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  • July 07, 2023 8:04 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    Short-term vacation rentals matter in the Poconos.  For as long as there have been vacation homes in the Poconos, there have been vacation rentals. Now referred to as short-term rentals, these properties are a key component in our local economy and without them, and the tourism industry it feeds, our region will suffer.

    As professionals who specializes in helping people find and operate vacation rental properties, we see firsthand the benefits and positive impact that comes from short term rentals (STR).

    Many of the investors that we see are most often successful, young individuals, not big corporations and these individuals have tied a good portion of their life savings into these investments. They invest in rehabbing their properties, they encourage their communities to upgrade facilities, and they promote the region as a destination to bring in rentals.  Successful operators reinvest in the community by hiring local cleaners, property managers and service providers and bring a host of entrepreneurial activity and optimism to the region.

    We now call all vacation homes that rent short-term rentals, using the acronym of STR. According to the PA Supreme Court, running a STR is running a business and townships can license the practice and use zoning to restrict where STRs are permitted.

    Most Pocono municipalities now have Short-term Rental Ordinances. Responsible owners don’t want party houses, they don’t want rowdy guests and don’t want their investment damaged by bad guests; good guests are good for business.

    Responsible owners accept that licensing and regulation are needed to maintain the good reputation of vacation rentals in the Poconos. Regulation helps set standard operating procedures and levels the playing field. Licensing can keep out bad operators and assure the quality of the rentals for future guests. We all have examples of a rental that has gone wrong and responsible owners and responsible community managers are constantly looking for ways to be effective and be good neighbors and good members of the local community.

    The draw of bringing families and friends together in a modestly priced home setting is one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions. For families who are hard pressed to afford a vacation that requires airfares, the Poconos presents a vacation environment on a budget. Contrary to what was stated in the previous article, we see a lot of similarity between today’s vacation homeowners and those of a generation ago.

    STR is literally a cottage industry with individual owners renting their cottages, they just do it a little differently, using websites like Airbnb and VRBO rather than using vacation home brokers or visits to the local real estate agency.

    Our area has resorts, hotels, and inns, but they do not provide nearly enough capacity to support the local tourist industry. The region has by some estimates nearly 20,000 vacation homes and 7,500 licensed STRs. Rental income might be near $60 million making the Poconos one of the best vacation rental markets in the country.

    The private communities that provide amenities like lakes, pools, and recreation facilities, make the Poconos an ideal place to for getaways, gatherings, and family reunions. The image of coming together around a big indoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit and seeing old friends is the perfect remedy to the daily grind and key to our successful vacation rental industry.

    Many of the homes in the region were built as vacation homes. Contrary to the claims, the supply of vacation homes is steadily declining as more and more full-time residents move to the region and these new residents push to restrict vacation rentals.

    Regulations that were intended to foster responsible operation are increasingly being used to drive out the vacation rental operators and turn our iconic mountain communities into residential communities making long term rentals an only option for investors. The previous article neglects to state that there is little or no regulation of the long-term rental properties or tenants.

    As vacation rental owners, we recognize that the Pocono region has grown, and our economy has diversified over the years. We agree that STR is not a Panacea and that there is more to the Poconos than tourism, but at the same time it is important to remember that tourism is the biggest factor in our local economy and the catalyst for so much of the region’s success.

    If each of these 7,500 STRs brings just 100 guests each, then you can see how we can say that vacation rentals are vital to our region.

    Mark Shay is a realtor with Keller-Williams and is editor of PoconoVacationHomeSales.com, a website for those interested in Short-term Rentals.

    Marty Nicoll owns Ideal Property Management, specializing on 5-Star vacation rental operations.

    This first appeared in the Pocono Record Newspaper on February 9, 2023 with the title “Why short term vacation rentals matter in the Poconos | Our Turn”

    https://www.poconorecord.com/story/opinion/columns/guest/2023/02/09/opinion-the-poconos-economy-depends-on-short-term-vacation-rentals/69881161007/

  • July 06, 2023 3:30 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    Marty Nicoll and Mark Shay of Poconos Association Of Vacation Rental Owners (VRO) met with State Senator Rosemary Brown and discussed our association's goal of responsible regulation. Senator Brown was very supportive of our group and, like us, wants responsible owners and community associations to find common ground that brings the benefits of STR to all in the Poconos.


  • July 06, 2023 8:00 AM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    The Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners (Poconos VRO) is pleased to announce that Ricky Cortez has joined the organization as Interim Executive Director. Ricky is the Poconos area alliance representative for Rent Responsibly and he will remain in that role. He has attended meetings and participated for the past two years with the Tobyhanna and Coolbaugh Township Short-Term Rental ordinance discussions. As an owner who vacations often with his family, rents to vacationers, and plans to retire here, he is extremely dedicated to sensible regulations while mitigating issues and bridging the gap between residents, vacationers, and owners who rent to them.

    Ricky stated, “It is an honor to serve our community as Interim Executive Director for PoconosVRO. Listening and participating in our community has always been an important factor in keeping that symbiotic relationship between those that live here full-time, part-time, and those that come to vacation here. The ethos of our community is the driving force to what draws us all here, it is reflected in our values, and our members are committed to being good neighbors.”

    With PoconosVRO, Ricky will be tasked with moving the organization past its start-up phase and into a smoothly functioning not-for-profit trade association. He will oversee member services, member development and help in new member recruitment as well as helping the organization reach its full potential. The mission of PoconosVRO is to represent and advance the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos and advocate for practical short-term rental regulation; while providing members with the educational, networking, and resources they need to run responsible and profitable businesses. Ricky will support the volunteers who have established the organization and help guide their efforts to become the voice of the vacation home and short-term rental owners in the Poconos.

    Ricky has a very impressive background and we are delighted to bring him into the organization. He has worked with advocacy groups for much of his career and his technical expertise and experience with IT is a real bonus to our group.  Due to our fragile budget, he will begin working approximately 8-10 hours per week.  As more members join the organization and we get more corporate support, we will be in a position to engage Ricky further with more hours.

    The Interim Executive Director is a staff member position.  Ricky will report to the Board of Directors (Mark, Marty, Shawn, Ellen, and Joann) and is tasked with a set of near term goals that should go a long way toward establishing our organization as the voice of the STR Industry in the Poconos.

    This Monday evening (July 10 at 7 PM), Ricky will be presenting an educational session tied to his role with Rent Responsibly.  We hope you will join us for a discussion on Party Prevention for STR Hosts.  An invitation with the weblink can be found here

    The next PoconosVRO General Meeting will be Tuesday July 18 at 7:30 PM via Zoom.

    If you have not joined Poconos VRO as a Charter Member, we hope you will now.  Please visit https://poconosvro.wildapricot.org/join-us


    Thank you,

    Mark Shay

    President, PoconosVRO

  • July 01, 2023 7:30 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    Thanks to member Slade Sizemore for submitting an article about our trade association to The Current, a community newspaper in Jim Thorpe. Page 3 News A great example of members being creative in helping us grow and move toward being the voice of the vacation rental and STR industry in the Poconos.


  • June 29, 2023 8:25 AM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    My name is Mike Camino, I own a property I operate as a short-term rental, and I am a member of the Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners.  I am also an area resident who is raising his family here, as well a board member in Emerald Lakes. Emerald Lakes has a diverse community mixture of full-time residents, weekend visitors, full-time rentals, as well as Short Term rentals. Our budget varies year to year but on average we take in $680k-$800k in rental fees.

    We have the same issues with neighborhood behavior as multiple other communities as well. Our community has strict rules and regulations which everyone is expected to follow including our rental guests. We back those rules up with strict fines. We have discovered a lot of our residents chose to move to Emerald Lakes after visiting it as a guest first. Short term rentals are a controversial issue for some, however their benefits if the owners, guests, and community work together are wonderful.

    In our community we have a Real Estate Committee of volunteers who spend a significant amount of time talking to people from all sides of the issue and making recommendations to compromise a fair balance. This has helped the community to have a fair and open voice. We have seen a drastic reduction in bad behavior from guests and short-term rental owners both. We make sure members of the community are not disturbed by guests, and when there is an incident, we are quick to address it with both our code enforcement officer as well as our public safety teams. Our team-based approach has allowed good rentals to flourish and has encouraged certain non-compliant rentals to leave our community.

    Property values have risen because these owners are fully maintaining their properties and upgrading them to resort quality homes. Guests do not want a bad experience with older homes in distress and as such there is a financial gain to both the rental owner and the community by older homes being fixed up and maintained to meet the high expectations of guests. Afterwards when these rental homes sell in the future, they bring good quality real estate to the market which is move-in-ready for other families, without the need for extensive renovations. These well-maintained rental properties improve the surrounding homes values as well. Overall, the rise of licensed short-term rental operations in our community has led to an overall improvement of the reputation of our Emerald Lakes as a place to live as well as vacation.


  • June 24, 2023 9:00 AM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    In response to a growing interest in an organization to advance the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos, a group of volunteers has come formed a formal trade association: PoconosVRO, a 501 (c)(6) corporation, supported by membership dues.

    The vision of PoconosVRO is to be the voice for the vacation home and short-term rental industry in the Poconos. The organization strives to support responsible regulation which would provide for a level playing field, lobby against overregulation, advocate for individual owners, highlight good practices and stop bad practices, publicize contributions to the region, present opportunities for hotel tax support and assert this is not a place for class action lawsuits.

    “As an STR/VRO owner in the Poconos for six years, I was so excited to hear that there was finally going to be a voice to support owners and promote tourism in the Poconos,” said Ellen Capell. “I have been a small voice in my township and with a formal alliance we will be able to really make a difference and demonstrate the value we bring to the Poconos. I am honored to be part of this association and I believe we are truly saving the Poconos as a vacation destination.”

    PoconosVRO began early this year with informal meetings then by April, the trade association was incorporated with bylaws, active volunteers and charter members joined to show support. The association meets every two weeks and is in the process of forming committees and planning events.

    “Well-run STRs are a win-win for communities,” said Marty Nicoll who represents PoconosVRO. “They are well kept raising property values, they contribute more tax revenue per home than long-term rentals and they contribute to a healthy growing local economy.”

    According to statistics provided by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, vacation rentals generated $417,315,980 in bookings in 2022, the tax revenue from this is 9%. Nearly 1.8 million nights were booked in 2022 representing a significant portion of all guests who stay in the Poconos.

    “Vacation home rentals have always been a part of the Poconos’ ethos since the very first days of hospitality growth in the region,” said Chris Barrett, President/CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “With the advent of third-party booking sites, vacation rentals grew into a larger part of the tourism industry fueled by increased demand and provide significant economic impact to the four-county region. We are pleased to support the efforts of the Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners.”

    Membership provides the funding needed to build the association’s infrastructure and help advance the interest of the short-term rental industry in the Poconos.

    Charter membership is $150 for 2023.

    https://www.tnonline.com/20230624/vacation-rental-owners-form-trade-association/

  • June 22, 2023 6:37 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)


    Members of the Poconos Association Of Vacation Rental Owners (VRO) are encouraged to update your directory listings so that we can feature your properties on our new Pocono Vacation Rental Guide. The guide will list short-term rentals whose owners pledge to operate responsibly, be good neighbors and deliver an exceptional guest experience. It will be linked from Poconos.org and featured in some SEO activity.

    https://poconosvro.wildapricot.org/Pocono-Vacation-Rental...


  • June 18, 2023 6:40 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    At the past meeting of the Poconos Association Of Vacation Rental Owners (VRO) we approved our trade association joining the Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce. The goal of membership is to better engage with local business and civic leaders and advance the interest of the STR Industry in the Poconos. We are looking for a PoconosVRO member to serve as Delegate to the Chamber, a volunteer position that would attend events/mixers as our association representative, and in the spirit of capitalism, you could also advance your own business interests. If you are interested, please DM or contact us PoconosVRO@gmail.com

  • June 14, 2023 6:34 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    June 13, 2023 – In response to a growing interest in an organization to advance the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos, a group of volunteers has come formed a formal trade association: PoconosVRO, a 501 (c)(6) corporation, supported by membership dues.  

    The vision of PoconosVRO is to be the voice for the vacation home and short-term rental (STR) industry in the Poconos. The organization strives to support responsible regulation which would provide for a level playing field, lobby against overregulation, advocate for individual owners, highlight good practices and stop bad practices, publicize contributions to the region, present opportunities for hotel tax support and assert this is not a place for class action lawsuits.

    “As an STR/VRO owner in the Poconos for six years, I was so excited to hear that there was finally going to be a voice to support owners and promote tourism in the Poconos,” said Ellen Capell. “I have been a small voice in my township and with a formal alliance we will be able to really make a difference and demonstrate the value we bring to the Poconos. I am honored to be part of this association and I believe we are truly saving the Poconos as a vacation destination!”

    PoconosVRO began in early 2023 with informal meetings then by April, the trade association was incorporated with bylaws, active volunteers and charter members joined to show support. The association meets every two weeks and is in the process of forming committees and planning events. 

    “Well-run STRs are a win-win for communities,” said Marty Nicoll who represents PoconosVRO. “They are well kept raising property values, they contribute more tax revenue per home than long-term rentals and they contribute to a healthy growing local economy.”

    According to statistics provided by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, vacation rentals generated $417,315,980 in bookings in 2022, the tax revenue from this is 9%. Nearly 1.8 million nights were booked in 2022 representing a significant portion of all guests who stay in the Poconos.

    “Vacation home rentals have always been a part of the Poconos’ ethos since the very first days of hospitality growth in the region,” said Chris Barrett, President/CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “With the advent of third-party booking sites, vacation rentals grew into a larger part of the tourism industry fueled by increased demand and provide significant economic impact to the four-county region. We are pleased to support the efforts of the Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners.”

    Membership provides the funding needed to build the association's infrastructure and help advance the interest of the Short-term Rental Industry in the Poconos. Charter Membership is $150 for 2023. 

    ###

    About Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners:

    Founded in 2023, this not-for-profit trade association strives to be the voice for the vacation home and short-term rental industry in the Poconos.  The all-volunteer association represents and advances the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos and advocate for practical short-term rental regulation; while providing members with the educational, networking, and resources they need to run responsible and profitable businesses.  Rental Owners can become Charter Members by visiting the association’s website at http://www.PoconosVRO.org

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/press-release-new-vacation-rental-association-advocates-mark-shay/?fbclid=IwAR275Tt5-qVErclSeqSVLgcfDUtAZ-4SMJh9B1TWEtjs0UbidO7Mb6vhaQQ

  • June 13, 2023 6:30 PM | Mark Shay (Administrator)

    PoconosVRO to be the voice of short-term rentals in the Pocono Mountains

    By James Hamill on Jun. 13, 2023


    In response to a growing interest in an organization to advance the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos, a group of volunteers has come formed a formal trade association: PoconosVRO, a 501 (c)(6) corporation, supported by membership dues.

    The vision of PoconosVRO is to be the voice for the vacation home and short-term rental (STR) industry in the Poconos. The organization strives to support responsible regulation which would provide for a level playing field, lobby against overregulation, advocate for individual owners, highlight good practices and stop bad practices, publicize contributions to the region, present opportunities for hotel tax support and assert this is not a place for class action lawsuits.

    “As an STR/VRO owner in the Poconos for six years, I was so excited to hear that there was finally going to be a voice to support owners and promote tourism in the Poconos,” said Ellen Capell. “I have been a small voice in my township and with a formal alliance we will be able to really make a difference and demonstrate the value we bring to the Poconos. I am honored to be part of this association and I believe we are truly saving the Poconos as a vacation destination!”

    PoconosVRO began in early 2023 with informal meetings then by April, the trade association was incorporated with bylaws, active volunteers and charter members joined to show support. The association meets every two weeks and is in the process of forming committees and planning events.

    “Well-run STRs are a win-win for communities,” said Marty Nicoll who represents PoconosVRO. “They are well kept raising property values, they contribute more tax revenue per home than long-term rentals and they contribute to a healthy growing local economy.”

    According to statistics provided by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, vacation rentals generated $417,315,980 in bookings in 2022, the tax revenue from this is 9%. Nearly 1.8 million nights were booked in 2022 representing a significant portion of all guests who stay in the Poconos.

    “Vacation home rentals have always been a part of the Poconos’ ethos since the very first days of hospitality growth in the region,” said Chris Barrett, President/CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “With the advent of third-party booking sites, vacation rentals grew into a larger part of the tourism industry fueled by increased demand and provide significant economic impact to the four-county region. We are pleased to support the efforts of the Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners.”

    Membership provides the funding needed to build the association's infrastructure and help advance the interest of the Short-term Rental Industry in the Poconos. Charter Membership is $150 for 2023.

    ###

    Download PDF

    About Poconos Association of Vacation Rental Owners:

    Founded in 2023, this not-for-profit trade association strives to be the voice for the vacation home and short-term rental industry in the Poconos. The all-volunteer association represents and advances the interests of vacation rental owners in the Poconos and advocate for practical short-term rental regulation; while providing members with the educational, networking, and resources they need to run responsible and profitable businesses. Rental Owners can become Charter Members by visiting the association’s website at http://www.PoconosVRO.org.

    https://www.poconomountains.com/articles/post/new-vacation-rental-association-in-the-pocono-mountains-advocates-for-practical-regulations/?fbclid=IwAR0NapYvzdiWxON6lN5SuEuO2KOYHnCpTWdpzp6rPdV1YdjaDwq05jV43s8

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