I've received emails now for several years from concerned vacation rental professionals seeking advice on advocacy for their city/town. Some in fierce legal battles, others seeing danger brewing on the horizon, some merely wanting to prepare for the inevitable. Without proper advocacy, the short term rental economy in every region is at great risk.
We have created a 'how to' video playbook featuring the industry's leading advocacy experts. Featuring top advocacy leaders in North America, the video playbook is now freely and easily accessible to all: www.vacationrentaladvocacy.com
I selected 20 of my favorite tips below. Of course, they are not "my" tips but the tips from other experts. If you enjoy any of the videos, the single best thing you can do is share the playbook with others on social media. We thank you for that!
*Denotes a participating sponsor of the event. We could not have done it without them.
Get People to Show Up
Megan McCrea of Nashville Short Term Rental Association (NASTRA) explains how she gets local owners and managers to actually show-up to meetings and support the cause.
Present Fact-Based Studies
Eric Bay of The Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity in New Orleans explains why theoretical arguments are nothing compared to data and statistic-driven studies.
Give Back to the Community
Jennifer Frankenstein of Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association (FVRMA) explains how proactively making the community better (not just taking away) gives us better positioning and more clout.
Create Economic Impact Studies
Steve Milo of VTrips says that economic impact studies have the highest ROI on your time and money. Steve also emphasizes the importance of building "The Warchest" in the Follow the Money section of the Vacation Rental Advocacy Playbook.
Write a Policy Whitepaper
Greg Holcomb of VRMA explains how we can't just hope that legislators invent good policy, we need to present them with material to build on.
Make Bright Green T-Shirts
Darik Eaton of Seattle Short Term Rental Alliance (SSTRA) and Seattle Oasis explains how his bright green t-shirts (as seen in the video) "unifies the room" and communicates your cause visually.
Form A Confidential Member Group
Alexa Nota of Chapel Hill Short-Term Rental Alliance provides a simple virtual place to connect and communicate with your local stakeholders that is out of the public view. (Alexa also explains the best way to work with local journalists in the "How We Present Ourselves" section of the Vacation Rental Advocacy Playbook.)
Organize A Good Neighbor Summit*
David Krauss of Rent Responsibly and NoiseAware explains the power of putting together a local event that unites other owners and managers in person.
Build A Sandwich Board
Ben Edwards of Weatherby Consulting explains the power of a simple old-fashioned marketing tool.
Build A List Of Local Businesses
Cliff Johnson of Rented.com shares the importance of getting connected with businesses that appreciate and benefit from short term rentals. (Cliff also explains his big discovery on sharing ordinances in the "A Seat at the Table" section of the Vacation Rental Advocacy Playbook.)
Create A Decision Matrix
Matt Curtis of SmartCity Policy Group does advocacy for a living. He explains one of his favorite and most primordial tasks.
Follow The Money*
Scott Shatford of AirDNA explains how following the money leads to the important decision makers (and how they are influenced).
Humanize Your Stories
Jacob Huebert from Goldwater Institute shares how, from a lawyers perspective, the human stories behind the business are leveraged best.
Expose Statements by Big Hotel Execs
Steve DelBianco of NetChoice shares how hotel executives openly admit (to their investors) that short term rentals are threats and how we can use this to our favor.
Create a Local Alliance*
Philip Minardi of Expedia Group shares how to create your local alliance through "LIFT" -- Leadership, Impacted Partners, Friends, Trust. (Philip also reveals the power of inviting a local council member to coffee in the "A Seat at the Table" section of the Vacation Rental Advocacy Playbook.)
Seek Legal Clarification*
Rob Stephens of Avalara MyLodgeTax helps us non-lawyers see the value of getting proper legal help.
Approach "Overtourism" Argument with Data*
Flo Stitch of AirDNA addresses the common "Overtourism" claim and how to address it using data.
Note: There were two other individuals (Brumby McLeod, Professor, College of Charleston and Tiffany Edwards, VRMA Advocacy Fund) for whom the videos came out glitchy.
Address the Affordable Housing Argument
The Advocacy Playbook also includes "discussion questions" like this:
The other discussion questions: How to motivate our core stakeholders: What a policy "win" looks like: The biggest mistakes we make as advocates: How to build a national advocacy campaign.
Advocacy is one of those issues that we tend to overlook until it's too late. If your region is not currently dealing with an advocacy challenge, it will be soon. Now is the time to address this threat. And the playbook is a fantastic place to start.
If you would like help mobilizing the stakeholders in your region, email matt[at]vrmb.com with some background information and your specific goals.
Lastly, thanks to the experts who gave us their precious time, the sponsors who voted their confidence, and the industry at large for being such courageous and responsible small business leaders.