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HelpBookMe Implements Version 3.0 or S2D2 Pricing System

By William May
Published: 06/03/20 Topics: Software, Sunspots Vacation Rentals, Vacation Rentals, Vortex VIP 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 <206-504-2744 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

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

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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

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce

By Wm. May
Published: 09/01/17 Topics: Lodging 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.

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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

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

Chim Chimney! What to Know on Chimney Sweeping

By William May
Published: 01/01/16 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

It’s that time of year to curl up around a warm fire - New Years has just happened, the weathers getting a little chilly, maybe there’s a light dusting of snow on the lawn. You open the flue, light your kindling, and wait for the romantic crackling to start.

But then you start wondering: when was the last time you got the chimney swept?!

It may sound like something of a Dickens novel, but modern chimney sweeping is something every homeowner needs to do. Soot deposits can clog your flue, smoking out your house, or worse, soot can create a fire hazard.

Sweeping also alerts you to any maintenance needs, and boy is it easier to repair a brick than replace the whole chimney!

So how do you go about getting your chimney swept? Well, this is something best left to the professionals. The last thing you want to do is wedge a ladder up your chimney and track soot all over the house.

Find a local sweeper who’s certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, or the National Chimney Sweeps Guild. These groups ensure their members know what they’re doing with a brush, and can help diagnose any repairs that need to be made.

Professional chimney sweeps will set up tarps that capture failing soot, and will first inspect the flue to make sure there’s no major damage. Cleaning is done with brushes (not boys climbing up!) and high powered vacuums.

Cost typical depends on how many flues you have. While you may only have one firebox, other appliances in the house may have their own flues, such as dryers, heaters, and anything that needs to vent to the outside air.

Average prices should start around $150 and go up to $200 if video equipment is used. Video better enables diagnose of damage. For a more thorough inspection, ask for a Level II inspection.

So this winter before you pick out the movie and butter up the popcorn, make sure your fireplace is ready to go by getting it professional swept. And remember, it’s lucky to see a chimney sweep!

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0481 – 01/01/16

Vacation Rental Restoration

By William May
Published: 12/28/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation rental homes are susceptible to the same problems as full-time residences. Sometimes pipes break, basements flood and even smoke or fire damage can happen.

It may be possible to have maintenance firms handle such problems but for larger problems it is necessary to hire a company that specializes in restoring homes to their original condition.

Such companies are referred to as Restoration Specialists and having the name of one or more firms on hand is just good preparation. Odds are high that they will never been needed.

Because damages may result in cancellation of bookings, the loss to owners may exceed even the cost of repairs. So here are some steps to be prepared for what you can hope will never happen:

(1) Property Insurance - When insuring your home for vacation rentaling, that use must be clearly communicated to your insurance agent who should provide a policy specifically allowing short-term rental use.

Most basic second home policies are not sufficient for offering a home as a vacation rental. Take care before you have a claim to properly protect you in the unlikely hood a claim becomes necessary.

(2) Business Loss - Second home insurance can cost more than your primary resident. And vacation rental policies cost more than basic second home polices. However, such policies should also cover the owner for loss of income should the home become unrentable for a period of time.

(3) Restoration Specialist - To find a company that specialize in quick and through restoration use Google Maps for your location searing for "Fire Restoration" because that is the most common keyword on which these firms advertise.

(4) Remote - If your home is remote or in a sparsely populated area, it may be necessary to question restoration firms closely to insure that they would be willing to come to your address should you later need their services. Keep good notes.

(5) Records - Be sure to record the name of several restoration companies because, in the case of local flooding or severe weather, any one firm may not be able to handle your needs quickly.

(6) Property Managers - If you use a local property manager, good firms will already know of restoration providers and be able to quickly get help on site.

Lodging managers are not in the restoration business and claims are so unusual that the manager may never have had to use a restoration company. But do not hesitate to ask the manager if they can recommend anyone.

(7) Schedule - Restoration firms can not guarantee that any given property will be restored over night. In fact, time may be required to allow a house to dry.

Even when repairs will take a longer period, restoration firms can often arrive quickly to stabilize the situation and then return later to complete repairs.

(8) Fire - Should your home become partially damaged due to fire, your local fire department will often board over a home to make it is weather tight or to protect it from intruders. Do not hesitate to ask their help when they are on site.

(9) Franchises - Here are the names of several franchises that brand and endorse local partners to do restoration. This does no guarantee the quality of the work. Even local non-franchises are often skilled and dependable.

- ServePro.com

- ServicemasterClean.com

(10) Action - Try to secure your insurance company's approval before completing restoration. By calling their claim number you should be able to secure approve to start the restoration with full approval secured once the restoration firm can provide a more detailed estimate.

Not long after its founding in 1907, the Boy Scouts organization adopted the motto "Be Prepared." When it comes to unexpected events for your vacation rental home, being prepared is great advice.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0473 – 12/28/15

Expedia to buy HomeAway

By Ronald Lee
Published: 11/05/15 Topics: Advertising, AirBnB, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

There’s always a bigger fish. Serial purchaser HomeAway has itself been acquired by Seattle based Expedia. And the price paid for the vacation rental giant? $3.9 billion. The deal is the sign of the times for digital travel sales, which has experienced massive M&A activity, like much of the economy this year.

While HomeAway has been busy dominating the vacation rental industry through acquisitions, Expedia has been doing the same in the wider digital travel sales. HomeAway's many purchases this year (including Seattle based Dwellable just last month), pale compared to Expedia’s yearly activity which include massive purchases of Orbitz and Travelocity. Previously Expedia had focused on hotels, and so the addition of HomeAway to it’s portfolio presents some interesting changes.

Just what is Expedia’s plan with HomeAway? Expedia’s CFO said HomeAway would remain relatively autonomous, with it’s headquarters based in Austin. The main gain for Expedia appears to be hedging. Airbnb is one of the biggest travel competitor left to face Expedia, and of course, focuses on short term vacation rental stays. Expedia’s purchase of HomeAway is a smart move to counter Airbnb’s growing share of the market.

The sharing economy is an attractive market compared to the business of connecting hotel users to hotels. Virtually any home in the world can become a rental property for Airbnb and HomeAway, and Expedia is diversifying to protect against pressure on the hotel industry. Plus, individual home owners are a more attractive partner than big hotel changes. Home owners have very little leverage or sophistication in the business, and generally take what portals like HomeAway and Airbnb offer them. However, distribution might become easier with the Expedia and HomeAway merger.

What can customers look forward to? Integrated booking might be a long shot, but this merger could give customers the ability to directly compare hotel and vacation rental accommodations. This doesn’t appear to be the play the companies are making, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Author: Ronald Lee – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0478 – 11/05/15

Sponsor: VRAI –

Vacation Rental Insurance for Condo Owners

By April Klazema
Published: 10/12/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Insurance for Condo Owners

Say you own a condo in Florida that you have been visiting every spring break for ten years now. Next spring, you have a different trip planned and won't be able to make it down to the condo at all. However, the condo is in an area that is a hot tourist destination during the winter and spring months. If you aren't going to be using it, you figure someone else would pay good money to rent it out for a few weeks. Who knows? You might even be able to finance most of your other trip just by renting out your condo to other Florida tourists!

Remember Vacation Rental Insurance!

Before you start setting up an Airbnb account or uploading pictures of your condo to VRBO.com, you need to take a moment to look into getting vacation rental insurance for your condo. While your condo is probably currently insured as a second home on your homeowner's insurance policy, you need a different type of coverage if you are planning on renting out the property to anyone else.

Let us explain. When you are utilizing a vacation property for personal use—be it a condo, a cottage, or an actual second home—it can be considered a personal residence for insurance purposes. That's because what you are using the property for—more or less, as a place of lodging for you and your family—is not really different from what you use your primary home for.

The moment you rent out your condo, the primary use of the property switches from residential to commercial. If you are letting someone stay at your condo in exchange for money, then you are, by definition, using the property for the purpose of business. This type of commercial use of your property is not covered under traditional homeowner's insurance policies.

What You Get with Vacation Rental Insurance

As with any other type of insurance, your vacation rental policy will vary depending on the value of your condo and the value of its contents (furniture, appliances, etc.). However, most vacation rental insurance policies will likely come with the following types of coverage:

Commercial liability coverage: Keeps you from being held liable if a guest is injured or killed while using your property.

Replacement cost coverage: Reimburses you for the cost of your condo or your belongings in the case of catastrophic damage or theft.

Coverage for damage: Helps you pay for damage caused to your condo or building by a guest.

Loss of income coverage: If a guest damages your condo to a point where you have to cancel other reservations or take it off the rental market for an extended period, this type of coverage will reimburse you for lost rental income.

You will want to speak with your insurance agent to see if you can add a vacation rental insurance policy to your condo, and to learn about the types of coverage that are available in their vacation rental policies.

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0417 – 10/12/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Say you own a condo in Florida that you have been visiting every spring break for ten years now. Next spring, you have a different trip planned and won't be able to make it down to the condo at all. However, the condo is in an area that is a hot tourist destination during the winter and spring months. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

How Much Vacation Rental Insurance Do You Need?

By April Klazema
Published: 09/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

When you are looking to buy vacation rental insurance coverage for the first time, you will likely have a laundry list of different questions that you want answered. Specifically, how much vacation rental insurance coverage do you need, how much can you expect to pay to insure a home that you are renting out to vacationers, and how will the cost of the policy compare to what you are currently paying to insure your own personal home?

To get answers to these questions, we reached out to Eric Kossian, the Agency Principal at InsurePro (www.insurepro.info). Based in Washington and serving the entire state, InsurePro is a respected and reputable insurance agency, and Eric is a longtime industry expert with extensive knowledge in all kinds of insurance coverage—including vacation rental insurance.

In regards to how much vacation rental insurance cover homeowners should get, Eric emphasized the importance of commercial general liability coverage. He noted that buyers should look for policies that include $1 million in liability per occurrence and $2 million aggregate per year (in case there is more than one liability claim in the space of a calendar year).

"When dealing with renters who don't know you, you are more likely to be sued, as [the renters] view you—the property owner—as a business," Eric said, explaining why liability coverage is the crux of most vacation rental property insurance policies.

In addition to $2 million aggregate liability coverage, Eric also noted a number of other "must-haves" for vacation rental insurance policies, including income coverage (also known as "loss of rents"), replacement cost valuation for the building, replacement cost valuation for the contents of the building, and enhancement coverage (in the case of theft or damage to the property caused by a guest). The coverage amounts for the replacement cost valuations for your vacation rental property "should match fairly closely" to an existing homeowners policy, according to Kossian.

As for the cost of a vacation rental insurance policy versus, Eric did caution that insuring a rental property can end up being substantially more expensive than insuring a secondary home whose function is personal use only.

"For the same location, compared to insuring the home as a secondary residence used just personally, a Vacation Income Property policy will be 25 to 100% more in premium, depending on amount of lost income coverage needed and liability needed," Kossian explained.

Do you have any addition questions about how much vacation rental insurance coverage you might need for your property, or how much you should plan to spend on a vacation rental policy? Reach out to us today!

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0414 – 09/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Do I Need to Get Special Insurance for My Condo or Vacation Home?

By April Klazema
Published: 08/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

If you own a condo in Florida or Hawaii, or a vacation home in some other exotic locale, you are likely curious about what kind of insurance you need to get to cover the property. Will a general homeowner's policy do? Or will you have to acquire a different kind of insurance to cover the vacation home?

Determining the Purpose of Your Vacation Home

To answer this question, we'll ask you a question of our own: for what purpose is the vacation home being used?

If the purpose of the vacation home is for personal use only, then a homeowner's insurance policy will be sufficient to cover the property. Perhaps you and your family take frequent trips to the West Coast and always stay at the vacation property when you do. Or maybe you spend your summers in one part of the country and live out your winters somewhere else. In these and other similar scenarios, your insurance company will usually be more than happy to provide you with a second homeowner's policy to cover your vacation home.

The bottom line in these scenarios is that your vacation property is still being used as a residence. As a result, the insurance rules for the property are the same as for your full-time home.

Using Your Vacation Home as a Rental

On the other hand, if you rent out your property to vacationers or other tenants when you are not using it, then it cannot be protected under a homeowner's policy. If you are accepting money to allow someone to stay at your vacation home, that qualifies as commercial use, and your vacation home qualifies as a business. Businesses can never be insured under homeowner's policies, and you will need to set up a different kind of insurance policy as a result.

If you are renting out your vacation home for profit, the insurance you are looking for is vacation rental insurance. A policy of this type will provide you with commercial liability insurance—meaning that if a customer sues for your injury sustained on your property, you will not be liable. It should also include provisions that reimburse you in case your guest damages the property, steals your belongings, or skips out without paying rent.

Don’t fall victim to insurance confusion when it comes to your condo or vacation home! If you are only using the property for personal residential use, a homeowner's policy will cover it. If you are using the condo or house as a rental, then vacation rental insurance is pivotal to keep you, your building, your belongings, and your finances safe!

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0413 – 08/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Special Insurance for My Condo or Vacation Home?

By April Klazema
Published: 07/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

If you own a condo in Florida or Hawaii, or a vacation home in some other exotic locale, you are likely curious about what kind of insurance you need to get to cover the property.

Will a general homeowner's policy do? Or will you have to acquire a different kind of insurance to cover the vacation home?

Determining the purpose of your home

To answer this question, we'll ask you a question of our own: for what purpose is the vacation home being used?

If the purpose of the vacation home is for personal use only, then a homeowner's insurance policy will be sufficient to cover the property. Perhaps you and your family take frequent trips to the West Coast and always stay at the vacation property when you do.

Or maybe you spend your summers in one part of the country and live out your winters somewhere else. In these and other similar scenarios, your insurance company will usually be more than happy to provide you with a second homeowner's policy to cover your vacation home.

The bottom line in these scenarios is that your vacation property is still being used as a residence. As a result, the insurance rules for the property are the same as for your full-time home.

Using your home as a rental

On the other hand, if you rent out your property to vacationers or other tenants when you are not using it, then it cannot be protected under a homeowner's policy.

If you are accepting money to allow someone to stay at your vacation home, that qualifies as commercial use, and your vacation home qualifies as a business. Businesses can never be insured under homeowner's policies, and you will need to set up a different kind of insurance policy as a result.

If you are renting out your vacation home for profit, the insurance you are looking for is vacation rental insurance.

A policy of this type will provide you with commercial liability insurance—meaning that if a customer sues for your injury sustained on your property, you will not be liable. It should also include provisions that reimburse you in case your guest damages the property, steals your belongings, or skips out without paying rent.

Don’t fall victim to insurance confusion when it comes to your condo or vacation home! If you are only using the property for personal residential use, a homeowner's policy will cover it.

If you are using the condo or house as a rental, then vacation rental insurance is pivotal to keep you, your building, your belongings, and your finances safe!

Read more

Author: April Klazema – Author, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0406 – 07/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

The Vacation Rental Property Insurance Difference

By April Klazema
Published: 06/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A vacation rental property may look like a home, but in the eyes of an insurance company, it's a business. If you own a second home that you frequently rent out to temporary guests, then that property is a business and cannot be covered under a homeowner's insurance policy.

Even if the property was used as a residence at some point, the moment you start bringing in out-of-town guests for daily or weekly vacation rentals, the rules change.

What Do I Need Instead?

Most insurance companies will offer a specific vacation rental insurance policy that you can purchase to protect your rental properties.

This kind of policy will provide certain types of coverage that a homeowner's policy won't, including commercial liability insurance to protect you in the event that a guest is injured at your property.

Replacement and repair coverage is usually included as well, in case a guest steals from you or damages your property during their stay.

Why Do I Need Vacation Rental Insurance?

There are subtle differences between homeowner's insurance policies and vacation rental insurance policies.

For example, a homeowner's policy will include personal liability coverage, which essentially means that if a guest is injured while visiting your home—perhaps they fall down the stairs—then your insurance company will help defend you if you are sued and cover medical bills for the injured party.

Meanwhile, a vacation rental insurance policy offers commercial liability coverage, which offers the same basic type of coverage, but for a business instead of a person or family.

Homeowner's insurance policies exclude commercial activities from protection, so if a renter at your vacation home falls down the stairs, the incident won't be covered under the personal liability section of your homeowner's insurance.

Instead, you will need to have commercial liability coverage to be protected, as the injury was suffered by a customer instead of a guest. Similar differences and separations apply for other types of coverage (theft, property damage, etc.) as well.

Unsure if you have the correct vacation rental property insurance? Today is the day you need to find out, before it is too late.

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Author: April Klazema – Author, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0402 – 06/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Here's where to go to find a variety of vacation rental property insurance experts and agents. We watch the market so you don't have to. . Get the best deal and the best coverage. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Creepy Vacation Rental Videos

By Wm. May
Published: 05/27/15 Topics: Marketing, Vacation Rentals, Videos Comments: 0

Recently, a number of websites - including some Vacation Rental portals - have begun using videos as a kind of background image that depict people using vacation rental homes.

Maybe you have seen them. Often they are mundane and slow moving but even the slight movement attracts attention.

There is no sound, and no titles and they are seemingly used mostly as a graphic element - to indicate that staying in the home is comfortable and desirable.

Unfortunately, they do the opposite because no one realized the implications that make the videos creepy.

  • One depicts a young woman asleep in a disheveled room as she wakes up.

  • Another shows a dad and daughter playing on the top bunk of a bed.

  • Another shows a couple of men making breakfast, in a none too attractive tiny kitchen.

All of these feel like they were video taped by a peeping tom when the people were not looking. Viewing them should make you feel uncomfortable.

So who thought this was a good idea? Maybe a peeping tom or voyeur?

The videos are often grainy, or perhaps faded which inadvertently indicates the videos were shot a non-professional camera. That too implies they were taken without the subjects approval. Even more creepy.

By comparison, some videos are exterior long shots of the ocean with boats moving, or waterfalls falling, some have people far in the background.

Those videos are more reassuring because they were clearly taken in a public space and not of some one in a private bedroom in their jammies. The subtleties between various videos is the difference between acceptable and creepy.

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Author: Wm. May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0398 – 05/27/15

Mouse in the house. Or Rats, Bears, Ants, Termites, Cockroaches, etc.

By William May
Published: 03/01/15 Topics: Lodging Management, Vacation Rentals, Wildlife Comments: 0

Whether a home is a vacation rental or just a treasured second home where families get away periodically, pests are often more of a problem than in the owner's primary residence. The question is . . . why?

Location --- While vacation rentals have become popular in urban and suburban areas, most vacation homes are in desirable locations such as by lakes, in the mountains and at the ocean. These areas are generally more remote and - shall we say - a little closer to nature.

LIONS & TIGERS & BEARS

And with nature comes wild animals. We can't say "Lions & Tigers & Bears" but we can say Bears, Mice, Rats, Bats, Raccoons, Snakes and Insects. And - no one wants to say this aloud - bed bugs are also possible.

These critters are not dumb. They know where food is, they are adept at finding it. They seem to have a knack for attacking when no one is home - as is often the case with second homes.

Motels, hotels, inns and resorts in rural or remote locations are just as suspect able to the same problems, even though in those cases there is often staff far closer at hand.

Killing the Messenger

Owners who use professional vacation rental managers find it convenient to blame the manager (messenger) for bringing them bad news that one or more pests have decided to call their place home. But owners need to understand why such things happen and the limits to which planning, attention and diligence can help prevent such things.

Unfortunately, no one can protect a home full-time unless of course they want to pay for costly daily inspections. Even then, there are clear reasons why pests are a bit more common in second homes.

Preventive Steps

Cats - In a primary home, many owners have a cat or dog for friendship. But even the most docile cat is greatly feared by mice, rats and even insects. Mice hate the smell of cats. Just let loose your friendly feline to see that rage that lights up their eyes when they decide to torture a mouse. Creepy as it sounds, if your cat is not interested in patrolling you are feeding them just a bit too much.

Of course, it is not possible to leave a cat in a second home which is a great incentive to pests to show up.

Lights, Noise & Heat - Some vermin also are adverse to lights and noise and will avoid it if other equally desirable habitats is available. There are some pests like mice that actually prefer a warm abode.

Of course, it would be expensive to keep a home heated, lit and noisy at all times so that solution is of little help.

Lighting Fast - Arriving at a home with bugs or mice does not mean that housekeeping is lax. Think back to being a child, and discovering a line of ants waltzing in and out of a home following the chemical trail they have laid down.

That is, after all, how it works for insects and even small mammals. Find a spot, explore until you get in and then send back messages for the entire troupe to charge in. You may think it takes days or weeks for an infestation to happen but that would be wrong.

The gestation period of mice is only 20 days followed by an average of 10 off spring. They are ready to give birth in 3 to 4 weeks which means one mouse can turn into 300 in a year.

Research shows that ants can take over a house in as little as a hour. Mice and rats gleefully take over even faster and once they have moved in, they are not as easily convinced to move out..

Proliferate they do. There is a reason that ants, other bugs, mice and rats become visible almost instantly. A small infestation can go unnoticed even by the most diligent observer. But all these pests...

Hiding - And pests are great at not being seen. They have not survived for millions of years by offering to be prey to other animals. It takes some looking to find pests until they have expanded their colonies and left tell-tale signs.

Avoiding Infestations

There are some things that will slow - but not entirely avoid - discovering unwanted pests have one day invaded your second home.

Live there - Ok this is simply not a solution because owners must live most of the time in their full-time residence.

Get a cat - This idea too is unworkable for second homes, but has to be mentioned because it works so well. Outdoor cats? Nah, someone has to feed them and many prefer outdoors making them no threat to your indoor. Plus they are easy prey for coyotes and even raccoons.

Sealing Tight - Seal every entrance to the home and lock it tight when departing. If you think your place is tight as a drum, getting down in the under floor crawl, or shimmying through the attic may convince you otherwise. Check around plumbing and heating fixtures.

If necessary, mice and rates will eat the plastic off wires to make more space. In summer when doors and windows may be left open they seize the change to move right in. In autumn, when food falls short they are more determined to get inside. In spring, after some dormancy, they are even hungrier. Your house looks like a McDonalds with ready made meals.

Doors - The most frequent access to many homes is actually right in through the door. Did you know that many small mammals have the uncanny ability to flatten their rib cages which allows them to squeeze into the smallest of spaces. Make door seals air tight if possible. Older homes have more ":leads' than new homes.

You can almost hear the mice giggling when they find what - to them - looks like a expressway into your house.

Lock Tight - Never leave food out where the smallest ant could find it. Flour, pancake mix and other dry ingredients may seem safe at home but in vacation homes they are a feast for animals. Even oils and other baking goods should all be kept in sealed metal containers. Plastics is not as good because some critters will chew right threw it.

Inspections - Frequently take the time to look at every nook and cranny of your house, not just after you have discovered a mouse. Remember, rats in particular are excellent climbers. They feed in trees and your house is just another bridge to food.

Traps & Bait - Treating for pests yourself sounds like a good idea, but seldom is a full solution. But putting these devices in locations - safe from children - can be a barrier to entry. Baits can be dangerous so read the label and follow it explicitly. Re-bait and check traps often.

Occupancy Helps

Vacation Rentals - Having guests arrive frequently helps in two ways. First, activity in the house alerts pests that humans are present and humans are dangerous to them. Guests arrive on unpredictable schedules another detractant to unwanted animals.

Frequent housekeeping - With guests comes regular cleaning of the home. Removal of crumbs from the floors makes less food available.

Pests usually show up suddenly and housekeepers can keep an eye out of invasions. They wont notice them all but this is a first-line of defense.

Periodic Deep Cleans - In addition to regular guest cleans, homes should be deep-cleaned periodically often once, twice or more per year. The goal is to clean unusual spaces such as inside cupboards, seldom used closets, dusting high spaces and other areas remove possible food and provides a visible inspection. Air vents must be opened and inspected.

Food in Refrigerator - When in residence, it is wise to keep all food in the refrigerator. This includes dry goods and bread and is a common recommendation in tropical climates where cockroaches are expert at finding any morsel outside the fridge.

Professional Help

Lastly, every home (not just second homes), should have regular pest inspections by a skilled pest control company. Hiring them once an infestation has started will require a higher cost and longer period of treatment. Do not be surprised when the pros recommend sealing the house further, and many of the steps recommended here.

When you home finally succumb to a pest invasion you will have a professional already familiar with your house who can jump right in and increases methods to rid your home of the problem.

And no matter how diligent the inspector, you can hope you will never experience an outbreak. When an outbreak comes, don't blame the pest inspector or you manager. Just realize that your second home is in a battle with some very small but very determined enemies that no one can completely avoid.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0474 – 03/01/15

Sponsor: Vortex VIP –

Expert Says Photos Best Return on Investment

By Joseph Romain
Published: 02/01/15 Topics: Marketing, Photography, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

In a recent blog post on his website VacationRentalMarketingBlog.com, Matt Landau proclaims professional photos to be the most effective marketing tools to increase bookings and revenue.

Landau says, "When you have limited resources, you must examine the return on investment (ROI) of everything you do." He then lists the Top 10 cost-effective Vacation Rental Marketing Activities.

Number one on his list is professional photos which he illustrates by providing a cost versus benefit graph clearly showing photos as the best investment.

Other steps, such as building a private website, increasing your paid listing rank, soliciting reviews and trying to speak with guests by phone also are beneficial.

While hiring a professional photographer is indeed a good idea, to this day many professionals have still not discovered or mastered the art of creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos.

Without that even the best cameras, a photographic education and lots of experience prohibit the photographer from creating truly accurate photos such as those HDR can create.

HDR photos are not easy and they are not cheap, but the benefit of having compelling and accurate photos attracts more guests, more bookings and more revenue.

Landau posits an analogy about whether a government should invest $10,000 to cure ten Malaria patients or the same amount to save a single AIDS patient. Tough call of course, but it illustrates that spending money on great photos is by far the most cost efficient treatment for vacation rental marketing.

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, an online resource for vacation rental owners and managers. He is also the owner of Los Cuatro Tulipanes vacation rentals in Panama, and a columnist for HomeAway and FlipKey, the world's two largest vacation rental marketplaces.

http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/top_10/

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Author: Joseph Romain – Creative Director, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0003 – 02/01/15

How to Hire & Retain Happy Housekeepers (10 rules)

By Wm. May
Published: 01/28/14 Topics: Lodging Management, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals, WAVRMA Comments: 0

How to Hire and Retain Happy Housekeepers - 10 Tips

Servers at restaurants, both fancy and plain, demand tips. The valet who parks your car puts his hand out. Even your neighborhood Starbucks barista wants money for making up your fancy café mocha, skinny, double cup, with foam.

In Lodging many guests simply do not know they need to tip those hard working housekeepers who slip in and out of their rooms while they sit comfortably in the dining room, paying too much for dinner, and giving the smiling cheerful waiter a big tip for being so attentive.

Recent anecdotal responses indicate that tipping in Vacation Rentals occurs less often in hotels. That is a disrespectful situation that must change.

Industry research consistently points to lack of cleanliness as the most common complaint of travelers. Everyone wants a good clean place to stay. But some guests are even reluctant to stay in a vacation rental for fear it is not sparkling clean.

It is time to prove them wrong.

Heavy Work

Those who clean bathrooms, scrub kitchens and scour barbecues deserve the highest respect not the lowest. It is hard work and under appreciated.

By comparison, being a corporate executive is a piece of cake. Those big wigs must even "Carve out" time everyday to go to the gym for the workout they do not get at work.

Housekeepers don't need a trip to the gym. They get down on hands and knees scrubbing floors, they climb ladders to clean or change light bulbs and they tote tons of trash out of homes.

Rent By Owners

Vacation rental rent-by-owners complain they can not find housekeepers, or good ones, can't keep them, or lose them often with little notice. That is because amateur owners base their hiring and retention methods on personal observations instead of empirical knowledge.

There are secrets to finding and keeping most any kind of employee, but they are especially clear and unavoidable for housekeepers and other workers who do societies dirty work.

Rental Managers:

Some vacation rental managers make the same complaints, but often they are new to the industry or have an over-blown sense of their own importance, while avoiding the hard work of personally cleaning homes.

Walking a mile in a housekeepers shoes is the only way to understand how difficult and deadline driven the work can be, and why those housekeeper shoes are often worn and tattered.

Luckily, most vacation rental managers eventually discover the secrets to finding and keeping the kind of loyal, industrious and committed workers who are willing to clean toilets and do other unglamorous work.

10 Iron Clad Rules

To find and keep top-quality people, who serve your guests well and do so with a smile on their faces it is necessary to follow some iron-clad rules.

PAY - Stop scrimping and pay people well. Pay them based on the hours cleans take and not on your budget, which is often far too little, and seldom accounts for differences in how guests leave a home.

SCHEDULING - Arrange cleaning dates as far in advance as possible. Provide online tools so workers can see where they are to be and when. Adjust schedules to accommodate second jobs, day-care, etc.

FULL TIME - Don't hire more people than you need. There will be employees who prefer part-time work but most want to get a full week's pay or close to it.

WEEKLY PAY - Pay your staff weekly, do it direct-deposit and never miss a payroll deadline, even by a few minutes. Everyone needs to get paid. They have bills to pay.

TIPS - Put out cute and subtle time envelopes, signed by the cleaner that just so happen to mention tipping. Guest actually like to reward those who serve them. Unlike restaurants, lodging guests need a reminder. This can increase pay 24 to 30% making housekeepers beam.

STANDARDS - Write clear concise cleaning "Hospitality" standards. Do not demand "Hospital" standards because they are not necessary or economically feasible. If you don't know the difference, someone else in your organization needs to be the inspector.

TRAINING - Require even experienced housekeepers to work along side current staff to learn the ropes of each home. Use checklists. Train, re-train and train again. Inspect work. Provide pleasant feedback.

HONESTY - Only hold housekeepers to a standard you could attain. To prove it - clean multiple houses in one day, and invite the housekeepers to inspect your work. Then do it for a week.

BE KIND - Cleaning small simple hotel rooms is far easier than scrubbing large personal homes that can have owner possessions, far more furniture and utensils and even peculiar outfitting.

RESPECT - Every housekeeper must be treated with the utmost respect. Never raise your voice. Never complain, Never insinuate.

This is the most often violated rule, but the most important one. Never fall victim to your feeling of superiority.

BONUS TIP - Believe every word housekeepers tell you. If a home needs deep cleaning - believe them, If a house needs extra cleaning after an owner says they cleaned it - believe them. If the vacuum cleaner needs to be replaced - believe them

Anything less disrespects the challenging labor to they do for you so reliably.

The Result

Not all new hires will be good housekeepers. Not all will achieve hospitality standards. Not all will remain employees for years to come. But converting your thinking to these iron clad rules will insure you achieve the following:

  • High Quality Hospitality Cleaning.
  • Happy guests and property owners.
  • Respect from wonderful housekeepers
  • Personal satisfaction in knowing you treated people well.

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Author: Wm. May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0338 – 01/28/14

DETAILS: We work to keep this information up to date, but details do change from time to time based on circumstances, often on short notice, and sometimes beyond our control. To verify any answer or other information you may need, please call or email us anytime. Allow a reasonable amount of time for response. Only legitimate inquiries will be answered.