Hi,

I’ve spoken with a few other Pennsylvania Innkeepers and they are all complaining that their occupancies are down this year.  I recently read an article on Inns in North St Pete FLA.  Of the four, three are either closed or closing. Industry experts are blaming this on Air BnB and other on-line booking sites like Home Away, etc.  These unregulated companies are not being regulated by our legislatures.    I periodically go to Air BnB’s website.  One ad I’ve seen several times is someone is renting the couch in their living room for $35 with the caveat their cat normally sleeps on the couch.  Generally, I don’t see Air BnB as competition, if you’re so cheap you are willing to spend $35 to sleep on a couch with a cat, I really don’t want you here.  🙂  I am aware of some Innkeepers that list on that site.  Air BnB has been talking about giving legitimate Inns a badge they can put on their listing for at least a year I’ve heard of.  Air BnB’s are not licensed or inspected.  They are not required to have minimum safety safe guards like even smoke detectors or locks on the room they rent out to strangers.  They don’t have second egresses in case of fire.  One of my recent guests’ last visit to PGH was in a place she found in Air BnB, I don’t know what she paid, but she said the hosts were hoarders and the entire first floor was hallways through boxes.  The electricity in the room was supplied by an extension cord from the first floor.    Because of the rise in opposition to them and to protect their business model, Air BnB is negotiating with states claiming they will collect the sales tax and remit it directly to the state, without any back up.  Although I have yet to audited by the state, the county comes by every three years and goes through all my books.  I am aware that I need to be ready for a state audit.  Pennsylvania is one of the states that signed on to this, our state Innkeepers association, PABBI is trying to educate out legislators.  I don’t much care about someone renting their couch out for $35 on occassion, but I know a former banker that is gobbling up local properties and running them through Air BnB.  Matt visited me a year ago to see if I was interested in selling, he owns two properties over by Allegheny General Hospital.

Fortunately for me, this is not a problem with The Parador.  I’m on track to again see a 65% occupancy this year, which I’ve done in the past.  But the last two years, I’ve been in the mid 50’s.  Most bed and breakfasts run an occupancy of somewhere in the 40% range.  65% is what big box hotels aim for and I’m doing it without the big advertising campaigns they run nor do I have a 1-800-Hilton.  🙂

I haven’t whined in a bit.    Watching the news in the morning, I see a lot of car commercials.  Does anyone else wonder what new car’s mark up is if they can offer $10,000 – $20,000 discounts?  If they can offer that amount in a commercial, you aren’t getting any special deal because they have to honor it for anyone purchasing that vehicle.

While I’m whining, they moved the Pittsburgh off Western Avenue AGAIN.  They did it several years ago.  The route crosses over to the Northside and goes around Allegheny Center (the former Allegheny Center Mall, now Nova Place a high tech incubator) and then down to what’s referred to as the Northshore, along the river between the stadiums.  When I called the Marathon organization, her first excuse was the “Sisters Bridges are being rebuilt and causing problems routing the route.  When I said the Marathon is already on the Northside, but turning back down away from Western Avenue.  She then said the reason was the theme this year was something about us being a city of champions and that’s why they want the runners to run through parking lots and see the two stadiums.  My first issue here is it is one of the few times us small businesses have the option to be exposed to 30,000 to 40,000 people as they run past.  They built PNC Park because the Pirates were threatening to leave the city without public money to build it.  They used the same ploy to build Heinz Field for the Steelers.  I wasn’t living here at the time, but I believe the voters rejected this and somehow the voters lost and the stadium was built with tax payer money.  My other issue is when you drive down any of our interstates, there’s no sign “Take exit 1c for The Parador, as there is for both stadiums and the casino.  Granted, I have never had 75,000 people drive into the city looking for The Parador on one day like for a Steeler home game.  Not to mention, how boring is it running through parking lots?  I guarantee there will be no porch parties, like there is on my street cheering the runners on.  And the banner I had created to encourage the runners will remain in my closet this year.

If you would like to express your displeasure of the Marathon supporting mega concerns a the expense of small businesses here’s a link for the Marathon organization, a link to our convention bureau Visit PIttsburgh and one for the main sponsor Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Speaking of running, Johnstown is having their marathon on May 27 and it will follow the path of the deadly 1889.  The first one was in 2014 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the flood.  The first run had 500 participants, last year it had grown to 700.  In addition to the race, Johnstown will be having a festival called a Taste of Johnstown in their Downtown area.  And the National Park Service with have two different free tours, reservations required.  One will be of Cottage Row and the other will be of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club.  Reservations for either tour can be made by calling 814-886-6170.

Da gerl is becoming quite the athlete, she doesn’t compete with RJ.  She just sits there and watches me bounce the ball on the bricks in the Courtyard as he jumps up to catch it.  Lately, I’ve taken several tennis balls out with me and bounce one hard so RJ has to work for it and then immediately while he’s distracted, bounce one softly between her and me.  But it’s hysterical to watch.  She has the concept down pat, but not the coordination.  The ball will bounce to the left and she’ll jump to the right.  She’s closing in on a 50% catch rate.    I should get Dee to do a video of it.  Speaking of da gerl, I recently saw pictures of her and RJ as puppies.  Here they are (or used to be):

And my “old guy” he hates it when I call him that:

That’s it for today, enjoy this spring weather we are having, the gardens are growing in very nicely,

ed

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