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  It has been replaced by engagement, which shows to be much more effective in building relationships and providing value to clients and cohorts alike.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.

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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.

decarrt-image-page-001

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!

The Biggest Battle Facing the Vacation Rental Industry Today

INTRODUCTION

There are thousands of battles occurring in counties all across the United States between those in favor and those opposed to short-term vacation rentals.  At the center of the intense debate between both sides are short-term vacation rental regulations and enforcement of those regulations.

Those who support the vacation rental industry and advocate for fewer regulations and enforcement mechanisms primarily consist of vacation rental guests, property management, and rental companies.  On the opposite side of the argument are those who are opposing the vacation rental industry and are advocating for stronger regulations and enforcement mechanisms.  Those opposing the vacation rental industry typically include the hotel industry, vacation rental neighbors, and local government officials.

 

THOSE SUPPORTING THE VACATION RENTAL INDUSTRY

Ironically the vacation rental industry depends on guests for revenue, but they are the least passionate about the ongoing battle surrounding the vacation rental industry.  Realistically it’s because guests have the least to lose in the situation.  If vacation rentals are outlawed across the country then the guests that used to use short term vacation rentals for their travel accommodations will simply find another place to stay, which most likely means a hotel.

Comprising vacation rental property management are property managers and property owners.  Property management is in favor of fewer regulations and enforcement mechanisms because every change to their process and additional staff person required to ensure compliance with regulations costs the company money.  Lifestyle Properties’ general manager Katy Armes in Newberg, OR explains “There’s not enough beds in the county to accommodate the tourism influx. Short of new hotel construction, [increasing local accommodations] will likely come about through more residences being converted to vacation rentals.”¹  Similarly in Sonoma, CA vacation rentals make up about one fourth of all travel accommodations.²  Other reasons property management state in favor of vacation rentals include that the industry brings additional guests to the area, it creates additional revenue for residents, and it provides competition in a non-competitive industry.

The strongest advocates for short term vacation rentals and companies providing the strongest opposition to new regulations are the vacation rental companies, whose largest players include Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and Booking.com.  These companies profit mightily from short term vacation rentals, which provides quite the motivation to make it as easy and profitable as possible for homeowners to become vacation rental hosts.  Airbnb, the most well-known company in the industry, in the face of heavy regulations in Miami says that it wants to work with the city to develop “clear, fair rules.”³  In general the largest companies are fighting heavier regulations to ensure survival of the industry and sharing economy they depend on.

 

THOSE OPPOSING THE VACATION RENTAL INDUSTRY

The hotel industry serves as the biggest barrier to the continued success of the vacation rental industry.  As the vacation rental industry has grown, hotels have seen their competitors increase and occupancy rates decrease, though the growth in the vacation rental market is not proportional to the small decrease in hotel demand.³  Given the decrease in demand for hotel accommodations, hotels have to reduce their rates to ensure occupancy, which reduces their profitability.

Some neighbors of vacation rental homes are understandably upset with vacation rentals because of their experiences.  Henan Cardeno, a passionate opponent of vacation rental homes contends that short term vacation rentals are “changing the character and the nature of our neighborhoods.”³  Alicia Wuscher, a Palm Island resident, says the short term rental next to her home is notorious for throwing parties that shake her home.4  Susan Strong told the Desert Sun that she had to endure five years of loud music, yelling, and laughing because of a short term vacation next door that was not judicious in who could rent it out.4  While it appears as though some neighbors have a negative view of vacation rentals, according to a 2017 David Binder Research poll of 500 Miami residents, more than half said they had a favorable opinion of Airbnb and just 1 in 10 respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion.³  So up to this point reactions are still mixed among the general public.

Local government officials are usually opposed to vacation rentals, which make their job of regulation more difficult than ever before.  As a result of their frustration, those in favor of the vacation rental industry would contend they have received heavy regulations and ridiculous fines.

 

REGULATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT

Since the regulations are largely passed and enforced on the local level, there is a great variety in what the regulations look like.  In San Francisco, the city where Airbnb was founded, short-term vacation rental owners are limited to renting in certain areas and must register their homes for $50.³  In Palm Springs the local government is proposing a limit on the number of times a home can be rented each year, which discourages short-term weekend rentals.  Palm Springs officials also are considering raising permit fees to $900 per year and limiting vacation rental owners to just a single vacation rental.4  On the corporate side of the industry, Airbnb recently agreed for the first time to enforce legal limits on the number of nights a vacation rental can be rented each year in London and Amsterdam.5  This compromise with regulators could be a foreshadowing of what is yet to come in the United States.

To ensure that regulations are followed, Miami penalizes illegal vacation rentals by charging both the owner and the rental company $20,000.  These fines are much higher than most other counties across the United States, but Miami regulators suggest that they could even raise the fines further.  To this point they’ve already passed out $4 million in fines.³  In Palm Springs, with the new proposal in place operating a home without a permit and failing to report the rental agreement could result in a $7,500 fine and homeowners would be limited to one vacation rental.4  Other enforcement mechanisms besides fines are still being explored, as fines do not appear to be effectively deterring many vacation rental owners from operating outside of the law.

 

RESOLUTION

Instead of proposing a resolution in this battle, given that each county and city are imposing their own regulations, it’s probably better to consider a couple of questions moving forward.

Are short term vacation rentals on their way out?  Are all vacation rentals doomed to fail?  If the vacation rental business continues to grow, will our hotel industry collapse?  What will the future of tourism and travel accommodations look like?  Is there a way the industry and its opponents can come to a compromise?  Can the vacation rental and hotel industries coexist in the sharing economy?

What are your thoughts on this very contentious issue?  We’d love to hear them and have a discussion!

 

SOURCES

¹ http://pamplinmedia.com/nbg/142-news/334281-214131-vacation-rental-industry-experiences-modest-growth

² http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6343358-181/sharp-rise-in-sonoma-county?artslide=0

³ http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/biz-monday/article117332773.html – Miami stuff

http://www.desertsun.com/story/money/business/tourism/2016/11/30/palm-springs-set-tighten-vacation-rental-rules-prompts-industry-pushback/94628142/

 http://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-agrees-to-enforce-amsterdam-limit-on-rentals-1480580233