It’s common in business to see your competitor as the enemy and treat them accordingly. I don’t think people generally hate their competition but they also don’t take the time to get to know them and become their friends and for most industries that is just fine, but in the vacation rental industry that just doesn’t work. Here’s why you really do need to befriend and work closely with your competition.
- Divide and conquer. The right to rent your property short term as a vacation rental is under assault all over the world. As local, state and national governments turn their attention to the sharing economy they rarely do so objectively, instead allowing fear and conjecture to share their policy-making. Vacation rentals are getting scapegoated for all sorts of issues cities are experiencing, from increasing home prices to neighborhoods changing, vacation rentals seem to be the cause of anything and everything that anyone has to complain about. But while there is little to no evidence that vacation rentals are the cause of any of these negative things, they blamed for them and so the right to rent your home short term is one that needs to be defended. Those who oppose vacation rentals will use whatever tactics they can to ensure bans get enacted and that often includes the Napoleonic tactic of dividing and conquering. The less local hosts work together, the easier it is for anti-STR forces to achieve their goals. If short term rental rights are to have any chance it will be with a united front of vacation rental managers and short term rental hosts working together to dispel myths and keep communities focused on what vacation rentals really are, a positive necessity to any community and a vital aspect of the sharing economy.
- Backup. Unlike a rogue cop, vacation rental managers and hosts do need backup from time to time. Whether it’s a broken pipe or an unexpected power outage or something else that makes your property unusable for a short period of time, it’s good to have some places in your back pocket that your guests can go if you can’t host them. I am very close with a number of local hosts and on more than one occasion I’ve reached out to them and they’ve reached out to me to help them handle a guest that needs to be re-accommodated and it’s been a life-saver helping me to avoid a dreaded 1-star-review.
- Local trends. I like to see how things are going with other vacation rental managers and hosts from time to time. How is everyone’s summer going? What do their average stays look like? How far in advance are their guests booking? How are nightly rate being impacted? What does our competitive landscape look like? Understanding these things will help you better manage your property and probably make you feel more at ease with whatever you’re seeing if you know others are seeing it too. And if you aren’t seeing what others are seeing perhaps you need to adjust how you operate. Either way, it’s better to know than to be ignorant.
- Referrals. If we all stick together we can also help each other in a pinch when a referral is needed. Don’t shy away from referring your friendly competitor to a housekeeper or a plumber if they’re in a bind and need some help. You may be in that same bind too and need help one day. In the end your competitor will figure out how to find whatever resources they need, but you helping to save them a little extra time will go a long way toward building goodwill and you’ll have an easier time next time you need a little help.