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


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.

Read more

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

How to Hire & Retain Happy Housekeepers (10 rules)

By Wm. May
Published: 01/28/14 Topics: Lodging Management, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals, WAVRMA Comments: 0

How to Hire and Retain Happy Housekeepers - 10 Tips

Servers at restaurants, both fancy and plain, demand tips. The valet who parks your car puts his hand out. Even your neighborhood Starbucks barista wants money for making up your fancy café mocha, skinny, double cup, with foam.

In Lodging many guests simply do not know they need to tip those hard working housekeepers who slip in and out of their rooms while they sit comfortably in the dining room, paying too much for dinner, and giving the smiling cheerful waiter a big tip for being so attentive.

Recent anecdotal responses indicate that tipping in Vacation Rentals occurs less often in hotels. That is a disrespectful situation that must change.

Industry research consistently points to lack of cleanliness as the most common complaint of travelers. Everyone wants a good clean place to stay. But some guests are even reluctant to stay in a vacation rental for fear it is not sparkling clean.

It is time to prove them wrong.

Heavy Work

Those who clean bathrooms, scrub kitchens and scour barbecues deserve the highest respect not the lowest. It is hard work and under appreciated.

By comparison, being a corporate executive is a piece of cake. Those big wigs must even "Carve out" time everyday to go to the gym for the workout they do not get at work.

Housekeepers don't need a trip to the gym. They get down on hands and knees scrubbing floors, they climb ladders to clean or change light bulbs and they tote tons of trash out of homes.

Rent By Owners

Vacation rental rent-by-owners complain they can not find housekeepers, or good ones, can't keep them, or lose them often with little notice. That is because amateur owners base their hiring and retention methods on personal observations instead of empirical knowledge.

There are secrets to finding and keeping most any kind of employee, but they are especially clear and unavoidable for housekeepers and other workers who do societies dirty work.

Rental Managers:

Some vacation rental managers make the same complaints, but often they are new to the industry or have an over-blown sense of their own importance, while avoiding the hard work of personally cleaning homes.

Walking a mile in a housekeepers shoes is the only way to understand how difficult and deadline driven the work can be, and why those housekeeper shoes are often worn and tattered.

Luckily, most vacation rental managers eventually discover the secrets to finding and keeping the kind of loyal, industrious and committed workers who are willing to clean toilets and do other unglamorous work.

10 Iron Clad Rules

To find and keep top-quality people, who serve your guests well and do so with a smile on their faces it is necessary to follow some iron-clad rules.

PAY - Stop scrimping and pay people well. Pay them based on the hours cleans take and not on your budget, which is often far too little, and seldom accounts for differences in how guests leave a home.

SCHEDULING - Arrange cleaning dates as far in advance as possible. Provide online tools so workers can see where they are to be and when. Adjust schedules to accommodate second jobs, day-care, etc.

FULL TIME - Don't hire more people than you need. There will be employees who prefer part-time work but most want to get a full week's pay or close to it.

WEEKLY PAY - Pay your staff weekly, do it direct-deposit and never miss a payroll deadline, even by a few minutes. Everyone needs to get paid. They have bills to pay.

TIPS - Put out cute and subtle time envelopes, signed by the cleaner that just so happen to mention tipping. Guest actually like to reward those who serve them. Unlike restaurants, lodging guests need a reminder. This can increase pay 24 to 30% making housekeepers beam.

STANDARDS - Write clear concise cleaning "Hospitality" standards. Do not demand "Hospital" standards because they are not necessary or economically feasible. If you don't know the difference, someone else in your organization needs to be the inspector.

TRAINING - Require even experienced housekeepers to work along side current staff to learn the ropes of each home. Use checklists. Train, re-train and train again. Inspect work. Provide pleasant feedback.

HONESTY - Only hold housekeepers to a standard you could attain. To prove it - clean multiple houses in one day, and invite the housekeepers to inspect your work. Then do it for a week.

BE KIND - Cleaning small simple hotel rooms is far easier than scrubbing large personal homes that can have owner possessions, far more furniture and utensils and even peculiar outfitting.

RESPECT - Every housekeeper must be treated with the utmost respect. Never raise your voice. Never complain, Never insinuate.

This is the most often violated rule, but the most important one. Never fall victim to your feeling of superiority.

BONUS TIP - Believe every word housekeepers tell you. If a home needs deep cleaning - believe them, If a house needs extra cleaning after an owner says they cleaned it - believe them. If the vacuum cleaner needs to be replaced - believe them

Anything less disrespects the challenging labor to they do for you so reliably.

The Result

Not all new hires will be good housekeepers. Not all will achieve hospitality standards. Not all will remain employees for years to come. But converting your thinking to these iron clad rules will insure you achieve the following:

  • High Quality Hospitality Cleaning.
  • Happy guests and property owners.
  • Respect from wonderful housekeepers
  • Personal satisfaction in knowing you treated people well.

Read more

Author: Wm. May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0338 – 01/28/14

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