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July 30, 2007

Hot Off the Presses--Thanks, Mary!

Here it is--our press release:


I know it's hard to read so here's a link to the real McCoy:


So why am I saying, "Thanks, Mary?"

There are LOTS of things I love about this business but one of the fun things is getting to know the movers and the shakers. One of those big dogs is a lady named Mary Waring. You've probably come across her site, MouseSavers:


And she's the one who suggested we put out the press release. So thanks again, Mary! It's gone out to over 375 magazines, newspapers and websites that focus on travel.

In my prior life as a corporate stiff, I worked in a VERY large business but I found that once you got to know the right people it was really like a club and there were lots of generous folks ready to advise, help and share their experience.

I'm finding the same thing is true in this business. Sure, Owner's Locker is a new idea so there are not exactly lots of other people out there doing what we do. But there ARE a lot of people whose businesses touch the 50 million or so people who come to Orlando every year.

And one of those is Mary from MouseSavers. She been able to create quite a successful business with her site. So much so that we wanted to be associated with her to help us get our name on the map. Mary, it turns out is not just a dynamite businesswoman and respected website operator, she's an absolute marketing whiz and a very nice person to boot.

Brian and I have been spending a lot of time researching the various websites and other media we can use to tell everyone about Owner's Locker. As a new business, we need to do more than just buy a space to put our logo. Ideally, we'd like to find people we can work with and can help us tell our story to potential Members. And Mary has been extremely open and helpful. I filled four pages with notes from our conversation where she was providing marketing suggestions.

And just like we're being very careful in choosing how and where we advertise, let me tell you, Mary doesn't let just anyone march into MouseSavers. Luckily we have lots of good reviews, feedback and discussion board posts or we wouldn't even have gotten our foot in the door. Right now, we have an ad in MouseSavers (which Mary wrote) that you can see here:


We hope that one day there will be a review of Owner's Locker that shows up in MouseSavers but that will only happen after Mary and her crew thoroughly test the service themselves. I like that. It's the way it should be.

So, the next time you're wandering around the MouseSavers site, just remember that's there's a really cool person back there cranking those great deals out.


July 21, 2007

Alex's Nephew

boy with measurements.jpg

A question we were being asked a LOT was "How big is an Owner's Locker?" And no matter how we answered the question, it just didn't seem to be enough. Brian and I spend a lot of our time talking to our Trial Members and well as our new Members asking them about their experiences. And I can't tell you how many times that details about the size of the Locker would come up. More than one person built a mock up of a Locker out of cardboard and one engineer actually constructed one from wood to our exact measurements. People wanted to get a feel for just what an Owner's Locker would hold. Several people wanted to know the exact volume of one of our Lockers and then bought a container with a similar size as a test.

One person in New York wanted me to ship an empty Locker to her. I assumed she'd be driving down and wanted to fill it up at her home. But no, she was flying and was going to ship the full Locker down to Orlando. I suggested that it might be easier to ship the stuff down in a box without shipping the Locker back and forth and that's when she told me she just needed to see how big a Locker was. That's also when we both discovered that it's just as expensive to ship a Locker full of air as it was to ship one full of bricks! Not a good idea.

Add to this the comments we received when our Members actually got their Locker at their resort for the first time. SO many people told us it was MUCH bigger than they thought.

If I can borrow a line from that old Paul Newman film, Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." And we did, we needed to explain to people in a better fashion just how big the Locker was. Well, if Brian and I can do anything, we can listen. And that's where that newish page on our site, Meet the Lockers came from (not the first time I've borrowed a line!). There are lots of photos and we've tried to demonstrate just how big a Locker is and what all one can hold.

We were brainstorming with Alex ,our web designer--who just happened to be shooting photos of a Locker full of stuff that we had shipped to him (that's how I know how much it costs to ship a FULL Locker). I was looking at the preliminary photos and they looked great but I thought we still needed to show people just HOW big the Locker was. As a sort of joke, I e-mailed Alex the photo below of yours truly clowning around for my kids in an aquarium I was installing in our house and said, "Alex, we need to put a kid or a dog in a Locker."

aquarium blog.jpg

After Alex quit laughing, he arranged for his adorable nephew, Dylan, to come by the next day and that's you can see the results at the top of this piece. Dylan was great--much better than the dog photos. He's enjoying his new found "fame" and he's got a nice check in his college fund from his first modeling job.

I wonder if I should call the aquarium people and ask if they'd like to use me to show how big their aquariums are?

July 15, 2007

For Immediate Release


John D. Van Meter
Owner’s Locker LLC
Phone 321 939 2260
Email john@ownerslocker.com

Celebration, Florida, 7/1/2007. A clever, cost effective and convenient new vacation storage service called Owner’s Locker is now available to frequent visitors to the Orlando area. www.ownerslocker.com.

Owner’s Locker provides its Members with a purple Locker to store personal items between visits. The Locker is picked up when the Member departs; is stored in a climate controlled warehouse and is waiting at the bell stand when the Member checks back in.

With Owner’s Locker, your vacation is about to become a LOT more convenient: less packing, less hassle, less stress and less hauling means more time to relax and enjoy your vacation.

Owner’s Locker is an innovative web-based service currently available in the Orlando attractions area. Members sign up on the Owner’s Locker website (www.ownerslocker.com), choose a Locker and a storage/delivery plan and use the site to schedule their visits and create and edit a confidential online inventory of the items in their Lockers.

Lockers are tracked using a custom designed, barcode-based warehouse management system and Members can monitor the movements of their Lockers in real time on their personal “dashboard” in the My Account section of the site.

Owner’s Locker is the creation of a seasoned corporate traveler, John Van Meter. “I have spent so much time on the road in my career, I have always looked for ways to feel more at home no matter where I am. I particularly like having the comforts of home around me while I am on vacation.” John has been joined at Owner’s Locker by Brian Whitt, who sold him a vacation club interest in the early 1990’s. With a passion for logistics, Brian is pleased to be a part of a service that makes vacations more relaxing and convenient. “Our Members find that being able to vacation less one or two pieces of luggage makes traveling to Orlando much easier and less stressful.”

Members pay a one-time Membership Fee of $75.00 which includes their purple Locker, the initial delivery to their resort and its pickup and return to the Owner’s Locker warehouse. Lockers are guaranteed for life and the contents are insured for $100. Members then choose a storage/delivery plan. The Standard Annual plan costs $99.00 per year and includes one free Visit (delivery and pickup); while the Annual premium Plan costs $179.00 and provides for unlimited Visits.

So what do people think about it so far?

“This is an idea whose time has come!” Sue P.—Livonia, MI
“What a great idea. I have thrown so much stuff away…” Elizabeth M.- Charleston, S.C.
“Packing is SO much easier…” Carolyn O.—Cedar Grove, NJ


July 13, 2007

How Do You Wrap a Van? Ask Brian

No extra large bows here. We’re talking about making our van look like this:

You listen to me rattle on in this blog but there’s another key member of the Owner’s Locker team who makes sure everything runs like clockwork. That would be Brian Whitt. He’s the one looking a bit like a hot dog in the photo. I met Brian in 1992 when he sold me an interest in Disney Vacation Club. We’ve been friends ever since. And, both of us just sort of knew we’d be working together one day.
Anyway, back to wrapping this van. We always knew we’d need delivery vans and it wasn’t a huge intellectual leap to decide that they needed to be purple. Not just any purple, by the way, but Owner’s Locker purple. I sorta thought that we’d have a small Owner’s Locker logo on the driver’s door. Brian looked at me like I was an alien and politely explained that our vans really needed to be rolling billboards and this is what we wound up with. It’s great isn’t it! That’s why Brian and I work so well together.
Well, it’s not that difficult to paint a van purple and have a small logo put on the door. What you see here is a wrap job. And like everything we do at Owner’s Locker, it’s gotta be good. It’s gotta be VERY good.

The short version of how they wrap a van is that they cover it with specially printed 21st century sticky contact paper. Remember that stuff?
The next time you’re driving have a look at some of the vehicles that have photos or colorful designs. There are some really bad wraps on the road. So the search went out for the best wrappers around. And we found them. A company called Sign Zoo in Sarasota.

And Brian was off to the races. Did we look at a zillion designs or what?!? We worked with the great guys at Sign Zoo and we pulled Alex our web designer in to help. One day, Brian had a huge section of floor covered with various mockups. So off the van went to Sarasota looking very plain and coming back looking rather special, don’t you think! The photos here are the Sign Zoo guys doing their thing.

July 11, 2007

OK, So Where's Your Stash?

Got your attention, didn't I?

But I'm serious. I know you've got one. Where is it?

I'm talking about the stash of vacation stuff you've got hidden away somewhere.

Is it in a box in the garage? You know, the ponchos, the guide books, the Orlando map? Those extra pins for trading?

Or have you dedicated a drawer in your chest and filled it with things like small bottles of shampoo, extra kitchen utensils, an old PlayStation and some art supplies?

Some folks keep a dedicated suitcase under the bed... With a vase for flowers, T-shirts you only wear "here" and flip flops, of course.

And, you know what's a real pain? When you forget where your stash is....or even worse, when you do remember where you put it but you're kinda sad you did...because it's all moldy from being in the garage...or it's a bit cooked from being in the attic.

There is an alternative, you know.

It's called Owner's Locker. We keep your things for you...so you don't have to look for them...so they don't get cooked (or frozen)...so they don't get lost. They just show up when you do and disappear when you leave....sorta like magic...even better than elves.


July 6, 2007

So, What Are YOUR Coping Mechanisms?

What on earth does that mean anyway? Coping mechanisms? Well, read on.

“Interesting idea…but not for me.” We often hear people say that about Owner’s Locker. In fact, some of our most vocal admirers tell us they started out with that attitude. One formerly reluctant Beta Trial Member now describes Owner’s Locker as “addictive” and my favorite comment was posted by one of our Members on a discussion board who said that Owner’s Locker was like “moving from a studio to a one bedroom…ain’t looking back!”

How is it that people go from being skeptical to being a convert so quickly? Well, we obviously wish we knew the answer to that one. But here’s a possible theory: coping mechanisms. Repeat visitors have been coming to Orlando for a long time before Owner’s Locker was available and, you know what? They got along just fine. They coped. They dealt with it. They learned to pack. They learned to ship. They did without. They bought and threw away. Because that’s what they had to do. And, this is the key point, they accepted it. They didn’t argue. They didn’t complain. They coped.

And a lot of you are still doing it. I guess many of us are just creatures of habit and we tend to defend the way we deal with things.

But, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question, “What would I do if I didn’t have to haul things back and forth?”

I know you’re fine filling little travel bottles with your favorite shampoo. But dream a little. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a full sized bottle of your favorite shampoo waiting for you at your resort?

I know you can buy a case or two of bottled water when you visit. But, what if you had a water filter pitcher in your resort waiting for you? No more buying bottled water. No more adding to landfills with all of those empty bottles?

Yes, resorts do have glasses in the rooms but if you and your sweetie are sharing some champagne, wouldn’t it be better if you were drinking it out of glasses that were special for you? Maybe some glasses you’ve bought just to use while at your resort?

And, on those rainy days when everyone wants to just stay inside? Of course there’s the television. But what if you had that old game console that the kids don’t use any more and a few games for them? Wouldn’t that be better?

Wouldn’t all of these things make you feel more “at home?”

Of course you can cope your way through all of these little scenarios, but pause a moment and think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a better way than just coping. We think that better way is Owner’s Locker.


July 3, 2007

What's in a Name?

Well as Juliet will tell you, a LOT, since it was Romeo’s last name that got them both into trouble.

But without carrying this Shakespeare thing too far and going on about roses smelling as sweet, what’s in the name Owner’s Locker? A lot of time, effort and thought, actually.

You come up with this great idea to store people’s personal stuff between visits. Now what do you call it?

Well, as is probably overly detailed in another article in this blog, the idea for Owner’s Locker came from several of my experiences with trying to feel at home when I was away from home. When I was based in England, we were lucky enough to have a small place in the country to go to on weekends and we would put the things we liked to have there in a “country box” and we carried it back and forth. When we began visiting Florida regularly, we asked a pal if he would mind keeping a box of our personal items in his garage in Orlando. We called it the “Florida box” and the seeds for a business were sown!

So we plan and study and study and plan and decide to start up this business so lots of other people can have a Florida box. But, what do we call it? Well, if “Florida box” is good enough for us…..

But what if the business is just in Orlando (the “Orlando Box?”) or what if it expands beyond Florida—to Las Vegas or the ski country, for example? OK, maybe we call it the “Vacation box.”

Or perhaps we should get cute. After all, vacations are all about fun. How about “My Box?” or “My Stuff?” Believe it or not, these were all ideas that were kicked around.

Then an old marketing principle came back to me. If everyone understands what your business is, you can call it pretty much what you want. Exxon isn’t exactly descriptive, now is it? But if you’re the in a new business, your name had better accurately describe what you do. Well, there went “My Stuff.”

Owner’s Locker stores people’s personal items in a container between visits and we deliver the container to the resort when they check in and pick it up when they leave. Hmmmm, that’s a bit long for the name of the company. On the other hand, it was obvious that one word wasn’t going to do it. There just wasn’t a “Xerox” sitting out there that told our story. Maybe one word should describe the client and a second word can describe the service?

“Box” just didn’t seem to suit what we wanted to convey about our container. When I hear “box” I think “cardboard.” After a lot of thought, “locker” certainly fit the bill. Locker has lots of connotations, but it certainly implies “secure” and was a name for a container that people would recognize. It also might remind people of their high school locker which is a very “personal” and even “fun” type of storage facility. Remember personalizing the inside of your locker? The only thing I didn’t like about the word was Davy Jones’ Locker but I decided that was random. Locker it was.

“Owner” actually came more easily. People who own a condo and rent it out have an “owner’s closet” where they keep their personal items. And much of what we do really helps make frequent visitors feel more like they’re are at home by having their personal belongings around them. So we had our second word and the decision to call the company Owner’s Locker was done.

But what about the delivery part of the business? The name doesn’t say anything about that. Well that got dealt with the motion in the logo, but that’s another story.

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