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The Florida Legislature is discussing changes concerning short term rentals you may want to be aware of. The proposed legislation, HB307 and SB356, could potentially have a significant impact on your rental operation and it is important you understand the implications of these changes being discussed:

To read the proposed legislation, please click these links:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=51421
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0356

An online resource for owners and managers in the short term rental industry has been formed to provide best practices and helpful information. To start a local chapter visit:
http://www.stradvocacy.org/

FlipKey does not have independent knowledge of these regulations or any proposed or actual changes to existing regulations. FlipKey encourages all managers and owners to understand and comply with the regulations governing short term rentals in their individual municipalities.

Thank you,
The FlipKey Team

On November 14th, thirteen FlipKey members strapped on their hairnets and volunteered their time to prepare meals at the Community Servings facility in Jamaica Plain. As part of “FlipKey Gives Back” month, an annual program created by the company this year, FlipKey plans to help its greater community by volunteering and donating to some select Boston-based organizations.

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In deciding which non-profits to contribute to, Community Servings was an easy choice for the FlipKey team. Each week, the Community Servings kitchen prepares and delivers 7,500 meals to the critically-ill and homebound in Massachusetts. The individuals benefiting from this program all lay in a critical stage of a life threatening illness and are unable to shop or cook for themselves. 95% of these individuals are also living at or below the poverty level, making proper nutrition that much harder to maintain. By providing something as simple and necessary as a ready-to-eat meal, Community Servings helps to make life a little bit healthier and easier for these individuals.

STRAC

You might have seen our recent blog post highlighting an infographic last week that was created by the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, a coalition that we’re a part of which represents the millions of people across the U.S. who participate in and benefit from the growing short-term rental marketplace. Now you have a chance to learn more firsthand from the coalition by participating in a webinar this Thursday, September 19th.

Check out the details below.

When: Thursday, September 19th at 3:30 pm ET.

Who: Hosted by Tim Doyle, spokesman for the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center.

Guests include Matt Curtis, Director of Government Relations at HomeAway and Joel Rasmussen, President of the Austin Rental Alliance.

Why: If you and other short-term rental operators in your community are facing onerous regulations or outright bans then this webinar is for you. STRAC will walk you through how to create compelling messages and materials, and deliver those to local officials and media. Members from successful campaigns will also provide real-world examples on how to implement these tactics and win fair and reasonable regulation for your community.

Learning How To Generate More Bookings, Though, Generally Does

Guest post written by: Matt Landau, founder of Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

Here is one of the great themes that I have concluded (and have had validated from many great rental marketers): just generating more bookings is not gratifying.

Signing up for a listing site or writing an ad on Craigslist takes minimal effort and is accessible to every vacation rental owner or manager around the world.

In the great proverb, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime,” just accruing bookings means you’re eating for the day.

But when you learn how to generate bookings for yourself – when you decide to take a journey on the education train and accept a challenge that’s probably slightly above your skill level – there is not only the sustainable nourishment that will fuel your rentals over the long haul. This includes (but is not limited to) building your own website, learning about online PR, establishing relationships with locals…etc.

Further, there is a great sense of pride, accomplishment, and gratification along the way of building your own vacation rental marketing portfolio.

Some of the best moments I’ve experienced with my rentals is an intangible happiness I get from finding new ways to fill my rentals. For most owners, the fear of failure is strong enough to keep them away from learning new skills. So when you learn to compliment reliable channels like a FlipKey listing with more innovative techniques, you’ve already set yourself apart from the competition.

But if I could point at one philosophy that has not just made me more money but made the process itself a satisfying and enlightening one, it would be this one.

Matt Landau is the founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and this excerpt is taken from his newest eBook, The Eureka Effect: How Good Vacation Rentals Become Great available now.

Here in Boston, city-dwellers are benefiting from new, automated technologies. We can beat the heat by setting our thermostats to activate while we’re miles away, we can hail a taxi by clicking a few buttons on our phones and we can pay for lunch by holding them up to restaurant’s readers. Though the vacation rental industry values relationships and personal interactions, we can still draw on emerging technologies to create a more seamless booking experience.

Accepting online payments has long been a vision of ours. In the past few months, we’ve built a platform that enables our clients to accept credit card payments from within their FlipKey listings. We’ve tested it, and are nearly ready to offer FlipKey Payments to property managers.

This tool offers travelers the gratification of confirming and paying for their stay immediately, removing one of the barriers that sometimes turns them to hotels. Online payments are secure: once the customer’s credit card is authorized and the traveler checks in, the money is placed in your account, eliminating the financial risk and fees of bounced checks. What’s more, online payments offer fraud protection and assures consumer confidence. For these reasons and more, we believe FlipKey Payments are a needed, practical solution for the vacation rental industry.

Stay tuned for an announcement about how you can integrate this development into your FlipKey listings. As always, we welcome your feedback about this new feature!

Today we’re excited to introduce the first edition of FlipKey Travel Insights, a series of data visualizations highlighting travel trends in popular destinations in the United States. We took a deep dive into millions of reservation requests and property listings from the past three years to uncover revealing information about travel to 25 of FlipKey travelers’ favorite destinations. Travel Insights help us understand where real travelers go, when they travel, and how much they spend on their vacations. As summer travel season kicks into full gear, we present these insights as a helpful aid for planning your next trip.

Check out all 25 Travel Insights destinations here

Travel Insights allows us to harness the data we have from our millions of travelers who have planned their vacations on FlipKey.com and utilize it to share useful tips and trends,” said Eric Horndahl, VP of Marketing. “Travelers planning their next vacation will have insider knowledge on when to go, where to stay, how far in advance to book and how much to pay for rental accommodations.”

We hope you’ll check out the full data visualizations before you plan your next trip. Until then, here are ten travel tips to whet your appetite for vacation…

1. Cape Cod’s short peak season means high demand in the summer months
Average price for a 4-bedroom rental is $310 a night in June, July, and August.

2. President’s Day week is expensive in ski destinations
Colorado and Vermont rates soar by $70 per night above average during President’s Day ski week. The last week of January and first week of February are the best weeks to save on ski lodging.

3. Visit Hawaii year-round
Hawaii is a romantic getaway destination where almost half the bookings are for couples. Thanks to its tropical climate, Hawaii’s “peak season” lasts 12 months of the year – paradise indeed!

4. Plan ahead for the mountains or Disney
Planning time for peak season in Breckenridge, CO is 10-12 weeks, and Orlando travelers book their vacations 16 weeks in advance.

5. Orlando is a family vacation spot
50% of travelers come to the Disney area in family-sized groups of 4-6.

6. San Francisco Bay area has the highest average price per guest at $108 per night
Small parties and short stays are common in the Bay Area.

7. More than half of Texas Gulf Coast visitors head to South Padre Island
Galveston, Port Aransas, and Corpus Cristii are other popular Gulf Coast destinations.

8. Holiday Hideout in the Keys
The Florida Keys are most popular during the last two weeks of December. It’s probably not a coincidence that Key West hosts a huge New Year’s Eve party.

9. The Outer Banks has a “super” peak season
Starting in late June and lasting through early August, the average price in OBX is more than $400 per night.

10. Southern California and the California Desert have the highest year-round prices
50% of all reservation requests in these areas are made for properties that cost over $200 a night.

Enjoy these travel insights. We hope they will help you find the vacation home that perfectly fits your travel style.

We’ve been hard at work improving the vacation rental experience on FlipKey, and this week we are very excited about launching our first ever mobile app. The FlipKey iOS app is designed for vacation rental owners and managers who want to manage their FlipKey listings on the go.

iphone-NewApp

Property owners and managers who use an iPhone or iPad can download the app today from the App Store for free. The new FlipKey app enables owners and managers to:

  • Get notifications for new inquiries and messages
  • Respond immediately to prospective guests
  • Send payment requests and track payments
  • Update property rate and availability info

We hope our new mobile app makes it easier for property owners and managers to manage their rentals on FlipKey, and that travelers will continue to enjoy effortless vacation rental reservations.

Happy Bookings!

The FlipKey Team



With the rise in popularity of vacation rentals, a more watchful eye has been placed on short-term rentals and their impact on the local community. New York City in particular has been a focus of news sources for the city’s regulations governing this type of property. However, regulation issues are prevalent throughout the rental industry. Increased attention coupled with a general lack of knowledge regarding these regulations has prompted the formation of the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, or STRAC. This group was created by FlipKey & TripAdvisor, HomeAway, and Airbnb to help empower and engage the short-term rental community in its crusade with policymakers for smarter regulations.

First, you may be asking yourself, “Well, what exactly qualifies as a ‘short-term rental’?”

This type of property is a residence that is rented out for less than 30 consecutive days.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, well then what are the issues surrounding this rental market?”

This is a multi-faceted question, but some of the main issues are overly broad regulations, complicated and unclear restrictions, licensing fees regardless of how often a property is rented, and a lack of understanding by policymakers of the benefits these rentals provide to the community. All of these limitations have made it increasingly difficult to successfully operate a short-term rental.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, a good place to start is by visiting STRAC’s website, http://www.stradvocacy.org/. This is a great resource for finding a local chapter of the organization, learning about how these regulations have impacted U.S. cities and short-term rental owners, and providing guidelines on how to approach your local government about these issues in a well-informed manner. It is important that your voice is heard when these regulations are being drafted and enacted. It is your property, your community, and your livelihood. STRAC is here to help, but it is up to short-term rental owners to make themselves heard. Here are some tools to get started!

Currently, there are local chapters in the following cities:

Ashland, ORMarin County, CA
Austin, TXMaui, HI
Coachella Valley, CAMiami, FL
Myrtle Beach, SCSan Francisco, CA
New York City, NYSanta Fe, NM

The STRAC website also provides a synopsis of each city’s current short-term rental regulations and how to contact them directly. Once you register with your local chapter, you can receive email updates on short-term rental regulations and meetings that are happening in your area.  These updates provide opportunities to get involved and share your story with others affected by these regulations.

Visit STRAC today, and get started on making a positive impact on your short-term rental community!

by Matt Landau

Vacation rentals have come a long way in the travel industry: they’ve spawned their own search engines, they’ve provided competition to traditional hotels, and they’ve started to revolutionize the way travelers experience culture when they are on vacation. So it makes sense then, that the technology used to market vacation rentals has been rapidly improving as well.

One of the fastest growing techniques is through the use of online press releases. Distributing news far and wide is now cheaper, faster, and more accessible than ever in history. The same process that used to require thousands of dollars, publicists, and press agents, is now attainable for less than $100 in the comfort of one’s own home.

You’d be amazed at how much of what you read, on a regular basis, is actually a paid press release disguised as “real news.” But, how are vacation rental owners using the digital breed of press releases to reach new travelers?

Vacation rental owners are increasingly using online press release services to distribute their information worldwide. This may mean offering special discounts to travelers, not unlike chain hotels. It may be in the form of announcements about upgrades to their property or big events in town worth visiting. Whatever the theme, vacation rental owners can now reach international audiences at the drop of a hat, and here are 5 examples of owners doing just that:

  1. The New Promotion: Villa Rental Company Announces New Promotional Offer After Study Reveals High Stress Levels in Average Business Traveler 
  2. The Media Angle: Vacation Rental Company discovers a unique way to market Lake Tahoe utilizing national media
  3. The “Better Than Hotels” Angle: New Miami Vacation Rental Property Listing With Breathtaking Views of The Beach. Rent It Today!
  4. The Special Event: Curacao Vacation Home Rentals, Curacao Vacations During “Day of Banda Bou”
  5. The Insider Advice: Aruba Vacation Rentals Professional Offers Tips on Traveling with Children

It’s no mystery that vacation rental owners who are writing and distributing press releases are seeing more bookings. An improvement in marketing technology now allows for owners of every skill level to reach demographics they could never tap otherwise. Travelers too are enjoying this innovation as they’re increasingly opting for vacation rental accommodations over traditional hotels.

Matt is the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and also the founder of VRLeap.com, where vacation rental owners and managers can find great services and tools at largely discounted prices. He recently published a new guide – Mastering Press Releases for Vacation Rental Owners – which will be available FREE through June 5th.