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Barack Obama Endorses Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 11/24/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The next President of the United States has effectively endorsed the entire concept of Vacation Rentals by renting a private home in Kailua on the North Shore of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. He is staying there for a week with his wife Michelle and two daughters.

He is staying at a secluded beach rental, obscured from the road by a long driveway and trees, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. He plans to body surf, has already been on the golf course, visited a childhood favorite drive-in restaurant and visited his grandmother in her Oahu apartment building.

He said he might stop by Zippy’s, an Hawaiian chain restaurant known for its chili, or the Rainbow Drive-In for a Hawaiian "plate lunch," a mix of rice, macaroni salad and meat.

"I am going to go get some shave ice," he said. "I am going to go bodysurfing at an undisclosed location. I am going to see my Tutu, my grandma. And I am going to watch my girls play on the beach, and maybe once in awhile I will go in the water. But mostly I am going to sit there and watch them."

(In Hawaii the term Tutu is reserved for beloved grandmothers.)

In short Obama is doing what millions of Americans and others around the world have learned - staying in a private beach home is more comfortable, saves money and allows visitors to fit into the neighborhood rather than being relegated to tourist ghettos like the high-rise hotels and noisy diesel buses of Waikiki.

Republicans, still hoping to smear him as an elitist for frequenting such a high end vacation area, need to remember that Obama was born and raised in Honolulu. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle who tows the party line should know better. In fact, Obama lived in Hawaii well before Lingle arrived on its shores.

Although he graduated from the prestigious Punahou School on Oahu in 1979 he did so on a financial need and academic scholarship afforded to those with great merit. At this point, it would be difficult to call the school's decision anything but prophetic.

The Maui news quoted local residents in the Windward Oahu beach community who have said they are excited to have Obama as their neighbor for a week and hope to catch a glimpse of him.

''Maybe we'll go back down to the beach and see if we could see him. That would be real cool - our future president down at our beach,'' said surfer Anthony Burris.

Like cranky xenophobes everywhere, these may be the same neighbors who yelp loudly at county officials saying only full-time residents should be allowed to stay in homes in areas such as Kailua.

But Obama's residency underscores that everyone, guests as well as residents, have a right to stay and enjoy the quiet lifestyle of a wonderful beach community.

Obama is just another American who endorses vacation rentals for what the comfort job and family atmosphere they offer. If vacation rentals are good for the next president of the United States they should be allowed for all visitors.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0085 – 11/24/08

Troy McCasland's Top 10 Ways to Get More Rentals

By Troy McCasland
Published: 07/28/08 Topics: Comments: 0

With over 14 years experience marketing vacation rentals, and countless success, the team at Rental Avenue has formulated some fool proof tips to help vacation rental owners and managers increase their market share and successfully reach out to their customers. Troy McCasland, president of Rental Avenue sent over his Top 10 ways to get more bookings for vacation rentals. I thought readers would find it helpful.

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One of the main concerns for any owner or manager is increasing occupancy and more importantly increasing profits from their properties. Using our tips and ideas, you can build your vacation rental business and increase profitability.

1. Build a Virtual Domain Website ( - and or setup a Rental Avenue account. It’s really important to have your own website address, with ONLY your property(ies). Having your own website allows you to create a brand, and a place for past and potential guests to come and book only your properties where they are not distracted by your competitors. Make sure your website allows guests to make online reservation requests 24/7 so you never miss another booking. Your guests want to book vacation rentals online just like they book flights, cars and hotels. They are anxious to book and do not like waiting for an e-mail reply, playing telephone tag and spending hours going back and forth trying to find and book their accommodations.

2. Create a signature file for e-mails - Once you have a website put it in your e-mail signature file so that every e-mail you send to potential guest includes your website address. This way, they will be able to access your webpage and browse your properties. A signature file is simple to create, and once created it will automatically be added to each email by your e-mail client program. Check our FAQ on how to create a signature file with using MS Outlook or Gmail

3. Auto-Responders - Setup a special e-mail account for rental inquires that is used on all advertising. Configure an auto-responder or vacation responder for inquires that come from advertising using this e-mail address. The auto-responder is used to drive traffic to your website where potential guests can book your properties. One of the most delightful things is to wake up in the morning and see that an inquiry came in at midnight while you were sleeping, your auto-responder immediately sent out a message inviting the customer to your website, and then a short time later a reservation came through before you have even had your first cup of coffee. Check our FAQ for sample auto responders and how to setup an auto-responder using MS Outlook or Gmail.

4. Advertise Your Website and Online Reservation Capabilities Everywhere - Setup an advertising budget; track the results using Google Analytics and Rental Avenue. Keep trying to find new and more cost effective ways to advertise your rentals using reservation tracking reports. If your property is sitting empty it’s because of only one or two reasons; either it’s too expensive or not enough people know about it. Your advertising budget should be 7-10% of your gross target revenues. Everybody knows about VRBO and HomeAway, but there are many other directories which will produce traffic and inquiries also. Here are some other great places to market your property:

Free Directory Listings:,,,

Paid Directory Listings:,,,,

Local Directory Listings: Local Phonebook, Online Yellow Pages, Google Local Business Listings

5. Pay Per Click Advertising: Pay per Click advertising is available by Google, Yahoo and Vamoose. It allows you to create specific criteria, including keywords, location, price, and other specifications so that you can be sure your ads are meeting your target audience, and because you adjust the price to fit your budget, it is great for companies of all sizes. Google, Yahoo and Vamoose Pay Per Click advertising is an efficient way to drive qualified leads to your site. Using Rental Avenues integrated system, you can see which key words are generating bookings, and make adjustments where necessary.

6. SEO - Search Engine Optimization, the holy grail of all online marketing. Google controls 70% of the search volume and 70% of all travel research begins with an online search. Imagine getting tons a free traffic to your website where potential guests see only your property. Register for our e-mail newsletter by clicking here, for tips and tricks and to find out how got on page ONE of Google for the leading key words (Maui Vacation Rental and Maui Vacation Rentals), and how we knew this was the top keyword search term, and what this meant to VROM in terms of traffic and bookings.

7. E-mail News Letter to Previous Guests - Staying in contact with previous guests, is a great way to create customer loyalty. Reaching out to your customers and showing them that you want their business, is also a great way to promote your specials. You want to keep your customers coming back each year. You already know that they travel, so the next time they travel, you want them to call you for their accommodations, or spread the word about your property. There are plenty of Email Marketing Programs that can help you to manage your customer database and the monthly newsletters, other Rental Avenue customers liked using Constant Contact

8. Direct Mail - Another way of creating recurring customers & customer loyalty is direct mail. Sending out a yearly Christmas Card to past guests is a great way to remind them who you are and how to find you. Especially if they are going to spend the holidays with their families brainstorming their summer vacation! Other direct mailers which have shown positive results are notifying them of ongoing specials, or discounts. You can create and mail postcards to your previous guests for under 50 cents each using any number of online services such as PrintRunner. Using Rental Avenue you can easily download an excel spreadsheet containing all your guest data including both postal and e-mail addresses.

9. Join Trade Associations - Joining Trade Associations is beneficial way to increase local channel marketing. Most vacation destinations have a visitors association or bureau, chamber of commerce, and possibly more specific local associations. There are also trade associations such as the BBB, Vacation Rental Association ( which can provide support and resources to the vacation rental owner. Being a member of some of these trade associations will not only increase the perception of security, but it can also open your door to many valuable networking contacts and resources locally, and improve your search engine rankings.

10. Use Resellers like property managers, travel agents or other Vacation Rental Marketers. – There are plenty of companies founded on the fact that they help book other people’s properties. At a sliding rate, you can utilize Vacation Rental Marketers, travel agents, and property managers to increase your occupancy and to keep your property booked. This is a great way of reaching markets that you may not have been able to support. You can also seek out vertical resellers, people who are not primarily in the business of vacation rentals, but perhaps, local activities; you can drive business to you and your website, before the guest even begins to look for their accommodations.

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Author: Troy McCasland,
Blog #: 0084 – 07/28/08

The Care & Feeding of Xenophobia.

By William May
Published: 01/20/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The adverse reactions to Vacation Rentals continue. For example on January 1st, 2008 the island of Maui in Hawaii just outlawed 1,100 rentals. And now the island of Kauai is going to followed suit.

Interestingly, the reasons for vacation rental prohibitions or restrictions in each jurisdiction are different one from another. Clearly there is no consistent problem with rentals and when there are, complaints they are statistically non-existent. If you can find complaints of noise or over parking they pail in comparison to long-term rental homes and are often less than the rate of such issues in non-rental areas.

All communities have statutes on the books to limit and regulate such concerns. But elected officials in those towns, like most in America today, find it hearty fare to point out new culprits when all they really have to do is enforced the laws they've had on the books for decades.

Kauai Case In Point

On Kauai, an ex-mayor, soundly trounced last time she ran, is anxious to garner local votes for a chance to run for Mayor again. And remember, all those VR owners have NO VOTE.

Something like Taxation without Representation I think.

By the way, her constant outcry is that outlawing the 800 VR's on Kauai (Outside tourist zones) is that it will make more affordable housing. Oxymoronic when you realize the median value of those homes in over $800,000.

The State of Hawaii just red tagged about 20 homes in the Haena (North shore) area of Kauai and those homes average $5,000,000.

So what is the underlying cause for the fear of rentals? Well it's as old as time itself. Having attended many hearings here are the common laments,

- They don't live here.

- They are not like us.

- They are not part of the community.

- They don't come to potlucks. (Actually overheard)

- They've made my property value go up. (A complaint?)

In other times those kinds of complaints have been used to distrust immigrants, new comers and those of other religions and races. Its called Xenophobia which is defined as "The fear of others." And boy are those VR owners & quote; "It is this phenomenon that is the underlying cause for all prejudice.


With VR's an equally strong prejudice is triggered. A kind of double whammy of envy and fear. "Why can those darn outsiders afford those homes, when I can't,: and "My kids will never be able to afford a Five million dollar home and that is just not fair." That shows that economic disparity can cause fear of others as well.

On Kauai we definitely have a lack of and great need for affordable housing. But the ex-mayor's quest to turns in to lower-income housing is counter intuitive. In fact, her actions would have an opposite effect to what she wants.

Restricting rentals could easily remove about 3,200 guests per day (that is 800 units' times an average of 6 guests each) from the tourism trade.

In a destination like Kauai that means the loss of hundreds of thousands of nights rented and all the dining, shopping and activity spending those consumers do. In short, stifling rentals, cuts the jobs for those who build and service the homes and does harm to those very folks she purports to help.

In short, Xenophobia is what allows local folks to blame all their woes on new comers and people who don't look like locals. That kind of prejudice is no where near as severe as many minorities have felt but it sure looks like the same thing in a different package.

It is time for tourism industry workers, local merchants and tax collectors to step up and stop those who would steal their income.

Smart Communities

Contrary to the news, there are smart communities that are realizing that Vacation Rental guests settle in for longer stays, spend more money, are more affluent and are a nice clean industry. A few years ago Chelan County, Washington State voted to officially authorize Vacation Rentals in rural areas.

The County Commissioners heard lots of testimony but may have been most persuaded by a single young man from a housekeeping company who came with the most logical argument when he said,

"Hey, its either tourism or we build another Aluminum Smelter on the Columbia River. Are you guys that dumb?"

Growth is inevitable and smart recreational areas are beginning to understand that private accommodations are a blessing for their economies, employment and life style.

Will logic and reason win out? Will economics convince leaders to choose a good industry over less desirable ones?

Or will the shrill fear mongers stifle another great boost for their local economies. Only time will tell.

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Author: William May – Manager, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0082 – 01/20/08

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