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now at work in the United States, companies are used to figuring a way to force this generation into their old and outdated business expectations.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!

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

 

What a Week at VRMA!

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This time last week we were a bunch of excited conference rookies ready to debut our innovative new products to the vacation rental industry at the VRMA National Conference in Phoenix, AZ.  One week later we still feel excited, but this time because of a great experience at VRMA 2016 and lots of business success.

Our booth, featuring a putting green and game that we called “Putting with Pablow”, perfectly reflected our company personality.  It was exciting, fun, a little different than most other booths, competitive and led to easy conversations.  Looking back on the environment we were able to create with a simple golf game, both Steve and Dylan concluded that it was a huge success and something worth repeating at future conferences.

Outside of meeting with people at our exhibition booth, Dylan’s favorite part was networking with VRMA members including those who managed properties and those who were vendors.  Specifically he enjoyed talking and dancing with people on the dance floor during Saturday evening’s event.  Steve also enjoyed networking, but the biggest benefit of the conference in his perspective was being able to talk with system providers in the vacation rental industry to determine how we might solve important insurance challenges.

Looking back at some of our funniest moments.  Dylan was mistaken for a 16 year old.  Dylan put a video on Facebook Live during the exhibition times and talked with the same person later that evening for 15 minutes before realizing it was the same person.  Steve’s accent was mistaken for everything but Australian, even by other Australians.  I’m sure there are many more good stories given how many times we laughed, but these are the ones that stuck.  I’m sure we will have plenty of more stories from future VRMA conferences, as we are extremely excited to be going back!

Interested in learning more about Pablow?  Reach out to Dylan DeClerck at dylan@pablow.com!

Live VRMA Blog: October 18th

Today was the final day of VRMA’s 2016 National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  We recap our experience and talk about what’s next for the company.

MORNING KEYNOTE

Similar to yesterday morning, all of the attendees started this morning in the main ballroom listening to the keynote speaker.  While yesterday’s keynote was brought in from outside the industry, this morning’s keynote was delivered by industry veteran Mary Lynn Clark from Wyndham Vacation Rentals.  Mary Lynn shared the following key messages with the audience:

  1. Customers want unique experiences (not just products), on-demand service that is fast and easy, to be heard, and have companies react to them
  2. All service companies need to put the customer first by delivering exceptional customer experiences, using technology to enhance the experience, and managing their experience
  3. Personal service is about making the customer feel like they’re doing business with a human, not a company

Despite the fact that these lessons were intended for an audience of vacation rental managers, I feel as though they apply to a majority of service-based companies.

 

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

In keeping with the theme established early in the morning with our keynote, our team had the chance to attend multiple sessions covering technology’s role in the vacation rental industry and how to use technology to maintain a personal touch with customers.  These sessions allowed Pablow to better understand the industry and how we can better serve our customers in a technology-based business model.  The most important insight that we walked away with is that vacation rental managers are looking for technology solutions that have great functionality, efficiently solve their problems, and doesn’t change their current business processes.

EXHIBITION

We spent most of today on the exhibition floor making as many possible connections with vacation rental professionals.  The best part of the exhibition process was meeting with people who had genuine problems that they needed solved and figuring out the best possible solution.  It helped us realize that we are not in the business of insurance or technology, when it comes down to it, we are in the business of solving problems.

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The Pablow, Inc. booth was consistently filled throughout the day, making this picture a rare moment when it was not filled with people.

Our team worked incredibly well all conference with Dylan doing an excellent job drawing attendees into the booth to play golf and look at the travel insurance websites we could deliver.  Steve did a superior job connecting with the people on a personal level and answering a lot of the technology questions for property managers.  Our insurance experts, Wendy and Amanda, did a great job of networking with potential business partners and going through the policy details with interested property managers.

The individual strengths of the team allowed us to reach our objectives for the conference of obtaining numerous new business partners and taking the next step toward WORLD-WIDE INSURANCE DOMINATION!!!  Although there’s still plenty of work to do on the second objective.

That’s all from Arizona!  See you next year VRMA!