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where are the villa renters?

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 lip
(@lip)
Posts: 147
Estimable Member
Topic starter
 

I'm not sure if it's the economy, airfare, or lack of advertising by the VI tourism??? But I can tell you my Villa rentals are half of what they have been in previous years... I don't even have new years rented? Can anyone tell me what they believe the draw backs are this season and what a potential renters are looking for?

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 10:18 am
(@bobcside)
Posts: 167
Estimable Member
 

Discretionary $ = 0, for a lot of folks this year. I'll bet that a lot of pre-booked trips are being second thought and a significant number canceled. I know of people who gave up the non-refundable air fare $ in order to save the several thousand $ more for the trip. Things are NOT GOOD and getting worse. Maybe you guys should have a one time recession sale/price cut just to keep some cash flow going on. I'm talkin big though, like 1/2 or even 1/3. If you were to make it clear it was a one time thing I don't think it would devalue your property for future rentals. Some $ is better than 0 $. You see, Giving up $600 in air fare to save the $3500 in additional spending is not a real hard decision. Make that $3500 , $1500 and it changes the dynamics significantly. But then you could always hold out and hope for the person who could pay the full price. Tough decision. Just a thought.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 10:39 am
 lip
(@lip)
Posts: 147
Estimable Member
Topic starter
 

I have been doing that. I have been cutting deals and picking up the VI tax myself. I have been emailed by my former villa rental agent that I'm being reckless and hurting the rental market as a whole. I tried to make her understand that this is not a business for me and that the income generated is so that I can continue to insure the best product I can and most importantly, I simply want to stay in the black so I have a free place to stay.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 10:56 am
(@bobcside)
Posts: 167
Estimable Member
 

I hear ya. Good luck.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 11:04 am
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

Hey Lip!! Sorry to hear that rentals are down.

The economy is definitely painful and is going to get worse before it gets better. I guess, for the time being, travel is something many are willing to live without.

Of course, there will always be the die-hard vacationers who are now shopping for deals and hoping to take advantage of the situation.

Not sure what I would do if I were a villa owner. You have a fabulous place (I should know after having rented from you - TWICE). I'm sure things will pick up soon.

Frankly, I think the airlines have a lot to do with it. The airfare to STT is ridiculous these days -- and using FF miles is such a challenge these days.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 11:05 am
 lip
(@lip)
Posts: 147
Estimable Member
Topic starter
 

Hey BLU! It's nice to hear from you. Spirit is still pretty cheap out of Atlantic City. ($400ish)

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 11:09 am
(@stt-resident)
Posts: 3316
Famed Member
 

lip: I think you're rather out of the loop and I say that with all due respect. It was obvious to me well over a year ago that the VI was going to undergo a "not" season this year. I was at the time (albeit for the most part nicely) denigrated and castigated as rather a naysayer and a doomsayer. You can certainly research my posts on this forum to get the drift of what I predicted.

The territories are generally 12-18 months behind any drop in the US economy. Visitors coming here right now generally purchased their tickets 6-12 months ago. The hotels are looking forward to a pretty disastrous 2009 season and right now there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I can honestly assure you that it's going to get a lot worse before it even starts to get better - which could well segue into not one not season but two. The Federal multi-million bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has been futile. The potential bail-out of the big automakers is under severe scrutiny. US unemployment is at an all-time high based on the last 16 years and continues to spiral. All this filters down to us.

Housing in the VI is now in the stagnant phase, i.e. houses for sale are just sitting while prospective owners look forward to a major drop where pricing is concerned.. I have many friends here with real income who are just waiting for the bottom to really drop out so that hey can buy.

The year ahead really does look very grim. The VI Tourism department is doing its best to promote the VI as a vacation destination. American and, I believe Delta too, has reduced many fares in order to promote travel. But, like most Caribbean destinations, the USVI is for true not only suffering right now but is going to continue to suffer despite all efforts.

If you have a renal here it really behoves you to talk price with potential visitors. Cheers!

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 11:30 am
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

Lets not forget the one thing that has dropped in price : GAS!

People are back to taking road trips.

If only the airlines would give us a break now that the fuel prices have dropped. No such luck.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 11:39 am
 lip
(@lip)
Posts: 147
Estimable Member
Topic starter
 

I hear ya stt res, How are things at T&T?

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 12:49 pm
(@stt-resident)
Posts: 3316
Famed Member
 

Yes, Blu, gas prices have indeed dropped but that means little to us on island. Our WAPA bill escalated big time and now has finally been reduced as of the last bill to some degree of normalcy but we're still way ahead of the KW charge on the mainland. The continual power outages (a 34 hour outage right before Thanksgiving followed by an hour's outage on December 1, a 10 minute outage on December 2 and another 5 minute outage today) severely lessens the life of our appliances which already have built-in manufacturing obsolescence.

As I mentioned earlier, it seems that a couple of the airlines servicing the US Virgin Islands have reduced their air fares and there's no doubt that the USVI Department of Tourism has worked very hard to motivate potential travelers to come visit and take advantage of various airline deals and hotel deals.

That said, it' s obvious from the paucity of posts on numerous travel forums that people have severely curtailed their travel plans. " Forum friends" have told me via PMs and regular emails that they're staying closer to home this year. Their IRAs, etc. are down the tubes.

Yes, mainland people are back to taking road trips. I'm taking off the week of Christmas - my first scheduled break in three years - and, for my part am looking forward to totally chilling for three days and then taking some real time out to actually going to several beaches and a couple of restaurants in order to reinvent/rejuvenate myself in order to continue on. Cheers!

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 12:55 pm
(@connie)
Posts: 1634
Noble Member
 

The economy has hurt everyone. My daughter was laid off from Apple Vacation. Even if they call her back, she will not go because for the last year, it has been boring as hell for her. My husband, retired, is a handyman, people have been cutting back because they just don't have the funds. I manage a real estate office on the Main Line outside of Philly and people are just not buying. It's also very boring for me.

As far as getting back to the Islands. There's nothing more then my family would like to do, but the money just isn't there. Husband has lost 40% of his savings and it's really scarey to think where we will be when we get into our 60's and 70's.

Just about anything we do now.....we think whether we REALLY need it.

Can we get other jobs that will allow us more money in the bank? Probably not...so we just have to ride this out and hope the new administration is smart enough to get people back on their feet.

One thing though...we are very fortunate to have a warm home, a place over our heads and food to eat. I really feel for people that can't even think about going on a vacation.

In the next 6 mos to a year I see us bringing our mother into our home. We have a room for her and she's 85. She's basically in fair health, but at least she wouldn't have to worry about loosing her home.

Will I come back in May? I have no idea, but right now, probably not and that's the first time in 2 1/2 years that we have to make that decision. Unless we find that money somewhere, we'll be vacationing on the NJ shore.

Good luck to everyone.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 1:05 pm
(@stt-resident)
Posts: 3316
Famed Member
 

lip: Just getting ready to take in a food delivery and then go out and mow/weedwack the lot in my old grubbies. T&T doing fine for now and as long as I can keep the old roof over the old head with no major leaks from either(!) I'll remain the stalwart. Thanks for asking. Cheers!

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 1:18 pm
(@g-dub-ya)
Posts: 35
Eminent Member
 

lip: I am not familiar with your rental, but is there a possibilty that you could put some long-term tenants in there to hold you over?

Gary

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 2:08 pm
(@kscycler)
Posts: 1
New Member
 

I'll throw my two cents in. I'm visiting St. Croix next May for the St. Croix Triathlon, as are a number of my friends and racing acquaintences. It's a big event, and there are a lot of folks coming, but the problem is....it's just t too darned difficult to rent a villa. I've sent for information from several, never to hear from them. The ones that respond are ususally snotty, demanding, and make me feel that I'm doing them a favor by even asking to rent their place. Yes, price is important, but you might be surpirsed at the disposable income tht many triathletes (especially the over-50 crowd like myself) have to spend. And spend willingly. OK, let me ask, how many of you have contacted Active.com, the St. Croix Triathlon organizers, or anyone else about marketing to the 2,000 or so folks coming for the race? How many of you understand (and market toward) the needs of triathletes? Does your listing make any reference to helping them find the race? Finding their way home? Any packages for families and spectators coming, and coming with nothing to do while we fools swim, bike and run around the island? Or are you spending your time wishing it just wasn't so?

I'm trying to find accommodations and activiites for my spouse and 3 kids, and some support for moving us to/from the race (along with my bike), and I've inquired with a lot of villa owners. You'd think I wanted to date their only daughter or pillage their homestead, based on some of the reactions I received from villa owners. Hey, get creative, look around at what's happening (or about to happen) and plan accordingly. I'd love to stay with YOU, but I've made reservations at the Hotel on the Cay. At least they know I'm coming for the race, and even offered a small discount. Now, what does that tell you?

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 2:30 pm
(@toes-in-the-sand)
Posts: 263
Reputable Member
 

If you could convince American Airlines that they need to offer airfare to STT at a reasonable price I would be there in a heartbeat. I saw a momentary drop in price. Now prices have returned to their astronomical level. It would cost me twice what I paid last year in airfare to return. I am looking at airfare equaling 50% of an island visit for three. That includes villa rental, taxes, car rental and meals. I can't see giving that kind of money to AA. I would rather see extra monies going to on-island folks like yourself. Right now I am using my discretionary cash to buy into my future. Buy low sell high ya know.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 3:04 pm
(@jewelygirl)
Posts: 18
Eminent Member
 

Sorry for you. I'm coming though and rented a villa on St. Croix. Got my tickets back in the summer fairly cheap.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 3:11 pm
 TomB
(@tomb)
Posts: 763
Prominent Member
 

"Yes, price is important, but you might be surpirsed at the disposable income tht many triathletes (especially the over-50 crowd like myself) have to spend. And spend willingly."

I have no idea on triathletes financial status, but I would agree that the over 50 younger that 65 crowd tends to have more discretionary income than most. Usually the kids are gone, tutition is behind you, and probably at the peak of your income chart. At 53 you say I sure would like to retire at 55, but now our 401K is rapidly approaching a 101K that 55 date has moved off to a later year. So we are still traveling and have made reservations for 10 days in STJ in April.

We have lined up a car, got a place, but no airfare yet as I watch daily to jump on something in the realm of reality.

As for ideas that may attract folks (realizing this is a tough time)

Offer 10 days for 7
Work with a dive shop and offer scuba package
Older folks may want a driver and some kind of history package
work with nauti nymph or other folks and throw in a JVD trip or day sail

It is always not money as the poster said. For example we always like to do a day in the BVI - so if your place offered a day trip buried into the villa cost that I do not have to worry or think about once I get there - all the better.

If the VI tourism industry wants to survive these economic times it would behoove them to unite and share with villa owners, resorts, boats, fishing, food, entertainment as a complete package.

BTW - I dislike villa rentals that require SAT to SAT or SUN to SUN. It is when airfare is at its peak. Be flexible

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 3:34 pm
(@margy-z)
Posts: 313
Reputable Member
 

Not a villa owner (only wish) but one thing I have always wondered about discounting is what happens with the renters who have already booked earlier at the regular rate? Do you go back and give a retro discount to those folks? If you were already booked at a property and found out about this discount but were not offered it, how would you feel about the owner or agent? Would you rent from them again??

We like to travel mid-week and we like to stay an odd number of days so we only consider rentals that have flexible calendars. I understand that sometimes this does not work well for the owner but managers have told me that sometimes it's good to have those little holes in the schedule - gives them a couple of days to get into a property to make some repairs and do more in-depth cleaning than can be done on a turn-around day.

Our arrangements are made for '09 and we are looking forward to enjoying STX. We are committed but are re-thinking some holiday gifting between us, preferring to wait and see and spend the money on the island. Having stayed at villas on STT & STJ and having kept up with the pricing, I'd have to say that STX has the best villa values right now. Some of the properties on STT & STJ have priced themselves into the stratosphere. With WAPA and other costs associated with having renters it may be difficult for the owners and managers to play off whether a property is better off sitting empty or rented at a severely discounted rate. I would think it's a tough call.

I hope that things with the economy start looking up soon. The only trickle down effect I have seen thus far is the bad kind of domino effect.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 4:27 pm
(@rickg)
Posts: 243
Estimable Member
 

We were just down in November. For the first time in 6 years I did not book my next trip before we left for this one. It's the "R" word, recession. We plan on going back in 2009 for Halloween week again. We may take a last minute trip before then, but it will be low-budget. If my business does not fall off badly we may even take the kids to St. John this summer. But, like my clients, I'm not committing an funds until I have to.

Cheers, RickG

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 5:04 pm
 lip
(@lip)
Posts: 147
Estimable Member
Topic starter
 

Well I have heard some good ideas and sparked an economic debate so it seems... but to answer a few questions, I already do automatically waive the VI tax and pay myself. Just about every potential renter asks for a discount and I'm willing to negotiate however there are built in costs where at some point It will cost me money to rent... typically right off the top there is electric that averages about $400 per week and water which needs to be purchased from time to time so lets say $100, property manager $100, cleaning $150 to $200 depending on bedrooms used, wear and tear $100, gas $25, cable/ satellite $50, general upkeep and maintenance (landscaping) $50... so it's over a thousand dollars to the owner before his mortgage,taxes,"wind insurance" which in my case is $7000 a year w/ 5% deductable!! There simply is alot of cost to float a villa... so deals YES! free NO! As I said in one of my earlier posts , "I'm not in this for money. (long term investment perhaps?) I simply do this so I have a place to stay.

 
Posted : December 3, 2008 5:45 pm
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