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

Hello Blog. Goodbye Newsletters.- Lodging Newsletter January 10, 2009

By William May
Published: 01/10/09 Topics: Comments: 0

After years of writing newsletters I've succumbed to writing a blog. Not sure what the difference is - we've been posting newsletters online years ago- as well as emailing them and, in fact, snail mailing them years ago.

What better way to keep in touch with all those people I should keep in touch with. So that is my promise to tell you things you'll want to know about Sunspot Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rentals in specific and about Vacation Rentals and even Lodging in particular.

I'll announce our cool new rentals as they come in. And our new offices and network members as our company continues to grow. Like Poipu Beach and Princeville Kauai in Hawaii. Plus Lake Chelan, Crescent Bar, Sunbanks Resorts, Gig Harbor, Whidbey Island and the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth in Washington State.

I would be remiss if I didn't mentioned we are recruiting agents, professionals and property managers in multiple markets right now. If you want to own your own business, live in a desirable recreation market and grow in our dynamic industry, please give us a call. We are recruiting and training new network members particularly in the Northwest States and Hawaii too.,

And I suppose I should tip you off to the specials, discounts and promotions we offer. In fact right now we're having our annual pre-season sale. You can get two weeks for the price of two in many homes. A big discount in Hawaii. And right now always best pick of dates before the spring rush.

In fact, I guess I better be going. If I don't book my own place before you do I wont have first pick will I? Oh, and by the way, happy new years from all your friends at Sunspot Inns, Resorts and Vacations rentals. You can preview homes and book online at ( Or give us a call at any time to book 888-628-8989.

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Author: William May, Vortex VIP
Blog #: 0093 – 01/10/09

Barack Obama Endorses Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 11/24/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The next President of the United States has effectively endorsed the entire concept of Vacation Rentals by renting a private home in Kailua on the North Shore of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. He is staying there for a week with his wife Michelle and two daughters.

He is staying at a secluded beach rental, obscured from the road by a long driveway and trees, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. He plans to body surf, has already been on the golf course, visited a childhood favorite drive-in restaurant and visited his grandmother in her Oahu apartment building.

He said he might stop by Zippy’s, an Hawaiian chain restaurant known for its chili, or the Rainbow Drive-In for a Hawaiian "plate lunch," a mix of rice, macaroni salad and meat.

"I am going to go get some shave ice," he said. "I am going to go bodysurfing at an undisclosed location. I am going to see my Tutu, my grandma. And I am going to watch my girls play on the beach, and maybe once in awhile I will go in the water. But mostly I am going to sit there and watch them."

(In Hawaii the term Tutu is reserved for beloved grandmothers.)

In short Obama is doing what millions of Americans and others around the world have learned - staying in a private beach home is more comfortable, saves money and allows visitors to fit into the neighborhood rather than being relegated to tourist ghettos like the high-rise hotels and noisy diesel buses of Waikiki.

Republicans, still hoping to smear him as an elitist for frequenting such a high end vacation area, need to remember that Obama was born and raised in Honolulu. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle who tows the party line should know better. In fact, Obama lived in Hawaii well before Lingle arrived on its shores.

Although he graduated from the prestigious Punahou School on Oahu in 1979 he did so on a financial need and academic scholarship afforded to those with great merit. At this point, it would be difficult to call the school's decision anything but prophetic.

The Maui news quoted local residents in the Windward Oahu beach community who have said they are excited to have Obama as their neighbor for a week and hope to catch a glimpse of him.

''Maybe we'll go back down to the beach and see if we could see him. That would be real cool - our future president down at our beach,'' said surfer Anthony Burris.

Like cranky xenophobes everywhere, these may be the same neighbors who yelp loudly at county officials saying only full-time residents should be allowed to stay in homes in areas such as Kailua.

But Obama's residency underscores that everyone, guests as well as residents, have a right to stay and enjoy the quiet lifestyle of a wonderful beach community.

Obama is just another American who endorses vacation rentals for what the comfort job and family atmosphere they offer. If vacation rentals are good for the next president of the United States they should be allowed for all visitors.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0085 – 11/24/08

The Care & Feeding of Xenophobia.

By William May
Published: 01/20/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The adverse reactions to Vacation Rentals continue. For example on January 1st, 2008 the island of Maui in Hawaii just outlawed 1,100 rentals. And now the island of Kauai is going to followed suit.

Interestingly, the reasons for vacation rental prohibitions or restrictions in each jurisdiction are different one from another. Clearly there is no consistent problem with rentals and when there are, complaints they are statistically non-existent. If you can find complaints of noise or over parking they pail in comparison to long-term rental homes and are often less than the rate of such issues in non-rental areas.

All communities have statutes on the books to limit and regulate such concerns. But elected officials in those towns, like most in America today, find it hearty fare to point out new culprits when all they really have to do is enforced the laws they've had on the books for decades.

Kauai Case In Point

On Kauai, an ex-mayor, soundly trounced last time she ran, is anxious to garner local votes for a chance to run for Mayor again. And remember, all those VR owners have NO VOTE.

Something like Taxation without Representation I think.

By the way, her constant outcry is that outlawing the 800 VR's on Kauai (Outside tourist zones) is that it will make more affordable housing. Oxymoronic when you realize the median value of those homes in over $800,000.

The State of Hawaii just red tagged about 20 homes in the Haena (North shore) area of Kauai and those homes average $5,000,000.

So what is the underlying cause for the fear of rentals? Well it's as old as time itself. Having attended many hearings here are the common laments,

- They don't live here.

- They are not like us.

- They are not part of the community.

- They don't come to potlucks. (Actually overheard)

- They've made my property value go up. (A complaint?)

In other times those kinds of complaints have been used to distrust immigrants, new comers and those of other religions and races. Its called Xenophobia which is defined as "The fear of others." And boy are those VR owners & quote; "It is this phenomenon that is the underlying cause for all prejudice.


With VR's an equally strong prejudice is triggered. A kind of double whammy of envy and fear. "Why can those darn outsiders afford those homes, when I can't,: and "My kids will never be able to afford a Five million dollar home and that is just not fair." That shows that economic disparity can cause fear of others as well.

On Kauai we definitely have a lack of and great need for affordable housing. But the ex-mayor's quest to turns in to lower-income housing is counter intuitive. In fact, her actions would have an opposite effect to what she wants.

Restricting rentals could easily remove about 3,200 guests per day (that is 800 units' times an average of 6 guests each) from the tourism trade.

In a destination like Kauai that means the loss of hundreds of thousands of nights rented and all the dining, shopping and activity spending those consumers do. In short, stifling rentals, cuts the jobs for those who build and service the homes and does harm to those very folks she purports to help.

In short, Xenophobia is what allows local folks to blame all their woes on new comers and people who don't look like locals. That kind of prejudice is no where near as severe as many minorities have felt but it sure looks like the same thing in a different package.

It is time for tourism industry workers, local merchants and tax collectors to step up and stop those who would steal their income.

Smart Communities

Contrary to the news, there are smart communities that are realizing that Vacation Rental guests settle in for longer stays, spend more money, are more affluent and are a nice clean industry. A few years ago Chelan County, Washington State voted to officially authorize Vacation Rentals in rural areas.

The County Commissioners heard lots of testimony but may have been most persuaded by a single young man from a housekeeping company who came with the most logical argument when he said,

"Hey, its either tourism or we build another Aluminum Smelter on the Columbia River. Are you guys that dumb?"

Growth is inevitable and smart recreational areas are beginning to understand that private accommodations are a blessing for their economies, employment and life style.

Will logic and reason win out? Will economics convince leaders to choose a good industry over less desirable ones?

Or will the shrill fear mongers stifle another great boost for their local economies. Only time will tell.

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Author: William May – Manager, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0082 – 01/20/08

Vacation Rentals In Afghanistan

By William May
Published: 09/05/04 Topics: Comments: 0

I kid you not. The LA Times is reporting that Estullah Rooz, after years of fighting Soviets, rival Mujahedee and the Taliban, the man known as the Commander Mullah is going corporate. And how you say? Well, he's building the first Swiss designed and pre-fabricated Vacation Rental homes on Lake Qargha six miles north of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.

Rooz concocted the idea with a friend of his - Zemary Hakaim - who immigrated to Switzerland in 1972 and became a self confessed Hippie. Together they leased land at the lake and convinced local landlords to allow them to erect the Swiss Style Chalets. And for labor, Rooz and Hakaim recruited or converted experienced freedom fighters into carpenters, landscapers and service personnel at twice the pay of a soldier's salary.

Rooz expects his Vacation Rental homes to be a real money maker once erected. For now, he profits with food sales and guests can also visit the recently opened golf course complete with pro shop made out of an old, dented shipping container.

Don't you love entrepreneurs? They're the ones who find a way to bring a great idea to fruition. In a very convoluted way this is nothing more than what many resort area owners have learned to do with their vacation homes over the past few years: cater to different renters. Evolve the renting market from one of quaint cabins and rustic retreats into one of fancy homes and luxurious villas. With skyrocketing prices, enterprising individuals find a way to overcome their limitations.

As illustrated by our comrade in arms Mr. Estullah Rooz. I'm going to write him a letter and offer him an Honorary VROA membership. He certainly deserves one and I think we might just have a few tidbits that might help him along the way. I'm sure he also has tips for those of us looking to setup our own rentals in Afghanistan.

I won't be the first to rent his place but goodness knows I really wish him well.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0158 – 09/05/04

Be Selfish If You Donate Your Rental

By William May
Published: 04/19/04 Topics: Comments: 0

New owners of Vacation Rental homes quickly learn how many friends they really have. And I don't just mean cousin Jenny and her 12 screaming kids who would love to spend every week end at your lake house this summer chowing down on your hamburgers and chips.

No, I am referring to all the truly great not-for-profit groups who will think it is a nifty idea for you to donate a week at your house to their annual auction, bazaar or awards dinner give-away.

Let me say that I am the first to support every good cause I can afford. Penny and I have volunteered and worked on boards for the zoo, children's safety, theatres, dance companies and the like. If you too are a softie for these organizations, congratulations. You are doing your part to make the world a better place.

Offering your home to charities allows you to provide a unique benefit to those who need your help. But many rental owners are besieged with more requests than they can afford to donate. If you have ever donated you may not recognize the problem.

Give a single week's use to, let's say, your daughter's brownie troop auction and your name as a willing benefactor will ripple through the community. Soon, you'll be hearing from well meaning "procurement" person at every not-for-profit around.

Maybe all of this is good news for our fledgling industry. Vacation Rentals are often the highest priced item in many fund raisers. That means consumers value the opportunity to stay at a nice private vacation home.


At the same time, however, if the income from vacation rental homes is essential to the financial well being of most owners. As much as you may want to be a big donor ad supporter you also have to pay the mortgage.

Big companies have learned they are also targets of the well meaning fund raisers. You can imagine the thousands of legitimate requests that large companies receive. It may serve us well to learn from those firms about how to be concerned and involved citizens without giving away the farm.

As an example, Microsoft Corporation's primary philanthropic system (aside from its founder Bill Gates giving away billions of dollars personally) is to setup a matching system for employee donation. Staff member donations are matched by the company up to a certain amount. This serves to help charities but control the outflow.

Other large corporations set strict budgets on donations and require charities submit proposals on an annual basis. They generally don't entertain short notice pleas for help. This means only the organized and persistent causes get helped. Plus it eliminates the interruptions and soul searching that might disrupt the work of their employees.

You will notice that the largest companies often provide small item donations. Your grocery store chain, for example, might donate a bouquet of flowers or video rental. Unfortunately, the rentals we offer are comparatively expensive.

They are especially expensive in relationship to the size of our small businesses. A $750 rental donation could be five percent of your annual income whereas a $50 donation by Safeway is peanuts.


If large well organized companies see fit to control their charitable giving it is logical that we smaller vacation rental home owners do likewise. So here are some ideas on how to go about formalizing your "Donation Program."

First, stop and decide what your charitable objectives are. If you don't really need the income and you can afford to donate repeatedly then please do so. We'll all think highly of you for that.

But if you have to generate income from your home you might want to be a little strategic. For example, we have decided that donations are a great thing if and only if they provide benefit for us as well as the charity. We limit the number of gifts and we set rules for how the rental should function.

If you have ever had to make procurement calls for your favorite charity you will have heard all kinds of responses from business owners. Some will donate a small item to most everyone who asks. Others donate only to their favorite causes or groups to whom they belong.

And others are rather crass about demanding something in return for their donation such as patronage by everyone in your group. And almost all of these people will feel rather sheepish about responding. They get tired of being "hit up" but they know it is bad for business to decline.


For example, we ask for promotional value in order to accommodate requests. I think its the secret to being really good citizens. In short, we only donate to groups who will help us promote our rentals. When you think about it that helps them as well. If donating secures other paid rentals then your income grows and you can afford to donate again.

When someone calls soliciting a donation, its acceptable for you to ask some questions. (Believe me the big companies do). Here is what you want to know. Most requests now a days are for an auction or raffle so I'll preface my questions as if that is the case.


- Who will be attending the event?

- How many people will attend?

- Will your item be offered in the silent or live auction?

- Can you write the live auction description?

- Will the description be included in the auction catalog?

- Can they put photos in the catalog?

(Good for them and for you)

- Can you put up a post and display for the silent auction?

- And for the live auction?

- Can you get a complimentary ticket to the event.

(Its good to meet and great and hand out cards.)

- Will they give you names & addresses of attendees

(So you can mail to them)

- Can you put a flyer at each seat?

- Or put a flyer in each "good bag: given to attendees?

- Will they immediately provide you with the winner's name & address

- Will they disclose what the winning bid was?

WORD OF MOUTH. Auctions and similar events are valuable if they provide word of mouth advertising for your rental. To stimulate such promotion, it is wise to require a display, offer flyers or participate in the auction more than just making the donation and getting a 10 second announcement.

BE THOUGHTFUL. Never make a commitment immediately especially on the phone. Ask for all the information and then give it some thought. Think of donations as if you were giving them CASH money. In many ways you are. If you don't make the donation and sell the dates instead you are essentially giving them the cash. Think of it that way.

DON'T GIVE AWAY THE BEST. Most charities are so thankful for a donation that they are not terribly picky about dates. Its wise to give them desirable dates so they will get a significant price. But you don't need to give the your high season. Make sure the auction description clearly explains the dates and exclusions and legal requirements. Require the winner use the dates within one year of the purchase.

STRATEGIZE THE DATES. It seems easy to donate a week to a good cause but you don't have to donate that much. Consider limiting your gift to three or five days. It still shows your support. You will be surprised how many winners will ask to buy additional dates at the regular rates. Be sure to mention this possibility in the description.

WRITE A GREAT DESCRIPTION. The auction description or photos or display are your chance to sell your product. Write exciting, descriptive information. Don't be afraid to sell your product. Remember to sell the resort or area as well. Not everyone will be familiar with your destination. And include the legal stuff in the description.

WRITE DOWN THE DETAILS. If you agree to a donation make sure they provide you with a written contract explaining what you are giving and what you are getting. Most such forms are very short. Don't be afraid to attach a letter confirming the number of attendees, the live description.

GUEST PAPERWORK. Require winners to sign the same paperwork you require for paid guests. Always require a cash deposit to protect yourself from damages and overages. Make sure its clear the booking is non-cancelable and non refundable.

AN ALTERNATE. Another way to get value is to donate "designated dates". In this method you give the charity specific dates to sell such as your mid or low season. Ask them to offer these for sale exclusively to their members by instructing the member to purchase.

Then remit all the cash to the charity. You will find that they will appreciate the real money donation more than they do the equivalent value in dates.

SPLITTING INCOME. Or how about giving a charity certain low or mid season dates to sell with the agreement to split the income with them. You get at least some income for harder to sell dates and they'll promote it to far more constituents than those who actually buy. You get lots of exposure and possibly regular bookings in the future.

SAY NO. Do you find some of these suggestions demanding? Maybe, but your home is your investment. The more you get out of it the more you can support your favorite causes. Say no to those who do not provide good value so that you can say yes to more of those who do.

Set a limit on how many dates you are willing to donate. Groups who call to late to be considered can be encouraged to apply again next year.

SEEK OUT DONATIONS. Don't reward only those who solicit you. Keep your eye out for great causes with events that might promote your rental well. Give them a all to ask what they are looking for. Even though you may be soliciting them don't hesitate to ask the same questions before donating.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0046 – 04/19/04

No wonder guests prefer Vacation rentals? Oahu Pick Pockets

By William May
Published: 04/06/04 Topics: Comments: 0

Can anyone tell me why a family would stay in a Hotel for their vacation? I was reminded recently of how distressing it can be when we visited the famous Waikiki Beach area of Hawaii.

Penny and I hadn't spent much time there for 20 years but my 14 year old son decided there were things he just needed to see like the Bishop Museum, Hanama Bay and the world famous North Shore surfing sites.

So on our working trip to Kauai we stayed over on the island of Oahu and took a hotel room smack dap in the middle of the action. Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, the might Mo battleship and all the sites were worth the effort. But an effort it was.

The name of the hotel shall remain anonymous because I don't want to get sued for libel (but hey, truth is a defense). It was a 30 story high rise building across the street from the people-packed beach and had been recently decorated. It was clean and well staffed and, in general, no worse and certainly no better than other tourist havens.

But let me tell you why it wasn't a vacation and why most hotel stays don't qualify as a holiday. These slightly stressful reasons are exactly why the vacation rental industry is growing fast. If you want a vacation you need a vacation home.


- In order to check in, we stood in line with 40 other people as the clerks were working feverishly (at least those that spoke English). It sill took 20 minutes to get a key. Room cost was just $199 per night, plus, plus, plus. (More on that later).

- My son was a little slow on jumping out of the rental car which allowed the bell man to snatch the bags and rush them to bell hop prison. She he did the honors. Cost for the tip $8

- We proceeded to the room which had two double beds (no queen beds in this space conscious establishment.), adequate mattresses and the traditional black out curtains. No frills here. There was a small closet and a shower curtain that wouldn't stay up.

- Penny flung open the curtains and stepped out onto the 18" deck with a peek-a-boo view of the beach. No room for a chair out there but that was OK because the roar of the building HVAC system made it impossible to talk. Plus the stench of diesel bus fuel wafted up even to our 24th floor room.

- She quickly crammed the door shut only to discover a loud locomotive sound coming from the air as it blasted under the hallway door and whistled through the deck door that wouldn't close all the way.

- Thee was no place to lay out the suitcases so we used the floor which meant there was then no where to walk. We collapsed on the bed.

- Soon hunger called. After a long flight we dial room service to order from the gourmet menu except the entrees seemed like left over from an Antarctica research camp. (I'm thinking everything comes out of a can). An hour later and $71 and we have dinner for three.

- My soon wanted an extra coke but we didn't think we could wait another hour and pay another $5 so he finds a pop machine in the hall for the bargain price of $3.

- Then he finds the mini bar, "WAAAAAAIT yell before he grabs a snickers bar." I'm thinking $3 per candy bar is highway robbery.

- I need to logon for a few minutes but sorry no high speed internet in this aging beach beauty. I can use dialup in a pinch and find, hidden in the guest "Courtesy" manual that the cost for the data port (i.e.: phone line) is only one dollar per minute. Sorry I pass.

- And head to the street to find an internet cafe. There I find a place with high speed internet for just $6 per hour. But why do I have to march around the neighborhood to use it?

- At long last we find ourselves tuckered and trampled and snug in bed ready for a good night's sleep. No such luck. We hear Waikiki party goes stroll down our hall to their rooms every 20 minutes soused in liquor and banging the walls. It is spring break and a long night.

- Next morning we shuffle into Wolfgang Puck's express cafe for a glorified Egg McMuffin for just $9 each. I would have orange juice too but don't want to mortgage the house.

- Back to the entrance we go to request our car be brought around. It takes 20 minutes and a $3 tip every time we want the car. That, of course, on top of the $15 per day parking fee - but hey you get in and out privileges. Plus the tip each time of course. Even here in paradise if you don't tip your car might come back with dead fish in the trunk if you know what I mean.

- The next night I need to send a fax and am happily surprised that the price is only $1 per

page. Of course I know the long distance call home is now as low as 3 cents per minute but hey they have to make a profit, right?

- On the way back up to the room I discover that the elevators no longer descend to the lobby after 6pm, "To keep out the riff raff" says the clerk. So I'm forced to walk to the far end of the block long building, go up an escalator and then do elevator lottery to figure out which one goes to my floor. Geeeeesh!

- The next day I have to fax again and the clerk says "sorry you were undercharged last night the real rate is $5 for the first page and $3 each additional page. And I'm going to have to bill you for yesterday's mistake." Normally I would debate the issue but by now I'm without sleep or food or stamina.

- On the last day we go to the ice cream parlor on the beach side of the hotel and learn they have a fancy new system where they mix the cold stuff while you watch. And they sing if you give them a tip. I worry what will be hidden in the ice cream if I cough up some moolah. So the ice ream adventure is just $18 for three people. Last time someone took me for this much money the perpetrator was wearing a mask and had a gun.

- As we depart this Shangri-La we have to traverse the gauntlet of outstretched hands. $10 for the maid (is that enough?), $8 for the bellman, $4 for the car. I'm surprised the cashier didn't stick out his hand but by then maybe they realize most guests would chop it off at the wrist.

All in all we did get in some great sight seeing but I couldn't help but keep track of all the ways a hotel vacation rips dollars out of the guest's pocket. Certainly I am not a penny pincher. I even like some of those mega beach-side resorts where you can sit on your bum in the sun for a week and get everything handed to you. And for conferences and meetings, convention hotels are the only way to go.

THE MESSAGE: But now let me make my point. My fellow vacation rental owners, we need to blow the trumpet vacation homes even louder. We have a superior product. And we need to let travelers know the trouble with hotels.

NOTE: Or maybe we are just jealous of hotel owners. They have masterfully figured out how to take maximum dollars off guests while giving them the most meager of product and service.

BENEFITS OF VACATION RENTALS: Let me try to recap just a few of those services many vacation homeowners provide to their guests for free:

- Come and go when you like.

- Free parking usually

- Full kitchen, pots and pans for making macaroni and cheese when that suits you.

- Breakfast, lunch and dinner available 24 hours a day.

- No 1,000% markup on food.

- No tipping the rom service waiter.

- No tipping the doorman.

- A lot more room for a lot less money (per square foot)

- Decks you can actually sit on.

- Furniture that is actually comfortable.

- No neighbors on the other side of that flimsy wall.

- Don't have to share the bar with the Russian national drinking team.

- You can open the windows!

- You can turn the heat up or down. Or even on and of. Revolutionary.

- No daily maids to go through your underwear.

- No noisy elevators with noisy people.

- No hand in your wallet every time you turn around.



As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0045 – 04/06/04

Lau Lau for Christmas Dinner

By William May
Published: 12/22/03 Topics: Comments: 0

It was six years ago on Christmas day. My then eight year old son and I were snorkeling about 40 yards off shore at Poipu Beach Kauai. Having taken weekly swimming lessons since he was just 9 months old Taylor felt safe swimming with me out and around a point in hopes of seeing one of the endangered huge green sea turtles.

As we rounded the point, up swam two local men with spear guns. They were worried.

"Should the boy be put here?" they asked. "Usually only local keiki (kids) come out this far."

"Yes, he's been doing this for two years," I replied.

"Well that's good brah, but hey you want to catch an octopus?" he pointed the question directly at Taylor.

"Sure, I can dive to 18 feet!" he shouted over the noise of the surf.

"You can not."

"Yes I can!"

"OK, big boy, follow me," he challenged He swam with my only child and soon I saw both of them go feet up and straight down down into the blue Pacific.

By the time I could get my mask into the water, I saw my little boy shooting straight back up to the surface with an octopus in his fist, "Look Dad! Look what I got! He was right there under the coral."

We swam to shore with the octopus in hand. My son with the idea of examining and releasing it. Our hosts with the intention of eating it. However, Taylor was also a long time sushi eater and was happy to see how the ink drained onto the sand and back into the water. As we all ate raw octopus my wife and I chatted with the fisherman's buddy.

"Hey, what you doing out here on Christmas day? Your family here?" he inquired.

"No. We're all spread out all over so Penny, and Taylor and I come to Hawaii - our favorite place to seek a little peace and quiet at Christmas time," I explained.

"No Ohana (family) eh? That must be hard yea?" he was looking out to the ocean.

In an area where many bread winners work two jobs to pay the exorbitant cost of living, nothing is as important as family. "So what you having for dinner?"

"Oh, I found a quarter turkey to cook," chimed in Penny with pride that she at least had the traditional dish.

"That's no good," he said. "No good to be away from family. No, I think you go home with us for Christmas. Mama is making Lau Lau. Plenty for everyone. That's settled then. You are coming to our house for Christmas."

We hadn't said a word.

It really wasn't a question. It was a command. And so, perhaps a little homesick, we walked down the beach and up a street to where we found his home and his family and shared a wonderful Christmas dinner, Hawaiian Style. The food was delicious. The hospitality was sensational.


It wasn't Christmas but we had wandered into the Green Garden restaurant in historic Hanapepe town in West Kauai. You won't find many tourists here but it has a big dining room that is often packed.

The hostess showed us to our seats and then said, "Sis will be along to take your order."

The hostess didn't fit the usual definition. She was over 60 and over 300 pounds, and clearly in charge of the whole place. I don't think "Sis" was actually her sister because she insisted on calling my wife Sis also.

Sure enough Sis came quickly and brought us shrimp appetizers without being asked, "It's very busy. I'll be right back. Here is a little something to tie you over. No charge."

We eventually ordered a wonderful meal but, due to the size of the crowd, service was a little slow and Sis came by frequently to apologize. At the end I ordered a piece of Guava pie to go.

But after I signed the receipt she came back with a full pie in a box explaining, "Sorry we're so slow tonight. I gave you a little extra for waiting. Mahalo (thank you) and Aloha."


Over the years I have become a big fan of Hawaiian Music. I can rationalize my fascination because I was a musician long ago. Or because the music is melodic and because simply playing it on a cold winter night in

Seattle instantly transports me back to the warmth of my second home - Hawaii.

It was a revelation last year when I realized another reason I enjoy the music so much. I was sitting in a small auditorium on the Kauai College Campus listening to Amy Hanaialii Gilliom. She has extraordinary singing skills and, although a young woman, has mastered the old ha'i (falsetto) music style of old Hawaii.

She had the 500 person audience in the palm of her hand as she sang songs of old Hawaii and then dedicated one to her "Tutu" (Grandmother).

That's when it hit me. Another reason I like Hawaiian music because it contrasts much of contemporary music. Rather than complaining about "Ho's" (the mainland derogatory term), Hawaiian music glorifies the seemingly small but actually monumentally important aspects of our lives - things like about grandmothers and sunrises and sunsets.


I was first introduced to Hawaiian music slowly by listening to songs by Cecelio and Kapono; a group that drew my attention when they had a few hits on the rock and roll charts in the 1980's.

From there I discovered Gabby Pahanui, Aunty Genoa Keawe, Kealii Reichel and, of course, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. If you think you've never heard of him I guarantee you've heard his music. Its been used in many motion pictures and television shows.

He sang in both English and Hawaiian and may be best known for his haunting melodies "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

Not all my friends understand when I tell them I love the music from a 500 pound Hawaiian. But they have all seen the "ER" television episode where Dr. Mark Green, a navy brat who grew up in Hawaii, dies peacefully in his sleep as Bruddah Iz music plays in the background. Most are moved to tears by the tender voice of a giant man.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a very big man in every sense of the word. He played a tiny soprano ukulele first with the band "Makaha Sons" and later as a solo artist. He died at the age of 38 in 1997 caused by the complications of his massive size.

In his short life, "Bruddah Iz" became a legend. His last album stayed on the world music charts for an astounding 200 weeks in a row. When he passed away he was put to rest in the Hawaiian capitol, an honor never bestowed on anyone else. Over 18,000 people paid their respects.

What was it they saw in him?

Aside from his massive music and voice, Iz promoted the concept of Aloha saying often,"The world will be a better place when it's more like Hawaii." He was talking about the spirit of Aloha and Ohana. The acceptance of others and the challenges we face in melding together. Maybe that is why today, six years after his passing, he is still the top selling artist in Hawaii.


I was nurtured in music by my mother, herself a highly accomplished musician who attended the legendary Hollywood high school in the 1930's where she was accompanist to many of the child movie stars of that era.

Once she was able to come with us to Hawaii for the Holidays and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Just last week, in need of some cheering up she pulled out the Henry Kapono CD I had purchased for her.

She remembered the moonlit night in the little town of Waimea when Henry sang directly to her and the other Tutu's in the audience. It makes her smile whenever she thinks of "Tell me Why?" a love song he wrote for his wife. It causes my mother to think of my Dad who passed eight years ago.

When Kealii Reichel came to Portland Oregon where my Mom lives, we bought tickets and attended what proved to be a therapeutic concert by this charismatic performer. Already fans, we were not ready for what I have learned happens at the end of many Hawaiian shows.

The audience rises and holds hands and sings a song that is a kind of a Hawaiian anthem. It doesn't matter if you don't know the Hawaiian words, because no one could fail to grasp the message of Aloha.


So what does all this have to do with vacation rentals, or lodging or hospitality? Only this: hospitality is a rewarding and enjoyable activity.

We retain our right to have visitors and guests in our homes because sharing what we have with others is a pleasure and a joy. It's not always easy of course.

But if so many people in Hawaii rely on tourism to support their beautiful land and can do such a wonderful job, then there is room for the rest of us to participate also.

Let's hope we can do as good a job as most in Hawaii do.

Mele Kalikimaka & Haouli Makahiki Hou.

(Merry Christmas & Happy New Year)



As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at


There are wonderful vacation homes everywhere. Lake Tenkiller is the clear water paradise of eastern Oklahoma. And Dale Wemhaner's Five Oak's Manor is a stately and beautiful home. Take a look at (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)


Thanks for the great newsletters. I have learned a lot just by reading them and we have been in business since 1994. - David, Bryson City NC

Well you've been at it longer than I have. So its my job to gather info from all owners and help share it with others. - Wm. May


Please see these websites for fun:


- (Bruddah Iz)

- (Internet Radio Hawaii, Hawaiian Music 24 hours a day)

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0039 – 12/22/03

Christmas in Hawaii

By William May
Published: 12/15/03 Topics: Comments: 0

Mele Kalikimaka Haouli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Hawaii). There are many wonderful reasons for owning a vacation home. But my favorite is the way ownership allows people to make another place home. And I don't mean just a nice place to eat and sleep. Instead, if you are lucky, you can sink into the local neighborhood and culture. And you can help your guests do the same.

Friday we jet off to Kauai to celebrate Christmas, New Years and - yes - to work on the rental homes. For my family that home away from home is Hawaii. And more specifically Poipu Beach on the Island of Kauai.

We do own homes at a lake and a ski area in Washington State also. They are wonderful places that we love for different reasons. But I figure I was accidentally born to english/german parents in Washington State because, deep down, I feel Hawaiian. Several years ago I decided it was my home town. After all, who says where you are born must be your home town. Maybe the place you feel more at home should be your home town.

How It Started:

27 years ago my soon to be wife convinced me we should honeymoon in Hawaii. The idea didn't hold much appeal because my brain was flooded with a stereotypical vision of grass skirted women doing the tourist hula accompanied by toy ukulele's. At the time, I considered myself more of an adventurer who would be bored stiff sitting on the beach drinking a maitai with thousands of other pale skinned tourists.

Boy was I wrong!

From the moment I got off the plane in Lihue Kauai in 1976, at what was then a small open-air airport, something changed. I slowed down. Way down. Everywhere I looked people were smiling at me. It felt like the twilight zone. How could so many people act so happy? At first I thought they had been trained to be courteous - as workers are at many tourist destinations. It took several return trips before I began to learn more about Aloha and the Hawaiian Culture. The Hawaiian people have a long history of accommodation which has been continually augmented by the culture of peoples from China, Japan, Puerto Rico and the Philippines who were brought in as workers beginning 200 years ago.

Hawaii is the most isolated major island group on the globe, the population is one of the most diverse and one of the most religious (Christian and other). The concept of "Ohana" (recently celebrated in the Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch), permeates every race and every culture that has come to Hawaii. Almost everyone participates in politics and local government the island being, of course, much like a small town where people know their neighbors and politicians. Perhaps most important, central to the thinking of every citizen of Hawaii, whether of Hawaiian blood or not, is music, dance and the spirit of Aloha.

Plus of course the wonderful climate that hovers around 80 degrees year round. There are only two states in the US that have never recorded a temperature of 100 degrees or hotter. One is Alaska and the other, surprise, is Hawaii. No house has a furnace and most do not have air conditioning. Cooling trade winds blow 85% of the time giving the place that kind of euphoric feel and smell that every Hollywood movie tries to capture in their version of paradise.


Even if you have never been to Hawaii you have undoubtedly heard the world Aloha. If you've been there once or twice you've noticed it being used in almost every conversation. "Alooooooha" - it is often used, almost without thought, to lure a tourist into a store or to entertain an audience. But to "Kamaaina" (natives or long time citizens) Aloha is much more.

Better writers than I have stumbled when trying to adequately describe Aloha. You may have been told that Aloha means Hello, and Goodbye and Love. And it does. But it also a deep spiritual understanding pervasive to the entire society.

Queen Lili`uokalani (The last queen of Hawaii, 1838-1917) said, "Aloha was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana, goodness and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality. No Hawaiian could greet another with 'Aloha' unless he felt it in his own heart. If he felt anger or hate in his heart he had to cleanse himself before he said 'Aloha'."

Now that is a pretty tall order for most of us to achieve with Guests. But I think it's a good goal for any of us who offer our homes to others. Hawaiians aren't perfect either but by infusing Aloha into their lives it sure looks like they are trying to be.

So it is my thinking that the people of Hawaii have become some of the most generous, warm, considerate and kind people in the world mostly because they have a focus. In some strange way it is what in business today is labeled a "Mission Statement." A wise man once said, "If you don't know where you're going, that is exactly where you'll get." Hawaiians have the distinct privilege of being given a clear and concise goal from the time they are born. To live with a spirit of Aloha. It is this that I admire so much.

Management by Aloha:

Only if you are born there or are lucky enough to spend time there does the true meaning of Aloha become clear. It has been a mantra of the corporate world to operate "Management by Objective." MBO dictates that organizations decide what they want to do before they attempt to do it. And, more importantly, that each and every task in the group be directed to accomplishing the goal. This in itself is a worthy concept but has sometimes been taken to extremes that cause managers and employees to subject their lives and families to conditions that are unhealthy.

Some years ago when Hawaiian tourism was suffering a down turn, a professor from the University of Hawaii's hotel management program wrote a book that I happened to come across in a bookstore. (I have forgotten the exact title and his name, but will provide it next week). He made the comment that there are many great destinations in the world with bright sun, white sand beaches and inviting teal oceans. So why should visitors prefer Hawaii? The answer, he said, is that Hawaii has something that no one else has - Hawaii has Aloha.

His suggestion was that Hawaiian hotel properties, often owned by off islanders, should embrace the spirit of Aloha, feature it in their lodging and, in fact, allow it to run throughout their operations. He said employees should be allowed some of the work week to display hand made crafts. They should be encouraged to entertain or sing for guests. Staff "Keiki" (children) should be allowed to come to work with their parents on special occasions. The hotels that embraced the concept were soon enjoying greater occupancies and glowing comments from guests. A trend that continues to this day.

In the past when I have mentioned his concept to groups unfamiliar with Hawaii it has sometimes brought giggles from the audience because he called his concept "Management by Aloha." But if you remember that Aloha is a very powerful mission statement, but one that is based in deep interpersonal values, you can understand why MBA is so successful. It is Management by Objective but with a much deeper and profound foundation.

Although each vacation rental home is in fact a very small business, working to greet guests and make them feel at home is a worthy goal that could make any home in any location produce more revenue and enjoyment for the owners as well.

Next Week:

If you'll indulge me, next week I will be telling you a few of our hometown Hawaii stories. Experiences I would have missed had it not been for the opportunity to own vacation homes and live at least least part of my life there. They allow me to sink into the community, to get to know people, to leave one world behind and enjoy another. It is my pleasure to have more than one hometown and all the joy that comes with that. I'll be telling you about:

- The Friendly Fisherman
- Lau lau for Christmas Dinner
- Songs about tutu
- Free Guava Pie
- Brudda Iz
- The Hawaiian anthem

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at

Home of the Week:

Overlooking downtown San Diego you'll find Foxwood Suites just minutes from all the beautiful sites and activities San Diego offers! Owner Darrin Fuchs offers exclusive accommodations for vacation, business and even the military traveler. Take a look at ( (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)


Hey,Great newsletter this week for a newbie who is still trying to get ready for a spring 2004 opening.
- Deeanna, Penrose Colorado

Hey, back at you Dee. Good luck with your opening. Its fun to get things rolling and even more fun when its under control.
- Wm. May


Please see these websites for fun:
- (
- ( (Internet Radio Hawaii, Hawaiian Music 24 hours a day)

For Fun:

P.S. Want to sing a Hawaiian Christmas Carol?

"Mele Kalikimaka" was written by R. Alex Anderson who from high school to his death in 1995 composed nearly 200 songs. He wrote the song in 1949 and it may have been first recorded in about 1950 by Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters. It was a big hit. You can find the sheet music for Mele Kalikimaka at or buy recordings of it at

The Words:

Mele Kalikimaka
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway,
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright,
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say "Merry Christmas to you."

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway,
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright,
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say, "Merry Christmas,
A very Merry Christmas to you."

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0038 – 12/15/03

The Art of Getting Your Email Read

By William May
Published: 12/01/03 Topics: Comments: 0

Almost everyone loves email but spam makes it difficult for legitimate messages to get noticed. Users scan dozens if not hundreds of emails every day without much of a glance. There are some tried and true rules you can adopt to make sure your important message doesn't get tossed in the can.

Almost 30 years ago (yes I am showing my age) I operated a medium sized Advertising agency here in Seattle Washington. My training was in Mass Media, such as writing and producing advertising for Magazines, Newspaper, Radio and TV. It was a fun business because we got to spend all day every day writing and creating ads and commercials - figuring out how to get the clients message across.

AGE OLD RULES: ass media is much different than the personal communication we all use everyday. So when given a chance to take a letter writing course I figured it would be good training. And boy was it! The course title was boring - "How to Write Compelling Business Letters" - but what the instructor imparted were common sense tips that have proven to be just as effective in writing emails as they were in typed letters (There I go showing my age again).

So I thought I'd share some of those ideas you can use when writing emails to prospects and guests. You will notice that I have adapted them for today's email needs but I would urge you to keep them in mind when preparing letters as well. You will find these tips are wonderful for sales and customer service. But they are just as helpful in dealing with vendors, government authorities, and other kinds of contacts.

(1) WRITE PERSONALLY: Pompous letters are boring letters. Every business needs a lawyer but sales and customer service letters shouldn't sound like legal briefs. Many recipients will not read anything that is long or boring. Use the kind of familiarity you would use in writing your mother, brother or children. "Hi John" is better than "Dear Mr. Jones."

Yes people like to be respected but your goal in writing personal communications is to "breed familiarity." You don't want them to say "How does this person know me.' but instead, "How do I know this person."

## The cool thing about writing personally is that it's fun. And you don't have to follow those old grammar school rules. Show your personality. Show your enthusiasm.

(2) WRITE AS YOU SPEAK: English teachers insist on complete sentences. But readers do not. In fact, long or complicated sentences actually decrease comprehension. Its been estimated that the average person can hear and comprehend thousands of words per minute. That same person can speak up to four hundred to eight hundred words per minute but can usually only write about 40 words per minute. (Think about a typing test.) Part of the reason is that when writing we shift into a "as taught in school" mode that we casually discard when speaking. Professional writers, such as newspaper or magazine journalists, know better. They write using short, tight sentences to get your attention and keep it.

BAD: "Hello Mother this is your eldest son speaking. I would like to invite you to dinner next month. I will be happy to pay for the dinner. Call if you are interested in accepting my offer." (OK its a silly example)

BETTER: "Hi Mom, can I buy you dinner?"

(3) USE PARAGRAPHS: Have you ever gotten a 500 word email that was all one paragraph or, worse yet, one sentence? Forget what they taught you in high school and, instead, start noticing how newspapers are written. They employ short crisp sentences and short paragraphs. Many paragraphs are a single sentence. Newspaper writers and editors have been honing their craft a long while. Every article fights for the readers attention. They know they have to get out the facts quickly and bundle sentences into logical short paragraphs. You should too.

WRONG: "Mr. Jones, Enclosed herewith please find our contract for the reservation of the unit we have available at the Wapato Point Lake Chelan Resort Community. You are required to execute this legal document and return it to us within 10 days or you will lose your deposit without further notice. Wapato Point is a gated community and we require Guests to follow the rules and regulations and all state laws regarding lodging. You must checkin at the reception desk and sign further documents. If you have questions you may call me at 888-628-8989. Otherwise I await the return of the contract - Penny L. Taylor, Guest Relations Director"

RIGHT: "Hi John, Thanks for deciding to stay with us. Please return the enclosed paperwork in the next week. I'll send you the directions and rules.

Call me if you need anything else. You'll love Wapato Point.

Penny Taylor, Sunspot Vacation Rentals 888-628-8989"

(4) USE THE CUSTOMERS NAME: No one would think of sending a letter without including the person's name at the head. Your emails may be getting only a glance from recipients as they discard spam. You can improve being noticed by including the person's first name in the Subject of the email and as the first line of the text as well. As an example, you will notice we include members names in all emails including this newsletter.

(5) CHOOSE SALUTATIONS CAREFULLY: The way a letter starts alerts the reader to whether you know them. It is always best to use a person's first name. However, and this is a big however, if you use the wrong first name you will reveal that you do not know actually know them. For example: I use William or Wm. on my correspondence. But most people call me Bill. If you phone or write and ask for William this tells me we've never met.

Choosing the correct salutation to use for many names is obvious. For "Steve Smith" you would use "Dear Steve." But if the name is "Stephen Smith" the choice is difficult. Call him "Steve" or "Stephen" and you may get it wrong. In such cases the only safe bet is to address your letter "Mr. Smith."

And what do you do with names where eve the gender is unclear? The answer is to avoid the name altogether. Normally you would never want to use a generic greeting but in the case of unknown gender its wise to resort to something like "Hello There."

(6) WRITE DESCRIPTIVE SUBJECTS: This is a goal borrowed from print advertising. Advertising copywriters can spend days writing hundreds of headlines in order to boil their headline down to the single best six words. They invest this time to draw readers to an ad that may have cost tens of thousands of dollars to run. Think about it. Drawing readers to your email messages can be as difficult as getting a magazine ad read. So the words you put in the subject will determine whether you pass the test.

- If you are sending information you want to include reference to your home or resort. Such as "Bill - Snoqualmie Pass Rental Info"

- If you are responding you might try. "Jennifer - Answers about the Caribbean Dive Shack."

- If you they really don't know you, how about "Mrs. Smith - Paris Artist Loft Info - From Louis Armond"

There is limited space for your email subject. But many are too short. Include everything important and nothing extraneous.

(7) KEEP IT SHORT: A one sentence letter can receive 20 times the readership of a 20 sentence letter. There may be certain keys that must be covered and require a letter to be longer than desirable. But the text of the letter should be as short as possible without eliminating crucial data. On the other hand, the text area allows unlimited space and sometimes you must use it to fully answer questions or provide essential information.

(8) USE ASSUMPTIONS: Emails and letters are not essays or term papers. You don't need elaborate explanations and references and footnote like descriptions. When someone calls about your home in the Great Smokey mountains you do not need to where they are. Assume callers have some knowledge. Of course, if you detect that they think the Great Smokies are in Colorado you'll want to ask a few questions and make sure they really want to stay in your location.

(9) DON'T OMIT POINTS: This may sound contrary to the tip just above, but writers often fail to include the most basic of information. If you require that rent, cleaning fee and deposit be paid in advance you must be careful to always discuss them all together. This will eliminate confusion and disagreements at later dates.

BAD: "The rent is only $250 per night."

BETTER: "The rent is only $250 per night (plus cleaning and deposit)."

(10) ELIMINATE OFFENSE WORDS: No I'm not talking about profanity. But there are certain words that scare people or cause them to question your sincerity. Those words include legal terms such as "Contract", "Signing" and "Obligations." You may indeed have to use these words after the fact if a guest attempts to circumvent the intention of the legal document.

But in sales it is more persuasive, and just as ethical, to use equally clear but more easily accepted words. For the word "Contact" you can use "Paperwork" or "Understanding." Don't ask people to sign things when they are happier to "Approve" details. Everyone is willing to follow the "Rules" but almost no one wants to be obligated to things they do not understand.

(11) ELIMINATE WEASEL WORDS: Every beginning advertising copywriter learns about weasel words. These are the suffocating terms inexperienced writers accidentally use to weaken their message. They include terms such as "Up to", "Almost everything", "Selected Items" and so forth. Maybe a lawyer has pulled at the writers ear or the client has instructed the writer to do so without fully understanding how this alerts the consumer to the deception. Weasel words also include things like URGENT, IMPORTANT, IMMEDIATE. Not because these are bad words but because they have been so badly abused. Writers naturally discard these words as having any importance.

Would you rather go to a sale where "URGENT - Almost everything was up to 50% off?" or would you want to go to a sale where "Absolutely everything 40% Off".

In advertising or writing about your rental be explicit but make your offer bold. If you offer the low season at half off the high season rates have the guts to say so. Try not to include a lot of rules, caveats or exceptions.

(12) PUT FACTS BELOW SIGNATURE: By now you've learned these newsletters are seldom short. I like to think we are delving into some subjects that many members have never discussed. Last week the topic of Terms and Conditions required a good deal of legal jargon and accompanying explanations. So I choose to put all that beneath the signature line. You should use this same method if, let's day, you had a laundry list of directions and operating details guests needed to know prior to checking in. Write a short intro email and indicate the details are below your signature. That way the guest can see the email is from you and read the balance at a later time if they don't have right then.

(13) ASK FOR COMMITMENT (THE ORDER): So after you've written this nice little letter or email don't stop dead in your tracks and sign off. Instead, always tell the recipient what, if anything, you are asking them to do. And don't white wash it. If there is anything I have learned about selling, it is that people want to be told what to do to get what they want.

BAD: "Here is the information you requested. Thank you."

BETTER: "I'm including our brochure and rate card. Please call when you get this. The summer is booking up quickly"

(14) DROP FORMALITY: I am sure your family and friends are impressed if you are the "Vice President of Sales and Marketing," but in casual communications titles intimidate and that is something you only want to have happen in cases of severe disagreements or problems. My full names is "William Victor May" which is appropriate in some circumstances. But usually I sign letters Wm. May or Wm. and without a title.

(15) INCLUDE CONTACT INFO: And do remember to sign all email. It is amazing how many messages I receive where I am unable to determine who sent it. In the first message or two it may be warranted to include extensive contact information so the recipient is sure to find you again even if its months or years in the future. In that case I might use a signature block like this:

Jimbo Jones
Happy Days Rentals
PO Box 555
North Fork, MT 55555
Voice: 555-555-5555
Fax: 555-555-5555
Web: (

But after a few emails, letters or phone calls it is time to switch to a more informal signature. By then the recipient knows who you are and why you are communicating with them. Repeating your contact information defeats the purpose of emphasizing familiarity. Of course, there is some information the person will find handy such as your phone number but usually so you might shorten your signature as follows:

"Jimbo Jones 555-555-5555"

If you are an accomplished writer, you may have found these tips obvious and sophomoric. But its been my observation that most executives and business owners write very few letters, sales materials or other documents. Its my theory that so many teachers have spent so much time editing and correcting and requiring strict conformance to formal writing rules that many students simply give up trying to communicate effectively and personally.

Perhaps a positive attribute of the Email phenomena is that it has prompted or even required people to put their thoughts in writing. Most of us now do more writing in a week than we used to do in a year. And if you are going to bother doing all that writing think about how these tips can help make your thoughts easy to understand, more informative and persuasive.


As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at

In French "Pied-à-terre" means a secondary or temporary lodging. From artist's loft to country farmhouse, members Chara & Walid Halabi have three marvelous homes in Paris for your next rental. See ( (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)

Thank you, I am very impressed with your site! My friends up in Blue Ridge will be signing up soon!
- Gary, Brooksville Florida

Glad you like it Gary. We appreciate your recruiting. Increasing membership will help us budget more owner services.
- Wm. May

Please see the website section for other ideas:
- Forms & Contracts FREE downloads

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0037 – 12/01/03

Picking a great name for your property

By William May
Published: 07/07/03 Topics: Comments: 0

Many of the things you can do to increase occupancy cost money, especially advertising.

But there is one thing you can do that costs absolutely nothing and will absolutely increase demand for your property - and that is to pick a really great, memorable name for your property.

Guests like renting from private owners because they hope to find a home that is, in some way, unique to them. They may value its location, the view or many other attributes.

But until they've actually stayed with you they must rely on the image you give them of the place.

Photos, floor plans and a long list of amenities are fine. But the name you pick will also tell them something. The question is will that something be good or bad. You'll have only one chance to make a first impression as they say, so make it a good one.

HINT: Names can be long or short, but shorter is better. They can be catchy or boring and catchy is better. They can be accurate or misleading and accurate is definitely better.

I had a great college advertising professor who said that good advertising can make a poor product fail faster. Think about that. It means if you convey messages that are inaccurate you may indeed get customers. But if its a not what they thought they were buying they'll be disappointed or, worse yet, may actually feel they've been mislead.

HINT: A good name should be unique but at the same time memorable. The first house we bought as located at 123 Chelan View Drive. So, with no intent to get into rentals seriously it got accidentally named "The 1-2-3 House." Not too bad but really not very catchy.

The home is located on a very up-scale unique private gated community on Washington State's top summer tourist area. Strangely, all the homes site on 100-year land leases that are owned by a long-time Native American family. Shortly after buying the home we were on a four-week tour of Southwest US Indian reservations and really liked some of the art we found. Then we decided to buy and decorate the house almost exclusively with Native American art.

At first we were a bit apprehensive. Was it presumptuous of us to do so? What would guests think? Thankfully the first guests in the house after the artwork was installed were - unknown to us at the time - of Native American decent. We were happy when we received the most wonderful letter from them praising what they had found in the home which they called "The Totem House." The name stuck and we quickly renamed the place.

To this day, in the Guestbook and evaluation forms guests love the art and everyone in the whole community calls it the Totem House.

HINT: If you get a name you like be sure to get a good website domain name. Although the ( domain name was taken (and used) we purchase and now use it in all the advertising.

The simple house name and simple domain name work well together. The name is remembered by Guests and others in the community.

NOTE: If you want to see what domain names are available use this fabulously FREE on line tool Go to ( It will allow you to search names and text strings to find out which of the names you like is available in various extensions such as .com, .net and so forth. There are more than you think.

HINT: So how do you get a great name for your home? I'd suggest you use the method my old professor taught in college. First, get the family together with a big piece of paper. Brain storm all the names you can think - no matter how silly or inappropriate they may seem. Then make a copy of the list for everyone. Put it away for a week and then meet again. Go over the names and then pick one person - and one person only - who will decide the name.

They should do that by simply staring at them until one of the names literally stands out on the sheet. It usually will.

A week later the name should be printed out on a piece of paper and given to everyone in the family - all of whom must agree not to question or ridicule it for one year.

And guess what - a year later everyone will be using the name and
will wonder how it was every called by anything else.

Be sure to see which domain names might be available.

HINT: If you're tempted to name your house after your family such as "The Smith House" please don't. First, it is not memorable. Second, the domain probably won't be available and second it doesn't really say anything about your house, its quality, location or any other factor guests might find helpful.

SUGGESTIONS: So right now if you don't have a name for your house sit down and start making a list. Then check to see if the domain's available. The sooner you do this essentially free exercise the sooner your revenue will go up.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0020 – 07/07/03

An Unremarkable Phone Call

By William May
Published: 08/15/95 Topics: Family Comments: 0

I was worried about my son Taylor. He has never been the reflective type. At age five, he has the vocabulary, energy and determination of a ten year old. If there is a swimming lesson to take, a zoo expedition or a get together with friends, Taylor boils over with enthusiasm.

So I had been a bit worried about him when, in the last month, he became more thoughtful, more introspective and, on random occasions, sad and withdrawn. When I questioned him for an explanation, he ducked my careful inquiries with nothing more than a slight tilt of the head and a forced smile. Definitely not Taylor. I worried further.

Then one evening, as we sat and talked about the tiniest things in life, he suddenly blurted out "Dad, can we call Grandpa Dick?" It caught me terribly off guard but I immediately understood Taylor’s problem. You see my father had passed away just about a month before.

My father was a gentle quiet man. It is strange for me to say this, but in many ways he was unremarkable, at least in today’s world where bigger-than-life self promoters are often thrust at us as models and heroes. Dick was none of that.

Instead he was a hard worker who prided himself on never having asked for a raise. He led efforts to erect a parsonage and, for another congregation - a church building. He loved to sing having started in high school and never missed a church choir rehearsal or Sunday service. World War II stole three years of his life for which he never complained.

He left behind three devoted sons, three adoring grandchildren, loving daughter-in-laws and a wife who fell for him at age 16 and never forgot how that felt. We remember his wit, his gentle ways and, most of all, how his eyes would mist when anything of compassion, common sense or injustice was discussed.

For ten years after his retirement he worked 8 hours a day five or more days per week doing what he had loved best having grown up on a farm - growing gardens, cutting lawns, pruning shrubs. Most often he did it for other Seniors who couldn’t get out to do it and usually for whatever they could afford to pay. In the end, it was his simple goodness that friends and family found so truly remarkable.

His passing consisted of two days of worry, four weeks of unconsciousness and then, as sudden and as startling as blowing a tire on a deserted road, he died. Two days before his hospital admittance, we hurried up a family dinner. There, under his Cheshire grin and humble words I knew there must be fear and panic. He shared none of that.

True to form, Dad demanded a day to visit his customers promising to be back in a few weeks to take care of their gardens and lawns. It was not to be.

Taylor’s request to "Call Grandpa Dick" opened my recent wounds. I silently gasped but tried not to tear up. We had withheld news of Grandpa’s illness from Taylor even after we knew the end was near. He was fed bits of information, progressively worse, until Taylor guessed and we confirmed that Grandpa would probably die.

When he did, my son, his Mom and I cried together. Taylor rationalized and seemed to accept the inevitability of death. Until then Taylor had only had to deal with the death of one goldfish; who even now sleeps comfortably in a cotton lined wallet box in our freezer. Taylor hadn't been ready to let go of "Splendid" the fish and now it seems he wasn’t ready to let go of Grandpa Dick either.

"Gee Tay, sounds like you miss Grandpa", I whispered.

"Yes", said Tay, "But I’ve been thinking. Grandpa always told me to call him anytime I needed him. That’s what he said - anytime. I know he’s gone. But he never talked much anyway. He always just said things like ‘How great Tay’ and ‘You make me so proud’. I just know if I call him he’ll listen. Can we Dad, I kind of need to talk to him?"

It took me a minute to speak, at last deciding to play it by ear. "Sure, Tay you’re right. That might make us all - you, me and Grandpa feel a lot better." Holding down the plunger, I quickly dialed the number and handed the receiver to my young son.

For a few long minutes, Taylor conducted the usual Grandpa Dick phone call. There was an update on his Dad, his Mom, his Nanny, his cats and his friends; then a few jokes with punch lines that didn’t make sense. Taylor doesn’t really understand jokes yet but Grandpa’s don’t expect logical jokes from kids. He asked Grandpa how his chickens, rabbits and new Dog were doing. The conversation seemed perfectly rational.

Finally, Taylor fell into simply inserting the occasional "yes", "h-huh" and "that’s good". Grandpa was now talking. Taylor was listening. I was crying.

Cupping the receiver with his hand, Taylor turned to me and said "Do you want to talk Dad?" Overcome with emotion, I shook my head no. He took back the receiver and said "OK, Grandpa, Dad can’t talk right now. Gotta go. I love you. I miss you. Oh, and by the way, remember anytime you need me ... just call. Anytime. I love you Grandpa ... I miss you."

He hung up the phone flashing me one of those parent melting smiles, "Thanks Dad, I feel better". And he was.


It’s taken me several weeks to gather the composure to put this simple event down in writing. Things are beginning to get back to normal in our household. Taylor is feeling much better and has resumed his unabashed enthusiasm for everything in life including books, bugs and bicycles.

For me it will take longer. I haven’t yet come to grips with my father’s passing (if I ever will.) Writing this story brings back its confusing combination of sorrow and pain. I can’t get my hands around the mystery. I can’t put a conclusion on things. Tonight, I think I’d better go home and, with my son’s help, call Grandpa Dick.

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Author: William May – A Father's Son, MayPartners
Blog #: 0506 – 08/15/95

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