Vacation Rental Business Network Uses Grouvia to Manage Group

March 8, 2010

A recent addition to the Grouvia family is a small community vacation rental network in the popular tourist town of Colonial Beach, Virginia.

The Colonial Beach Cottage Owners Association (a.k.a. CBCOA) has recently joined Grouvia to help manage their network’s business. At their quarterly board meeting last week, Grouvia was introduced as the new online tool the CBCOA will use to help streamline their event planning and communications needs.  The addition was met with much enthusiasm by the board members.

Glenda Chiarello, the CBCOA’s treasurer and owner of Marina Sunset Cottage, is optimistic about Grouvia’s future.  “I think Grouvia is an excellent tool for group management, and the CBCOA will see a lot of benefit from using it.  It seems to have many features that will help automate some of the time-consuming tasks we are doing manually now.  Since we’re all volunteers, anything that can save us time is very valuable.”

One unexpected benefit is the ability for the association to collect payments online via Grouvia.  The CBCOA publishes a cottage directory every year, the cost of which is partially subsidized by local businesses who pay a fee to be included in the booklet.  The directory is distributed through the local chamber and at many shops and restaurants in the town, as well as through other tourism channels throughout Virginia.

Grouvia’s event management feature was used to create a deadline event for advertising commitments.  Advertisers can use the online reservation feature to commit to their ad and pay for it online.  The Grouvia reservation initiates an automated notification to the board members who are responsible for handling the brochure design and printing.

Lisa Pecunia, Grouvia’s designer and company founder is especially excited about the addition of CBCOA as a member of the growing Grouvia family.  “They have found a unique use for Grouvia which we hadn’t thought of.  People are very resourceful, and the CBCOA’s creativity in finding a way to make this work for them is very powerful.  Grouvia was built with a very flexible interface, and this new use is an indicator that Grouvia will be useful in all sorts of ways that are yet to be discovered.”

Since Grouvia is a relative newcomer on the scene, the company hopes the word will spread among other vacation rental communities in tourist towns across the country.

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.

Advertisements

50 Types of Groups

March 1, 2010

Somebody asked recently, “What kind of groups can use Grouvia?”

We set about compiling a list, which quickly grew to an astonishing length.  Here are 50 of them…

4-H / scouts / outdoor kids orgs
Acting / drama clubs / actors guilds
Alumni and reunion groups
Amateur science clubs
Arts and music clubs
ATV & RV clubs
Book clubs
Business networking groups
Canoers & kayakers
Card game players
Celebrity fan clubs
Chambers of commerce
Churches and synagogues
Civic clubs
Coin, antique, stamp collectors
Community service groups
Community Centers
Cooking and baking clubs
Dog enthusiasts
Drawing and writing groups
Fraternities and sororities
Flying, gliding, hang-gliding groups
Gamblers
Garden clubs
Ham radio enthusiasts
Handball / tennis / racquetball players
Hiking, climbing, trail running
Historical societies
Hobby and crafts clubs
Horse riders
Hunting and fishing enthusiasts
Investment clubs
Play groups
Model cars / trains / airplanes
Moms clubs
Motorcycle riders
Neighborhood associations / HOAs
Photography clubs
Political action groups
PTAs
Running, walking, cycling groups
Sewing and needlework groups
Singing / glee clubs
Skating, skateboarding
Snow sports enthusiasts
Social clubs
Student / school clubs
Support groups
Travel clubs
Water sports enthusiasts

Can you think of any others?

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.


How To Blog About Your Group

February 22, 2010

Blogs are a very popular way to communicate your views and opinions with anyone who wants to listen.  What better way to talk about your favorite topic, and at the same time promote your club or association?

The Commitment

There is a big commitment that comes with creating a blog.  Carefully consider the time you will have available to post to your blog every day, or every week.  Don’t believe you can dash this off every morning in the 10 minutes it takes to eat your cereal.  Most blogs are abandoned after a few months because of lack of time, boredom, or unrealistic expectations.  An abandoned blog can do your group more harm than good, so consider the commitment carefully.

There is hope for the blogger with more passion than time.  Get guest bloggers or ghost bloggers to write some of the posts.  People you know may not have time to keep up with a blog of their own, but the may still be willing to post for you on occasion, as a guest blogger.  Just be sure to give them credit, and a link back to their own site.  A ghost blogger, on the other hand, is a person you pay to write relevant articles, and then you put your name on the article and post it.

Marketing

The success of your blog can depend on where you post it and how you market it.  If you have a drawing group for example, you might try to solicit comments about your group’s work, and encourage technique discussions.  In this case consider posting links to your blog on art-related sites.  You will have to get permission of course, but your fellow artists’ web sites or an art school’s discussion board are both great places to “plug” your blog.

Hosting

There are several free blog sites available for you to start your blog.  We won’t get into the long list of them here, but to start out you’re better off using a hosted blog site like blogger.com or wordpress.com.  Both of these have pros and cons but both are very easy to use.  If you do a search on “blogger vs. wordpress” you can find several discussions about which one is better for what purposes.  It can be a pain to move your blog after it’s established, so do some research before you decide which one to go with, because you’ll want to stick with it as long as possible.

But What Do I Say?

So… what do you want to say on your blog?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • After every get-together your group holds, post something about the event.  Talk about what it was about, and what people got out of it.  Include pictures, and quotes from attendees.  What made it interesting or successful?
  • Talk about the latest trends in the field your group is related to.  For instance, if you have a group that focuses on skateboarding, talk about new board technology, regional or national association events, or famous people who have won competitions.
  • Talk about other bloggers in your field.  Link to their blogs, and recap what they are talking about.
  • Review gadgets.  People who are passionate about a topic love hearing what others have to say about the latest “stuff.” Athletes love technical clothing and golfers love any little thing that might improve their game.  Readers want to hear about the newest books, cooks love pans and knives, audiophiles love iPods!  New stuff comes out all the time, so this is an endless topic for discussion.
  • Start a discussion about a controversial topic.  Tell people what your perspective is and ask them to tell theirs.
  • Talk about absolutely anything that might add value to peoples’ lives.  Don’t talk about what you ate for breakfast or how your dog’s last vet checkup went.  These things are not interesting to anybody but you.  If you’re not sure, just ask yourself, “if somebody was telling me about this, would I care?”

One last top… engage your readers.  Invite them to your group’s events, and be welcoming and receptive of their comments.  Tell them you appreciate their readership.  Try to get them to talk not just to you, but to each other!  You are building a community with your group, and your blog is an important part of that.

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.


Banish the Book Club Hosting Blues

January 4, 2010

Book clubs are one of the more popular and ubiquitous hobby clubs.  Book club meetings are generally held at venues such as libraries, restaurants and people’s homes.

Every club has their own favorite way of doing things, but many people feel that having the meeting in someone’s home is the most comfortable.  My own book club rotates the location to a different member’s home every month, which gives everyone a chance to be the host.

However, not everyone likes being the host.  For some of us, the idea of it may even keep us from being a part of the book club altogether.

If this sounds like you, please keep reading.  Being the host is not as scary as it sounds.  Here are some ways to keep you from shaking in your house-slippers when the dreaded day draws near…

1.  Cleanup. Let’s say you’re not the neatest person in the world.  The solution to this is for you to just clean up the main room you’ll be sitting in, plus the kitchen and the bathroom.  The rest of the house can stay messy.  If you’re afraid someone will ask for a tour, you can politely refuse and tell them you didn’t have time to clean the rest of the house.

2.  Seating. Generally the living room will be the most comfortable.  If it’s nice out you can hold the meeting outside in a porch or on a patio — just make sure it’s shaded.  As long as there’s a comfortable place for everyone to sit and a few small tables to put food and drinks on, pretty much any place works.

3. Food. No need to spend all day in the kitchen.  Generally everyone is expected to bring something, so the host should be responsible for one main dish, and the beverages (see next bullet).  The Internet is full of recipes for easy and delicious dishes.  Hummus and pita with fresh vegetables is always a hit in my club! And it takes only minutes to prepare.

4.  Drinks. If your group prefers a beverage that you don’t normally drink there is no need to go overboard.  If the group drinks coffee for example, you don’t need to spend $30 on a pound of gourmet beans and a brand new grinder.  Just go to your local indie coffee shop and buy only as much as you need, and have them grind it for you.  Be creative, ask around.  (On the other hand, don’t skimp either.)

That’s it!  A clean, comfortable place for the group to sit, some nice healthy snacks, and something to drink.  The rest of the club meeting will pretty much take care of itself.

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.


A New Year’s Toast To Yourself

December 28, 2009

Grouvia’s Topic of the Week is called “New Year’s Toasts: A Five-Step Formula for the Perfect New Year’s Toast” by Joanna Fuchs.  We found it on a free article directory, as we do all our weekly topics.

It was written in 2005 (I hope she doesn’t mind that we changed the dates to post it) and contains a timeless bit of advice to help folks write a poignant, if not wholly memorable, New Year’s toast.  And it also contains a lesson for all of us, even if we aren’t giving a toast this year.

What the advice boils down to is simply this: Be Appreciative.

Here are the things Joanna points out that we should all remember to appreciate, as we move from the old year to the new:

  • Lessons learned
  • Fortunate or memorable events
  • Our friends and family
  • What we have that others don’t
  • A hopeful future

Hear hear, Joanna.  Thank you for reminding us.

We should appreciate these things all year long — especially right after a hectic holiday season, as we gear up to Spring and face all the possibilities for good times ahead.

So let’s try to pause for a few minutes and think about the past year, and wonder about the year ahead.  Let’s ask ourselves: What will we do this year to make a difference in someone else’s life?  To have a positive influence?  To lift someone’s spirits or help them get through a tough time?

How will I try to improve myself?  What next step can I take to get that promotion or start that small business I always wanted?  Will I try to lose weight or quit smoking?  Do I want to just get a little less aggravated at the too-long red light or supermarket check-out line?

Whatever it is, it’s unique to each of us … a special gift we can each give to ourself.

A toast to us… Happy New Year!


The Psychology of Groups

December 21, 2009

I recently rediscovered this interesting post about groups on a UK blog called “PsyBlog.” The article talks about various studies that provide unique insight into the psychology of group behavior.

I recommend you read the full post yourself, but here are some interesting points that might surprise you.

  1. Being a part of a group helps define a person’s identity.  Human nature drives us to be part of something useful and worthy and we place more value on a group we belong to than on one we don’t.  This is seen clearly in sports teams, but it’s true of every type of group.
  2. Group rules are usually followed very carefully by all members.  Once we have identified with our group, it is natural for us to conform to it’s rules.  Maybe we even fear being ostracized, or shunned.  Whatever the reason, studies show that it’s unusual for group rules, even unwritten or unspoken ones, to be broken.
  3. All group members have a role.  In some cases this is by formal arrangement, but many times it occurs naturally.  Beyond just having one person emerge as leader, others will also fall into certain patterns of behavior after a period of time.
  4. Being part of a group can help us improve as individuals.  For example, athletes who train in groups find that they improve their performance to a significantly higher level than when they train alone.  This is especially true if the athlete’s performance is not merely tied to the team’s overall performance, but has its own recognition and merit.
  5. People in groups are much more competitive than when alone.  Studies have shown that an individual will behave in a competitive manner almost 50% more often when the people present are in groups.  The study indicates this is because the individual believes that the other group(s) can’t be trusted, and not so much because of the “safety in numbers” factor.

One thing seems clear: groups are powerful and can change our behavior as individuals.  We may not even be aware of this when it happens, because it can happen so naturally.

The next time you are in a group situation, observe the people in the group and you’ll probably notice some of these behaviors at work.

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.


Lights, Camera, Action Groups!

December 14, 2009

Are you a member of an Action Group?  If so you are part of a long-standing grassroots movement in America.

Action Groups are one of the best ways to get involved in your community and your government.  Action Groups can make amazing things happen.  They are like the small businesses of the Non-Profit world.

There are several different kinds of action groups.  Here are a few:

  • Political Action Groups
  • Community Action Groups
  • Consumer Action Groups
  • Education Action Groups
  • Social Action Groups
  • Environmental Action Groups

Wikipedia says action groups are “a group of people joined temporarily to accomplish some task or take part in some organized collective action.”  They are generally formed because a couple of people were talking about an issue, and somebody said “We oughtta do someting about this!”

All it takes to start one of these groups is an idea and some passion.  Give it a good dose of leadership and coordination, and soon enough it turns into a cause.  Action groups have even been known to make such big changes happen that it evolved into a “social movement.”  The point… action groups can be amazing organizations, created by ordinary people.

In many cases the action group is only together long enough to accomplish a specific goal and then it disbands.  Some examples of these short term goals are…

  • Clean up a neighborhood.
  • Elect a candidate into office.
  • Raise money for a sick child’s medical bills.
  • Plan an eco-adventure trip for a large group.
  • Encourage a local politician to draft a new policy.
  • Establish a non-profit organization.

People who join these groups do so because they care deeply about the cause and desire change strongly enough to do something about it.  They do not get paid for their participation, but they do get the satisfaction of being part of a cause for change.  As humans, we find this far more rewarding than money.

One of the most well known Action Groups is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  Candy Lightner founded MADD almost thirty years ago, when her daughter was killed by a drunk driver who was out on bail.  MADD is a huge success story in the non-profit sector, and has a long list of major accomplishments.

Some other well-known action groups are Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and American Association of Retired People (AARP).

Not all action groups get as big as these.  In fact, most action groups are just small groups of local people who want to get something specific done.  For example an action group can be created to clean up your local park or even get a traffic light installed at a nearby dangerous intersection.  Pick up any local newspaper and you’re likely to find one or more examples of groups of people coming together to accomplish some goal.  In fact, check out the Grouvia twitter feed for almost daily examples of the numerous accomplishments of local groups across the country.

Becoming part of an Action Group couldn’t be simpler.  If you know of one that has a cause you care about, simply email the organizer and tell them you want to help.  If you’re really passionate about something and you can’t find a local group about it, start your own Action Group.  It only takes a few people to create a catalyst to make major changes in your environment.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can do, and so glad you took that first step.

* * *

Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Grouvia Groove.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.