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Residential Real Estate
May 2, 2022

The Changing Vacation Rental Industry- Part One: The Evolution of Technology and Automation

Sponsored Content provided by Mike Harrington - CEO & Owner, Carolina Retreats

The vacation rental business has seen many, many changes in the last two decades.  The industry has grown from an alternative vacation option, made up exclusively of small “mom and pop” operations in one location to a behemoth of multi-million-dollar companies who manage thousands of properties all around the world.  Coastal Carolina has certainly seen a similar evolution.   

We’ve gone from basic, simply furnished beach houses where guests had to provide their own bedding…to massive, luxury villas with every bell and whistle, including luxury 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, pools, hot tubs, tiki bars, and home theaters. As properties have grown more sophisticated, so have guests’ expectations. Garage sale furniture and chipped dishes no longer cut it. That’s the way it should be. Today’s guests are smart and savvy, and their vacation rental choices reflect that.  We’ve seen similar evolution in the way vacation rental managers operate too. No more, “we’ve always done it that way.” This industry requires growth and innovation. The journey in the industry and at Carolina Retreats has been a fascinating one.
 
Technology and Automation
 
One of the areas in which Carolina Retreats has seen unparalleled growth is in technology and automation. There have been incredible advances in vacation rental companies making the life of a rental manager, rental guests, and rental owners more seamless and streamlined. Long gone are the days of receiving a rental contract via mail and sending it back with your deposit check. Also gone are the days of checking in at the rental office and hanging around to
receive your keys. Now it’s all about automation and real-time technology.

At Carolina Retreats, we are proud of staying on the forefront of emerging technologies and sharing them to create the best possible experience for our guests. As technology continues to evolve, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests.  Carolina Retreats keeps them informed and up to date on every aspect of their vacation rental. Guests and owners truly appreciate knowing what to expect, what comes next, and feeling like they’re “in the loop.”
Before all of this became available, there was virtually no interaction between rental companies and guests prior to the actual arrival. The only communication was when payment was due. If a guest wanted additional information, they had to work for it.  This dynamic not only created friction, but sometimes even avcombative relationship between guests and the rental company. 
 
Today, Carolina Retreats provides a proactive approach to our guests’ overall experience.  We offer an abundance of information because we want guests to be informed. We offer our suggestions and recommendations to provide a personal touch. We stay in touch throughout the stay so that we can easily answer any question or remedy any issue that arises. And we stay in touch after the stay to continue cultivating that positive relationship, and to let our guests know their business is appreciated. We strive to be both a partner and a resource for each of our guests. This business is far more hands-on than it used to be, and we recognize our responsibility to both our guests and owners to stay ahead of that evolutionary curve.
 
Part two of the series will provide more details on how Carolina Retreats stays at the forefront of integrating automation and technology in the vacation rental industry.


Mike Harrington is the CEO & Owner of Carolina Retreats, a specialty lodging and vacation rental management firm serving more than 300 vacation property owners throughout the Cape Fear region. Before founding Carolina Retreats in 2015, Mike spent 10 years on the Outer Banks as CEO and General Manager of Resort Realty, a high end real estate sales and vacation rental company with 600 properties under management, five offices, and more than 100 full-time employees and real estate agents. Mike is a Past-President and Board Member of the Vacation Rental Manager's Association (VRMA), the largest international trade association for the vacation rental industry, as well as Past-President for the North Carolina Vacation Rental Manager's Association (NCVRMA). He is frequently asked to speak at seminars and trade conferences on the latest vacation rental management trends in marketing, operations, and strategy. Mike holds a MBA from East Carolina University, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and serves as an Advisory Board member for East Carolina's School of Hospitality Leadership.
 
 

 
 

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