Communities across the U.S. continue to develop short-term rental regulations that threaten the vacation rental management industry. Unfortunately, there are often cases in each community that warrant regulation. Due to these cases, policymakers often blur the lines between a professionally managed vacation rental property, home share and other rental structures. Professional vacation rental managers must do a better job educating policymakers about the key differences between these types of short-term rentals to ensure the rights of property owners and the businesses that manage them. The VRMA Board began implementing new strategies this past fall to counter the onslaught of burdensome regulation and will be unveiling the new tools throughout the year.
One of the first steps taken by the VRMA Board and the Government Affairs Committee, to fight back against overregulation, was the creation of the advocacy coordinator position. This position is designed to build an advocacy program to assist the association in becoming a greater voice in the travel industry. The board and staff moved quickly to fill the position, and I was hired in December. This opportunity was an exciting way to utilize my background as a former elected city council member, town clerk and district representative for a member of Congress in order to facilitate communication with local, state and federal governments. In addition to my work in the public sector, I have also helped nonprofit organizations foster relationships and leverage assets to enhance their strategic initiatives. The major issues our industry currently faces are localized, and we need the support of other organizations, businesses and individuals to support our message. I will bring what I have learned from my experiences in the public and nonprofit sectors to help us gather this support.
In addition to creating the advocacy coordinator position, the VRMA Government Affairs Committee is developing a government affairs strategic plan, an advocacy toolkit and VRMA’s first national policy agenda. Here is a brief outline of what these components will entail:
The first component of the new strategy is the development of a strategic plan for the new advocacy program. The plan will specify goals and a timeline for our advocacy efforts. While still in the early stages, the plan focuses on strengthening the influence of the VRMA as a recognized industry expert, developing cross-organizational relationships, and enhancing advocacy communication and engagement. The plan will allow the board, members and staff to focus their efforts and optimize legislative opportunity.
National Policy Agenda
A major goal for this year is to produce a national policy agenda to demonstrate the policy objectives of the VRMA. The Government Affairs Committee has been assessing the legislative and regulatory landscape to determine priorities for the upcoming year. The analysis will help us produce a professionally designed communication instrument to engage conversations with other industry leaders and to express a more cohesive message. The national policy agenda, a key component of the emerging toolkit, will help us achieve our objectives as outlined in the strategic plan.
The toolkit will focus on educating members on advocacy methods and best practices that address government regulatory issues central to short-term rentals. It will provide communication tools to enhance our public relations program to teach the public, the media and interested parties the importance of the vacation home rental industry and the impact of regulations on local economies.
The second major component of the toolkit includes issue tracking at the local, state and federal levels of government. Staff will track legislative actions across the country and develop communications to encourage our members to get involved locally.
Member participation will be crucial to achieving success in advocating for professional VR managers. We need to tell our story in a cohesive voice. We need to explain how property management helps to integrate our properties into their local communities. The tools we are currently developing will help engage our membership and develop new supporters. The current landscape suggests that there are many opportunities for members to achieve success if, and when, local regulations appear in their communities. We have seen battles lost, but we have also seen communities reverse or loosen their regulations once they realize that the enforcement of onerous regulation is difficult and not yielding results. Policymakers and enforcers receive their orders from local participants. That is why your participation as an advocate is crucial. Look for these new tools to be presented throughout the year and know that the VRMA is here to assist you in your endeavors.