Posts Tagged ‘PAII’

Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe? What do you think?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

#On My Mind – Vacation Rentals – Friend or Foe?  What do you think?
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO
Anyone paying attention to the travel industry these days knows about the rise and success of the vacation rental as a popular lodging option.  Sites like VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey and others have skyrockted in popularity.  Many cities around the world are concerned with the increased use of houses, apartments, and condos as vacation rentals, possibly altering the culture of buildings and neighborhoods.  Everyone in our industry knows that HomeAway bought last year, so it brought the vacation rental question into the forefront for our industry.  But how are innkeepers supposed to see the vacation rental market?  Friend or foe?  Of course, it’s not so black and white.

Activities undertaken by the vacation rental industry and its major players may end up benefiting the B&B industry.  For two years now, HomeAway has run commercials during the Super Bowl promoting the hotel alternative.  Since B&Bs compete with hotels (and we do, for those who say we don’t compete with hotels), I like this advertising.  It gets people thinking about alternatives to what can be the “cookie-cutter” experience.  HomeAway received a big infusion of capital from Google Ventures not long ago, and they recently filed to become a publicly-traded company.  The escalating scale and scope of this company will hopefully mean more propaganda to get travelers moving in the direction away from hotels.

Popular vacation rental web sites also provide another distribution channel for innkeepers to market their rooms, cottages, or cabins.  Not all rental opportunities on these web sites are condos and entire houses – some property owners rent rooms as well.  Many innkeepers have months during which occupancy drops to single digits.  Vacation rental web sites may be a great place to experiment with renting the entire B&B out to groups for days or weeks at a time.  I know several innkeepers who are having great success renting rooms on sites like HomeAway.  Think about it this way – there could be some kind of corporate sales training or other group-type function happening near you, and people booking blocks of rooms may not be thinking “B&B” when doing their homework.  But I’ll bet many are looking at vacation rental web sites.

One thing in particular I like about the HomeAway purchase of is the possible cross-pollination of opportunities.  Maybe HomeAway will find a way to market B&Bs to their vacation rental customers.  Maybe there are technology or marketing ideas that are highly successful in the vacation rental world that will find their way to the B&B world.

But, I do have concerns about the rise of vacation rentals.  When I think about the Gen X and Gen Y traveler – heck, maybe all travelers – and their likes and dislikes, I cannot help but be concerned about vacation rentals.  More and more, travelers seem to want it “their way” and they want it to be fast and easy – everything from the search process to the booking process to the on-site experience.  Some of the top reasons people don’t stay at B&Bs are the real or perceived notions that they will be forced into social engagement with strangers (that includes the innkeepers), that they will have to deal with policies and procedures that make the experience difficult (and which exist to make the lives of innkeepers easier), and that they just don’t know what they’re going to get when they arrive.  Will it be quiet or noisy?  Will the food be good or bad?  Will the innkeepers be absent, perfectly present or intrusive?  Who knows, right?

With vacation rentals, people oftentimes get the benefit of having a nicely decorated and clean experience that rivals just about any typical hotel experience.  When I say nicely decorated, I mean that many are outfitted like upscale homes.  Most have kitchens or kitchenettes – some might even be stocked with rations.  Vacation rentals can feel like “home away from home,” which been the calling card of the B&B industry.  Most have free WiFi.  There is likely no concern from travelers that they will have to encounter anyone but the people they are traveling with, so no fears of socially-forced/socially-awkward possibilities.  They can come and go as they please without worrying about bothering other guests or the innkeepers (I’m in someone’s home, so I better be on my best behavior).  And, they can be found in just about any town or city where B&Bs can be found.

Of course, we know that the best of breed in the vacation rental market cannot compete with the best of breed in the B&B market.  A well-run B&B by a caring innkeeper, who has figured out the right recipe for taking care of all kinds of guests and their wishes provides something that no vacation rental can – the warmth of hospitality.  That’s not my concern, because I know that travelers who get the “B&B bug” after staying at one good B&B will come back and come back often.  What I am concerned about is being bypassed completely by travelers have never stayed at a B&B, who get the” vacation rental bug” after a good experience, and who harbor the prejudicial stereotypes that the average traveler harbors about B&Bs.  Why risk staying at a B&B, where the experience could go either way?  Why not stay at a vacation rental where there is a good chance the experience will likely be what you expect?

Maybe this is another reason why we need the Better Way to Stay campaign more than ever.  Maybe the hotel market is not what we should be worried about.  Friend or foe?  If you’re not using what that industry has to offer innkeepers, then they’re only a foe.  If you are using what they have to offer, then they could be more friend than foe.  What do you think?


PAII CEO Elected to U.S. Travel Association Board

Monday, April 18th, 2011

For Immediate Release – April 6, 2011
Contact:  Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331,

Haddon Heights, NJ – Jay Karen, president and chief executive officer of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), was elected by peers in the travel industry to serve a two-year term as an at-large member of the U.S. Travel Association board of directors.  This will be the first time a representative from the bed and breakfast industry will serve the organization in this capacity.

“U.S. Travel is pleased to welcome Jay to our board,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.  “Jay is a champion for the travel sector, and our board will benefit by having a voice for the bed and breakfast industry,” finished Dow.

Jay has fifteen years of experience in organizational and association management and leadership, fourteen of which has been in the hospitality and leisure market.  Since 2007, Jay has served the bed and breakfast industry as president and CEO of PAII.  For ten years prior to that, he served in senior staff positions with the National Golf Course Owners Association, representing and promoting the business interests of golf course operators worldwide.

“I have long admired the work of the U.S. Travel Association, especially over the past few years, during which they have made incredible public policy strides,” said Karen.  “I am honored to contribute to the strategic discussions and mission of the organization.  Inns and B&Bs are among the smallest businesses in the travel industry, and yet contribute to tourism and historic preservation in meaningful ways in every corner of the nation. I look forward to amplifying their voices.”

About PAII: The Professional Association of Innkeepers International, founded in 1988, is the innkeeping industry’s largest trade association. PAII provides education, communications, public relations, advocacy, networking, and research services to its membership and the greater industry. In addition, PAII has created and is spearheading “Better Way To Stay”, a groundbreaking, industry-wide campaign to help travelers discover today’s inns and B&B experience. For more information, visit

About U.S. Travel: The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $704 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. For more information, visit

PAII’s “A Better Way to Stay” Campaign

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

This link will give you all the information you need to know about how PAII is promoting the B&B industry worldwide.

On My Mind- In the Shadows for Too Long

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

On My Mind- In the Shadows for Too Long
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO

Have you ever tried to get someone to try something you just knew they would like, but found it hard to convince them? That’s what I feel our industry has been up against for decades – trying to get travelers to try B&Bs. There is no question with the sharp growth of the industry in the 80s and 90s and the marketing power of the internet since the mid-90s, millions of travelers have experienced our great product. We have loyal customers who understand the value of a fantastic B&B stay. But there are many more travelers out there who have never stayed at a B&B – either because of one of the many “myths” or negative perceptions they might already have, or (according to our own research) staying at a B&B doesn’t even cross their minds as an option when booking travel. Whatever the reason, we all know in our industry what a fantastic product we have. With the rise of alternative lodging options and the sincere efforts of hotels to deliver an experience more like ours, we need to press forward and start getting more people to book stays at B&Bs. Our industry has to start doing something different and fresh to enter the consciousness of the traveler. We want people spreading the word about B&Bs in ways now possible that were impossible before. Enter – Better Way to Stay.

PAII wants to get more people talking, Tweeting, Re-Tweeting, status updating, sharing, linking, forwarding and emailing about B&Bs. We don’t want to build another directory. We want to get more travelers checking out what the industry already has – some great assets that have been around for years. I’m talking about the B&B directories, travel sites, state and local association web sites, your web sites, and ultimately clicking the “Book Now” button more and more. As your industry’s trade association, it’s part of our DNA to want to do this. We want to create buzz and attention for the great businesses in our marketplace.

For years innkeepers have wanted PAII to build an effective directory of our members. They figured it would be the silver bullet for membership growth and ultimate stability and success for PAII. The fact is that the horse is out of the barn on that one – several directories have been around since the mid-90s and are leagues ahead of what we could do from a search engine optimization standpoint. We don’t want to compete with them – or you, the innkeeper! Building our own directory – if we were to be effective in the search engines – would mean having us compete with you for premium placement on search result pages. There are some great B&B directories and association web sites that have been delivering value for years to innkeepers. We don’t want to compete with them – we want to bring more traffic to them!

But, we’ve been up against many elements for years. As we fight for PAII’s sustainability and success, it’s time we get on the offense rather than the defense. With the help of volunteers within the PAII ranks (our Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Campaign Committee and many others) as well as some folks who had some early blind faith in our ideas and vision (see list at bottom of this post), we are moving forward with the industry’s first ever campaign to get more people understanding that B&Bs are the “Better Way to Stay.” We have enlisted professional assistance from some fantastic resources and are currently building the basic elements of a successful campaign.

What we do with this campaign will have a lot to do with the level of support we get from all four corners of our industry – from everyone who has a stake in the game. Sure, we’re not going to get everyone to chip in, even though the intent of this campaign is to be non-discriminatory with regard to whom we want to get more business. We want all innkeepers to benefit from our efforts, but naturally we plan to promote those who support the campaign. And I hesitate to use the word “campaign,” because it can imply something temporary. The intent is for PAII to coordinate and support permanent, ongoing efforts to raise awareness and influence people to give us a look. We should only ever back off such efforts when most innkeepers are turning away business on account of being full throughout the year. With a national average occupancy somewhere near 40%, we know there’s a lot of work to be done.

So, today I’m writing this just to keep you informed about what is happening. We’ve been talking about the prospect of this campaign for at least two years. We are not ready to launch it, but we’re ready for you to start knowing about it. Visit for a few more details and to get a flavor of what we’re working on.

Stay tuned for more! We hope you are as excited as we are.

Thank you to the following folks for your early support:

* Empire State B&B Association
* New Mexico B&B Association
* British Columbia B&B Innkeepers Guild
* Illinois Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers Association
* Bed and Breakfast Inns of Missouri
* Indiana Bed and Breakfast Association
* Pennsylvania Tourism & Lodging Association
And individual innkeepers

» rss