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Lodging Update October 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMBLE & KIND

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

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

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

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

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

Lodging Update September 30, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 09/30/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A funny thing happened on the way to the Covid mess..

Ok, there is nothing funny about Covid, but there have been numerous changes to the world in general and to lodging in particular which are unexpected or even bizarre. This letters explain what they mean to property owners and how we have adapted to the upheaval.

After the March deluge of cancellations, bookings surged greater than ever before. There are many factors, but the biggest one is people just wanted to "get out of town" and driving-to destinations won out.

Staying in a private home or small lodging facility allowed guests to remain socially distant and yet allowed them to get into the out of doors.

With shopping, restaurants, movies, and other past activities prohibited, "discretionary income" actually increases for folks still employed.

For these and other reasons, rental income grew for most homes but management had to recognize and adjust many other factors. Some of these alterations had been inching into existence before Covid, but it escalated the changes.

Some changes require property owners to recognize and adapt to them fast in order to accommodate the many new guests anxious to rent their homes. Owners who accept change will prosper. Those who don't will lose out.

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TREND - Vacation Rental popularity has grown steadily for two decades, right through the world shaking events of 9-11 and the economic travails of the 2007-2008 real estate depression. Once guests try a vacation rental, they stay at hotels less, and our industry grows.

NEWBIES - This summer, additional guests who had never rented a vacation home before were booking. Those "Samplers" will permanently embrace rentals just as those did before.

But first-timers are always sensitive to every little thing. They make incorrect presumptions about what a rental is and is not. They expect 24-7 service, they complain if the weather is bad, and if there is not a 100 quart baking pan in the home. As before, the solution is to provide ever increasing amenities, more service, and higher hospitality for those traveling to relieve stress and strain in their lives.

SENSITIVITY - Every lodging manager strives to keep guests happy. A decade ago, the arrival of online guest reviews made that mandatory. Covid sensitivity increased illegitimate comments

HOUSEKEEPING - Our cleaning has always exceeded guidelines, but we increased training reminders and rewarded staff. Newbies ask lots of questions, so we answer them over and over again.

MAINTENANCE - Our staff always seek to fix every little thing very fast. But if something larger breaks - such as a water heater - now it must be replaced same day. Notifying owners in advance takes a backseat to taking care of maintenance wiki wiki (quick) as they say in Hawaii.

AMENITIES - Owners got to decide what amenities they offer in their homes including Internet, Cable TV, and local phones. Now they have no choice. With work-at-home and study-at-home, an owner who omits any required amenities loses tens of thousands of dollars per year. For some it is time to join the current world.

LATE BOOKINGS - Decades ago guests booked far in advance, often six months to a year. Although the "booking window" has decreased over the years, Covid bookings are made a few days or a few weeks prior to arrival.

RATES - In March our Robust S2D2 Yield Management software said, "Hey where did demand go?" but we held rates and waited. Early May it said, "Demand is skyrocketing. I am raising rates." Each morning we followed the Las Vegas idiom to "let it ride" watching rates go ever upward.

EARLY - LATE - With Covid cleanliness concerns, it is odd that many more demand early arrivals and late departures. Our methods of managing requests proved even more valuable during this time.

INSTANTEOUS - Guests have always expected quick service, but Covid demands instantaneous. Forgot the code? Answer the phone and give it to them (again.) Power goes out? Determine if it's wide spread. Need local restaurants? Provide the answer cheerfully of course. Forgot driving directions/? Stay on the phone and direct them step by step.

GROWTH - Projecting income was impossible but beginning in April, dates booked up last minute and owners made more money than ever before. Covid has turned the world and specialty lodging on its ear yet again. Managers who adapt fast will see owner income soar.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0790 – 09/30/20

AirBnB's 11 Star Rating Grates on Vacation Rental Managers

By Ron Lee
Published: 09/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

AirBnB Hubris

It doesn’t happen to all of the technology titans, but it does infect most of them.

Brian Chesky, one of the founders of AirBnB, is the latest patient to be stricken.

The disease is called Hubris and it can knock down a person at any age, but younger business people are more prone to allow themselves to get sick. It starts when young kids have a good idea, and grow it fast with the new opportunity of world domination that the Internet often allows them to believe, as we used to say in high school, that "Their XyMTX don't stink."

AirBnB has always had a major problem lurking below the surface. Started as a couch-surfing business, they quickly learned that vacation rental homes rent for much higher rates and there are millions of them. That enables big growth.

Guests, who are looking to share a room and meet a new host friend in faraway places, can make good renters of vacation rental homes, but not when a website like AirBnB intentionally confuse them.

In a 2018 article titled "The 11-Star Rating", Chesky inadvertently revealed that he still completely misunderstands the "whole house" vacation rental business.

Although it is impossible to get any higher than a 5-star rating on AirBnB, Chesky admonishes "hosts" who don't do things to get his impossible 11-star experience rating. But here are his dictates that don't fit vacation rental guests.

ARRIVAL - He expects hosts to meet every guest at the front door and greet them upon arrival. Never be late it admonishes.

The problem is that guests who rent homes want to arrive whenever they want, even late at night, and not to be bothered by people they don't know. They often fly or drive long distances and simply want to arrive, plunk down their gear and relax.

Oddly, AirBnB is now requesting that all listings offer "self-check-in" due to the Covid virus. So why would Chesky contradict that and violate the privacy that whole house guests expect? Seems he isn't even aware of what his company is doing. (More hubris.) Proof he loves guest rooms, but not vacation rentals.

ACTIVITES - Then he says a host should go ahead and make activity reservations for guests even before they ask. "I know you like surfing. There's a surfboard waiting for you. I've booked lessons for you."

This is more nonsense in a private vacation home. Clearly, Chesky hasn't tried this tactic himself. What day are the lessons? Can they be cancelled? Are they for all 12 people staying at the house? Who pays (guest, homeowner, manager)? Having a well-crafted welcome book that lists local activities is what visitors want. But to think you, the host, knows what a vacation rental guest family wants is presumptuous at least and hubris at best. There is that word again.

STUPIDITY - Chesky's delusional thoughts are amplified by his request that hosts do things like this: "By the way, you can use my car." No insurance agent in their right mind would allow a home owner to give their car keys to people without signing massive disclosure agreements. In fact, your insurance carrier won't let you do it at all.

In most jurisdictions, it would be illegal to do so without a business license specific to car rentals, and those rightfully come with many requirements and stipulations. Leaving out bikes, surfboards, jet skis and other equipment for guests is also verboten.

Sure, maybe Chesky was trying to make a point, but this is from a guy out of touch with Vacation Rental owners and managers.

THE BEATLES - Then he proposes that "There'd be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country" (kinda like the Beatles arrival in America in 1964).

Boy, I am sure your neighbors would like that one. After the hundreds of legal challenges that AirBnB faces worldwide, how can he not recognize the problems he is giving the Vacation Rental Industry?

Or how about, he says to property owners, "You'd be there with Elon Musk and you're saying, 'You're going to space.'" I'm sure your insurance agent would love that one.

IMMATURITY - Lastly, Chesky resorts to vulgar profanity to emphasize how great he thinks all his ideas are. Clearly, the sign of a young man who has not had to become an adult at all, because he got lucky with a good idea and lots of venture capital.

Everyone understands that Chesky is trying to emphasize giving customers more than they pay for. And everyone agrees. A nicely designed whole-home, hospitality clean, with a good welcome book are all appreciated.

But at vacation rentals, guests want to make their own plans. They don't want to be interrupted and they certainly don't want some punk telling them what they will be doing. Maybe it works for single room rentals, but the anticipation of in-your-face hosts sets expectations in inexperienced guests that vacation rentals do not offer.

VRBO guests are savvy to how whole-home rentals work and are considerate and easy to work with. AirBnB guests, especially those having seldom stayed in a vacation rental home, arrive with unreasonable thoughts that AirBnB is planting in their heads, without clarifying how homes are different.

How about "We won't be arriving until 1am, can you still meet us when we arrive?" Or "I like your host photo, can you take us out to the best restaurant in town?"

Vacation Rental owners know that Chesky's diatribe is hyperbole to the highest degree. We can understand he wants to sell the AirBnB experience as something more than it is. But he is over-promising what cannot be delivered and which must be called out for what it is - dangerous for the Vacation Rental Industry.

Chesky's hubris has accelerated the growth of vacation rentals on top of the increases that VRBO and other websites have done. But his methods have also peeved property owners, neighbors, cities, counties and even countries across the globe. Can someone talk to the kid and rein him in, before he kills rental rights in so many communities?

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Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0785 – 09/01/20

Lodging Update August 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 08/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Is it time yet to take a long look at 2020? Does it seem like everything has changed? That things are upside down?

Nah. I would like to suggest that nothing has really changed. Yes, there have been some bad things, but the world is still advancing, improving and getting better.

Sure, we can always focus on things that need to be done, and often because their effects are negative. And, yes indeed, we must do that.

But getting lost in frowns and worry causes us to ignore that truly fabulous things are happening every day.

When one vocal expert proclaimed that the world was "going to hell", noted columnist P.J. O'Rourke said he could prove him wrong with one word - DENTISTRY. He said 100 years ago 8% of the population died from impacted teeth, which are now a thing of the past.

It's been said that more people have died in the history of the world from tuberculosis than are currently alive on the planet. Let's be thankful we don't live in an era when TB, dysentery and typhus were everywhere. No matter what television, newspapers and the internet want you to believe - it’s a great time to be alive.

So for our clients, staff, family and friends we would like to remind everyone that "this too shall pass" (the bad things), but that good things -- including medical wonders, scientific breakthroughs, instant communications, and access to knowledge -- will be here forever.

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It may be difficult to believe, but every day things are getting better and better. Here are some good ones to remember.

Video Calls - As a kid, many of us dreamed of the day when we would have video telephones. Never did we think it would happen like it has, or be as widely adopted. But happen it did and now you can talk to lost long friends and relatives, or make new friends, anywhere in the world.

On a skype call to promote her new book "Bunheads", Prima Ballerina, Misty Copeland, shrieked with laughter, when a dozen tiny dancers joined her, all with their hair tied up in buns. Neither she nor the kids could dampen their joy. They to meet their hero and she to feel their love. Never have there been so many smiles on one small screen.

Togetherness - Everyone misses dining out, but families are spending more time together. More books are being read. More movies watched. And discussions are being held on race, prejudice and faith like never before.

Business - While certain industries have been turned on their heads by COVID, others have prospered. Unfair of course, but it is simply the outcome. As always, customers make the decisions and they change what they want fast.

Location - The system of workers sitting together in the same physical location didn't happen by accident. Collaboration, comradery and communications have always advanced business and, certainly, society. Now leaders have been forced to recognize that many tasks can be done at home, eliminating the cost and inefficiency of commuting. It was a good idea before, now it's brilliant.

Schooling - Children need other children for social reasons, and distance learning won't fill the gap entirely, but instantly parents realized it could be done. Except for the added burden on parents, spending more time with their offspring can be enlightening.

Getting Away - In our little niche of vacation rentals and specialty lodging, guests realize they can work and study from rustic, rural and recreational areas just as easily as being in a city. They need not go to jam-packed hotels and theme parks. There is a big wide world to explore and the jump in lodging proves guests are enjoying themselves.

Consumption - With COVID, auto and airline travel has decreased, lowering consumption of fossil fuels. The demand for consumer goods has plummeted, indicating some of us realize we didn't need quite as much of everything as we once thought.

Alone Time - Sitting on the couch, reading a book or playing board game with family distracted us until many folks realized that going a bit slower, and avoiding crowds has its own charm.

Change - Interruptions to our busy bee world reveal what made mankind flourish - the ability to change. Our ancestors came down from the trees, wandered the plains, climbed the mountains and sailed the oceans, sometimes because they yearned to see new things. But more often to get away from bad and move toward good. We will do the same and for the same reason - because we must.

Do yourself a favor today. Make a list of the good and great things in our world today. By comparison, today's interruptions are nothing.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0786 – 08/31/20

Lodging Update July 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 07/31/20 Topics: Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Our hearts continue to go out to those made ill by Covid-19 and especially those who have lost their lives. We also feel for those who have lost their jobs and are suffering financial loss.

We are lucky indeed that consumers continue to patronize vacation rentals. The move from conventional lodging to vacation rentals and specialty lodging has been growing for several decades.

But as Covid hit, even more people decided the best and safest place to get away was a clean, isolated vacation rental home in our wonderful destinations.

Dolly Parton said, "Storms make trees take deeper roots."

So we are inviting all of our clients to seize on this opportunity to grow their rentals even further. The opportunity is now.

Attached are ideas. Some cost money, but all will return far more income than they cost. With the extra income generated this summer, now is the time to double-down and grow further.

Join us. Call and ask how.

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Decades ago, vacation rental guest services pretty much consisted of "Here are the keys. Good luck." Over time, guests started paying more and demanding more. Now Covid has quickly raised expectations much higher.

There is no longer a market for properties that have missing amenities and upgrades. If a guest unknowingly books a home without good amenities, they will demand refunds. The giant online travel agencies like Airbnb will side with them.

Hand Me Downs - Sending used towels, linens, furniture, pots and pans from your primary residence to your second home will lose more money than it saves. Invest in the basics and replace them as needed.

Textiles - If you can see through your sheets, towels, or other textiles, they are far too old. Keep twice as many fluffy, thick white textiles on hand. (Only one set will be left out for each guest, but extras are stored away to handle quick arrivals.)

Internet - If you don't have fast internet, guests will avoid your property like the plague. With work-at-home and home schooling, investing in high-speed internet prints money for home owners. Avoid internet at your own peril.

Cable TV - Yes, some guests will stream Netflix and other channels, but without basic TV channels, including local network affiliates, many guests say no to your house. Even a budget Cable TV package will work. If you can't get Cable, using Satellite TV is OK, but a sad replacement for many guests who seem unable to operate it.

Mattresses - The biggest complaint from guests worldwide is of "well-used" mattresses. If your mattress sags, or is too hard, it's time to replace it. Doing so will cost less than losing bookings.

Furniture - It takes many years to "wear out" couches. You may not notice, but if your bum hits the floor when you sit, guests will be livid. Don't make guests feel like they are sitting on Great Aunt Alice's living room sofa. (Please, no doilies.)

Decorating - Yes, you can have too many knick knacks in the home. Most people are not designers, but homes nicely decorated with paint, throw pillows, vases and the like, show great in photos and rent more often. Here is one idea - homes that have replaced deck railings with glass look brand new and preserve the view.

Windows - It takes decades, but even window frames, glass, and sliders begin to age. If you have a window with a broken seal, it's gotta get fixed to save you energy costs and avoid guest complaints.

See the new show "Vacation House Rules" on HGTV to see how upgrading homes greatly increases income. One of its rules is "Put yourself in the guests shoes." In other words, if you were paying good money to stay in a vacation home, wouldn't you want the home to be attractive?

The show does not reveal how to increase income with great marketing, photos, automated pricing and reservations sales pros, but we already do that for you. Every home is unique and has an audience, but each home can make more money, if owners doll up their place.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0782 – 07/31/20

Something Fishy at Diamond Belle Ranch Walker Lake

By Ron Lee
Published: 07/23/20 Topics: Comments: 1

Walker Lake

Like all private fly-fishing lakes, for years every spring Diamond Belle Ranch has planted new trout stock into our 44 acre Walker Laker, to supplement the big linkers that have often wintered over. And for years we corralled those new plants from a company called Trout Lodge due to their superior quality.

Some years Trout Lodge focused on egg production and they were unable to provided enough fish for all the very fish connoisseurs like us who wanted them. But this year we are jumping for joy to announce that the Trout Lodge plants are back this year and they are stellar rainbow trout.

Even though we were closed to fishing for a while in early spring due to the dang COVID restrictions, as we opened late spring, the fishing has been robust. The fish had lots of time to acclimate, and were ready to go!

In summer we close fishing to let those pesky trout thrive and grow. So we expect fall fishing to be HOT HOT HOT!!!

With the amount of natural feed in the lake, the new trout are growing like crazy and will be monsters come mid September when we open back up for fishing.

Visitors can choose to stay in our majestic Wauconda Lodge then pay a small half or full day fee to cast their lines. Or they can purchase a day pass if available depending on lodge occupancy.

Fishing is limited to 10 anglers per day, fly fishing catch and release, electric motor boats. We are open year round, with fishing in Spring and Fall. Call today to reserve your spot, space is limited.

You can learn more about Trout Lodge and their beautiful rainbow trout at TroutLodge.com

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Guest Ranch
Blog #: 0768 – 07/23/20

Peace during chaos

By Ron Lee
Published: 06/30/20 Topics: Comments: 0

As the period of stay home stay safe starts to ease a bit, it’s a good time to reflect on what it’s been like here at Diamond Belle Ranch.

For the most part, since we live fairly remotely, we generally only go to town once a week during normal times. So this really didn’t change much.

I guess the biggest difference was that we appreciated that we live in a place where we are extremely happy to stay home for longer periods of time without leaving the property.

Taking a walk around the lake or just sitting and watching the wildlife breathing deeply of the tranquility, these are the things that bring peace in a world of chaos.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Guest Ranch
Blog #: 0765 – 06/30/20

Lodging Update June 30, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 06/30/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Well, where do I start? It has been a wild ride since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

First, it was the massive economic slow down. But then, slowly, lodging guests realized they could "Get outta Dodge" and stay in a nice clean private vacation home, with contact-less entry, quarantined with their families, but still get out and about in nature.

Vacation rental bookings have rebounded in all our areas, and jumped hugely in some areas. As mentioned in last month's update letter, our super secret S2D2 Yield Management software prompted us when demand plummeted, but also alerted us to pump up rates when demand then jumped.

The result has been higher income for June and July. August is strong, too. And, with schools not re-opening, we think summer demand and, even, rates can continue into September.

Forgive us for gloating yet again, but we giggled as the local competitors were asleep and snickered as carpet bagging out-of-town managers missed the trend, because they are not in touch with every local market. Some panicked early and dropped rates by half.

We did the opposite and our clients are profiting.

The first office in our network opened in 1964 and we have been watching and learning as consumer behavior and habits change. Never have they changed as greatly and as rapidly as with the virus.

Here is the story.

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The Advertising Industry has always been greatly misunderstood. It is not all commercials with beautiful celebrities and cavemen selling insurance on TV. On the Internet, advertising is not all about search engine optimization, pay-per-click Google ads or Facebook's spying on its members.

Having started in the ad agency business, I have spent decades watching, studying and anticipating what customers want to buy. Ad pros never try to sell things to people who don't want them or don't need them. And not just because they want to be ethical, but because they know it's not sustainable.

Famous advertising professor, Ed Bannister, startled his class when he said, "Good advertising just makes a poor product fail quicker." (People try it, hate it, and forget it.)

An agency partner one said, "Advertising is easy. You ask people what they want and then you give it to them." Never has this been more true than during the last four months of a pandemic.

With the advent of vacation rental websites just 20 years ago, travelers figured out that staying with their family in a private vacation home is simply a better deal than staying in a cramped hotel room, with no kitchen, no living room, long walks to the parking lot, and outrageous rates - on a per-guest basis.

The 9/11 tragedy frightened the world, of course, but slowly travel returned. The 2008 recession took away discretionary income, some of which would have been for travel. Slowly it rebounded.

Some guests fall for the pitch from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, because they buy the pitch that all bookings are cancellable, that the OTAs list all lodgings, and that they can earn "points" that may have some value.

VRBO.com implied that guests were booking with the "Owner" when, in fact, the majority of properties --especially the well maintained, properly cleaned ones -- are from professional managers. But some guests fell for it.

AirBnB sold guests the option of renting a couch or room in someone's house, until they figured out that guests really want private vacation rental homes. AirBnB produces lots of bookings, but guests can be -- shall we say -- weird. Such as expecting the host to meet them for a drink when checking in, even if it's late at night.

At first Covid pushed people into panic, but then travelers ran out of patience and figured out that the safest lodging option is to rent a professionally-managed private vacation home.

We soared because we always ask customers what they wanted. Yes -- our cleaning exceeds high hospitality standards. Yes -- you can check in without "touching" anyone. Yes -- you can bring your family. Yes -- the homes have solid internet so guests can work while vacationing. And oddly, no -- there are no early check-ins to assure the home has been sufficiently empty prior to arrival. (That is the answer the guest actually wants to hear.)

Our ability to adapt to the changing market place has given even more visitors wonderful vacations and our property clients even more money. If your vacation rental home income has not soared, please give us a call. We'll fix it.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0772 – 06/30/20

Precious Gift of Nature

By Ron Lee
Published: 06/19/20 Topics: Guest Ranch, Wildlife Comments: 0

Our early morning visitors.

This lovely doe has twins almost yearly and generally brings them by for us to see. This year she brought them by as BRAND NEW babies! They were still wet even.

What a precious gift!

The Diamond Belle Guest Ranch sits in what might be called a shallow bowl. The hills of the Okanogan Highland isolate us from the South and North. To the West Mount Bonaparte towers above..

Pastures on the east, roll up gently so we are completely alone. No neighbors. No prying eyes. No one close.

National Forest public lands surround the ranch on all sides which means we are a haven for wildlife. Deer of course, but also an occasional Moose. Canadian Geeze and birds galore..

Guests come here for many reasons, peace and solitude, the crisp clean air, stunning sunlight and our warm majestic Wauconda Lodge.

But it is the critters they see that surprise them, the many and the types. You are likely to see some you have never seen before. But you must visit.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Guest Ranch
Blog #: 0762 – 06/19/20

Lodging Update May 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 04/30/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Do these letters always sound like we are bragging?

Sorry, we are constantly innovating and redefining how to do far better management than anyone else. So, yes, I guess we want to crow about it every now and then.

As mentioned last month, we have been working for many hundreds of hours for over a year on version 3.0 of our Yield Management Software called "Strategic, Studied, Dynamic and Distributed" (S2D2).

Some of those giant carpet bagging national companies that try to manage vacation rentals from far away like to think they have good yield management - but they have a major hole in their knowledge. They are not local and don't have wide regional data.

But we do because we have been managing on a "Local, Personal and Global" basis. That means we advertise on every possible advertising website, far more than those giant companies.

We also operate local and regional websites to glean far more information, all of which results in the perfect rates. Super high in high season, modest in shoulder seasons, and lower in slow times.

Every property owner loves the idea of high rates. But getting the highest "possible" rate in every season adds greatly to the best net income for owners.

Yield management is far more complicated than can be imagined. So this letter is going to give you a glimpse to the hundreds of factors that go into the algorithm our data scientists use.

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Everyone has noticed how rates vary on airlines and big hotels. Plus, how the rate for a date in the future may go up and down before the date arrives.

I must admit, I liked it better when it was always $250 to fly to Hawaii on a plane where the entire back section was empty, so I could fold up the arm rests and lay down over four seats, take a nap, and wake up in paradise.

Unfortunately, the airlines were going broke until they began manipulating rates to encourage people to book early, or late and to fill every seat. Until Covid, every seat on every plane has been filled for decades.

Best of all, consumers have subconsciously accepted the idea that rates fluctuate. In fact, many seem to enjoy the game of searching for best rates. They willingly move to less desirable dates (such as midweek), which helps the property fill those dates.

Yield Management does not seem logical on its face. The algorithm does not need to know when the high season or holidays occur, because it looks forward to watch rates and occupancy to predict and set our rates when demand and occupancy is high. Likewise, it ratchets down rates when the market has too many nights available and when competitors are dropping rates.

But, of course, weekends are always more popular, more booked and consequently rates are higher. Same with holidays. The high seasons have the same kind of profile and the science pushes those rates through the roof.

National, regional, and local economic trends are considered. Comparable units ("comp sets") are continuously monitored. Inns, Resorts, and Hotel future booking statistics are computed. Amenities, resorts (if any), and neighborhoods contribute, sometimes more and sometimes less.

If there are small holes in the schedule, rates may be adjusted down to get them sold. But if there are openings when the market is tight, rates go up - sometimes dramatically. Bigger openings may be higher because they offer a wider range, or cheaper if the opening is too large.

When Covid arrived so unexpectedly, S2D2 told us rates were crashing. In areas where rentals continued, we won what bookings were to be had. Suddenly, S2D2 told us "Hey something is going on," just as we noticed guests returning. Then it said, "It's time to bump up rates." And then, "Bump them up again".

Not all markets have returned to normal, but in some markets rates have up to doubled and occupancy is higher than ever before. We noticed the corporate managers missed the trend. Their clients lost thousands of dollars, while we grabbed the market.

New vacation rental owners often ask "What will the rate be?" But today, no person sets the rate. In fact, the market sets the rate. Over millennia, in high school, middle school or earlier, we learned price has always been based solely on "Supply and Demand".

The Yield Management idea, which is so closely tied to intricate supply and demand fluctuations, is so obvious and now, with our help, it is being employed to help every vacation rental client we have make more money.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0771 – 04/30/20

Lodging Update April 30, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 04/30/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Several years ago the musical group Grateful Dead wrote "What a Long Strange Trip it Has Been." Little did anyone know how strange it might be.

Lodging suffered the effect of the 9/11 tragedy and the 2008 real estate depression. Now the Covid-19 pandemic is another new labyrinth to navigate.

For years, lodging management has kept getting more intricate, demanding time for previously unnecessary tasks like text messages from guests wanting early check-ins who don't have the courtesy to telephone. Emails 24/7 expecting instant response. Time to review every guest online.

Now every guests wants assurances, before booking that homes are fully sanitized and disinfected.

Of course we have been doing "Happy Hospitality Housekeeping" since our first office opened in 1964. It's nothing new. We spend hundreds of hours talking with people who are scared, rightfully so. Add counselor to our list of titles.

A wise man once said, "Hope is not a plan, but without a plan, there is little hope." Luckily our long standing contingencies and experience has allowed us to run far ahead of the competition during Covid-19.

We can not expect property owners to understand the hours and stress that the Covid pandemic has inflicted on lodging, but we can hope they appreciate our staff who have worked double time to take care of their properties and the plan to make them money as the craziness lessens.

===============================================================

Bad News - In March guests started cancelling everything, online travel agencies were over-riding cancellation policies, and governments were telling people not to go on vacation. The time to speak with every guest, to cancel bookings, and to do bookkeeping doubled the work.

Optimistic - We did not dare hope for a rebound but chose to accelerate spending on advertising, staffing, software services, website hosting, and many other costs. The phrase "All In" applies.

Good News - Plans can't predict the future, but they can predict readiness. As the onslaught of new bookings has arrived, we are again working double time to get back all the bookings that were lost.

New Rules - Advertising on hundreds of websites with differing rules required our software engineers to labor long, often overnight, to adapt functions, and to avoid guest confusion. For example, we can now put in bumper dates between bookings to allow for extra cleaning time.

In the Trenches - Every staff member is overwhelmed with related work. Housekeepers and maintenance pros are working their tails off. If homeowners have not tipped before, now is the time.

S2D2 - Our pricing algorithms (and the scientists who ride herd) received confusing signals in predicting future rates and occupancy. Competitors were plummeting prices trying to sell to guests who were not going to visit under any circumstance.

Version 3.0 - Coincidentally the latest version of our "Studied, Strategic, Dynamic, and Distribute" (S2D2) rate tools came on line in April, allowing us to react quickly to the market. Rates are moving up and down even faster than ever. No one knows what the future will yield, but our science can get owners more than their "fair share."

Late Bookings - The national trend for "Drive-To" destinations does have a downside and that is guests are not booking far ahead. Decades ago as visitors departed from their rental, they booked the following year to return. The 2008 recession shortened pre-booking, but Covid has made it skyrocket. Most guests want to go next week or the week after.

Competition - Online Travel Agents are laying off thousands of employees; 3,000 alone at Airbnb! Major management companies have fired up to 90% of their staff. One company with 2,500 homes shut down completely. Too bad for their clients they did not have a plan.

Negotiators - Now that business is picking up, every guest asks more questions and then almost everyone tries to get a discount. Americans have become like other societies where every purchase is negotiable.

Predictions - Summer is starting to fill in, but no one can predict income for the entire year and not even for the summer. We have a plan and are working on it every day. So far so good.

Amateurs - People who think about being a self-managed "Rent by Owner" never know the insane amount of labor, hours, and expertise necessary to succeed. HomeAway says it only takes 541 hours per year per house to "Do it Yourself".. Jeez.

Many RBO's have thrown in the towel or are selling their homes. We get calls for help everyday and all because we planned ahead. That is what good managers do.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0750 – 04/30/20

How Dare They Go To Work

By William May
Published: 04/20/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Family, Gratitude, Health Comments: 0

How Dare They Work. Corona Virus.

Really, who the hell do they think they are?

Awakening early every morning, or even in the middle of the night. After too little sleep and too much stress, trudging to a job they love, although they admit it is difficult to love right now. How dare they go to work?

They will often spend 12-hours shifts or much longer and for days on end. Not one day off, not a moment to spend on personal things. No time with family or friends. How do they dare do that to themselves?

Some are paid very well, some paid adequately and others earn far too little. Most will receive nothing extra for the insurmountable obstacles they confront. How do they dare to work at all when others would not?

And yet, they persevere and get up and go to a job they know will be very frustrating. They know it is also rewarding, but that it will not feel that way every day. They do not dare to think about relief, at least not yet.

At the job, they will toil hour after hour, often with no time to eat or take a break. Squeezing in a bathroom break is necessary, but even that feels like wasting time. They will be confronted with thing after thing to do. Work upon work. No rest for the weary.

There will be a non-stop demand to do the difficult, the impossible and even the frightening. They won't feel up to the task all the time, but they will step up to the tasks every time. How dare they do that to themselves?

They see weeks of challenge ahead, maybe months, maybe years. They refuse to look for the finish line, because every champion runner puts one foot ahead of the other knowing it’s the only way to finish. They think about quitting, but only rarely, because quitting would make it more difficult for others. They dare not let anyone down.

As the world begins to show its gratitude for these wonderful human beings, they will still feel inadequate, because the mission is so huge and for now seemingly impossible. How dare they believe they can make it better?

These people are not necessarily glib with their words. They have no time for pontificating. They have no time to complain. They do not seek glory or even recognition. They would not dare direct any attention to themselves.

Every one of them knows the risk of physical illness, mental duress, financial hardships and family stress. They know these things, so how do they continue on? Would anyone else dare?

They dare because the task is at hand. The challenge is now. They dare not wait. They dare not fail. They will not let that happen, no matter how long it takes and no matter the personal cost. How dare they believe they are life givers?

Doctors, nurses, caregivers, counselors, therapists, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, EMTs, first-responders, administrators, janitors and every employee at every hospital, all dare to come to work - and we must all be so grateful that they do.

These people dare because they are different than most of us. Very different. Most dreamt of their career as a calling. They have always known it would be difficult, but they never dared to think it would be like this. But they did know that they could and would act in ways the rest of us cannot promise. They dare to go to work because they saves lives.

Whether you believe in God or you do not, whether you can donate to their cause or not, whether you have suffered from illness or not, it is now time to give thanks that somehow there are people like them in the world.

It is time thank them for dedication that is immense, commitment that is astounding, and for courage that is unending. How dare they?

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Author: William May, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0743 – 04/20/20

Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0

How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes

Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.

Get a Real Getaway

If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.

When Guests Depart

After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!

Sanitation Cleaning Products

We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.

Bathroom Super Scrub

Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.

Proper Wipe Downs

You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.

- Door knobs inside and outside.

- Window switches.

- Light switches and sockets.

- Lamp switches.

- Cupboard doors and surfaces.

- Table tops including night stands.

- Appliances - top and sides.

- Counter tops.

- Reachable walls.

- Outdoor furniture.

- Stairs and deck handrails.

- Toasters and coffee makers.

- TV and other remote controls.

- Stereos and computers.

- Door bells and key safes.

- Toys and board games.

- Pet toys and blankets.

- And more.

Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping

Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.

Hot Tubs and Spas

Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.

Towels and Linens

Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.

Deep Cleans

In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.

When Guests Depart

You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.

Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744

If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.

Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!

Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.

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Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20
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Diamond Belle Bird Watchers Paradise

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/08/20 Topics: Comments: 0

This is the time of year when the birds really start coming in for a visit. The snow is working hard at melting off, and the lake ice is getting thinner by the day.

So far we've seen, Canada Geese, Blackbirds (both red winged and yellow headed), Black Capped Chickadees, Blue Birds, Robins, I believe Greater scaup ducks, and our ever present, eagles and ravens.

In the next week or two we should start seeing sparrows on their journey from Capistrano. We'll have many more ducks of several varieties, and the blackbirds will arrive in full force filling the air with the beautiful sounds of their mating calls!

This is always my favorite time of year when life and activity return to the ranch after a long winter's nap.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0739 – 04/08/20

Lodging Update March 31, 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 03/31/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus Comments: 1

No, it is not over. No, we cannot predict when it will be over. No, we don't really know if it will be over.

But in fact, we do. This too shall pass. It is terrible and tragic, but it is also telling. That humanity rises to the occasion. Acts of kindness erupt. Humans settle in, put up, and get through it.

That is not much comfort until things begin to recover, but we must keep it in mind. This is not the end of the world, it's not the end of the economy and it's not the even the end of life as we know it.

Not long ago, on the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Iwo Jima, CBS television ran a promotional ad that said:

"Your grandfathers were ordered to Iwo Jima

You've been ordered to your couch.

Surely you can do this."

You can now save the entire human race by doing nothing. Don't screw it up. But remember, if you run out of toilet paper, life is rough.

===================================================================

STEREOTYPE: Every good disaster movie starts with governments ignoring scientists.

A GOOD DAY: You work in a bank when 2 guys come in wearing masks and you are relieved they are only there to rob you.

SPOUSE: Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently she is my wife. Seems nice.

FOOD: Went to a new restaurant called "The Kitchen." No clue how this place stays in business.

CHILDREN: Although there is no school, I still wake my kids at 6AM. Revenge is sweet.

COMEDIAN: My day job assigned me to work from home. No problem, I didn't like any of those people anyway.

PHONE: On a conference call someone's dog started barking, then everyone's dog started barking, so the host had to hit global mute. Best conference call ever.

HOME: My dad and I are sharing the kitchen table to work. He is an aerospace engineer designing a new wing prototype. I am drawing a duck.

HYGIENE: I washed my hands so much, that my exam notes from 1975 reappeared on my palm.

INDUSTRY: When told that consumers were hoarding toilet paper due to the Covid-19 virus, the chairman of Charmin said, "I do not see the problem."

FAMILY: Having my children at home has helped me tolerate the isolation. My wine cellar has helped me tolerate my children.

HUMANS: There are two types of people in the world. Those who stock up on toilet paper and those who stock up on beer. Come on now, you know who you are.

HOARDING: If you need 100 rolls of toilet paper to survive a 14-day quarantine, you probably needed to see a doctor way before this virus thing.

SHOPPING: They said that a mask and gloves were enough to go to the supermarket. They lied, everyone else has clothes on.

TOUCH: If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you will not be able to touch your face.

DOGS: My dog said, "Oh My god, you're here all day. This is the best. I can love you, see you, be with you and follow you! I love you being here so much!" My cat said: "What the hell are you still doing here?"

SMART: The science community has figured out that the spread of Coronavirus is based solely on two things. 1. How dense the population is. 2. How dense the population is.

If you don't find any of these jokes funny, we apologize. Too soon?

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0749 – 03/31/20

Breezy Spring Day in the Okanogan Highlands

By Ron Lee
Published: 03/25/20 Topics: Fishing, Guest Ranch, Weather, Wildlife Comments: 0

It's another beautiful sunny day in the Okanogan Highlands today. A bit breezy, which gives a little chop on the open area of the lake. Fishermen like to call that a chironomid chop.

The aerator has worked beautifully all winter keeping this area of the lake open. If you could get out to the open water, I bet the fishing would be amazing!

The early geese appreciate it and seem to know where to find the open water this time of year. I bet there isn't any other open water for miles!

We are ALL looking forward to spring ice off!

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0734 – 03/25/20

Good Morning World! Get Some Fresh Air.

By Ron Lee
Published: 03/22/20 Topics: Goldener Inns, Guest Ranch, Inns, Ranching Comments: 1

The sunrises here never disappointed me. Certainly some are more spectacular than others.

This morning as I contemplate all that is happening in the world, I am greeted with a lovely sunrise. It's a brisk 17 degrees this morning, but stepping out on the porch I hear the black birds have arrived.

The eagle is calling his or her mate. Lots of different little song birds that I cannot identify are singing their "good morning" songs as well. It reminds me that the world keeps going no matter what our current state of affairs looks like.

Friends, this too shall pass. I am personally looking forward to some self distancing today by brushing my horse and cows...one of my favorite things to do in the spring.

Go out and get some fresh air and enjoy the day.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0733 – 03/22/20

Kala Point Welcomed into Yourshare Goldener Network!!

Published: 03/01/20 Topics: Comments: 0

Goldener Inns & Resorts, which offers vacation rental bookings for timeshare resorts through its YourShare program, today announced today it is now offering rentals at KalaPoint.com, a prestigious condominium community of the scenic Port Townsend area of Washington State area, has

Through Yourshare, participating homes are advertised on the custom built full ecommerce website at KalaPoint.net and on hundreds of prominent websites worldwide such as VRBO, Booking.com, AirBnB, Expedia and more.

Kala Point Resort is large property comprised of hundreds of private homes, townhomes and the timeshare condominiums which are 2 to 3 bedrooms and come complete with comfortable furnishings, complete kitchens, TV, cable, and internet.

Guests have access to the resort’s club house and meeting room, seasonal outdoor swimming pool, year round sauna and hot tub. Other amenities include a workout room with exercise equipment, a small boat launch, tennis and pickle ball courts, and a playground.

The Resorts sits on a mile long sandy beach with salt water boat docks and playgrounds. Whales, Dolphins and Eagles are regularly seen there.

Located at the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, they’ll enjoy spectacular views of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and on clear days, can see all the way to Victoria Island and Mount Baker in British Columbia.

Just up the road the town of Port Townsend, itself is full of charming antique stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, all in beautiful, Victorian-era buildings.

The innovative Yourshare program offers greater marketing than individual timeshare home owner associations can muster, and provides income to timeshare owners for a lower commission fee.

There are no up-front costs, owners can open or close dates to booking as they see fit, and they only pay a fee when their dates are booked.

A long term contract is not required and Yourshare handles all details such as advertising, reservations phones, guest and owner services including coordination with the onsite resort personnel and services.

To book your next vacation at Kala Point visit www.KalaPoint.com or GoldenerInns.com. Or call 360-382-1700. Phones are open everyday of the year. Although these homes can be rented on Expedia. AirBnB and other websites contact KalaPoint.com for the best rates and availability..

- - -
Resorts looking to gain maximum rental income with minimum fuss should contact Goldener, see www.YourShare.biz or call .818-922-8292 toll free.

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Blog #: 0722 – 03/01/20

Lodging Update February 28th 2020

By Wm, May
Published: 02/28/20 Topics: Comments: 0

You are probably receiving many emails urging everyone to follow safe procedures to slow down the COVID-19 virus. We agree of course, but someone also needs to talk about the bright future that will follow a virus named after a beer brand.

Of course I know it's not the beer, but it helps to fight the panic by calling it a beer bug.

This is not to make sport of the folks who are suffering and dying from this creepy thing. But for most people who get infected, the symptoms are going to feel like having had far too many Budweiser's.

It is said that many people will not get the virus and yet their lives have been turned upside down. Restaurant and retail workers are out of work. Public events have been postponed for months or cancelled altogether.

Some reactions to this problem are unnecessary. Hoarders don't need a years worth of toilet paper. Creepy speculators don't need to buy cases of hand sanitizer and try to foist it on others at huge markups.

There are even people in the travel world, such as Online Travel Agents (think AirBnB) who have unilaterally changed their own terms and are now allowing any guest to cancel for any reason. This helps guests but devastates hosts who have been counting on the income by holding dates for up to a year. It also cuts hours for housekeepers, maintenance staff, reservationists, and more.

We don't want to be selfish but we do want to make informed decisions. Every negative has a positive. It's difficult to believe that now, but time will tell that it holds true.

======================================================================================

In Seattle we were thrust into the national news. Please tell your friends the sky is not falling and we have experience. Undesirable of course, but we learned one big lesson, this too shall pass.

We oldsters remember the day, the minute, and exactly where we stood when it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. Time stood still. We all thought we could never go on. It was our first taste of the sky falling, but we did grow older and in time the fear did pass.

On March 27, 1980 Mount Saint Helens blew its top just 98 miles south of downtown Seattle. Even from here a giant plum of smoke roared 70,000 feet into the air over our heads as if from a Faustian furnace. Ash covered Seattle and the Northwest. Cars were stranded due to ash, airplanes dare not fly. Schools were closed and people panicked. It seemed as if the sky was literally falling. But, that too did pass.

The terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001 stopped everyone in their tracks, We fretted that more hijackings would crash perhaps into our fair city. Consumers hoarded food and supplies. Our hearts bled for the victims, families, and first responders. People fled the city to hide out in the country. People panicked and for good reason thinking the sky was falling. Slowly but surely this too did pass.

Our parents generation were stunned by 9/11, but they were a bit less stunned that my generation or younger. They had lived through World War II and had seen worse, far worse.

My father in-law was a night-fighter pilot off an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific tasked with shooting down Kamikaze planes where he could often see the faces of the Japanese pilots as they died. He did not allow himself to believe he would came back alive. That generation never knew if they or their lifestyle would survive. And yet, over time memories faded, fear diluted, and this indeed did pass.

The 2008 recession dominated the world financially, stole life savings, threw people out of work, evicted home owners, caused bankruptcies, and scared everyone for years. Life savings were lost through no fault of savers. The lodging industry was brought to its knees and participants felt the sky was falling. It did not. Slowly, very slowly this too did pass.

And now today we are deep into yet another crisis that seems as daunting as past panics because its outcome and its tenure are unknown. The enemy is unseen and impersonal. Everyone wants answers which have not arrived.

For now, the path is to follow the basic hand-washing, social distancing, and other rules that will slow the virus giving the medical establishment time to react and adapt.

The vacation rental industry has a little something to offer. We offer people private vacation rental homes to get away, to really relax, to spend time in the country away from the city. Where they can walk the beach, hike the mountains and watch nature, which is paying no attention to a virus whatsoever. Traveling by car guests avoid crowds. And for all of this we have our incredible staff who still clean and sanitize homes to the Nth degree.

If these comments seem a bit too selfish, or too early, keep in mind that truly the sky is not falling. The sooner we fit the new situation into our world, the better. After all, this too shall pass.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0748 – 02/28/20

Goat Patrol Gotta Love 'Em

By Ron Lee
Published: 02/22/20 Topics: Agriculture, Weather Comments: 0

Goat Patrol

Although it is still frigid at our 4,200 elevation, today February 19th was bright and sunny. Seems like the green things will be greening up soon. Maybe its time to call the Goat Patrol to visit our Diamond Belle Guest Ranch.

Wayne and Jenny Knoz have a unique workforce. They bring out friendly employee goats to your farm, field, pasture, lawn, hillside or mountain to mow down whatever you want removed in an environmentally friendly manner..

Natural weed control, brush trimming, grass mowing, fuel suppression, pasture maintenance and yes they fertilize while they work.

Plus I must admit they are charming and friendly. Maybe more so than most human co-workers.

So if you has a weed that has gone to seed, this is something you need. Goat PatrolGoat Patrol 509-954-7682.

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Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0719 – 02/22/20
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DETAILS: We work to keep this information up to date, but details do change from time to time based on circumstances, often on short notice, and sometimes beyond our control. To verify any answer or other information you may need, please call or email us anytime. Allow a reasonable amount of time for response. Only legitimate inquiries will be answered.