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!

 

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!

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.