Friday, March 27, 2009

Marketing Your Vacation Rental to International Travelers

The decreasing value of the dollar in the world market is making the US a popular vacation destination for international tourists. An upside of this trend for vacation home owners is that many of these vacationers rent homes as vacation accommodations. To help you better understand this demographic and more effectively advertise to them, here are the basics of marketing to international travelers.

When & Where

Geography greatly influences where many tourists vacation and international vacationers are no exception. For instance, a beach condo in Hawaii is a popular choice for Asian travelers because of Hawaii's relative proximity. But, foreign vacationers may just want to see famous US attractions. For the most part, they are also visiting:

  • Cities, especially Washington DC and New York
  • Beaches in Florida and Hawaii
  • National Parks like Yosemite or the Rockies
Even if your vacation rental is located in another market, you can still target international travelers for your off season. They have different school schedules and typically more vacation time than Americans, so their trips could extend your renting season.


The top ten countries sending tourists to the US (after Canada and Mexico) are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Australia
  6. South Korea
  7. Italy
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Brazil
  10. Venezuela

Source: OTTI/Mintel

To advertise effectively, try to:

  • List on international vacation rental sites to help reach travelers the world over.
  • Be very specific in descriptions of your area in case travelers are unfamiliar with your market.
  • Promote shopping centers and restaurants in your area when possible. These are the most popular activities pursued by foreign tourists.
  • Minimize miscommunication by using local lingo. For example:
    • "holiday" for "vacation"
    • "self-catering" for "rent by owner"
  • Attract travelers accustomed to different payment practices by accepting a variety of payment methods, such as traceable bank-to-bank transfers.

Each renter has his or her own set of expectations about what a vacation should be like, but, due to cultural differences, you may notice a bigger discrepancy between American and international renters. You might address the following topics to avoid misunderstandings with international or even domestic tourists:

  • Vacationers may visit the US without realizing how important it is to have a car to get around your area. For this reason, you should specify whether or not renters need a car for their trip.
  • They may use the metric system, so try to give distances in both miles and kilometers. For example, if you own a beach condo, explain how long it takes to walk to the nearest beach access point.
  • They might come from big cities with widespread public transportation or small towns where everything is in walking distance, so explain the local public transportation systems in detail. You may also include approximate travel time to nearby attractions and cities.

Once you start receiving inquiries from international travelers, you may keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Remember, for all your correspondence, that your potential renter may not speak English as well as you.
  • An online translation service can provide a rough translation of a foreign-language inquiry for you.
  • Broken-English is not necessarily the sign of a scam, unlike a request for cash back. This is a red flag because asking for cash back is not really a standard practice anywhere.
  • Emails are a good way to do light screening of your inquirers. However, you should screen every renter over the phone before booking.


Flexibility is the name of the game when managing bookings and deposits for international guests. Here are some guidelines...

  • The easiest and safest way to accept payment from renters is by credit card.
  • PayPal accepts transactions in 17 currencies.
  • Your merchant credit card account may calculate currency differences for you.
  • European travelers are accustomed to traceable bank-to-bank transfers.
  • It is acceptable to collect and return deposits in your currency.
  • Untraceable wire transfers, cashier/certified checks, and money orders are used by scammers. Don't accept these payment methods.

Go Global 
If many of your renters come from another country, or if you live in a market popular with international tourists, you may want to start reaching out to them. Effective advertising might result in a longer rental season and more bookings. Taking a few small considerations into account, such as currency conversion and the possibility of communication adventures, you should be ready to go.

Anne Frugé is a staff writer for the Owner Community, a great resource for vacation rental home owners featuring educational articles, vacation rental news, owner polls, monthly newsletters, and a weekly internet radio show by bestselling author Christine Karpinski. Or if you're looking for a vacation home to rent, browse Vacation Rentals on

Monday, February 09, 2009

How to Give a Speech Without Notes

For many people giving a speech causes them to turn tail and run or break out in a cold sweat. They would rather die than walk up to a podium and talk. This phenomenon is actually documented. When people are asked what their number one fear is, an astounding majority say speaking before groups. Death comes in second.

So, why in the world would anyone want to give a speech without notes? After all aren't our notes there to help guide us through the speech? Aren't they there to keep us from forgetting what we intended to say? Aren't they there to prevent that ever-fearful event: our minds going blank?

My answer to these questions is a resounding no! When you depend too much on your notes you are putting your brain on cruise control. As the pilot of your speech, imagine if your notes suddenly flew across the room and all your papers scattered into the wind. What would you do? Pilots depend on their co-pilot to take over. You don't have a co-pilot. You must depend on your brain.

The purpose of this paper is to give you some tips to train your brain to work for you. The goal is to free yourself from dependency on your notes. When the wind blows and your notes fly away (or your computer crashes the night before your presentation), do not panic. Instead, toss your head back with confidence and say, "It's ok. I can deliver this speech blindfolded."

How Do You Do It? How Do You Train Your Brain and Rid Yourself of Those Pesky Notes?
First of all, you don't have to be completely note-free. You can take your notes to the podium as you usually do. You can place them on the table before you as always. What will be different this time is that you will never look at them! You have them there, just in case. But as your confidence grows with working without notes, you will suddenly notice, you don't need them anymore. I have reached a point where my notes have been dwindled down to a single note-card (and this is for a 30 minute presentation), which I place in the pocket of my jacket. I never pull it out.

How do you think the great musicians play without music? How do they reach a point in their careers when they can perform a 10 to 12 page piece without a single sheet of music in front of them? You know the answer to this question. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Preparing for your presentation requires diligent and planned practice. I heard someone say once, "If you aren't prepared, you ought to be scared." Yes, practice will make perfect and practice will enable you to toss your notes to the wind.

Believe it or not there are some people who are so frightened by speaking they do not want to think about it. They postpone working on their speech or presentation because the thought of it terrifies them. These people shun practice out of fear and thereby assure themselves that their worst fear comes true. If you are not willing, or unable to practice, you had better not walk up to that podium. Your notes will not help you. Nothing will.

How Do You Practice?

*Decide what you are going to say and write it out. Write down everything, even your jokes, antidotes and examples.
*Read aloud what you have written. Re-write and re-write to make the speech conversational. Re-write to make sure the speech fits in the time allotted. Add and remove portions.
*Now that you have your speech written exactly as you want it, read it aloud five times in a row. After each reading, lift your eyes from the page between paragraphs. Before you look down, try and think about what comes next, paragraph by paragraph (or section by section).
*By the fifth reading you are ready to take your speech off the written page and put it on note cards. You will put words or sentences on the note cards that will transition you to the next part. These are the stumbling places you noted while you were reading.

You are reading: "My biggest fear in making presentations is that I will lose my place and forget what I am about to say. One of the tricks I use to make sure I will remember is. . ."
Oops you forgot what comes next. You look down on your notes and see "to prepare a PowerPoint slide."
You will write PowerPoint on your note card.
*Now that you have your speech on your note cards in bullets, practice your speech with your cards 5 times over two days. This time you don't want to practice too many times in a row. You want your brain to expand. This practice process isn't just about memorization. It's about putting your brain to work--teaching it to expand with you. Notice after each practice how often you have to look down on your cards. Notice if you add some content or a new story. If so, jot those things down on your cards, rework your cards and start over.
*After the fifth practice, you are now ready to abandon the note cards. Practice your speech in the shower.

Practice while walking your dog. Practice while driving your car. Practice your speech at least 10 times in places where notes are impossible. Pay attention to the spots where you stumble or forget what is next. For example, if you are practicing in the shower and you are mid-way through your speech and can't quite remember the next part, that is perfectly fine. As soon as you come out of the shower, go find your notes. When you see what jogs your memory, you are off and running again. The next time, in the shower or in the car, you will remember that part and go on. I suggest at least 10 practices before your presentation. But once you are giving your speech with ease and your notes are clearly in your head, you are ready (even if you only practiced like this 4 or 5 times).

If you prepare and practice and leave your notes on the podium or in your pocket, you will discover that speech making is actually fun. Your brain loves the exercise and you will know that no matter what happens to that little note card, you will successfully deliver your speech. Nothing will stop you now!
Imagine how impressed your audience will be! How did she do it and without notes? Only your dog knows your secret!

With over 18 years experience as a speaker and trainer, Dr. Joan Curtis brings energy and enthusiasm to her programs. You can, too! Join her active website. Get access to dozens of articles on communication and the free mini e-course, Say It . . . Just Right.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Have Wooden Toys Had Their Time?

Nowadays, parents tend to buy toys made of plastic or other materials to their children because most of the time, these toys are more interesting compared to the much simpler wooden toys. Modern toys can do so many things because most often than not, they are battery-operated. However, there are still some specialty toy shops that still sell wooden toys because of their unique characteristics and features.

There are many advantages in using wooden toys. Wooden toys are generally simpler and quieter than modern toys. Modern toys usually produce noise and usually do some acrobatics that some kids might find chaotic and might make them confused. Wooden toys on the other hand, give them a chance to be creative and to do things on their own using their free hands and their imagination because of its generally simple design.

Wooden toys are also safer than other toys made with other materials. Wood is non-toxic and they usually are not very complicated toys which make it easier for children to manipulate or play with, without fear of your children getting hurt. Also, most toys made from wood are not operated with battery.

These toys are also considered to be more educational than plastic toys. Toys made from wood are very simple which children can touch and explore with their bare hands. This helps a lot in their development.

These old-fashioned toys can also stand the test of time. You will still probably see your Dad's wooden rocking horse in your attic or your Mom's wooden toy dishes. This can make you save more money than buying plastic toys. Moreover, when a plastic toy breaks, it could even be dangerous to your child. Plastic toys also have negative effects on the environment. And we don't need that especially now.

Because wooden toys are simple, they are also easier to clean and maintain. They do not have so many nooks and crannies that you might overlook when cleaning. These are also great gifts since most wooden toys are considered rare finds. Plastic toys will lose their value after being used for many times, but not toys made from wood. You can keep your wooden toys for now and after so many years, they can be considered as collectibles.

So you might ask yourself again, have wooden toys had its time even if they have so many benefits?

Probably yes. Because of the increasing popularity of plastic and electronic toys, toys made from wood are now being left behind, despite the aforementioned advantages. Children now prefer toys that can do many things. They do not want very simple toys anymore. And some wooden toys are more expensive than their plastic counterparts probably because they are considered to be collectibles and very unique and hard to find. Moreover, you can almost hardly see wooden toys in the leading toy shops these days.

To sum things up, the answer to your question 'have wooden toys had its time' is almost. There are only a few of them now. Before these toys went out of the market completely, buy some for your children for them to experience the advantages of playing with wooden toys.

Sam is the owner of online Educational Toys store v-tech. You can find more information on Vtech toys on Sam's website.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

American Flag Charms

1 American Flag Italian Charm
1 American Flag Italian Charm
USA Heart Italian Charm
USA Heart Italian Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm
American Flag Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag Star Italian Charm
American Flag Star Italian Charm
American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm
USA Flag Ribbon Italian Charm
USA Flag Ribbon Italian Charm
Waving American Flag
Waving American Flag
America Italian Charm
America Italian Charm
American Flag Peace Sign Italian Charm
American Flag Peace Sign Italian Charm
American Flag State
American Flag State
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
God Bless America Italian Charm
God Bless America Italian Charm
Stars and Stripes Photo Charm
Stars and Stripes Photo Charm
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon
USA Laser Italian Charm

More American Flag Italian Charms and other Italian Charms

Monday, June 23, 2008

Doing it Alone?

I've had some interesting discussions with many people recently in relation to the recent publishing of my new book "Worth More Than Rubies" which grew out of a blog. And I've also read several blog posts about the same subject.

So many see the role of a Proverbs 31 Woman as daunting and impossible to reach, and perhaps in some ways it is. But many overlook verse 15 which states, "She gets up whilst it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls."

When there are others involved in assisting with anything at all, the load is lightened. We don't have 'servant girls' these days for the most part, but we do have family members and friends and in a day and age of very busy lives, it is good to pull the family together to share in household chores and activities. It is not harmful for the children to learn at a young age to help around the household or even when you're out somewhere else. To do simple things like picking up after themselves at home and elsewhere, help carry things to and fro the car or house, and to ask you if you need help when they see you are busy.

If there are no other family members and simply a couple, then sharing the load between the two as much as possible should definitely help. But there are other things you can do that might assist and I share some of them here.

I run a full time business at home and whilst the girls were growing up I didn't have time to do everything around the house. But I was able to engage help and this was something my husband and I discussed and agreed upon. For as long as I can remember I've had someone come and pick up the ironing fortnightly and drop it back off again a couple of days later. I have another lady come on the alternate weeks and clean the house. We pick up everything and put things away (the girls had to throw everything on their beds when they were home, so the floors were clear) and the cleaner washes, wipes and vacuums. It is really nice to walk through our home after she's gone and just smell the freshness and cleanness throughout the house. Once a month I have a man come and mow the lawns and do other odds and ends for us as needed.

Both my husband and I feel that investing the money to pay these three people a worthwhile thing to do - it gives me peace of mind and allows me to concentrate on what I do well without worrying about the house and garden, and it also assists three people to run their own businesses and contribute to their household incomes. In doing that, I am actually helping to provide 'portions for my helpers' as well as provide for my family.

Kathie M. Thomas is an Author, Blogger, Speaker and Virtual Assistant Coach & Trainer. She began her business 'A Clayton's Secretary' in 1994 to be home full time for her 5 daughters. Today she runs a global business via the internet and is an avid blogger. She also contributes to printed and online publications and has published several books. Her passion is about helping women return home to work, using skills they developed in the workforce, so they can be home full time for their families. Her latest book "Worth More Than Rubies: The Value of a Work At Home Mom" was recently made available at

Article Source:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

13mm Italian Charms

Bee Italian Charm 13mm
Bee Italian Charm 13mm
Really amazing and beautiful charm for your bracelet. Gorgeous and cute Bee Italian Charm is made from best quality stainless steel that makes perfect shiny background for charm. This funny bee is painted in pretty and colorful enamel.

Big Ladybug Italian Charm 13mm
Big Ladybug Italian Charm 13mm
Ladybug, Ladybug, where have you been? Make your wish and get this Big Ladybug Italian Charm. Red ladybug with black pots is painted in colorful and pretty enamel. This charm makes great gift to your darlings.

Big Heart Italian Charm 13mm
Big Heart Italian Charm 13mm
Stop wearing your heart in your chest. This Big Heart Italian Charm deserves to join your Italian charms bracelet. The heart is painted in red enamel and edged with gold enamel trim, that makes perfect and sparkling contrast with stainless steel.

Double Heart Italian Charm 13mm
Double Heart Italian Charm 13mm
Double your love with this Double Heart Italian Charm. Two big hearts are painted in red- wine color on premium stainless steel. Your special someone in your life deserves to have this charm on a bracelet.

I Heart You 13mm
I Heart You 13mm
Give your love and this charm to your very special person. Wonderful I Heart You Italian Charm is made especially for the 13 mm charms bracelet. Big heart and letters "I" and "U" are painted in black enamel over a passionate red background. Chic combination of red and black colors makes this charm look stylish and expressive.

Palm Tree Italian Charm 13mm
Palm Tree Italian Charm 13mm
Gorgeous Palm Tree Italian Charm goes with any style bracelet. This charm is painted in colorful enamel on a finest stainless steel base. Keep the piece of your vacation in your heart and on your bracelet.

View more 13mm Italian Charms at Italian Charms Store -

Thursday, September 09, 2004

8 days and counting

8 days, 8 short, but long days. Then we are Myrtle Beach bound. Tommy and I have been married for 16 years, and not had a vacation in our entire marriage. The boys have never seen the beach, the ocean, and have only stayed in a hotel once. Needless to say, we are all excited. We all can't wait until time to hit the road.

All hurricanes are on notice now, you better stay clear of Myrtle Beach for the few days before, and the entire time we are there. I need this vacation. No hurricane is going to rob me of it.

We are staying at the Crown Reef which is by far, the nicest place I have ever stayed on vacation. Oceanfront room. I cant' wait to lay in bed and listen to the ocean at night. IF it is warm enough, I may even sleep with the door to the deck open. I love listening to the waves crash.

While we are gone, I will turn 36 years old. Yep, I'm getting old. But what better place to turn 36, than at the beach? I plan on getting up early that morning, and sitting on the deck before anyone else gets up and enjoying the solitude.

I'm not even going to be self conscious about how I look in my bathing suit, or the fact that I don't tan, and my legs are white enough to blind you when the sun hits them. I'm not going to worry about looking like a fool while I swim, or making an idiot out of myself in front of my SIL and BIL who are taking us. I am just going to relax, have fun, and forget all the stress and trouble at home. Sounds like a good plan doesn't it.

I'm gonna sit by the pool, drink drinks with umbrellas in them, and lose my inhibitions. And at some point, I plan on finding out what sand caught in certain creases feels like.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Ok, I wrote this big, long dark post. I hit delete. It was too depressing.

So, on a lighter note, I will tell you a story, a true story.

When my sis and I took mom to the ER several weeks ago, we kept them in stitches. Literally, mom was calling the male nurse, "mama" among other things. She also had a newbie nurse. A cute, petite thing, with long blond hair, a sweet innocent face, and little girl sounding voice. So fresh out of nursing school, she didn't even know how to put an IV in. She wasn't new when we left.

The doc ordered a urine culture. The whole time we had been there, mom had been hollering about needing to pee, we kept telling her to wait, so here was her chance. The nurse brought in a port-a-potty, and put it beside the bed. For those of you that don't know about urine cultures, they have to have a "clean" specimen. Which means the area has to be washed with a sanitizing wipe before you pee. Then you are supposed to urinate a few drops, stop yourself, then finish in a sanitary cup. This is hard enough to accomplish when you are young, slim, and limber.

My mom isn't a small woman. She is probably 5'8, and weighs something north of 250. We aren't sure exactly how much, she won't tell. Being 80 years old, and feeble, barely able to walk across the floor without her cane or walker, hasn't touched her toes in years. Getting a clean sample isn't going to be easy.

Nurse: here Mrs.---- we need a urine sample, can you get it for me?

Mom: sure can honey,

Nurse: we need a clean sample, so you know what to do with this (handing mom the wipe thingy)

Mom: yes, I think I can reach it, I'm not sure. (trying her best to use the wipey properly, while my sis is standing behind her holding her shirt up, and her pants down.

Nurse: (hands mom the cup to pee in) here you go, do you think you can urinate in this for me?

Mom: I got to go in that?

Nurse: yes, ma'am, it has to go in that cup.

Mom: well, I can't stand here, pee, and hold that cup at the same time. Are you gonna hold the cup for me.

Now by this time, I am laughing so hard, trying not to, so my shoulders are shaking, I am having a hard time breathing, and my sis, who is behind mom, is in the same shape, only she has the job of holding mom's pants for her, up off the floor, around her knees caps. Both of us know if mom sees us laughing we are in deep crap.

Nurse: no ma'am I can't hold it for you. (her face had suddenly went pale as a sheet, I can't say that I blame her.)

Mom: well, isn't that your job?

Nurse: welllllll, I guess so, but don't you think you can do it yourself?

By this time, the nurse is standing directly in front of mom, holding the cup out to her. Mom tries to squat a little to get the cup where it needed to be, with no luck. Nurse newbie, I know had to be praying mom's arms would suddenly lengthen several inches so she could reach the perfect spot. It wasn't happening. Out come the rubber gloves.

Nurse newbie, finally realizes she's gonna have to bite the bullet, neither me nor my sis are volunteering anytime soon. So here we all are, standing around, waiting for mom to go. She got stage fright. After complaining for hours that she needed to pee, she couldn't. She just could not pee with an audience. I turned on the water, first the cold, then the hot, then both together, nothing. I'm doing the pee dance, and she is standing there, not moving, and certainly not peeing.

Nurse newbie told her to sit on the port-a-potty, and relax, see if things could get going. She had no longer sat down till we hear, "OOOOOOHHHHH, get that cup, get the cup, hurry, I'm peeing...too late. I'm done. "

After all that, she missed the cup entirely. The cup was still in nurse newbies hands, on the other side of the room. We wound up pouring the pee from the port-a-potty to the cup. After we all stopped laughing.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


We set off this morning for the orange cast. Raining like the flood back in Noah's days, thanks to hurricane,tropical storm, depression, Frances. Traffic of course was horrible, what do you expect with all that rain? Did I mention Noah hates rain? He absolutely hates it. Can't stand to get rain on his head.

We left for a cast, and come home with a brace. The doc said that thanks to him breaking the thinner bone in his arm, and the fact the larger bone is fine, and there aren't any distortions, plus the fact the bone is still resting relatively straight, he wasn't going to adjust it, or try to reset it. Put him in a removable brace, and sent us on our way.

I have to make him be very careful,and keep him kind of subdued, but he can go about life as normal. Scares me to death. Here he is, walking around with a broken arm, in a removable brace. Noah was actually disappointed, he was looking forward to his orange cast, and getting all those signatures on it.

Cast Day

Tomorrow is cast day for Noah, thankfully. He wants an orange one, which I am happy to oblige him on. I like orange, and it is his favorite color, so and orange cast we will get.

He decided yesterday he didn't like his splint anymore, and wanted it off, he saunters into the living room, with those big brown eyes, just as wide as saucers, and that shocked look on his face, "mom, I don't know what happened, it just came off".

"Yep, uh huh, sure son, whatever you say. I was born yesterday you know."

Let me explain a little, his hard splint, is a 2.5 foot long piece of plaster, about 2 inches wide, that was wet, and molded to the form of his arm, around his elbow. While it was wet, they wrapped it with an ace bandage, from the tips of his fingers to a couple inches above the bend of his elbow. At the end, the Velcro closure, folds so it can be tucked in between layers, and not come loose. When Noah comes in to show it to us, the end is still tucked into the folds, but there are two loops of bandage that are totally off his arm. How he did this, I don't know. I do know, it took us a good half hour to figure out how to wrap it back.

He is looking forward to getting his cast. He thinks it will be more comfortable than the splint. I pity him in a couple of weeks, when we are at the beach, he has sand all down the cast, and can't scratch.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Ex-neighbors, still driving me crazy

I walk in to the grocery store, and there she is, the ex neighbor, the one that called CPS on us.

They moved this past weekend, and I am so happy. So relieved. That is until I walked in to the store. She is at the check out unloading her two cases of Budweiser, I say hello, how are you, did you get all moved, yada-yada-yada, blah-blah-blah, she replies with "So, did you get the visit you were expecting?"

I honestly, couldn't believe it. I could have screamed right then and there. Instead, I put a huge smile on my face, and said "NO? Why would they visit us?" and walked off.

Some people have so much nerve. If I wasn't already positive it was her who made the call, I know it for sure now. My blood is boiling just writing this.

Background music

I have tried to refrain myself from posting song lyrics. Why? I don't know.

But tonight is a different story, the new song, well, it has a special place in my heart. I was a HUGE GNR fan in my teens, and I never really grew out of it. I am ashamed to say that at one time, I had a crush on Axel. Notice the key word, HAD in that sentence. Sweet child is my all time favorite. I just knew in my 17 yr old head that he was singing it to me. Young and stupid. That was me.

Guns N Roses
Sweet Child O' Mine

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry
Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by
Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

Where do we go
Where do we go now
Where do we go
Sweet child o' mine