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Kees Outer Banks News

THE ART OF VACATION PLANNING

Yes, it IS an art.
Your spouse wants to be near the Sound, so he can bring his boat and/or do some fishing.
The kids want to be close to the beach.
Your parents and/or in-laws just want peace and quiet.
The only totally agreeable one in the whole bunch is the dog.
BUT, with a little patience and planning, you CAN make everyone happy.

STEP ONE - WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY
When you know WHO is going on vacation, you can more easily choose the accommodations.
Kids? You’ll look for a  property with a separate play area or at least some games, puzzles, movies, etc.
Less-mobile people? You’ll look for a single-level property or one with an elevator.
Pets? Obviously, a pet-friendly property
Multiple Couples? Properties with multiple large beds in the bedrooms

When you know WHAT you want to do on vacation, you can create rough plans.
Want to bring the boat? You’ll look for a property that has a dock.
Want to see the local sights? You’ll look for a property that’s centrally located.
Sun worshipper? You’ll look for a property within walking distance of the beach.

Knowing WHEN you want to go on vacation, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

WHERE you want to vacation can mean a lot of things. Ocean side, Sound side or between the highways? Hatteras, Corolla or somewhere in between? Laid back South Nags Head or vibrant Kill Devil Hills? Good communication is the key to manage this factor.

WHY may sound weird, but it’s actually very relevant and important.
Your WHY might be to relax, recharge and enjoy some “us” time with your spouse.
Your spouse’s WHY might be to sit on the dock with a fishing pole, soaking up lots of “me” time.
Your kid’s WHY might be to lay out in the sun, go shopping and climb Jockey’s RIdge.
Your parent’s or in-law’s WHY might be to read, paint, go for walks and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Managing all these widely varying WHYs (or expectations) is the key to whether you will enjoy a harmonious vacation as a family or a chaotic mess with lots of hurt and disappointment.

STEP TWO - THE PROCESS BEGINS
Make sure you choose the right vacation rental company. It should have enough variety in properties to find the right accommodations for your group. But, it shouldn’t so big that you feel like nothing more than a reservation number. Make sure to read their policies and procedures and determine if you can live with them. Trust us when we say if any conflict arises, those policies will be the first point of reference and if they work against you, well, you may just be out of luck.

Here’s another thing to consider: What types of innovations does your rental company feature? Are they always striving to bring a better experience to their guests? Do their online reviews reflect timely and positive interactions?

KEES Outer Banks is leader in Guest Experience innovations. From our FlexStay program to the provision of linens and towels in all properties to our Beach Cabana Service, we are all about creating an exceptional vacation experience for each and every guest that books a reservation with us.

We know that our guests are our lifeblood and we will do everything in our power to keep you pampered, thrilled and returning to us.

STEP THREE - DO YOUR RESEARCH, BUT DON’T BE AN ISLAND
In this era of information overload and the entire world right at our keyboards, it’s easy to think we’ve got everything in hand. And for the most part, we do.  It’s incredibly easy to log on to any vacation rental website. To narrow down our almost endless choices with the parameters provided - dates, location, number of bedrooms, pet-friendly, etc., etc.  You will undoubtedly find a minimum of 3 or 4 choices to fit even the most well-defined criteria. And that’s when the confusion starts. Which one is best? Which will my family like most? Here’s a novel thought for you. Pick up the phone. Dial that toll-free number listed on the top of the website. And ASK.

That’s why the reservationists are there. They have been in the properties and they can offer their first-hand opinions on each of your possibilities. And here’s the best part. They really LOVE helping guests choose the right accommodations. They GET that it’s a big deal. They GET that it can be scary and you’re afraid of making a mistake. Take advantage of their expertise and wealth of knowledge.

So, pick up your phone and dial that toll-free number. You will be glad you did.

STEP FOUR - UNDERSTAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A RENTER
Yes, we get that the rules and regulations set up by the rental company are pesky. We get that it’s your vacation and you don’t want to follow a bunch of rules. But those rules are put in place for the safety and security of all of our guests. They’re not just arbitrary.

Here are our top tips gleaned from decades of property management and every guest scenario you could possibly imagine:

a. Arrive at check-in time. If your check-in time is 4:00 pm, don’t show up at 2:00, with perishable groceries in the car.  Your rental company isn’t doing this to be mean to you. They NEED every minute of the turnover time to get each property cleaned, inspected and ready for the next tenant. They really want it to be perfect for you.
b. Check the functionality of the property and its amenities when you FIRST check in. Most importantly, if something is wrong, SPEAK UP. Your rental company really does want to know if a piece of furniture is broken or the pool or hot tub water is green. They want you to have a great experience. Don’t wait until you check out to tell them that something major was wrong. They will gladly send maintenance or housekeeping out to fix something.
c. Don’t treat your vacation home as Party Central. Your rental company absolutely wants you to relax, cut loose a little bit and have fun. But please remember that your vacation property is someone’s home and should be treated with respect. In the same vein, if occupancy is listed at 10, please don’t pack in more than that. If parking is limited to 4 vehicles, please don’t bring 5. Many neighbors have eagle eyes and missteps are usually reported. Don’t create a situation in which your rental company has to take action against you. It’s the last thing they want to do.
d. At check-out time, please follow the few basic rules, i.e.,  lock windows and doors, start the dishwasher, take out the trash, etc. We know you’ve paid a cleaning fee and we appreciate it!! But we still ask that you do these few simple tasks so that the next renter can check-in to a clean and well-stocked property, too.
e. Don’t hesitate to call if you want suggestions...for just about anything! Your rental company staff LOVES to tell you about the great stuff available in the area.

STEP FIVE - OPT FOR AN OUTLINE
So, you’ve done all your research. You’ve found the perfect property for your family. You’ve scoped out the area and know exactly what activities and attractions you’re going to take advantage of. And now you’re there. You’re on the Outer Banks!! And for the first day, you’ve planned the perfect day at the beach. You put together all the snacks. The car is loaded up with all the beach chairs, towels, toys, even sunscreen.

You wake up that first morning...and it’s raining.

In the above scenario, this development could spell disaster and frustration. It would have the end effect of casting a pall over your entire vacation. Please don’t let that happen. You’ve worked so hard to make this a wonderful trip and your family deserves to have an amazing adventure together. Instead, keep a running list, instead of a schedule, of the activities everyone would like to experience. Each morning, over breakfast, evaluate the weather and the general mood and make your decision from there. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea you hadn’t even considered. This way, a rainy day just turns into a trip to the aquarium or a popcorn and movie day instead of a disaster.

STEP SIX - UNPLUG
This one is simple. Don’t Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat your vacation away. Put the phone down or at least in your back pocket on silent. Spend some time in nature, Take in a sunrise or a sunset. Go for a long walk on the beach and look for beach glass or that perfect seashell. Interact with your family in a meaningful way. Enjoy a good belly laugh. Maybe play a board game together. Throw a ball or a disc with the dog. Vacation doesn’t come around often enough and you’ll never have the same one again.
 
Treasure every second.



GOOD
 COMMUNITY NEIGHBORS

by Travel Safe, Jeremy Grogg, CEO

At KEES Outer Banks, it is our sincere desire to be good community neighbors. We are homeowners and we are members of the Outer Banks community. Our roots are planted deep and we are here to stay.

We all know that tourism is a way of life here. We plan our activities around the “season”. We just know that at certain times of the year, and certain days of the week, the roads will be flooded with vehicles, the stores with shoppers and the restaurants with patrons. At times, it’s an inconvenience. It can be frustrating and we understand this. 

Of course, we also understand the lure of the golden, wind-swept beaches and dunes and the warm, aquamarine water. We count ourselves blessed to call this fragile string of islands home. So many of us depend on tourism dollars for our livelihoods and know that we have to make our living while we can.

Vacation Rentals
Many of our neighbors choose to rent out their homes and/or condos through vacation rental programs or online services such as Airbnb.com, Homeaway.com or VRBO.com. There are several advantages to this practice. First, if rented through a professional management company, it’s helpful to have a local management company looking after an investment property.  Particularly when the owner resides out of town. Second, it is favorable for overall neighborhood security to have a property occupied rather than vacant. Third, many times the rental revenue is needed for payment of mortgage, taxes and upkeep. It may be the only way the owner can afford to keep his/her property. 

Even with the most sound policies of potential renters and the best of intentions, sometimes there are still problems. Certainly, we are not attempting to gloss over or minimize our neighbors’ concerns or frustrations. 

Most Common Issues
Parking can become an issue in residential neighborhoods with vacation rentals. All of our vacation rental property descriptions clearly state the number of vehicles that a given property can accommodate. Each time we book a reservation over the phone, we remind our guests of the parking allotment for the property they’ve chosen. Unfortunately, vacationers don’t always understand the impact that just an extra car or two can have on an already fragile parking situation. Frankly, sometimes they don’t care. We find ourselves frustrated by this behavior just as we know our neighbors are. 

We know too well not all tenants take their trash out to the curb. We take this very seriously, as we know that this can quickly escalate into a health concern. Notices are posted in each of our vacation properties regarding garbage pickup, but yet again, they are not always adhered to. Because of the unique way in which KEES Outer Banks schedules rental stays, the trash day may or may not fall during a guests tenancy. Our staff regularly patrols our rental properties, with particular attention to garbage days. If a can is found full, it is brought to the curb for pickup. A team member will then return to make sure the can is put back in its proper place and not left at the curb. 

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of being a year-round resident among vacation rentals is when tenants pack a property, exceeding its posted capacity. We absolutely share your concern and frustration. Septic systems are put at risk when overused. The noise level usually rises in accordance with the number of people occupying the home. We recognize that this is both a nuisance and a disruption to your life. Vacation homes with too many occupants exceed normal wear and tear and are at risk of outright damage. Since our first loyalty is to our owners, it is our duty and responsibility to properly care for our owners’ assets. When we have overcrowded properties, our owners and their investments suffer. 

We have addressed all of the above concerns because we want you to understand that we are fully aware of the issues that a small portion of our guests create. To that end, we are as proactive as we know how to be. Rules, regulations, home capacities  and expectations are clearly noted on our website and in our properties. A member of our management staff is available 24/7/365. We urge our neighbors to contact us with any issues, concerns or conflicts that may come up. 

Interventions
Team members regularly patrol our properties, from Corolla to Hatteras Island. We keep a keen eye out for too many vehicles at a property. When we find that situation occurring, we immediately address and resolve it with the guest. The extra vehicle(s) will be moved elsewhere or the entire group will be forced to vacate the property. 

Overcrowding is not tolerated. When we become aware that a group of tenants is exceeding the allowed maximum of a property, we immediately take action to rectify the situation, up to and including eviction. 

KEES Outer Banks offers a unique product to our guests. FlexStay is our solution to the horrendous weekend traffic on the Outer Banks and the evolving public travel trends. Instead of being another vacation rental company contributing to traffic back-ups and environmental pollution, we encourage our guests to arrive any day they’d like and stay any number of days that is convenient for them. We believe our FlexStay program is a win-win situation for all parties involved, including neighbors. 

KEES Outer Banks Cares About Neighbors
At KEES Outer Banks, we make every effort to be the best neighbors we can be. We make ourselves readily accessible for any issues on a 24-hour a day basis. When we do receive a complaint, we handle it as soon as is practical. 

We choose to work in harmony with Homeowner’s Associations and other governing bodies in the neighborhoods in which we represent vacation properties. We respect and follow the regulations of every association. Our guests are made aware of any specific guidelines in the communities in which they are vacationing. 

In fact, we took the extra step of contacting local HOAs to make them aware that we are representing vacation properties in their neighborhoods. This was also to give them contact information and to reiterate that we are available 24/7/365 to handle any concerns or issues that arise. 

We strive in every way to have a positive working relationship with every individual with whom we come in contact. That includes the neighbors at the vacation properties we represent. Because we are your neighbors ourselves and we understand from a first-hand perspective the difficulties that can arise from having vacation rental properties in your neighborhood. 

Professional Property Management Services
Another topic we’d like to address is the misconception that our professional management services are of the same caliber as an online vacation rental site, such as Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com or VRBO.com. We can understand how an individual not familiar with the vacation rental industry may tend to put all vacation rental companies in the same category, but we would like to assure you that there significant differences. 

First, and most importantly, we are HERE. As we have stressed repeatedly throughout this post, we are your Outer Banks neighbors.  While it is true that KEES Hospitality is headquartered in Newport News, our KEES Vacation Division has their office located in Kill Devil Hills. All of our day-to-day operations on the Outer Banks, including our Maintenance and Housekeeping Departments, are performed by KEES team members who live year-round locally on the Outer Banks.  Again, we regularly patrol all of our properties to be sure that guests are adhering to policies and procedures. If they are not, we address it then and there. If you find a problem with any of our properties before we do, we urge you to pick up the phone and call us, or stop by our office. We will be grateful to be made aware, happy to discuss it with you, and willing to meet you at the property if necessary.

Second, we are professional property managers. This is not a hobby or a side gig. This is our livelihood. We follow the industry closely, we are up to date with all regulations in the industry and we’ve seen about anything a guest can throw at us. We are experienced and knowledgeable professionals with the ability to handle any issue that could arise. 

Additionally, and unlike most absentee owners, we have the means to handle any issue that arises. We have maintenance staff on call 24 hours a day. We have a dedicated housekeeping staff. We have existing relationships with a variety of professional, licensed tradespeople. We have trained management staff with years of experience. Absentee owners simply cannot resolve tenant issues in as efficient a manner as we can. 

Minimum Rental Periods
Another misconception that we have become aware of is the assumption that we allow 1-night rentals. We would like to assure all of our neighbors that this is simply not the case. All of our properties have a 3-night minimum and we recently calculated that our average stay is 4.67 nights. 

We certainly hope that we have been able to put to rest any lingering concerns that our neighbors might have regarding KEES vacation rental properties in their neighborhoods. Please allow us the opportunity to be a good neighbor and we promise that we will do everything in our power to be a force for good stewardship on our beloved Outer Banks.




KEES
 OUTER BANKS

by Travel Safe, Jeremy Grogg, CEO

Anyone who has ever traveled to the Outer Banks during the summer months knows the traffic backups are legendary. It is not unusual for what would normally be a 4-hour drive turn into 6-hour nightmare or even more just battling all the other vacationers on the road. 

This is because “turnover” (check-in/check-out) days have traditionally been on the weekends. More specifically, it used to be Saturday. After traffic started building, some forward-thinking vacation rental firms started offering Sunday check-ins to alleviate the traffic. It did help, but it was really just a band-aid. 

The root cause of this monster of a problem is that owners and rental companies insist on a full-week rental during the summer. There is virtually no flexibility on this point. On one level, this is understandable. Vacation rentals are a seasonal business and those whose livelihood depends on the vacationers and the revenue they generate have to make their money while they can.

However, this model doesn’t work as well as it used to, for several reasons. First, the traffic!! Just for some perspective: the year-round population of the Outer Banks is a bit less than 60,000. During the summer months, that number swells to 250,000 per week. Wow. That’s a lot of cars on the road. Particularly given that in much of the Outer Banks, the only road is NC12. Hwy 158 travels only through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. 

Second, not everyone is in a position of being able to take a full week off. Some folks are self-employed and if they’re not working, they’re not earning money. Some folks don’t have enough vacation time. Some just can’t be away from the office for that long. And some folks just can’t afford it. 

At KEES Outer Banks, we are innovators. We search industry trends. We listen to our guests. We look for ways to create a greater experience. We strive for the WOW factor every day. 

FlexStay
We have addressed the problem of weekend traffic with our FlexStay solution. We are very proud of this innovation because we think it makes for a better vacation for our guests. And that’s what it’s all about for us. The premise is simple:

Check in whenever you want. All properties have some sort of minimum night restrictions based on time of year. These are typically 3 to 5 nights. 

That means you can arrive on a Tuesday, if you want (or any other day of the week). It means that if you can’t get off work early and can’t arrive before 2 am, that’s okay. You’ll get a digital door code, just go straight to your vacation property. We will never make you sit in traffic and then wait in line at our office. 

We like to keep things simple. We also think that people both need and deserve their vacations. We’re doing what we can to make it easier for you to take one. 
We’ve got several other exclusive programs designed to make a great experience for our guests. 

Cabana Service
You’ll feel like you’re being pampered on a Caribbean island! Our exclusive cabana service is offered for any group staying in one of our oceanfront properties. With this special amenity, you will receive a 10’ x 10’ tent on the beach, along with 8 beach chairs, a cooler of ice and a trash can on each day of your stay, excluding arrival and departure days. Your cabana service is set up by 10 AM and broken down at 5 PM. This is all at no additional fee! It’s just another KEES goes above and beyond for our guests, to let them know how much their patronage means to every one of us. 

If any of our guests not staying in one of our oceanfront properties would also like to have the service, it is available. The service can be booked through our site or by calling directly.

Event Homes
Our event homes can serve a multitude of purposes and feature absolutely spectacular amenities, such as: (please note that amenities vary depending on the event home chosen)
- Oceanfront Location
- Private Pool W/Swim Up Seats And Bar And Built-in Kiddie Pool
- Hot Tub(s)
- Tiki Bar At Pool Area
- Covered Seating Areas
- Fenced Event Lawn
- Elevator
- Movie Theater W//Stadium Seating 
- Billiards Room W/Pool Table, Shuffleboard
- Pub Lounge w/Wet Bar
- State of the Art Electronics
- Expansive Indoor and Outdoor Living Spaces
    
They can provide the perfect backdrop for a dream destination wedding. Every little girl dreams of her “big day” and making a grand entrance to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the waiting crowd, and the adoring gaze of her beloved. What could be more grand than a long boardwalk as an aisle and the sand and surf as an altar? With many of our homes at 5,000+ square feet plus generous outdoor areas, they make an ideal reception site, as well. 

It’s been many years since people expected to live their whole lives in one place. Families scatter all over the country - even all over the world. Sometimes, the only way to gather everyone together in one place is to plan a large, multi-generational vacation. In order to do this successfully, you must find a home large enough, and with the right amenities. We can easily fit that bill. We have homes boasting up to 24 bedrooms, with top-shelf amenities that go way beyond the standard pool and hot tub. For those in your group who are mobility-challenged, we offer many homes with elevators. Some of our properties are even pet-friendly, so truly the whole family can join in the vacation fun together. 

Want to find a unique and engaging way to thank your team for a job well-done, or perhaps get them fired up for the next challenge? A weekend on the Outer Banks might be the perfect way to do it. Many of our event properties feature 10+ bedrooms, so everyone in the group can enjoy the privacy of their own bedroom suite and yet, you can still bring a sizeable group to the retreat. Many innovative ideas have almost certainly been born from a retreat on our windswept barrier island!

Light Housekeeping
You’re here to have fun! And vacation means living life fully on your terms for that little slice of time each year. We’re betting that doesn’t include any kind of cleaning chores!! That’s why we provide, at no additional fee, a daily light housekeeping for all properties 5 bedrooms and more. This service includes daily towel exchange and trash removal. Think of it - even though your vacation home provides a washer and dryer, you won’t have to use it to wash towels. And no wandering from room to room changing out trash can liners. What a marvelous break from every day routine. And that, after all, is what vacation is truly about. 

Concierge Services
This is where it gets really fun. The Outer Banks is such an incredibly popular vacation destination that it has spawned a cottage industry of nothing but add-on services. You can receive any number of these services right to your front door. Here is just a sampling:
- Beach Cabana Service
- Chair and Umbrella Delivery
- Paddleboard Rentals
- Bike Rentals
- Grocery Delivery
- Flower and Gift Delivery
- Chef Services
- Roving Bartender
- Local Band Private Parties
- Beach Portrait Services

KEES also offers discounts on surf lessons, local restaurants and nearby golf. 

Just reading all this can make your head spin. It’s too hard to know which services to choose and which vendors are reliable. 

That’s why we’re here. We know who provides a good product and/or service and we can set it up for you. Though these products and/or services do entail an additional fee, you can charge it all on your KEES account for added convenience. 

Digital Check-In
This is the way check-in used to work:
- Spend hours driving to the OBX
- Spend at least an hour in OBX traffic
- Drive 5+ miles past rental home to check-in at rental office
- Upon arrival at rental office, be informed that property isn’t ready yet
- Spend several hours waiting to receive keys
- Battle traffic on Hwy 158 again to drive back to rental house
- Arrive at rental house sweaty, tired and frustrated
- Fumble with bulky keys and hope they work to unlock the door

Not a great way to start vacation. 

We’ve changed that. Not only can you avoid the traffic by utilizing our FlexStay program to check in whichever day is most convenient for you, you don’t have to come to our office! 

Simply call our toll-free number 24 hours prior to your stay to check in and you will receive your digital door code. You can also check in via email. No more fumbling with or losing keys. The digital door code will begin working at 4pm on your check in day, so you can plan your travel accordingly. Just go straight to your property and begin enjoying your Outer Banks vacation. That’s it!

Additional Amenities
To make each guest stay just a little more memorable and care-free, we’ve added a couple additional amenities that we hope will make your vacation on the Outer Banks a special experience. 
- High-speed wireless internet access
- All linens and 2 bath towels per bedroom are provided. 
- Shampoo, soap and bath gel dispensers in each bathroom
- A Keurig coffee maker and starting supply of K-cups
- Starting supply of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry and dish detergent

Thank you for choosing KEES. And welcome to your Outer Banks vacation experience. We’re so glad you’re here.