Maine, Is the Latest Town to Consider Regulating Vacation RentalsStonington, Maine, will decide whether and how to regulate short-term rentals amid a surge in the number of vacation rental properties and the increasing depletion of year-round housing. The town’s select board in December voted to organize a task force to look into the issue, making Stonington the latest community in the state to consider regulations. Airbnb listings in Stonington and neighboring Deer Isle ballooned from three to 298 between 2012 and 2018, according to the nonprofit Island Workforce Housing. “It’s to the point now, with vacation rentals having completely overtaken year-round rentals, that there’s nowhere to live,” said Peter Roth, a member of Island Workforce Housing’s Board of Directors. “People just can’t find a place to live and if they can, it’s a seasonal rental.” This is the first time Stonington has weighed possible short-term rental regulation, and Select Board member Evelyn Duncan said she hoped the task force, once established, would help frame the issue. Although short-term rentals can cause property values and property tax revenues to appreciate, if they displace people who cannot afford to buy or rent more expensive housing, they will leave. The effect will be declining school enrollments, fewer year-round residents, and a smaller pool of permanent residents which local businesses and organizations can tap for workers and volunteers.Bangor Daily News (01/03/22) Ethan Genter
Read MoreAfter Two-Year Trial, Ledyard, Connecticut, Debates New Approach to Short-Term RentalsThe town of Ledyard, Connecticut, is considering the regulation of short-term rentals following a two-year trial ordinance, which many agreed lacked sufficient agency to address neighbors’ problems about party rentals and absentee landlords. Ledyard zoning enforcement officer Mike Cherry said the present ordinance requires property owners advertising short-term rentals to have a permit, without penalty for non-compliance; town officials did not anticipate anyone operating a rental without a permit, which is why penalization rules were not included. Eric Treaster with the Ledyard Zoning Board of Appeals said “commencing legal action” against a permitless host would incur significant costs, while resident Pam Bartlett expressed concerns that Ledyard and other small towns would lose a sense of community if neighborhoods are purchased by corporations for rentals. Alternatives under discussion include regulation by ordinance with penalties added, and a proposal from Treaster to create a new zoning regulation for short-term rentals. His proposal would permit only “hosted” short-term rentals in residential areas, which means the owners are still on the property while renting out a room or accessory dwelling unit. This should discourage renters from throwing loud parties or do anything else that would disrupt neighbors or breach town regulations. A consensus favoring the zoning option appears to be forming, with new Town Planner Juliet Hodge recommending such a regulation as easier to enforce.Connecticut Examiner (01/03/22) Brendan Crowley
Read MoreAtlantic City Council Declines to Weaken Short Term Rental Ordinance Over LawsuitThe Atlantic City Council defeated a motion to water down its statutes on Airbnb-style short-term rentals at a special meeting, saying its legal team should return to the negotiating table in a lawsuit over the city’s actions. City attorney Michael Perugini said the revisions to one ordinance and removal of another were mandated by a recent court settlement in a reopened 2012 case. An ordinance to limit the number of such rentals in the 6th Ward in areas of the Chelsea neighborhood to those already licensed, or about 50, was staged for elimination, while language limiting house occupancy to 16 and requiring private garbage collection would have been stripped from another ordinance. “Lower Chelsea is being destroyed by short-term rentals,” said Chelsea Neighborhood Association President Carole Ruffu, who pleaded that the council not dismiss the issue so quickly. She cited noise pollution, overflowing trash cans, strangers the area, and residents’ inability to find parking. Following the meeting, Councilman Jesse Kurtz said the state can either veto the council’s actions and force the changes in the ordinance, or let the city renegotiate the settlement. It had already barred the ordinance limiting licenses from taking effect.Press of Atlantic City (12/29/21) Michelle Brunetti Post
Read More – May Require Paid SubscriptionNorthern Michigan Communities Wary of Short-Term Rental BillNorthern Michigan communities are closely watching an ordinance on short-term rentals in 2022, which would prevent local governments from banning such rentals, and instead leave control at the state level. Several cities have proposed resolutions opposing the bill, which is also opposed by the Michigan Municipal League. Many of these communities have resort- and tourism-based economies, and with demand for workforce residences already at a premium, many local government leaders say the bill would strip their authority on an issue that requires local regulation. Harbor Springs passed one resolution opposing the measure, amid mounting concerns about the city’s housing inventory being poached for short-term rentals. Harbor Springs City Manager Victor Sinadinoski said the ordinance, if passed as is, “could as much as triple or quadruple the number of short-term rentals we have now, and the number we have now, as expressed by a lot of residents, is too many and is ruining the…residential feel of some neighborhoods.” Last-minute revisions to the bill permit local units to set some caps on how many short-term rentals a property owner could operate, and on the number of short-term rentals; but at least 30% of existing residential units in a municipality must still be available for short-term rental. “When you take away the ability for housing to be used for long term rentals, you are really destabilizing the community,” warned Petoskey City Councilwoman Kate Marshall. “When you start giving real estate people and developers the edge, you will erode this community.”Petoskey News-Review (12/29/21) William T. Perkins
Read MoreS.C. House Bill Would Prohibit Cities From Banning Short-Term RentalsA bill in the South Carolina House would outlaw bans on short-term rentals in cities and towns. Local governments that break the rules would not be allowed to collect property tax at the higher 6% commercial rate for short-term rental properties and be disqualified from receiving money from the Local Government Fund and other state aid. Property owners prevented from operating a short-term rental would only be subject to the 4% property tax rate for a primary residence, even if the property was used as a second home or long-term rental, according to bill co-sponsor Rep. Lee Hewitt (R). The Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Scott Slatton said no local governments in the state are known to have outright banned short-term rentals, and while the association does not oppose the bill as written, this could change if it were rewritten to prevent regulating the rentals. “This is just one of many bills that seek to preempt local authority and, on principle, those are things that we generally we’re going to oppose because local officials know best how to address issues in their communities,” Slatton commented. Cities across South Carolina have considered and implemented short-term rental regulations as sites like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly popular, while Hewitt said the concern is that governments will consider such rules as more people relocate to the coast or buy property there to operate as rentals. “You’re just saying, ‘Hey, guys, that’s fine. If you want to do it, you can do it. But here are the consequences if you do,'” he noted.Post and Courier (SC) (12/24/21) Stephen Festenau
Read MorePRESS RELEASESVacasa Taps Whimstay as Booking Partner for Last-Minute Guest TravelSan Francisco—January 5, 2021 – Whimstay, Shortyz finalist for best Online Travel Agent in 2021, has entered into a partnership agreement with Vacasa, North America’s leading vacation rental management platform. Whimstay will now be a premier sales partner for last-minute reservations at Vacasa’s 35,000+ vacation rental properties. With this new partnership and addition of Vacasa’s inventory, Whimstay customers will now be able to book stays at over 100,000 vacation rental properties.
“Whimstay offers deals on last-minute vacation rentals,” says Ben Jamshahi, CEO and Co-Founder of Whimstay. “Partnering with Vacasa allows our customers to not only book Vacasa’s professionally managed and well-appointed vacation rental properties, but also provides incremental revenue for Vacasa’s homeowners when their homes may have been otherwise vacant.”
Vacasa is a full-service vacation rental management platform caring for thousands of vacation rentals in more than 400 of the most sought-after vacation destinations throughout North America, Belize and Costa Rica. The company’s end-to-end technology platform helps to maximize revenue and optimize vacation rental home care services for property owners, while providing guests with a consistent, professional vacation rental experience across all its properties and destinations.
“The pandemic accelerated a preference shift that was a decade in the making, with more people trying short-term rentals for the first time and guests staying in them more often,” said Caleb Donegan, VP of Marketing for Vacasa. “While we’re experiencing an increase in demand and occupancy rates remain high, our partnership with Whimstay will connect more guests with our homes and elevated vacation rental experience.”
Whimstay, founded in 2018, is the first to market aggregator of unsold vacation rental properties and provides last minute deals in the fast-growing vacation rental market. Recognized as a Shortyz finalist for Best OTA in 2021, as well as Rentals United’s Who’s Who of new OTA for 2020 and 2021. Whimstay’s properties are available on whimstay.com and the Whimstay app.
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Vacasa is the leading vacation rental management platform in North America, transforming the vacation rental experience by integrating purpose-built technology with expert local and national teams. Homeowners enjoy earning significant incremental income on one of their most valuable assets, delivered by the company’s unmatched technology that adjusts rates in real time to maximize revenue. Guests can relax comfortably in Vacasa’s 35,000+ homes across more than 400 destinations in North America, Belize and Costa Rica, knowing that 24/7 support is just a phone call away. In addition to enabling guests to search, discover and book its properties on Vacasa.com and the Vacasa Guest App, Vacasa provides valuable, professionally managed inventory to top channel partners, including Airbnb, Booking.com and Vrbo.
For more information, visit https://www.vacasa.com/press.News summaries © copyright 2022 Smithbucklin© Copyright 2022 by the Vacation Rental Management Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher.
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