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It Is Time for Double Tips

By William May
Published: 02/26/21 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Gratitude, Health, Kindness Comments: 0

A new vacation rental landlord was appalled to find out that the management firm put "Housekeeper Tip Envelopes" into homes. She presumptuously concluded that the housekeepers were not paid sufficiently.

That reveals she hasn't the slightest idea of how to be in the hospitality industry. Certainly housekeepers appreciate tips, but tips are not really there for the money.

  • Tips show appreciation.
  • Tips show recognition of the hard work.
  • Tips show respect for undesirable work.
  • Tips are the price you pay to avoid the job.
  • Tips show you are a kind person.

Housekeeping is the kind of work that this privileged snotty rental owner can simply not imagine. Maybe if such owners went out, scrubbed floors, unclogged toilets, and pushed a vacuum until their hands grew callouses, maybe then they would see, or at least begin to feel what it's like to be disrespected.

During the Covid crisis, it has been reported that customers are tipping service personnel, like restaurant servers, delivery drivers, and dry cleaners, far lower than ever before. Of course, some consumers have less money available to leave tips, but for everyone else - shame on you.

People have lost jobs. Some have taken positions at lower wages. Some work part-time when full-time is what they need. That means now is the time to show more respect for service people, not less.

Double Tip

Without much forethought our family has been tipping higher than usual nowadays. But this ungrateful client gave us a brand new idea. Not only is it time to tip everyone well, maybe it's time to start a movement - it's time to tip everyone double.

Maybe it was always time to double tip everyone. Tip double! At minimum. Always!

The Best Reward

On the way home tonight we stopped for take-out at a drive-through fast food restaurant and tipped $20 on a $25 order. We also handed over giant smiles and a very big THANK YOUS.

The wonderful young clerk said, "Oh, that’s too much." To which we had to say, "Oh no, that’s just right."

But the best part of tipping double is that you will get more out of it than the recipient. Generosity always benefits the giver.

And now it can and should benefit us all double! Maybe next time we should make it triple. How about you?

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Author: William May
Blog #: 0809 – 02/26/21

AirBnB's 11 Star Rating Grates on Vacation Rental Managers

By Ron Lee
Published: 09/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

AirBnB Hubris

It doesn’t happen to all of the technology titans, but it does infect most of them.

Brian Chesky, one of the founders of AirBnB, is the latest patient to be stricken.

The disease is called Hubris and it can knock down a person at any age, but younger business people are more prone to allow themselves to get sick. It starts when young kids have a good idea, and grow it fast with the new opportunity of world domination that the Internet often allows them to believe, as we used to say in high school, that "Their XyMTX don't stink."

AirBnB has always had a major problem lurking below the surface. Started as a couch-surfing business, they quickly learned that vacation rental homes rent for much higher rates and there are millions of them. That enables big growth.

Guests, who are looking to share a room and meet a new host friend in faraway places, can make good renters of vacation rental homes, but not when a website like AirBnB intentionally confuse them.

In a 2018 article titled "The 11-Star Rating", Chesky inadvertently revealed that he still completely misunderstands the "whole house" vacation rental business.

Although it is impossible to get any higher than a 5-star rating on AirBnB, Chesky admonishes "hosts" who don't do things to get his impossible 11-star experience rating. But here are his dictates that don't fit vacation rental guests.

ARRIVAL - He expects hosts to meet every guest at the front door and greet them upon arrival. Never be late it admonishes.

The problem is that guests who rent homes want to arrive whenever they want, even late at night, and not to be bothered by people they don't know. They often fly or drive long distances and simply want to arrive, plunk down their gear and relax.

Oddly, AirBnB is now requesting that all listings offer "self-check-in" due to the Covid virus. So why would Chesky contradict that and violate the privacy that whole house guests expect? Seems he isn't even aware of what his company is doing. (More hubris.) Proof he loves guest rooms, but not vacation rentals.

ACTIVITES - Then he says a host should go ahead and make activity reservations for guests even before they ask. "I know you like surfing. There's a surfboard waiting for you. I've booked lessons for you."

This is more nonsense in a private vacation home. Clearly, Chesky hasn't tried this tactic himself. What day are the lessons? Can they be cancelled? Are they for all 12 people staying at the house? Who pays (guest, homeowner, manager)? Having a well-crafted welcome book that lists local activities is what visitors want. But to think you, the host, knows what a vacation rental guest family wants is presumptuous at least and hubris at best. There is that word again.

STUPIDITY - Chesky's delusional thoughts are amplified by his request that hosts do things like this: "By the way, you can use my car." No insurance agent in their right mind would allow a home owner to give their car keys to people without signing massive disclosure agreements. In fact, your insurance carrier won't let you do it at all.

In most jurisdictions, it would be illegal to do so without a business license specific to car rentals, and those rightfully come with many requirements and stipulations. Leaving out bikes, surfboards, jet skis and other equipment for guests is also verboten.

Sure, maybe Chesky was trying to make a point, but this is from a guy out of touch with Vacation Rental owners and managers.

THE BEATLES - Then he proposes that "There'd be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country" (kinda like the Beatles arrival in America in 1964).

Boy, I am sure your neighbors would like that one. After the hundreds of legal challenges that AirBnB faces worldwide, how can he not recognize the problems he is giving the Vacation Rental Industry?

Or how about, he says to property owners, "You'd be there with Elon Musk and you're saying, 'You're going to space.'" I'm sure your insurance agent would love that one.

IMMATURITY - Lastly, Chesky resorts to vulgar profanity to emphasize how great he thinks all his ideas are. Clearly, the sign of a young man who has not had to become an adult at all, because he got lucky with a good idea and lots of venture capital.

Everyone understands that Chesky is trying to emphasize giving customers more than they pay for. And everyone agrees. A nicely designed whole-home, hospitality clean, with a good welcome book are all appreciated.

But at vacation rentals, guests want to make their own plans. They don't want to be interrupted and they certainly don't want some punk telling them what they will be doing. Maybe it works for single room rentals, but the anticipation of in-your-face hosts sets expectations in inexperienced guests that vacation rentals do not offer.

VRBO guests are savvy to how whole-home rentals work and are considerate and easy to work with. AirBnB guests, especially those having seldom stayed in a vacation rental home, arrive with unreasonable thoughts that AirBnB is planting in their heads, without clarifying how homes are different.

How about "We won't be arriving until 1am, can you still meet us when we arrive?" Or "I like your host photo, can you take us out to the best restaurant in town?"

Vacation Rental owners know that Chesky's diatribe is hyperbole to the highest degree. We can understand he wants to sell the AirBnB experience as something more than it is. But he is over-promising what cannot be delivered and which must be called out for what it is - dangerous for the Vacation Rental Industry.

Chesky's hubris has accelerated the growth of vacation rentals on top of the increases that VRBO and other websites have done. But his methods have also peeved property owners, neighbors, cities, counties and even countries across the globe. Can someone talk to the kid and rein him in, before he kills rental rights in so many communities?

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Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0785 – 09/01/20

Managing a business from within the CHOP

By Wm. May
Published: 06/29/20 Topics: Government Comments: 0

Anarchists in Capitol Hill Occupant Zone CHOP Seattle, WA
Self Appointed Anarchists at CHOP

It has been local, national and even international news. After numerous marches for Black Lives Matter, confrontations with police took place at barricades literally one floor below our offices in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill Neighborhood. (You can see our Orange building in the photo.)

The protests and participants have organized themselves first into CHAZ, the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone which morphed into CHOP, the Capital Hill Opposition Protest. Our family lives just 3 blocks away so working and living here has become a nightmare.

Ours is a administration office for a network of vacation rental management companies, inns and resorts located mostly around Washington State and Idaho. Staff do accounting, advertising, reservations and software engineering.

The building is what might be called an "art loft" building built first as an automobile dealership a century ago, with 20 foot ceilings and huge windows overlooking a lovely park. Unlike downtown skyscrapers, the space offers peace and calm for a staff here long hours 7 days a week.

The neighborhood has always been the focus of groups marching for multiple causes. Minorities of all types, those opposed to the military, and those supporting gay rights march outside our door multiple times each year. Twenty years ago during the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle, riots erupted.

Then, we lived about a dozen blocks away but even from that distance each night I was heart broken to see my 8 year old son frightened to hear the screaming, yelling and flash bang devices used to drive away self described anarchists.

My conclusion then was that no one, absolutely no one, has the right to make him feel that way, regardless of their reasons. I did not imagine it would happen here again.

Dr. Martin Luther King and his contemporaries made a point of never chanting when they marched, for fear that adrenalin rushes would cause participants or the police to become violent. Silence is golden, while vicious noise and anger do nothing for the cause.

This time however, in Seattle and elsewhere, with the outrage over the killing of George Floyd and others, the chanting, screaming and profanity outside our windows made it difficult to do our jobs. Most staff members were working from home due to Covid-19.

Vicious riots began in Seattle's downtown, just 2 miles from our location. Citizens were shocked at the destruction, theft and violence. Police responded to the relief of many people but were denounced by individual protestors.

Having been driven out of downtown, the marchers converged on our neighborhood to confront the police who then set up barricades. Seemingly 24 hours a day, for days on end, protestors displaying an unbridled anger and aggressiveness, pushing forward until someone - police or protestors - made the confrontation violent usually at night. In addition to well-meaning protestors surely anarchists and other trouble makers were attracted to the chaos.

Police employed tear gas, flash bang devices and large numbers of officers to cause the crowds to disperse. Eventually, over the objection of the police chief, the Mayor gave orders to abandon the precinct building and have the officers run away.

For we essential workers, being on the second floor gave us some safety, but we felt compelled to sneak into the building each morning and depart each night from the opposite side of the block. At night self-proclaimed armed men challenging workers coming and going. Some demanded money from businesses.

As soon as the police fled. a large group of people block streets, defaced every building the area, and took over the Cal Anderson park that lays directly below my window. People are camping in the park, tearing up lawns to build gardens. Hawkers are out selling or giving away food, T-shirts and who knows what.

In the past few days there have been 7 shootings, 2 people killed and 2 in critical condition. Parents of victims, are pleading with protestors to go home, as is the Mayor, the police chief and a coalition of African American clergy. Unfortunately some city council people are justifying the violence due to "systemic racism".

Before this began I enjoyed strolling through our lovely park on my way to work. Now I avoid the park because it saddens me to see bums building campfires in the emptied kiddie wadding pools.

At night I hear gun shots, fireworks and constant chanting from over 3 blocks away. As loud explosions wake me at 3 or 4am I can only wonder what else is next. Is there no law or order?

I have enjoyed living in this small neighborhood in this big city. I grew up in a small town and now for the first time ever, I am plotting how to get back to places where sensibility abounds.

Today CHOP's territory is slowly decreasing. Some barricades have been removed. The number of participants has eroded. Police hope to reoccupy their precinct but are going slow to not offend anyone.

It makes me wonder, why those who have been victimized feel its their right to victimize others. I want to support the needs of everyone, but by using violence and employing anarchy they are harming their own cause.

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Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0766 – 06/29/20

HelpBookMe Implements Version 3.0 or S2D2 Pricing System

By William May
Published: 06/03/20 Topics: Software, Sunspots Vacation Rentals, Vacation Rentals, Vortex Managers Comments: 0

Although the Vortex Organization first inserted yield management tools into their HelpBookMe lodging management system years ago, today they announced release of version 3.0 of tools referred to as S2D2 for "Seasonal, Strategic, Dynamic and Distributed".

Salman Arshad, chief engineer notes, "Artificial Intelligence pricing is based on the simple idea of Supply and Demand. But predicting supply and demand is a complicated undertaking because variables change frequently and quickly."

Yield Management, sometimes called "Dynamic Rates", increase or decrease based on the general economy, local and regional economic factors, the features and amenities of each property, local events and circumstances, prior day, week, month and quarter pricing, competitor rates and, even, the weather.

S2D2 rates are based on artificial intelligence that queries over 8 billion dollar points every evening, chooses the factors affecting every individual property, and then applies them to our geographic markets right down to the individual vacation rental home or lodging unit.

"Of course our pricing is based on sophisticated and ever changing algorithms, but we still apply manual review, oversight and, sometimes, intervention," said Kate Quinn, account manager at Vortex. "That is why our product name acknowledges all of those important factors."

"Studied" means constant inspection of what competitors are charging for similar and dis-similar properties. "Strategic" rates are set differently depending on time of the year, the season, and in accordance with local events.

"Dynamic" means that rates are adjusted regularly based on occupancy, advance notice and other factors. "Distributed" requires properties be widely advertised on every productive website and through conventional media to ensure that those who might demand the property know it exists.

You cannot have one of those elements without the others, otherwise the science of yield management would be incomplete. After extensive testing, results show that S2D2 version 3.0 can increase both occupancy and rates, resulting in more profit for property owners.

"It is counter-intuitive to recognize that S2D2 does not care what the day of the week is, what the season is or even if there are holidays." explained Arshad. "Instead, with constant calculation, the software foresees trends and adjusts rates to be at the sweet spot that fosters both occupancy and optimal rate."

Another reason yield management works so well is that, surprisingly, travelers have become accustomed to it and, in fact, learn to use variable rates to change their behavior. In other words, demand for lodging ebbs and flows based on rates.

The HelpBookMe technology and especially version 3.0 help charge the highest possible rate on the most popular dates. Modest rates are charged during shoulder seasons. And low rates are set for slow seasons to attract guests who would not otherwise consider booking.

Yield management shines during good economies, but quickly recognizes and reacts to negative events such as economic downturns, regional weather, and any happenings beyond anyone's control.

William May, a Vortex leader admits, ""Every owner loves the idea of high rates, but pride of ownership can be wounded when they look at lower seasonal rates. But once they see the growth in annual income, owners become quick converts to our S2D2 dynamic rates."

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Vortex Managers is a network of trained vacation rental management companies and provides its clients with the resources of giant lodging corporations without the cost or delay. HelpBookMe is a proprietary lodging management software system perfected with thousands of hours by expert engineers. For more information on Vortex, call or Email: Info@VortexManagers.com, or Website: www.VortexManagers.com

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Author: William May – Manager, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0746 – 06/03/20

How Dare They Go To Work

By William May
Published: 04/20/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Family, Gratitude, Health Comments: 0

How Dare They Work. Corona Virus.

Really, who the hell do they think they are?

Awakening early every morning, or even in the middle of the night. After too little sleep and too much stress, trudging to a job they love, although they admit it is difficult to love right now. How dare they go to work?

They will often spend 12-hours shifts or much longer and for days on end. Not one day off, not a moment to spend on personal things. No time with family or friends. How do they dare do that to themselves?

Some are paid very well, some paid adequately and others earn far too little. Most will receive nothing extra for the insurmountable obstacles they confront. How do they dare to work at all when others would not?

And yet, they persevere and get up and go to a job they know will be very frustrating. They know it is also rewarding, but that it will not feel that way every day. They do not dare to think about relief, at least not yet.

At the job, they will toil hour after hour, often with no time to eat or take a break. Squeezing in a bathroom break is necessary, but even that feels like wasting time. They will be confronted with thing after thing to do. Work upon work. No rest for the weary.

There will be a non-stop demand to do the difficult, the impossible and even the frightening. They won't feel up to the task all the time, but they will step up to the tasks every time. How dare they do that to themselves?

They see weeks of challenge ahead, maybe months, maybe years. They refuse to look for the finish line, because every champion runner puts one foot ahead of the other knowing it’s the only way to finish. They think about quitting, but only rarely, because quitting would make it more difficult for others. They dare not let anyone down.

As the world begins to show its gratitude for these wonderful human beings, they will still feel inadequate, because the mission is so huge and for now seemingly impossible. How dare they believe they can make it better?

These people are not necessarily glib with their words. They have no time for pontificating. They have no time to complain. They do not seek glory or even recognition. They would not dare direct any attention to themselves.

Every one of them knows the risk of physical illness, mental duress, financial hardships and family stress. They know these things, so how do they continue on? Would anyone else dare?

They dare because the task is at hand. The challenge is now. They dare not wait. They dare not fail. They will not let that happen, no matter how long it takes and no matter the personal cost. How dare they believe they are life givers?

Doctors, nurses, caregivers, counselors, therapists, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, EMTs, first-responders, administrators, janitors and every employee at every hospital, all dare to come to work - and we must all be so grateful that they do.

These people dare because they are different than most of us. Very different. Most dreamt of their career as a calling. They have always known it would be difficult, but they never dared to think it would be like this. But they did know that they could and would act in ways the rest of us cannot promise. They dare to go to work because they saves lives.

Whether you believe in God or you do not, whether you can donate to their cause or not, whether you have suffered from illness or not, it is now time to give thanks that somehow there are people like them in the world.

It is time thank them for dedication that is immense, commitment that is astounding, and for courage that is unending. How dare they?

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Author: William May, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0743 – 04/20/20

Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0

How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes

Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.

Get a Real Getaway

If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.

When Guests Depart

After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!

Sanitation Cleaning Products

We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.

Bathroom Super Scrub

Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.

Proper Wipe Downs

You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.

- Door knobs inside and outside.

- Window switches.

- Light switches and sockets.

- Lamp switches.

- Cupboard doors and surfaces.

- Table tops including night stands.

- Appliances - top and sides.

- Counter tops.

- Reachable walls.

- Outdoor furniture.

- Stairs and deck handrails.

- Toasters and coffee makers.

- TV and other remote controls.

- Stereos and computers.

- Door bells and key safes.

- Toys and board games.

- Pet toys and blankets.

- And more.

Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping

Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.

Hot Tubs and Spas

Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.

Towels and Linens

Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.

Deep Cleans

In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.

When Guests Depart

You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.

Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744

If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.

Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!

Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.

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Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20

HelpBookMe Invents Bumper Days to Facilitate Covid Cleaning

By William May
Published: 04/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

In response to the Covid-19 virus, Vortex Organization's Redstone Software engineers have designed and installed a new system in their HelpBookMe property management software. It adds unoccupied dates between bookings to allow separation for guests and additional housekeeping time. These are called :"Bumper" days.

Vortex is a network of inn, resort and vacation rental management companies who share methods, staff, marketing and technology to provide sophisticated services to lodging owners and want maximum income with minimum fuss. Operators of this website are members of the group.

Trina Flanagan, a partner in the firm, said, "We have always employed strict hospitality grade cleaning and sanitizing standards used to clean the inns, resorts and vacation rental homes that its member management companies serve.:

With the arrival of covid-19, Vortex managers began allowing homes to site vacant at least one day after prior guests depart and before housekeepers or new guests access the home.

But with the advent of online travel agents like AirBnB, VRBO, Booking.com and others, lodging reservations are procured from many sources and automatically downloaded into the Vortex HelpBookMe Software

Penny Taylor, a partner administering reservations at all geographic locations, add, "Although not practical in all locations, the Bumper system, allows bumper dates to be added automatically in all geographic areas and in all properties where that policy is desirable."

Even with the lessening of travel restrictions, the new software capabilities increases safety while making the bumper method to be more selectively implemented.

"Our engineering team researched, coded, tested and implemented the system in record time" noted Ozair Khalid who oversees reservations software. "Neither the corporate management companies or major software providers have rolled out a similar tool. Too bad for their manager customers."

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Vortex Managers is a network of trained vacation rental management companies and provides its clients with the resources of giant lodging corporations without the cost or delay. HelpBookMe is a proprietary lodging management software system perfected with thousands of hours by expert engineers. For more information on Vortex, call or Email: Info@VortexManagers.com, or Website: www.VortexManagers.com

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Author: William May – Manager, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0747 – 04/01/20

Rainier Resthouse is ready for the winter season!

Published: 01/02/20 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

We are very excited to have Rainier Resthouse join our family of cabins in the Mount Rainier region! This brand new vacation home mixes modern style and a mountain vibe. Just 2-1/2 hours from Seattle and Portland, 30 minutes away from White Pass Ski Resort and Mount Rainier National Park.

About Rainier Resthouse

This brand new two-bedroom home was built for vacationers, just like you. Tucked in among the trees, in a quiet neighborhood next to the river, this stylish home sleeps four and has a open-concept living room & kitchen.

The kitchen is wonderfully suited for preparing family meals with lots of counter space, all the cooking amenities you need, and a big table to gather round. The comfy living area sports a wall-mounted large tv and a great couch for lounging, after a long day enjoying the outdoors.

The master bedroom offers a second wall-mounted TV and a treasure trove of board games and puzzles. Both bedrooms will lull you to sleep with comfortable bedding, soothing views and vintage outdoor books.

Of course, the home also has cell phone service, WiFi, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video and LG internet TV. The full bathroom conveniently has a double sink and a washer/dryer is available for all your laundry needs

The home also boasts an outside deck, perfect for enjoying your morning coffee and a barbecued meal in the evening. Or build a fire by the handmade cedar seats and toast some marshmallows!

About the Packwood Properties Promise Here at Packwood Properties Vacation Rentals, we vow to make booking with us simple and exciting. We know that booking a rental property home for your vacation can be unfamiliar territory for some, while others know their way around it. Because we know this, we ensure that each of our properties are up to high quality standards. We do our absolute best to provide support to our guests when booking. We are available to assist you every day of the year if you have any questions or concerns before, during or after your visit to our home. We have onsite property management that are available 24/7 for anything concerning that may arise.

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Blog #: 0716 – 01/02/20

NA – NA

Burnbank Mountain Lodge is here!

By Simon Berman
Published: 01/02/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Burnbank Mountain Lodge is the place for anyone seeking a vacation spot with spectacular views, a cozy interior, and the opportunity for rest and relaxation. The newest home in our Crystal Cabins family, we're sure it's going to be a hit for anyone seeking a peaceful mountain weekend.

The Lodge the perfect location for enjoying the great outdoors any time of the year.

This two bedroom, two bathroom lodge with loft space is nestled between towering timbers and beneath the mountain peaks. It’s warm, homey, and the perfect gateway to enjoy nature.

The lodge has a kitchen that’s perfectly stocked with all of the essentials needed for cooking a tasty dinner or packing a picnic for your daily adventures. The dining area seats six and is sure to please guests ready for a nice meal.

The living room boasts a flat screen TV with cable and music, a DVD player, and easy connections to hook up your own laptops, game consoles, and other entertainment devices. There is also a small library of books, family board games, kids toys, and DVDs. And of course, the living room also has stunning views of the surroundings from large windows.

Just outside the main lounge, you’ll find a hot tub on the deck. You can enjoy the views while staying warm and relaxed after a long day of outdoor activities! You'll also find a firepit where you can roast marshmallows and hang out with your group on comfortable garden furniture.

We stock this home with clean linens and fresh towels. We aim for the highest quality housekeeping to ensure that your stay is as comfortable as possible. You’ll feel right at home here.

ABOUT RANDLE, WA

When booking with us here at Burnbank Mountain Lodge, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. The nearby towns of Randle and Packwood are surrounded by nature and enjoy convenient access to all the outdoor recreational adventures you could ever want.

Go skiing or snowshoeing in the winter and hike those same peaks during the warmer months. There are endless trails to walk, hike and explore – ranging from mild to moderate difficulty. Off-roading is also an activity this area is known for so bring your Jeep or ATV for some muddy fun.

Randle is known for being the northeastern-most access point to Mount St. Helens Windy Ridge Viewpoint. Accessing the famous viewpoint requires travel through Gifford Pinchot National Forest where those emerald timbers stand tall. You can see the history of the area from here.

THE PACKWOOD PROPERTIES PROMISE

Here at Packwood Properties Vacation Rentals, we vow to make booking with us simple and exciting. We know that booking a rental property home for your vacation can be unfamiliar territory for some, while others know their way around it. Because we know this, we ensure that each of our properties are up to high quality standards.

We do our absolute best to provide support to our guests when booking.

We are available to assist you every day of the year if you have any questions or concerns before, during or after your visit to our home. We have onsite property management that are available 24/7 for anything concerning that may arise.

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Author: Simon Berman – Manager, Packwood Properties
Blog #: 0715 – 01/02/20

NA – NA

Did Comedian Steve Martin Explain Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 07/04/19 Topics: Communications, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Steve Martin Vacation Rental Expert?
Steve Martin

A man was very proud of his teenage son who consistently earned straight A's in school, played all the major sports, attended church with the family, was an Eagle Scout, volunteered for every worthy cause, was president of the student body, and treated everyone, young and old, with smiling respect.

So, it was surprising when one day the father proclaimed that he was kicking his son out of the house and never wanted to see him again. The reason - the son had forgotten to close the front door on his way to school.

The mother challenged her husband saying that the penalty was far too much for the crime. Friends counseled the father against such a rude determination. And everyone agreed that surely all the good attributes of the young man outshone such a minor infraction.

The father was like some customers who frequent lodging establishments, restaurants and retail stores. And just like most of those people, once the father pronounced the sentence, he was unwilling to reverse his decision. Out the young man went and the father never forgave him again.

The story reminds us of how Comedian Steve Martin once proclaimed that all crime could be eliminated in the world, simply by imposing the death penalty for parking tickets.

While both of these examples are overly strong, judging others too harshly has become a favorite method for people who feel themselves perfect and everyone else inferior. We could go so far as to say some of those people want to be the master and feel they can judge others as servants (or even slaves).

Striving for success, working diligently and expecting others to do the same is necessary in businesses, sport teams and pretty much every other organization. But applying over zealous penalties actually sets back progress.

Lodging managers succeed by recruiting and employing staff members who actually love to serve, to help people, and often to take on the jobs that the masters would avoid at all costs. Like housekeeping, plumbing repairs and late night guest requests.

So why is it that seemingly intelligent people feel they can treat restaurant servers, housekeepers and even retail clerks with disdain when they make the smallest of errors?

Psychologists tell us that people mistreat others because of their own inadequacies, their feelings of inferiority, or because they simply have a low Emotional Quotient

Everyone has heard of IQ scores for Intelligence Quotient. But everyone also has an EQ, and berating or overly penalizing those who serve discloses the person's immature emotions.

Lodging is a business that defies 100% perfection. Properties differ in size, age and location. Some guests stay long, others short. There may be insufficient capital for constant upgrades, while every employee works at a fast pace just to keep properties in good condition, guests happy and owners satisfied.

Of course, managers must treat every employee with respect, provide advice, training and assistance and, most importantly, to admit that none of us are perfect. And to never make overly harsh decisions about staff members. A key to success is to allow for minor mistakes and to follow the age old adage - "No shame, no blame, just fix it."

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0634 – 07/04/19

Yield Management Why, How and Intervention

By Wm. May
Published: 12/05/17 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation rental rates are the most misunderstood skill of expert vacation rental managers. They escalate owner income, but may be perplexing to owners or even ignored.

Not many years ago, lodging rates were simple and easy for guests, managers and owners to comprehend. Higher in the high season, lower in the low season and in-between other times.

But in recent years, sophisticated Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rentals have adopted the practice of "Yield Management" to set rates and revise them constantly, which is known as "Dynamic" rates, due to the fluctuations.

The goal is to achieve the highest possible rates in the highest seasons, modest rates in shoulder seasons and to lower rates in slow seasons, in hopes of attracting guests who would normally not travel then.

Lodging is like what the grocery business calls "perishable inventory." Fruits and vegetables not sold quickly become worthless when they rot. Lodging rooms and homes become worthless each day they do not rent.

UPS AND DOWNS AND UPS

Decades ago, airlines were going bankrupt due to uncertain demand for seats. Some days planes flew full and other days mostly empty. With fixed costs and total income limited, they could not make ends meet.

Over time, they learned to increase rates for desirable dates and routes and lower them for less desirable dates and routes, which enticed flyers to fill the empty planes. Rates were raised and lowered daily, sometimes hourly, for future flights.

It is not too great a statement to say "Yield Management" increased income without increasing costs. None of this would have been possible without sophisticated software that made changing rates fast on thousands of flights and seats.

In time, giant hotel chains embraced Yield Management. Even Disney theme parks adopted variable prices to encourage visitors to come when they had room in the property.

As Yield Management became standard procedure for lodging, some guests objected because they wanted rates to stay flat and low. But luckily, consumers embraced the new pricing practices, because they could save money by planning ahead or pay more for the dates they preferred.

COMPARABLES AND ALGORITHMS

The foundation of Yield Management is based on the old cliché most of us learned in school called "Supply and Demand." In short, if many people want to buy a product of limited supply, the seller can increase the price. But if few or no buyers want to buy, the only way to attract purchases is to lower the price.

At a young age, none of us questioned that logic. However, determining the demand for lodging is difficult because guests may book the property days, weeks, months or even years in advance. That makes it necessary to project demand in advance. Most properties set rates 13 months or longer.

Demand for those future dates is based on many seemingly predictable factors, such as day of the week, seasons, holidays and even weather predictions. Changes in gas prices, airline rates and lodging taxes upset rates.

But rates are also affected by what competitive lodging operators and even lodging properties in other geographic destinations do. If they lower rates, managers must decide whether to match prices or lose bookings. If rates jump up, pumping up the rate quickly avoids selling nights too cheaply.

Lastly, the trends for overall demand can be upset by macro factors, including the general economy and catastrophic events such as 9-11 disaster and the 2008 recession. Those cannot be predicted, but good math requires fast response to those changes.

HOW IT WORKS

After incorporating supply and demand into a complicated formula, many factors can be employed by smart managers. Those include day of week, holidays, seasons, special events, etc.

The end results in what might be called a "Per Unit Per Day" (PUPD) Pricing system. Every unit may have a different rate for every day of the year. And every rate for every future date may change every day or even more often. Changes seldom jump dramatically on any given day but over time, the trend will be decidedly up or down.

Although software and artificial intelligence is essential to manipulating rates so rapidly, the system also requires constant surveillance and personal intervention when research indicates rates that are outside a reasonable range. This all takes time and expertise. Managers have a larger view of local and regional trends than owners.

That knowledge allows for overrides to be incorporated that affect all units, or just a single unit, for either a day, a week, month or longer. For example:

Base rate to establish comparability

Early purchase discounts

Last minute discounts or premiums

Mid-week discounts or weekend premiums

Discount or premiums for "orphan" dates

Adjustments for length of stay

Weekly & Monthly rates

Minimum rates midweek or weekends.

And all of these variables are compiled with the overall trends, local knowledge and the ever-changing mathematically suggested rates.

PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP

Although Dynamic rates produce more net income for owners, they produce a problem that confounds lodging managers.

Of all the devices in a casino, the big money makers are slot machines. But why? No gambler gets rich playing the slots. Often they are low stakes and winnings are comparatively low. But people love them and are enamored with watching the numbers roll up and on - always hopeful for the big score.

Dynamic Rates can have the same effect on some home owners. They become addicted to watching their calendars, bookings and those ever-changing rates. That leads to a problem summarized as, "Damned if you do, and damned if you do."

Every owner wants to believe that their vacation rental home will be the most popular, because they love it and surely guests will love it, too. They see their home as better than others in the area, and most perfectly outfitted and desirable. They love to see high rates, but are discouraged when they see their beloved home set lower at other times.

Setting rates high will please the owner, but too high will produce lower profit. Setting rates too low will make owners unhappy, even if produces more income. So how is the manager to react to owner rate suggestions?

When faced with that dilemma, managers have only one good option - and that is to educate owners with the science and math that rules lodging rates in today's world. To ask they allow managers to use their expertise to balance all those factors to produce the highest possible income for owners.

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Author: Wm. May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0570 – 12/05/17

Indentured Servitude Comes to Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 12/01/17 Topics: Employment, Housekeeping, Vacation Rental Management Comments: 0

There is a hidden under belly about how Venture Capitalists are entering the Vacation Rental industry in hopes of dominating it to cash out for big bucks.

It appears some pursue growth at all costs, by over working staff, and even evading labor laws that call for overtime wages. Jobs are hard to come by, and they take advantage of well meaning employees who have no other option but to work far harder for far less.

Her real name is being withheld for fear of retaliation, so we'll call her Susie. She worked for some years for one of those VC backed firms hoping to amalgamate the industry by buying up local vacation rental managers and taking over their listings.

Nothing wrong with that, if you like the corporate approach to what has previously been a very personalized service business. In fact, at the rate that some of these venture capital backed companies are hemorrhaging money, it is no wonder they survive by taking advantage of workers.

Susie was hired to clean homes and provide property services but the job quickly turned into 80 hours weeks, for a set salary appropriate for 40 hours. She was not paid for the extra hours and did not receive payment for overtime, nor the time-and-a-half hourly rate required by law.

Those companies skirt the law, by trying to claim employees as contractors, or managers making them exempt from overtime compensation. It is a ruse that sometimes works, but is never considerate to people who work so hard.

Susie said she never received a day off in several years, nor the promised paid vacation time and when she begged to hire additional housekeepers was told, if you don't like it you can leave.

Susie fell for the "We are newer, and smarter, and bigger and better than all those local Podunk managers. We are going to take over the world with technology" and you are going to be part of something great. Working hard will have its rewards.

For Susie that meant constant fatigue, dawn to dusk duties seven days a week, a rude supervisor, corporate officers who could care less, and the constant threat of job loss - if she was to raise a complaint about off-the-clock hours.

Was Susie really just a disgruntled employee? Not really. For years she drank the "upward mobility" poison that corporate workers have been swallowing for years. That working long and hard will benefit them in the long run.

Pursuing career growth and personal achievement is a requirement in many industries. But in Susie's case it was all led by a few corporate officers who constantly praised themselves but fail to honor the most sacred of business ethics - to provide proper compensation from line staff who do all the heavy lifting.

Eventually Susie just could not take the grind any longer. She quit with no prospects for a job elsewhere, "I didn't plan it" she said, "But I just could not do 80 hours a week anymore."

As a service business, vacation rental staff are what guests and owners come to appreciate. There is no sense in doubling listings if complaints triple.

Smart owners realize that people like Susie are, and have always been, the backbone of vacation rental management. Without the Susies of the world, renting out a home is a risky investment.

Since she left, Susie's prior employer has hired and lost additional workers just like she. They struggle to find new employees and can’t keep good people. They advertise jobs constantly because the word is out about their employment practices.

Reputable companies don't build their business by over working staff, or promising more than can be delivered. "Its no wonder quality lacks and they have so many online complaints" Susie notes, "Everyone works so much, that we just don't have enough to give. I tried, I really did. But 80 hours a week is too much."

Worst of all, property owners are no longer getting the care and consideration they deserve. They see a revolving door of housekeepers and maintenance workers and that causes quality to suffer and commitment to wane.

Smart property owners are learning to evaluate management firms by their staff and not by misleading promises that bigger is better. In vacation rental management, local is what makes it work.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0565 – 12/01/17

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce

By Wm. May
Published: 09/01/17 Topics: Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce
Yet another corporate vacation rental management company has announced gobbling up tens of millions of dollars in investment, in hopes of dominating the vacation rental management industry in America, and perhaps even the world. But they are risky for property owners.

Beginning as far back at 1989, Pace Picante sauce began running television commercials. In one, grizzled cowboys threaten to lynch the camp cook when they learn he has been serving them picante sauce from "New York City?"

The cow pokes become offended because Picante sauce should be made by "places in San Antonio with fresh vegetables and spices by people who know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like."

Watch it here.

While the huge vacation rental management companies want to convince property owners that they can manage every home just right, even though they are located hundreds of thousands of miles away, the truth is - they can not.

One of these giant companies even has over 300 negative complaints and reviews online about shoddy housekeeping and lack of response. The average for vacation rental managers is zero, one or two over time. Something is seriously wrong with having 300 unhappy guests, because that means there are far more who don't take the time to post complaints.

For another competitor, their complaints reveal a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although they profess to be managers, they quickly throw owners and managers under the bus whenever there are any complications, as the following complaint answer proves:

COMPLAINT: "2 days before my trip receiving a voice and email telling me that my reservation had been cancelled because of a double booking."

ANSWER: "Booking was canceled within 48 hours prior to her arrival when it became apparent to the Host that there was a conflict with a previous client who'd booked."

And then they accidentally revealed the wrong problem, (our company) "The Host (homeowner) is the party responsible for resolving any conflicts. [Our company] is a marketing and booking service that Hosts use to assist with reservations. . . The rental agreement. You accepted . . . Clearly states that the booking is directly between the Guest and the Host."

And then they reveal the unreliability of their services by saying "Double bookings are an unfortunate side effects of the vacation rental and travel industry as a whole."

Well, duh, no that is not correct. That is excuse making

Although no one is perfect in the lodging industry, double bookings are NOT common and they are certainly not an unfortunate side effect. They are the result of a company pretending to be a lodging manager when they are, in fact, too far away and too powerless.

LOCAL IS BETTER:

Vacation Rental Firms have proven to be a locally branded business. Owners and guests prefer to deal with a local reliable professional firm that is on hand to attend to them. Members of the Vortex Organization have found the best way to do that.

They are independently operated to ensure great houses, hospitality cleaning, happy guests and happy owners. Our first office opened in 1964, but we are the most tech-enabled managers. We are in it for the long haul..

But the network ensures that managers have all the tools such as dynamic pricing, post listings on hundreds of advertising websites, and answer guest inquiries 24/7. In fact, local firms have access to local tourism promotion, websites and contacts the others can not match.

That means our managers produce more bookings as well as more peace of mind.

So if the vacation rental "manager" you are using to book your home is not actually located in the area where you rental home is situated, or even in "New York City", its time to go local.

Call a local professional vacation rental management company to learn about all the comprehensive and reliable services you have been missing.

- - - - - - - - -
And a few more just for fun:

1989 Pace Picante Sauce

1990 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1994 Pace Picante Sauce

1995 Pace Picante Sauce

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Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0530 – 09/01/17

Hire a Crack Head to Clean your Home

By William May
Published: 03/01/17 Topics: Housekeeping, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

"Hiring cheaper housekeepers is no problem", said the property owner. That way they can make more money.

"I mean how hard can it be to clean my little 3-bedroom 2,000 square foot house?"

Do you mean clean it any day of the week including weekends? Be on-call for special cleaning? Always show up on time and never complain? Be willing to do extra cleaning, and without notice, when some guests leave a terrible mess?

Do you mean a cleaner who has lots of family and friends to back her up when she gets busy with other things and decides she can't work on a day you have a back-to-back? Or when a child is ill or a car breaks down?

Some owners want to believe there are many people just begging to clean their homes. Unfortunately, there are not. Worse yet, most of them don’t pass a background check. They don't have references. They don’t want to take training. They detest checklists.

These cleaners don’t stick around when things get too busy and they never clean at high hospitality standards. They do not clean sufficiently and they are not there when you need them the most.

Let us all be honest, not all job applicants will be dedicated to our industry. There is no glamour unless they work for a desirable company that treats them well.

Many applicants just want a quick buck to pay for their drug habit. This is more common than you might imagine. The homeowner may never know until the druggie goes missing along with assets from their home.

If you are paying your cleaner in cash, do beware that it's illegal and your money may be just feeding a habit.

Professional management firms must protect their reputation with guests as well as owners. They want to pay their staff a good working wage. They want to be fair, kind, and responsible employers. They need workers who are reliable, loyal and competent. They do background checks and they have extra staff for backup.

Of course, these things are just good business, but they are also the only way to provide hospitality grade cleaning - the kind that discerning travelers expect at every lodging establishment from four-star hotels to cottages in the woods.

"Oh, but if you can’t clean the house cheaply, it will drive away guests," said that owner.

It's actually the opposite that's true. Guests are not stupid, they understand that no one can clean homes for a measly amount. One guest enunciates what some owners refuse to acknowledge;

"Your home was amazingly clean. But last year I rented a beautiful new home from another manager and the place was disgustingly dirty. I should have known better - no one can clean a whole house as cheap as they charged."

Yes, and every owner should understand the basic formula for requiring professional and thorough cleaning. With the advent of the internet, guests now have a global platform to report unclean homes. One bad review can lose thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in lost bookings.

Why risk that? The math is simple. Hiring great housekeepers, paying them well, rewarding them with praise and thanks is good for business. It's even greater for maximizing income while minimizing problems.

Still not a believer? Here is the challenge - after the next few departures, do your own cleaning.

Arrive to clean exactly on time and then wait while the guests loiters and leaves late, knowing that the incoming guests while inevitability show up early, and expect the house to be sparkling clean even before their scheduled arrival time.

Of course, you must chit chat and make nice with every guest, or they'll make nasty comments to your boss, even though they were not supposed to be inside yet.

To clean well, get your hands down deep into and behind the toilet, scrub your knuckles off in the shower, get on your hands and knees to scrub the kitchen and bathroom floors. Wash stacks of dishes, pots, and pans with gobs of dried on food.

Wash loads of towels and linens. Be sure to treat any of those unmentionable stains. Make every bed perfectly and plump every pillow. You'll just love trying to put on comforters on bunk beds. It is not impossible, but you won't enjoy it.

While you are at it, clean up the dog poop in the yard, or shovel the walkway of snow in the winter. Scrub that meat-encrusted barbecue until the brush breaks. Sweep the leaves from the porch.

Don't forget to check every light bulb, vacuum every square inch of every floor, and catch every cobweb or your boss will scold you like a child.

Do all this in the shortest number of hours because some owners out there want you to work cheap while treating you like an indentured servant.

After you do your own cleaning, the light will come on. You will want to pay cleaners more, you'll treat them better and you'll make more money because happy housekeepers make happy hospitality grade clean homes!

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0583 – 03/01/17

Extortion and Anti-Disparagement Defense

By Ron Lee
Published: 01/17/17 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Attorneys are supposed to be advocates. journalists are not.

Consumers want to believe that Freedom of the Press gives them permission to say anything and everything they can dream up. However trained Journalists know that fair and balanced reporting is a prime requirement of retaining that freedom.

Yes anyone can publish anything they want without prior restraint from government. But print and broadcast publishers employ tight editorial oversight and fact-checking, along with constant legal review, to avoid being accused of non-factual reporting.

Publishing false or unproven articles can be very expensive for publishers who fail to do their homework, and defamed people will take them to court which is costly and bad for the journalists resume.

Consumers do not care about their reputations because they can often publish anonymously. Some could care less about fairness, blatantly using extortion and now with the help of Elliott.

So when a writer outwardly proclaims he is an advocate for consumers, every word they write must is subject to disbelief. Christopher Elliott's recent article about the contracts that lodging Property's employ to avoid extortion is an egregious.

In a recent article, Elliott incorrectly mixes un-investigated consumer complaints with his own prejudice to conclude that lodging operators should not prohibit consumers from having an unquestioned right to defame Vacation Rentals.

Any ethical journalist would dig in and do the work to at least pretend to examine both sides of the issues.

Many consumers have figured out the game - how to threaten lodging operators with world-wide defamation - and all to get any and every concession their selfish minds can dream up and even for invalid reasons.

Every business has the ability to sue the other in court but doing so is expensive no matter how just their cause. With reviews, the matters appear small but the advent of the internet can results in massive catastrophic consequences for properties even when they are, in no way at default.

So what is a well-run property to do about consumers who extort them with false and misleading reviews?

The use of anti-defamation clauses, or the out-right prohibition of reviews, is just one way that businesses can protect themselves from unscrupulous consumers. Used sparingly and only when consumers are in the wrong and threatening extortion - employing what are essentially confidentiality clauses is just common sense.

Of course nothing protects properties from journalists who make a living by always siding with one party without knowing how to investigate the facts.

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Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0482 – 01/17/17

Autumn is Industry Conference Season for Lodging

By Wm. May
Published: 11/16/16 Topics: AirBnB, Hotels, Inns Comments: 0

With Autumn here, the lodging industry presented many seminars, conferences, workshops and classes. Here is a run down.

WA Lodging Association - Their annual conference was held at the new Davenport Grant Hotel in Spokane. Unlike its cousin the renovated and luxurious Davenport Hotel, the Grand is everything new and almost futuristic.

Hotel staff were very well-trained, professional and accommodating, although surely they know they are being evaluated by hundreds of people in their own industry.

Technology is used to speed check-in, schedule maid service and even lower the blinds. Furnishings were very comfy and very modern. Great Colors, big desk, USB ports bedside and huge flat screen TV.

It is a reminder to Vacation Home owners that they are in competition with a very large industry that is working overtime to return guests to traditional hotels.

Downstairs the meeting rooms were impressive with attentive servers, huge presentation screens and technology everywhere. They even immediately switched to the Seahawks game when the meeting was done.

HomeAway Summit - Presented by the owners of VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com and dozens of other websites this seminar was all about their company, with only a few offerings by other vendors.

HomeAway admitted they have work to do to confront the advent of AirBnB, but their purchase by Expedia (headquartered in Seattle) gives them powerhouse technology and marketing.

Their newly implemented guest service fees has been despised by vacation rental managers and owners, but they reason that new income is necessary to advertise more which helps property owners.

They did not mention that $400 million in additional fees will help pay for the $4 billion price Expedia paid. Hmmm.

HomeAway is finally taking a bigger role in opposing vacation rental prohibitions pursued by some cities including San Francisco and even Seattle. Time will tell.

AirBnB Open (Conference) - Held in Las Angeles, AirBnB continues to promote "home sharing" as just a way for owners to pay their bills. While that is true for some, it has not stopped new regulations - San Francisco and New York State have both passed laws that prohibit renting by many home owners.

Big events were Delight Guests, (Interior) Designing for Success, and The Future of AirBnB. Finding your Inner Happy Host. The event is a love-fest for many hosts who actually share rooms in their homes for the joy of meeting other people.

That concept is growing, although it differs some from many vacation rental owners who want to make money, while keeping their places safe and secure.

Just last week AirBnB announced they were going to offer personalized tours worldwide, so that guests in homes could find "Authentic" experiences. This might be a brilliant idea, but some guests are already confused by a lodging website that does not focus on lodging.

It is fascinating to see AirBnB grow so fast, but their customer service seems to be falling behind trying to keep up. Complaints are growing from guests, owners and managers.

Summary - The WA Lodging group has a comprehension of the industry that other segments can not match. There is great collaboration for the mutual good, while allowing diversity of properties and competitiveness. HomeAway's recent fee changes may or may not result in benefits to managers and owners. AirBnB holds to its roots of room rental, but whole home Vacation Rentals are a huge portion of their income.

For your information we advertise on HomeAway, AirBnB and over 300 other lodging websites, plus thousands of search engines as well as hundreds of websites in our network.

Advertising widely is what yields inquiries which yield bookings. No one does more than we do. We keep owners apprised of industry trends as we incorporate them into the best management services in the world.

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Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0509 – 11/16/16

Grading Vacation Rentals on the Curve

By Wm. May
Published: 10/01/16 Topics: AirBnB, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A long time AirBnB hosts with multiple properties all with 4.5 or higher average ratings, recently complained that he received an online warning from AirBnB that his listings might be delisted if the average goes below a grade of 4.

Research has showed that average ratings on AirBnB are a full one star higher than the number of stars for homes on HomeAway.com.

Could this mean that only the better homes are listed on AirBnB? A random view of homes in most areas show even a wider variety of rentals than on other vacation rental listing sites.

Another factor is that AirBnB lists individual rooms or guest suites within a home, and these are uncommon on HomeAway websites. A constant reading of AirBnB forums such as AirHostsForum.com, reveals that the horror stories of in-house rentals can be even more rancorous with hosts and guests often very unhappy with each other.

There are rooms that stink, and guests that are stinkers. There are places that would make most guests gag - a trailer in someone's back yard? A Tee Pee with no bathroom handy? A sleeping bag under a tree?

In most U.S. High Schools, teachers often grade students on what is called "The Curve." This is a philosophy that posits not all students perform the same. Some study diligently, some do not. Some have greater native intelligence and some do not. Therefore, the grades within a given set of students should be spread often in a graph looking something like this.

A = 10%

B = 20%

C = 50%

D = 20%

F = 10%

** The actual percentages can vary by teacher, but the general proportions are similar.

Most teachers never understand that a usual class size of 20 to 30 students is not a wide enough sample to allow the curve to be valid within that class. But, the concept does seem to be applicable to other matrixes.

50% of hotels are adequate (and not luxury)

50% of drives obey the speed limit

50% of employees do adequate work.

50% of diners leave an appropriate tip.

Most teachers also never admit that the success of students is greatly dependent on the teacher. Some instructors explain things very well, some offer extra help and some are expert motivators. But, we have all had teachers who were lazy, rude, or bad communicators.

So how come AirBnB seems to think that 100% of its guests must get a grade of A or A minus?

If their goal is to drive up quality and guest relations, that is a wonderful idea. But if their goal is a scaling system on which guests can determine the quality of a home, then they have it all wrong.

More likely, Airbnb's warnings to the hosts of homes is intended to fool guests into thinking that every home is a luxury place, every destinations is truly unique and bookings on AirBnB will ensure a perfect vacation. All of that is simply to increase bookings and fill Airbnb's pockets.

Any intelligent person knows that it can rain at the beach, have crappy snow at a ski resort, or that a home may not be as big as you dreamed even if you got a bargain price. A better solution would be to truly rate homes with an overall system that better informs guests of the variety of homes, quality, location, size and other factors.

And that would result in homes being graded on the curve.

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Author: Wm. May, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0511 – 10/01/16

AirBnB Racism Facilitated by Social Media

By Wm. May
Published: 06/01/16 Topics: Comments: 0

AirBnB is being unfairly criticized due to the socialism that some hosts have exhibited.

They have implemented a number of rules, regulations and oversight in hopes of stamping out unfair rejection of prospective guests. But it does not fully address the problem.

The Phenomena is caused by one of the very precepts on which AirBnB is founded.

Surely, building familiarity with guests and hosts is a good thing. The world needs more communication and personal interaction. But the very act of showing a photograph of every host gives racists the key to shunning people they don’t like.

Reverse racism also exists but who knows to what degree. Surely some guests avoid staying with people whose race is different than their own, and also detectable by the photos.

Several websites competitive to AirBnB have popped up offering a platform that is safer for minorities. Innclusive.com in particular seeks to solve the problem, but they too ignore the obvious. Posting host and guest photos allows racism to take place on their website also.

So if AirBnB was serious about racism they would simply remove the photos from host and guest profiles. Of course, that would likely decrease the number of bookings because it would indeed be less personable.

Don't hold your breath waiting for AirBnB to walk the walk on this one. It is controlled by powerful venture capitalists all whose primary intent is maximum revenue, hoping for profit and looking for a giant payout when AirBnB finally goes public.

Avoiding racism isn't at the top of their list. Money is.

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Author: Wm. May – Director, VRIA, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0508 – 06/01/16

Assumptions Make Everyone Equally Unhappy

By William May
Published: 02/27/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0

Jerry Belson, Hollywood writer, director and producer is created with coining the phrase, "Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of you and me."

In the age of internet, instant information and fast communication there is no reason to make stupid rude assumptions. So why does it seem like there are more asinine assumers than ever before?

Could it be that the ability to write flame emails, make anonymous online posts, and assail people behind their backs knowing the target of their vile have no way to respond, as caused an explosion of insensitivity? Are assumers just cowards who would never have dared to confront people face to face?

Here are a few doozey's in the lodging managing business, all delivered with anger:

Guest: "I just assumed there would be Internet in this house, even though its 40 miles from the nearest town."

Property Owner: "I just assumed the guests would not mind if I remodeled the bathroom while they were there."

Guest: "I just assumed it would be OK to invite a couple dozen drunken friends for a party as long as they did not stay the night."

Property Owner: "I just assumed you would not charge me for looking for my lost phone, even though its an hour or two round trip."

None of these examples are terribly important but they are improperly presumptive and often delivered with an air of superiority all intend to make lodging, food and other service personnel like slaves.

So why do seemingly intelligent, professional adults treat others so badly?

Some feel a misguided sense of entitlement. Others take frustration in their lives out on anyone who is handy. Some blame others for their intellectual inability to solve problems. Some want to feel elite by making other feel inferior.

But mostly - assuming something before asking questions requires an emotional maturity that some people just never learned from parents, friends, spouses or coworkers. Until someone confronts them, they will continually increase their asinine behavior unabated.

So how to avoid making an ass out of yourself and others?

Follow the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.."

Get the facts before making assumptions. Ask questions before making assumptions. Never assume you are right, or the other person is wrong. It’s the adult thing to do. The courteous thing to do.

Jerry Belson would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln who said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."

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Author: William May, MayPartners Inc.
Blog #: 0491 – 02/27/16

San Clemente CA Moton for Vacation Rental Moratorium

By Jeff Bosson
Published: 01/02/16 Topics: Comments: 0

San Clemente City Council Meeting TUESDAY January 5th, at 6:00 pm.

Although vigorously opposed by area merchants, concerned citizens, and many tourism groups; the San Clemente California City Council have announced a motion on their agenda JAN 5th to consider a 45 day moratorium on issuing new TOT permits.

While this is widely considered a negative step for the council to take, the Orange County Vacation Rental Association (OCVrai.org) explains that the moratorium does not affect any existing vacation rentals.

The councils purpose in the moratorium is said to be only to asses what/if any new rules or regulations they will be considering in the coming months, and during that time they do not want to issue new permits.

OCVRA notes that any consideration of more regulations or prohibitions is not a direction the council should be going and are urging its members, visitors, and interested businesses to attend the meeting to voice their displeasure at this needless strong arming of tourism.

Upon entering the council chambers, rental supporters are to fill out a blue card to either speak or just provide written comments against regulations. The Council will be greatly affected by the number of voices in favor of continuing vacation rentals in the area.

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Author: Jeff Bosson – Volunteer, Orange County Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0476 – 01/02/16

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