For TurnKey Vacation Rentals, which provides web-based vacation rental management services, Hurricane Harvey hit hard.
The Austin-based company is one of the largest property managers on the Texas Gulf Coast, and Harvey’s destruction touched nearly every property. Many owners live out of state and couldn’t get there to assess the damage first hand.
So shortly after the storm passed, TurnKey co-founders T.J. Clark and John Banczak and a half dozen Austin employees headed down to deal with the damage, including TurnKey’s flooded office in downtown Port Aransas.
“We have about 250 homeowners who are affected,” Banczak said. “We’ve basically gone home by home, evaluating them and when possible trying to help clean up and mitigate some of the damage. There are some homes that are total losses, some that are rubble. Some have had three feet of flooding where you can see the water line of the wall, and the entire interior is just trashed. Some had large portions of the rooftop blown right off so they’re open to the sky. Eighty percent have damage.”
Working with TurnKey’s 14 employees in Port Aransas, they spent the past week tearing out rugs, ripping out dry wall and salvaging what they could.
“All of the homeowners that I’m aware of have some type of insurance,” Banczak said. “But whether that insurance covers just the structure of the home versus all the interior belongings is a little more up in the air. A lot are going to have to replace everything.”
For TurnKey, the recovery effort is a shift from the company’s typical focus of overseeing the rental process for homeowners. Founded in 2013, TurnKey provides an online service that handles the process of renting out a vacation home, from setting a rate, promoting the home on vacation rental sites, responding to guest inquiries and handling reservations.
When a property is booked, TurnKey oversees the visit, including check-ins, cleaning and maintenance. Guests check in using a digital lock that doesn’t need a key, and they download a mobile app to get property information and to reach TurnKey staff.
TurnKey manages nearly 3,000 properties in more than 50 markets, most of them popular tourist destinations such as Aspen, Colo., Palm Springs, Calif., Jackson Hold Wyo. and Sarasota, Fla. It also offers services in a handful of larger metro areas such as Austin and Seattle.
This year, TurnKey raised $21 million to break into new markets, add new listing and accelerate development of its mobile technology platform.
But for now, the company, which has raised a total of $41 million, is focused on its homeowners affected by Harvey.
For Geoff Champlin, who owns three condos in Port Aransas, TurnKey’s quick arrival and initial repair work allowed him to remain at home in Knoxville, Tenn.
Two of Champlin’s three condos were heavily damaged, and the third will still have to be closed as repair work is done.
“They did triage for us, and they handled peoples’ panic very well,” Champlin said. “They took pictures. They took stuff out that was wet and could cause mold issues. John’s team is the reason I did not have to go down.”
Banczak, who owns a vacation rental home in Port Aransas that was damaged, said that although it will take time, he is optimistic about the region’s recovery.
“North Padre Island was largely unaffected. By the time we hit October, many of the places that were lightly damaged in Port A are going to be ready to go,” he said. “You’re going to be able to go to the beach, go fishing, swim in the pool. You may not be able to go to every single business in Port Aransas, but you’ll be able to have a good time and help the local economy too.”
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