Why I Refuse to Offer Travel Insurance

Finish this sentence: “Travel Insurance is …”

When we pose this question with new business partners we hear “a hassle”, “rigged”, “complicated”, “out of reach”, “costly”, “too regulated”, “bad for my brand” and more. We certainly understand the reluctance of property managers and vacation rental companies to offering travel insurance to their guests, and we’ve specifically designed our travel insurance technology to avoid many of the problems that property managers face.

LICENSING

The first hesitation many property mangers have to offering travel insurance is the licensing process; after all they want to help people have great vacations, not worry about offering them insurance. Most travel insurance providers require property managers to obtain licensing in their home state, which takes time and money, just to provide guests with an in-path insurance offering.

At Pablow we’ve completed the licensing requirements to offer travel insurance (all the way up until 24 hours before a guest leaves for a trip) in Australia, the entire United States, and soon in Europe. By partnering with our company, you’ll be able to avoid licensing and immediately direct guests to your white label travel insurance website. It takes just two minutes to create!

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An example of our customizable white label website. You can personalize the subdomain, logo, background, and text heading.

TECHNOLOGY

Other travel insurance providers in the United States market ask that you integrate their travel insurance into your booking path and don’t offer many other technology solutions.

Pablow does not design technology FOR property managers; we design it WITH property managers! We’ve explored many different ways to integrate insurance with our partners’ booking processes including a post-sale widget, advertisements, email messaging, and icons and tabs on their current website directing to their travel insurance white label. If you need something different for your company, just let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

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An example of what our dynamic post-sale widget looks like on one partner’s website.

RESPONSIBILITY

Even after licensing and technology are taken care of, much of the responsibility and work still lies with the property manager. Other providers expect property managers, as the merchant of record, to create a spreadsheet of your insurance sales every month and send in a check for the cost of their policies.

Why focus more of your time to something that isn’t managing your properties? Pablow allows property managers to simply direct their guests to a white label insurance website, and we handle the rest, automatically depositing your monthly affiliate fee in your bank account.

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Why worry about travel insurance? Let Pablow worry about offering travel insurance so you can focus on managing your properties.

RECAP

While this short blog did not respond to all of the reasons why property managers and vacation rental professionals avoid travel insurance, we hope it gave you some compelling reasons to consider a partnership with Pablow. If you have any additional questions or hesitations not mentioned, but are interested in learning more about travel insurance please reach out to our team.

How to Make Your Company More Enjoyable

“We have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When those needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy.”
― Daniel H. PinkDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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Daniel Pink pictured alongside his best selling book Drive.

As Pink explains in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, there are a few innate psychological needs that must be filled to generate satisfactory and enjoyable work.  However, once those psychological needs are filled, what separates the most enjoyable companies from those that only provide above average levels of satisfaction and happiness?  This blog post will explore and try to answer the question: “How do I make my company more enjoyable for everyone?”

“A Day Without Laughter is a Day Wasted”

At Pablow, doing things in a way that is enjoyable is one of our key tenants that motivate our actions.  Even if we are on a roller coaster ride as a start up in the insurance industry, we recognize that the journey should still remain fun.

Why do we value being happy, laughing a lot, and enjoying our work?  Enjoyable work, happiness and laughter all provide significant physical, mental and social benefits.

Laughter alone helps you feel good by releasing endorphins that fight stress and provide an almost immediate benefit.  It also helps relax you muscles for up to 45 minutes at a time, with exception of your mouth muscles, which can actually hurt if you laugh too hard.  Been there and have almost cried from laughing too hard!  Laughter improves your resistance to disease by increasing infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells and by decreasing stress hormones.  It can protect your heart by improving blood flow and blood vessel functioning.  Laughter helps dissolve disagreements between people if it’s shared and both parties agree to put their problems behind them.  It surprisingly has also been shown to help adults with short-term memory.

Put simply … you can’t afford to not have people laugh at work.  If you value your employees and their happiness, then you need to make the commitment to integrate humor and enjoyable situations into your company culture.

One great story about how humor and laughter were embraced in the company culture comes from Delta Air Lines.  A couple of years ago a frequent flyer complained to the CEO that a flight attendant was joking around in her safety briefing, which the flyer considered a very serious procedure.  Instead of apologizing, the CEO told the frequent flyer that he was sorry to see him leave the airline, because humor was a key part of their company culture and thus he stood behind his flight attendant’s right to laugh and help others laugh.  Today Delta Air Lines has further embraced this humor by incorporating it into their pre-flight safety videos that both deliver an important message and have some fun in how they present it – I’d definitely recommend taking a look.

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Delta safety videos went as far to include 80’s icon and TV star, Alf!

But What Can I Do?

So a happy, laughing, satisfied, productive and motivated workplace is great, but what can most small to medium sized companies in the vacation rental or tech industries do to embrace these values?

The first and easiest step is to begin to laugh at yourself, and model the kind of behavior that you want everyone else to embrace.  You can also find friends, hire employees, and build professional relationships within your community with people that you enjoy being around.

Teams can be more enjoyable if you push everyone to be spontaneous and encouraging of humor.  This can be as complex as surprising the team with tickets to a comedy show next Friday evening or as simple as telling jokes as you leave the office and sharing funny videos with the rest of your team.  As funny as jokes can be, make sure to keep them positive and not a roast of anyone in particular, as that could have just the opposite effect desired.

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Don’t conform to typical networking rules – ask daring and novel questions that encourage interesting conversation and funny stories.

At networking events or job interviews ask people what they enjoy doing instead of about their job and encourage them to tell you a funny story, but you should also be prepared with a funny story of your own to share with them.

Laughter is Contagious

Regardless of how you make your organization more enjoyable for your staff, laughter and happiness is contagious.  Try just one of the tactics mentioned above and let us know how it works for your organization.  We’re interested to learn how it goes!

The Six Best Productivity Tools for International Entrepreneurs

INTRODUCTION

Pablow has always been an international company and for more than 20 years I’ve been a well-traveled global citizen. That’s really long for a guy like myself who looks 30 years old, am I right?  With our company’s key personnel scattered across the globe, I’ve found a couple of resources and tools that help keep our business running as smoothly as possible.

THE TOOLS

  1. Google Calendar: It shouldn’t be a surprise that the ultimate productivity company, Google, made the list, but I’ve found that many people have yet to discover the true possibilities of their Calendar application.  Personally, I use the calendar app to keep my meetings and events in order, remind me of tasks that need to be completed throughout the day, and to determine the best times in my schedule for a break … which usually doesn’t ever happen!
  2. Calendly: I know, I know, I just suggested a calendar application for the first productivity tool on the list, but I use Calendly for something entirely different.  I’ve been using Calendly as a simple and easy way to schedule meetings with clients, prospects, contractors, and external business partners.  The application is simple to use with a sleek external and internal-facing design.  When using the tool all I have to do is select a pre-determined type of meeting and dates that I’m available and the tool will email the other party to set up the meeting for me.  On their end, customers and prospects only see the time slots that I am available for the specified dates.  Once a meeting time is selected then we both will receive a confirmation email from the app.
  3. Google Analytics: As a retargeting company pursuing customers via online ad buying, we use Google Analytics in combination with Google AdWords in an attempt to maximize our ROI.  While a lot of what we do using Google Analytics is confidential to the company, I can say that my favorite capability of the application is being able to discover and experiment with what words are driving traffic to our websites and white label websites.
  4. Crowdfire: In order to manage our social media I used Crowdfire for a while, and Pablow’s marketing intern has continued to use the application for monitoring our Twitter account.  The application comes in handy when it comes to following/unfollowing accounts with the idea that we want to provide and receive value to our community on social media.  It also is helpful for sending automatic direct messages to followers almost immediately after they follow, which our company receives a lot of through Twitter, but we are unsure how professionals feel about these messages.  Runner up in the social media category is Hootsuite for scheduled posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
  5. Upwork: As we spoke about in our previous blog “The People Power of Pablow” our needs as a growing company are too large to cover with internal talent, but seemingly too small to warrant hiring another employee.  To solve our problem we use many online independent contractors, each with their own area of specialty that provides Pablow with the best quality of skills.  Upwork does a great job at helping you hire talent even if you have never done so before, and when it comes to selecting a contractor the website even recommends contractors that are within your price range and have the experience to complete your project successfully.
  6. GitHub: This application allows our programming team to work on our technology improvements and fixes simultaneously.  Teams could use the online program in a variety of ways, but generally our team uses it to post fixes or new projects, creates steps to achieve our end-goal, assigns responsibility for each step to a team member, and marks the step as done so the rest of the team can see their progress.  A huge benefit of this program is the transparency and ability to hold others on your team accountable for achieving their goals and adding to the technology.

DISCUSSION – Please Share Your Opinion in the Comments Section Below

What do you think of the accounts that send automated “Thank you for following me” messages to all of their followers?  Is it professional or unprofessional to do so?  If we were to have an effective message to followers, what should it say?

What productivity tools do you use to enhance your chances of success as an entrepreneur?

How to Force Millennial Employees to Adapt to Your Company

With 53.5 million Millennials now at work in the United States, companies are used to figuring a way to force this generation into their old and outdated business expectations. However, it’s the companies that go out of their way to radically adapt their businesses to the expectations of Millennial employees that will succeed in the next decade. This is especially important to keep in mind now that we know that by 2020 more than half of the entire United States work force will be Millennials.

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Step 1: Get Rid of Your Assumptions

The first step of adapting your company to meet the expectations and desires of Millennial employees is to get rid of your immediate assumptions about the generation.

Instead of considering the workplace’s youngest generation lazy, selfish, uninvolved, and inexperienced, employers need to reframe their assumptions and view of the generation to see their strengths. Millennials are passionate, charitable, interested in learning, and ready for more responsibilities and experience.

Additionally, companies that push away technology from their employees should consider how Millennials embrace technology for professional purposes helping them be more productive.

 

Step 2: Consider Millennials’ Natural Motivations

Employers often consider what motivates their employees once they’ve already been hired, but companies that are ahead of their competitors will design the company culture and job positions with Millennials’ motivations in mind.

Although it’s different for everyone, Millennials as a generational cohort tend to value growth opportunities, challenging projects, the ability to help others, natural career progression, and a work/life balance.

In fact, it would not be odd to hear a young employee say, “I want to be recognized for doing a good job”, “Engage me in a passion of mine” or “I enjoy the flexibility and freedom of the position.”

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Step 3: Meet or Beat Expectations

Once you’ve prepared yourself and your company for the way Millennials work best, it’s on the management team to meet or even beat the expectations of their employees.

Imagine the disappointment one might have if they were told during the interview process that the company was looking for people who wanted to use their creativity to solve challenging problems, but each new idea they presented was passed over in favor of the tried and true. This has happened to me before and after a short period of time, both my employer and myself agreed that we were not a great fit for each other.

 

Step 4: Continue to Develop with Feedback

Millennial employees view feedback and input as a two-way street. They will gladly accept feedback and input if it is presented in a positive way, because they want to gain new skills and constantly improve.  At the same time, they expect their bosses and employer to take the feedback and ideas they provide and consider or even implement them for the betterment of the company.

The way companies adapt to Millennial workers continues to change, but if companies continue to accept feedback and adjust their expectations they are sure to be successful.

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The Newest Vacation Rental Necessity

Introduction

Have you heard of post-sale travel insurance?  The new concept is quickly becoming a vacation rental necessity for vacation rental retailers, property managers, and software providers.  In the next three minutes I guarantee that you’ll understand post-sale travel insurance and some of the ways it can help your vacation rental company meet your goals, obtain more profit, and build better relationships with your guests.  In addition, we’ll explore a few of the more popular reasons why guests purchase post-sale travel insurance.

What Is Post-Sale Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is a common way to protect guests from the risks of travel, and most professionals in the vacation rental industry understand how it works.  Post-sale travel insurance, on the other hand, is new and different from any other travel insurance products.  The primary differentiator is that it can be sold after the booking and final payment date all the way up until 24 hours before the start of the guest’s trip, which benefits both guests and hosts.

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What Can Travel Insurance Do For Your Vacation Rental Company?

Post-sale travel insurance offers vacation rental companies an additional revenue stream without having to invest any resources, which means that all of the money generated is pure profit.  One software provider estimated that travel insurance could increase their profit per booking by up to 35% and that property managers could increase their profit per booking by 7%.

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Guests love a seamless online purchase process, so finding a travel insurance website that fits your brand and is easy for guests to use is the key to earning additional revenue.  Some companies will even help you create a customized travel insurance website free of charge and in a matter of minutes.

Post-sale travel insurance is incredibly popular with property managers, because it allows them to protect the long term relationships with their guests.  Any travel insurance that prevents guests from purchasing insurance after the final deposit date inherently limits which guests it will cover. What you want is a policy that can be offered to guests up until just before the start of their trip.

Insurance companies are often known as heavily regulated and difficult to work with.  However, post-sale travel insurance is just the opposite since it eliminates the need for insurance licensing and signing a contract.

What Can Travel Insurance Do For Your Guests?

Many guests find that post-sale travel insurance provides them with peace of mind when traveling, a rare occurrence for most guests.  Furthermore many guests are used to staying in hotels where cancellation conditions are very generous, in comparison to the strict cancellation conditions of vacation rentals.

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Post-sale travel insurance claims happen most frequently due to guest injury or illness.  Purchasing post-sale travel insurance helps guests protect against accident and medical expenses during their trip, and also protects against emergency medical evacuation.  Even if guests have a pre-existing condition, they can purchase a valid policy if it is bought within 20 days after their trip deposit is made.

Post-sale travel insurance is also extremely valuable in case of injury, illness, job loss, or a myriad of other covered reasons that might cause a guest to cancel all or a portion of their vacation rental reservation and/or trip.  By purchasing travel insurance the guest immediately transfers all of  these cancellation risks to the insurance company.

How To Get Post-Sale Travel Insurance

The best place to begin offering post-sale travel insurance is through www.pablow.com, which will allow you to create a customized travel insurance wpablow-splashebsite in just a matter of minutes without the licensing and contracts as mentioned above.  The website they provide is completely free and their affiliate fees are competitive with the rest of the industry.  Post-sale travel insurance can be yours in no time!

No One Will Read this Blog: How the Internet Killed Content!

For the past couple of years in digital marketing the narrative has largely been the same: “Content is King!”  All businesses from large corporations to small non-profits were told that they should manage their audience effectively, advertise when necessary, but above all else never compromise frequent content!  Not only is this now false, but we tell you what your number one priority should be in digital advertising for 2017.

It’s said that content can increase you search engine rankings, generate more social media views, drive potential clients to your website, and generate free publicity for your brand.  This is all true!  However, this only works if your content is unique and different than the rest of the Internet and people actually care about what you have to say, which are both significant barriers for companies of all sizes.

As a result of marketers pushing every company for more content, the Internet and our social networks have become inundated with very similar written and visual content that provides very little novel value to readers.  No one could possibly read all of the interesting content on their newsfeed!  The effect of this problem is that content no longer becomes a differentiator for companies; it’s simply a requirement for digital marketers that doesn’t carry very much weight.

We are seeing a regime change in the social media and digital marketing sphere.  Content is no longer King!  It has been replaced by engagement, which shows to be much more effective in building relationships and providing value to clients and cohorts alike.  It’s incredibly important that we change our focus toward reacting to posts, pictures, videos, and more by commenting, sharing, retweeting, liking, favoriting, following, and subscribing.

Changing the direction of our efforts from creating content to engaging with others and their content will take time, but those that embrace it first and see the value in building these online relationships within their social network can expect to see much better growth compared to competitors who subscribe to the old regime of digital marketing.

Questions?  Ask our company’s digital marketing expert and engagement specialist: Dylan DeClerck – dylan@pablow.com.

The Emperor’s New Startup

Is it possible that one of the simplest reasons that most startups fail is because of the “emperor’s new clothes” paradox? Founders tend to surround themselves with founders and first hires that are too close to them, and rather than speaking up and calling it as they see it, they pander to each other’s views in an effort to save positions, friendships or their job. I believe that this paradox directs the founders to pursue fundamentally stupid ideas with little substance, ultimately leading to the demise of the company.

In Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment, he explains the benefits of a diverse team. “A diverse team helps make enchantment last, because people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and skills keep a cause fresh and relevant. By contrast when a naked emperor runs a kingdom of sycophants and clones, the cause moves towards mediocrity.”

In Think Twice, Michael Mauboussin’s book on harnessing the power of counter intuition, he talks about seeking out dissent by finding data from “reliable sources that offer conclusions different than yours. This helps avoid a foolish inconsistency.” He continues, “When possible, surround yourself with people that have dissenting views. This is emotionally and intellectually very difficult but is highly effective in exposing alternatives.”

I agree with Guy and Michael to a degree and think that this is a fundamental reason for most startup failures. If we can resolve or prevent this common paradox it will result in much better outcomes. So how do we overcome such tendencies, obtain diverse viewpoints, and avoid sycophant behaviour in our workplace?

I am glad you asked! If you think like me, it is not so much about finding the right people, more about creating the right environment and understanding so that this can occur. To make sure that instead of getting acquiescence we get as close as we can to real agreements, we are going to need a radical overhaul in thinking.

Our proposed solution is to create a simple and precise value system that creates a safe working environment where the lowest of positions can effectively have as much say as the top position and will not suffer any unfair treatment in the process.

We call it Decarrt (pronounced as per the philosopher), which serves as an agreement among our team to use the same system for moderating and resolving issues, problems and resulting disputes. Additionally, Decarrt is a guiding philosophy for all we do as an organization.

1. DaringBe willing to step up when the need arises and even when there is not a need, and stand up for stepping up.

Making it …

2. EnjoyableEnsuring how we step up is enjoyable for all, a roller coaster ride should still be fun.

3. ConsideredBeing cautious when we step up, using disclaimers, like “I think”, appreciation, acknowledging and apology like “I beg to differ”. Understanding that anger can be understood as a tool for identifying a problem, but not as to tool for solving it. Old fashioned politeness can still go a long way.

4. AccountableWhen we step up successfully we get the accolade, but when not successful we can acknowledge it and give an acceptable apology.

5. ReasonableWe step up using evidence based reasoning rather than mere emotive views and hearsay. Dogma, stubbornness and post-truth not really being appreciated.

6. ResponsibleBeing more formal and prepared in our approach to stepping up, like complaining responsibly & going direct to the person or source of the issue.

7. TransparentWe are all part of the exploration of stepping up and what we say and do is always open to scrutiny, no matter who it is as we all strive to improve it.

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Now, from the cleaner to the CEO we can all have an equal say, providing we are willing to accede to the agreed upon values. Anyone in the company can dare to suggest a solution to any problem, and if they feel confident and daring they could even step up and take responsibility for solving it with the support of the rest of the team. In the end, they’ll receive the accolades if successful or have to acknowledge and apologise if they fail.

Is Your Startup Part of the Paradox?

This is very easy to test to see if your startup or company falls under this paradox. If you have not set up a detailed and agreed upon process for sorting out disputes, then there is a good chance you are part of the “emperor’s new clothes” paradox. A good example is where founders and staff have agreed to resolve a dispute by going directly to the person(s) involved. Then if unsuccessful they’ve agreed to bring a witness and if still unsucessful go before the team to explain and try resolve the dispute.

This means that the CEO could be brought before the team by the cleaner to resolve a dispute. No one is above this transparent process!