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The future of vacation rentals in Paso Robles 

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Q and A with TurnKey Vacation Rentals with Kathy Kelly, General Manager, Central Coast

Tell us, what is TurnKey Vacation Rentals?
Kathy Kelly: TurnKey is a tech-enabled, full-service property management company for vacation rentals. Founders TJ Clark and John Banczak are travel industry veterans who saw the need for a scalable way to increase revenue for homeowners while providing a consistent, hotel-like experience for guests. Coming from HomeAway, Expedia and Hotwire, our founders know the vacation rental industry inside out, and know technology.

Why would a vacation rental homeowner choose TurnKey?
KK: Many homeowners start out managing their rental property themselves, until they realize how much work this is. I used to be one of these homeowners and can tell you it’s a lot of work. TurnKey’s technology, marketing engine, customer service and local support teams help homeowners live the vacation home lifestyle, where they can use the home when they’d like, while also increasing the revenue they make from it.

Where is the vacation rental industry going?
KK: Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular all over the world. Airbnb alone has seen the number of rentals double year-over-year. Currently, the global vacation rental industry is valued at more than $100 billion, and estimated to grow to $170 billion by 2019. But we at TurnKey are focused on local homeowners and travelers to our area. We’re seeing more and more guests giving vacation rentals a try and finding that they not only like them, but prefer them to hotels!

Why would anyone stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel?
KK: In many instances, and especially for traveling families and groups of friends, vacation rentals provide a better lodging option than hotels. Vacation rentals are often a much less expensive option, as a number of people can stay in the same home at the same time, and even cook their own food in the kitchen. And since the group is all in one place, it’s much easier to spend time together.

For instance, I recently went to Charleston, S.C., with my husband and a group of friends. Since we all stayed in one vacation rental home, we were able to hang out and spend quality time together. Instead of having to meet in the lobby and coordinate our dinner plans, we were able to relax, drink wine, and cook together. Staying in a vacation rental is really about creating those quality experiences.

So vacation rentals are becoming more popular, what does that mean for Paso Robles?
KK: The entire Central Coast of California will benefit. As this area grows in popularity, more and more tourists will seek vacation rentals. This is an up and coming region, perfectly poised to be exposed to a national and even global audience through TurnKey’s marketing engine. We opened up this market last April. Today, we have over 60 local homes listed with us and that number grows monthly. I’m seeing a lot of people buying retirement homes here now and renting them out until they can retire. It’s a great way to make an investment and enjoy it, all while building equity and paying down the mortgage as you do.

Is Paso Robles supportive of vacation rentals?
KK: The city of Paso Robles and SLO county understand the importance of tourism to the economy of this area, and has been a great partner to the vacation rental industry. They have supported vacation rentals with common sense regulations that are allowing the rental market to flourish. According to Phocuswright – a travel industry market research company – guests who stay in vacation rentals often spend more money in the local economy than comparable hotel guests, so they are just the type of tourist we want to attract. Everyone benefits!

What services does TurnKey offer?
KK: TurnKey is a full-service vacation rental manager that integrates smart technology with local, personal teams to provide exceptional service for homeowners and guests. Our team of professional copywriters and photo editors craft compelling listings, which we market to reach more than 95% of vacation rental travelers. We also respond to listing inquiries to close more bookings, provide 24/7 guest support, and even manage maintenance and housekeeping. For homeowners, we offer robust service with a dedicated account management team, all necessary tax information, and ensure your rental regulations are followed. We truly handle everything, so you can relax.

How is TurnKey different from any other property manager?
KK: We’re what I like to call a “next-gen” vacation rental manager built to handle the increasing guest demand. The traditional mom-and-pop organizations find it difficult to take advantage of the new technology landscape. Considering 87% of all vacation bookings are made online, it is critical for vacation homes to have effective online marketing capabilities. If you’re not online, you’re not going to get bookings. And if you’re only on one site, you’re losing out on a lot of opportunity. TurnKey markets our properties on more than 50 sites, reaching 95% of vacation rental travelers. All listing inquiries are responded to within an average of 5 minutes, and our proprietary software updates booking calendars instantaneously across all channels to prevent double-bookings. Our superior processes and technologies allow us to offer a better guest and owner experience.

How is TurnKey benefiting this community?
KK: Although TurnKey is a national company, we employ a local team for all hands-on support. I’ve lived in Paso Robles for over 14 years. My first home here was a vacation rental. Our team is completely made up of locals, who are our lifeblood and the front line of the company. We have the best of both worlds – national scale and local service – since every homeowner also has 300 people back in Austin helping make their vacation rental property a success. For instance, our Revenue Management team deeply analyzes trends and performance metrics to ensure that your home is booking competitively with comparable homes and hotels in the area.

How do I know guests will take care of my home?
KK: Good question! At TurnKey, we take care of our clients’ homes as if they were our own. We’re honored that over 3,500 homeowners have placed their trust in us, so to protect their assets, we screen guest bookings with IDology to greatly reduce fraud, party bookings, and identity theft. We install our proprietary smart lock on their door to ensure homeowners always know who is in their home and for how long – and never having to worry about copies of their door keys circulating around. During guest stays, we monitor the noise level to keep neighbors happy. Due to our security measures, less than .03% of guest stays results in material damage. But if your home is damaged, our Property Damage Waiver kicks in and any repair up to $3,000 is covered without having to file a claim.

How do you make sure my home is clean for every guest?
KK: Since every guest compares the cleanliness of a vacation rental to that of a hotel, we have taken great care to provide a 5-star clean every time. Using our FieldSync technology, every housekeeper’s job is inspected to ensure that it’s completed to our high standards. Each guest is prompted to rate the clean, and based upon this system, we’ve received a 98% guest satisfaction rating upon check-in.

Can you really make money from renting your home out short term?
KK: Yes! We help maximize each owner’s revenue by marketing the home to drive more bookings and through our dynamic pricing model. This proprietary model captures increased rates during peak seasons and listing interest, and ensures your home stays booked year-round.

What areas do you cover?
KK: My team and I cover the entire Central Coast…from Lake Nacimiento and all the way down to Buellton. We cover all the adorable beach cities like Moonstone Beach in Cambria, Pismo Beach, Oceano and also the wine country areas like Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Nationwide, TurnKey operates in more than 50 markets, including much of California.

Can you share a homeowner success story?
KK: One of our clients has a home in Cambria that used to be managed by a small property manager. He was concerned it was not booking any guest stays. I took a look and found out that his calendar hadn’t been updated by his property manager. They had accidentally blocked his entire calendar … for months! Then we signed him on as a client. His home went live on a Friday, and by Monday he had 4 new bookings. In just two and half weeks, he had 15 bookings, which was more than he had ever seen with his previous property manager. By leveraging TurnKey’s strong marketing engine and processes to close more bookings, we vastly outperformed his previous manager, and helped our client generate much-needed revenue.

To learn more, contact Kathy and the local TurnKey team at (805) 233-3706 or Kathy.Kelly@TurnKeyVR.com
Visit TurnKey online at turnkeyvr.com/homeowner

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.