From Justin Ford and Ali Cammelletti
As we enter a new decade and vacation rentals grow to become more popular, it is a time to review maintenance and safety in vacation rentals. Internationally, vacation rentals are the most dangerous segment of the travel industry with more people injured or killed in vacation rentals than on planes, cruise ships or in hotels. We know this because of insurance data, news reports and of course, because the home is where we spend about half our time.
According to the National Safety Council, in 2017, an estimated 127,300 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes in the United States, or about 75% of all preventable injury-related deaths that year. 28% of those deaths came from falls. When you calculate those injuries happening to people in homes they lived in and were familiar with, it’s easy to do the math and determine those percentages were higher in homes people were not familiar with, such as vacation rental homes.
Some of the challenges we encounter with making vacation rentals safer include the following:
- Lack of Local and State Regulations: Less than 5% of municipalities in the United States have laws or regulations to address common safety accidents in vacation rentals.
- Third Party Booking Websites ‘Looking the Other Way’: It has been publicly stated they [third party booking websites] are simply listing conduits. They are not responsible for the homes or condos that are listed on their sites, and are especially not responsible for checking for safety in them.
- Homeowners Looking to Make as Much Money as Possible: Homeowners of vacation rentals are focused on generating as much income as possible from their rental investments. And, since they typically aren’t ‘required’ to meet specific safety regulations, they aren’t making it a priority.
As a professional vacation rental manager, now is the time to lead and highlight the level of care by showing traveling consumers how professional vacation rental management companies operate with safety at the forefront.
We are living in a world of fear and distrust in everyday interactions; many of us feel the need to have zillions of passwords to protect ourselves and are often even scared to open spam emails out of fear that our computers will be hacked. Yet, the mindset of fear isn’t how to create change with homeowners by sharing weekly news reports that highlight accidents and lawsuits related to injuries in vacation rentals.
If you make homeowners aware that a fire from a barbecue grill too close to the rental home can lead to burning the house down and injuring renters, you risk the homeowner feeling defensive. Scare tactics, when applied to vacation rentals, mean: Emphasizing the worst dangers of accidents in a vacation rental in order to create fear and anxiety in hopes that the fear alone will change the homeowner’s mind to want to ensure they are safe.
According to the National Institute of Health, programs that rely on scare tactics to prevent problems are not only ineffective, but may have damaging effects.
When it comes to vacation rentals, that could mean the homeowner deciding to not list their home for rent anymore – depriving you of income and depriving the guest of experiencing a home they wouldn’t have had the chance to stay in otherwise.
Instead, focus on care for the homeowners and the guests by being proactive. Getting your homeowners to buy-in to safety can often be achieved by sharing the value of offering a safe home and experience for guests. It is very important to have crucial conversations with homeowners about the safety of their homes when onboarding, and giving a recommended price investment for annual upgrades for safety regulations and improvements.
The same conversations are important to have annually with longtime homeowners. Such conversations can often require financial upgrades to homes that homeowners don’t want to invest in, or haven’t set aside funds to do so. If you put the relationship first by sharing in a supportive way how you want to be their advocate with their home and ensure guests are safe as well as the homeowner is protected legally, it will make the homeowner feel supported.
When you give the homeowners advanced notice, this helps them be able to save for such home investments and not feel pressured to come up with large sums of money when they might already be feeling financial challenges. Homeowners hire professional vacation rental companies so they have someone to look out for them, take care of the details they aren’t able to, or don’t feel they have the expertise for. It is up to vacation rental companies to do just that.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
-- Margaret J. Wheatley
Justin Ford is Director of Safety & Certification Programs at Breezeway, helping property managers and owners maintain the safety of vacation rental properties. An international vacation rental safety expert, Justin was the first to elevate awareness of safety in vacation rentals. Prior to Breezeway, Justin co-founded On the Water in Maine in 2006 and grew the company into the highest-grossing vacation rental company in New England. A former member of the US Coast Guard and Rockport Fire Department, Justin travels worldwide to share his industry expertise.
Ali Cammelletti of Cammelletti Consulting brings over 30 years of experience in the Hospitality Industry. Serving in many capacities within the industry, from a front-line restaurant and lodging employee to building and owning a successful event planning business and now running a consulting company. Her current area of expertise is leadership and sales coaching with a relationship building focus. Visit www.cammelletticonsulting.com for more details.
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