From the back room of a South Lake Tahoe real estate office in 1979, Jim and Melinda Morris started a small vacation rental company with the desire of generating additional income for their real estate clients. Fast forward 40 years and they are still at it. No longer in the back room, Lake Tahoe Accommodations has 4 offices around Lake Tahoe and over 30 employees. Serving all areas of Lake Tahoe and over 800,000 guests, we take pride in providing a great experience for our guests and outstanding property care and income for our owners. Jim & Melinda are appreciative to all the employees, guests, and property owners that made this a great 40 years!
Interview with Jim Morris – Owner, Lake Tahoe Accommodations
Q. Tell us about your first visit to Lake Tahoe, and how it became your home.
I had just been laid-off from an aerospace company in southern California, and we took our camper from Riverside, CA and drove to South Lake Tahoe in the early winter looking to relocate. We moved from smoggy Riverside in 1973, mostly to provide a better environment for our family and asthmatic son.
Q. What was Tahoe like back then?
It was new & exciting, lonely & isolated, and hard to establish a sphere of influence because of the transient nature of Tahoe residents.
Q. How did you get involved in vacation rentals?
I worked for Dillingham, the developer of the Tahoe Keys in South Lake Tahoe. They had a rental department and there was a connection between rentals & sales. We started a company, M&M Realty and Lake Tahoe Accommodations in the late 70's. When we decided to split our partnership, I took the rental company and my partner went with the real estate sales.
Q. Was there much competition in the beginning?
No. The vacation rental business was in its infancy, and there wasn't a lot of business. Renting a vacation home wasn't a popular lodging choice back then. We had some TV commercials made to help promote Lake Tahoe, and bring an awareness to vacation rentals as a lodging choice. Some of the clips from these commercials are now available on our YouTube Channel.
Q. What were some of the challenges you had in establishing your business?
Getting a manager, and establishing a computerized reservation system. We had the first computerized reservation system in Lake Tahoe. But we lost key employees early on who ended up as competitors.
Q. What is the VRMA, and how did you get involved in it?
VRMA stands for Vacation Rental Managers Association. Our computerized reservation system was developed by John Kjellman of Victorex. John Kjellman brought together his first 5 clients that were using his software because he though we could derive some benefits from associating with fellow vacation rental managers. This organization has since grown into a nationwide organization with hundreds of members.
Q. What are the biggest changes in the industry during the last 30 years?
The internet, websites, online reservations, and the proliferation of rent-by-owner properties that was enabled by the internet.
Q. Where is the industry going to be 10 years from now?
The non-dedicated / non-professional individuals and organizations will come and go. But the management rich & properly capitalized companies will survive and prosper.
Q. What are the challenges facing the vacation rental industry today?
Local regulations that are restricting and limiting how vacation rentals can operate in the community. South Lake Tahoe in particular has some of the most restrictive regulations in the country.
Q. What do you think about the future of the vacation rental business?
It will continue to grow as more and more people are exposed to our industry because it's the best lodging choice for vacationing families and friends.
Q. How do you remain successful in today's competitive environment?
Constant innovation, marketing & internet improvements, investment in computer hardware and software, and listening to our property owners and rental guests.
Q. What sets you apart from other Property Management Companies?
Our experience & size. We are the only company offering rental properties in every area of Lake Tahoe, and we are one of the oldest rental companies at the lake. We've always paid attention to the details, and we will not accept mediocrity with employees or our product. We are always forthright regarding our capabilities, and we don't promise anything we can't deliver.
Q. Why should someone rent from you rather than dealing directly with the owner?
We have higher standards. Not all properties qualify for our rental program, and our maintenance & cleaning standards are second to none. We have 24-hour guest services, and an inventory of alternative properties in the event of unforeseen problems.
Q. What are some of the reasons a property owner should put his/her property on your management program?
We have a $1000 no-fault damage guarantee, 24-hour emergency services, property freeze protection, a 180,000 renter database, free long-distance for guests and owners, and management systems in place for all emergencies. Our goal is to maximize the rental income of each property while safely maintaining its investment value.
Jim & Melinda Morris
Lake Tahoe Accommodations
The house was very clean, comfortable, and in working order. The street across the road turned out to be a great sledding track for the kids. The loft TV did not work, but Mike in the maintenance department came out within hours to try and repair it. Since it was probably a wiring problem inside the wall, he had to refer the problem to the cable company. But the next day, he showed up with a DVD player so the kids would be able to watch movies. At least he tried his hardest to please us. We have used other agencies in the past to rent out a home, but I have to admit this is the best company thus far in responding to our needs.~ D.L. Smith - San Luis Obispo, CA