A family business in the truest sense of the word—the company is named for owner Alex Zemianek’s dad, and many staff members are related to one another, while all are treated like family, regardless—JZ Vacation Rentals had big plans. First, the Maplewood, Mo.-based property management company, which started as a one-property operation in 2016 when Zemianek rented out his own apartment, wanted to grow its STR management portfolio to 50 fully managed properties by the first quarter of 2023.
At the same time, JZ Vacation Rentals wanted to protect rental rights in the Missouri communities where it primarily operates, some of which, including historic riverfront destination St. Charles, were seeing a stark increase in anti-STR sentiment.
But to make these things happen, JZ Vacation Rentals needed a solution that would offer in-stay insight, historical noise data and an automated solution to noise issues during guest stays. Operations Manager Nikolai Kronk explains how NoiseAware, plus Breezeway, were the fix he was looking for.
From its inception in 2016, the company that would become JZ Vacation Rentals had one overarching goal: Do it better.
This mission started with the company’s cleaning operations. Kronk explains that JZ’s first bona-fide employee was Kim Conway, who, from the moment she was first hired, focused on improving both the quality and efficiency of housekeeping across the company’s growing property portfolio. Next, in 2017 came Rick Kronk—yep, he’s Nikolai’s dad—who came on to handle maintenance operations. By the end of 2017, JZ Vacation Rentals was a full-fledged vacation-rental property management company. And they were doing it while making sure employees felt supported and valued, at every level.
But that’s when the real challenges started. For one thing, the company had brought on several duplex and townhome properties, which were great for rental revenue. But the properties’ shared walls meant noise, and noise complaints, were a bigger issue.
“For the longest time, we would get random messages from guests in our townhome properties, saying, ‘Hey, the neighbors are super loud, we don’t know what’s going on,’”
–Nikolai Kronk, Operations Manager, JZ Vacation Rentals
One starter rental
= JZ Vacation Rentals’ 2023 Goal
After first testing the STR waters by renting out his own apartment in 2016, Alex Zemianek has built a full-fledged property management company with big goals, and big challenges.
Then there was the rise in anti-STR sentiment, especially in tourist areas like St. Charles, along with increasingly strict local ordinances—and the threat of even more onerous restrictions to come.
Along with these issues, JZ needed a way to lighten the “crisis-management” load on its staff, if it wanted to live up to its promise of being completely guest-centered: “Everything we do is for the guest or because of a guest,” Kronk says.
And, as a new and ambitious property management company facing increasing competition and tightening inventory, it needed a way to build trust with homeowners and maintain that trust, to grow acquisitions and prevent churn.
Kronk recounts that Alex Zemianek first encountered NoiseAware at a VRMA conference, and was quickly impressed with the product’s ease of use and effectiveness. “Next thing you know, he’s introduced the JZ team to the technology, and by Monday morning we were getting started with NoiseAware,” he says.
For JZ Vacation Rentals, the multiple benefits of NoiseAware have made it an essential must-have in the company’s 150+ onboarding items—specific mattresses, linens, household items and more—implemented when new properties are added to its management portfolio.