Collaboration Strategies for Destinations and Property Managers

July 6, 2022

Let’s address it head-on: Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and vacation rental property management companies (PMCs) have the opportunity to support each other, but it can be easy to focus on their differences. For example, property managers love having lots of visitors because it means more revenue for them and their homeowners. DMOs, on the other hand, are sometimes hesitant to promote vacation rentals because of the impacts, both real and perceived, that vacation rentals have on residential neighborhoods. 2020 and 2021 brought this issue to the surface in many leisure markets as increased demand for vacation rentals led to high demand and occupancy rates, even during traditional low seasons, which added revenue for property managers but created stress on destinations. More visitors, especially when combined with staffing shortages and an affordable housing crisis, often created hard feelings towards short-term rentals. 

When we focus on the goals of both groups, we find that the middle ground is large and there are many opportunities for collaboration. DMOs strive to improve overall visitation and increase the economic benefits of tourism in their area. PMCs want to generate revenue for their homeowners and themselves while providing valuable services to homeowners and guests. It’s in the best interest of both groups to protect the longevity of tourism in their destination and provide great experiences for visitors. 

With these separate and shared goals in mind, here are some strategies for collaboration that have proved successful:

1. Share data with each other. DMOs have traditionally relied on hotel data to track tourism in their market. With the rise in popularity of vacation rentals over the last few years, it’s more important now than ever to track this accommodation segment as well. At a minimum, DMOs should have access to data that gives them insight into supply, occupancy, rates, and booking dynamics. Data-sharing should be a two-way street; DMOs can provide managers with hotel data, forecasts, and visitor surveys. All of this data will help both groups track trends and performance within the local market to understand how things are changing, what to expect, and gauge the success of their strategies. The following strategies often rely on data collected and shared between DMOs and PMCs.

2. Maximize RevPAR, not occupancy. Revenue per available rental (RevPAR) measures the average revenue earned per night available and helps both DMOs and PMCs understand the balance of occupancy and rates. Occupancy measures how booked a destination's accommodations are and has historically been the leading indicator of performance. However, it’s not the best indicator of performance because high occupancy year-round is tough on rental inventory, hard on neighbors, and doesn’t always maximize revenue. Raising prices may lead to slightly lower occupancy, but, in addition to potentially increasing revenue, it provides valuable downtime for employees, locals, and rental units. RevPAR should be a primary key performance indicator for both DMOs and PMCs.

3. Common-sense regulations. Short-term rentals are an important part of the local economy and should be treated as such but some policies, implemented by both PMCs and local governments, may be necessary in order to protect the guest experience and local neighborhoods. PMCs, either voluntarily or as required by local rules, should set clear expectations for guest behavior. Noise restrictions and rules about large gatherings should be in place and enforced. Properties should be well-maintained in terms of landscaping, trash, and exterior presentation. Parking restrictions should be followed carefully. Licensing requirements are often helpful for both sides. DMOs and local governments should honor guests, local companies, and second homeowners by implementing these strategies instead of banning rentals outright. Local governments and destinations should work directly with short-term rental alliances to determine fair, balanced regulations that honor both parties and allow vacation rentals to continue to operate.

4. Coordinated branding. PMCs and DMOs both have a wealth of information about actual and potential visitors to the destinations - PMCs because of their guests and DMOs through visitor surveys. Both should know who the guests are, when they come, where they come from, and what they do when they arrive. Sharing this information enables the co-creation of destination branding in which DMOs and PMCs use common themes, messaging, and marketing campaigns. Tracking data from vacation rentals exposes opportunities for improvement and also provides feedback on what approaches have been successful. Providing a top-notch visitor experience requires buy-in from both groups and ensures that travelers return year after year. 

5. Communicate and collaborate. Like data, two-way communication is at the heart of each of these strategies because they take coordinated efforts from both sides. Both DMOs and PMCs have perspectives and areas of expertise that should be shared and valued. There are many successful ways to make this work. Examples include having vacation rental stakeholders on the DMO board, the creation of formal alliances between short-term rental stakeholders and local governments, or regular meetings with all destination stakeholders present. Whatever method is chosen, mutual respect and regular communication are keys to success.

These strategies take time and buy-in from both DMOs and PMCs but will be instrumental in promoting the long-term health of a local tourism market. This is not an exhaustive list and should serve as a jumping-off point for establishing great relationships between destinations and vacation rental stakeholders. If you’ve participated in other successful collaborations, we’d love to hear from you - contact [email protected] to share your story. 

If you’re a DMO or PMC and you need access to vacation rental data for your market, we’re here to help. For more information, visit

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