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Puttin' On the Ritz - Luxury Vacation Rentals Are Hot & Here's Why

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 08/20/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Not all vacation rentals are cozy vacation homes. Some are grand estates that celebrities have been enjoying for years. But whether the rental is a cabin nestled in the woods or a mansion overlooking the sea, vacation rentals are one of the best and least expensive forms of lodging available to travelers.

Take a look at the value that even the grandest of properties offers:

La Veranda in Umbria Italy is a five bedroom 17th century farmhouse with satellite television, Internet and a pool set among a grove olive and cypress trees. It rents for about $1,200 a night.

Now that might seem high, but remember it has five bedrooms - enough for ten people or five happy couples. Divide ten into $1,200 and the cost per person is a mere $120 for your own Italian estate!

Not bad when you consider that nearby hotels with similar amenities charge over $400 a night. That's quite a savings. But there's more.

By choosing to stay in a vacation rental, guests can enjoy and participate in the local community in a much more natural way. Vacation rentals are the best way to enjoy the latest trend in the hospitality industry - experience based travel.

But the trend to enjoy elegant vacation rentals isn't limited just to Europe. Recently even a home designed by the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, joined the ranks of available vacation rentals. Located in Acme Pa, the Duncan House is set in a beautifully landscaped garden with shade trees and walking paths.

This one-of-a-kind property offers three never to be forgotten bedrooms all for $385 per night (two night weekend stays only). Anyone looking at the website for the property (polymathpark.com)polymathpark.com would have to agree, the Duncan House is not only amazing and unique but also an unbelievable bargain.

As more and more travelers enjoy the luxury of a home away from home at prices below the price of a standard (and often boring) hotel room, our segment of the hospitality industry continues to grow and expand.

Once "puttin' on the ritz" was only for the wealthy who could afford the glamorous Ritz Hotel in Paris or New York. Today, the discerning travelers can select another choice - one in tune with the times: Vacation Rentals!

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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU have a favorite luxury rental that you think is great? Please email us at VROA and let us help you share your find with others. We can all learn by sharing and remembering what a true bargain vacation rentals are?

Your calls and emails are so welcomed here at VROA. Call us at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: The Sandpiper Beach House, Provincetown - Cape Cod
(provincetown-rental.com)provincetown-rental.com

The world of vacation rentals has largely been made possible by the most far reaching invention of this century - the Internet. But successful vacation rentals owners must do more than just have a website. They must offer a website that is attractive and informative enough to catch and hold the traveler's interest.

One such outstanding site is the Sandpiper Beach House, located on Cape Cod. From the professional photographs to the restful choice of background screen color, this site sets the tone for the viewer within seconds of logging on. Elegant and readable font types were selected as well as easy to read maps and clear directions. The total graphic impact of the site is elegant, restful and chic.

With a site as beautiful as the property, the Sandpiper Beach House is this week's "Top Property". Well done, Sandpiper Beach House!

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VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email:info@VROA.org info@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0081 – 08/20/07

So Easy a Caveman Can Do It - How To Write Great Marketing Material

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 08/13/07 Topics: Comments: 0

I'm sure you recognize the ad campaign that the title of this piece is referring to. It is so effective that not only has it won many awards, it has spun off into a TV series for this fall. Now that's a great marketing job!

Whether you are an insurance company or a vacation rental you want to do the most effective marketing possible. But the question we are often asked by owners here at VROA is: Sure, but how can I create a marketing program that draws in more reservations?

NEW THINKING
Start by practicing right brain creative thinking, called "Lateral Thinking". Another way to think of this approach is to "think outside the traditional box". Don't stop and accept an idea that just seems O.K. Search for that idea that is unique and will grab and hold the viewer's attention even after they leave your website.

FIRST THINGS FIRST
Most of us develop our first marketing campaign wrong the first time out. I know I did until a friend in the advertising industry sat me down and showed me how the "big boys" do it. Here's what I've learned:

Start at the end first. Yes, you heard me right - start at the end. Develop your slogan or memory tag line first. The phrase "So easy a caveman can do it" was created by the marketers by thinking beyond traditional insurance phrases. They developed the slogan first and THEN created the storyline/ads to support it.

It's a little like writing that college essay. First you need to create a thesis sentence that easily captures what you want to say. Then and only then do you write out the rest of the piece supporting the thesis or, in this case, the slogan.

Seven-Up didn't do lots of media production and then decided to call the marketing campaign "the uncola". Instead, they started with a lot of creative thinking and came up with the idea of the "uncola".

Only after they had the memory tag or slogan did they generate the ideas of turning Coca-cola's famous shaped glass up side down and then draining the color out of the beverage, leaving the viewer with the image of a sparkling, refreshing "Uncola - Seven-Up. The slogan and the supportive images increased Seven-Up's profits by millions.

FOLLOW THROUGH
After you've decided on a slogan that's catchy and original, write down in outline form how the ideas and images you are planning to use support that statement. Don't pad your text with unnecessary words or pictures.

Stay clear and focused. Always remember the old saying in advertising, "the more you say, the less they will hear you." Too many individuals list far too much on their websites. The result is a quick "click-off" and a lot of lost reservations. Uncluttered space gives the viewer's eyes a chance to visually rest and consider booking with you. A site that is overly busy visually will only make the viewer turn away.

THE HOOK
The hook is that element of creativity that captures and holds the viewers' attention while tying into the slogan. The hook for Seven-Up was the inverted traditional coke glass. The hook in the Geico caveman ads is the cave men walking around in everyday life situations when we expect them to be in caves instead.

The hook is that punch that ties the slogan and action together creating a memorable marketing impression on the viewer - and increased bookings. Sadly, marketing dollars are often wasted on elaborate ads and websites that achieve little. The reason is most often poor planning and a lack of focused creativity.


Join the many successful owners with a full reservation book who have taken the time to think through an innovative marketing program. It is easier than you think once you start and, actually, a lot of fun. Even the cavemen can do it!

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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU have a favorite ad (hotel or otherwise) that you think is great? Please email us at VROA and let us help you share your find with others. Together we can all develop better and more effective marketing material.

Your calls and emails are so welcomed here at VROA. Call us at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: Yukon Mountain Retreat, Whitehorse - Yukon Territory, Canada
(yukonretreat.com)yukonretreat.com

If someone wanted to get away from it all and delight in the absolute wonder of nature, they could not find a more delighted location than the Yukon Mountain Retreat. Situated in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Karen Pelletier and Jesse Duke are both geologists who carefully planned and researched their vacation retreat for 20 years before opening it seven years ago.

All their hard work and planning shows on their website. Their location is unbelievably beautiful - and their website has the pictures to prove it. Epic scenery and smiling faces highlight their central theme - their mountain retreat is about the peerless beauty of nature and the warm welcome of the Canadian North.

Is there any wonder why VROA is delighted to name Yukon Mountain Retreat this week’s Top Property? Well done, Karen and Jesse!

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VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0080 – 08/13/07

Write Now - Email the Leading Travel Magazines

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 08/06/07 Topics: Comments: 0

One of the most important jobs that an owner can do is market his/her property. To be a success, people need to know where your rental is located and why it is special.

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to advertise your property is through issuing press releases. Sent to the right place and the right person, press releases are converted by writers into articles.

So your first task is locate the publications that cover travel. Well, the staff at VROA has been hard at work of your behalf. Here's a list of the major magazines that cover travel along with their web address.

21st Century Adventures -(21stcenturyadventures.com)21stcenturyadventures.com

American Way - (americanwaymag.com)americanwaymag.com
Arizona Foothills Magazine - (azfoothills.com)azfoothills.com
Arizona Highways - (arizonahighways.com)arizonahighways.com

Backpacker - (backpachwe.com)backpachwe.com
Blue Magazine - (bluemagazine.com)bluemagazine.com
Business Travel News - (btn.com)btn.com
Budget Travel Magazine - (bugettravelonline.com)bugettravelonline.com

Caribbean Travel & Life - (caribbeantravelmag.com)caribbeantravelmag.com
Coastal Living - (coastalliving.com)coastalliving.com
Conde Nast Traveler - (cntravrler.com)cntravrler.com

Destination Elsewhere - (destinationelesewhere.com)destinationelesewhere.com
Distinctly Montana - (strictlymontana.com)strictlymontana.com

Fido Friendly - (fidofriendly.com)fidofriendly.com
Food & Travel - (foodandtravel.com)foodandtravel.com

Global Traveler - (globaltravelerusa.com)globaltravelerusa.com

Hawaii - (hawaiimagazine.com)hawaiimagazine.com
Hawaii Bride & Groom - (hawaiibride.com)hawaiibride.com
Hemispheres United Airlines - (hemispheresmagazine.com)hemispheresmagazine.com
Houseboat - (houseboatmagazine.com)houseboatmagazine.com

Idaho Magazine - (idahomagazine.com)idahomagazine.com
Islands - (islands.com)islands.com

Journey Woman - (journeywoman.com)journeywoman.com

Lovetripper Travel Magazine - (lovetripper.com)lovetripper.com
Luxury Spa Finder - (spafinder.com)spafinder.com
Luxury Travel - (luxurytravelmagazine.com)luxurytravelmagazine.com


Missouri Life - (missourilife.com)missourilife.com
National Geographic Traveler - (nationalgeographic.com/traveler)nationalgeographic.com/traveler
Nevada - (nevadamagazine.com)nevadamagazine.com
Northwest Airlines World Traveler - (nwatraveler.com)nwatraveler.com
NW Travel - (northwestmagazines.com)northwestmagazines.com

Ohio - (ohiomagazine.com)ohiomagazine.com
Oregon Coast - (northwestmagazines.com)northwestmagazines.com
Orlando - (orlandomagazine.com)orlandomagazine.com

Passport - (passportmagazines.com)passportmagazines.com
Pathfinders Travel - (pathfinderstravel.com)pathfinderstravel.com
Recommend - (recommend.com)recommend.com

Sky - (delta-sky.com)delta-sky.com

Texas Highways - (texashighways.com)texashighways.com
Theme Parks Magazine - (themeparksmagazine.com)themeparksmagazine.com
Time Out - (timeoutmagazine.net)timeoutmagazine.net
Tourist Attractions & Parks - (tapmag.com)tapmag.com
Travel 50 & Beyond - (travel50andbeyond.com)travel50andbeyond.com
Travel & Leisure Magazine - (travelandleisure.com)travelandleisure.com
Travel Blogger - (travelbogger.net)travelbogger.net
Travelgirl - (travelgir)travelgirl
Travel Magazine - (travelmagazine.com)travelmagazine.com
Travel Smart - (travelsmartmagazine.com)travelsmartmagazine.com
Travel Weekly - (travelweekly.com)travelweekly.com
Travel with a Challenge - (travelwithachallenge.com)travelwithachallenge.com

Vacations Magazine - (vacationsmagazine.com)vacationsmagazine.com
Vermont Life - (vtlife.com)vtlife.com

Yankee Traveler - (yankeemagazine.com)yankeemagazine.com


Set some time aside and review the publications, looking for the ones that relate to your region, style and location of your property. Review the suggested VROA guidelines for writing a press/media release and get started. You will be surprised at the results!

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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU have a favorite publication that covers vacation rentals? Please email us at VROA and let us help you share it with others. Together we can all spread the word about vacation rentals as the great new vacation buy.

Your calls and emails are so welcomed here at VROA. Call us at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: Casa Mullaney - Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
(casamullaney.com)casamullaney.com

Casa Mullaney is that near perfect website that offers just enough text and clear bright photos. Any visitor to this website can easily visualize their vacation in this attractive tropical setting. The aerial photograph shows clearly how short the walk to the beach will be while the pool shots invite the guest to consider just staying at the Casa for the day.

The interior photographs sparkle with sunlight yet promises cooling shade as well. Clear and focused, the decor expresses a restful feeling that will guarantee a great holiday among gentle breezes and sparkling sands.

VROA is delighted to name Casa Mullaney this week’s Top Property.

======================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0079 – 08/06/07

American Beauties - Great Website Designs

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 07/31/07 Topics: Comments: 0

One of the questions we often are asked by owners here at VROA is: What constitutes good website design?

Take a moment and review some of these properties that Travel and Leisure Magazine consider outstanding in the hospitality industry. Their sites are a great place to learn how to design an effective 'look' without spending months doing expensive research. So type in the web address, makes some notes and look for the following new trends in web design.


Work with a color palette that matches the mood of your property.
Example: (postranchinn.com)postranchinn.com

Place the most important eye-catching imagery on the 'top fold' to use an old newspaper term.
Example: (wauwinet.com)wauwinet.com

Use photos that captures the mood guests are seeking.
Example: (shuttersonthebeach.com)shuttersonthebeach.com

Less is more. Don't overcrowd your pages with too much text or photos.
Example: (blackberryfarm.com)blackberryfarm.com


If you haven't reviewed the wonderful functions that the newer software programs offer, you might want to do some research in this areas as well. What was difficult and time consuming only a few years ago is today just a click away with innovative programs doing the work.

There are also web design firms on the Internet who will create a state-of-the-art web site for you if you prefer to go that route. For the technical shy, it is money well spend.

Your website is a vital marketing tool. Don't let it get stale or dated. Evaluate lodging websites regularly and watch for developing design trends that will work with your rental. Write the Internet address down and forward it to your web designer with a note that you are interested in that effect.

We live in a market age that is moving and changing at an amazing speed. American designers create some of the most beautiful, innovative and effective websites in the world. These 'American beauties' should include your property. Don’t you agree?


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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU know of a knock-out website? Maybe it's yours? Don't hesitate - email us at VROA and let us help you share it with others. Together we can all spread the word about vacation rentals as the great new vacation buy.

Your calls and emails are so welcomed here at VROA. Call us at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: Cedar Chalet - Bar Harbor, Maine
(harp-hawkins.com/maine_vacation_rentals7.html)harp-hawkins.com/maine_vacation_rentals7.html

Sometimes a beautiful homes just seems to fit into its location as if home and site were made for each other. Any guest reviewing the clear and colorful pictures on the Harp-Hawkins website would have to agree. Warm wood tones echo through the photographers making the large gallery of images warm and inviting.

Pictures of the outside porch and the bay beyond just seem a breath-taking extension of the lovely interior of this north woods chalet.

VROA is glad to say "Well Done" to this vacation rental owner and award Harp-Hawkins "Top Property" status.

======================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0078 – 07/31/07

Seven Staff Styles - Understanding Your Employees

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 07/23/07 Topics: Comments: 0

There's no way around the fact that the vacation rental business means working with people each and every day. And each and every person you will deal with has their own unique work personality. So whether you're interacting with your staff or a new vendor, you can make your workday easier by understanding how best to work with each work style.

Take a moment then, look at these seven common work personalities and consider how you can best work with them. It will be worth your time and increase not only profitability but also your peace of mind.

THE COMMANDER
This individual is results oriented and a leader. They can also be a loner, bossy and often not very tactful. This staff person needs to be allowed to take the initiative in dealing with projects and problems.

They handle delegation well if you do not micro management them. Vendors who interact with you using this style, often like to be valued and commended for their ability to solve problems and obtain results.

THE DRIFTER
This staff member is a free-spirited and easy going individual who tends to be disorganized and a bit impulsive. Structure of any kind, whether it involves paperwork, deadlines, or details, is very uncomfortable for them.

The drifter works best when given only short projects or tasks to work on. This individual enjoys projects that offer lots of variety including who, what, where and when they will work. Staff or vendors of this type want to be valued and praised for their creativity and originality as well as their ability to think and create outside the traditionally business procedures.

THE ATTACKER
This type of worker can demoralize your entire staff by being angry, hostile, cynical and grouchy. They do not hesitate to criticize other staff in public or to demean their efforts.

Although often difficult to work with, this staff member or vendor is valuable for their ability to handle unpopular or hostile situations. They can best be helped by assigning them only the tasks they will be good at. Restricting their access to other staff members will limit their negative staff impact.

THE PLEASER
This personality style is thoughtful, pleasant and helpful. They tend to view their fellow workers as extended members of their family and often need to do extensive socializing during the workday.

They most commonly cannot say no to any request and often take on too many tasks. Pleasers can be easily motivated by simply telling them that their activities make you happy.

THE PERFORMER
This popular employee or vendor is charming, outgoing and entertaining. They are often the first to volunteer for a project and often the last to finish it because they hate to give up the stage.

They do not like to deal with negative outcomes and are very career focused often without regard for others. This individual reacts very positively to recognition and incentives. They enjoy high-profile tasks and assignments.

THE AVOIDER
This staff member or vendor is quiet and somewhat reserved. They tend to like a warm, nest-like environment that limits change and growth. They do not like to take responsibility or deal with accountability.

The avoider will value maintaining the status quo above everything else. This individual works best when surrounded by a sense of safety. They loved written directions, guidelines, procedures and rules.

THE ANALYIST
This person can appear to be cautious, precise and very detail orientated. Often they take large amounts of time to complete a project. This is because they feel most comfortable when they are working with the largest body of information possible.

This can create a situation where others can view them as procrastinators. They tend to evaluate the ideas of others, making themselves also appear negative. This individual works best when they are freed from restrictive timelines and a respect for data and analysis is shown.


Keeping these work personalities in mind as you interact with staff, will make your vacation rental business run more smoothly and more successfully. Understanding how to work with people is one your most valuable business skills. Give it a try and have a great…and insightful day!


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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU have a success story you want to share? We all know something that will help another owner. Let other owners know. Together we'll spread the word about vacation rentals.

Your calls and emails make our day here at VROA. You can reach us at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: Cypress House - British Virgin Islands
(cypresshousebvi.com)cypresshousebvi.com

Guests couldn't help but be attracted to the Cypree House after looking at their informative website. Located in the British Virgin Islands, this impressive website lets guests preview the over 4,500 square feet of relaxation space awaiting them. Breath-taking views, a gourmet kitchen, marble baths and a private pool all hint at the luxury just an airplane ride away.

These owners present a vision of the vacation of a lifetime through their choice of images and words. They paint with text and pictures a dream holiday waiting to be made real.

Great website AND vacation rental property Cypress House!


======================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0077 – 07/23/07

Landing Success: Improving Your Web Marketing

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 07/16/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Many successful owners extend their marketing outreach by writing short internet travel stories about their area. These often include a "hot" link or URL address that takes readers to a "landing" or "jump" page.

What, I can hear you asking, is a landing or jump page? It is simply a brief pre-page that potential guests read and submit data to before entering your main website. And it is important for several reasons:

1. When possible guests are welcomed, rather than just dumped onto a website, they feel acknowledged. This is important because it supports the continuation of communication with you. If that thread is broken, you will loose contact with your potential guest and most certainly the reservation.

2. Using a landing or jump page enables you to capture critical data. If your page asks the guest to provide some basic data, you are gaining valuable sales information both for now AND in the future.

3. Don't, however, ask for too much information - just the right information. Their name, email address and possible travel interest is enough.

4. Because you have asked for information, you owe the visitor an absolute promise of privacy regarding the information supplied. Your IT programmer can write this into your page, but you need to reassure your site visitor that the page is secure and that you do not sell or share any information provided.

5. Keep your copy short. A landing or jump page is only a lead-in. It is not the great American novel about your vacation rental. Website designers call this shorter text a 'teaser'. It should say welcome and move the validated site visitor onto the main site.

6. Consider linking different landing or jump pages to different interest stories. If your program includes a counter, you can easily see which text and approach draws the most guests to your site. That kind of insight is extremely valuable in focusing your marketing efforts.

7. Develop a follow-up program. Properly designed, your landing or jump page will provide you with valuable information that can lead to increased reservations, but ONLY if you follow through with a consistent telemarketing plan. When do you let possible guests know about early booking discounts for the winter holidays? In June or December 1st? It will make a difference.

More information about designing a landing or jump page is available on the internet, that wonderful source of information for the busy business person. Do a search and give the idea some thought.

I promise that the more you consider having a landing or jump page, the more you will see the value of the marketing material it will capture. So take a jump, consider something new and, I bet, you'll land more reservations and increase your revenue. And that will make it all worthwhile!

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MEMBER INPUT:

Do YOU have a great internet idea? We all know something that will help another owner. Let us know. We'll spread the word.

I look forward to your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext. 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

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TOP PROPERTY: Echo Lake Lodge & Cottages - Fayette, Maine
(echolakecottages.com)echolakecottages.com

Sometimes there is a rental so perfect that guests return again and again, because, well, it just feels like home. One such property is the Echo Lake Lodge and Cottages in beautiful Fayette, Maine. Situated only 15 miles from the state capital, it is surrounded by peaceful pines on a quiet country road.

This vacation rental draws its guest back each year by practicing a successful marketing program that makes sure guests know that wonderful kayaking, fishing, swimming and canoeing are all available. Built in 1936 by the water's edge, this owner can well be proud of both the lodging and the memories shared with guests.

Well done Echo Lake Lodge and Cottages!


======================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext. 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0076 – 07/16/07

Changing NIMBY to "Welcome Aboard"

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 07/12/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Sooner or later every vacation rental owners encounters NIMBYism (or Not in My Back Yard syndrome). It might be voiced by a county commission or by a local neighbor. But no matter its source, you must address the issue - in advance if possible.

Here are some of the things you can do to silence that single critic before he or she becomes a chorus that can disturb and even possibly cause your business to close:

1. GET A BUSINESS LICENSE
If you do not have a license you are operating illegal. Without a business license you are not a valid member of your local business community.

2. PAY YOUR TAXES
Pay all the taxes related to operate your vacation rental - that includes both property and sales taxes. All valid members of the hospitality industry pay their taxes. Avoiding your taxes will result in other members of the hospitality industry questioning your place in their industry.

3. JOIN THE COMMUNITY & PROFESSIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATIONS
That may include your state lodging association, local and regional tourist associations and professional trade organizations. Not only can these organizations provide you with a world of useful information, but they can be supportive during difficult times.

4. BUY LOCALLY
Purchasing locally lets everyone know you are contributing to your community. You are helping the local economy, not hurting it.

5. HIRE LOCALLY
Whenever possible, hire from the local area. Being able to demonstrate that the dollars you bring into the community are spent locally only strengthens your position as a positive member of the community.

6. BE INVOLVED
Join local activities and let people get to know you and your business before there are any problems. When people know you, they are much more likely to speak to you first if there is a problem. Make yourself available. Consider sponsoring a little league team or volunteering for an annual event. It is time well spent.

7. KNOW WHO TO KNOW
Take some times and find out who are the power players in your area. It might be your neighbor or your local representative to the state senate. Find out who can help you and make an effort to get to know them or their aide. Be sure that this person knows your name and that you are a business person who benefits the community they serve.

8. FORM A REGIONAL TRADE GROUP
Contact the other owners of vacation rentals in your area and form a regional support association. VROA can help you do that. Working together you can speak with a more powerful voice than if you speak as a single isolated person. You can also purchase in bulk more easily and so reduce your costs. Never forget there is a great power in numbers.

These are just some of the ways that you can defeat NIMBYism in advance. Let us know at VROA how you have addressed the issue and we'll share your success with our other members. If we all work together our exciting segment of the industry will continue to grow and develop!

----------------------
MEMBER INPUT:

Send in your tips and ideas, concerns and compliments. We are each others' best source for how to success. I enjoy your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext. 920 or Ana @vroa.org

-----------------------

TOP PROPERTY: Harbor Hill Inn & Cottages, Saranac Lake, NY
adirondackvacations.comadirondackvacations.com

This week's top property is the beautiful Harbor Inn & Cottages. Located in a wooded lakeside setting, this property is perfect for both summer fun and winter delights. From fishing to skiing, this owner's web site presents a clear picture to viewers of just how much they will enjoy this property.

A variety of lodging formats are available for guests from cozy cottages to an entire lodge for larger groups. Reservations can be for a weekend or a week - a choice guests often enjoy. With a wide range of amenities such as hot tubs, paddle boats, BBQ grills and fully equipped kitchens in every unit, guests can easily visualize the great time they will have here.

Congratulations to Harbor Hill Inn & Cottages for creating a great web site and an outstanding property!

=============================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at VROA.orgVROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext. 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0075 – 07/12/07

Fighting NIMBYism or the "Not in My Backyard" Syndrome

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/28/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation rental owners sometimes encounter attempts to ban or limit rentals in their area. Various so called 'reasons' are often presented to local officials to justify limiting rentals.

Let's look at some of the most common complaints and see if they are actually based in reality.

Statement: Vacation rentals will drive up real estate prices so high that the current residents can't to live there.
FACT: Local ordinances can be written to 'grandfather' in lower tax rates for full time local residences. Members of the hospitality industry have traditionally been taxed in a different category from local home owners. All these matters can be easily addressed with calm planning.

Statement: The 'wrong' kind of people will come to the community.
FACT: Vacation rental guests are some of the most carefully screened guests in the hospitality industry.
Rarely are they the 'wrong' kind of guest. Rather, they are the 'right' kind of guest who are looking forward to enjoying the best a community has to offer-its sports, culture, history. And they will spend money to support those local activities. And that's good for everyone.

Statement: Vacation rental owners are trying to make money while not really operating a real business.
FACT: Owning and running a vacation rental is a business. Owners must have a business license, pay federal, state and local taxes including sales taxes, contract support services within the community, maintain financial records, have insurance, book reservations and pay bills. That sounds like a business to me.

Statement: The owners of vacation rentals will pay too much for services like cleaning and maintenance. That will result in an increase in the cost of services for local residents.
FACT: Vacation rentals that are professional operated use professional services or contracted staff. They are not interested in taking away your residential housekeeper who cleans every other week.

Statement: We like things the way they are.
FACT: A community that doesn't grow and develop will find the future difficult. Please note that VROA chose the words "grow and develop". Change just for the sake of change is dangerous because there is no plan, no positive goals. All communities should be interested in area growth and development BUT with a purpose. Vacation rentals are one of the few segments of the hospitality industry that support growth and development without requiring the neighborhood to host a major construction site.

These are some of the concerns we hear about at VROA, but we want to know how YOU have encountered NIMBYism and how you've addressed it. Call or email us and let us know so we can share with others.

Next week we’ll cover some of the activities you can plan in advance to change “not in my backyard” to “Welcome Aboard”. Be sure to join us then.


----------------------
MEMBER INPUT:
Every vacation rental is special. Yet we all share common experiences and the mutual professional goal of being successful. Sharing with each other is one of the easiest ways to reach those goals. Send in your tips and ideas, concerns and compliments. We all part of the same expanding industry. I look forward to your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext. 920 or Ana @vroa.orgAna @vroa.org

-----------------------


TOP PROPERTY: Triangle River Vacation Rental, 15 minutes from fun at Vail CO
(triangleriver.com)triangleriver.com

Keith Wegen doesn't limit himself to sharing with his guests how ideal his vacation rental is for winter fun. His gallery of pictures offers guests a chance to visualize their vacation during every season at his lovely property.

Besides ski information, he provides information about nearby golf courses and the year round activities that make Vail a popular destination to travelers from around the world. And just to make sure that guests are looking forward to enjoying his 5,700 square foot house with its majestic views, he even provides a detailed floor plan! Now that's a thoughtful owner.

Well done Keith! And congratulations for being selected a TOP Property by the VROA staff.


=============================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid, Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May, William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext. 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.org info@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0074 – 06/28/07

Why Higher Gas Prices Can Actually be GOOD for Your Vacation Rental

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/22/07 Topics: Comments: 0

The rising sticker shock for gas is causing many Americans to alter how they spend their vacation dollars. And those changing vacation decisions can benefit your vacation rental. Let me explain how.

Once 83% of we got in the family car and drove an average of 300 plus miles to see relatives and enjoy seemingly endless summer days together. We stayed in various motels and hotels as we drove from one vacation spot to the next. Ah, gas was so cheap then.

Well, to quote the song, “…the times they are a-changing.” Today only 16% of Americans still take the traditional two week vacation that was the norm in the 1950s. Work schedules are hard to match up in a two-career household and the price of gas just keeps going to go up and up.

Far more common today are four day holidays that are centered around a single destination or activity such as a theme park, favorite beach or mountain hiking area. Instead of driving/driving and paying/paying, savvy travelers today wants to get where they’re going, settles in, relaxed and still have enough money left for holiday family fun.

But does that peaceful description sound like the traditional roadside motel to you? Not to me it doesn't - too much noise, too many cars coming and going. And what about saving dollars in that expensive grand downtown hotel? Well, that’s going to be hard with the children there. Think about those pay-for-view movies, room service, gift shop snacks and restaurant meals. Ouch!

No, settling in, relaxing, enjoying lots of room, setting one’s own schedule and still saving money – now that sounds like a vacation rental to me. And lots of Americans (and visiting Europeans) agree. And to prove it, just consider the fact that vacation rentals are the fastest growing segment of the hospitality industry.

Even the major hotel systems are beginning to build upscale vacation rentals for their former hotel-only guests as these travelers eagerly request this new lodging component. America is a land of travelers. We have always been on the move. And lodging industry has always responded to America’s need for new forms of accommodation.

In the early days, our founding fathers met in taverns and stayed in inns. As America grew, grand hotels, called the “people’s palaces”, developed. When the automobile changed our American lifestyle forever, motels appeared to welcome travelers, right next to the gas station.

Today as we seek to protect the environment, enjoy expanded community and focus our researches more wisely, vacation rentals are a near perfect answer for the needs of the modern traveler. With lots of affordable space, families can relax together in a home-setting and truly get to know not only an area, but each other better, all by moving just a little slower.

----------------------
MEMBER INPUT:
Please let us know about your vacation rental and what makes it special. Sharing our successes with each other is one of the ways we can all grow professionally. Send in your tips and ideas, concerns and compliments. We all part of the same expanding industry. I look forward to your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext. 920 or Ana @vroa.org

-----------------------

TOP PROPERTY: Black’s Cliff Resort, Minocqua, Wisconsin
(blackscliff.com)blackscliff.com

This outstanding all season resort is an example of a great vacation rental designed for family holidays. Located on the lower shores of Kaubashine Lake, this lovely property stretches for nearly a mile among whispering pines and sparkling waters.

Eleven cabins and two 4-bedroom vacation homes offer guests a wide variety of accommodations – some units even have beds that swing. What fun! Check out their website and congratulations to Black’s Cliff Resort for a job well done!

=============================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
Publisher - William May William@VROA.orgWilliam@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext. 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0073 – 06/22/07

What Makes Vacation Rentals Unique

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/11/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation Rentals are the newest member of the hospitality industry. Here are some of the ways that vacation rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional lodging.

LOTS OF ROOM - One of the biggest differences between a vacation rental and almost all other forms of lodging is the space available to your guests. Hotels offer a room. Vacation rentals offer a complete living space. Instead of renting a mere room and bath, you get a much larger area which often includes a kitchen, a backyard, a living room and a dining room. What a difference!

MORE PRIVATE SPACE - Vacation rentals also offer total privacy. In a hotel you can’t walk across the lobby in your pajamas. At a B&B you can’t have breakfast by yourself. In a vacation rental you can.

REDUCED FOOD COSTS - Hotels offer food through their restaurants. The cost of hotel meals includes insurance, labor, décor, replacement and profit. If your guest is cooking their own meals in their vacation rental, they are saving a lot of money as these costs aren't’t included in what they spend. In a vacation rental the guest can eat what they want, not just what is on the menu.

Besides being expensive, hotel food is often high in calories. Vacation rentals enable the guest to continue enjoying their regular food habits and save vacation dollars. Does it get any better than that?

OPEN SCHEDULE - Hotels are historically based on the model of a great estate house, not a relaxed home. B&Bs are based on the model of an urban boarding house. Both of these formats operate on a schedule because staffing has a timetable of what must get done when. Breakfast is served from X to Y in a hotel because there has to be time for the staff to rewash the dishes and prep for lunch. Vacation rentals don't force their guests into such a fixed schedule.

The same is true of housekeeping. Housekeeping needs to be able to enter the room during a certain time period in order to "turn the room“. In a vacation rental the guest can sleep as long as they want to because they are the ones who are going to fluff the comforter (or not).

NO ADDITIONAL ENTERTAINMENT COSTS - I will never forget the bill I got once when my then young daughter flipped from one pay for view movie to another in a hotel as if she was at home watching TV! At a vacation rental that problem doesn’t occur.

Guests can bring their own movies or rent them at a local outlet. Speaking of small children, the guest does not have to deal with the hotel porn channel at a vacation rental. Also the hot tub is free and uncrowded!

INCREASED SAFETY - Hotels have large distant parking lots. At a vacation rental you are in a neighborhood setting which is probably patrolled regularly by the police. You are also the only person who has the punch code or entrance card for the residence. It would startle you if you knew just how many people have the code/card to your standard hotel room.

AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE - Hotels seldom represent the everyday life of a neighborhood. Staying in a hotel in Houston, for example, is not the same as strolling through a small Houston neighborhood, shopping in its local stores or making purchases at the nearby farmers’ market.

The hottest trend in the hospitality industry right now is authentic regional experiences. No sector of the market provides that as well as vacation rentals.

MORE REALISTIC LIFE PATTERN - We all have our way of doing things. Vacation rentals enable guests to have the greatest chance of transferring their established lifestyle patterns over to their holiday. If a guest loves a warm brandy at 11PM in their bathrobe, then they can have it.

In a hotel, room service may be closed and the bar requires getting dressed. B&Bs rarely have a liquor license.

LONG TERM PLANNING - Hotels are extremely rate-conscious as operating costs can vary greatly season to season. As a result, hotels are often hesitant to quote rates a year in advance.

If a guest is planning a vacation long in advance, this can be difficult. Vacation rentals usually have no difficult booking that far out.

FINANCIAL SAVINGS - Foot per square foot, vacation rentals are offer one of the best values to vacationers. There is no fee for using the hot tub or viewing DVDs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are when you want them and each meal can be your favorite food.

Be sure to tell your guests how special vacation rentals are AND why they are different than any other form of lodging. Once your guests understand what a vacation rental is really all about, they will return to enjoy them again and again. And they will tell their friends!

----------------------
INPUT:
Please let us know your thoughts about what makes your vacation rental one of the best choices for modern travelers. I'd love to hear about what makes your property special. Send in your tips and techniques, concerns and compliments. We all have so much to share with each other. I look forward to your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.org

-----------------------
THIS WEEK'S TOP PROPERTY: Vista Grande Ranch, Washington State

Located in north central Washington in the beautiful Methow Valley, the Vista Grande Ranch certainly earns its name. This 650 acre ranches invites guests to enjoy over 4,300 square feet of relaxing inside space as well as 1,800 square feet of wrap-around cedar decking outside. And the views are fantastic! We just had to select this outstanding property as the VROA Top Property of the week.

Visit their web site (vgranch.com)vgranch.com and you'll see a property that would delight any guest.
=============================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid
Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0072 – 06/11/07

Vacation Rentals: Something Knew

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 05/07/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation Rentals are the newest member of the hospitality industry and it's important for guests to know what makes vacation rentals so unique. Unless we articulate clearly what makes a vacation rental (or VR) so special, we will be confused with other lodging formats in the industry. Here are some of the ways that vacation rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional lodging.

Lots of Space – One of the biggest differences between a VR and almost all other forms of lodging is the space available to guests. Hotels offer a room. VRs offer a complete living space. Instead of a room with a bed, TV, dresser and attached bath, you get a full living area. That means a kitchen, garden, living room, dining room as well as a bedroom(s) and bath are available for your use.

More Private Space – VRs also offer total privacy. In hotel you can’t walk across the lobby in your pajamas. At a B&B you can’t have breakfast by yourself, enjoying a peaceful morning moment.

Reduced Food Cost – Hotels offer food through their restaurants. The cost of hotel meals includes insurance, labor, décore, replacement and profit. If your guest is cooking their own meals in their VR, they are saving a lot of money as these costs aren’t included in what they spend.

They have only the cost of ingredients to cover. Also in a VR, the guest can eat what they want, not just what is on the menu. Besides being expensive, hotel food is often high in calories. (Think back on how often people gain weight on vacation. Reason: rich hotel food). RVs enable the guest to continue enjoying their regular food habits and save vacation dollars. Does it get any better than that?

Open Schedule – Hotels are historically based on the model of great estate houses, not a relaxed home. B&Bs are based on the model of an urban boarding house. Both of these formats worked on a schedule because staffing was involved. Breakfast is served from X to Y because there has to be time for the staff to rewash the dishes and prep for lunch. RVs force their guests into no such regiment.

The same is true of housekeeping. Housekeeping needs to be able to enter the room during a certain time period in order to “turn the room.” In a VR the guest can sleep as long as they want to because they are the ones who are going to fluff the comforter or not.

No Additional Entertainment Costs – I will never forget the bill I got once when my then young daughter flipped from one pay for view movie to another as if she was at home watching TV! At a VR that problem doesn’t occur. The guest can bring their own movies or rent them at a local outlet.

Speaking of small children, the guest does not have to deal with the porn channel at a VR. Also the hot tub is free and uncrowded!

Increased Safety – Hotels have large parking lots. At a VR you are in a neighborhood setting which is probably patrolled regularly by the police. Also you are the only person who has the punch code or entrance card for the residence. It would share you if you knew just how many people have the code/card to your standard hotel room.

Authentic Community Experience – Hotels do not represent what a community really is. Staying in a hotel in Houston, for example, is not the same as strolling in a neighborhood, shopping in local stores or making purchases at the farmers’ market. The hottest trend in the hospitality industry right now is authentic regional experiences.

No sector of the market provides that better for the guest than VRs. More Realistic Life Pattern – We all have our way of doing things. VRs enable guests to have the greatest chance of transferring their established patterns over to their vacation. If a guest loves a warm brandy at 11PM in their bathrobe, then they can have it. In a hotel, room service may be closed and the bar requires getting dressed. B&Bs rarely have a liquor license.

Long Term Planning – Hotels are extremely rate conscience as costs (labor, insurance, etc) can vary greatly. As a result, hotels are often hesitant to quote rates out a year. If a guest is planning a vacation a year out, this can be difficult. VRs have no difficult booking that far out.

Financial Savings – Foot per square foot, VRs are offer one of the best values to vacationers. There is no fee for using the hot tub or viewing DVDs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are when you want them and each meal can be your favorite food.

Be sure to tell your guests how special vacation rentals are AND why they are different than any other form of lodging. Once your guests understand what a vacation rental is really all about, they will return to enjoy them again and again. And they will tell their friends!

POINT OF ORDER (Project Management)

Feel Like you have too much to do? You aren't alone. That concern is one we hear from owners many times a week. One answer we suggest is that they consider using "Project Management" to organize the tasks in front of them. Project Management is an established technique used by businesses to complete a project in a creative and organized manner.

One excellent text on the subject is Rich Mintzer's THE EVERYTHING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BOOK. Check it out and make your day a lot easier.

ON BOARD: Picture Perfect
(VROA answers members’ questions….)

Question: “How do I take the best picture for my web site?

Answer: Just as important as the words you use on your web site, are the pictures you display. Here are ten pointers professional photographers say are vital to remember when taking images for the Internet.

1. Adjust your personal ‘focus’ as to why you are taking pictures. There is a vast difference between a snapshot and capturing an effective image that results in an increase in reservations. Ask yourself EXACTLY what is the selling feature of the room you are photographing. Don’t do the obvious. All bedrooms have beds. Ask yourself, “What is special about this room?” Photograph that!

2. After you have ‘focused’ on the selected selling point of the room, use a wide angle lens to show as much of the rest of the room as you can. This puts your feature element in context. Be careful not to over extend the wide angle or the stove will appear huge and flowers very distant.

3. Start by making sure that the area to be photographed is immaculate, not just clean. Photos can be merciless – they show everything. Many vacation rental owners start their photo shoots off right by having their unit professionally cleaned from top to bottom. In the long run it’s worth the money.

4. Next ‘stage’ your vacation rental for pictures. ‘Staging’ is a term used by real estate agents to describe placing props or small items around a house to give potential buyers the ‘feel’ of the home. The result is an increased bonding to the property. Small accents often make a difference such as candles, magazines, flowers, a table set for dinner. A great book on how to it is Barb Schwartz’s Home Staging. Wiley, 2006.

5. Owners often forget that the camera must have light to show detail and make the room appear inviting. Pull the curtains back and let the light in. You are not selling a vintage storeroom or a darkened cave. Open and welcoming are the feelings you want to prompt.

6. If you have few skills with a camera, strongly consider hiring a professional who is skilled in architectural photography. Marketing is strongly linked to sales. If you are ill at ease with a camera, your web site is not the arena to practice in. Pictures are very often the first impression an individual has of your property. A photo that doesn’t ‘sell’ your property stops the whole chain reaction that leads to revenue before it has ever started.

7. We live in a digital age. And there’s a reason why – digital cameras are great. Today they are reasonably priced and easy to use, so try one out if you don’t have one already. Shoot at 300dpi (dots per inch) for print material and 72dpi for the web.

8. Shoot at the highest resolution possible and largest format. You will be thankful later.

9. Use a tripod. Tripods make three things easy. One, they steady your picture. Two, they allow you time to evaluate what you are seeing through the view finder without the worry of trying to hold the camera steady. Three, if you see something in the view finder that you want to remove or change in the room, the tripod ‘holds’ your framed picture right where it is while you go adjust it.

10. Be sure to ‘bracket’ or make multiple exposures of each room. Save your working photos in tiff format and your final photos in jpeg. If you need to rework a photo, always select from the tiff file as the quality will be highest. Jpeg files tend to decline in quality the more your manipulate them.

Be sure to send us your questions and VROA will answer them.

TOP PROPERTY: Vista Grande Ranch, Washington State

Located in North Central Washington in the beautiful Methow Valley, the Vista Grange Ranch certainly earns its name. This 650 acre ranches invites guests to enjoy over 4,300 square feet of relaxing inside space and 1,800 square feet of wrap around cedar outside deck. And the views are fantastic! We just had to select this outstanding property as the VROA Top Property of the week.

Visit their web site (vgranch.com)vgranch.com to see a property that would delight any guest - and a website designed to highlight the vacation rental as well.

Read more

Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0071 – 05/07/07

Does Your Property Have IT?

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 04/16/07 Topics: Comments: 0

In the 1920's when someone asked if an individual had "IT", they were using the code that Hollywood invented to describe sex appeal. Today, IT refers not to a lovely lady, but to the most wonderful invention of our time - Information Technology.

Go down any street in even a small town and you will see MP3 players, iPods and, of course, cell phones. Cable television has become the norm for enjoying television with hundreds and hundreds channels available. And then there is the internet, that astounding technology that lets us retrieve information in seconds. It is the internet that most often lets guests from around the world find and make a reservation at your property. Once there, it connects them to family and friends as well as business colleagues faster than a phone. These are truly amazing times we live in.

Also amazing is the growth rate of vacation rentals as a segment of the hospitality industry - an astounding 15% annual. As a result, hotels are losing business to the roomier, more family-oriented and often less expensive vacation rentals or VRs. One way hotels are attempting to reclaim their sliding position in the industry is to offer extensive IT services to the traveler. Currently the hotel industry plans to spend $5.5 billion (yes, that's billion) dollars on capital improvement in 2007-2008. And most of those improvements are technology-based.

Fortunately, you don't have to spend billions. That's one of the advantages of being smaller than a 1,000 room hotel. (Image what their housekeeping bill must be!) But it is important in this day and age (it is the 21st century, after all) to review your property and ask if you would have more bookings if you often IT services to your guests. These might include:

IPOD DOCKING STATIONS - Used to play music recorded on the IPod out loud.

FLAT SCREEN/HDTV TELEVISIONS - Most of the new DVDs are recorded for display on a flat screen/HDTV format. Also you don't need to have a bulky storage cabinet for this newer style TV.

HIGH-SPEED WIRELESS INTERNET - Guests are now bringing their laptop computers with them and they want to stay connected.

CABLE TELEVISION - With cable, you can limit the need for a DVD player and DVD movies.

DVD PLAYER - If you can't get cable in your area, be sure to consider a DVD player. Video players are not considered cutting edge and more and most newer movies are being released in DVD format.

If you decide to add IT to your property, be sure to adjust the amount of your deposit. Also consider additional insurance to cover damage or theft. And be sure (this very important) to update your marketing material to tell everyone viewing your web site that you offer these very modern amenities. That way you will be 'wired' into increased profits and truly become a 'hot' vacation rental.

THE NAME OF THE GAME: Keywords on Your Web Site

Your website will only be effective IF people can find it on the Internet. One way to insure that potential guests locate your web site is to be aware of "search engine optimization". What, I can hear you saying, is "search engine optimization"?

Now, I didn't understand what that term meant either when I first heard it. So over a cup of coffee I asked a good friend, who designs web sites, explained it all to me.

"Search Engine Optimization" he told me was all about "keywords."

"OK"; I said, "what are keywords "Keywords he explained are the words that we enter in the search field when we are looking up some topic on the Internet.

For example, if I wanted to rent your home for the fourth of July, but didn't know the term "vacation rental";, I might enter rent home for summer holiday in the search field. Once I hit the search button, the search engines of the Internet begin looking through millions of site for those words. If you included them somewhere in your text, the Internet will bring your vacation rental site up. If they are not there, the search engines will fly past your site and look elsewhere. And someone else gets the reservation!

I suddenly understood that keywords were really, really important if a web site was to be successful.

How do you find your "keywords"? It is a two-step process.

First, look at the leading vacation rental sites with properties similar to yours. Print off copies of their text. After you have ten or so copies, sit down and read through them. Pay attention to which words seem to reappear time after time in all of the descriptive text. Now go back and mark the words most frequently used. One word that will reappear again and again is, of course "vacation rental". Other words might be "alternative"; "roomy" "kitchen", "hot tub". Make a list of these words. Make a second list of the words that you feel describe your rental property that don't appear on the sites you've reviewed.

Second, go back to the Internet and enter "free keyword search." (There are programs that charge money to conduct a search, but you can use them later, if you like). One free site is: inventory.overture.com. This is a very simple site, but it will give you a feeling for how this works. If, for example you enter the word "travel"; and then the word "vacation rental";, you will see that the word "travel"; on the sites Overture monitored was hit 1,355,679 times while the word "vacation rental"; was hit only 83,341 times. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how important it is to include the word "travel"; in the material you are writing for your vacation rental web site.

It can be fun and surprising to look the words up. Often there is a word or phrase listed that you might not have thought of. The goal, of course, is to form a list of words that you will include in your written descriptions that will result in drawing the greatest number of visitors to your site. The more visitors to your site, the more booking you will have. And that IS the name of the game, isn't it?

BOOK MARK: Designing People

Designing Web Sites That Sell by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. Peachpit Press, 2002.

This useful book is a rare example of a practical text written by two designers who understand the marketing components of e-commerce. Step by step Bowman and Willis show you how to establish a visual style that fits your property. Their exercises will help you think like the guests visiting your site.

They will creatively walk you through the five principles of good commerce design: brand identity, personalization, speed, usability, and consistency. The result is a web site that produces the results you want: more reservations.

Before you spend your time and money to build a web site, read this book. An effective web site needs to be more than merely attractive. It needs to change site visitors into paying guests. It needs to be designed to sell people on your property.

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Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0070 – 04/16/07

Terms of Engagement

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 04/11/07 Topics: Comments: 0

One question we are often asked is: 'Do I need to use a rental contract when I have guests' And the answers is: YES! YES!! YES!!! You MUST have a signed contract ; for your protection and the guests.

Let me explain why. First, having a vacation rental business is just that - a business. You are not loaning your home to a close family member or long time friend. You might do 'business' with your brother or friend with a nod and a handshake. But I bet you would never do business with anyone else that way. And the simple fact is you do not know the people coming to enjoy your property. They might seem nice on the phone, but that is no guarantee that damage can't occur, accidentally or otherwise.

And there is a second good reason to have a signed contract: A contract clearly states the differences between a vacation rental and any other member of the hospitality industry, such as hotel or bed and breakfast. It states upfront what is expected from the vacation rental guest and what is not acceptable.

Here are some of the major areas to consider including in your very important contract:

HOW PAYMENT IS TO BE MADE ; In Full? In Advance? Partial?

FORM OF PAYMENT ; Check, Credit Cards?

TIMELINE FOR PAYMENT ; At the time of Booking, Scheduled?

TAXES TO BE APPLIED TO BOOKING ; Sales? Lodging? Others?

SECURITY/DAMAGE DEPOSITS ; Amount? Application?

CANCELLATION POLICY ; Timeline, Fees? Penalties?

TERMINATION ; When and Why a guest can be asked to leave?

PETS- Allowed? Not Allowed? Fees? Deposits? Penalties?

UNIT OCCUPANCY ; Families Only? Guest Limit? Fees? Penalties?

CHECKIN/CHECKOUT ; Timeline/Special Requests?

FURNISHINGS PROVIDED ; Description of items in unit?

CARE OF PROPERTY ; Statement of guest responsibility? Hot Tub Use? Pool Use? Grill?

USE OF PROPERTY ; Locked Areas? Cleaning? Housekeeping Services? Fees?

EMERGENCY ; Contact Information?

TELEPHONE ; Use, Fees?

PARKING ; Availability? Where? Fees?

TENANT LIABILITY ; Areas, Fees, Legal Responsibility?

INDEMNITY ; Owners' Limited Responsibility?

ADDITIONAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS RELATED TO SPECIFIC AREA ; Hurricanes? Snow?

Be sure to have your written contract legally reviewed. It will be money well spent and many headaches pretended. But whatever you do, have a written signed contract. No real business operates without written documents, especially when money and services are involved. And as the owner of a vacation rental, you are involved in both areas. If you have any doubt about how very important it is to have a written contract with each and every guest, just remember this classic saying from the world of litigation: 'A verbal contract is worth the paper it is written on'.

Your signed contact will enable your guest to experience your property in a positive manner. They will know clearly what is expected and so will you. Use a signed contact and everybody will know the terms of engagement! It's one way to help your guests fall in love with your professional run vocational rental.

PET PROJECTS: Man's Best Friend on Your Property

You have a lovely vacation rental. You have spent a lot of time and money to get it ready for guests. And then you are asked that dreaded question by a guest: 'Can I bring my dog'

What are you suppose to say? I mean, you like pets as much as the next normal person and have a kind heart. Yet there is a tightening feeling in your stomach that this just won't work You're thinking about explaining that a dog might spoil your beautiful carpets, but you can already hear the guest saying that their dog is a 'good dog'. Any objection that you might voice will be countered with a 'but my dog wouldn't…' What's an owner to do?

Well, consider a technique of dealing with guests often used by European vacation rental owners: the 'we're only thinking of you' conversational strategy. It goes something like this ; start by saying you would love to host their charming dog BUT unfortunately you won't be able to provide what their beloved pet needs. Explain that hospitality standards for proper dog care involve insuring that Fido is (1) protected from overheating, (2) has a large open running area, (3) has appropriate elimination and feeding areas, (4) a supportive and available environment for socializing with both humans and other dogs and (5) an appropriate area for vocalizing - barking. Then state that as your facility cannot offer these required care considerations, you are not able to have pets on property for their own good. Finish by sharing with the guest that you, like the owner, want only the best environment for their pet. And your vacation rental, sadly, is not that environment.

The guest who truly cares about their dog will see your point. They may ask if you know of any other rentals that do take dogs. Try to have a referral ready. The guest who tries to wave aside your concern for their pet is probably not the guest you want. Most often they will care for your vacation rental as carelessly as they are caring for their dog(s).

Finally, consider supporting your local humane society through the possible donation of a room night to their annual auction. It always helps to tell the guest who won't take no for an answer that you support the local humane society and their standards of good pet care.

Stand firm because you are really advocating for the quality of care each and every dog deserves. Pets are not toys to be carried around in the back seat of a car. Travel and new environments can be very hard and disorientating to them. After all, we all want what is best for the pet. If at some point you do decide to take dogs, require at least a $100 deposit to cover possible pet damage. And be sure to include a clear statement about guest responsibility in your reservation contract for any and all damages caused by an unhappy pet.

Make proper pet care your pet project. Fido will say a big, 'Thank you-Woof, Woof!'

TOP PROPERTY: Timber Wolf Cabin, Pigeon Forge TN

Sometimes you encounter a vacation rental that does 'experience vacation marketing' just right. The Timber Wolf Cabin property in Pigeon Forge Tennessee is one such property. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, this cabin offers more than just magnificent scenery to visitors.

It is also in Sevier County, home to Dolly Parton's Dollywood and encircled by communities where tourism is a valued regional industry. An annual calendar of monthly events include Wilderness Wildlife Week (January), Smoky Mountain Storytelling Festival (February), Cowboy's Saddle Up Celebration (February), Mountain Quiltfest (March), String Time in the Smokies (March), Dolly Parade (April), Rhythm in the Hills (May) Patriot's Festival (July), Celebrate Freedom (August), Smoky Mountains Harvest Festival (September and October) and Winterfest (November and December).

As a result, over 10 million visitors come to this area each year AND it is the second most popular destination wedding sight in the country after Las Vegas. Now that's a location that any guest (and rental owner) would howl with delight about.

But wisely, the owner of Timber Wolf Cabin is perceptive that after so many activities, visiting guests will need a peaceful center to retire to. And Timber Wolf Cabin provides that. Natural wood tones make this home seem right at home among the green trees that surround it. This beautiful lodging offers accommodations for up to nine guests in a comfortable two story, three bedroom layout.

In addition there are multiple TVs, three VCRs, two DVD players and a special large screen home theater system. If a television program or movie doesn't relax the guest, they can try relaxing by the gas fireplace, in the master Jacuzzi or outdoor hot tub, sunbath on one of three outside decks or slowly barbecue streaks on the charcoal grill. And all this is located in a peaceful gated community.

From local fun to peaceful evenings, The Timber Wolf Cabin is truly a top property with an understanding of how to help guests experience the vacation of a lifetime-year after year!

(americanmontainrentals.com/cabins/timberwolf.htnl)americanmontainrentals.com/cabins/timberwolf.htnl

ON BOARD: Got Branding? Fullers' Private Labeled Soaps

You never know where the open road will lead you. And nothing could be more true then that for David and Linda Jones, owners of the Fuller's Soaps Company. In 1988 Linda was saddened by the loss of her job at a different firm. David, like a thoughtful spouse, suggested they take a drive to shake the blues away. Enjoying each other's company, they drove along until without much thought, they found themselves in Nevada City, California.

The one local hotel was completely booked and they were miles from home. The front desk clerk kindly referred them to a newly open bed and breakfast, The Parsonage. David and Linda had never stayed in a B&B before, but they decided to make it a weekend for trying something new. What they found was a delightful lodging experience. After a restful night's sleep, they joined the other guests at the breakfast table. Deborah Dane, the owner and innkeeper at the Parsonage, was pouring coffee. Guests began to talk about what their various occupations were. And that is when David and Linda's life changed forever.

When it was David's turn, he said that he manufactured soap. Deborah quickly explained to him that find the right kind of soap for her guests were a constant problem. Every guest had to have a fresh new bar for sanitary reasons. But the regular sized commercial hand soap was too big and too expensive. Purchasing from a wholesaler didn't work because of the large minimum orders required and the difficulty in storing so much soap. Finally, most hotel mini soap bars were too small and of unbelievably poor quality. In short, Deborah wanted to know if David could help.

Back home, David decided to create a small bar that was both rich and that could last for four long showers ; no small feat. When Deborah got her glycerin soap samples a few weeks later, she was delighted. The soap was everything she had hoped for. At the suggestion of another innkeeper, David decided to offer private labeling for his new soap. For a small setup fee, a vacation rental can now have its own labeled soap and be part of one of the leading new trends in hospitality marketing ; branding amenities.

Today this family owned firm continues to offer outstanding service and soap products specifically to small properties. Jan Brand (talk about brand-ing your property) invites VROA members to call her directly for samples at 415-883-8883. We urge you to contact them (fullersoaps.com)fullersoaps.com. You will not be disappointed. At Fullers' you will discover a 'brand' new way to prompt your property.

MEET THE PRESS: All the Write Words

Today lodging is about more than a mere bed, bath and a TV set. Modern travelers want a 'vacation experience.' Joseph Pine's and James Gilmore's book, The Experience Economy, documents this major new marketing trend. Whether it is for a weekend or longer, guests are looking for the destination that offers an escape to the unique. And no one is better suited to offer the 'holiday experience' than vacation rentals.

Your vacation rental can be that special location where 'magic'' happens for guests, BUT only if you can clearly state it. This marketing concept was completely understood by Walt Disney. He did not sell admission to a theme park. Instead, he sold admission to the Disney experience and price was not the issue. The quality of the experience was.

You can create that feeling of experience around your rental as well and you don't have to have a large mouse to achieve it. It is just a matter of choosing the right focus and correlative marketing words. Begin by selecting the experience marketing niche that fits your property, your interests and your regional attractions. Check out some of these major experience marketing trends that are currently influencing the hospitality industry:

Eco-tourism: If you live in an area that is known for its natural beauty or unique wildlife, this market segment might be used to highlight your rental. Locations near such attractions as the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, the Northwest Rainforests, the Pacific Ocean or the Mississippi Delta all offer guests a chance to see and appreciate the ecology of our remarkable planet. Working with ecology focused organizations is an excellent way to let potential guests know you are a destination that puts them in direct contact with the precious wonders of nature.

Green Tourism: No, no this isn't about guests from the Emerald Isle. Rather, it is a growing market segment that actively promotes on site eco-friendly practices. Using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), all cotton sheets and paper instead of plastic bags, will not only attract the insightful guest, it will also save you money. Such practices also let you stand out as a positive community member who supports the best possible environment for everyone.

Cultural Tourism: Baby boomers are the largest group of individuals currently booking vacation rentals. 'Boomers' are generally over 50 years of age with an annual income of $75,000 plus. They are well traveled and have seen and done a lot. As a result, they often enjoy the arts, whether it is pictorial or performance orientated. If you live near a major museum, music center or arts festival, you have a natural marketing draw for guests interested in culture. Consider calling a booking agency and seeing if you can arrange a discount on tickets for your incoming guests. The arts association will be delighted ; you just made their job of filling seats easier.

Great Outdoor Tourism: Can you sign up for river rafting in your area? Is heli-skiing available? What about mountain climbing or bungee-jumping? Then you are ideally positioned to offer your guests a chance to enjoy great outdoor tourism. You don't have to lead these trips yourself. In fact, it would be wise if you don't. Instead, form strong working relationships with the professional guides and tour groups in your area that are (1) experienced, (2) bonded and (3) professionally recommended. Your job starts when guests return at the end of the day and tell you what a great time they've had. Hot chocolate/iced tea anyone?

Culinary Tourism: Is your region famous for food or wine? Is there a hallmark ethnic flair to your local cuisine? Do you enjoy cooking and dining? If so, consider highlighting these elements in your written guest materials. Check out local cooking schools, farmers markets, vineyards. Almost everyone loves to either cook or eat. Compile a list of local restaurants that use regional ingredients and are willing to work with guests interested in matters culinary. Place regional food and wine magazines in your rental, as well as cook books by local authors. They make great reading and clearly present your marketing focus to guests.

Urban Tourism: Some cities are an experience in and of themselves. New York, Paris, London, San Francisco ; their very names conjure up images of great museums, grand avenues, unforgettable restaurants and a lifestyle that defines the cosmopolitan. If your rental is in such a city, you can create a clear market niche for yourself by helping your guests enjoy your special town. Have maps ready and know what events are currently available for guests to enjoy. Also be sure to give your guests guidelines about safety in the big city. Plan to be their center of information when they arrive and I can guarantee they will recommend you to all their friends!

Gaming Tourism: The casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, to name just a few, are amazing destinations that attract millions of guests every year. If your marketing supports the casino theme, you will likely smile all the way to the bank. Find a good booking agent who can assist your guests in obtaining tickets to the elaborate casino floorshows. Be sure to join your regional tourist association and actively support their efforts. Be aware of the casino regulations and share them with your guests. Have a written set of firm boundaries that protects both your property and your guests.

Spa Tourism: Ah, a relaxing backrub and a soak in a tub of warm and scented water. If that doesn't make for a happy guest, what will? If you are located near a spa center, don't miss the opportunity to link their services to your property. Stress is a major problem in today's world and guests are willing to pay top dollar for a chance to relax. Be sure to have spa style amenities in your rooms. Guests will take them home to remember their experience and that is just what you want. You might even consider selling your amenities on your web site so guests can share them with their friends. Just be sure your name is on every product via a private label.

Family Tourism: Many vacations are about family time together. Destinations such as Disney World or Williamsburg were designed for family fun. If you are near such a destination, think about making your rental family friendly. Do you have child focused videos available in your unit? Are your grounds and garden safe for small children? Do you know the name and have driving directions to the nearest 24 hour grocery store that sells milk? The nearest drug store? Your thoughtful preplanning will say loud and clear that families are welcome here!

So take a moment and decide which marketing niche best fits your vacation rental. Then start a list of words that will preset that experience in your guest's mind. Use these words on your website and in your brochures. Wrap your theme around the readers. Use your writing to make them want to experience for themselves what you are describing. It is as simple as that. Define the experience and you will always find all the write words! And the right guests!

BOOK MARK: Working Knowledge

Raza, Ivo. Heads in Beds-Hospitality and Tourism Marketing. Prentice Hall, 2004.

If you want to success in the business world of lodging, you have to have a working knowledge of how sales and marketing function in the industry. Heads in Beds is an excellent resource, full of creative ideas and marketing insights that clearly tells you what it's all about. Ivo Raza starts by explaining how professionals define their marketing focus. He next presents what branding, advertising, promotions and public relations are all about and how work they together to increase your profits. He then shows how you can create better brochures as well as work with travel agents and industry wholesalers. He even covers internet marketing. This book has gotten rave reviews within the industry. It is a strong and very useful addition to your profession book shelf. It is worth every penny of the price. Treat yourself to success ; get this book today.

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Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0069 – 04/11/07

The Graceful Art of Dealing with Difficult Guests

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 04/02/07 Topics: Comments: 0

In this imperfect world there is no way to satisfy each and every guest. Try as hard as you might to be the perfect host, the nature of life is such that given the moods of guests, their own unique backgrounds and the way things work (or don't), you cannot avoid having to deal with the unhappy guest from time to time.

As a result, knowing how to work positively with the upset guest is a vital business skill. After all, no one wants to have an unpleasant day ' not the guest, and certainly, not you.

Begin conflict resolution by understanding that in the lodging industry there are three guest profiles that often seem to be susceptible to stress and conflict:

The Distracted Guest ' this guest often brings their problem(s) with them. They frequently tell you their concern/difficulty to you as they book their reservation. Reasons for their holiday can include too much stress, a need to get away, a major life change such as a divorce, etc.

In general they are often off balance and hope a change of pace and location will help them refocus. Most often this type of guest wants personalized attention such as verbal directions, a personal welcoming note prior to arrival or a calendar of local events.

Your individualized attention enables them to find a sense of 'self' again and will generally move the client towards a more positive attitude.

The Disappointed Guest ' this guest arrives with their own set of unrealistic expectations. There is even a term for this in psychology, known as the 'Paris Syndrome'. Many people traveling to Paris for the first time fantasize it to be the perfect city of their dreams ' a city filled only with high fashion, great artists and endless gourmet meals.

They are often shocked when they arrive and find that although Paris has all of these wonderful elements, it also has smog, traffic jams, fast food outlets and average everyday people walking the streets. As a result, the traveler experiencing the Paris Syndrome (and it can happen anywhere), often feels let down and sometimes betrayed.

The syndrome then expresses itself as either anger or depression. You can eliminate much of this guest's discomfort before their arrival by being practical and down to earth as you describe your rental. Once there, provide accurate information about what the guest can enjoy your area. As they relax (and adjust their expectations), their mood generally improves and they have a good time.

The Disruptive Guest ' this guest requires immediate action. Because they feel ignored, insulted or in some way mistreated, waiting to address their concerns will generally only make matters worse.

Listed below are some of the best ways to deal quickly with this kind of unhappy guest, using the 'SOARING' Interaction Method:

Summarize the complaint conversation if it has become too lengthy. Once the problem has been understood, move on to the solution. Observe the guest's body language or vocabulary choice and check to see if it matches the meaning of the words spoken.

Most often the verbal and body languages need

to be correlated or conflict resolution isn't possible.

Actively listen to what is said by making gentle eye contact. Avoid, however, too intense a focus as this can be interpreted as hostile. Reflect on what you thought you heard. Ask questions to be sure that you truly understand the guest's concern or difficulty.

Indicate that you truly care about the guest and that their concern will be address.

Name the problem so that you can both focus on that, rather then become involved in an exchange of personalized anger or blame.

Go beyond the emotions expressed to get to the facts. Remember you cannot 'fix'

emotions. Continue the conversation at another time if the guest becomes insulting or verbal abusive. Emotional control is the guest's responsibility. Addressing the facts is yours.

Yet, when all is said and done, please be aware that some guests will ask for more than is fair or even legal. It is very important for each property owner to know the specific laws and traditional guidelines within the hospitality industry.

For an excellent text on the subject, please read the review of Stephen Barth and David Hayes' book, Hospitality Law: Managing Legal Issues in the Hospitality Industry that follows in BOOK MARK in this newsletter. Knowing both your rights and how to defuse a guest's anger are important components in changing hard times into positive days of profit.

SUDS AND SENSIBILITY ' Saving Money with Great Linen at VROA

There is an old saying in France that cheap is always expensive. And nowhere is that more true then when buying tablecloths and napkins for your rental. Inexpensive linen is available everywhere whether you are searching out large discount stores or volume dealers on the internet.

But you will get exactly what you pay for: something cheap that won't hold up at the first washing or two. But if you want to buy something that will last for a year, indeed, something that will last for a lifetime (no, I'm not kidding), let me introduce you to Jay and Kathryn Severance who own and operate Gallic Traditions. Their amazing online shop offers some of the world's best (and most durable) table linens.

During the 1990's Jay and Kathryn lived, worked and traveled through France. Often as they drove through France's wine districts, they noticed the beautiful linen that covered cafe and restaurant tables. When they asked young couples where this beautiful linen came from, the reply was often 'My grandmother gave it to me. It was her's when she was young.'

Now that's great linen!

Well, if a good wine is worth tracking down, Jay and Kathryn thought so was great table linen. And that was the start of Gallic Traditions, which proudly offers linen by Garnier Thiebaut, Beauville and Valdrome-all classic fabrics. The legendary Garnier Thiebaut firm has been producing premiere table linen exclusively for the world's leading restaurants since 1830. Today, they are available for individual purchase through selected dealers such as Gallic Traditions.

Famed for their skilled jacquard weaving method that makes the tablecloths reversible, the fabric is firm yet drapes beautiful. Beauville and Valdrome both produce silk screened tablecloths treasured for the bright clear colors that do not fade after years of washing.

And best of all, VROA members can now purchase these life-time linens at a 10% discount! Please contact me at ana@vroa.organa@vroa.org and I'll be glad to introduce you to this remarkable couple who enjoy all things French.

So if you'd like to shop less and enjoy life more, consider these amazing linens for your property. If you wash them as suggested below, they will last a life time. And you will be in great company ' many of the world's most beautiful hotels and exclusive rental properties swear by both their beauty and their durability.

Contact: (gallictraditions.com)gallictraditions.com

HOW TO CARE FOR GOOD LINEN

Wash on gentle cycle in your washer using a gentle soap such as Ivory Snow, Woolite or Orvus Quilt Soap (available at quilting as well as many saddle or tack shops).

Wash in cold or clear water, never hot.

Use only oxygen bleaches (hydrogen peroxide) for white linen. Never use chlorine bleach as it causes yellowing. Brown spots indicate soap is still present.

Add a couple of tablespoons of hair cream rinse to the final wash. Trust us, it will make your linen feel softer and more luxurious.

Give it a try ' after all, vacation rentals have been French tradition for over fifty years!

TOP PROPERTY ' Sweet Dreams & Great Fun: The Nautical Inn of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

A vacation rental property that understands its guests' needs, has taken a huge step towards success. And the Nautical Inn of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin has certainly done that. By integrating theme and location, they have created a holiday destination that lets a guest feel at home while still part of the larger community.

Located on the deepest and longest lake in southern Wisconsin, this stunning body of water was once the private reserve of the wealth. From lakeside mansions, tired Victorians came here to enjoy both summer waters and winter ice activities. Today that tradition continues, but the lake is now enjoyed by everyone.

The Nautical Inn serves as an anchor between those two great traditions, linking a gracious past with an exciting future.

Debi and Richard Nelson have lovingly restored the Inn to its former glory, but added all modern touches that make life easy for the modern traveler. To highlight the area's rich nautical tradition, they chose a décor that accents lighthouses, sailboats and all things from the water, but with a restrained hand.

These innkeepers have done a lovely job of sharing the past with their guests without make their home feel like a dated museum. Whether a guest sleeps in the Captain's Room or First Mate's Room, each visitor feels the flavor of the place both past and present.

The Nelsons understand that to feel comfortable, the

guest needs to feel a balancing of themes. Sadly, some properties go too far in one direction or another, leaving the guest to feel 'marooned' in too strong a style statement.

It is equally important that the guest feel free to 'sail' out and enjoy the activities beyond the lodging. Again, Debi and Richard achieve this in spades with the many clear (and working) links to year round activities at the lake. In addition to exact driving direction, these insightful innkeepers provide descriptive paragraphs that invite you to envision a memorable family holiday at the lake.

The text skillfully presets an experience that can only be described as positive. The end result is that between the respect for the past and promise of enjoyment today, who wouldn't want to stay here? Does it get any better than this?

Hats off to an outstanding marketing job by the Nautical Inn of Lake Geneva in beautiful Wisconsin!

(thenautical.biz)thenautical.biz

262-949-9503

ON BOARD ' Ten Major Mistakes Vacation Rental Owners Make

We are often asked by owners how they can make their rentals more successful. Success is often achieved by avoiding mistakes. Listed below are the ten most common mistakes vacation rental owners make:

1. BEING TOO EMOTIONALLY CONNECTED TO YOUR RENTAL. When you decide to make your vacation home available as a vacation rental, it is very important to shift your concept of the property from a treasured family retreat to one of a professional business rental property.

Start by removing any family heirlooms or other items that prompt you to be attached to it as a personal residence. Not only will this help you adjust your image of the property, but it will also move them to your private home which is where such items now belong.

2. LACKING SUFFICIENT STARTUP FUNDS. There is a significant difference between a comfy down-at-the-heels-but-we-love-it property and the quality of a professional vacation rental. A table that's rocked since grandmother's day may be charming to you, but not to your guest trying to use his/her laptop.

Be prepared to spend the money to bridge the distance between grandmother's unsteady jam table and the contemporary standards of quality accommodations in the hospitality industry today.

3. BEING OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT ITEM SAFETY.

Many first-time vacation rental owners are highly concerned about theft. And that is understandable, but in reality it is very seldom a problem. Very, very rarely is anything taken.

And if you have (1) removed items of personal value, (2) followed the house staging guideline that 'less is better' and (3) have the correct kind of rental insurance, you can relax on this issue.

4. IGNORING THE INTERNET. This is the 21st century and that means the Internet is here to stay. This marvelous invention allows you to reach millions in moments. You can NOT ignore a marketing/sales tool of that strength. Study the internet. Learn how it can support your rental.

It is your friend and a major business tool today. In short, to be successful today, you've got to be 'connected'!

5. HIRING THE WRONG PEOPLE. Use only professional independent contractors that have been recommended to you by other local business people. General newspaper ads and Craig's List postings don't do the job.

Instead of taking risks, you will save money and avoid headaches if you only hire the people with a proven (and bonded) business record.

6. UNDERESTIMATING OPERATIONAL COSTS. Once your vacation home has become a vacation rental, do not expect that your property maintenance costs will remain the same. Why? Well, to make money you want reservations, lots of them. That means more people will be coming to your property then before and that means more upkeep costs. As a personal retreat, you shoveled snow only when you enjoyed a holiday.

If your property is booked weekly, that means the snow removal issue has to be addressed much more frequently. The same is true of summer maintenance needs such as air conditioning, lawn gardening sewer and yard irrigation. Your rental property will make money, but be prepared to spend some money to do so. Such is the nature of the business.

7. FAILING TO KEEP RECORDS. Keep timely records every day. Record all your expenditures as well as income. If you don't write it down, you will never know if you are truly making money. And you will not be able to go back and recreate the accounts accurately from memory.

Use a notebook or, better yet, purchase any of the excellent accounting software programs now available for small business. If you rent your property for money, you are in business. Keeping accurate and timely records shows you know that. And your tax person will be grateful.

8. SETTING THE WRONG RENTAL PRICE. Research other rentals in your area. Rate them as to similarities and differences when compared to your rental. Match their rental rates. If you are going to charge more, be able to clearly say why: a larger pool, an enclosed porch with sweetheart swings, a location nearer the best beach.

Guests generally don't mind paying more if they can clearly understand that they are getting more. Also be aware of how rates can be affected by different seasons and regional events. Shift your rates accordingly throughout the year. Guests making early reservations should pay full price as they have the greatest number of lodging choices available. Offer discounts only to last minute guests who are filling spaces that might otherwise go empty.

Two thirds of your normal rate that late in the game is better than nothing. But do not discount your rate until close to the closing calendar date. Hold firm on unnecessary discounts and you will make more revenue.

9. BEING UNSURE OF BOUNDARIES. Any business person who interacts with people needs both a degree of patience and determination. You want to be understanding of that guest who just had a bird fly through an opened window. On the other hand, you must be firm with the guest who has too many guests with too many cars invading the property.

One guest can be supported with the advice that if they relax the bird will probably just fly out again. The second guest needs to be told very directly that unless the numerous visitors and cars leave, they will be leaving, maybe faster than the bird.

10. AVOIDING COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT. Last but not least, remember that vacation rentals are a new experience in many areas. And quite often what is new or different can frighten people. Be involved in your local community. Be sure to join your Local Chamber of Commerce and supportive tourist marketing associations.

Let everyone know that your guests are delightful people who not only pay in advance for their reservations, but spend additional money throughout the community. Support local sport teams and cultural events. Knowledge is the best way to dissolve bias.

MEET THE PRESS ' Your Secret Partner: Free Trade Journals

Information is one of your best business tools. And one of the best kept secret in the hospitality industry are the wonderful trade journals that are free to individuals working in the lodging field. Take a moment, go on the internet and sign up for them.

If you are wondering about marketing to professional event planners, the hottest new food trends, the best phone system in the industry or a great source for beautiful sinks, here is how you can find out for free.

Source: (hotelresource.tradepub.com)hotelresource.tradepub.com

Magazines (Many, many more are listed at their web site)

Meetings West

Meetings South

Meeting East

Meetings MidAmerica

Corporate Meetings & Incentives

Hospitality Construction Magazine

Target Marketing

Food Arts

BOOK MARK ' Legal Eagle 101

Barth, Stephen and David K. Hayes. Hospitality Law: Managing Legal Issues in the

Hospitality Industry. Indianapolis: Wiley, 2005.

Are you required to replace money a guest says is missing? When is a guest legally entitled to a refund? What is your liability if your refrigerator doesn't cool correctly?

If you would like the answers to these and many more everyday questions that can occur, this is a must-have book for your professional library. Disputes with guests and staff are discussed as well as preventive management and effective legal decision making.

Considered a standard in the industry, this easy-to-read book overviews all the major areas of operation and offers web exercises as well as additional Internet resources. If you are looking for answers, this can be your first source.

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Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0068 – 04/02/07

Going My Way

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 03/08/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Writing accurate directions to your property is a vital first step to insuring successful guest stays. This seems basic, but sadly, it is often overlooked by the busy vacation home owner.

First impressions, as the old saying goes, do matter. And you want that initial experience to be a positive one that sets the best tone for the rest of your guest's stay. Experienced vacation rental owners will all tell that you if a guest arrives tired and angry from hours of searching for their rental, chances are they will transfer that initial dissatisfaction over to other parts of their vacation at your property.

This can result in guests not rebooking with you and more often, a request for a refund and as well as negative comments posted on internet travel review sites. So as you can see, accurate directions ARE important.

That said, the next question is how to write an AD (which is what professional cartographers call 'Accurate Directions' as opposed to inaccurate lets-all-get-lost-in-the woods directions or IADs). It is best to remember that your guest is probably not anywhere as familiar with your area as you are.

What can seem simple and direct to you, can be confusing and disorient to your guest. Don't assume that the directions you would give a local resident will work for your incoming rental guest.

A great place to start (and please, note we said 'start'), are the commercial direction sites on the internet such as Google Map (mapsgoogle.com)mapsgoogle.com, MapQuest (mapquest.com)mapquest.com, MapBlast (mapblast.com)mapblast.com and Rand McNally Maps (randmcnally.com)randmcnally.com to name just a few.

Enter the name of the largest metropolitan center near your rental as the departure point and your property address as the arrival point. Print out the directions and call a good friend who is willing to take a drive with you. That friend is going to be very important to the success of your directions. Why? Because nothing in this world is perfect and that includes directional information on the internet. As your friend drives, your job will be to write down all the landmarks that are omitted as well as expand the directions to include point-to-point driving mileage, complete street names and exit numbers.

Be sure to add compass directions to your right-left turn information. Schedule your 'verification' drive at the same time of day and season that your guests generally arrive for check-in. A guest arriving on a dark winter evening needs a different set of directions from the guest who is arriving in the brighter summer season. A recommendation that guests bring a flashlight has made many street signs easier for guests to read on darkened winter days.

After you have updated your internet printout via a road trip, write out your new set of AD directions for your rental property. Ask two different friends to 'play' guest and re-drive your expanded directions. Review their input and include their additions, if you feel it will aid the guest in finding your rental.

Keep an ongoing eye open for construction and detours that can effect and possibly alter your directions. Enter your information into your computer, and relax, because now you can rest assured your guest will arrive smiling and on time, ready to enjoy your lovely property right from the start.

INSURING SUCCESS

Your vacation rental is an investment. And like every investment, it should be protected. But many vacation rental home owners are unaware that the standard 'Property and Liability' insurance that protects their own home residence very often does NOT extend to a second vacation home if it used as a holiday rental property.

Indeed, often filing a damage claim on a vacation rental under standard property and liability insurance can result in decline of benefits AND a cancellation of your policy! Ouch!

VROA, however, has an answer for you. Indeed, we have THE answer: the only insurance policy designed specifically for vacation rental properties. Working with Cascade Risk Placement Inc., one of the most experienced (and fast growing) brokers and providers of risk management services in the insurance industry, VROA is proud to offer this unique opportunity exclusively to our VROA members.

For more information, logon to the (VROA.org)VROA.org website and review the property insurance section. Or contact Ana Dean-Feder directly at Cascade Risk Placement Inc. at 425-452-1115, ext. 12 for a direct quote within 24 hours as well as personalized professional service.

This single phone call will result in guaranteeing that your property is protected from the many mishaps that can sometimes happen. Your guests deserve peace of mind, and so do you. VROA is proud to help you sleep better tonight, knowing that your success is truly insured.

TOP PROPERTY: Charles Eglinton's Disney World Wonder!

It's always a joy to share great news with others. And VROA is delighted to highlight as often as possible members' properties that are outstanding as well as accent some of the reasons for their success. One such property is Charles Eglington's remarkable vacation home near Disney World in Florida .

This luxury rental property offers guests over 2,400 square feet of space - over 30% larger than many other area rentals. And that is one of its secrets – this owner understands that no one (well, hardly anyone) goes to Disney World alone. Disney World was designed for family fun. And families need space.

Knowing the needs of visitors to your area is a critical component to your marketing success.

The four guest bedrooms as well as the 24 foot ceilings all create a welcoming sense of open and relaxed space. Parents and children can view Disney videos after a day at the Epcot Center on a 50' big-screen television.

Relaxation inside as well as enjoying the unique outside private pool (shallow enough to be safe for children but deep enough for adult laps) all highlight another reason this property is success: Guests can enjoy their time at this lovely home as well as their time at the famed theme park.

Knowing that everyone needs a relaxing and attractive rest area after a busy day is another vital insight that insures each renter's enjoyment.

And last, not at all least, there are many amenities and services located right near by. Universal Orlando, Seaworld, tennis courts, golf, dinner theater, beautiful beaches are close at hand as well as 24 hour food markets.

This owner has thought even about traffic patterns and long lines when he offers to share his 'special directions' that enables guests to enter the theme parks 'the back way' and avoid the nightmare of waiting in long lines at the main gates. What more could a guest ask for! Knowing (and helping) visitors avoid holiday difficulties that might occur is one sure way to make each renter say, 'Let's come here again!'

View this Top Property at: (mickeytown.com)mickeytown.com

ON BOARD: VROA Members' Questions and Answers

Question: How do I maintain positive relations with my non-renting neighbors?

Director's Answer: The best way to maintain positive relations is to start off positively. Meet with your neighbors individually and tell them you will (1) be renting your lovely vacation home to some wonderful guests and (2) it is going to be well managed, either by you or by a professional service. Do your research prior to the conversation so you can answer their questions and concerns. Bring paper and pen and write down any questions you don't know the answer to. Be sure to get back to your neighbors as quickly as possible with the answers. Be positive, even if the first reaction is negative. Focus the conversation on the facts, not the fears.

Be an involved community member as well, attending board and council meetings if possible. If you are a long distance home owner consider have an official representative there in your place, such as a local business partner or professional property management service. Consider donating room nights in your off season to local charity auctions. Local winners who enjoy their stay with you will become some of your best vocal supporters. Volunteer to write a small column on tourism for your local paper.

In short, be involved, be positive and have fun. The mood will be catching!

MEET THE PRESS: Industry Survey Shows that Vacation Rentals Support Local Community

One of the negative comments often heard is that vacation rentals in some way hurt the local economy. But the actual situation, as demonstrated by a California Travel Industry Association survey, published in Yacht Vacations and Charters Magazine tells a very different story.

Vacation rental guests do more than merely rent accommodations. They also enjoy the full amenities of the region's lifestyle from vineyards to cuisine, from crafts to concerts. The end result is an increase of revue that benefits everyone. Quality, well-managed vacation rentals ARE a positive motivator of quality community development and an exciting new segment of the hospitality industry.

BOOK MARK: Building Your Professional Library

VROA often receives requests from members looking for books and other material about the lodging industry. Many owners are amazed to learn the vacation rentals are one of the fastest growing segments of the hospitality industry. With that in mind, it is important for rental owners to develop a working knowledge of the growth industry they are now a part of.

One of the best books to add to your shelf of professional books is S. Medlik's Dictionary of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality, published by Butterworth-Heinemann in 2003. This classic of the industry contains just about every word you will ever encounter in the world of lodging. The over 2,500 terms clearly explain, among other things, how the industry legally defines an 'Act of God', an 'AH Booking', 'Rack Rates' and what the term 'Transient' really means.

In addition this very useful reference book also lists over 300 professional organizations and 1,200 industry acronyms and abbreviations. If you want to know that you know, this book is for you.

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Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0067 – 03/08/07

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.