Photo Blog

We want to keep you posted and publish occasional newsletters that can include news, information, opinions and data. Read everything we know.

Subscribe

Bill Gates' Favorite Burger Joint

By William May
Published: 12/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

Over the decades there have been numerous stories here in the Northwest U.S. about how the favorite restaurant of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, was an old fashioned burger stand not far from Microsoft's campus.

You might like it too.



University District Burger Master

Learning From The past

Based on its altered construction, Burger Master looks like it was once a "Happy Day's" type car hop joint from an era well before my day. You remember Happy Days, the icon of 50's cliché, with Ritchie, Potsie, Ralph, Joanie and of course the Fonze.

I'm not sure if Burger Master had roller skating carhops long ago but maybe.

About 10 miles west of Bill's Burger Master there is another Burger Master just off the University of Washington Campus. Its been there so long, that the carhop motif was stripped away decades ago, leaving it with a big handy parking lot and a menu more like a diner than a burger joint.

I found myself driving past one morning recently and, having missed breakfast, rolled in to see what they serve at that hour of the day. I entered a time warp.

The menu behind the counter was to be expected. But when I chose the eggs dish I was sent back in time. The clerk said, "How would you like your eggs?" I was immediately suspicious of the question.

They don't ask you what kind of eggs you want at McDonalds, "Scrambled?" I guessed.

The clerk was a well dressed 55 year old man. The cooks were adults and there wasn't a teenager in sight. Nothing against kids, but the owner of Burger Master was paying these employees a real wage. Huh.

"And would you like Ham, Bacon or Sausage?"

Another trick question, you don't hear at McDonalds. "Link sausage," I said quickly in case he would remember that offering customers a choice wasn't normal.

"And to drink?" Ok here we are on normal ground. "Coffee, orange juice, tea?

"You have tea?" I mussed.

"Earl Gray, Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Chamomile... "

I cut him off, "Earl Gray please."

"Toast, Pancakes, Cinnamon Roll, or . . . "

I cut him off again, "Do you have biscuits".

"Two biscuits. How would you like your hash browns?"

"Crispy. No make it extra Crispy."

"Can do," he said. You won't hear from a teenage clerk at McDonalds. "That will be hash browns, link sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits and tea."



Burger Master Breakfast

And Service Too


I must have been looking uncomfortable, because he said, "We'll bring it to you, sir." Now it was really getting weird. Sir he called me. The price was only a bit more than McDonald's. I'm suspicious. I'll bet they'll even want a tip too. And in a burger joint.

The dining room was very large and very clean with big windows. I grabbed the free newspaper ($1.00 at McDonald's) and crawled into a booth. Before I got through the first page, the food appeared. It was on a real plate, with real utensils. A big napkins and was delicious.

The hash browns? Crispy. The sausage? Jumbo sized and tasty. The biscuits - melt in your mouth. I read the whole paper. I didn't want to leave.

There is a lesson to be learned from Burger Master, for any business. Offer a better product. Provide a few extras, give good service and set a reasonable price.

Burger Master was packed at 10AM on a Wednesday morning. It was standing room only actually and probably has been for decades.

Read more

Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0167 – 12/01/10

Mother Giant Radio Station Trounced Websites

By William May
Published: 05/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

KJR Radio Seattle Channel 95 Disc Jockeys Posers 1973
KJ Radio Disc Jockeys 1973

Prior to the lodging industry, I had a perfectly normal life in the media and advertising industry. I worked at radio stations and publications and owned an advertising agency. Then I started, invested and managed some publications and a radio station.

While news, information and entertainment are the product of media companies, it is advertising sales that fuel the organizations. My first big job was at the "Mother Giant" radio station KJR-AM in Seattle, Washington in 1973. Fresh out of college I got to work with my heroes who were as eccentric as human beings are allowed to be when not locked up in prison.

I had sold newspapers ads while in college but the Radio Experts taught me a lesson about selling advertising - 'Don't sell it if it won't create sales for the advertiser," said Mr. Shannon Sweatte my boss. "This business must be built upon return advertisers. If you fail for them once, you'll never get them back."

Sales Perspective

Of course, the advertisers we dealt with were big and smart. They were stingy with money, and spent it wisely. As I started my career, calling on these tough negotiators, I began to get sales fright. What if I sold ads that didn't work?

Pat O
Pat O'Day Manager KJR Radio

I wanted to know and one day, got up the guts to ask Mr. Pat O'Day, the station manager who was then and later became a legend in the radio station business. (That's him in the photo.)

"You can tell your advertisers, that money spent with us will always make their cash registers ring, " said Pat in response to my question.

"But what if they don't?" I asked.

"Then we'll just run some more ads for free until customers come streaming in." He answers. "Or we'll do promotions if we have to. Or we'll have the Disc Jockey's visit or do live on-air commercials. We'll just figure it out. Do what it takes."

Retailers Know the Score

Many of these clients represented retail store owners who were notorious for asking clients how they heard of their stores, why they came in that day, and on which radio stations the customers had heard their store's ads. Expecting these clients to buy ads without knowing whether they worked, would be like thinking a mama Grizzly would let you run off with her cubs. "Ain't gonna happen," I said to myself.

Pat O'day could have just taken the money and run and probably would have gotten away with it for a long time. However smart business people know better. Perhaps that is why, all these years later I am so amazed by some of the dominant Vacation Rental Directory websites.

In today's recession, does it strike you right that HomeAway announces their revenue is up Forty Percent last year? Anecdotal feedback from VRA members, tell us that inquiries are down and the cost per inquiry and cost per booking is up hugely. Is it right that FlipKey gives away free ads, then demands reviews and then ratchet up the cost?

Yet HomeAway benefits by pitting one advertiser against another, by taking an ever increasing number of listings, even if it cannibalizes the results they provide for current advertisers. Consumer advocates could easily claim that paid ads from media should know they can not justify their costs to clients and could be accused of "Unfair and deceptive" tactics.

Desperate Advertisers

Some Advertisers track and can justify their purchases. Others buy more ads and fall for the gimmicky ad ones of photos to push up rates because they are desperate for inquiries - any inquiries.

Where are the smart website publishers who understand their craft as well as conventional media do?

Dennis Miller, Past President of Publicist of the West, (The Ad Agency who wrote the nefarious Super Bowl Commercials - well after Dennis' Departure from Publicist) says, "Media buyers who place ads for big companies would eat a newspaper, radio or TV station alive for boasting of such an accomplishment when their clients were hurting." Dennis is on the Board of VRA. "Aren't these guys smart enough to understand that?"

Penny Taylor, Former Manager of Northwest Cable Advertising (A $50 million dollar joint venture of Viacom and TCI communications, and now vice president at VRA as well as Sunspot Resorts) agrees. "For a hundred years, smart media operators have justified their existence by the results they can produce for clients. Being new to media, these techies and venture capitalists are making up their ethics as they go along. Failing to put client's needs first is going to bite them in the behind."

Websites and other new media have been a boom to the travel and lodging business. Today, they command a dominant aspect of the industry by usurping owner and manager advertising with their own Search Engine Optimization and big pool of capital.

But will website publishers ever learn what conventional media outlets have learned over so many years, or will they figure it out over time? Will they prosper regardless of their ethics, or will advertisers stop being victims and start demanding results?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

William May is President of Sunspot Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rentals and volunteer Executive Director of the Vacation Rental Association (www.Vrai.org.). KJR radio is still on the air, but now as a sports station. KJR-FM now places oldies music. Its not much like the old KJR-AM Top 40 hit station, but make listeners happy just to see the call letters still in business.

Read more

Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0149 – 05/01/10

Become a Vacation Rental Angel

By William May
Published: 03/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

Operating a vacation rental business can be fun and profitable but it is also an opportunity to do some good in the world. Now property owners and managers can do that by participating in a public program that offers unused vacation rental nights to charitable causes through the Vacation Rental Angels Website.

The program is administered by the Vacation Rental Association (Vrai.org) a not-for-profit trade association offering membership services to owners, managers, suppliers and website publishers.

"Every now and then we see a property or manager who is inaccurately portrayed in the media", says William May, President volunteer Executive Director of VRA, "And we thought it was high time that the public understands the millions of dollars that owners donate to good causes."

VRA offers inspections and verifications of properties to assure the traveling public of property quality. Members of VRA subscribe to a Code of Ethics and the vast majority of properties are well run, even luxurious. Guest complaints are almost non-existent for VRA members, who take their responsibilities seriously.

Participation in the Angel program is open to all VRA members and there is no cost or rigid rules for donations. Members who agree to offer at least one week per year free to charities may join the program and have their properties and their donations listed on the VacationRentalAngels.com website.

"Limiting how and when donations, or forcing owners to use the site for giving, would only serve to lessen donations," said May, "And that would defeat the entire idea. This program says give first and then get a little recognition later".

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Vrai.org operates the world's first Multiple-Listing-Service (MLS) for Vacation Rentals at www.VRMLA.org. VRA member can easily post their property to the VacationRentalAngels.com website along with subscribing to many other paid and free websites. Vacation Rental Owners and Managers, not already VRA members, can join the group and become Angels by visiting www.Vrai.org to join.

Read more

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0138 – 03/01/10

Become a Vacation Rental Angel

By William May
Published: 03/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

Operating a vacation rental business can be fun and profitable but it is also an opportunity to do some good in the world. Now property owners and managers can do that by participating in a public program that offers unused vacation rental nights to charitable causes through the Vacation Rental Angels Website.

The program is administered by the Vacation Rental Association (Vrai.org) a not-for-profit trade association offering membership services to owners, managers, suppliers and website publishers.

"Every now and then we see a property or manager who is inaccurately portrayed in the media", says William May, President of Sunspot Resorts and volunteer Executive Director of VRA, "And we thought it was high time that the public understands the millions of dollars that owners donate to good causes."

VRA offers inspections and verifications of properties to assure the traveling public of property quality. Members of VRA subscribe to a Code of Ethics and the vast majority of properties are well run, even luxurious. Guest complaints are almost non-existent for VRA members, who take their responsibilities seriously.

Participation in the Angel program is open to all VRA members and there is no cost or rigid rules for donations. Members who agree to offer at least one week per year free to charities may join the program and have their properties and their donations listed on the VacationRentalAngels.com website.

"Limiting how and when donations, or forcing owners to use the site for giving, would only serve to lessen donations," said May, "And that would defeat the entire idea. This program says give first and then get a little recognition later".

Vrai.org operates the world's first Multiple-Listing-Service (MLS) for Vacation Rentals at www.VRMLA.org. VRA member can easily post their property to the VacationRentalAngels.com website along with subscribing to many other paid and free websites. Vacation Rental Owners and Managers, not already VRA members, can join the group and become Angels by visiting www.Vrai.org to join.

Read more

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0141 – 03/01/10