Bill's Bountiful Blog

May I keep you posted on my thoughts, ideas, observations, and silliness?. Am I serious? Is it relevant?. Does anyone care? Probably not much.

But in today's age of everyone has something to say, why not me? And who can blame me for jumping into to the pool? For speaking up For laying it out?

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." - Thomas Wiley, Journalist


Indentured Servitude Comes to Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 12/01/17 Topics: Employment, Housekeeping, Vacation Rental Management Comments: 0

There is a hidden under belly about how Venture Capitalists are entering the Vacation Rental industry in hopes of dominating it to cash out for big bucks.

It appears some pursue growth at all costs, by over working staff, and even evading labor laws that call for overtime wages. Jobs are hard to come by, and they take advantage of well meaning employees who have no other option but to work far harder for far less.

Her real name is being withheld for fear of retaliation, so we'll call her Susie. She worked for some years for one of those VC backed firms hoping to amalgamate the industry by buying up local vacation rental managers and taking over their listings.

Nothing wrong with that, if you like the corporate approach to what has previously been a very personalized service business. In fact, at the rate that some of these venture capital backed companies are hemorrhaging money, it is no wonder they survive by taking advantage of workers.

Susie was hired to clean homes and provide property services but the job quickly turned into 80 hours weeks, for a set salary appropriate for 40 hours. She was not paid for the extra hours and did not receive payment for overtime, nor the time-and-a-half hourly rate required by law.

Those companies skirt the law, by trying to claim employees as contractors, or managers making them exempt from overtime compensation. It is a ruse that sometimes works, but is never considerate to people who work so hard.

Susie said she never received a day off in several years, nor the promised paid vacation time and when she begged to hire additional housekeepers was told, if you don't like it you can leave.

Susie fell for the "We are newer, and smarter, and bigger and better than all those local Podunk managers. We are going to take over the world with technology" and you are going to be part of something great. Working hard will have its rewards.

For Susie that meant constant fatigue, dawn to dusk duties seven days a week, a rude supervisor, corporate officers who could care less, and the constant threat of job loss - if she was to raise a complaint about off-the-clock hours.

Was Susie really just a disgruntled employee? Not really. For years she drank the "upward mobility" poison that corporate workers have been swallowing for years. That working long and hard will benefit them in the long run.

Pursuing career growth and personal achievement is a requirement in many industries. But in Susie's case it was all led by a few corporate officers who constantly praised themselves but fail to honor the most sacred of business ethics - to provide proper compensation from line staff who do all the heavy lifting.

Eventually Susie just could not take the grind any longer. She quit with no prospects for a job elsewhere, "I didn't plan it" she said, "But I just could not do 80 hours a week anymore."

As a service business, vacation rental staff are what guests and owners come to appreciate. There is no sense in doubling listings if complaints triple.

Smart owners realize that people like Susie are, and have always been, the backbone of vacation rental management. Without the Susies of the world, renting out a home is a risky investment.

Since she left, Susie's prior employer has hired and lost additional workers just like she. They struggle to find new employees and can’t keep good people. They advertise jobs constantly because the word is out about their employment practices.

Reputable companies don't build their business by over working staff, or promising more than can be delivered. "Its no wonder quality lacks and they have so many online complaints" Susie notes, "Everyone works so much, that we just don't have enough to give. I tried, I really did. But 80 hours a week is too much."

Worst of all, property owners are no longer getting the care and consideration they deserve. They see a revolving door of housekeepers and maintenance workers and that causes quality to suffer and commitment to wane.

Smart property owners are learning to evaluate management firms by their staff and not by misleading promises that bigger is better. In vacation rental management, local is what makes it work.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0565 – 12/01/17

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce

By Wm. May
Published: 09/01/17 Topics: Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce
Yet another corporate vacation rental management company has announced gobbling up tens of millions of dollars in investment, in hopes of dominating the vacation rental management industry in America, and perhaps even the world. But they are risky for property owners.

Beginning as far back at 1989, Pace Picante sauce began running television commercials. In one, grizzled cowboys threaten to lynch the camp cook when they learn he has been serving them picante sauce from "New York City?"

The cow pokes become offended because Picante sauce should be made by "places in San Antonio with fresh vegetables and spices by people who know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like."

Watch it here.

While the huge vacation rental management companies want to convince property owners that they can manage every home just right, even though they are located hundreds of thousands of miles away, the truth is - they can not.

One of these giant companies even has over 300 negative complaints and reviews online about shoddy housekeeping and lack of response. The average for vacation rental managers is zero, one or two over time. Something is seriously wrong with having 300 unhappy guests, because that means there are far more who don't take the time to post complaints.

For another competitor, their complaints reveal a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although they profess to be managers, they quickly throw owners and managers under the bus whenever there are any complications, as the following complaint answer proves:

COMPLAINT: "2 days before my trip receiving a voice and email telling me that my reservation had been cancelled because of a double booking."

ANSWER: "Booking was canceled within 48 hours prior to her arrival when it became apparent to the Host that there was a conflict with a previous client who'd booked."

And then they accidentally revealed the wrong problem, (our company) "The Host (homeowner) is the party responsible for resolving any conflicts. [Our company] is a marketing and booking service that Hosts use to assist with reservations. . . The rental agreement. You accepted . . . Clearly states that the booking is directly between the Guest and the Host."

And then they reveal the unreliability of their services by saying "Double bookings are an unfortunate side effects of the vacation rental and travel industry as a whole."

Well, duh, no that is not correct. That is excuse making

Although no one is perfect in the lodging industry, double bookings are NOT common and they are certainly not an unfortunate side effect. They are the result of a company pretending to be a lodging manager when they are, in fact, too far away and too powerless.

LOCAL IS BETTER:

Vacation Rental Firms have proven to be a locally branded business. Owners and guests prefer to deal with a local reliable professional firm that is on hand to attend to them. Members of the Vortex Organization have found the best way to do that.

They are independently operated to ensure great houses, hospitality cleaning, happy guests and happy owners. Our first office opened in 1964, but we are the most tech-enabled managers. We are in it for the long haul..

But the network ensures that managers have all the tools such as dynamic pricing, post listings on hundreds of advertising websites, and answer guest inquiries 24/7. In fact, local firms have access to local tourism promotion, websites and contacts the others can not match.

That means our managers produce more bookings as well as more peace of mind.

So if the vacation rental "manager" you are using to book your home is not actually located in the area where you rental home is situated, or even in "New York City", its time to go local.

Call a local professional vacation rental management company to learn about all the comprehensive and reliable services you have been missing.

- - - - - - - - -
And a few more just for fun:

1989 Pace Picante Sauce

1990 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1994 Pace Picante Sauce

1995 Pace Picante Sauce

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Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0530 – 09/01/17

Hire a Crack Head to Clean your Home

By William May
Published: 03/01/17 Topics: Housekeeping, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

"Hiring cheaper housekeepers is no problem", said the property owner. That way they can make more money.

"I mean how hard can it be to clean my little 3-bedroom 2,000 square foot house?"

Do you mean clean it any day of the week including weekends? Be on-call for special cleaning? Always show up on time and never complain? Be willing to do extra cleaning, and without notice, when some guests leave a terrible mess?

Do you mean a cleaner who has lots of family and friends to back her up when she gets busy with other things and decides she can't work on a day you have a back-to-back? Or when a child is ill or a car breaks down?

Some owners want to believe there are many people just begging to clean their homes. Unfortunately, there are not. Worse yet, most of them don’t pass a background check. They don't have references. They don’t want to take training. They detest checklists.

These cleaners don’t stick around when things get too busy and they never clean at high hospitality standards. They do not clean sufficiently and they are not there when you need them the most.

Let us all be honest, not all job applicants will be dedicated to our industry. There is no glamour unless they work for a desirable company that treats them well.

Many applicants just want a quick buck to pay for their drug habit. This is more common than you might imagine. The homeowner may never know until the druggie goes missing along with assets from their home.

If you are paying your cleaner in cash, do beware that it's illegal and your money may be just feeding a habit.

Professional management firms must protect their reputation with guests as well as owners. They want to pay their staff a good working wage. They want to be fair, kind, and responsible employers. They need workers who are reliable, loyal and competent. They do background checks and they have extra staff for backup.

Of course, these things are just good business, but they are also the only way to provide hospitality grade cleaning - the kind that discerning travelers expect at every lodging establishment from four-star hotels to cottages in the woods.

"Oh, but if you can’t clean the house cheaply, it will drive away guests," said that owner.

It's actually the opposite that's true. Guests are not stupid, they understand that no one can clean homes for a measly amount. One guest enunciates what some owners refuse to acknowledge;

"Your home was amazingly clean. But last year I rented a beautiful new home from another manager and the place was disgustingly dirty. I should have known better - no one can clean a whole house as cheap as they charged."

Yes, and every owner should understand the basic formula for requiring professional and thorough cleaning. With the advent of the internet, guests now have a global platform to report unclean homes. One bad review can lose thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in lost bookings.

Why risk that? The math is simple. Hiring great housekeepers, paying them well, rewarding them with praise and thanks is good for business. It's even greater for maximizing income while minimizing problems.

Still not a believer? Here is the challenge - after the next few departures, do your own cleaning.

Arrive to clean exactly on time and then wait while the guests loiters and leaves late, knowing that the incoming guests while inevitability show up early, and expect the house to be sparkling clean even before their scheduled arrival time.

Of course, you must chit chat and make nice with every guest, or they'll make nasty comments to your boss, even though they were not supposed to be inside yet.

To clean well, get your hands down deep into and behind the toilet, scrub your knuckles off in the shower, get on your hands and knees to scrub the kitchen and bathroom floors. Wash stacks of dishes, pots, and pans with gobs of dried on food.

Wash loads of towels and linens. Be sure to treat any of those unmentionable stains. Make every bed perfectly and plump every pillow. You'll just love trying to put on comforters on bunk beds. It is not impossible, but you won't enjoy it.

While you are at it, clean up the dog poop in the yard, or shovel the walkway of snow in the winter. Scrub that meat-encrusted barbecue until the brush breaks. Sweep the leaves from the porch.

Don't forget to check every light bulb, vacuum every square inch of every floor, and catch every cobweb or your boss will scold you like a child.

Do all this in the shortest number of hours because some owners out there want you to work cheap while treating you like an indentured servant.

After you do your own cleaning, the light will come on. You will want to pay cleaners more, you'll treat them better and you'll make more money because happy housekeepers make happy hospitality grade clean homes!

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0583 – 03/01/17

Seaway Dance Hall at Copalis Beach Rocked Out

By Wm. May
Published: 03/01/17 Topics: Comments: 0

Seaway Dance Hall at Copalis Beach Washington State

Just West of the Green Lantern Tavern in Copalis Beach Washington State is a very strange looking building where Rock and Roll reigned supreme in the 1960's.

Hundreds of thousands of Quonset huts were produced by the U.S. Military in World War Two. These prefabricated structures of galvanized steel were semicircular cross-sections that looked like half of barrel sitting upside down on the ground.

After the war, Quonset huts were sold as surplus to the public and a very large version ended up along side the road by the Pacific Ocean where enterprising music lovers decided it would be a perfect venue for the hordes of teenagers who came to the beach each weekend.

Dubbed the Seaway Dance Hall, many young rock bands got their first serious gigs there and my group "The District Five" was one of them.

At the age of 15, we were made to feel like stars as the walls of the hut seemed to pulse and swell by guitar amps played far too loud and dancers who jumped and yelled and screamed. We played a little better, played a little longer and glowed with the acceptance the crowds gave us as we were starting our musical careers.

Bigger name bands from Washington State and the Northwest also appeared, including names that may be unfamiliar except by those who haunted the Seaway all summer long.

Bands like - The Beachcombers, Little Bill & The Bluenotes, The Candidos, The Chaotics (Sumner), The Chessmen, Dennis Wayne and the Cole Jets, The Epics, The Frantics, The Galaxies, The Intricates, Noblemen, Cymantha McGugin & The Cherry Frost , The Titans.

The Seaway also showed movies during the slow season, but the wise owner had put the chairs onto risers which could be rolled out of the building to clear the floor for dances which were only held in the months of June, July and August.

Today the building sits dark and quiet just waiting for a new generation of music lovers to rediscover what great music, salt air and a bunch of fun loving people can do to transform a humble Quonset hut into a musical mansion, at least for a while.

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Author: Wm. May – Beach Lover, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0517 – 03/01/17

Sponsor: At The Crest – Nearby, but far from Ocean Shores. Just 10 miles North is the beachiest 54 unit condo. On the dunes, year round pool and hot tub. 1 Bedroom, sleeps 6 people. Barbecue, playground and clean salt air. – AtTheCrest.com

How to Become a Professional Lodging Photographer

By Ron Lee
Published: 02/21/17 Topics: AirBnB, Marketing, Photography, Property Management Comments: 0

Becoming a professional lodging photographer has never been easier.

All you need is a camera and business cards. Just put the words "Professional Photographer" on the cards and people will think you are a pro.

Can you imagine a doctor getting away with that? Would you go to a dentist who says, "I am a professional dentist" who didn't have the training? Yikes. Those people would be driven out of the industry.

Unfortunately, there have always been a greatly many people who love the idea of being an artist, a photographer. It sounds like such a great job. For Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rentals, photos are the way guests make instant decisions to view your property or pass on to the next.

No longer is it necessary to burn hundreds of dollars of physical film, toil in the dark room and only later learn if your photos were adequate. Now a good digital camera gives you a thumbnail view instantly that you can call "good enough."

But, great camera gear doesn't make you a true photographer any more than buying your new born child a piano and pronouncing them a "Concert Pianist."

Today, a new higher title has been added to the photography professional. Its called "High Dynamic Range," or HDR, and it is a vastly superior way of shooting, processing, and delivering world class photography. It is a requirement for almost all photos, but an absolute requirement for shooting interior architectural images.

HDR Photos are crisp, clean and brighter, but only enough to match what the human eye actually perceives. By comparison, non-HDR photos are fuzzy, bland, and actually underestimate and mis-represent the property.

Unfortunately, most professional photographers are no longer professional because they are more in love with being "Artists" than they are in spending thousands of hours mastering HDR.

That means more lodging operators are wasting lots of money hiring pros or don’t begin to understand HDR.

To see the difference between Pros and HDR Pros, all you have to do is spend a little time examining listings on your favorite websites like VRBO.com, Expedia.com, or even AirBnB.com.

A company called Evolve Vacation Rentals offers "Free Professional Photography" to property owners. Because Evolve does not have on site staff they must call any "professional photographer" they can find and hire them without realizing that non HDR photos are robbing their listings of maximum bookings.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Vacation Rentals does the same thing. Their recent foray into Matterport 3D photos is a good start, but ignoring HDR still photos causes them to lose bookings.

Turnkey Rentals out of Austin is trying to take over the world, but right there on their home page are fuzzy, out of focus, non-HDR photos. How could a management company call themselves professional when the number one listing tool - photos - are all messed up?

All of these companies talk the professional photographer game, but non walk the walk. And all because they refuse to spend the slightly more money necessary to find and employ high level HDR photographers.

Ignoring the absolute requirement for HDR photos is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If your manager does not understand the difference between truly professional HDR photos and want to be professional photographers, what else don’t they understand?

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Author: Ron Lee – Not a Photographer, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0521 – 02/21/17

Sponsor: Signatours Photo Team – It is not enough to have a camera and cards that say you are photographer. Today's technology demands study, practice and perfection along with an artists eye. Every Signatour photographer has all of those along with a support and professional staff to ensure the highest quality HDR photos. – Signatours.com

Wisdom from Catherine the Great

By Wm. May
Published: 01/09/17 Topics: Education, Gratitude, People, Self Improvement Comments: 1

Catherine the Great

For a dozen years Catherine and I worked hand in hand with sometimes demanding clients and difficult people. She was never confused. Never flustered.

She talked with people on the phone from all corners of the U.S. and Canada. When I met those people at conferences they always wanted to know about Catherine instead of me. Who could blame them, she was far more intriguing.

She addressed everyone with their title such as "Mr. Jones." But when they insisted on being called Robert she would agree. But on their next phone call she was back to "Mr. Jones". She believed, "Everyone likes to be respected. It is such a small thing, why not?"

For many years, she had been an assistant to the mayor of a major city at a time when protests, riots and even bombings were common due to opposition to Vietnam and ongoing racial unrest.

Catherine saw herself as the only voice of reason. At our office, she always "dressed up, because you never know when you have to dress someone down." And yet, even that was said quietly, calmly and with a hint of a smile around her eyes.

In client meetings she always wore white gloves because "Everyone should learn how to conduct themselves graciously to be taken seriously." And, "Why not, I love to look lovely in gloves."

Catherine always donned a lovely, well-coiffured wig and had quite a collection to go with her every outfit. Along with gracious manners, she did not mince words. "I tell it like it is, but tell it respectfully" and she demanded the same from others.

"Be friendly with everyone, and soon they will become friends."

"If you can't say something nice, I recommend you learn how."

"Never raise your voice, or they will scream back at you."

"If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for everything."

At home, Catherine was a different person. A 6 foot 2 inch power house who spoke forcefully, sported 2- foot long dreadlocks (although we never actually saw them), loved dashiki's and performing her poetry. She had a laugh that could shake buildings.

She often wrote well into the night, but was never late for her 9am start time. She never missed a day of work, because "I can count on people, if they can count on me."

Catherine said there are always three sides to every issue, not just two. We talked often about religion, politics and racism. For example, there are not just racists and non-racists, but a third person she tried to be.

She lectured me that African Americans are no more homogenous than anyone else. "Like all races, rich may look down on poor, thin people avoid fat folks, tall people feel superior to short people, and - this was news to me - some lighter skin African Americans look down on darker skinned people."

"Racism among all Americans is the more overt part of "me-ism," she explained. "Everyone starts with 'me first', my children second, my family third, my friends fourth and, then, maybe everyone else. You can't wipe out racism until everyone of us admits that."

That led to her absolute conviction that "We are all prejudiced. Not just whites, but yellows and reds and blacks." She concluded that racism could be eliminated if every one of us does it personally and the place to start is in our own hearts.

"The question isn't whether you are racist, the question is are you trying not be?"

Sadly, we lost Catherine with a late night phone call saying she had died unexpectedly at the age of 52. We were stunned. My son had adored her. My wife had been charmed. We called her Catherine the Great.

But she left behind this - for years I have accepted the truth of me-ism and that every day I must try to do better than the day before. Maybe someday maybe slowly bigotry will become a thing of memory, if we can all do just that. Try.

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Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0752 – 01/09/17

Hating Groups of People Is Ignorant

By Wm. May
Published: 01/09/17 Topics: Comments: 0

Hating Groups is Ignorant

Contrary to common thinking, not everyone believes in love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, or do unto others and you would have them do unto you. Many people try, and most of us fail, in some way.

Recent events and anger reveal those are missing ingredients from pretty much everyone involved.

Although our family is not of the faith, when my son switched schools at age 10, we chose a Catholic grade school. No particular reason, except we were looking for a good education from good people. We found it there.

He wasn't so sure about the uniforms and on the first Friday, he came home perplexed. "Dad, you are not going to believe this, " he said, "but after going to school all week, they expect us to come back on Sunday."

Some friends questioned a non-religious family sending their son to Catholic school. But there we met Father Bob Camusso, or should I say, re-met, because prior to the priesthood, Bob Camusso had been a prominent advertising agency executive, an industry in which my wife and I had worked.

He was really a "Man about town", dashing, handsome and well spoken, until he was called to the church and a life of service. He was then man about town in a fulfilling way.

Although my Dad had passed away five years earlier, I could just hear my never-miss-a-church-service man saying, "Hey, it's not going to kill him to go to a church school. You went to church and I think it was good for you."

My Dad said that kind of thing about many obligations we all face in life. Go to school and study, go to work and hustle, take care of our families, take care of ourselves by living right, avoiding alcohol and drugs.

He said, "You do anything you want in life, but if you stay with the 10 commandments, you'll do Ok and will have done a good job."

I enjoyed conversation with Father Bob and in one, I asked what do you do when people are difficult, or rude or misbehave. He smiled and said, "Well, Bill, we must all remember. Forgiveness is not a suggestion or a recommendation, it is an absolute requirement."

Watching the angry protests against racism and the hatred toward police causes me to think of these two "Fathers." One my natural Dad and the other a wise clergyman. I don't have answers to the race divide, now hundreds of years old. I don’t know how to relive the pain so many African Americans feel. I don't know about policing, except from my own limited interactions with law enforcement.

But I do know that we should all be frightened by the hatred we see. I can't see how it leads to resolution, but could easily result in the kind of physical confrontation that caused these problems in the first place.

I also know that there are there are certain individuals who do despicable things. Things beyond comprehension or even description, Things which are difficult to believe.

I am absolutely sure of this - to hate any group of people as a group, or because some members of that group are bad is unfair and ignorant. I won't hate any race because someone in that race is bad. I won't hate police because some people in their ranks are bad.

Instead, I want to be intelligent enough to assess each person I meet one by one, person to person, and to look for the good in everyone. I refuse to hate any group of people no matter the popular social pressure to so.

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Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0753 – 01/09/17

My Mother Was a Liar. Dad Too.

By Wm. May
Published: 12/31/16 Topics: Comments: 0

Our family loved music.

Mom played piano and organ in the church. My father never missed a church choir practice. They had grown up together in a small North Dakota town. He out on the farm. She the daughter of the local Ford auto dealer.

At the age of 15, her father had decided Mom's niece, then age 6, was going to be the next Shirley Temple and moved the entire family to Hollywood California.

Mom attended the famous Hollywood high school, rubbed elbows with famous movie star kids and eventually became their accompanist because Mom, it seems, was a piano virtuoso.

She had true perfect pitch, could play any song by ear after hearing it once including, not only pop tunes, but classical pieces but also honky tonk, ad lib jazz and just about anything else you could throw at her.

Mom had, what in music circles, is referred to as an amazing "touch." The kind of mastery that even very well accomplished keyboard players aspire to and seldom achieve.

Luckily, Mom and Dad linked up again after she graduated from high school. They married, before he was pulled away to war for three years and then, as the slogan goes, lived happily ever after.

Growing up she had me take piano and accordion lessons. In fourth grade I started in the school band playing trumpet up through high school. Little by little I realize how unattainable my Mom's skills were.

But it was in fourth grade that my music took a dangerous turn. I heard the Beatles on the radio.

Soon I wanted to play the guitar and, of course, my mother encouraged anything to do with music. Soon thereafter my Mother began to lie with great regularity.

Like every other Beatles fan, I formed a band in sixth grade, with other 10, 11 and 12 year olds. Tired of rehearsing in our garage, we somehow convinced our school to allow us to play in front of students.

My Mom attended of course and afterwards took me aside and said, "My goodness, that was absolutely first rate. I am so proud of you."

Now this was music my mother probably hated, although she did seem to like most any kind. It was certainly far less sophisticated and was undoubtedly played out of tune, with an unsteady beat, and sung by kids with shaky voices. It was far too loud.

It was only years later that I realized the music must have sounded terrible to everyone and dreadful to a concert level pianist. But she never let on that she knew better. In fact, she was an accomplished liar because I believed every word of her praise for decades.

My father did not believe that his children could "Do no wrong." He was a kind and quiet guy, but we kids could definitely do wrong with the important things. You did not disrespect people. You did not make fun of others. You definitely had to help with anything that came your way, and you did it with joy and without complaint.

I thought he walked on water, but all these years later, I realize he too had lied because after that same performance, he said "Bill, where did you learn to play that way? I am proud to be your dad."

He wasn't lying about being proud. But when a man with an amazing voice and musical skills praises an incompetent musician, I guess we need to call that a lie also.

Both parents continued to fib for many years, and almost every day. When their kids made any small achievement, and even when they failed. They gloated when I graduated junior high school, high school, college and after I started my own music and creative arts businesses.

They beamed when my wife and son succeeded. When my bothers and their kids did most anything of note, my mom's eyes would gleam, my dad's smile would beam and they were persistent in their praise.

Both my parents gave me many other skills in life. But mostly what they gave me was unabashed love and lavish praise. To this day, it's my most valued treasure. So I remind myself to say how proud I am of my family, friends, and coworkers.

It does not matter if their performance is exemplary, or if sometimes I know it's not great, it matters greatly that I lie to them. Soon, they make my praise come true.

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Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0510 – 12/31/16

Autumn is Industry Conference Season for Lodging

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.

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Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0509 – 11/16/16

Grading Vacation Rentals on the Curve

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.

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Author: Wm. May, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0511 – 10/01/16

Avoiding Bumptious People

By Wm. May
Published: 08/01/16 Topics: Comments: 0

One of the worst things we can do for our children is tell them they are great at everything they do.

Explaining that they can be victorious at one skill or another is true for many offspring at certain times in their lives. But, deluding them with false hope of impossible tasks creates bumptious behavior that only hurts the child in the long run, and misplaced confidence is often difficult or impossible to expel once infested.

You may find this advice as self-defeating for children, or event fatalist, but it is nothing of the kind. Every one of us ends up being realistic in our expectations in order to cope with life and to pursue endeavors which are indeed attainable.

A person's time is better spent pursuing the endeavors they are capable of, than chasing dreams - nightmares really - which are, or will prove to be impossible.

On a recent television show, celebrities were invited to become springboard and platform divers. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a retired professional basketball player and one of the sport's greatest, used his athletic discipline to train diligently.

But in the end, his 7 foot 2 inch height was too much and his dives looked - shall we admit it - gangly.

Watching the television show American Idol, reveals that a great many people are greatly terrible at singing. For those who approach the competition as a challenge, and recognize their inferiority with a grin, the contest is a hoot.

But others, who seem so clearly terrible to virtually every viewer, remain confident and even defiant when told that their vocal skills would be better suited for calling pigs in the forest. Often their disdain for the judges is echoed by families and friends accompanying them to the auditions.

How could otherwise intelligent people be so delusional about their vocal skills? How can novice employees start new jobs feeling there are already experts are skills they know nothing about?

How can customers who know nothing of a product, pronounce themselves experts on Yelp?

The Internet allows people the world over to gain information and even insight from the knowledge and experience of others. But it has limitations.

Watching an expert mountaineer rock-climb prepares the viewer for attempting such a thing. Climbing the wall exposed to the elements in bad weather and without proper physical conditioning is suicide.

Reading an account of hiking the jungles of Africa can not subject the reader to the heat, humidity, biting insects, harsh physical demands and mental fatigue of trudging through the inhospitable landscape.

The word bumptious is defined as "annoyingly self-assertive" and people with this kind of malady are to be avoided. Steering clear is better advice, than helping them to recognize their disease.

That self-confidence means they are just as likely to repel attempts to bring them into reality as they are to actually self-correct the deficiency themselves.

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Author: Wm. May – Title, MayPartners
Blog #: 0504 – 08/01/16

AirBnB Racism Facilitated by Social Media

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.

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Author: Wm. May – Director, VRIA, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0508 – 06/01/16

Server Crash All Night Bash

By William May
Published: 03/25/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0

At 1am, a warning text message buzzes on my phone. One or more of the computer network servers is down. Not working. Kaput.

With luck it is just a glitch, that a simple setting or a simple reboot will solve. It happens, so I'm out the door, in the car and down to our data center.

But this time, the server will not re-start, the indictor lights look suspicious. You try again and finally realize this puppy is toast. As in maybe ready for the scrape heap.

Websites are down, business is being missed and all is at risk. Contingencies have been made against the loss of data but not all backups are perfect. You never know if they work until you need to restore them.

And you hope to never have to test the restoring.

Luckily you have a spare server but swapping all the data is a problem, and a re-install of the operating system is also in order. Tricky stuff maybe, but tricky enough to bring in an expert.

By now its 2AM and time to call the System Administrator, get him out of bed, into his car and down to the office.

When he arrives at 3AM his first words are, "Why are you here?"

And I reply, "My Dad said to."

"What are you talking about?, he says and walks off toward the server room.

He doesn't know my Dad owned a truck repair shop and he doesn't know that my Dad often got calls from truck drivers frantic for a repair in the wee hours of the morning. He doesn't know my Dad always helped even when there was little or no money in it.

As a young child I did not understand, why my Dad would always go to the shop if he had to call a mechanic to go to the shop. As a child, I didn't keep track of time but I knew they often stayed there late into the night.

As an adult, now I understand. I know my Dad was not a mechanic. I know he probably wasn't much help to the mechanics.

Or was he?

All work goes easier with help. Helping hands make light work. All work goes faster when you know others appreciate your work. All work becomes a joy if you decided to make it so.

So as I watched the server's being swapped last night. I saw the Administrator go through a myriad of complicated operating system settings, then test and retest the system. I had little to offer.

But as the system administrator left the office some hours later having put everything right, he stopped to say, "I appreciate that you stayed."

"No problem", I said, "My Dad said to."

My dad always said "No problem" to just about everything and then he always smiled.

The military says leaders lead from the front. Honor says to never asked others to do what you would not be willing to do. Fair play demands helping when not asked.



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Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0499 – 03/25/16

Assumptions Make Everyone Equally Unhappy

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."

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Author: William May, MayPartners Inc.
Blog #: 0491 – 02/27/16

Oprah is an Alien And Other Internet Facts

By William May
Published: 01/04/16 Topics: People, Reputation Comments: 0

Oprah is an Alien

On the Internet people say Oprah Winfrey is really just an alien, that she is secretly married to Barack Obama and that she never actually did a TV show. They say she used a hologram, stole TV advertiser money and sent it back to the planet she came from. (Michelle is actually a man I heard!)

Randy Jones from San Antonio lives with 1,000 cats all named Wilbur. Cindy Rigmore from Alberta has lived her entire life on a diet of egg shells and whiskey, and is 91 years old.

There is a man in Sherwood Forest who calls himself Robin Hood, but lives in a mobile home.

I believe every word of those because I read them on the internet. Or should I? Especially when there are so many anonymous devious trolls out there. Unfortunately, no one is immune from crazies on the Internet.

For decades, I have helped lead numerous businesses which have served hundreds of professional clients and tens of thousands of consumers. They are happy and many have become life-long friends and business partners.

These are the honorable reliable people who know the facts.

Occasionally leaders have the responsibility to handle unpleasant tasks like setting rules, collections, contracts, addressing conflict and even managing litigation. In the many companies I have been asked to operate, consulted for, or invested in, those tasks are always handled with respect and courtesy.

But it is not a fun job - especially when those affected, often resort to online defamation. The outcomes are not always desirable. My long-time colleague Catherine used to say, "If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for everything."

With the advent of the Internet, anyone can write anything they want about anyone else, and pretty much without lability. Benjamin Franklin said, "Freedom of the press is limited to those who can afford to buy one." And today that means every crack pot, crazy and coward.

As my Communications law professor put it, freedom of the press means you can publish anything, but you are forever liable for everything whether wrong intentionally or not.

Today the whiners, complainers and defamers are always the losers with nothing better to do with their time because they have done little and tried even less. They have nothing better to do (truly nothing better) than to assail those who pursue goals and try to do good.

We should hope that today's newly minted trolls go back to the planet they came from but, of course, that won't happen because rude behavior, presumptive stupidity and nutty people have been around forever. It is just that now they have a bigger pulpit to spray crazy from.

Because online posts are often anonymous, intelligent discerning people do not believe anything they hear on the Internet, especially from unknown people. Fools believe everything they read and they certainly believe - with their twisted little minds - that Oprah is an alien.

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Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0569 – 01/04/16

Vacation Rental Restoration

By William May
Published: 12/28/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation rental homes are susceptible to the same problems as full-time residences. Sometimes pipes break, basements flood and even smoke or fire damage can happen.

It may be possible to have maintenance firms handle such problems but for larger problems it is necessary to hire a company that specializes in restoring homes to their original condition.

Such companies are referred to as Restoration Specialists and having the name of one or more firms on hand is just good preparation. Odds are high that they will never been needed.

Because damages may result in cancellation of bookings, the loss to owners may exceed even the cost of repairs. So here are some steps to be prepared for what you can hope will never happen:

(1) Property Insurance - When insuring your home for vacation rentaling, that use must be clearly communicated to your insurance agent who should provide a policy specifically allowing short-term rental use.

Most basic second home policies are not sufficient for offering a home as a vacation rental. Take care before you have a claim to properly protect you in the unlikely hood a claim becomes necessary.

(2) Business Loss - Second home insurance can cost more than your primary resident. And vacation rental policies cost more than basic second home polices. However, such policies should also cover the owner for loss of income should the home become unrentable for a period of time.

(3) Restoration Specialist - To find a company that specialize in quick and through restoration use Google Maps for your location searing for "Fire Restoration" because that is the most common keyword on which these firms advertise.

(4) Remote - If your home is remote or in a sparsely populated area, it may be necessary to question restoration firms closely to insure that they would be willing to come to your address should you later need their services. Keep good notes.

(5) Records - Be sure to record the name of several restoration companies because, in the case of local flooding or severe weather, any one firm may not be able to handle your needs quickly.

(6) Property Managers - If you use a local property manager, good firms will already know of restoration providers and be able to quickly get help on site.

Lodging managers are not in the restoration business and claims are so unusual that the manager may never have had to use a restoration company. But do not hesitate to ask the manager if they can recommend anyone.

(7) Schedule - Restoration firms can not guarantee that any given property will be restored over night. In fact, time may be required to allow a house to dry.

Even when repairs will take a longer period, restoration firms can often arrive quickly to stabilize the situation and then return later to complete repairs.

(8) Fire - Should your home become partially damaged due to fire, your local fire department will often board over a home to make it is weather tight or to protect it from intruders. Do not hesitate to ask their help when they are on site.

(9) Franchises - Here are the names of several franchises that brand and endorse local partners to do restoration. This does no guarantee the quality of the work. Even local non-franchises are often skilled and dependable.

- ServePro.com

- ServicemasterClean.com

(10) Action - Try to secure your insurance company's approval before completing restoration. By calling their claim number you should be able to secure approve to start the restoration with full approval secured once the restoration firm can provide a more detailed estimate.

Not long after its founding in 1907, the Boy Scouts organization adopted the motto "Be Prepared." When it comes to unexpected events for your vacation rental home, being prepared is great advice.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0473 – 12/28/15

The Genius Truck Mechanic

By William May
Published: 11/11/15 Topics: Boats, Self Improvement Comments: 0

At the age of 15, I was very sure that Mr. Stearns - a mechanic in the log truck shop my father managed - was a genius.

Although his first name was Jim, I would never have called him that because he was my father's age, he had a regale bearing and he was a legend in the industry. It's not disrespectful to say he was the only genius in the shop, because everyone who worked there knew it.

Repairing big rigs is not a simple job. Diagnosing such a large machine with so many parts and systems requires comprehension of physics, hydraulics, engineering, pneumatics, electronics, and internal combustion.

Before the advent of computers I marveled at the incredible precision which engineers and part manufacturers made things. How did they do it?

Mechanical Arts.

Many people are able to master basic mechanic skills with school training, on the job experience, and mentoring. (In those days, use of the word "mentoring" would have made everyone chuckle.)

Among mechanics there are echelons of knowledge. No one knows it all, and everyone must consult manuals and colleagues occasionally. Everyone except Mr. Stearns.

If you have ever visited a repair shop you would have noticed something odd about Mr. Stearns space. Unlike other mechanics, his area was immaculately organized. It was the only space that was never dirty, and every tool and part was just as it should be.

While other mechanics hustled about, Mr. Stearns seemed to move slowly. While others became dirty and grimy crawling in, around and under trucks Mr. Stearns coveralls remained neat and pressed just as if they had came off an ironing board.

Financial Model

Truck shops make money by charging a standard hourly shop rate for each of the mechanics. Today that fee often exceeds $100 per hour.

There are manuals that specify the numbers of hours that should be required to undertake many common repairs. Even major engine overhauls have a specific set of hours assigned. Jobs can take an hour, many days or even weeks.

Mr. Stearns never looked at those budgets and did not want to know what they were. Although there was a kind of hierarchy, he was left to his own devices - but the time he took for jobs was consistently half of the allocated time. The shop made lots of money allowing him to his own devices.

Focus Solves Problems

When my water-ski boat sunk (don’t ask) he volunteered to take apart the submerged motor that everyone knew would never run again. The engine was so antiquated that to put the boat in reverse required stopping the motor, and restarting it in reverse so that the crank shaft actually went in the opposite direction.

It was a morass of double electronics that would have perplexed Nikola Tesla. Mr. Stearns said he knew very little about boat motors but, one night after work he carefully took it apart piece by piece.

After removing the convoluted electronics he unbolted the cylinder head, carefully extracted the pistons, bearings, and valves, taking time to carefully clean and place every piece on clean white rags atop his tool chest. The pistons and valves were arranged together in order. Each piece was lined up perfectly with the other. It was like a work of art.

Just as carefully, he put all the pieces back into the motor block. Then, just as carefully, cleaned and put every tool back into the chest high tool chest. It was almost midnight now.

"Do you think it will ever run again?" I asked.

"Of course it will run. I put it back together perfectly, didn't I?" he murmured.

He turned the switch and the 75 horsepower behemoth roared to life.

Let Professionals Perform

As he turned off the motor, he turned and faced me square. "Because you are young and interested, I am violating the secret to my success. I have allowed you to help."

I was perplexed, so he continued. "See that sign?"

I looked above his work bench.

  • Shop Labor $30 per hour
  • If you watch $40 per hour
  • If you help $50 per hour

"You see young William (he always called me young William) talk can be a good thing. But customers need to allow experts to work, and to get the hell out of the way."

Old Fashioned Smarts

Today's concepts of co-working, team-building and the sharing economy can help people achieve and succeed. But there is much to be said for personal focus, study and concentration.

Over the years, I have seen similar signs and I follow their wisdom. I remind myself to not watch, not help and to allow that person to go about doing their best work for me.

I can only wish that clients would follow the same advice. Some feel that they can become experts overnight. Some have nothing better to do. Others just cant help but stir the soup.

Wise clients allow experts they hire to do their magic, to spend their time serving them instead of justifying their work. Wise clients judge only the outcome, not the methods.

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Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0460 – 11/11/15

Sponsor: MayPartners – Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Sales and Other Stuff. Call today. Make your Sales go up today. Not tomorrow. – MayParrtners.com

Best Halloween Advertising. Cheapest too.

By William May
Published: 10/31/15 Topics: Advertising, Marketing Comments: 0

For many years the Philadelphia Cheese Steak shop occupied a triangle corner on busy Madison Avenue on Seattle's Capitol Hill. It seemed to do well but changed hands a few times and gradually did the restaurant slow decline dance.

Meantime, just up the street the Bottle Neck bar opened and soon became a favorite hang out. When Philly closed, the proprietors - Erin Nestor and Rebecca Denk - grabbed the additional space and opened a nice neighbor burger joint. They called it "Two Doors Down" because, of course that is where it was.

Sometimes naming businesses and products is easy but often it is a long laborious chore. Who knows how the new restaurant got its name, but it is brilliant, memorable and fun. That fits the new decor and the food.

Halloween heavy traffic raced past Two-Doors, just as traffic always does, but ahead on the trek home cars were slowing and some pulling over to grab a burger.

All because someone, maybe the genius who named the restaurant, created a cheap but compelling reason to drop into the restaurant.

Pumpkins are cheap. A few orange LED Christmas type lights didn't break the bank. surely the staff had fun making them. Or maybe the customers made them. (What fun.)

Putting the pumpkins in the window would have worked, but simply putting them on the street made them impossible to miss. On this rainy dreary night. It was warm. It was compelling.

They must have sold far more burgers that night because who could resist?

Accepting expensive solutions from advertising experts can produce great results, but advertising is always trial and error no matter how well researched.

On the other hand, creative thinking always wins over new customers, makes existing customers smile and makes the cash register ring.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0458 – 10/31/15

Sponsor: MayPartners – Pumping Advertising for decades but a new kinda marketing machine. Old fashioned marketing smarts with new technological know how. Our platform of constant promotion pumps up your sales. But you gotta call us now to start. – MayPartners.com

Most Professional Photographers Are Not

By William May
Published: 10/22/15 Topics: Comments: 0

If getting paid for taking photos makes a professional photographer then the standard is too low.

For lodging, hospitality and architecture photos, only High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos are professional and most other professional photographers haven't a clue how to do them.

HDR is not a craft that can be picked up easily, or in a book, or in a short class. Prior skills may leave other photographers woefully under equipped to master the technological and artistic requirements of this new craft.

Having great camera gear is essential, but anyone can pony up the money and buy the very best gear. Although most do not!

Spending thousands of hours shooting photos conventionally may give a photographer some understanding of lighting and composition. But frankly the photos from many pros still look pretty much like those of educated amateurs.

For older photographers who grew up when flash devices and dark room chemicals ruled their lives, that time may have been a wait. They spent years perfecting mechanical knowledge that is really of no value to the HDR environment.

That isn't to say that some long tenured photographers have not grabbed the HDR baton and ran, some have. But simply having decades of experience is not adequate in today's internet and software age.

Starting Over

Not all is doom and gloom. There are photographers world wide who have invested considerable education, training and practical experience to learn the highly technical needs of High Dynamic Range shooting and processing.

Unfortunately, these photographers are few and far between.

That means unsuspecting businesses often hire a "Professional" and end up with the same old drab limited photos for their interior photo needs. And that is a darn shame.

In lodging and building interior intensive shooting, there are even so called "experts" writing blogs and touting their specialized skills - all while avoiding the long hours of technical learning necessary to master HDR.

And that is a shame because clients are short-changed while paying heavily for inferior photography.

If you are wondering if your photographer and your photos are at the highest level, are serving you well and if you got your money's worth, give us a call for a free evaluation.

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Author: William May, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0418 – 10/22/15

Cell Phone Photos Are Not Just Fine

By William May
Published: 06/01/15 Topics: Comments: 0

I do not want to argue and nit pick but sometimes advertising people just say silly thinks.

Recently while uploading some of our fabulously large, High Dynamic Range Photos (all converted to Progressive PDF's for loading speed, while retaining quality, to a very large vacation rental listing website a little box popped up that I must take exception with.

It said "Include a few well-lit photos."

OK I do not have a super big problem with that statement but they should also disclose that using only a few photos will cut rental inquiries dramatically. And not including enough photos is equally disastrous. I am sure the techies have the stats and know better.

But then the little box read "Cell phone photos are just fine."

Really? A cell phone photo?

If they meant "just fine" as in "not completely terrible" well maybe that is OK. Surely the websites is trying to get every possible paying property owner to use their service and asking amateurs to create and upload superb photos would result in less listings and lower income for the website publisher..

I get their logic, but I question their desire to help managers get the very best sales results.

On the other hand, these technical website folks need to spill the beans about cell phone photos.

A few folks can coax an adequately good snap-shot out of a phone. Some mobile devices have rudimentary HDR which can help. But most folks take truly lousy photos. (Check out your grant Grandma's photos of your sisters wedding. Your sister will never live those down.)

What the giant websites should tell their customers - in all candor - is that managers should find and spend money on a professional photographer who has mastered the art of using HDR for interior photos.

That will make the manager far more money than it costs.

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Author: William May, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0405 – 06/01/15

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