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Lodging Update December 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 12/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Did you think 2020 would never end? Did it feel like it would last more than the usual 12 months? Or was it so wonderful for you, that you really wanted to extend the year longer?

Nah, let's admit surely no one can feel that way. But we can all agree that 2021 will be the first year in history that looking back will truly allow for 2020 hindsight.

For two decades, everything in Vacation Rentals and specialty lodging has grown and changed constantly and at an ever-increasing pace. Then Covid sped up changes even faster. Even owner income went up almost everywhere.

I am proud as punch to give credit to all our wonderful team members who rose to the occasion last year and are charging forward in this one. There are more people here than meet the eye.

Many work onsite cleaning and maintaining houses, providing guest and owner services. The onsite management partners and others all outpaced the competition.

Behind the scenes, accountants, software engineers, the reservation team, graphic artists and photographers, client representatives and even our board members - every person has pulled double duty this year. So, hugs and kisses.

And now, attached are our predictions for the new year.

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They say that predictions are a fool's errand. But, for our lodging industry at least, we are going to foolishly take a stab at what to expect.

Vacation Rentals - We predict that the industry, which has grown steadily for decades, will continue to generate healthy returns for second home owners, especially for those who use our services. Nothing has slowed it down, including 9-11, the 2008 recession and not even Covid.

Covid - We predict that even more families will discover that vacation rentals offer a great respite to work-at-home, study-at-home and be-together-at-home. They can socially distance at the beach, in the mountains, at the lake, and on the ski slopes.

Drive To - We predict that even more guests will realize they can easily to drive to our locations, without jumping on a tiny narrow aluminum tube - also called an airplane. This year, folks may start flying more, but drive-to destinations will continue to prosper.

Rent By Owner - We predict that even more do-it-yourself rental owners will hire us when their amateur cleaners mess up or fail to show up, and when piddling maintenance needs require long drives, or when they realize they are making half as much money at twice as much work compared to what we can do for them.

Complexes - We predict that Condo Associations, Inns and Resorts will join us as they see how our marketing and sales services can make running their properties easier and more profitable.

Dynamic Rates - We predict that the science of Yield Management will continue to become so intricate that property owners will continue flock us, as they realize how much their technology-challenged managers are losing for them.

Venture Capital - We predict that investors in those over-leveraged, corporate vacation rental management companies will stop dumping money into their unprofitable business. Wise property owners will jump ship and into our program for stability and income.

Corporate Downfall - We predict that the corporate, out-of-town vacation rental companies will stop their come-on practice of promising profits to owners that they have failed to deliver.

Regulations - We predict that xenophobic governments officials, who were determined to kill the Golden Goose of tourism, will admit that vacation rentals are the cleanest, safest, quietest industry their cities and counties could ever hope for and can offset the devastating effects that Covid has wrought.

Partnerships - We predict that only service companies made up of partners, like ours, will continue to the kind of commitment to quality that every home needs and deserves

Rock Stars - We predict that Penny, Jackie, Salman, Trina, Evelyn, Brandon, Ozair, Kate, Barbara, Kylee, Fahim, Samael, Stephen, Jerry, Hisham, Simon, Jan, Chris, Nichole, Nichole and Nichol and all our team members will continue the commitment, dedication and expertise that make us so proud.

Invitation - We predict that property owners, who want maximum income with minimum fuss, will jump ship and join us soon. 2020 hindsight shows them that now is the time.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0807 – 12/31/20
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 November 30, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 11/30/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Let us not be irreverent.

Surely, Covid changed things, but it has seldom changed them wholly and unequivocally, no matter how abrupt that may sound.

During wars, life continues.

After a hurricane, the population digs out.

During the flu pandemic of 1919, folks wore masks for a time, many died, and the rest carried on - as rude as that sounds.

Some parts of life always have been, are now, and always will be, difficult. Luckily, some never change.

Now is a good time to make a list, so we do not forget when the next life-altering event takes place.

Attached are just a few.

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No matter the weather, no matter the time of year, or the time of day, in the wonderful park that sits across the street from our offices, if the field lights are on, those crazy soccer players are out there running in circles. Maybe, there are even more of them now.

Growing up we did not have soccer. Football, basketball and baseball were king. If anyone had called soccer "Foooooooooootball", we would have been very confused. I find it humorous that their game involved kicking the ball with the foot, while ours had almost nothing to do with feet. Somehow in the United States, "sports football" became soccer here and it took decades to become popular.

Covid forced many to stay home and watch television. The majority of Americans love their TV and spend an average of 21 hours a week glued to the telly. Now, none of us can avoid admitting that we were watching TV and, yes we further must admit we really love our screen drug of choice. Unless, of course, we compare it to computer screens, at which we spend twice the time on average.

The idea that everyone in the country or the world agree on everything ignores history. Never happened. Never will, I fear. Politicians still scream about who is the most right and the most wrong.

Protestors will continue to bring grievances, justified, very justified, or not. Their desire to be heard mirrors other times over centuries when groups felt compelled to forward causes, sometimes regardless the needs of other people. This time they have been ignoring the disaster of global sickness.

Away from websites, radio, television and newspapers, more momentous events are taking place that show how nothing has changed. People are so in love that they find ways to get married. As, now, so can men and men, women and women. That changed before the virus.

Parishioners still attend church to find the guidance that they have always required. Jews need the Sabbath. Muslims need daily prayers. Hindus pray in their homes. Atheists and agnostics feel none of those leanings and embrace their unchanged opinions.

Students still yearn to learn, even though the classroom is now in their homes, the teachers appear on screens, instead of in front of blackboards, and recess means running around your own yard, instead of the school yard.

People who were rude, remain that way. Those who were addicted to working, never missed a beat. Those who worship money, attended that church religiously. Some figured out how to prosper during times that were financially devastating for others.

But best of all, people who were kind, remain kind. Sometimes their kindness became more visible. Humble people quietly stepped forward and served the universe - retail clerks, transit workers, caregivers, medical staff and, even, those unfairly maligned who work at rest home facilities.

Unfortunately, people have died and in larger numbers, and far more frequently than is fair. Many others suffered grievously at the hands of a devious, invisible devil, which causes death and destruction when its only goal is to live and grow.

Those kinds of germs have not changed. They have been around forever and will be around again in the future. We were better prepared this time than last, and will be even better prepared next time.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0806 – 11/30/20
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 October 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 10/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 1

Defining success in any business should be judged in more ways than just by whether a company makes a profit.

Vacation rentals have been around by forever. Delegates rented private homes when they traveled to Philadelphia to meet and draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Although our first vacation rental operation started in 1964, many of us here today began about 20 years ago.

But, boy, have we noticed fast moving changes in those two quick decades. Houses are better and often bigger. There are far more of them. Rental rates have gone steadily upward. The number of people renting homes has climbed up steadily every year, including during the 2008 recession. But, guests are demanding more amenities and instant service.

After a huge drop during the pandemic, even more travelers discovered private home rentals and that will surely expand the industry, even after that deadly virus is dead and gone. (Yes, it will happen.)

But the growth has converted our little 'cottage industry' into one assaulted by corporate behemoths. They bring greater visibility, but fail to judge their success by the things that count most - quality, personal satisfaction and integrity.

In dealing with the Seattle Times newspaper decades ago, we learned what it was like to deal with powerful bullies who get too big for their britches. They charged top dollar, had embarrassing journalism, provided low-ball quality, and were smug and difficult to deal with.

Today, they beg people to advertise and plead with the world to give them another chance.

Now, the same is happening with all the large vacation rental lodging advertising websites. They promise too much, deliver too little, brag in never-ending PR releases, and reveal their quest for profit at the expense of doing 'great work.'

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Just a decades ago, a little known "Couch Surfing" business figured out that horning in on vacation rental advertising was more profitable than selling room stays on the cheap. Now, AirBnB is a giant.

Five years ago Expedia purchased the HomeAway company, operator of VRBO website, for 4 billion dollars. Then, within 60 days began tacking on a "guest service fee" that produced $400 million in bottom line profitability with the wave of a software wand.

In recent years, several management corporations raked in hundreds of millions in capital to buy up local vacation rental management companies in their quest to consolidate a fragmented industry. Their greedy system pays corporate officers and bankers big bucks, while short changing housekeepers and other workers. That resulted in thousands of disparaging on-line reviews. And all because they put profit ahead of performance.

AirBnB laid off 5,000 people and stopped answering phones, but saw fit to unilaterally change cancellation policies for managers based on hidden terms in their online small print.

VRBO fired thousands of people, stopped answering phones making it impossible for managers to get help. Just today it took 12 phone calls for them to admit that the assigned representative was canned long ago and no one knew who replaced them.

Booking.com has faltered. TripAdvisor is flailing with ever-changing tactics and policies.

Just a month after the pandemic ramped up, one of those corporate management firms simply closed its doors and disappeared. Another laid off 90% of their staff and had to borrow $100 million to stay afloat.

This summer, we received dozens of calls from guests of the corporate managers, asking us how to reach them, after being kept on hold for hours. They knew we were not part of those goofballs, but were desperate for help. We did what we could, but had to say, "Rent from our local stable management company to avoid those problems."

HUMBLE & KIND

This report is not to praise ourselves. Everyone has been affected by the Pandemic. But we never stopped answering phones. Our always smiling team members cleaned homes rigorously. Our software engineers quickly created responsive tools. And everyone worked overtime, while other companies cowered.

We must admit that less important questions take longer, while we work to serve guests, manage homes and maximize income for owners.

We are happy that our team members continued to make a living, but at the end of the day, we get our satisfaction by knowing everyone here performed above and beyond.

We appreciate the kind words from clients and guests who see our added burden. And, if you self-manage your own home, call us to earn more. If you use another manager, call us to get the kind of service they fail to deliver.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0795 – 10/31/20
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 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

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.