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By Wm. May
Published: 11/16/16 Topics: AirBnB, Hotels, Inns Comments: 0
With Autumn here, the lodging industry presented many seminars, conferences, workshops and classes. Here is a run down.
WA Lodging Association - Their annual conference was held at the new Davenport Grant Hotel in Spokane. Unlike its cousin the renovated and luxurious Davenport Hotel, the Grand is everything new and almost futuristic.
Hotel staff were very well-trained, professional and accommodating, although surely they know they are being evaluated by hundreds of people in their own industry.
Technology is used to speed check-in, schedule maid service and even lower the blinds. Furnishings were very comfy and very modern. Great Colors, big desk, USB ports bedside and huge flat screen TV.
It is a reminder to Vacation Home owners that they are in competition with a very large industry that is working overtime to return guests to traditional hotels.
Downstairs the meeting rooms were impressive with attentive servers, huge presentation screens and technology everywhere. They even immediately switched to the Seahawks game when the meeting was done.
HomeAway Summit - Presented by the owners of VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com and dozens of other websites this seminar was all about their company, with only a few offerings by other vendors.
HomeAway admitted they have work to do to confront the advent of AirBnB, but their purchase by Expedia (headquartered in Seattle) gives them powerhouse technology and marketing.
Their newly implemented guest service fees has been despised by vacation rental managers and owners, but they reason that new income is necessary to advertise more which helps property owners.
They did not mention that $400 million in additional fees will help pay for the $4 billion price Expedia paid. Hmmm.
HomeAway is finally taking a bigger role in opposing vacation rental prohibitions pursued by some cities including San Francisco and even Seattle. Time will tell.
AirBnB Open (Conference) - Held in Las Angeles, AirBnB continues to promote "home sharing" as just a way for owners to pay their bills. While that is true for some, it has not stopped new regulations - San Francisco and New York State have both passed laws that prohibit renting by many home owners.
Big events were Delight Guests, (Interior) Designing for Success, and The Future of AirBnB. Finding your Inner Happy Host. The event is a love-fest for many hosts who actually share rooms in their homes for the joy of meeting other people.
That concept is growing, although it differs some from many vacation rental owners who want to make money, while keeping their places safe and secure.
Just last week AirBnB announced they were going to offer personalized tours worldwide, so that guests in homes could find "Authentic" experiences. This might be a brilliant idea, but some guests are already confused by a lodging website that does not focus on lodging.
It is fascinating to see AirBnB grow so fast, but their customer service seems to be falling behind trying to keep up. Complaints are growing from guests, owners and managers.
Summary - The WA Lodging group has a comprehension of the industry that other segments can not match. There is great collaboration for the mutual good, while allowing diversity of properties and competitiveness. HomeAway's recent fee changes may or may not result in benefits to managers and owners. AirBnB holds to its roots of room rental, but whole home Vacation Rentals are a huge portion of their income.
For your information we advertise on HomeAway, AirBnB and over 300 other lodging websites, plus thousands of search engines as well as hundreds of websites in our network.
Advertising widely is what yields inquiries which yield bookings. No one does more than we do. We keep owners apprised of industry trends as we incorporate them into the best management services in the world.
Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0509 – 11/16/16
By Wm. May
Published: 10/01/16 Topics: AirBnB, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
A long time AirBnB hosts with multiple properties all with 4.5 or higher average ratings, recently complained that he received an online warning from AirBnB that his listings might be delisted if the average goes below a grade of 4.
Research has showed that average ratings on AirBnB are a full one star higher than the number of stars for homes on HomeAway.com.
Could this mean that only the better homes are listed on AirBnB? A random view of homes in most areas show even a wider variety of rentals than on other vacation rental listing sites.
Another factor is that AirBnB lists individual rooms or guest suites within a home, and these are uncommon on HomeAway websites. A constant reading of AirBnB forums such as AirHostsForum.com, reveals that the horror stories of in-house rentals can be even more rancorous with hosts and guests often very unhappy with each other.
There are rooms that stink, and guests that are stinkers. There are places that would make most guests gag - a trailer in someone's back yard? A Tee Pee with no bathroom handy? A sleeping bag under a tree?
In most U.S. High Schools, teachers often grade students on what is called "The Curve." This is a philosophy that posits not all students perform the same. Some study diligently, some do not. Some have greater native intelligence and some do not. Therefore, the grades within a given set of students should be spread often in a graph looking something like this.
A = 10%
B = 20%
C = 50%
D = 20%
F = 10%
** The actual percentages can vary by teacher, but the general proportions are similar.
Most teachers never understand that a usual class size of 20 to 30 students is not a wide enough sample to allow the curve to be valid within that class. But, the concept does seem to be applicable to other matrixes.
50% of hotels are adequate (and not luxury)
50% of drives obey the speed limit
50% of employees do adequate work.
50% of diners leave an appropriate tip.
Most teachers also never admit that the success of students is greatly dependent on the teacher. Some instructors explain things very well, some offer extra help and some are expert motivators. But, we have all had teachers who were lazy, rude, or bad communicators.
So how come AirBnB seems to think that 100% of its guests must get a grade of A or A minus?
If their goal is to drive up quality and guest relations, that is a wonderful idea. But if their goal is a scaling system on which guests can determine the quality of a home, then they have it all wrong.
More likely, Airbnb's warnings to the hosts of homes is intended to fool guests into thinking that every home is a luxury place, every destinations is truly unique and bookings on AirBnB will ensure a perfect vacation. All of that is simply to increase bookings and fill Airbnb's pockets.
Any intelligent person knows that it can rain at the beach, have crappy snow at a ski resort, or that a home may not be as big as you dreamed even if you got a bargain price. A better solution would be to truly rate homes with an overall system that better informs guests of the variety of homes, quality, location, size and other factors.
And that would result in homes being graded on the curve.
Author: Wm. May, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0511 – 10/01/16
By Wm. May
Published: 06/01/16 Topics: Comments: 0
AirBnB is being unfairly criticized due to the socialism that some hosts have exhibited.
They have implemented a number of rules, regulations and oversight in hopes of stamping out unfair rejection of prospective guests. But it does not fully address the problem.
The Phenomena is caused by one of the very precepts on which AirBnB is founded.
Surely, building familiarity with guests and hosts is a good thing. The world needs more communication and personal interaction. But the very act of showing a photograph of every host gives racists the key to shunning people they don’t like.
Reverse racism also exists but who knows to what degree. Surely some guests avoid staying with people whose race is different than their own, and also detectable by the photos.
Several websites competitive to AirBnB have popped up offering a platform that is safer for minorities. Innclusive.com in particular seeks to solve the problem, but they too ignore the obvious. Posting host and guest photos allows racism to take place on their website also.
So if AirBnB was serious about racism they would simply remove the photos from host and guest profiles. Of course, that would likely decrease the number of bookings because it would indeed be less personable.
Don't hold your breath waiting for AirBnB to walk the walk on this one. It is controlled by powerful venture capitalists all whose primary intent is maximum revenue, hoping for profit and looking for a giant payout when AirBnB finally goes public.
Avoiding racism isn't at the top of their list. Money is.
Author: Wm. May – Director, VRIA, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0508 – 06/01/16
By William May
Published: 02/27/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0
Jerry Belson, Hollywood writer, director and producer is created with coining the phrase, "Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of you and me."
In the age of internet, instant information and fast communication there is no reason to make stupid rude assumptions. So why does it seem like there are more asinine assumers than ever before?
Could it be that the ability to write flame emails, make anonymous online posts, and assail people behind their backs knowing the target of their vile have no way to respond, as caused an explosion of insensitivity? Are assumers just cowards who would never have dared to confront people face to face?
Here are a few doozey's in the lodging managing business, all delivered with anger:
Guest: "I just assumed there would be Internet in this house, even though its 40 miles from the nearest town."
Property Owner: "I just assumed the guests would not mind if I remodeled the bathroom while they were there."
Guest: "I just assumed it would be OK to invite a couple dozen drunken friends for a party as long as they did not stay the night."
Property Owner: "I just assumed you would not charge me for looking for my lost phone, even though its an hour or two round trip."
None of these examples are terribly important but they are improperly presumptive and often delivered with an air of superiority all intend to make lodging, food and other service personnel like slaves.
So why do seemingly intelligent, professional adults treat others so badly?
Some feel a misguided sense of entitlement. Others take frustration in their lives out on anyone who is handy. Some blame others for their intellectual inability to solve problems. Some want to feel elite by making other feel inferior.
But mostly - assuming something before asking questions requires an emotional maturity that some people just never learned from parents, friends, spouses or coworkers. Until someone confronts them, they will continually increase their asinine behavior unabated.
So how to avoid making an ass out of yourself and others?
Follow the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.."
Get the facts before making assumptions. Ask questions before making assumptions. Never assume you are right, or the other person is wrong. It’s the adult thing to do. The courteous thing to do.
Jerry Belson would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln who said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."
Author: William May, MayPartners Inc.
Blog #: 0491 – 02/27/16
By Jeff Bosson
Published: 01/02/16 Topics: Comments: 0
San Clemente City Council Meeting TUESDAY January 5th, at 6:00 pm.
Although vigorously opposed by area merchants, concerned citizens, and many tourism groups; the San Clemente California City Council have announced a motion on their agenda JAN 5th to consider a 45 day moratorium on issuing new TOT permits.
While this is widely considered a negative step for the council to take, the Orange County Vacation Rental Association (OCVrai.org) explains that the moratorium does not affect any existing vacation rentals.
The councils purpose in the moratorium is said to be only to asses what/if any new rules or regulations they will be considering in the coming months, and during that time they do not want to issue new permits.
OCVRA notes that any consideration of more regulations or prohibitions is not a direction the council should be going and are urging its members, visitors, and interested businesses to attend the meeting to voice their displeasure at this needless strong arming of tourism.
Upon entering the council chambers, rental supporters are to fill out a blue card to either speak or just provide written comments against regulations. The Council will be greatly affected by the number of voices in favor of continuing vacation rentals in the area.
Author: Jeff Bosson – Volunteer, Orange County Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0476 – 01/02/16
By William May
Published: 01/01/16 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
It’s that time of year to curl up around a warm fire - New Years has just happened, the weathers getting a little chilly, maybe there’s a light dusting of snow on the lawn. You open the flue, light your kindling, and wait for the romantic crackling to start.
But then you start wondering: when was the last time you got the chimney swept?!
It may sound like something of a Dickens novel, but modern chimney sweeping is something every homeowner needs to do. Soot deposits can clog your flue, smoking out your house, or worse, soot can create a fire hazard.
Sweeping also alerts you to any maintenance needs, and boy is it easier to repair a brick than replace the whole chimney!
So how do you go about getting your chimney swept? Well, this is something best left to the professionals. The last thing you want to do is wedge a ladder up your chimney and track soot all over the house.
Find a local sweeper who’s certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, or the National Chimney Sweeps Guild. These groups ensure their members know what they’re doing with a brush, and can help diagnose any repairs that need to be made.
Professional chimney sweeps will set up tarps that capture failing soot, and will first inspect the flue to make sure there’s no major damage. Cleaning is done with brushes (not boys climbing up!) and high powered vacuums.
Cost typical depends on how many flues you have. While you may only have one firebox, other appliances in the house may have their own flues, such as dryers, heaters, and anything that needs to vent to the outside air.
Average prices should start around $150 and go up to $200 if video equipment is used. Video better enables diagnose of damage. For a more thorough inspection, ask for a Level II inspection.
So this winter before you pick out the movie and butter up the popcorn, make sure your fireplace is ready to go by getting it professional swept. And remember, it’s lucky to see a chimney sweep!
Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0481 – 01/01/16
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