Headquartered in Austin, Texas, HomeAway, Inc. is the world’s leader in vacation rentals with over 1.2 million online vacation rental homes in 190 countries. As short-term rentals have become increasingly popular, municipalities have struggled with the appropriate balance of regulation. HomeAway retained ECPR to help change the conversation surrounding short-term rentals in Austin prior to the Austin City Council’s decision to expand a moratorium on Type 2 short-term rental licenses.
In February 2016, ECPR worked with HomeAway to assist the public launch of its “Stay Neighborly” initiative. The program offers greater resources to local regulators, short-term rental property owners or managers, and travelers to promote compliance and provide guidelines to remove those who violate local nuisance regulations from HomeAway websites.
In less than a week, ECPR planned and executed a successful press conference announcing HomeAway’s “Stay Neighborly” initiative. The announcement was covered by virtually every print, online and broadcast media outlet in Austin. ECPR developed all press materials including a press release, talking points for HomeAway executives and other press conference speakers, an op-ed in the Austin Business Journal, and supportive letters to the editor and quotes from various business leaders.
A week later, ECPR coordinated media coverage of HomeAway employees marching from the company’s headquarters in downtown Austin to City Hall on the day of an important City Council vote.
The public relations campaign on the “Stay Neighborly” initiative and the Council’s ultimate decision to effectively ban future Type 2 short-term rental properties caught the attention of investors, elected officials and media nationwide. Currently, state lawmakers are proposing legislation that would limit local government control of short-term home rentals in Texas.