Riding The VR Waves Of South Florida...

Every industry has it's season! And the vacation rental industry is no different than that of any other. 

There are times of the year when travelers escape to South Florida in droves, seeking warmth, sun rays, and sun kissed tans of the southern tropics of the Americas. Then there are times when the Miami Heat is just too hot, and humid for a northerner to bare. This describes the waves of season within the vacation rental industry of South Florida. 

I've found myself having to explain seasonality more often than not to so many that are venturing into short term rentals for the first time, especially if it's their first time experiencing a full cycle of seasonality. 

My main advice is...this is not for the faint of heart. Being a true investor is key, and staying focused on the annual performance, and ROI of your property rather than just the monthly income revenue.

At its peak the income is unbelievable with extremely high margins, and throughout the slower season you can expect to make what your home is projected on a long term basis or slightly more, however you have a lot of calendar flexibility to utilize the home for your family, and friends throughout the summer months or most importantly sprucing things up for the upcoming peak season again. 

 

Vacation Rental Impressions...

I woke up this morning in a bit of a daze, and disbelief that we had dinner with Matt Landau last night. What an honor it was for us to be able to have spent time with the single most respected person in the vacation rental industry. As my brother said "he's the Lebron James of vacation rentals."

So many impressions have been left on myself, and I am certain my brother as well. Our conversation touched on several aspects of our industry, but most importantly the impact we have on every traveler that chooses to stay at our properties. And that's just it! It's the aspect of this industry that is propelling vacation rentals to the forefront. 

We have the ability to be an integral part of the vacationing experience of so many. Being a host, and an expert are two entirely separate entities. But becoming a host, and expert intertwined is ultimately the direction every host, and manager in this industry should be aiming for.

It's what sets us apart! Travelers are people, and people love people. We have an opportunity that hotels don't. That's the ability to provide a much more personable experience that will have an lasting impression for a lifetime.  

 

 

SUPER HOST>>>

How to become a Super Host? Well by AirBnB's criteria, it's fairly simple, or NOT. Depending from what angle you look at it. 

I've been a guest in the home of an AirBnB SuperHost, and was perplexed as to how this person achieved the status of AirBnB Super Host, when here I was overly attention to detail at some of our managed homes, and still got complaints and reviews that nixed any possible Super Host potential. 

So I started really thinking about how do you REALLY become a SUPER HOST of any property on any platform in the Vacation Rental industry.  For us it was clear and simple, managing vacation rentals at hotel standard. 

Some may ask why at hotel standard when a traveler chose not to stay at a hotel, but for us we see the vacation rental industry as a concept able to provide the quality of a hotel, and the value of vacation rental. 

Needless to say a SUPER HOST to us is more about the presentation, quality, and service the guests received, rather than just a place to sleep no matter the state.  

What A Bug...UPDATE To Property Management Software Post!

I'm not referring to bed bugs. But rather to the techie kind that no one can quite figure out... 

What I can say is that our entire AirBnB account went haywire when we partnered with the channel manager Janiis. Needless to say it has been frustrating in the least, and extensively time consuming attempting to solve. 

The folks that enjoy figuring these things out at AirBnB are stumped, and the "channel manager" that started it all is relinquishing all responsibility. It has been over a month to date, and Janiis continues to deflect, and redirect each time we have reached out seeking resolve. 

Let me just say I wanted love their product so much, but man what I didn't realize was how unfinished it was. Certainly in no way ready to take on what we are used to. This was where I had to sit back and accept that I made a poor choice when I opted to switch from MyVR to try a new product. 

Not everything that is new is nice! Needless to say we are now back to our original channel manager who have been syncing with us for years. We started with them back when they were a startup, and despite us choosing to jump on a newer ship, they gracefully took us back on board their cruise liner.

The extras may cost, but I'm always willing to pay for a product that works, or at least is fully backed by its developer where resolving their customers woes comes first. 

My channel manager recommendation for vacation rental managers, and owners would hands down be MyVr. 

 

Bridging The Gap

With the vacation rental industry on a rapid uprising, there has been a more than ever before need for hotel standard service, and quality. 

We have a concept launching soon for owners, and other property managers within the industry that would love to bring their properties to hotel standard. It will certainly be a step in the best direction. Especially with what's projected for the VR industry of the future. 

That being said! Yesterday into last night we found ourselves smack in the middle of the gap that we are currently working on bridging. Which was great as we realized more than ever that our product is needed, and necessary. More on that in a later post...

What do you do when both an owner, and a traveler are your clients.  How do you present a solution that works for both in the best way possible. 

Here are a few tips..

1. Communication - clear, and friendly communication with both the traveler, and the owner. How intense a situation may seem is a matter of perspective. Try to maintain a positivity mindset, and outlook and all parties will most likely mimic your state of being positive. 

2. Timing - most things in this industry comes down to your ability to respond to a situation in a timely manner. With tip 1 being covered, it is now up to you to relay all information as soon as possible. 

3. Scale - based on the circumstances I like to scale the severity of the situation based on the details provided by the traveler, and utilizing that SS (severability scale) to then relay those details using them as driving points so the owner can react to resolve in a timely manner which ties into tip 2.

It's a business of people, and people love being informed, and their requests being heard. As a manager you are the informant, and the ear. 

 

New Property Management Software Woes...

Simplicity, Accessibility, and Seamless Distribution!

At minimum those are the 3 keys to operating at maximum efficiency for me. Recently after several years with a particular management software company we decided to go with a new software, and we have been running blindly in a maze of uncertainty since. 

Needless to say the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. We have lost what I hope is temporary access to our listing sites, and the ability to communicate with our guests, and respond to inquiries. This has brought our systems to a screeching halt in the middle of us accelerating forward. 

Don't get me wrong! I really liked, and wanted to love our new management software. Everything seemed so simple, and easy to use, but evidently too simple for our needs. They just aren't in the stage where our partnership can be fruitful for either party. Sometimes you just have to know when it is best part ways, and maybe you'll meet again someday. 

Knowing where you are as a owner, manager, or management company and what you require of your software to do for you is crucial in the VR world. I recommend to explore options, utilize free trial periods, and really figure out what fits seamlessly in your system before making a concrete commitment. 

 

 

Property Off Boarding...

I know we have shared quite a bit on the on boarding process, and procedures for a property entering your management portfolio, but what about the off boarding process. Today I wanted to share on the subject as we are currently in the off boarding process. This can happen for several different reasons, here are the 3 most commons reasons why a property would be off boarded as a VR home. 

1. The property was sold.

2. The property will become owner occupied 

3. The property is entering in a long term tenancy agreement.

Depending on the type of management agreement you have with the owner there are several steps to be taken. Here are a few tips to save yourself, and the homeowner time and penalties. 

1. As much advance notice as possible to avoid cancellation penalties associations with guest reservations. 

2. If under FULL management be sure to contact your service provides to have all services such as electrical, cable, internet, and landscaping terminated as soon as the property is no longer occupied by your guests. 

3. Immediately seek relocation for incoming guests that may become displaced due to the off boarding.

4. Contact and communicate with the guest, as well as your channel partners throughout relocation processing. 

5. Prepare a final owner statement to include all off boarding costs.

Payment And Agreements = No Argument!

As I release a BIG sigh,  I cannot stress the title of this post enough. As someone who always wants to believe and appeal to the best in people the truth is people don't always appeal to the best in themselves. 

This industry has so many ups, but also has its moments where I have to sit in the downs and make some tough calls. It does not always pay to be nice...LITERALLY! I say this from having taken recent hits by guests who we trusted to show up, and pay up. 

These situations are what makes me become a stickler to policies, and instill an absolutely no flexibility rule to our terms. The frequency of such incidents are fewer now than when we first began in this business, but it is a reminder to always be a student of your own procedures. 

Policy, and guidelines are in place for the protection of your business, your brand, and your clientele. It is important to research rental terms, and agreement documents produce by industry leaders and utilize it as a blueprint for the creation of your own. 

 

Transient Rental TAXES!

I find this time ideal (it being tax season) to bring awareness to the tax liabilities associated with transient rentals. For clarification transient rentals are defined as any sleeping, or living accommodations for which a person has paid that does not exceed 6 months.  These taxes are to be collected and paid on all rental charges. These taxes are known by many names: sales tax, occupancy tax, lodging tax, room tax, accommodations tax, bed tax, hotel tax, etc.) Here are some quick filing tips for the State of Florida...

1. Both filing, and payment are due by 5pm on the 20th of each calendar month in the State Of Florida.

2. Be sure to include your housekeeping, and cleaning fees when calculating your gross income.

3. Register your property with both the Department Of Revenue, and your local county tax office ONLY if you are required to report and pay directly to your county. 

4. Register, and utilize the e-filing system available online to save time, and tons of paper. If you're a paper person filing coupon booklets will be mailed to you once your are registered and ready to begin collecting taxes. 

5. When reporting, and paying separately to the Department Of Revenue, and your respective county. Be sure to carefully read the filing instructions provided for TRANSIENT RENTALS ONLY!

6. Listing on AirBnB only? Then you need not worry, as AirBnB takes care of collecting, and remitting the appropriate taxes for you. This information can usually be found under your gross earnings tab.

 

VR Glitz And GRIND!

A couple days ago I received a DM on instagram from a person stating they wish they were Downtown on a balcony looking at the city lights just like me. That “I’m living the life.” So I wanted to share some of the truths and real life facts of VR Management as it’s what we aim to share with those who follow us for real life industry insight. 

 It isn’t always glamorous. Yes...there are luxurious condos in the city, and lovely homes in the suburbs but that doesn’t mean Management is always as glitzy as it seems.  Here's how to glitz, and grind seamlessly..

1. Possess a forward thinking mindset like the hands on a clock. There is an entire organizational structural operation that makes our properties turn like clock work for check in and outs, but sometimes that clock can get stuck because it's controlled by human beings. A positive forward thinking mindset will always move  the hands of the clock forward much faster. 

2. Be solution driven and focused! We don’t always get it perfect! Stellar service and perfection is our aim but there are days where something minor can be a miss, and being available and quick to take action helps bring about a faster recovery from any blunder.

3. Be of service BUT with discernment! This is a business of people, and being of service to people is our business model. However discernment is key in avoiding the various pitfalls of this industry. 

4. Build the right team. Teamwork is the essence of any successful framework in any business. Hire those who can be an asset and ready to take the lead. Those who can execute without instruction with a keen awareness of what is required. 

5. Don't let the bright lights blind you. What's bright today may not shine tomorrow, the industry is ever changing so always think expansion always, and in all ways.