The Best Time to Visit all 50 States

 

Pablow Infographic

 

*In the event that a state had more than one best time of year to visit, I chose to map the month that best fit with surrounding state patterns. To read more you can find the article we referenced for this data here. *

Have you ever wondered where else your potential guests are looking for vacation properties besides your area? We set out to determine the best time for tourists to book a vacation rental accommodation in every state.

To determine the best time of year for tourism in each state we considered multiple factors including temperature, number of tourists and popular seasonal destinations as we collaborated with property managers across the nation. With all of this information we produced a color-coded map, indicating the best month out of the year to visit each state.

Notice the lack of popularity among winter months! Besides Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana the winter months are not well represented on our map. In Nevada, the holiday season is popular, but the best time to visit is actually as the holiday crowds begin dwindling. Colorado is popular during winter months because of its booming ski/snowboard industry. Louisiana’s peak month is when the streets are packed during Mardi Gras celebrations every February.

September is the best time of year for tourism in 13 states, making it the most popular month for travelers. This trend is largely borne from the mild weather and popularity of sports during that time of year. Not only is the temperature not as hot as the summer months, but also the weather hasn’t yet made the full transition to fall making it the perfect time to enjoy a football or baseball game.

The best time to visit most Midwestern states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio) is either immediately before or after July. With extremely hot and humid summers in comparison to the rest of the year, it makes sense that tourism falls as the heat rises.

Take Minnesota for example, while the temperature rarely surpasses 95°, the state’s dew point during the hottest days of summer causes sticky, thick air that prevents people from enjoying the outdoors. At its highest, Minnesota’s summer dew point reaches 80% making 90° feel like 110°. As a native Minnesotan, I would have to pick August as our best month for tourism. With summer temperatures tapering, it’s perfect weather to enjoy a day out on the boat or a long summer night sitting by the bonfire.

Do you agree with what we determined was the best month to visit your state? Tell us what you think!

 

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Building a Brand on a Budget: Industry Trade Shows

After a couple of days in Orlando, Florida at the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association’s annual conference, I’ve realized that it can be difficult for start-up companies with tight budgets to exhibit at trade shows and conferences. There’s just so much that you can mess up!

When our company first started going to conferences we made some rookie mistakes and learned some important lessons that I’d like to pass along to other start-up companies. Our tips and tricks may not be applicable across all industries, but they will help you build a brand on a budget.

Why Do Trade Shows?

Start-ups often attend trade shows, and in the process give away valuable development time and money that they could use improving their product, creating new products or adding value to their company in a multitude of other ways. So why even attend trade shows and conferences?

First of all, exhibiting at trade shows gives you the best possible opportunity to get in front of many of your potential customers in just a few hours, which is in incredibly valuable for your sales person or team. Additionally, it gives you access to many vendors who attend the show and could provide value to your company as a supplier or partner.

Outside of the personal connections made at these events, we have found it particularly beneficial when it comes to keeping an eye on industry trends and problems that our customers face.

Design it Like Martha Stewart

The exhibition booth is your most valuable investment as an exhibitor and the easiest to get wrong. Like any other investment you’ll want to spend some time planning what your exhibition booth will look like, what materials you’ll need, how people will interact with your representatives and how your materials will get to the trade show.

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There are a couple of guidelines to follow when designing your booth’s layout. First of all, you’ll want to think of a draw, something that will engage the conference attendees and bring them to your booth. Let me be clear: free promotional TRASH is NOT a draw. Your draw will want to be something unique that any attendee can do or participate in, there’s a chance to win something, allows people to have some fun and keeps them in one spot long enough for you to talk to them about your company or even better show them your product. Once you’ve figured out the draw you’ll then want to make sure that you pull your chairs off to the side (it looks bad if you sit and takes up a lot of room) and create enough room to stand with multiple attendees in your booth.

Now that you’ve come up with your draw you’ll want to begin gathering the materials you need. If you plan on doing more than one conference, then avoid renting anything from the conference provider. It is the biggest rip off! Last year we rented a few high-top tables from the conference provider for about $500, and to avoid that cost this year, we bought plastic stands to go on top of the table they provide all exhibitors for $50.

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Finally, you’ll want to figure out how your materials are going to make it to the conference. Your best options are to either ship it through FedEx to another FedEx store nearby your destination, which is relatively cheap and allows you to avoid the outrageous handling costs the trade show will charge you, or to pack it all up and bring it in checked baggage on your plane. From personal experience I can say that checked baggage is cheaper for heavier materials, but for lighter packages it’s often easier and cheaper just to ship everything.

Attacking Attendees

As an exhibitor you only have a few minutes of the attendees time to convey what you do and how you’re going to provide value to their business. Besides having a well-crafted elevator pitch that works within the flow of your booth you’ll want to have an attack strategy for each attendee.

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For those attendees that are a great fit for your product and would be worth your time you’ll want to walk them through your draw, continue the conversation, show them how you can create value and leave with some sort of commitment from them (e.g. “I would be interested in doing this”, “You can follow up with me next week”, “I will share this with our partners”). For those that don’t fit what you want in a customer you’ll want to share your pitch and move on, they are not worth your time if there is no potential partnership or opportunity to work together.

When your conversations go well with potential customers be sure to make some notes about their company and what you spoke about so you can properly follow up with them soon. A successful show means that you’ll have a list of potential customers divided into warm leads and hot leads that you’ll be able to follow up with in the next two weeks after the conference. Anything later is impossible to convert!

Eyes on the Prize

When done strategically and with effort an industry trade show or conference can be very fruitful for startups that are trying to get in front of as many potential customers as possible. These tips are just the starting point for those who are interested in doing trade shows correctly. If you have any additional questions or simply would like to learn from our experience please reach out and let us know how we can provide advice!

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Bootstrapping Pablow

With five years of experience working for small businesses and non-profits I’ve learned that budget constraints are difficult to deal with. To navigate these constraints, I’ve learned how to think with a bootstrap mentality.

This blog will explore the four main ways that Pablow bootstraps our startup and provide ideas of how you can bootstrap your own small business or non-profit.

SOFTWARE

Although bootstrapping software is not always a possibility (i.e. everyone must purchase the Microsoft Office product suite), it is an extremely useful strategy in software categories with plenty of competitors and similar features.

For example, instead of using SalesForce for our customer relationship management (CRM) software, we use Zoho and HubSpot for free. Zoho in particular is an effective tool that allows our small sales team to set up contacts, take notes and set reminders.

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Zoho is a great CRM option for companies on a shoe string budget

Our development team requires a software development platform to collaborate on the projects they are working on, and instead of paying for a platform we’ve set up free accounts with GitHub. GitHub gives our team the ability to point out issues, assign team members to projects and chat about solutions to our problems.

INTERNS AND CONTRACTORS

Small businesses often rely upon interns to complete projects that are outside the organization’s current capacity and resources. At Pablow we take this a step further to utilize interns not only in positions that are outside our capacity, but also will bring significant value to the business. It’s a win-win in doing so, because we receive work that will ultimately contribute to the bottom line and interns receive valuable work assignments.

Additionally, as a technology startup our company qualifies for an Iowa Economic Development grant that allows us to split the hourly wage of our interns with the state of Iowa. This grant ensures that we are receiving quality intern help, without paying more than minimum wage.

The important projects that won’t be covered by our permanent team or interns are handed off to contractors, who have helped us with our product launch, cold email campaign, development and marketing content among other tasks.

TRADESHOW

Tradeshows are an important part of the vacation rental and insurance industries, but they’re often incredibly expensive! To avoid breaking the bank we’ve developed a few creative solutions and one very important rule to spend less money.

Rule #1: Instead of renting at a tradeshow, buy the materials you need ahead of time. This will require some additional work and planning, but figuring out what you do and do not need before the tradeshow will save you thousands as an exhibitor.

There are plenty of cheap ways that you can have a fun and engaging booth at a tradeshow. Why pay $1,000 for a fire breather when you can purchase a mini-golf putting green for $20?

At our most recent tradeshow we wanted to set up computers on a high table so that people could create their own travel insurance website without having to sit down. Instead of renting the expensive tables for just a few days we bought two computer stands on Amazon for $40 that will work even better for our booth.

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The tables I wanted to purchase were priced much too high for the conference, so I decided to improvise with a little help from Amazon

PROFESSIONAL EVENTS

One perk of taking classes for my MBA while working full-time is my student status. Besides receiving discounts at baseball games and the movie theater, purchasing student tickets for professional events and conferences saves my company thousands each year.

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Student tickets for those in MBA programs or taking classes are often unbelievably cheap

At one recent conference I was able to sign up for a $40 student ticket (regularly priced $495) and participate in all of the same events as those who had paid full price. I essentially paid for my food costs for the two days and everything else was covered!

CONCLUSION

Bootstrapping is an incredibly useful strategy to save money and cut costs, but it’s a practiced mentality. I challenge you to start bootstrapping by thinking about five different ways you can cut costs in your organization without materially altering the product or service you deliver to customers. I promise it’s possible!