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Bill Gates Fault - Lodging Newsletter July 31, 2021

By Wm, May
Published: 07/31/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Its Bill Gates Fault

I am sure we can blame the current situation on Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. And, no, I don't mean his recent personal situation. Ahem.

The blame is for making the world far too complex, none of which could have happened without the invention of computers, in general, and personal computers, in particular. Before that people had to write things by hand or punch ideas on slow, archaic typewriters. People, being lazy, kept things short.

But we humans have always been happy to enslave our neighbors in one way or another. Now we do it by haranguing others with ideas for how things should work and how everyone else should live their lives. And we do it with veeeeeeeeeeery long documents, all the better to hide our true goals.

And get their humans to whine and snivel and beg for more meetings and hearings, so they can spout their bigoted ideas in hopes that throwing something (anything) on the wall will stick.

Officials then turn around and hold never-ending hearings and meetings, that allow the "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY's) folks to spout off their selfish ideas.

"I don’t want anyone here who doesn’t live like me."
"I want rules for everyone else that don’t apply to me"

Weary officials succumb by writing ever more complex rules, regulations and requirements. That is what is happening to vacation rentals.

Bill Gates at Microsoft, Steve Jobs at Apple and even Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn, credited with inventing the Internet and its communication protocols we use today, must take the blame.

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The Declaration of Independence has 1,320 words. Really good words, too, with ideas that have held up now for 240 years and counting. If they had been able to slice, dice, edit and expand with a handy word processor, surely it would have been hundreds of pages long. But it would not be any more accurate and would be far less understandable.

At 4,543 words, the U.S. Constitution is longer, but still shorter than your average vacation rental ordinance. But maybe 4,543 is too much for officials to remember, which may explain why so many have forgotten about all the rights of Americans codified by that 222 years ago.

In the past few years, cities and counties have been on a rampage to strip away rights from real estate owners. Last summer, commissioners in Pacific County, Washington State, home of ever popular Long Beach, decided to cut vacation rentals and take away jobs in one of the poorest counties in the state.

One owner was recently denied a vacation rental permit because his septic pipes are too low in the ground? It's okay to live there. It's okay to rent the home long-term. But it’s a convenient way for the county to stop vacation rentals, by treating the goose different than the gander. That, my friends, is called "bureaucracy".

Fifteen years ago, Chelan County, Washington, did an extensive review of how vacation rentals operate there. Understanding that rentals had become a preferred lodging option for travelers, and being smart enough to not chop off good jobs with bad politics, commissioners voted unanimously to allow vacation rentals.

Philip K. Howard's book "The Death of Common Sense" explains that the citizenry's ability to adhere to laws is inversely proportional to their length. That means, when you make the law, rule, or regulation too long, nobody knows what the law really is.

And yet, well-meaning and poorly educated officials, after being beaten around the ears by the ever-present NIMBY bigots, still persist in drafting ever more complex regulations. (With the help of their fast and furious personal computers.)

Chelan County just passed a new vacation rental ordinance that has 42 pages and 16,000 ugly bigoted words. A mish-mash of non-linear, disjointed and utterly unworkable dictates. The NIMBYs biggest goal? To convert vacation rentals into "Affordable Housing", which only works by ignoring reality.

  • People buy second homes to use them personally.
  • They rent them out when not there, but
  • Owners won’t rent them to full-time tenants,
  • Because that would mean no personal use.

The City of Ocean Shores has prohibited vacation rentals in most zones for 25 years. But no second home owners rent their homes as affordable housing. No one. Nada. Zip. Because (duh) doing so would mean no use by the owner.

So to you NIMBY's and Officials, if you want to convert someone's home into affordable housing, to you we say, "You first".

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0823 – 07/31/21

Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com

Russian Roulette - Lodging Newsletter April 30, 2021

By Wm, May
Published: 04/30/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Russian Roulette

It was in the national news a few weeks back, maybe you read about it.

The deck of a home, on the Malibu coastline of California, overloaded with people, collapsed and sent a dozen or more occupants, crashing onto the rocks below. Emergency crews rushed to the scene, people were sent to the hospital, police reports were taken, and the media warned of overloading decks. But that was not the entire story.

Later reports revealed that the owner had rented the home for the weekend for a maximum of 6 people. When neighbors complained of too many people, the owner, living far away, telephoned the guests, "Pleading with them to leave."

For over 3 hours, she recorded the phone calls, eventually calling the police, but too late. A dozen people were hurt, some severely. She is lucky no one died, but there will undoubtedly be a lawsuit.

It seems the owner fell victim to the trap laid by AirBnB, VRBO and other websites, promising how easy managing your own home is. These websites promise owners can "Get Rich Quick" by simply listing online, finding a cheap housekeeper, and raking in the money.

The websites hide that the average home requires 500 hours a year of owner time, demands 24/7/365 monitoring, late night phone calls, and constant worries about experiences like the deck owner's.

When dealing with the public, no one can guarantee that every customer will behave. Troublesome customers are rare, but smart managers know how to train guests, before they arrive, on how to follow rules. Professional managers also know how to control guests during occupancy. Should a guest violate the rules, they know how to legally get rid of them in minutes. And the right manager will produce more income than they cost.

Amateur owners reflect poorly on the vacation rental industry, like the deck house owner who was trying to "beat a system" by failing to hire a reliable manager. These amateur owners put their homes and guests at greater risk.

This month's newsletter explains how owners can make maximum income with minimum fuss. Flip the page to read all about it.

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In recent years, cities, counties and even home owner associations, have ramped up to regulate or prohibit vacation rentals, and all for a mathematically insignificant number of issues that nosey neighbors try to push on officials.

Bad Medicine: Governments hold hearings, listen to days of testimony, and dream up bandaid rules that seldom quiet critics, while stripping away rights that American property owners hold dear. Officials fail to grasp that, when issues do arise, they are almost exclusively caused by out-of-town, rent-by-owners who don't have the experience, skills, tools or proximity to responsibly manage their homes.

Hiring a kid down the street or a freelance housekeeper to "Keep an eye on the place" fails, because they lack management skills. They disappear when difficult work arises, like managing guest behavior.

Know the Ropes: Professional managers control the marketing and booking process, enabling them to qualify guests, put rules in writing, require signed contracts, and setup homes properly to educate and warn guests how to behave. This eliminates problems before they start.

The steps of establishing legally binding listings, contracts, rules and other documents are almost always skipped by rent-by-owners. Those same owners never even think about it and never commit to providing services 24/7/365, but that is the foundation of lodging management.

Full Service or A-La-Carte: The cost of hiring a manager will be easily offset by the additional income the manager will produce by securing higher occupancy and higher rates.

Companies like ours provide services a-la-carte and full service. Owners can pick and choose, so long as they setup their property to be safe and secure. Services are not free, but all pay off for owners.

Managers are not all created equal. A client switched to us recently because, when he called his current management company to report too many people at his home, the big corporate out-of-town management firm said, "Hey what do you expect me to do about it?"

"I know no one can guarantee every guest will behave," said the client, "but I expect management firms to know what they can do, how to do it, and then to do it."

Do-It-Yourself: The dream of doing things yourself runs deep. Those who would never do their own tax returns, never repair their own cars, or never fix their own plumbing, will try to manage one of their most expensive assets - their vacation home - even though they have absolutely no experience.

It is difficult to find a doctor, attorney, accountant who would consider managing their own rental home. They have done the math and find that hiring a professional manager is much cheaper than distracting from their own billable time. With us they make maximum income with minimum fuss.

Self-managing fills a need in some people to believe (incorrectly) that they are in absolute control, to be their own boss, and to own their own business. But with lack of training, sufficient staff members, and quick access to the property, do-it-yourself management is Russian Roulette. Just ask the owner of the Malibu deck home.

So if your home needs higher income, attentive management, and lower risk, call us today.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0813 – 04/30/21

Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com

Why Tip? - Lodging Newsletter February 28, 2021

By Wm, May
Published: 02/28/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

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

Seems she has no idea how to be in the hospitality industry. Certainly housekeepers appreciate tips, but tips are not really there for the money.

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

Maybe if she scrubbed floors, unclogged toilets, and pushed a vacuum until her hands grew callouses, and did it for years on end, just maybe she would begin to feel what it's like to be disrespected.

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

Millions have lost jobs. Some have taken positions at lower wages. Some have been forced into part-time work. So now is the time to show more respect for people, not less.

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

Tonight we stopped for fast-food take-out and tipped $20 on a $25 order, plus a big heartfelt THANK YOU to people willing to work in a steamy hot restaurant kitchen so we could have an easy meal.

The wonderful young clerk said, "Oh, that’s too much." To which we had to say, "Oh no, that’s just right." And the best part of tipping double is that you will get more out of it than the recipient. Generosity always benefits the giver.

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Do we brag too much in these newsletter? Or maybe we promote too little, because it is our duty to help clients make a good decision when choosing to become vacation rental landlords.

There are signficant differences in how to run a vacation rental, how to hire a thoroughly competent managers, how to deal with guests, what to think about all the advertising websites and their usurious fees. And even bigger issues confront someone cavalierly deciding to become a "Do It Yourself" owner.

Why would anyone want to DIY vacation rental management? There are those who need a hobby. Some feel it would be a joy to "talk" with guests. Some love the idea of sharing a home they are so proud of.

Those reasons are fine, of course, but the hidden factor in lodging managemement is that guests don't care about what owners want. It's not about the owner, it's about the guest.

Any owner can feel some success because, with today's online websites, most anyone, for most any kind of property can secure some bookings. But getting some bookings and getting all bookings at the highest possible rates is just not possible for most owners.

As the old saying goes, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then."

So the question is how much are owners losing by going Do it Yourself?

Without the kind of completely comprehensive marketing, advertising, distribution, cross selling, hospitality grade cleaning, quick maintenance, and reservation experts like ours, most owners are earning half what they should be earning. And working twice as hard.

A HomeAway.com study revealed that owners spend an average of 9.2 hours per week dealing with rental issues. And some of those are in the middle of the night.

Self managing may give owners a sense of control, but unfortunately many such owners are overly selfish and fail at the good hospitality test. Some think they are "cutting out the middle man" (manager's fee), but most are actually cutting their income and increasing their work greatly.

By speaking with hundreds of guests on the phone each week, we hear them scream complaints about dealing with owners directly. They talk about owners who are non-responsive, not clean enough, rude and demanding. Not everyone is cut out to be in the hospitality industry.

If you don’t love people, even when they are difficult, you can't succeed fully in this business.

During Covid we have received calls from DIY owners everyday whose housekeepers failed to show up to clean. These owners lived hundreds or thousands of miles from their rental homes. They thought all they needed was someone to come over immediately to clean their homes,

They begged, "Hey can you help me out just this one time?"

We helped where we could, but our time and allegiance must be to home owners who value the stabilty, reliablity and quality of what we do and realize the value of having a trusted management firm ready to handle every little thing.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0811 – 02/28/21

Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com

Did Comedian Steve Martin Explain Vacation Rentals

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

Steve Martin Vacation Rental Expert?
Steve Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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