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February 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Families (with apologies to Charles Dickens)...Prologue

There is a family that lives outside of Chicago named the Millers. Tom and Susan have twin daughters and like to vacation in Orlando.

The other family in this tale is the Talbots. Chris and Janice have a son and a daughter and like to get away to Orlando as well. They live on Long Island, near New York City.

Both wives are innovators--anxious to try new ideas. And, both husbands are not what you’d call “early-adopters” and can be particularly skeptical when money is involved.

Susan is in charge of everything vacation-related at the Millers’ from making the reservations to packing. Tom has learned to agree on a vacation budget and then leave the details to his wife.

Janice Talbot handles the vacation details for her family as well but her husband, Chris is notorious for micromanaging even the smallest details.

As in Dickens’ famous tale, the two families have never met. But Susan and Janice were each excited when they heard about the new service, Owner’s Locker, that would allow them to store vacation items they used in Orlando between visits. No more lugging all of that stuff back and forth. They instantly saw how Owner’s Locker could make their trips to Orlando more convenient and enjoyable.

And even though both Janice and Susan were in charge of vacations in their families, Owner’s Locker came up at the dinner tables of the Millers in Chicago and the Talbots in New York.

Susan’s husband Tom thought Owner’s Locker was a waste of money and pointed out that they had gotten along just fine on prior trips without storing items in Orlando. Susan pushed and Tom gave in when she pointed out that they could store some champagne and liquor in their Locker.

The conversation at the Talbot table didn’t go as well. Chris was adamant that Owner’s Locker was silly. And that was that.

Well, in Chapter One of this tale, we learn about the Talbots’ and Miller’s trips to the airport on their way to Orlando. The Miller’s are using Owner’s Locker and the Talbots…well, you know about Chris at this point.

But let’s take a quick look at the scenes that played out before our two families left their houses in Illinois and New York on their way to Florida

It was the best of times at the Miller household. Susan and the twins were packed…each had only a carry on. And Susan took great delight in watching Tom go through his packing process. Tom could pack like a champ for a business trip. But Susan smiled as reminded him item after item that he didn’t need to pack it because it was already in their Locker in Orlando. The only thing Tom seemed to remember was in their Locker was the bottle of champagne.

Susan also smiled because she knew that there were birthday surprises for their twin daughters that she had bought on their last trip to Orlando. The twins were going to turn 9 while on this trip.

At the Talbots, it sure seemed like the worst of times. There appeared to be two processes going on simultaneously and they were quite at odds with one another. Both were accompanied by quite a bit of shouting.

Chris, Janice and their son and daughter all seemed to be looking for essential items to take on the trip but none of these items were where they should have been. For the kids, it was their swim goggles, flip flops and an old game console. Chris was desperate to find the maps and guide books which he very much didn’t want to have to buy again. And Janice had a box full of kitchen and bathroom items that she was sure was somewhere in the garage.

But while they were looking for additional items to pack, it was quite obvious that they didn’t have room in their luggage for the items they had already laid out to take with them. For not being able to find the things they were looking for, the Talbots sure had managed to amass quite a load of luggage. It made you wonder if they were just packing things they didn’t need because they couldn’t find the things they did need.

And, with this bit of background, it’s on to Chapter One (which was actually posted before this prologue (Dickens was more organized)) where we follow our families to the airport.

As Charles Dickens probably didn’t say, stay tuned.

JDVM
www.ownerslocker.com

February 21, 2008

Resort Profile: Sheraton's Vistana Resort

Sheraton's Vistana Resort.jpg

-part of Starwood Vacation Ownership
-available to SVO Members for points or fixed weeks, renters and exchanges through Interval International
-1860 units
-one and two bedroom units
-8800 Vistana Centre Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
-407 239 3100
-fax 407 239 3111
-Locker are delivered to and picked up from the luggage storage area behind the front desk at the check-in center


Helpful Resources

Descriptions of Sheraton's Vistana Resort by:

Starwood

AllEars

The DIS

Reviews of Sheraton's Vistana Resort by:

Dreams Unlimited

AllEars

Fodors

Tripadvisor

February 20, 2008

Resort Profile: Marriott's Grande Vista Resort

Marriott's Grande Vista Resort.jpg

-part of Marriott Vacation Club International
-1650 units
-available to MVCI Members using points, renters and exchanges through Interval International
-studios, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units
-5925 Avienda Vista, Orlando, FL 32821
-407 238 7676
-fax 407 238 0900
-Lockers are delivered to and picked up from the luggage storage area at the check-in desk

Helpful Resources:

Descriptions of Marriott's Grande Vista by:

Marriott

Professional Travel Guide

Kayak


Reviews of Marriott's Grande Vista Resort by:

travelpost

Epinions

Tripadvisor

February 19, 2008

Resort profile: Disney's Old Key West Resort

Disney's Old Key West Resort.jpg

-part of Disney Vacation Club
-560 units
-available to DVC Members using points, renters and exchanges through RCI
-studios, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units
-1510 North Cove Road, Lake Buena Vista, Fl 32830

-407 827 7700
-fax 407 827 7710

-Lockers are delivered to and picked up from Bell Services' luggage storage room at the Hospitality House.

Helpful Resources:

Descriptions of Disney's Old Key West Resort by:

Disney

The DIS

AllEars

Laughing Place

Reviews of Disney's Old Key West Resort by:

Dreams Unlimited

AllEars

Tripadvisor

Frommers

February 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Families (with apologies to Charles Dickens)...Chapter 1 The Airport


It was the best of times…

The Millers were standing in line at the kiosk to get their boarding passes to fly to Orlando. O’Hare airport was jammed but the Millers had no luggage to check. There was one family ahead of them at the “no luggage” kiosk and from the way they were dressed, it looked like they were heading skiing.

When it was their turn at the kiosk, Tom and Susan Miller had big smiles on their faces as they thought of how enjoyable their trip to Disney World was going to be. It was their twin daughters’ birthday next week and this trip was their present. Susan glanced at her watch and relaxed—they had plenty of time.

While Tom was getting their boarding passes, Susan’s phone beeped as a text message came in. “Who is that? Tom asked. “It’s a text from Owner’s Locker. It says “Your Locker has been delivered to Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Have a great vacation.”

“And we will, honey. I don’t know why I was skeptical about Owner’s Locker.” “Because you’re a boy,” Susan said. “It’s the best thing we’ve done to make our trips more convenient. How would you like to be standing in one of those check-in lines?”

It was the worst of times…

Chris and Janice Talbot were barely speaking to each other as they stood in a line that snaked around the corner from the actual check-in line marked by ropes. Chris was still upset about needing two taxis to get to La Guardia airport. Yes, they had their two kids with them…but it was the luggage that did it. As hard as they tried to get four people AND the luggage in one taxi, it was clear that there was no hope. Not a good way to start the trip. The time spent waiting for the second taxi meant that they got to the airport later and now they were standing much further back in line than Chris would have liked.

Chris glanced at his watch and at the departure time on their tickets. “Well, we’ve got a decent chance of making our flight, but I’ll bet you anything our luggage doesn’t make it on the plane. As it turned out, when they finally got to the check-in desk, there was even a discussion over whether two of their bags were going to make the trip at all. Four people and six pieces of luggage meant a $25 fee each for two pieces of luggage under a new airline policy. And that fee was going to be payable on the return trip as well.


It was the best of times…

The Millers had breezed through security with their carry-ons and the only thing they needed the clear ziplock bag for was some lip balm. All of their toiletries (full sized bottles) and make-up where in their Owner’s Locker which had already been delivered to their resort. They had time for a break at Starbucks before boarding. Tom and Susan jotted down new restaurants they wanted to try while the twins debated which park they wanted to visit first and wondered whether there would be cute boys at the pool at Old Key West.

Tom and Susan couldn’t wait to chill the bottle of champagne in their Locker and toast their vacation on the balcony of the room when they arrived…it was a tradition.

The Millers settled into their seats, held hands and looked at a guide book.


It was the worst of times….

The Talbots day did not get much better. They were going to need a vacation from their vacation if things got any worse.

Chris, and every one else in the family, totally forgot about the liquids ban. When they finally made it to security, the bottle of gin as well as the bottle of champagne Chris planned to carry onto the plane were confiscated. Janice estimated that she lost about $150 in makeup and that was after she got the kids and Chris to use zip lock bags as well as her. The TSA/liquids fiasco had taken up so much time that there was no time for a snack. Chris had toyed with buying another bottle of champagne at the duty free shop but they had to rush to make the plane. At least they were going to make their flight. Whether their luggage would was another matter.

The Talbots, collapsed in their seats on the plane, fretting about what new hassles awaited them and tried to catch a glimpse of their luggage being loaded on the plane.

JDVM
www.ownerslocker.com

February 7, 2008

Could This Be the Newest Driver for Owner’s Locker?

Unfortunately not….and the clue is the shirt she’s wearing. It’s not purple. And, if you look closely, you just might be able to recognize the AllEars logo on Deb Wills’ shirt.

deblocker.jpg

AllEars is an extremely well known reference site that has, well, everything you need to know about Walt Disney World. And it’s run by Deb. I’ve written an earlier post about how we first started working with her (Deb Wills: A Walking, Talking, Smiling Brand) and this one won’t be the last, I’m sure.

While Deb was in Orlando recently, she found time to have breakfast with me and Brian and we mapped out how Owner’s Locker could become more involved with AllEars. That’s when we took this photo (well, Brian did) and Deb wrote about our meeting in her blog, Deb’s Digest.

Deb is one of the most pleasant and engaging people on the planet to meet and work with. And, I must say that I was stunned when I realized that our breakfast lasted until 11:00. With all of my years of being a corporate stiff, I have an instinct that keeps me from ever letting a meeting last more than an hour. Deb’s magnetic field must have thrown my internal clock out of whack!

Deb had a really exciting idea for expanding our presence on her site and we're really excited that Owner’s locker is now sponsoring the resort section of the AllEars Rate and Review page.

The AllEars site has so much content and the Rate and Review page is one of my favorites. Each resort and restaurant are listed and AllEars readers submit reviews and summarize pros and cons for each. AND, there’s even a place for reviews of Owner’s Locker. The first review is by (you guessed it) Deb. We did well and but I particularly like what she wrote under cons: "What took them so long to come up with this great idea? "

This should be some great exposure for Owner's Locker and Brian and I are so proud and excited to have been able develop such a fantastic relationship with Deb and AllEars.

JDVM
www.ownerslocker.com

February 4, 2008

Unfriendly Skies V. Friendly Owner’s Locker

Did you see that United Airlines has decided to limit passengers to one piece of checked luggage? Today’s Wall Street Journal says that a second checked bag will cost travelers $25.00. The third checked piece of luggage will cost $100.00 beginning May 5. The article points out that it’s those pesky leisure travelers buying cheap tickets that are clogging the planes hauling all of their stuff with them on vacation. Read the entire WSJ article.

That’s funny; at Owner’s Locker, we encourage people to have as much of their stuff with them as they’d like. We don’t have a weight limit on our Lockers and you’re welcome to fill them any way you want. And if you have more than one Locker, we give you a discount instead of charging you extra. It sounds to me that one of us wants you to have your personal items with you while you're at your home away from home and one of us doesn’t.

Whether you fly or drive, we just think it’s easier to keep your stuff here if you’re travelling to Orlando. It’s always been more convenient and cheaper to let Owner’s Locker store your stuff and have it waiting for you at your resort when you arrive. And now United’s move has made us an even better bargain.

As you can imagine, this move has attracted a lot of attention and comment. Here's a sampling of what others are saying:

--Sean O'Neill of Budget Travel Blog says that we can expect other airlines such as Delta, Northwest and Continental to follow suit. Have a look.

--bigpaul of GFN suggests that first class passengers' luggage must weigh less since they can still check two bags for free! Have a look.

--Joe Brancatelli of Conde Nast Portfolio's business travel blog, Seat 2B, discusses alternatives to checking luggage but focuses on luggage shipping services. I thought he needed to hear about Owner's Locker!! Have a look

--Abhisek Garg of The Money Times says the initial public response to United's move hasn't been that bad. Have a look

--Sonja Weick in her live for adventure blog points out that this will hit people who bring bicycles with them on vacation as well. Have a look.


JDVM
www.ownerslocker.com

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