Group 2 3 min Read

David and Goliath: How Should Owners Choose a Property Manager?

At many ski resorts in Vermont, the company that owns the mountain is king. They not only own the resort, but also manage a large portion of the vacation rental properties in the surrounding areas. In some cases, owners may not even be aware that there are other options besides renting their property through the resort. This is purposeful and sets the resort up to be able to charge enormous fees for the brand recognition they provide.

The truth is that while some areas such as Stowe and Killington have their share of obvious competition, other less known resorts such as Sugarbush and Okemo do not. As a property owner in a resort area, what is the difference between listing through the resort versus through a smaller, private property manager? As previously mentioned, the primary difference is cost to the property owner. To list with the resort, the owner will pay anywhere between 40-60% commission on every rental. On top of that, the resort usually charges separately for marketing fees, credit card fees, and cleaning charges. In the end, the owner may only walk away with less than half of the revenue earned on their property. Many non-resort property managers will offer a lower commission rate and will also cover the marketing and credit card fees. Also, guests are usually charged for cleaning in this scenario, not owners.

Another major difference that owners should be aware of when deciding to list their property with the resort or a an independent manager is the way advertising and marketing is handled. Resorts often rely on their size and popularity to bring guests in just through their own web site. This means they generally do not advertise on popular vacation rental sites such as VRBO, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor. Additionally, because the resorts represent many, many units, they do not advertise units separately. For example, units are listed only by their complex name or in the case of Sugarbush, the less expensive units are all lumped together under “Resort Condos”. The resort will choose which property a guest will book based on their criteria. This means owners lose the individualism of their property. Their property is just a number in a pool of many. It will be utilized how the resort feels is best.

In contrast, non-resort property managers will not only have a separate booking web site, but they will also promote properties individually on the popular vacation rental sites. Guests will be able to view pictures and property information and decide to book or inquire about a particular property. It is a completely different approach and puts much more control with the guest and the property owner at the same time. For example, if a property owner wants to highlight something unique about their place, this is a welcome addition that cannot be accomplished with the general resort listings. After all, not all properties are the same, even in the same complex and should be represented for their uniqueness.

In the end, property owners can list with the resort and enjoy the brand awareness that comes with a resort, but they will pay for it, literally, and in more ways than one.