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

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

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