Canada: ShortTermRentalz spoke to Randy Bacik, president and CEO of CertiStay, a third party safety and security certification for short-term rentals, to learn about its recently launched safety and security solution and his insight on industry regulations.
An industry leader, often called on to speak at major industry conventions and associations, Bacik is also an experienced real estate entrepreneur with multi-state real estate ventures in the south-eastern United States.
Bacik adds that he has a passion for ensuring that the safety standards of vacation rentals continues to rise, and that guests’ safety is put before industry profits.
Please introduce us to CertiStay – who are you and what services do you provide?
CertiStay is a third party safety and security auditor for vacation and short-term rentals following regulatory as well as best practices and standards through an efficient and formalised process. The propriety auditing tool, the first of its kind, has been developed by police and fire chiefs, insurance underwriters, senior vacation rental industry professionals and government leaders and all audits are completed by fully trained auditors, whilst the operational process is fully backed by leading software developers.
I am the CEO of CertiStay, and I am joined by a senior team of industry experts including Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity and the founding chairman of KAYAK, and Wolf Worster, our founder and former luxury vacation rental specialist.
Prior to heading up CertiStay, I was the founder and owner of Royal Shell Vacations, previously the largest independent vacation rental management company in North America, exclusively managing 2200 homes.
Essentially, CertiStay was created to provide a robust and ‘hands on’ safety and security audit for all rentals, with a simple process for owners and property managers, backed by proprietary software.
How does your audited certification process work to protect property owners?
Having a third party; an organisation that is considered at arm’s length from homeowners, vacation rental managers and OTAs, to conduct safety and security best practice audits, adds a significant layer of protection to guest safety and any legal liability to the property manager and homeowner.
CertiStay is able to accomplish our arm’s length independent relationship and to control the accuracy of the audit because we are the only certification company that provides fully-trained ground personnel to conduct our audits.
Why was this the ideal time to launch your service, including your inaugural propriety auditing tool, in multiple locations across North America?
Now is definitely the right time for CertiStay to come on to the market. The growth in the vacation and short-term rental industry has been phenomenal over the last few years. Community leaders, owners, property managers and guests are all confused about what really makes a property safe and secure and ‘fit for purpose’, and so the industry has been crying out for effective ways to enhance standards and support consistency.
It was during a robust three year process that the dedicated certification process was developed.
Prior to launch, we conducted numerous ‘proof of concept’ evaluations to ensure that the auditing tool is exactly what the industry needs and is positioned to be the global standard where guests can “sleep well at night” knowing their accommodation is safe and secure and that homeowners and property managers limit their liability and ensure best possible practice. CertiStay is positioned to scale up to meet demand for audits very quickly.
You said that the current regulations for vacation and short-term rentals are “confusing and inconsistent” – how will CertiStay be able to create a global standard to protect both guests and rental providers alike?
CertiStay has a team of compliance officers that are working to make sure that not only state, county and city regulations are adhered to, but also that a best practice approach is embraced for guest safety.
CertiStay is the only organisation that employs auditors on the ground. By doing this, we are able to create a hub that connects regulations through-out the globe into one database, which then offers the short-term rental industry a picture of the true global standards in guest safety.
We look at CertiStay as being the equivalent of a Google Maps approach to creating a road map for everything relating to safety and security and short-term rentals – one destination at a time.
Why do these standards and regulations not exist already? Do you believe you are trendsetters for the industry through your actions?
The vacation / short-term rental industry is a relatively new industry, at least in its current guise, and it is also one of the fastest growing hospitality niches globally. The rise in both supply and demand for properties has been phenomenal.
There are also many new property managers supplying inventory. Many of these may not come from a hospitality background nor be aware of the safety and security aspects of renting a property.
We’ve also found the industry to be reactive rather than proactive. For instance, regulations have largely been established as a result of negative experiences and incidences that have already happened.
The road map for property managers to follow, in order to comply with regulations and to ensure best practice, is difficult for managers (and owners) to source. Information tends to be spread and is not easily accessible.
All it takes is for a manager to miss one vital item, and potentially a crisis could happen for both the manager and homeowner and of course, the guest.
With CertiStay, owners and managers are assured that they are following all of the rules as well as going above and beyond for their guests. This also provides much needed assurance for guests.
What are your priorities as a company for the coming years?
The number one priority for CertiStay is for us to continue to work towards being the global leader in safety and security certification for the vacation and short-term rental industry with assurance offered to guests, property managers, homeowners and communities across North America, Europe and Asia.
Our core plans are to gain substantial market share and continue to create product add-ons that further improve the short-term rental industry as it matures.
The CertiStay Research and Development team has approximately fifteen different initiatives under research that will be available as bolt-on product enhancements to the audit and certification process that will continue to benefit property managers, homeowners and guests.
For more information on Bacik and CertiStay, visit the company website here.