Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) Rulemaking Notice

Important Notice for all Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association (SMVLA) Members and VLS businesses

The continuance of Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) Rulemaking hearing for the proposed VLS advertising rules from February 9 is scheduled for Monday March 21, 2011 in Nashville.  These unnecessary rules will require the addition of firm name in addition to any trade name/dba on all advertisements.  Also they will require the administrative phone number of the firm listed with TREC, and the addition of the VLS firm license number.  These items must be added to all advertising, including every web page, banner ad, thumbnail ad, ad tile, coupon, text/line ad, all printed media, business card, brochure, branding ad, etc.  (These are in addition to your logos, toll free #s, text, and web addresses.)

The SMVLA Board of Directors is firmly against the passage of the VLS advertising rules as proposed.  They are more strict and onerous than rules placed upon brokers or timeshare firms who actually transfer ownership.  They will cause added expense for all VLS companies both in initial implementation and in all future advertisements in print as well as internet media, while not increasing consumer protection.

WE ARE REQUESTING YOUR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

After reviewing the SMVLA comments and proposal below, please send a letter/email supporting the SMVLA comments and proposal to Eve.Maxwell@tn.gov or via fax to 615-741-0313 to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission, attention Exec. Dir Eve Maxwell.  Make sure to convey your support of the SMVLA comments and SMVLA proposal to delay passage of VLS advertising rules. (Please take action  prior to 5 pm on Thursday March 17.) Your help in this matter is critical in preventing these VLS advertising rules as proposed.

One of the main focuses of the state administration and congress is to be business friendly.  They are requesting that all commissions/agencies use caution in making rules or policies that cost businesses unnecessary expense in these tough economic times, while allowing them to continue to compete within and outside the state.

Thank you for your help and dedication to SMVLA and the vacation lodging industry.  Your support is truly appreciated.  Please forward to any other VLS businesses who will support this request.

Brad Ivens, Pres.

Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association

 

 

SMVLA March Comments on Proposed VLS Advertising Rules

March 10, 2011

TO:   Tennessee Real Estate Commission

FROM:  Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association

RE:   Proposed Advertising Rules for Vacation Lodging Services 1260-07-.05

The Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association represents a majority of Vacation Lodging Services registered with the State of Tennessee.  Our members professionally manage thousands of overnight rentals, employ thousands of Tennessee citizens, and contribute millions of dollars yearly in taxes to the local and state governments.  We recently assisted in passing legislation that greatly enhances TREC’s designated agent regulation.  We respectfully submit these comments on the proposed vacation lodging service advertising rules.

1260-07-.05 Advertising

(1) All advertising, regardless of its nature or medium, promoting vacation lodging service rentals shall prominently display the following information:

  1. The firm name of the vacation lodging service, as registered with the Commission;
    Vacation Lodging Service rules should allow VLS firms to use any dba’s or trade names that are properly on file with the firm name on TREC records.  The Tennessee Association of Realtors (TAR) and Great Smoky Mountain Association of Realtors (GSMAR) also support this suggestion as stated in their recent comments on these proposed advertising rules for VLS.
    We also agree that there should be a rule allowing banner and thumbnail internet ads and ad tiles that does not require all the added information on the ad, as they link to a home page that includes the necessary information.
    Also, line ads in some magazines such as Southern Living or Bridal Guide charge per word or line.  Some companies buy a very small line ad with only a url/website address or a toll free number and those go to the rental home page or rental office.  To require the addition of firm name, firm license number, firm telephone number will cost the VLS several hundred dollars more on some ads.
    Branding advertisement is another area that is not addressed with these rules, but would fall under these requirements.  Branding advertising should absolutely be allowed without any requirement for additional information on the ad.  Branding is used to merely try and get the potential future customer to remember the name or logo (brand) of the VLS business at a future time when they may consider visiting the area where the VLS business is located.  At that time, if they remember the brand, they will type in the business name into an internet search engine, or find the phone number in the phone book, and all pertinent contact information and other required information will be on the website HOME page or on the confirmation documents if the customer actually rents and makes rental payment to the VLS.)

(b) The telephone number of the vacation lodging service firm office;

    We have stated before, and agree with TAR/GSMAR comments that the “firm office” number requirement is unnecessary and causes ad space issues, potential confusion for the customers, and negates the proper tracking effectiveness vs ad cost of the toll free or website URLs used to track marketing dollars.  This proposed rule should be removed entirely as VLS customers will only call the “free” toll free numbers or type in the website URL in the ads.  Some ads may only contain a website URL and not a toll free, or vice versa.  Both will lead to the VLS business, and when a reservation is made with rental payment, a confirmation with all pertinent contact info, etc. is sent to the customer.  Also, no protection is necessary until a customer makes a rental payment to the VLS. VLS must be allowed to compete easily with hotels/motels/condos both in state and out of state without undue advertising expenses that will come with these rules.

c)   The vacation lodging service firm license number.

    We strongly believe placing the vls firm license number on ads, business cards, brochures, internet banners, coupons, etc is not warranted or necessary.  The addition of the firm license number also takes up more ad space.  To place the firm license number on the website HOME page and on the rental customer confirmation documentation satisfies the consumer protection concerns of TREC. VLS companies merely RENT rooms on an overnight basis and do not transfer any title to property.  Real Estate firms, brokers, affiliate brokers, timeshare firms, are not required to place their firm licenses on their ads, etc, and yet they actually transfer ownership title to properties.  The Tennessee Real Estate Commissioners who are in the real estate sales industry and transfer ownership title are not required to place their firm license numbers on advertising either, yet they are proposing these unnecessary rules on companies who merely rent a room overnight.

(2) All internet advertising must include the vacation lodging service firm name, as registered with the Commission, and the vacation lodging service firm license number on each page of the website.

    This should be required on the website HOME page only. VLS internet websites often have hundreds of pages with each unit, photos, local city info, attraction info, restaurant info, etc. included.  The sites are search engine optimized (SEO) with specific techniques that are not required for real estate and timeshare sales sites.  Having to retool the hundreds of pages is expensive, onerous, time consuming, and unnecessary.
    AGAIN, the customer needs no protection until they actually send a rental payment for overnight rental. At that time, they should receive confirmation with all pertinent VLS contact information in case there are any issues from that time forward. These proposed advertising rules appear to be a “solution in search of a problem”.

In closing, the SMVLA requests the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to forgo these proposed advertising rules as written, and allow SMVLA to submit rules for your consideration that fit the VLS industry while maintaining consumer protection at a later date. By so doing, we can work with GSMAR/TAR to make sure the banner/thumbnail internet ads are properly covered in rulemaking.  We can also look more closely and effectively at internet advertising, branding, firm license number, dba’s/trade names, and use of URL and toll free numbers in advertising.  The Vacation Lodging industry has been in existence for several decades without any documented consumer complaints concerning any of these proposed advertising rules.  We feel it is reasonable to request this delay given the lack of historical need for advertising rules.  This present rush to pass advertising rules is unnecessary.

Please also consider that one of the main focuses of the new state administration and congress is to be business friendly.  They are requesting that all commissions/agencies use extreme caution in making rules or policies that cost business unnecessary expense in these tough economic times, while allowing them to continue to compete within and outside the state.

Thank you for considering these requests.

Brad Ivens, President

For the Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Natalia V. Bejarano August 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Dear Sir/Madam:

I presently own an overnight rental cabin in Sevirville, TN in the Smoky Mountains. The managment
company refuses to provide to me copies of the original credit card receipts wherein all guests pay for
their overnight stay. I will like to see receipts from March 2011 until including August 2011.
I will like to see these because the amounts shown in my monthly statments are very low, therefore my
60% share is even lower. I called myself and other members on my family pretending we are guets. Have called numerous times and the amounts quoted to guests is double of what they show to me in thes statements.
Please I really appreciate it if you could direct me to the appropiate office to file a complaint. I will like to
know if I am wrong of if they are not paying me the correct amount they charge. My cabin is 5 star one in their list.
Thanks for your prompt cooperation.

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