KISSIMMEE – When a group of property managers get together every month at different entertainment venues in the region – like next week’s trip to the Orlando Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre – it’s an opportunity for them to meet and network in a relaxed, fun, enjoyable social setting.
But these trips to Greater Orlando’s best known nightclubs, comedy shops, theaters and restaurants also serve another purpose. The more venues these property managers get out to and experience for themselves, the more places they have to tell their guests about.
And the more fun things those guests get introduced to in Central Florida, the more likely they are to come back … again, and again, and again.
The property managers work in one of the fastest-growing fields in Central Florida’s booming hospitality industry. They manage vacation homes, which are fully furnished houses rented to vacationers and business travelers on a short term basis.
These homes offer multiple bedrooms, a kitchen with everything guests need to cook their own meals, a private pool and a game room, in some cases – perfect for longer stays in the region, or for large families who don’t want to spend their vacation in a hotel room.
The industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, particularly in Osceola and Polk counties, where more and more short term vacation homes are popping up on U.S. 192 and U.S. 27.
In fact, the industry is growing so quickly that there are an estimated 30,000 vacation homes in this region, and the property managers have their own trade association, the Central Florida Vacation Rental Manager’s Association, to represent their interests.
“When you’re talking to any property management firms or new companies or any of the contractors you use, obviously point them in our direction,” said Colin Young, president of the association. “We’re trying to build up our membership. Please point them all here.”
The CFVRMA held its monthly meeting on Thursday, and as it always does, it ventured out into the community and found a host site that also serves as an entertainment venue/resort for this region. Falcon’s Fire Golf Resort is near Kissimmee and is a popular spot with golfers.
Marilyn Pullen, who coordinates membership drives for the association, said they are attracting new members at the moment.
“We have three new members, two new ones and one who joined last month,” she said.
Tim Justynski, the association’s social committee chairman, said that on Thursday, June 23, the association members are invited to get together at the Orlando Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre for a night of fun and socializing.
“We still have seats available, but they are going fast,” he said. “In July, I know a lot of people are busy, so we might just have a happy hour at a local restaurant.”
Young encourged the members to turn out for these events, saying it’s a not only an opportunity to network with one another, but to enjoy a popular club.
“I hope to see everyone at the Improv next week,” he said. “At $12 a head, it’s a great deal.”
The vacation home industry has seen bookings increase this year, as Central Florida’s tourism economy has gotten stronger. The Orlando area attracted 50 million visitors in 2010, breaking records.
The vacation home managers like to visit as many entertainment venues in the region as possible so they can make recommendations to guests on what places they should visit during their local stay.
The industry has also grown so quickly that a larger trade association, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, voted in February to invite a representative from the vacation home industry to serve on its board of directors.
“We’ve forged some very good links with them over the last year,” Young said. “We now have a presence on their board.”
Rich Maladecki, the president of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, said his board of directors decided it made sense to acknowledge the vacation home industry and invite them to come under their wing.
“We want to continue this fine partnership,” he said.
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