As VRMA celebrates its 30th Anniversary, we are pausing to take a look back at the founding of the organization. This is part of an ongoing series recognizing key leaders and moments in the organization's history.
One of the leading regions for vacation rental homes and professional property managers is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With over 120 miles of coastline and more than 10,000 rental homes ranging from small condos to 24 bedroom luxury estates, guests come from across the nation to vacation in these award-winning communities.
Several previous VRMA presidents have come from this area and in our quest to speak to past leaders, we had an opportunity to hear from Tim Cafferty, owner of Outer Banks Blue. Tim owns companies in both North Carolina and Virginia, and has an extensive history of serving the industry and the community at large. He currently serves as Chairman of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.
Three former VRMA presidents. From left to right: Pedro Mandoki, Lucy Kawaihalau, Tim Cafferty
Tim was inspired to become involved in VRMA in 1991. He was working at his family’s business, Beach Realty & Construction/Kitty Hawk Rentals, which was co-owned with Jimbo Ward. Tim’s parents, Thomas and Margaret Cafferty, established Kitty Hawk Rentals, and in 1986 his mother attended one of the first VRMA programs held on the Outer Banks. Tim recalls her saying how much she enjoyed the people involved in the organization. At the time, his mother was passing the management of the company over to him and his sister, Deborah White, so becoming a VRMA member seemed a logical choice. Jimbo was the majority owner, but his focus was primarily on the construction company, so most details of managing the rental division fell to Debbie and Tim. There were only two firms locally that were VRMA members, including Outer Banks, Ltd (Jim Crabtree was a board member) and Sun Realty, so they felt this membership would differentiate them from other property management firms.
He rose in the ranks of VRMA leadership and, upon becoming VRMA president in the Spring of 2000, the main challenge he faced was being thrust into that position six months early. As a newly elected Vice President, he was close friends with the current president, who made an unforeseen career change and simply disappeared! So four months after being elected, Tim received a very quick and unexpected promotion.
The organization had just surpassed the 400 member mark, and he recalls their primary focus was in strategic planning for the future. They organized a 3-day creative retreat by taking a train from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, BC, stopping overnight in a city named Kamloops. Former VRMA member Stewart Couch once commented that Tim’s true VRMA legacy began with a train ride. During this retreat they identified long term goals, including “helping members become THE lodging alternative to hotels for travelers” and “becoming THE industry advocate.” The challenge was implementation, and the focus was on conducting meaningful conferences towards accomplishing these goals.
When asked if this challenge still exists, Cafferty said, “Planning for the future is ongoing, and definitely the challenge is to remain relevant as industry leaders.”
In reviewing his role as President, Tim’s proudest accomplishment was to set the groundwork for the future. He commented, “The management organization we had at that time had their first employment review the year I was president. We set in place a training/orientation program for board members of the organization, which I believe may also have been a first. I think we better prepared future leaders for upcoming job challenges by requiring they attend ASAE conferences. We also brought in outside facilitators, and I feel the board learned how to be a more solid governing body during my tenure. Before I took office it was not uncommon to have six hour board meetings. During my tenure we focused on decisiveness and shortened these meetings to just over two hours.”
When asked about the current priority for the VRMA leadership, Tim’s response was short and to the point. He emphasized the importance of listening to the needs of the membership base, and even suggested annual polling was critical in understanding the unique challenges faced by members. Once the leadership has this information in hand, it allows them to prioritize and set about planning for resolutions.
If Tim Cafferty could pass one special message to current and future VRMA leaders, he simply stated, “Respect the history and vision of previous leaders and become a consensus builder, not a divider. This leadership position is not about you.”