This article is part of our partner profile series. Click here to read other articles in this series.
Last March, we announced our partnership with the Texas Travel Alliance (TTA), a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to developing travel and tourism to its fullest potential.
Through this partnership, TTA members that utilize the GovOS Short-Term Rental (STR) solution have access to educational resources that support collaboration between all stakeholders within a community.
In this partner profile, Shane Wilhelm, Director of Membership and Business Development for the TTA, shares insight into the organization’s ongoing efforts, the direction of the STR and travel industries, and what makes this partnership so valuable.
CEO & President: Erika Boyd
Employees: Jennifer Roush, VP of Operations; Shane Wilhelm, Director of Membership & Business Development
Members: 600+ Texas organizations
How would you describe the TTA’s mission?
The Texas Travel Alliance’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Texas by strengthening travel. As the state’s second-largest export industry, travel and tourism support more than 60,000 small businesses and 1.2 million jobs across the state.
What makes the TTA unique?
We are the only statewide association in Texas that represents the entire spectrum of travel and tourism industry segments: destination marketing organizations/convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, accommodations, museums, zoos, aquariums, airports, airlines, travel media, content creators, travel agencies, universities, and more!
How has the Texas travel industry evolved over the last two years?
The Texas travel industry has once again proven how resilient it is. There has been some internal consolidation happening in the industry as companies merged and adapted to survive. As far as travelers are concerned, we are seeing much more “bleisure” travel—where people combine business trips with family or leisure trips.
An executive at United Airlines recently said, “every weekend is a holiday weekend,” noting that travelers, especially those who work remotely, are departing on trips Thursday or Friday and returning Monday or Tuesday, similar to what we typically see on Labor Day or Memorial Day weekends. We’re also seeing a sharp rise in wellness travel and sustainable travel, where travelers are much more aware of the impact they have not only on the environment but also socially and on the communities they visit or live in.
What’s been the primary focus this year?
We’ve largely focused on developing more operational efficiency, strengthening relationships with our members and partners, and rebuilding staff and funding from the hits we took during COVID to better serve the needs of our members across the state.
What resources do you offer members?
We offer advocacy with our state legislators, professional development and connection with industry peers and colleagues, discount programs for professional services and personal discounts for members to visit Texas attractions.
What are some common misconceptions about STRs?
That they lack the professionalism you otherwise expect from hotels. Many more management companies and STR alliances are developing this space and are really beginning to standardize best practices, policies, and procedures, providing a level of professionalism that was less common in the early days of STRs.
Another common misconception is that STRs aren’t a significant source of revenue for most communities and therefore it isn’t worth the time to track, register, or develop STR ordinances. In actuality, the market is much larger than imagined and it continues to grow, so communities have an opportunity to capitalize on tax revenue that could be used to bolster visitor services and marketing efforts.
What’s one STR trend you’re seeing this year?
We’re seeing a trend among STRs to really dive into immersive experiences and unique architecture in time for summer 2023 reservations. Whether it’s utilizing preexisting local experiences or creating them from the ground up, this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
What are your predictions for STRs in 2023?
An economic downturn or recession predicted by many economists could mean that travelers, particularly families going on vacation, will opt to take shorter trips to smaller and more budget-friendly locales in 2023.
International inbound travel to Texas is expected to pick up slowly in 2023 and subsequent years, which faces the headwinds of a strong U.S. dollar, making travel to the U.S. more expensive, but it could mean that international travelers are more likely to save where they can on trips by opting for short-term rentals versus national and international chain properties.
How does partnering with GovOS help advance your mission?
Many TTA members are destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that market their communities as travel destinations. Nearly all the funding for DMOs in Texas comes from Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT).
With GovOS helping communities identify, register, and collect HOT in these cities, we are leveling the playing field with other accommodations such as hotels. We’re also expanding the budgets of the local DMOs who rely on this funding to market their communities for tourism to new audiences or even to help establish new festivals and activities that improve the visitor experience and quality of life for residents.
At the macro level, we’re strengthening travel by generating more local tax revenue from visitors, so the municipality doesn’t have to depend so heavily on local residents. At the micro level, we’re putting food on our neighbor’s plate by reducing their tax burden, providing sustainable careers, and building a visitor economy where small businesses can thrive.
TTA members have access to exclusive member pricing on GovOS STR. Visit texastravelalliance.org/page/benefits to learn more.