In a move that laid bare the hostility between hoteliers and the organizations that manage vacation home rentals, and which could have widespread consequences should DMOs in other parts of the country pick up on the idea, the Monterey County CVB has kicked out the five vacation rental businesses that were members of the organization.
According to the Monterey County Weekly, the move affects five dues-paying members of the organization in a move that followed a similar action by the Monterey County Hospitality Association and the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce. (Pacific Grove is on the tip of the Monterey peninsula.) The three organizations apparently believe that the competition from vacation rentals was driving down hotel occupancy rates.
Tammy Blount, executive director of the CVB, said that the organization’s board, which comprises 30 representatives from hotels and inns, restaurants, golf courses, tourist attractions and local governments, is sharpening its mission to promote overnight visitation growth among properties that pay transient-occupancy taxes and pay into the Monterey County Tourism Improvement District ITID). While legal short-term rentals do pay tourism occupancy taxes, they are not eligible to pay the $1 per night TID fee attached to hotel bills.
Even though the action took place about a month ago, the Monterey bureau still promotes vacation rentals on its website, with this passage: “Vacation rentals. Renting a home or condominium is another wonderful option for those who seek a more personal home base during their stay. Designed for the longer-term visitor, vacation rentals are regulated by each city and the county, and typically require a minimum of one month’s stay. Vacation rentals are ideal for large families or groups of friends who want to stay together, but still enjoy the privacy of their own rooms.”
Overall, the bureau says that there about 300 lodging businesses in Monterey County, with many of them B&Bs.
Apparently, the CVB board’s action was unanticipated by the county’s short term rental businesses. Ben Edwards, co-owner of Sanctuary Vacation Rentals, told the Monterey County Weekly, ““We’ve been a little bit under attack and scratching our heads … I thought we were all on the same side of the fence, trying to pull in people to share Monterey County with them.”
“We really don’t see those guys as competition,” Edwards added. He said that the average length of a stay in his company’s properties is 9.5 days, longer than hotels. His company manages about 90 homes in Monterey County, booking 2,000 reservations a year for more than 10,000 visitors.
Edward said that he is planning on going to the CVB’s board with “hat in hand” in order to make the case for getting back into the organization.
Blount responded by noting that board meetings are open to the public, and anyone is welcome to come address the board members, adding, “We are all on the same side of growing the tourism economy,” says Blount. “The best solutions come from an ongoing dialogue.”