VACATION RENTAL INCOME OPPORTUNITIES!
Mt. Baker Lodging, Inc., a Washington Corporation, is a full-service vacation rental management agency. We represent the individual and collective short-term rental* interests for owners of private, self-catered, fully furnished/equipped cabins, cottages, condos, and chalets located in the Mt. Baker, Washington area. *Short-term rentals are for periods of less than thirty days. Nothing says “Let’s Party” to some prospective Guests like an absentee owner or agent who is attempting to manage their vacation rental investment from a distance. If you are providing “remote control” service by instructing prospective Guests to contact you at a location that is a considerable distance from that of your vacation home, or you are sending them keys in the mail, or are directing them to some obscure lock box location at which to retrieve keys, you are in-effect saying to some prospective Guests: “the owner/agent is nowhere near where we will be staying, so no one will be around to monitor our activities… whoo hooo… let’s party!”
The decision to select a vacation rental agency to represent your rental investment is a very wise choice for a multitude of reasons, but it must be accomplished through a careful and diligent recruitment process, as not all agencies provide the same level of service.
Of paramount importance is the need for your agent to have and maintain proper insurance. One of the first questions that should be asked of the agency is:
Do they maintain professional liability insurance?
If the answer is “yes”, you should request written proof-of-insurance before proceeding any further. If the answer is “no”, you would be best advised to seek the services of another agency. Mt. Baker Lodging carries both general and professional liability insurance, including errors and omissions (E&O) coverage. In addition, all housekeepers are both bonded and additionally insured. Although expensive, (that’s why most other agencies don’t carry these types of coverage) we feel that it is absolutely necessary in order to provide our Clients with the best possible service that the Mt. Baker area has to offer. In today’s litigious world, this provides our Clients with the peace of mind in knowing that their interests are being properly looked after.
Another obvious, but often overlooked question is:
How long have they been in business?
There are a lot of me-too agencies out there…they seem to spring-up all the time… here today, gone tomorrow…all ready to cut you a “sweet deal”. Remember: Like most aspects of life in general… in the end, you get what you pay for! Mt. Baker Lodging has been in business serving the needs of the Mt. Baker area for over twenty-two years… that’s about as long as all of our competitors… combined! We live and work here… not in Bellingham, Lynden, Seattle, or other locations. In short, we know what works and what doesn’t. We have a firm grip on our own local market, and a long-standing tradition of providing what we believe to be the best service that the Mt. Baker area has to offer… bar none! As such, Mt. Baker Lodging is in the business of providing vacationers with private, fully equipped vacation home rentals, not party houses!
A few very important decisions revolve around the methodology upon which the agency operates:
Does the agency have a local area business office?
If they are operating out of a home office and/or one that is located out of the area… Bellingham, Lynden, or Seattle; how are keys dispensed, (e.g. in the mail or at some obscure lockbox location) and how do they respond to their Guest’s and Client’s needs? For example; if the Guests accidentally lock themselves out, or if a pilot light goes out and the Guests suddenly have no heat, or a pipe breaks and there is a major water or sewage leak… how do they respond to these emergency situations by long distance? Experience has shown that you can’t operate a vacation rental business by remote control… the agency needs to be locally based (with a local office) and hands-on in order to properly facilitate emergency services. Mt. Baker Lodging employs a general maintenance person who is on duty from 9:00am to 10:00pm, 7-days per week** to facilitate simple services from assisting a locked-out Guest, to re-lighting a pilot light, to re-setting a thrown breaker, to shutting water off at the main to prevent undue property damage from a severed pipe. Our Clients and Guests are both properly looked after… it’s just good business!
Does the agency’s principals feature their own home(s) as a part of their rental program?
If the answer is “yes”, it’s a good bet that they push their own properties first, and their Client’s properties last… a definite conflict of interest, and certainly not a good business practice in our opinion. Mt. Baker Lodging does not own any of the properties that it represents, therefore no such conflicts exist. All Mt. Baker Lodging Clients receive equal and impartial representation of their vacation rental investment to prospective Guests. Would you really want it any other way?
Does the agency perform a pre-inspection walk-through of the homes that it represents prior to Guest arrival?
Mt. Baker Lodging inspects all properties prior to Guest arrival to ensure that major systems are in good working order. During the summer months, insects can be a problem… nothing to do with cleanliness… just a function of being located in the woods. Of course, the Guests don’t want to find carpenter ants on the floor or spiders in the sinks, so our pre-inspection team takes care of these “issues” before the Guests arrive. During the winter months, heat is turned-up a bit and an outside light is turned on, if necessary, to ready the property for Guest arrival. It’s the little touches that not only assist our Clients, but provide a sense of warmth that our Guests enjoy, remember… and return!
Who cleans-up after the Guests depart?
Many agencies employ “independent contractors” to provide the cleaning component of the overall services that they offer. Who are these “contractors”? Are they licensed, bonded, and insured… all equally important. If the answer is “yes”, request the agency to provide you with written copies of their business license, certificate of liability insurance, and bonding certificate. If they can not, you will probably be best served to move on to an agency that does.
How does the agency promote their Clients properties?
It’s certainly true that many potential Guests rely on the internet to search for accommodations and other travel related services, and it seems that everyone has a website these days. In today’s environment, however, it takes a lot more than just throwing together a website (and hoping for the best) to attract potential Guests… it requires on-going aggressive marketing by true marketing professionals! Mt. Baker Lodging invests an average of $80k per year in web and print media advertising… not including its own website. Do a web search… you’ll discover that Mt. Baker Lodging pops-up just about everywhere under the most common search terms for lodging in the Mt. Baker area! In addition, our own state-of-the-art website; www.mtbakerlodging.com, offers real-time availability and secure on-line reservation capability 24/7 – 365! It’s a safe bet to say that Mt. Baker Lodging likely invests more in advertising and marketing per month, than other agencies invest per year. Put another way, it’s likely that Mt. Baker Lodging invests more per year, than all of the others combined… and in today’s competitive rental environment, that’s what it takes to stay out ahead of the pack and keep those rentals coming and the revenue stream flowing!
So, in summary, before you choose an agency at random to represent your hard-earned rental investment, ask yourself the following questions…
1) Are they insured?
2) How long have they been in business?
3) Do they have a local business office, and do they employ on-site maintenance personnel who are readily available to assist when emergencies strike?
4) Do they personally own any of the vacation properties that they represent? (e.g. is there a conflict of interest)?
5) Do they inspect their Client’s properties prior to Guest arrival?
6) Are their housekeepers licensed, bonded, and insured?
7) How do they market their Client’s properties to prospective Guests?
We believe that when all elements are taken into consideration, there is really only one clear choice… Mt. Baker Lodging!
Contact us today to learn more about the exciting income opportunity of vacation home rental ownership by emailing email@example.com, or phone our office at 1.800.709.7669 or 1.360.599.2453.