5 Tips of Starting A Vacation Rental Business

A few years ago when the kids were young, we decided to invest in a summer home.  As big boaters, we wanted something close to a body of water but affordable enough to maintain year round.  Our first venture was a trailer, but due to the cleanliness of the lake it was on, cramped quarters, and only 5 Gallons of hot water, we quickly traded our trailer in for a home along a cleaner body of water

We ventured into Michigan and found a small quaint town.  We couldn’t afford lake side housing so opted for a little cottage a mile from the beach.  It was close enough to home but far away from reality.  As the kids grew, our ability to make it out to our summer home lessened so we decided to dive into the world of renting.  After interviewing several rental companies in the area, we opted to manage rentals ourselves to avoid the hefty 20 – 25% fee.

CONVERTING

If you are in the process of converting a vacation home into a vacation rental some changes need to be made.   Walk through your home and remove any valuable items you don’t want broken or removed from the property. Swap out family photos with artwork. Consider the linens – the quantity and even the color.  Whites may be easier to bleach but may stain easier.   Make sure you have back up towels and two sets of sheets for each bed for quick turnovers or when you don’t have time to have laundry done.

PURCHASING A VACATION RENTAL

If you are purchasing a new property, make sure the economics work. Research the area and figure standard rental rates and the length of the season.  In our case, our rental season is only 12-weeks long so we needed to make sure that renting made more sense than selling, we figured-in the cost of furnishing and updating as well as taxes and utilities.

Edan Gelt Vacation Rental Business
Edan Gelt Vacation Rental Business

LISTING

We chose to list our property on both AIRBNB and VRBO.  It takes a bit of coordination to make sure the websites are updated continually so if you rent on one, you need to make sure you block off the dates on the other

You need to create a powerful listing that captivates online viewers so treat the listing as a marketing tool.  Take great pictures and write an honest and detailed description of the property.  Include your distance from key destinations and any added value your property offers.  Research pricing of similar properties and price accordingly, taking into consideration fluctuations for holidays and peak travel times.

RESOURCES

Put a team in place.  Interview cleaning people, get to know your neighbors and find a local handyman.  If your vacation property is far from your main residence, your team is your most valuable resource.  During the summer, our cleaning lady becomes the go-to gal.  She lets us know if there is damage and turns over the property for the next guest in as little as 3-hours.   Our neighbors have also helped when tenants had issues like a new battery in a smoke detector or figuring out cable.  They even  notified us of a burst pipe in the winter.

TAXES

Make sure you pay taxes on your rental income, state dependent.  If you are a vacation homeowner and only want to rent less than 2-weeks per year, you can do so tax-free but anything more is taxable.

It does get a bit chaotic at times managing a vacation rental with schedules, tenants and but for us it’s been fun.

By:  Edan Gelt, MBA, CMD

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FREE Versus Discount Marketing

As marketers we create and distribute promotional offers to drive traffic to our business, store and or/website clients – so what message really drives action?  What is valued the most, a loyalty program, discounting, buy one get ones?  How about FREE?

Everyone likes a discount but FREE comes out ahead when strategizing long term impact.  FREE not only drives consumers to take action quicker but FREE is a gift that keeps on giving.

The Law of Reciprocity

I wrote about the Law of Reciprocity in the past.  It is human nature to want to give back when one receives something.  So although it would seem that a FREE Bag of Dog Food at PetSmart, Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven or a FREE $25 Gift Card at Floor and Décor would cause these retailers to lose money, it actually has the opposite effect and increases sales.

I have been the recipient of all of the offers above and each and every time I have walked out buying an additional item (and I know the law of reciprocity).  I am so grateful to the retailer providing the free offer; I am intrinsically motivated to make an additional purchase (or I feel bad leaving without making a purchase).

Even if you’re not like me, feeling grateful enough to buy something, maybe you’re even guilted into it?  Ever try a sample at Costco and feel obligated to buy it afterwards?

According to a 2013 TIME Magazine article regarding 7-Eleven, my personal reaction of purchasing more after receiving something free is quite common. 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day has resulted in ancillary sales increases of 40% or more in hot dogs, beef jerky and other snacks parable with an icee beverage.  It’s no wonder FREE Slurpee Day is an annual event.

Edan Gelt Marketing
Edan Gelt Marketing

Perception

Offering customers a discount does not relate as well as a FREE or bonus item, even if the value is the same.  In a study reported in the Journal of Marketing, writers Haipeng (Allan) Chen, Howard Marmorstein, Michael Tsiros, & Akshay R. Rao, note that when people were offered 33% more of an item versus 33% off the regular price, people actually picked the extra product, even though the discount was a better deal.  They learned that people’s perception of FREE or bonus outweighed the reality of the discount.

 Something to talk about

Not only are free offers good sampling opportunities but they also make great stories for the media.  FREE offers also make huge splash on social media.  People tend to share freebies.  If a famous sandwich shop is offering a free 6” sub and puts the offer on a social platform, it will go viral – driving swarms of people to the business location.  The promotion will also likely make the evening news.

By:  Edan Gelt, MBA, CMD

Interested in creating a strategic marketing campaign to increase sales?

Reach out at https://www.linkedin.com/in/edan-joy-gelt/

With more than 20 years of diverse marketing experience, including more than a decade at Harlem Irving, Edan Gelt has an extensive capability in diverse marketing mediums across various industries, offering insight on marketing strategy, research, public relations, advertising, special events, social media, direct marketing, branding and more.

Edan Gelt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Elmhurst College and an Executive MBA degree from the University of Illinois.

Marketing in Unfamiliar Markets

So a marketer for years, my main focus has always been on the good old Chicagoland area.  Recently, I welcomed a client which hosts events nationwide; in areas I’ve never even visited.

Most of the events were repeats so there was a trail of what made up the primary demo – emails, zip codes, income and how attendees heard about the event; but what about new events in entirely new markets?

Understanding what marketing mediums have worked in other markets for similar events, I approached the new area with the same strategy basics, however, finding the most value in each new outlet was challenging.  My first goal was direct mail and mass distribution magazines, so I searched all direct magazine/mail suppliers in the area.  After receiving media kits from several companies, I sifted through the marketing publications looking for similar businesses.  Then I picked up the phone and called the businesses one by one to ask for opinions.  It was a very long day.

Business owner after business owner rated the publication I was calling about and told me how they rated the return. They also referred me to other sources and even introduced me to other companies in the area that might make good media partners for the event.

Marketing By Edan Gelt
Marketing By Edan Gelt

It was a tedious process, but outside of living in the area, this was the best approach to understand what publications reached my demographic.  I also learned a lot about the demographic.  For most businesses, a trade area really isn’t a circle but instead, an amoeba.

From my calls to the businesses, I learned more about exactly what zips to hit so I could create a valuable digital and mail campaign.  Instead of going in blind, I was educated and confident before writing recommending a media plan.

The event campaign was a success and the client was able to get more than 1 million impressions for a substantially lower CPM than budgeted. We created valuable long-term partnerships for the event and created a viable and sustainable campaign.

Even in the US, the culture in each market varies and what works in one state or even city, may not work in the other.  My advice, roll up your sleeves and start making calls – understand where you’re going and how to make a splash.

By:  Edan Gelt, MBA, CMD

With more than 20 years of diverse marketing experience, including more than a decade at Harlem Irving, Edan Gelt has an extensive capability in diverse marketing mediums across various industries, offering insight on marketing strategy, research, public relations, advertising, special events, social media, direct marketing, branding and more.

Edan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Elmhurst College and an Executive MBA degree from the University of Illinois.

For more information visit www.edangelt.com,

or https://www.linkedin.com/in/edan-joy-gelt/

Chicago Mom of Young Cancer Survivor Joins CureSearch Event as Publicity Chair

Edan Gelt is a Chicago business consultant and mom of two – Kennedy, 10 and Maddox 12. She’s also the 2017 publicity chair for the CureSearch Chicagoland Superheroes Unite! event.

Edan became involved with CureSearch after her 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy, was diagnosed with leukemia on February 2, 2012.

It all began when Kennedy began exhibiting strange symptoms, like coughing, exhaustion, nausea and difficulty urinating, over a 2-month period. Despite numerous trips to the pediatrician, she remained undiagnosed. It wasn’t until the pediatrician ordered a blood draw, and after checking into Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, that they heard the devastating news – cancer.

“It was a whirlwind – the day after she was admitted, they surgically inserted a port and started chemo infusion,” says Edan Gelt. “We met with Dr. Ricarchito Manera, a brilliant and kind doctor, who patiently sat down and gave us a protocol for her first 29 days called induction. He explained that after induction, she would be put on a randomized study, backed by CureSearch. The study would be based on her risk assessment from a bone marrow test.”

After a 5-day stay, the family returned the next day because Kennedy had a fever that she couldn’t shake. They spent the next month in the hospital, with Kennedy being poked and prodded, swallowing disgusting medication and having several blood transfusions, scans and tests during her stay.

 Edan Gelt Daughter and Husband

“She was so strong, so resilient, and trusting. She morphed into a tiny superhero, and we called her Princess K.”

Edan Gelt and husband alternated stays at the hospital, becoming ships passing in the night. Their son Maddox, who was 7 at the time, cried when they told him about his sister – more so because she got to have a sleepover and he didn’t. He also didn’t understand what leukemia was.

After 2 1/2 years of chemo treatment backed by CureSearch, Kennedy had her port removed and the chemo ended.

“One of the greatest gifts CureSearch gave Kennedy was the lack of cyclins in her trial. The standard leukemia treatment includes cyclin therapy, which has been known to damage the heart. Because of Kennedy’s risk level and the random protocol she received, her long-term effects of the chemo are less severe.”

Then on February 2, 2017, Kennedy celebrated her “cure” date from cancer, and she became Edan’s forever superhero.

While Kennedy was in treatment, Edan fundraised for the CureSearch Chicago Walk and helped raise awareness for the organization. Not knowing about CureSearch, her friends and family would donate to other organizations on Kennedy’s behalf, but the funds weren’t going directly to childhood cancer research.

“The problem is that children’s cancer can’t be treated like adult cancers because most of the treatments can be toxic to a child’s body, damaging their organs, mental health and more. To treat childhood cancer, specialized protocols are needed – like the lack of cyclins in Kennedy’s protocol.”

Edan Gelt believes in CureSearch, not just because of Kennedy’s amazing outcome, but because every dollar donated goes toward funding lifesaving research.

While working on public relations for CureSearch, she personally met and lost superheroes who weren’t as fortunate as Kennedy.

“Ana, Julissa, Tyler, Blake and so many others I met at the hospital while volunteering or while Kennedy was in treatment or no longer here to walk with us. It is for these amazing children, and children like them, that we need to continue to walk and fundraise CureSearch.”

The entire community is invited to join the Gelt family to celebrate Kennedy and all children with cancer – true superheroes – on September 24th at Boomer’s Stadium.

What is Retargeting and How Does It Work?

Have you ever looked for something online to later find the thing you were looking for following you everywhere on the web?  I remember the first time this happened to me, I thought it was a coincidence or maybe a “sign” that I really should purchase that skirt, those cool shoes or take my kids to that cool new play zone.

The ads weren’t a coincidence but instead, directed directly at me based on my Internet activity.  The process is called Retargeting and it is one of the more effective digital advertising channels.

How Retartegeting Works

A small piece of code (also called a pixel) is inserted in a web page, landing page, or email.  The user does not see the code but the cookie-based, java-script technology secretly follows the user around the internet and serves up ads based on behavior.

The most unique aspect is that the code can be delivered based on the buyer’s behavior.  If a potential customer visits your site, loaded up a basket and didn’t check out, the item(s) can follow the customer around.  Or if the potential customer just looked at an item on your site, you can still serve up ads.  The code is customizable based on consumer behavior.

Retargeting Ads Edan Gelt
Retargeting Ads Edan Gelt

Retargeting is extremely effective because it serves up targeted ads to a market that has already shown interest in your product or service.  This makes retargeting ads more effective than other digital channels based solely on demographics.

Interested in creating a retargeting campaign?  Reach out on Linkedin.

By:  Edan Gelt, MBA, CMD

With more than 20 years of diverse marketing experience, including more than a decade at Harlem Irving, Edan Gelt has an extensive capability in diverse marketing mediums across various industries, offering insight on marketing strategy, research, public relations, advertising, special events, social media, direct marketing, branding and more.

Edan Gelt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Elmhurst College and an Executive MBA degree from the University of Illinois.

CureSearch Event Publicity Chair for Childhood Cancer

Edan Gelt is a Chicago business consultant and mom of two – Kennedy, 10 and Maddox 12. She’s also the 2017 publicity chair for the CureSearch Chicago Superheroes Unite! Event. Edan Gelt became involved with CureSearch after her 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy, was diagnosed with leukemia on February 2, 2012.

It all began when Kennedy began exhibiting strange symptoms, like coughing, exhaustion, nausea and difficulty urinating, over a 2-month period. Despite numerous trips to the pediatrician, she remained undiagnosed. It wasn’t until the pediatrician ordered a blood draw, and after checking into Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, that they heard the devastating news – cancer.

“It was a whirlwind – the day after she was admitted, they surgically inserted a port and started chemo infusion,” says Edan. ” We met with Dr. Ricarchito Manera, a brilliant and kind doctor, who patiently sat down and gave us a protocol for her first 29 days called induction. He explained that after induction, she would be put on a randomized study, backed by CureSearch. The study would be based on her risk assessment from a bone marrow test.”

After a 5-day stay, the family returned the next day because Kennedy had a fever that she couldn’t shake. They spent the next month in the hospital, with Kennedy being poked and prodded, swallowing disgusting medication and having several blood transfusions, scans and tests during her stay.

“She was so strong, so resilient, and trusting. She morphed into a tiny superhero, and we called her Princess K.” Gelt said.

Edan Gelt and husband Gene Khalimsky alternated stays at the hospital, becoming ships passing in the night. Their son Maddox, who was 7 at the time, cried when they told him about his sister – more so because she got to have a sleepover and he didn’t. He also didn’t understand what leukemia was.

After 2 1/2 years of chemo treatment backed by CureSearch, Kennedy had her port removed and the chemo ended.

“One of the greatest gifts CureSearch gave Kennedy was the lack of cyclins in her trial. The standard leukemia treatment includes cyclin therapy, which has been known to damage the heart. Because of Kennedy’s risk level and the random protocol she received, her long-term effects of the chemo are less severe.”

Then on February 2, 2017, Kennedy celebrated her “cure” date from cancer, and she became Edan’s forever superhero.

Edan Gelt
Kennedy Khalimsky, daughter of Edan Gelt

While Kennedy was in treatment, Edan fundraised for the CureSearch Chicago Walk and helped raise awareness for the organization. Not knowing about CureSearch, her friends and family would donate to the American Cancer Society or Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Kennedy’s behalf, but the funds weren’t going directly to childhood cancer research.

“In fact, only 4% of funds go towards childhood cancer research. The problem is that children’s cancer can’t be treated like adult cancers because most of the treatments can be toxic to a child’s body, damaging their organs, mental health and more. To treat childhood cancer, specialized protocols are needed – like the lack of cyclins in Kennedy’s protocol.”

Edan believes in CureSearch, not just because of Kennedy’s amazing outcome, but because every dollar donated goes toward funding lifesaving research, While working on public relations for CureSearch, she personally met and lost superheroes who weren’t as fortunate as Kennedy.

“Ana, Julissa, Tyler, Blake and so many others I met at the hospital while volunteering or while Kennedy was in treatment or no longer here to walk with us. It is for these amazing children, and children like them, that we need to continue to walk and fundraise CureSearch.”

The entire community is invited to join the Gelt and Khalimsky family to celebrate Kennedy and all children battling cancer – true superheroes – on September 24th at Boomer’s Stadium.

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md, works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame.

CureSearch is building a $10 million research pipeline to aggressively drive pediatric research grants and clinical trials that have a higher chance of becoming cures for children’s cancer without the toxic side effects that plague current treatment options.

CureSearch 2017 Chicago Walk

This year I am the public relations chair for the CureSearch Chicago Superhero Walk.  CureSearch was one of the first organizations I was introduced to when my daughter Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 at the age of 4.  CureSearch was the logo on the stationary I took notes on.  It was the organization that sponsored the experimental protocol my daughter received after day 29, post induction.  CureSearch was also the beneficiary of the walk I attended in September 2012, only 4 months after my daughter was diagnosed.  To me, CureSearch is synonymous with childhood cancer research.

If Kennedy were diagnosed with ALL Leukemia in 1967, we likely wouldn’t have celebrated her 10th birthday last month.  In fact, only 4% of children diagnosed in the 1960’s with low-risk ALL Leukemia survived; today 94% do.   Although the 5-year survival rate for some childhood cancers has increased drastically over the past 50 years, still nearly 2,000 children under the age of 19 die each year – making cancer the leading cause of death by disease in children in the US.  42 children are diagnosed in the each day!

 Edan Gelt CureSearch 2017 Chicago Walk
Edan Gelt CureSearch 2017 Chicago Walk

While working on public relations for CureSearch, I personally met and lost Superheroes that lost their battle with cancer – Ana, Julissa, Tyler and Blake.  It is for these amazing children and children like them that we need to continue to walk and fundraise for Children’s Cancer Research.

Why CureSearch?

Edan Gelt believe in CureSearch because for every dollar donated, 58% goes toward children’s cancer research and education projects and 31% for fundraising to secure the funding to do it. Only 11% of every dollar goes toward operating the organization.  This says a lot.  There are many great organizations out there like the American Cancer Society or Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that fund cancer research but only 4% is dedicated specifically to children’s cancer research.

Children’s cancer can’t be treated like adult cancers because most of the treatments can be toxic to a child’s body, damaging their organs, mental health and more. To treat childhood cancer, specialized protocols are needed.

To help fund the future of cancer-fighting superheroes, join CureSearch on Sunday, September 24, 2017, at the Boomer’s Stadium, 1999 South Springinsguth Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60193.

Find CureSearch on Facebook @CureSearchChicago

Signup to walk at www.curesearchsuperheroes.org/chicago

By:  Edan Gelt

CureSearch Chicago Walk Chair