Local rental management businesses offer warning to second-home owners | SkyHiNews.com

Local rental management businesses offer warning to second-home owners

A collection of rental management companies in the Fraser Valley are starting a campaign to educate and urge second home owners to use local management businesses in lieu of larger, nation wide companies trying to move into Grand County.

As the vacation rental business continues to grow nation-wide, bigger companies such as Vacasa, SkyRun and TurnKey are looking to expand into different markets, though local companies are warning that the affects could be largely negative.

"They're coming to Winter Park big time, because Winter Park has so many vacation rentals, and it's finally been discovered," said Sarah Bradford, owner of Winter Park Lodging Company. "They're soliciting to owners here, and pouring money into the area to try and get people to sign on.

"These companies are backed by millions of dollars of venture capital, and the way they're showing their stakeholders they're making money is by how many people sign on, not how well they're performing for those people. They're trying to get owners to jump ship, and it's just too good to be true."

The Winter Park Lodging Company has teamed up with Stay Winter Park and Winter Park Resort Lodging to try and inform Realtors and the second home owners about the potential risks of working with nation-wide rental managers, and the benefits of staying local.

Bradford said the campaign would include sending out informational mailers to more than 1,000 second homeowners in the area, and holding an educational seminar for Realtors in early March.

"Winter Park Resort is happy to join other community entities as a member of the Winter Park Vacation Rental Alliance, which educates both Realtors and homeowners about the advantages of choosing a local rental company," said Cheryl Spezia, vice president of lodging for Winter Park Resort. "Ultimately, the outcome of this alliance is huge benefits for guests, who can expect a higher level of service and a better overall lodging experience."

The main concern for local companies, on top of national entities trying to poach their business, is that both owners and guests will have a worse experience.

Local companies keep large numbers of staff on hand to make sure that properties are properly managed, a luxury nation-wide companies don't have. The pervasive narrative is that guests could suffer from a lack of personal care, and choose to take their vacations to other resort destinations like Breckenridge or Vail in the future.

There is also concern that, despite nation-wide companies often taking lower rates for their services, that properties will not be cared after as well, and that less rentals as a whole will mean less revenue for second home owners. Bradford said about 60 percent of her rentals are native, booked directly on her website, and that only about 25 percent comes from nation-wide listing sites like Airbnb or VRBO.

"The biggest take away for second home owners worried about revenue is that if they're going to get lured by 18 percent or 24 percent rates, after a year they're going to look in their bank account and think they didn't get any bookings," said Bradford. "It's about volume vs. performance."

The influx of nation-wide businesses could also have negative affects on the local economy, taking jobs away from community members and dispersing them all over the country. Both Winter Park Lodging Company and Stay Winter Park employ about 50 individuals each.

"Really the point of it is we want to support the local economy if we want people to stay and have good jobs here," said Bradford. "Giving them away to Austin or Portland is not the way to go…we're also leading with a message that none of these companies have any management or oversight in Grand County."

Bradford said mailers will go out this week, and that Realtors in the area should expect and invitation to a short seminar on March 6 at the Beaver Village condominium building.

"We believe that the benefit of having locally owned and managed companies is that it gives the best result for the owners," said Robert Blay, owner of Stay Winter Park. "We're knowledgeable about the area and we have staff in town, not just one person an hour or two away. We're here for the owner and the property, and our knowledge allows us to provide the best guest experience, which gives a better experience for owners as well."