I've written a couple of social media case studies over the past year, but I was tipped off to a new one late last night. A brand new group of bed and breakfast hosts, vacation rentals owners, property managers, brokers, and inn keepers called Protect Vacation Rentals is using social media to get Governor David Paterson of New York to veto Bill S6873.
Okay, so what is Bill S6873?
It's the so‐called "Illegal Hotels" bill that recently passed the New York State Senate. The title sounds ominous, but it is really about the big hotels making rentals of apartments for less than 30 days illegal in New York City in most instances.
As Jay Karen, President and CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International says in a letter to Governor Paterson, "Many of New York City's tourists prefer to stay in accommodations other than the standard hotel; this is no different than when Americans visit European cities and prefer to stay in vacation rentals and B&Bs. If you sign this bill, you will render illegal any and all short‐term lodging operations that don't fit the mold of the standard hotel."
He adds, "Many B&B operators have been operating in good faith and have been paying occupancy taxes to the city for many years - just like hotels. They provide perfectly safe and legitimate housing for the city's visitors. There has been a surge in the number of vacation rental properties in the city and around the world, in which property owners rent out rooms or apartments by the night or week."
Bill S6873 would make short term vacation rentals illegal and force anyone except "permanent residents" to stay at Marriotts, Hiltons and the like - all of which are among the most expensive hotels in the world.
Get it? Got it? Good.
So, a group of concerned vacation rental industry professionals and New York City property owners has created a blog and uploaded some YouTube videos. Here's what one Bed & Breakfast professional had to say:
So, will this social media campaign work? Stay tuned. Don't touch that dial. Film at 11.
But, using a blog and YouTube worked for a Canadian musician David Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. Carroll's song, United Breaks Guitars, chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline. The song became an immediate YouTube hit upon its release in July 2009 -- and currently has 8,849,422 views.
The media reported the story of the song's instant success and the public relations humiliation for United Airlines. Rob Bradford, United's managing director of customer solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize for the foul-up and asked if the carrier could use the video internally for training. United says it hopes to learn from the incident, and has changed its customer service policy as a result of the incident.
So, we'll see if Protect Vacation Rentals can generate a similar response -- on a much shorter deadline. Maybe what they need is a good protest song.
United Breaks Guitars by David Carroll