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Letters to the editor

Playing field favours rental managers


Re: Owner-direct rentals questioned ( Pique news , April 30)

The hotel tax is fair. It distinguishes between professional accommodation management businesses profiteering substantially from taxpayer assets, and, individual taxpayers renting directly to offset their costs/reduce their losses and whose profits are re-invested back into taxpayer assets. Services like alluraDirect.com support BOTH lodging operator types. Nevertheless, it's the individual lodging vendors who actively manage their own advertisements, leads, bookings, transactions and guests, not the tools and services they use to make these tasks easier.

Here are the counterarguments to four points that rental managers routinely raise.

First, hotel tax isn't redistributing business away from rental managers. Managers charging hotel tax on alluraDirect.com compete and thrive alongside lodging vendors who don't. This hints that consumers are willing to pay for what they want. Taxing at the website level would double tax guests who are already paying hotel tax. It will also encourage tax evasion. Finally, it will shrivel vital B.C.-based, inbound business channels. They'll stop promoting Whistler and B.C., or, close their businesses rather than accept the liability of collecting and remitting hotel tax at a cost that exceeds their annual subscription fees. Mr Norris's scheme will thus also cost the province tourism technology jobs.

Second, consumers are smart. Suggesting that they don't or can't differentiate between products and consequent price differences insults their intelligence. Consumers using alluraDirect.com know precisely what they're getting because vendors describe their offer in extreme detail.

Third, independent lodging vendors and alluraDirect.com care deeply about arrivals and service. The proof is the plethora of thriving local support services serving independents. Our clients are additionally supported with 24/7 support technologies and services that complement their existing systems. Offer verifiable data that substantiates poor service by our vendors, and we'll innovate better solutions.

Finally, the playing field favours rental managers. It's so tilted that services like alluraDirect.com exist. Here's a brief list of infamous inequities:

• Rental managers have exclusive access to Whistler's official websites.

• Marketing websites acquired with taxpayer dollars benefit rental managers exclusively.

• Tourism Whistler invests substantial member fees in attracting group and tour operator business that disproportionately benefits rental managers.

• Tourism Whistler's marketing uses a call to action that excludes its fee-paying independents.

• Rental managers have exclusive access to all official Whistler 2010 lodging distribution channels and business opportunities.

• TA-zoned and commercially taxed properties managed by experienced independent hosts are excluded from "official" 2010 lodging sites and are officially ignored as a legitimate lodging product. Instead, TCUP accommodation licences are being granted to residential properties to fill lodging gaps.