The Hidden Agenda of Interning at Pablow

Introduction

“The CEO of the company was telling me about the things he enjoyed doing when he was my age.” Ask yourself, how many interns are able to say they had the opportunity of working alongside their CEO every day? It would be great to say a large number of interns have that opportunity, but realistically speaking that is not the case. When I was in the interview process for an internship at Pablow Inc. I did some research to get an overview and was not too impressed. I was not impressed because I realized they were a small startup founded in 2015 that had just 3 employees and when googling “Pablow”, Miley Cyrus kept appearing as the first link. My mindset changed completely once I started the internship.

 

Refurbishing Corporate Culture

This internship was full time summer internship; however, I did not have to be in the office by 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. (even though I was, because I’m a morning person). The culture here at Pablow allows you to manage yourself as long as job duties were done in the required time period. Imagine being told you get to manage yourself, I tried my best to respect that privilege and never show up as if I just rolled out of bed. We were allowed play music and there was always a bit of fun involved throughout the week. It was nice being able to have a laid-back environment, but more than anything it was a learning experience for me. When you treat people right and provide a unique working environment, you’ll find that they enjoy going to work. Throughout the period of my internship there was not one day where I didn’t want to go to work, I was ready to see what was in store for the day. Along with these fun perks it also led me to understanding how I can be a leader by respecting the self-management privilege I was given.

 

Be a Leader

I was fortunate to have worked on projects for Pablow where I was able to lead them in the way that I thought was best. One of the things I remember was when Steve, CEO of Pablow said, “Whoever suggests something, make sure you’re the one to lead.” It’s difficult to learn when you are being micro managed or being help step by step. Look at it as a child, if you try to keep them from getting hurt every moment, they will never learn. When Dylan, VP of sales and marketing, assigned my projects for the summer I felt overwhelmed. I was two days into my internship and already had been assigned projects that would last me the whole summer. There were five projects assigned, and I had complete control from beginning to end. I set timelines, determined the approach and led team meetings to complete the projects. This taught me how I should not fear to take initiative and set a standard for others to follow.

There are many traits and characteristics that describe a leader. Leaders are able to find a balance in certain situations, listen to others, and ask questions. “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes, he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” I tried not to ask odd questions for the most part, but because I have little to zero knowledge about the travel industry there were a lot of questions that I had to ask my team members. Of course, to them it was probably old news, but they were very helpful and motivated me to learn more. You can never stop learning, no matter what the subject is. This led me to learning tools that I can use in the future.

 

Figuring out the tools

There are many software tools that businesses utilize that students don’t have the opportunity to learn since everything you need to know for your career apparently is in a textbook. In this internship, I was able learn and eventually use software tools that I had no experience with for business purposes. This was a fun learning experience seeing how a business can use tools such as Survey Monkey, MailChimp, Canva, and Asana. The best part of all this is that this business is a start-up, you can make it what you want it to be. These projects are an ongoing process, which I believe is great because you can see the improvement. For example, I was developing a customer satisfaction survey, which I predicted I would have done in two days or so. I was wrong, there’s more to it than just listing a couple questions on a survey. I had to look at it from two different viewpoints; the goal was to develop a survey efficient for the customer and valuable for Pablow. It took some time and toying around to understand these different software tools, but there was always help from team members if needed. When I first arrived at Pablow, Dylan made it clear that at Pablow things would be transparent. This provided me with a sense of comfort knowing that there would be honesty, which is great to have when it comes to working with others.

 

Conclusion

Growing up there were movies or television series where interns were seen taking lunch orders, filing documents, or cleaning. Fortunately, it seems like that stigma has been buried (at least with Pablow) and interns are learning and being compensated. I can honestly state that not once did I have to go get coffee for Steve, and I spent my time learning and contributing to Pablow. I am very fortunate to have had the great opportunity of working alongside talented individuals such as Steve, Dylan, Jay and Michael. The freedom I was given allowed me to take initiative and determine how valuable I can be as an individual. I was fortunate to have obtained such a great, motivating and fun learning experience. The beginning was a bit overwhelming, but with time, patience, and confidence it all ended just fine with many successful completed projects. I’m happy and fortunate to say I interned at a startup company rather than a corporate firm. This is an experience I would not trade for anything else and I hope to keep supporting the startup community in any way possible.

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How to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings: Creating A Sense of Urgency

This is the third and final part of a series focusing on strategies and tactics that can help vacation rental managers and hosts increase their conversion rate among guests who are non-committal, comparing properties or “just browsing”. Each part of the series will introduce a new strategy or tactic and show you how it could play out for a vacation rental property manager in a simplified scenario. If you have missed part one (“Following Questions with Questions”) or part two (“The Expect to Book Mentality”), it is recommended that you check those out.

 

IN THEORY

Creating a sense of urgency starts with the qualifying questions that were covered in the first part of this series. Questions that will help property managers determine the budget, time, interest and need of a potential guest, can also help urge the guest to take action.

If property managers propose open-ended questions, guests will then have to explain why they are qualified to stay at the property, which in turn will increase the guest’s desire to book. The most powerful question to pose asks the potential guest to explain why they desire or even need to stay at a particular property.

Other commonly used tactics that can help create a sense of urgency include scarcity, time restraints, fear of missing out, responsiveness appeal, pulling away and making it difficult to book.

Scarcity and time restraints work because they put the potential guest in a difficult situation that often results in a decision to make a reservation. The two tactics can be particularly effective when combined together, or adjacent to a way that they can pull out of the reservation if they change their mind.

Property managers that can effectively target a potential guest’s fear of missing out (FOMO) are also incredibly effective at converting on-the-fence guests. The final push to book could alternatively come from a reward for making a decision, which could be anything from a giveaway during their stay to a small discount if they book directly and immediately.

The riskiest and potentially most effective tactics work against the natural instincts of most hospitality industry professionals. The first is to get an offer in front of a guest, but before they accept pulling the offer away from them, appealing to their desire to have something they can’t get. The other option is to make it more difficult to book than usual, for example with an application fee or a mandatory phone screening, which makes guests feel as if they earned the booking rather than simply receiving the booking.

 

IN PRACTICE

Scarcity and Time Restraint: “With the summer being our busiest season and new bookings coming in for our properties every few hours, I can only hold this property for a day without a reservation. Would you like to reserve it now so I can ensure that you will be able to stay there when you visit us later this year?”

Fear of Missing Out: “We are so excited for the upcoming music festival, especially with the awesome headliner. I heard they are amazing! Would you like to book our property now so we can make sure you have a comfortable place to stay when you arrive?”

Rewarding a Decision: “If you book today we can throw in a welcome basket with some of your favorite beverages. What types of beverages do you prefer?”

Pulling Away: “Thanks for your interest, but I’m not sure that our properties are the right fit for your needs. We specialize in luxury properties in high-traffic locations, which sound like it might not be right for your group.”

Be sure to check out part one and two of this series to determine potential strategies and tactics that you can use to improve the occupancy of your vacation properties and bottom-line profitability.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dylan DeClerck is the VP of sales and marketing at Pablow, a travel insurance technology provider and broker that works with vacation rental property managers to offer vacation rental travel insurance to their guests hassle-free and in a matter of minutes. The company is based in Iowa and provides travel insurance to more than 25,000 vacation rental properties in the United States. Dylan is also the executive director of a non-profit that teaches athletics to at-risk youth.

How to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings: The “Expect to Book” Mentality

This is the second part of a three part series focusing on strategies and tactics that can help vacation rental managers and hosts increase their conversion rate among guests who are non-committal, comparing properties or “just browsing”. Each part of the series will introduce a new strategy or tactic and show you how it could play out for a vacation rental property manager in a simplified scenario. If you have missed part one (“Following Up Questions with Questions”), it is recommended, though not required, that you give it a read.

 

IN THEORY

Inbound inquiries in the vacation rental industry come at varying levels of decisiveness. It’s easy for property managers to book the reservation for guests who have already made up their mind, but it’s often difficult to convince those that have yet to decide to book. While a property manager needs to approach each of the preceding situations differently, their mindset should be the same regardless. They should “expect to book”!

When property managers expect the potential guest will book their vacation with them it’s apparent in their guest communications. Suddenly the wording is more helpful, positive and confident instead of pushy or uncertain, which makes a huge difference for guests.

Obviously there will be some potential guests who decide to travel elsewhere or stay with another local accommodation, but the best property managers don’t let this get to them or affect their mentality that the next potential guest will book with them.

 

IN PRACTICE

Poor Wording: “Hello, I remember a couple of weeks ago we spoke about your family trip to Utah in July and I was wondering if you and your partner had made a decision about what kind of accommodation you would be staying in. By the off chance you haven’t made a decision yet, we would appreciate it if you would take a look at our property.”

Improved Wording: “Hello, it’s good to speak with you again! Our team is busy gearing up for a busy summer season and we are so excited to be opening up our property to so many families. I know that you said you were looking for a week in mid-July and I wanted to get your final selection of a date before we’re completely booked. Do you have an exact date that will work best for your family?”

To put this mentality into practice for your vacation rental or property management company start by writing down five positively framed sentences that you can use in your guest communications. This blog post was inspired by and based off of Bill Guertin’s article “The Secret, Subtle Language of Winning Sales Calls”.

Also be sure to check out part one and three (which was previewed in this blog post) of this series to determine potential strategies and tactics that you can use to build around the “expect to book” mentality.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dylan DeClerck is the VP of sales and marketing at Pablow, a travel insurance technology provider and broker that works with vacation rental property managers to offer vacation rental travel insurance to their guests hassle-free and in a matter of minutes. The company is based in Iowa and provides travel insurance to more than 25,000 vacation rental properties in the United States. Dylan is also the executive director of a non-profit that teaches athletics to at-risk youth.

How to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings: Following Questions with Questions

This is the first part of a three part series focusing on strategies and tactics that can help vacation rental managers and hosts increase their conversion rate among guests who are non-committal, comparing properties or “just browsing”. Each part of the series will introduce a new strategy or tactic and show you how it could play out for a vacation rental property manager in a simplified scenario.

 

IN THEORY

Whether a potential guest reaches out via email, website message or phone call it’s extremely important that the reservationist is fully prepared to quickly answer their questions about the vacation rental property. Every hour an inquiry goes unanswered the chances the guest will book the property decrease! Because of this property managers should monitor their messages, know potential questions guests might ask, and save responses in a FAQ document to improve future response times.

In addition, while answering the guest’s questions it’s important that the reservationist follows up with their own open-ended questions to determine if the guest is really worth their time. Potential guests are qualified when they have the right budget in mind, are truly interested in the vacation rental or area, and are in need of an accommodation similar to what is offered. Additionally it’s good to ask a few questions about the potential guest and their upcoming trip as a way to build rapport.

If the potential guest is truly on the fence there will be a point where they stop responding to emails or they say something on the phone that indicates they are not ready to commit. At this conjuncture it’s the company’s job to listen to their concern or objection, clarify their point to ensure understanding, empathize with their concern, give a genuine response and then ask if the response was appropriate.

 

IN PRACTICE

Guest: “Hello, I had a chance to check out your property online and would like to determine if I could rent out just a portion of the space for a three-day weekend?”

Manager: “Hello Guest, thanks for reaching out! Right now we only allow guests to rent out the whole property as the room units are all connected to the main living space. Is there a reason that you might only need a portion of the space for your trip?”

Guest: “I’m traveling to the area for work with another colleague, so we only really need two rooms.”

Manager: “I see the dates you’re traveling. Do you plan to attend the local film association conference in just a few weeks? My partner and I love to watch independent films and thought of attending ourselves!”

Guest: “Yes it is! Glad to hear that you’re also interested in independent films. I’ll be releasing my first feature film at the festival. Unfortunately I think I’ll keep looking for another place in the area given your accommodation just seems too big for us.”

Manager: “So you’re saying your primary concerns are the size and comparative cost of the accommodation?”

Guest: “Yes.”

Manager: “I understand that because we can host larger groups the cost of our property seems a bit more than other smaller accommodations, however because of our location right across from the festival you’ll save money on transportation and we can lower the cleaning fee if you will only be staying in two of the three private rooms. Does that sound fair?”

Be sure to check out part two and three of this series to determine potential strategies and tactics that can help you close a sale similar to the one above and book more guests.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dylan DeClerck is the VP of sales and marketing at Pablow, a travel insurance technology provider and broker that works with vacation rental property managers to offer vacation rental travel insurance to their guests hassle-free and in a matter of minutes. The company is based in Iowa and provides travel insurance to more than 25,000 vacation rental properties in the United States. Dylan is also the executive director of a non-profit that teaches athletics to at-risk youth.