This how-to guide was inspired by a 2019 VRMA Spring Forum panel presentation by Lynn Thurston of Watersound Management, Michelle Williams of Atlantic Vacation Homes, and Sue Jones of KLS Group, moderated by Victoria O’Connell of WeGoLightly.com
Why social impact matters
“Today people expect a company to do business and do good – both, not one or the other. Both.” — Lynn Thurston, Watersound Management
Vacation rental managers are super connectors in the local community. And this isn’t limited to being ambassadors for incoming travelers. I’m talking about the deep relationships that vacation rental companies have with their local community of cleaners, maintenance workers, and public policymakers.
Yet, locals still hold onto the false assertion that vacation rental companies make money for outsiders, and that property managers don’t keep in mind the best interests of the local community.
Property managers need to celebrate their connections with local non-profits and other community-based organizations. This will raise awareness about important local initiatives, and also help with differentiation.
From mentioning involvement in the Mission Statement on their website, to promoting volunteer opportunities, to asking for donations for local projects, vacation rental managers can make a big impact. Not only will this give back to the local community, but it’s also good for business, because it will help attract customers and raise awareness about the company brand.
Four steps to highlight community involvement and make it a differentiator
It’s easy to forget how intrinsically connected your business is with your community. Here are a few ways to start making your community involvement even more valuable for your business and employees.
1. Take stock of your assets
You’re probably doing more for your local community than even you realize! Write down a list of local organizations that you’re helping. This could include:
- In-kind donations of “free nights” for a school auction
- Volunteering events that your employees participate in
- Donations of food or other goods to local shelters
- Any portion of your revenue that you contribute to local non-profits
2. Tell guests what you’re doing within the community
Consider how to share information about these efforts with your guests. Here are a few ways you can share:
- Add to your marketing website – About Us or Our Mission pages
- Include in your guest communications before, during, and after your stay
- Add to your digital guidebook
- Feature as a recommended activity
3. Inspire your employees
People who believe in the mission of their organization will be more enthusiastic and loyal compared to those who don’t care. Some suggestions of what you can do to include your employees in your social impact strategy:
- Have your next group meeting include a volunteering component
- Ask employees about local causes they care about that might be connected with your property management business
- Set goals for volunteering hours and financial donations as a team
- Train team members when and how to mention your social impact initiatives to potential and current guests
4. Build long-lasting relationships with your owners
It’s not just employees who enjoy being part of local causes. Property owners will also be more excited to work with you and entrust you with their properties if they believe in what you’re supporting. Here are some tips regarding owners:
- Consider causes that help property owners increase the value of their homes. Can you help support a local park that will help to raise property values? How about sponsoring a local public art project that will make your location more iconic?
- Help owners understand how your community involvement helps to increase occupancy rates and bring more guests to their properties
- Mention specific initiatives and how they help make their property stand out
“Doing good = good business” — Lynn Thurston
We are in an exciting time when companies are realizing that great relationships with their communities is a valuable asset. Unfortunately, this asset is oftentimes overlooked. I hope this guide helps you celebrate your local connections with your community in a new way and makes your community efforts work even better for your business.