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New Site to Educate Consumers on Differences Between Resorts and Rentals from Individuals

by Michelle F. Lacewell, APR

It’s hot and you’re sandy. You’ve walked back from the beach in the warm summer sun and you’re ready to get back into the air conditioning and relax before dinner. But, you have just realized you forgot your room key. You’re locked out. You call the front desk of the resort for assistance only to be told they cannot help you. Without their help, what are your options?

After trying to pry the door open you notice a tree which reaches your balcony. You decide to climb the tree to get back into your condo. Trying not to draw attention to yourself as you climb, you think, minus your dignity what else have you sacrificed by renting your vacation condo from an individual and not the resort where you are staying?

Though it may sound farfetched, it’s not. During the summer of 2010 at a resort on Panama City Beach, Florida a vacationer did exactly that because she did not rent her condo through the resort. She rented her vacation condo from an individual owner through a website similar to VRBO.

With the lodging industry becoming greatly influenced by owners renting their units directly to consumers, advocacy for professional hotel, lodging and rental management companies is needed. With the story above in mind, and the complex nature of this issue, Staymonkey.com was born.

The core focus of the staymonkey.com is education and advocacy. Educating consumers on the value created by professional hotels, rental management companies, or resorts is vital. Staymonkey.com provides information to combat the current consumer perception that price is the only factor when choosing where to book a vacation stay.

The site details other considerations for consumers such as on-site maintenance, security, housekeeping and many other services offered by professional organizations.

Staymonkey.com encourages consumers to provide their personal experiences when renting through owners as they would with professional companies. This is a critical function as currently consumers use sites like Tripadvisor.com to comment on their stays; by doing so the hotel or resort is accountable in the consumer review, not the owner.

Through partnerships with state and national lodging associations, the Staymonkey.com staff keeps informed of proposed legislation or issues which affect the operations of rental management companies and hotels.

Partner Promotion is also a key function of Staymonkey.com. Staymonkey.com partners receive company listing(s) and links directly to partner home page allowing consumers to research and book their stay directly with the property. A Staymonkey.com branded “Seal of Approval” is provided to be a live link from the partner site to Staymonkey.com for third party consumer education. This seal will serve as a mark to distinguish hotels and resorts management companies who meet the standards of professionalism set by the Staymonkey.com team.

These standards will be detailed on the Staymonkey.comm website. Access to educational materials to share with owners and consumers, as well as legislative updates important to the lodging industry and advertising opportunities are all benefits of partnering with Staymonkey.com.

The Staymonkey.com website will launch during the first quarter of 2012 and the momentum is building for this organization to play a vital role in educating consumers on the value of renting directly through hotels and vacation management professionals instead of individuals. FRLA members will receive preferred pricing on partnerships with Staymonkey.com. For more information on Staymonkey.com or how you can become a partner, visit the temporary site, Staymonkey.com. Stay safe when you travel with Staymonkey.com!

Michelle F. Lacewell, APR is the Marketing Director for The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach.