The History of Vacation Rentals: Back to School with Brumby McLeod, Ph.D. (Episode 363)

Breaking Down Decades of Vacation Rental Research & Trends

Today’s expert guest is the ultra-informed researcher and short-term rental historian, Brumby McLeod, Ph.D., an associate professor at the College of Charleston, School of Business in the Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management. 

He is also a research fellow with the Office of Tourism Analysis and the Riley Center for Livable Communities. The focus of his research is in overnight accommodation with a primary focus on housing, short-term rentals, and tourism.

Dr. McLeod walks us through the length of his career spent studying the many complex nuances of the vacation rental industry – from the offline family vacation homes of decades past, all the way to the explosion of digital hosting providers, and into the future.

Going back to school, even just for one day, we pepper Dr. McLeod with questions about how Airbnb disrupted his research, whether or not the data tells a positive or negative story in vacation communities, which stakeholders are the most vocal in opposition to STR expansion, and so much more.

A true academic, Brumby is so good at remaining neutral. He gets excited seeing everyone’s point of views and then putting them together so he can create research and solutions for various aspects of the industry – whether it’s small government, investors, hosts, or renters themselves.

(00:01:24) #STRShareSunday: @lazy_pines_cabins

  • Dog lovers vacation paradise 
  • Taking advantage of “pinned” Instagram content 
  • Advertising their favorable no-pet-fee policy 

(00:03:21) Back to School with Brumby McLeod, Ph.D.

  • Early inspirations for his area of study 
  • Getting started in ‘02/’03 (before Airbnb launched)
  • Early vacation rental promo catalogs 
  • Dissertation planning and early research 

(00:17:51) Charting the Rise of STR Hosting Platforms

(00:22:35) STR Impact: Building vs. Decimating Communities 

  • Parsing the data on housing in America 
  • Where does your workforce sleep?
  • Benefits of revised zoning and investment in housing

(00:27:02) Unpacking the Right to Bear Guests

  • Economic impact of sharing/lending properties
  • Who is the most consistently against STR expansion?
  • Seeing and understanding a rise in mid-term rentals
  • Hotel industry vs. vacation rentals 
  • Dr. McLeod’s work with Rent Responsibly

(00:35:50) How Hosts Can Best Advocate for the Vacation Rental Industry

  • STR Industry Survey 2024 (closed)
  • Engagement in the local community
  • Licensing caps and shady underground dealings 
  • Municipalities sharing best practices

(00:39:39) Airbnbust? Brumby on the Future of Our Industry

  • Meeting a saturation point 
  • Positives (and negatives) are here to stay
  • Gary Keller:
  • Concern over the wave of institutional investment

Download a transcript of this episode.




This week’s #STRShareSunday spotlight shines on Corrigan, Texas. The Lazy Pines Cabins specialize in dog-friendly properties; these hosts really understand the stress that comes with traveling with doggos and hoping all of their needs can be met. With no pet fees, super descriptive Instagram content, and some special pet-themed experiences – they made the perfect place for families and furry friends to travel.

We would love to feature YOU, so don’t forget to use #STRShareSunday to get your chance!

Together, Annette & Sarah are the dynamic duo behind the wildly popular podcast Thanks For Visiting, co-creators of the Hosting Business Mastery Method, & seasoned short-term-rental hosts.

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