To our Partners,

Welcome to 2021, the year of opportunity.  Now we are in stride to return to the path we were forced to stray from last year.

With plenty of hurdles cleared along the way, the vacation rental program remained a focus for us.  As I have transitioned into leadership of this program, it has been my goal to smooth the edges, instill standard procedures, and build efficiencies for all parties involved.  The most critical move was welcoming Tara Carrubba to manage the program, whom most of you have had a chance to work with and get to know.  Her attention to detail, communication, and problem solving has brought additional clarity to an already strong team.

Once we reopened our properties after 80 days of closure, our guests were eager for an escape.  Vacation rentals became the focus of traveler’s demand offering privacy, space, a reputation of cleanliness, and the Woodloch experience and spirit. However, we faced some big challenges with our state’s restrictive measures, in particular forcing us to significantly reduce the amount of guests we could host.

Today we are still faced with governmental restrictions, though waning, but we feel cautiously optimistic as we approach summer that they will be alleviated.  We now feel the demand starting to grow, glinting signs of progress.  While we still have challenges and unforeseen hurdles to overcome, the Woodloch experience remains a strong beacon for travel, and our region.  We are a bright light of respite for families looking to reconnect and just be together.

We look forward to getting back to some normalcy and working through it all together, with you.
Sincerely,

The Woodloch vacation rental program combines income and personal usage.  It is truly the perfect second home. One of the advantages owners enjoy is having a home where everything is overseen by Woodloch as well as use of the Woodloch Pines facilities.

In order to keep your home fresh, we ask owners to make required capital improvements. By reinvesting in your home you are enhancing its rentability. To that end, we recommend that owners consider setting aside 10% of their earnings to address capital improvements. While some years that will be sufficient to cover what is asked of them, there will be others where it won’t be enough. However, in the end an average of 10% is a good benchmark.

Capital improvements include such things as roofs, HVAC systems, painting, flooring, furniture and siding.

Average Life Expectancy of Key Components:

  • Appliance replacement – 10 –15 years
  • Deck staining – 3 years
  • E-1 Pumps – 7 –10 years
  • Flooring (common areas) – 7 – 10 years
  • Furnishings (upholstery) – 3 –5 years
  • Mattresses and box springs – 7 –10 years
  • Painting (exterior) – 5 –7 years
  • Painting (interior) – 5 –7 years
  • Roof – 25 –30 years

The findings from our inspections and the comments we receive from guests are the basis of what we ask you to do.  Inspections are conducted by our department leaders in housekeeping, maintenance, construction & our Vacation Rental Manager.

The inspection report falls into two categories:

  • Required items – things we deem essential (Maintenance and Housekeeping)
  • Recommended items – things which probably will appear as “required” the following year, or things that we think will enhance your property (Maintenance and Housekeeping)

Your Responsiveness

While inspections of your home are done all the time, our annual inspection report should be addressed within 30 days of receiving it. We have a narrow time to disseminate the report to you, receive your approval, schedule the work and get the work done during the off-season so your responsiveness is needed.

Consequences for Non-compliance

We hope that all owners see the merit of complying with our requests. However, if you fail to do what is required there are consequences:

    • Lower vacation rental category
    • Relegated as “last to rent”
    • Removal from vacation rental program

Approved Woodloch Accommodation Standards

AWA is a standard established by Woodloch to create consistency yet allowing owners to individualize their homes.  There are three main standards – flooring, painting and wall coverings.  We do permit owners to deviate provided the owner:

  • Uses an interior decorator
  • Has a decorating plan approved by Woodloch
  • There is extra material in the event a repair in needed

Expanded AWA Standards

  • Depersonalization of home
  • No seasonal decorations
  • Guidelines on lamps/pictures/accessories
  • Hard surface flooring on 1st floor in common areas
  • Stainless steel kitchen appliances
  • Countertops: quartz/granite/corian
  • Quality roll-up shades on windows
  • Limited to one twin bedroom and no bunk beds
  • King size bed in master bedroom
  • Option to deviate with a designer plan approved by Woodloch
  • TV’s
    • We prefer Samsung, we only use flat panel TV’s and we insist on 32” TV’s in all BR’s and 42” in the LR and the FR

The Current Maintenance Plan:

Currently, owners pay 7.5% of their income for maintenance. Additionally, Woodloch has agreed to supplement the maintenance expense up to 2.5% of vacation rental owner’s income.  In other words, the total rate is 10%.  However, should total maintenance expense be greater than 10%, then Woodloch may increase the 7.5% charged to owners.  The maintenance fee is fluid and is reviewed each year to determine if it approximates the 10% ceiling.

Maintenance includes: light bulbs replacement, minor upholstery repairs, carpet repairs, pest control, gutter cleaning, fire extinguishers and testing, window cleaning, annual preventative maintenance, etc.

  • The current Maintenance Rate is $72.00 an hour.
  • Vacation Rental owners are not charged the standard $25 truck charge nor are they charged for overtime or for holidays
  • Maintenance for a vacation rental has averaged about 40 hours a year or about ¾ of an hour per week
  • There is no charge for temporary use of appliances, AC units etc. should they fail. We will remove the appliance and replace it with a temporary appliance until the new appliance arrives.

Three Components of Maintenance:

  1. Maintenance performed by our team is a daily task of responding to calls and routine maintenance including the annual 79 point checklist.
  2. Maintenance performed by others which includes subcontractor work such as gutter cleaning, pest control etc.
  3. Materials include light bulbs, batteries, parts for appliances, door-stops, etc. The cost of materials and maintenance are covered up to $375 per incident.

Annual Preventative Maintenance:
Your yearly maintenance fee covers preventative maintenance of the following components in your home:

  • HVAC (twice annually)
  • GENERATOR
  • FIREPLACE CLEANING
  • GUTTER

Any repairs or replacements that are deemed necessary as a result of the preventative maintenance will be completed at the owner’s expense. The Vacation Rental Manager will contact the owner to discuss.

This past year we needed to address the WiFi capabilities in the vacation rental program.  We replaced an ineffective guest wireless network architecture with individual networks per rental unit.

    • Contracted with Guestlinx our third-party guest wireless provider.
    • Purchased and installed a new access point per unit.
    • Contracted with Blue Ridge a 75Mbps cable modem circuit per unit.
    • Performed audit of entire unit for adequate signal strength and speed after new equipment was installed.
    • Added secure SSID to each network and placed secure network connection information in each unit.
    • Raised per month wireless cost from $45 to $80.  Another rate increase needs to be considered as Woodloch Pines is paying the balance of $22 per unit for current service.
    • Woodloch Pines was financially responsible for all new hardware placed in each unit.  Total cost was $14,799.89
    • Woodloch Pines was also financially responsible for one time $59 connection fee per unit for each cable modem circuit.
    • Potential is there to increase to a higher cable modem plan per unit.  Owner would be responsible for any cost above our current standard of 75Mbps.

As a partner with Woodloch, you are afforded some exclusive benefits associated with your program.  We encourage you all to take advantage as much as possible of these Woodloch benefits.

  • 15% discount on furnishings at Woodloch Gift Shops
  • Preferential housekeeping rate and special 50% discount on housekeeping between Nov 1 – March 31 when using only 1 bedroom/1 bath
  • Referral Fee: 20% of owner’s rental for any first-time Woodloch visitor when staying in owner’s home, and paying full-rate
  • Full use of Woodloch Pines Resort for owners
  • 10% discount on meals at the Clubhouse
  • Free replacement of all housekeeping items
  • The current Maintenance Rate is $72.00 an hour.
  • Vacation Rental owners are not charged the standard $25 truck charge nor are they charged for overtime or for holidays
  • Maintenance for a vacation rental has averaged about 40 hours a year or about ¾ of an hour a week
  • There is no charge for temporary use of appliances, AC units etc. should they fail. We will remove the appliance and replace it with a temporary appliance until the new appliance arrives.
  • Free Interval International enrollment for Springs owners ONLY

INTERVAL PROGRAM:

As a vacation rental owner you can travel the world through Interval International.  You can trade up to 6 weeks of your time at Woodloch for points that can then be used to travel the world.  Points are determined by:

  • Your house size
  • Private sleeping capacity
  • Interval resort recognition tier
  • Lead time of deposit
  • Time of year

Points are allotted for each week you exchange for points with Interval. Email Amy (amy.beilman@woodloch.com) if you are interested in enrolling for this program.

When we look back to the 2020 vacation rental home annual meeting, we had some big initiatives lined up for both Woodloch and the vacation rental program, then we took a wild detour for the next 12 months.

PIVOT

Having our doors shuttered for 80 days, we found ourselves in a desperate position to keep our brand relevant and top of people’s minds.  What Woodloch does best is entertain and bring people closer together.

Woodloch@Home

  • What started as a simple idea of “what if we did a virtual horse racing?” turned into a full-blown daily Woodloch experience, enjoyable from your own home. With the marketing and activities teams working hand in hand we produced games, crafts, interviews, cooking demos, a concert series, workout videos, zoom backgrounds, and even Woodloch horse racing. Coincidentally horse racing was so popular that is crashed the Woodloch server.
  • This effort kept the brand in our follower’s homes and pulled our website traffic up and moving forward.

Community Messaging

  • We gave as much outreach to our local community as we could.
    • Paid weeks for furloughed staff
    • Food drives to hundreds of staff families
    • Care packages to local hospital, fire and rescue, and EMS
    • Lunch for our police every week
  • If you saw our ads during our shut down phase, and into the summer, you might have seen our “We’re in this Together” campaign.

PIVOT AGAIN

Reopening posed many challenges operationally and from an experiential standpoint.  Following regulations, reinventing the Woodloch product, interpreting how comfortable our guests would be was a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

Vacation Rentals

  • We knew that vacation rentals offered a safe, secure, sanitary, and spacious escape for guests. Your homes became a secure foundation for guests this year, which brought us the long-term rental approach.  We leveraged vacation rentals in all of our marketing, from email to paid ads and beyond.

Resort Responsibly

  • We needed to teach our travelers to “resort responsibly.” Treated as a verb, we needed our vacationers to actively engage and cooperate with the restrictions imposed upon us, and for the measures we were taking to mitigate all of our risk.  This took a lot of marketing focus from branding elements and signage to advertisements, video, and all areas of messaging.

Influencers

  • We did it right from the get-go and we needed that message to get out as organically as possible. We enlisted the help of as many of our top level influencers as we could.  They photographed, videoed, wrote, blogged, posted, and shared their positive experiences – and continue to do so.

And Press


STEADY

The marketing optimism was emboldened as we came through the new year.  Travel in our region is always buoyed after January 1st and this year was no different.  Despite being curbed by heavy restrictions for dining, capacity, gatherings, and out-of-state testing requirements, we felt the demand start to pick up.

Our National Plan Your Vacation Day Sale proved to be the single day record for website traffic to Woodloch.com.  Coupled with a TravelZoo offering, long-term rental promotions, and sales-focused, midweek promotions, the tide of demand is starting to consistently rise.

Our website traffic has shown very encouraging growth, specifically in the new year.  You can see the orange line (2020) tail downward as we moved into March after a strong start to the year.  What’s great about the blue trendline is that there is no historical dip in March – the line is steady.  Our advertising channels are what are driving this progress, and as the travel-interested consumer continues to feel more free to travel, our organic traffic will grow even faster.


WHAT’S NEXT

Industry Trends

  • They say the industry as a whole wont come back until 2023.  With international travel being stymied and city attractions and hotels continued to be shuttered, a world-renown family resort and destination spa resort a stones-throw from the biggest drive-to market in the US has a lot to be hopeful about.
  • Airbnb continues to grow.  After a tumultuous start to the pandemic for the outfit, they steadied the ship and grew right into a monumental IPO.  The future of the VR market is bright and Woodloch will continue to have our eyes on this movement.  As we look to the future we know that millennials and younger generations will account for 75% of all consumers and travelers by 2025. Travelers in the market are more inclined towards vacation rental property over hotels owing to the comfort, low cost, additional privacy, and kids and pet friendly nature of the accommodation.

New Woodloch.com

  • We’ve been overhauling Woodloch.com since the fall.  As with site redesigns, we’ve fallen victim to pitfalls and setbacks along the way.  However, we are making good progress and hope to have the new site live this spring.  What’s special about it?
    •  It’ll be lightning fast loading.  This will keep a more positive user experience, more pages viewed, and better results in google.
    • It’ll be built for your mobile device.  70% of our traffic comes through a phone today.
    • The navigation and layout have been minimized for a better user experience.

Connecting Marketing to Customers

  • One of the loftiest goals of Woodloch marketing this year is to connect our most valuable systems together.
    • Our complete consumer database (property management system) to our consumer relationship system (CRM)
    • Connect our live inventory directly to Google Hotel Finder (via Metasearch)
    • Connect our CRM to our OTT system (digital commercial distribution system)

Super Content Marketing

  • We’re picking up last year’s ball of attaining more User Generated Content (UGC) and utilizing it in all marketing channels
  • We want to expand virtual experiences by continuing to develop Woodloch@Home and making it a more permanent fixture
  • We will build a bigger blog / vlog network with more content and reinstitute the WLP Family Newsletter
  • We’re going to need some assistance and will hopefully add on a couple new members to the marketing team to help fulfill some of this content