Bravo to develop vacation rentals
An organisation designed to develop the booming vacation rental market has been set up.
Susan Armstrong and Andrea Brown, executive members of the Bermuda Rental Association of Vacation Home Owners, said the group could help owners with problems such as concerns about market saturation.
Ms Armstrong added: “There are issues that we need to address, such as regulation, oversaturation of the market and possibly seeking duty relief.
“The reality is that if we do not address these issues ourselves, Government will do it for us, potentially in a way that is not beneficial for our industry.”
Ms Brown said that as an organised lobby, homeowners would be in a better position to campaign for tax cuts, duty exceptions and better rates from vendors.
She said: “If we are going to go to MarketPlace and we need to buy Tide in bulk, because we have a lot of laundry, or to buy Dark ‘n’ Stormys in bulk, because a lot of people need them, it would be easier to get a reduced price as a group than as an individual.
“At the end of the day, what we are doing is reducing our costs. If we can’t limit the number of players, than we need to monitor our costs.”
Ms Armstrong said the Bravo group was formed as a result of the five-year Bermuda Tourism Authority plan unveiled last year.
She said: “It was felt that it would be in the best interest of the community, vacation rental homeowners and directors, for us to form an association to represent the needs of our group because we have become a significant part of the tourism economy.
“We are still collecting statistics, but there has been an increase in guest room beds because of vacation rentals. There are over 600 for sure.”
Ms Armstrong said the increase in the number of vacation rentals on the island had made the market more difficult and that the Bermudiana Beach Resort in Warwick would introduce more competition when it was operational.
Ms Armstrong said: “Everyone is noticing a marked decrease in bookings, and Government is about to add another 72 units with Bermudiana.
“We are effectively competing with the Government and we are happy to work with them because we are generating revenue for the island, but a lot of us are struggling because it’s a very high cost to maintain a vacation rental.
“Everything needs to be shiny and new looking and a lot of new owners are finding it’s very time-consuming.”
Ms Armstrong said one of the keys to success was high standards so that low-quality rental properties did not damage the industry’s reputation.
She said: “We all love our guests and we want to give them the best, but we want to make sure there’s a standard across the industry.”
Ms Brown added: “There are going to be those who are going to frown but, in the absence of regulations, you have a degree of anarchy and you will have those who want to do what they want to do and will have guests walk into a dump.”
She said that negative reviews would remove poor properties from the market, but bad impressions would hurt the industry.
Ms Brown said: “Regulation is important, but we want to be the ones driving that and the only way to make sure we are driving it is if we get proactive.”
She added: “Having 600 vacation rentals out there independently is not a convenient way to communicate with the Government and the BTA and ensure our industry’s needs and concerns are being addressed.”
Ms Armstrong and Ms Brown said the organisation had already helped owners work together to tackle problems.
She added that Bravo members worked together to make sure their guests did not suffer after many rental properties were left without power after last month’s Hurricane Humberto.
She said: “There were some of our group who needed to put their guests elsewhere because they had extended outages, so they reached out to the group.
“It makes a tremendous difference, because you want your guests’ experience to be seamless. You don’t want there to be a time where they don’t have electricity or air conditioning.
“Us locals are used to it. If there’s no air conditioning, we will sit outside and grab a fan but our guests are not accustomed to that.”
• For more information about Bravo, contact email@example.com
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