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Lodging Update September 30, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 09/30/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A funny thing happened on the way to the Covid mess..

Ok, there is nothing funny about Covid, but there have been numerous changes to the world in general and to lodging in particular which are unexpected or even bizarre. This letters explain what they mean to property owners and how we have adapted to the upheaval.

After the March deluge of cancellations, bookings surged greater than ever before. There are many factors, but the biggest one is people just wanted to "get out of town" and driving-to destinations won out.

Staying in a private home or small lodging facility allowed guests to remain socially distant and yet allowed them to get into the out of doors.

With shopping, restaurants, movies, and other past activities prohibited, "discretionary income" actually increases for folks still employed.

For these and other reasons, rental income grew for most homes but management had to recognize and adjust many other factors. Some of these alterations had been inching into existence before Covid, but it escalated the changes.

Some changes require property owners to recognize and adapt to them fast in order to accommodate the many new guests anxious to rent their homes. Owners who accept change will prosper. Those who don't will lose out.

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TREND - Vacation Rental popularity has grown steadily for two decades, right through the world shaking events of 9-11 and the economic travails of the 2007-2008 real estate depression. Once guests try a vacation rental, they stay at hotels less, and our industry grows.

NEWBIES - This summer, additional guests who had never rented a vacation home before were booking. Those "Samplers" will permanently embrace rentals just as those did before.

But first-timers are always sensitive to every little thing. They make incorrect presumptions about what a rental is and is not. They expect 24-7 service, they complain if the weather is bad, and if there is not a 100 quart baking pan in the home. As before, the solution is to provide ever increasing amenities, more service, and higher hospitality for those traveling to relieve stress and strain in their lives.

SENSITIVITY - Every lodging manager strives to keep guests happy. A decade ago, the arrival of online guest reviews made that mandatory. Covid sensitivity increased illegitimate comments

HOUSEKEEPING - Our cleaning has always exceeded guidelines, but we increased training reminders and rewarded staff. Newbies ask lots of questions, so we answer them over and over again.

MAINTENANCE - Our staff always seek to fix every little thing very fast. But if something larger breaks - such as a water heater - now it must be replaced same day. Notifying owners in advance takes a backseat to taking care of maintenance wiki wiki (quick) as they say in Hawaii.

AMENITIES - Owners got to decide what amenities they offer in their homes including Internet, Cable TV, and local phones. Now they have no choice. With work-at-home and study-at-home, an owner who omits any required amenities loses tens of thousands of dollars per year. For some it is time to join the current world.

LATE BOOKINGS - Decades ago guests booked far in advance, often six months to a year. Although the "booking window" has decreased over the years, Covid bookings are made a few days or a few weeks prior to arrival.

RATES - In March our Robust S2D2 Yield Management software said, "Hey where did demand go?" but we held rates and waited. Early May it said, "Demand is skyrocketing. I am raising rates." Each morning we followed the Las Vegas idiom to "let it ride" watching rates go ever upward.

EARLY - LATE - With Covid cleanliness concerns, it is odd that many more demand early arrivals and late departures. Our methods of managing requests proved even more valuable during this time.

INSTANTEOUS - Guests have always expected quick service, but Covid demands instantaneous. Forgot the code? Answer the phone and give it to them (again.) Power goes out? Determine if it's wide spread. Need local restaurants? Provide the answer cheerfully of course. Forgot driving directions/? Stay on the phone and direct them step by step.

GROWTH - Projecting income was impossible but beginning in April, dates booked up last minute and owners made more money than ever before. Covid has turned the world and specialty lodging on its ear yet again. Managers who adapt fast will see owner income soar.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0790 – 09/30/20
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – 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

Lodging Update August 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 08/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Is it time yet to take a long look at 2020? Does it seem like everything has changed? That things are upside down?

Nah. I would like to suggest that nothing has really changed. Yes, there have been some bad things, but the world is still advancing, improving and getting better.

Sure, we can always focus on things that need to be done, and often because their effects are negative. And, yes indeed, we must do that.

But getting lost in frowns and worry causes us to ignore that truly fabulous things are happening every day.

When one vocal expert proclaimed that the world was "going to hell", noted columnist P.J. O'Rourke said he could prove him wrong with one word - DENTISTRY. He said 100 years ago 8% of the population died from impacted teeth, which are now a thing of the past.

It's been said that more people have died in the history of the world from tuberculosis than are currently alive on the planet. Let's be thankful we don't live in an era when TB, dysentery and typhus were everywhere. No matter what television, newspapers and the internet want you to believe - it’s a great time to be alive.

So for our clients, staff, family and friends we would like to remind everyone that "this too shall pass" (the bad things), but that good things -- including medical wonders, scientific breakthroughs, instant communications, and access to knowledge -- will be here forever.

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It may be difficult to believe, but every day things are getting better and better. Here are some good ones to remember.

Video Calls - As a kid, many of us dreamed of the day when we would have video telephones. Never did we think it would happen like it has, or be as widely adopted. But happen it did and now you can talk to lost long friends and relatives, or make new friends, anywhere in the world.

On a skype call to promote her new book "Bunheads", Prima Ballerina, Misty Copeland, shrieked with laughter, when a dozen tiny dancers joined her, all with their hair tied up in buns. Neither she nor the kids could dampen their joy. They to meet their hero and she to feel their love. Never have there been so many smiles on one small screen.

Togetherness - Everyone misses dining out, but families are spending more time together. More books are being read. More movies watched. And discussions are being held on race, prejudice and faith like never before.

Business - While certain industries have been turned on their heads by COVID, others have prospered. Unfair of course, but it is simply the outcome. As always, customers make the decisions and they change what they want fast.

Location - The system of workers sitting together in the same physical location didn't happen by accident. Collaboration, comradery and communications have always advanced business and, certainly, society. Now leaders have been forced to recognize that many tasks can be done at home, eliminating the cost and inefficiency of commuting. It was a good idea before, now it's brilliant.

Schooling - Children need other children for social reasons, and distance learning won't fill the gap entirely, but instantly parents realized it could be done. Except for the added burden on parents, spending more time with their offspring can be enlightening.

Getting Away - In our little niche of vacation rentals and specialty lodging, guests realize they can work and study from rustic, rural and recreational areas just as easily as being in a city. They need not go to jam-packed hotels and theme parks. There is a big wide world to explore and the jump in lodging proves guests are enjoying themselves.

Consumption - With COVID, auto and airline travel has decreased, lowering consumption of fossil fuels. The demand for consumer goods has plummeted, indicating some of us realize we didn't need quite as much of everything as we once thought.

Alone Time - Sitting on the couch, reading a book or playing board game with family distracted us until many folks realized that going a bit slower, and avoiding crowds has its own charm.

Change - Interruptions to our busy bee world reveal what made mankind flourish - the ability to change. Our ancestors came down from the trees, wandered the plains, climbed the mountains and sailed the oceans, sometimes because they yearned to see new things. But more often to get away from bad and move toward good. We will do the same and for the same reason - because we must.

Do yourself a favor today. Make a list of the good and great things in our world today. By comparison, today's interruptions are nothing.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0786 – 08/31/20
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – 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

Lodging Update July 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 07/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Our hearts continue to go out to those made ill by Covid-19 and especially those who have lost their lives. We also feel for those who have lost their jobs and are suffering financial loss.

We are lucky indeed that consumers continue to patronize vacation rentals. The move from conventional lodging to vacation rentals and specialty lodging has been growing for several decades.

But as Covid hit, even more people decided the best and safest place to get away was a clean, isolated vacation rental home in our wonderful destinations.

Dolly Parton said, "Storms make trees take deeper roots."

So we are inviting all of our clients to seize on this opportunity to grow their rentals even further. The opportunity is now.

Attached are ideas. Some cost money, but all will return far more income than they cost. With the extra income generated this summer, now is the time to double-down and grow further.

Join us. Call and ask how.

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Decades ago, vacation rental guest services pretty much consisted of "Here are the keys. Good luck." Over time, guests started paying more and demanding more. Now Covid has quickly raised expectations much higher.

There is no longer a market for properties that have missing amenities and upgrades. If a guest unknowingly books a home without good amenities, they will demand refunds. The giant online travel agencies like Airbnb will side with them.

Hand Me Downs - Sending used towels, linens, furniture, pots and pans from your primary residence to your second home will lose more money than it saves. Invest in the basics and replace them as needed.

Textiles - If you can see through your sheets, towels, or other textiles, they are far too old. Keep twice as many fluffy, thick white textiles on hand. (Only one set will be left out for each guest, but extras are stored away to handle quick arrivals.)

Internet - If you don't have fast internet, guests will avoid your property like the plague. With work-at-home and home schooling, investing in high-speed internet prints money for home owners. Avoid internet at your own peril.

Cable TV - Yes, some guests will stream Netflix and other channels, but without basic TV channels, including local network affiliates, many guests say no to your house. Even a budget Cable TV package will work. If you can't get Cable, using Satellite TV is OK, but a sad replacement for many guests who seem unable to operate it.

Mattresses - The biggest complaint from guests worldwide is of "well-used" mattresses. If your mattress sags, or is too hard, it's time to replace it. Doing so will cost less than losing bookings.

Furniture - It takes many years to "wear out" couches. You may not notice, but if your bum hits the floor when you sit, guests will be livid. Don't make guests feel like they are sitting on Great Aunt Alice's living room sofa. (Please, no doilies.)

Decorating - Yes, you can have too many knick knacks in the home. Most people are not designers, but homes nicely decorated with paint, throw pillows, vases and the like, show great in photos and rent more often. Here is one idea - homes that have replaced deck railings with glass look brand new and preserve the view.

Windows - It takes decades, but even window frames, glass, and sliders begin to age. If you have a window with a broken seal, it's gotta get fixed to save you energy costs and avoid guest complaints.

See the new show "Vacation House Rules" on HGTV to see how upgrading homes greatly increases income. One of its rules is "Put yourself in the guests shoes." In other words, if you were paying good money to stay in a vacation home, wouldn't you want the home to be attractive?

The show does not reveal how to increase income with great marketing, photos, automated pricing and reservations sales pros, but we already do that for you. Every home is unique and has an audience, but each home can make more money, if owners doll up their place.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0782 – 07/31/20
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – 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

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