Skift Take

There are many theories about Miles' departure. Now the board will have to decide what's next for the association.

Kimberly Miles, the president and CEO of the Vacation Rental Management Association, has stepped down from the post.

VRMA Board Chair Dru Brown confirmed Miles’ “resignation,” but declined to comment on the specifics.

“Kimberly has been an integral part of our professional staff team and helped VRMA navigate our path toward growth and renewal coming out of the global pandemic. We appreciate her contributions and wish her success in her future endeavors,” Brown said.

He added that the association is working through the transition with Miles, but provided no details about leadership of the association in the interim.

Miles didn’t respond to requests for comment about her departure.

The Vacation Rental Management Association is the largest vacation rental association in the U.S. Based in Washington, D.C., it seeks to provide resources to and advocate for property managers, vendors, and other industry stakeholders. It conducts several vacation rental conferences throughout the year, with some attended by thousands of participants.

Miles joined the association in July 2021 after 19 years at the American Hotel and Lodging Association. 

What led her to her exit? Former board members and others in the short-term rental business describe an association that hasn’t kept pace with industry trends and other missed opportunities. That’s been a longstanding criticism of the association, although in Miles’ defense it did make some modest changes, such as launching a membership category for individual hosts.

Kimberly Miles, ex-CEO of the Vacation Rental Management Association
Kimberly Miles. Source: VRMA/Tori Soper

Critics also point to the way VRMA is set up, with an outside management company, SmithBucklin, having much sway, and the relationship between VRMA’s CEO and the board. 

Management of VRMA: Chaotic and Complacent

David Jacoby, co-founder and president of Hostfully, which offers hosts vacation-rental software and tools, told Skift last July that VRMA can have an “old guard” feel.

“They used to be the only game in town, but lately, many other social media influencers have started organizing successful in-person conferences and other events,” Jacoby said. “These attendees are newer to property management and many have never even heard of VRMA.”  

One former board member told Skift that many association members were unhappy with a VRMA conference held in Paris in March. The board member said it was disorganized, that VRMA overspent on it, and that attendance was low. 

Scott Legatt, director of government affairs and advocacy at Inhabit IQ, a property management software vendor, said this month on the Straightfire VR podcast that VRMA was falling behind in providing value to its members. 

“There’s so much competition out there now. VRMA used to be the only game in town. Now you can’t even sort through all the invites, and that really requires you to up your game and make your value proposition better,” Legatt said on the podcast. “And the criticism is that VRMA often recycles the same kind of promotions that they did for the previous events. They change the name and the date and the place, but it all looks alike. So people’s eyes glaze over after a while.”

Alleged Leadership Issue

 The two former board members Skift spoke to questioned Miles’ leadership of the organization. 

The founder of Seattle Vacation Home, Andy Morris, who served on the VRMA board from 2021 to 2022, questioned the board’s inner-workings and Miles’ output. 

“In my limited experience with Kimberly, I was disappointed in her lack of follow-through concerning work that was sent her way by someone other than the executive committee and other insiders in the old boys’ club that enjoyed the status quo,” Morris said. “I saw board members callously disregard our own bylaws to serve their own ends. When called on this by a small minority who wanted to hold the board accountable to its bylaws, the minority was treated with anger, resentment, and hostility. I saw numerous rules disregarded.” 

He claimed the board wasn’t particularly transparent about its operations.

“I saw meetings that were, by default, secret, with association members who weren’t board members not allowed to observe,” Morris said. “I saw multiple meetings where board members were brought to tears. Hopefully Kimberly’s departure shines a spotlight on the overall dysfunction of the organization, and especially its governance.  There was so much that I saw that was indefensible in a very short period of time.” 

Both Morris and another former VRMA board and committee member said that the mismanagement issue can’t entirely be attributed to Miles.

Miles was following the directives issued by the SmithBucklin executive committee, the management company that VRMA’s board hired, these critics claimed. 

“They’re all guilty here, and she should not be the scapegoat,” Morris added. 

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Tags: dwell, future of lodging, online travel, online travel newsletter, vacation rentals

Photo credit: Summer purchases vacation rental homes on behalf of clients. Source: Pixabay Pixabay / Pixabay

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