As a bed and breakfast owner and/or innkeeper, you want your hospitality business to shine. However, there may be some things that you are doing, easy mistakes, that are causing you to lose potential guests who decide to book elsewhere. I’m talking about making mistakes that are relatively straightforward to fix yet are powerful in their results. This post will focus on photography, social media, and website tips.
Professional photography is essential to increasing your occupancy rates. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the photography on my website done by a professional hospitality photographer?
- Are the photos attractive and do they inspire others to want to visit?
- Are my pictures large enough and well lit so people can easily see in the rooms?
- Do my pictures of indoor rooms also feature the view outside our rooms?
- Does the image contain anything unsightly (such as a toilet or a trash can)?
- Does the room look clean and well-organized (and free of clutter)?
- Were the images made to include extra special touches like a vase of colorful flowers, a delicious-looking tray of tasty food, premium assorted chocolates, and your own branded pottery mugs (or wine glasses)?
- Have your guests ever said that your pictures do not do your place justice? Or that your inn is so much better in person?
- Do you feature everything your guests will see?
- all the guest rooms (with detailed descriptions of their amenities)
- your bath rooms (if they are attractive and without view of any toilet)
- all the common rooms for your guests to hang out (including conference and entertainment rooms)
- the outside of your B&B (including the grounds, any flower or vegetable gardens, private lakes, swimming pools, etc.)
- anything else open to guests and/or the public on your property (restaurant, spa, tea room, game room, etc.)
Social media is a great way for guests to know you more. In addition to sharing images and recipes, you can share blog posts, let people know about upcoming events (at your inn and/or your local area), use #hashtags so your content can be found by others easier, and much more.
Are you regularly sharing social media content so you stay top of mind?
Here is 2019 social media statistics of some of the most popular networks:
- Facebook: 1.4 billion daily active users, 300 millions photos uploaded daily, 8 billion videos
- Instagram: 500 million daily active users, 95 million photos uploaded daily
- LinkedIn: 200 million dailiy active users, 20 million company pages
- Pinterest: 200 million daily active users, 1 billion boards created, 100 billion pins created
- Snapchat: 178 million daily active users, 3 billion daily snaps, 10 billion daily videos
- Twitter: 100 million daily active users, 140 million daily published tweets
- YouTube: 30 million daily active users, 5 billion views daily, average length of visit 40 minutes
Your website is a window that potential guests can get a sneak peek through before they decide to book. This is an ideal place to showcase everything your inn and local area offers to guests. The following questions are about key website features that will set you apart from other inns.
- Does your website look professional, clean, and uncluttered (with easy-to-read font and plenty of white space)?
- Is your website mobile responsive (does it adjust to whatever device it is being viewed from)?
- Do you have an “About Us” page that details things like the history of your inn (if you own a historical property) and the reason you became an innkeeper?
- Do you have pictures of every room/suite/cabin that guests can stay in? Do you list the individual amenities of each place?
- Are the website pictures clickable for people to pin on Pinterest?
- Do you have visible social media icons that represent everywhere your inn has a presence online?
- Do you let people know what to expect for breakfast time? What about your complimentary refreshments and goodies?
- Do you share the logos of professional organizations (like Select Registry and B&B associations) you belong to and major hospitality achievements (like Trip Advisor ratings or awards) you have received?
- Do you have a Google map and directions for people to find you easily?
- Do you have a mobile friendly booking engine connected to your website so people can “Book Now”?
- Do you list your guest packages and specials? How easy can they be added by those booking online?
- Is there a short (ideally less than five minutes) video of your inn that people can view directly from your website?
- Do you have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that answers questions people often ask you?
- Do you offer a downloadable vacation guide to your local area?
- Is it clear to people how they can contact you (phone number, email address and/or contact form)?
In this post we focused on three areas where easy mistakes can happen: your photography, your social media presence, and your website. When these areas are strong, your business will likely be strong, too.
A successful bed and breakfast press kit can increase your inn’s likelihood for receiving media attention. Wondering what is a press kit? It is a package of media about your inn that makes it easier for a journalist or reporter to do a story about your bed and breakfast.
When you do most of the work for reporters up front, they will be more receptive to your pitch for press for their website, publication, or news story. In addition, it looks more professional and makes your bed and breakfast more appealing to write about.
Consider adding a press kit link on your website. “Are you a journalist working on a story about inns or bed and breakfasts? We would be happy to help you with your story or article.”
Your valuable bed and breakfast press kit can include:
- Contact’s name, phone number, and email address (the owner, innkeeper, public relations person)
- High resolution photos (your gorgeous view, the outside of your inn, your guest rooms and common rooms, the best breakfasts meals you serve, etc.)
- Map of your local area (and its nearby attractions)
- Brief history of your inn (its location, year it was built, original owners, type of architecture, its history as a bed and breakfast, etc.)
- Innkeepers/owners story (share your story or how your B&B came to be, a little about yourself and your team, and why you’re doing what you’re doing)
- Pictures of your luxurious amenities (such as a pool or private hot tub, fireplace, library, spa, garden, etc.)
- Current promotions (your own specials, custom packages, and description of private events you host like weddings, etc.)
- Awards received (from bed and breakfast associations, contests won, your AAA Diamond rating, your BBB grade, etc.)
- Online guest reviews (share links to positive guest testimonials)
- Your blog (which features local activities and area events)
- Existing press coverage (list of and links to articles in newspapers, magazines, and online attention)
- Videos (made about your B&B or that you had filmed to promote your inn)
Include anything you think will enhance your reputation as providing exceptional hospitality. This is your opportunity make it accessible for the press to report about your bed and breakfast. Even curious potential guests will be impressed by it when they see it.
Having an available press kit, makes you media friendly and more likely to get more publicity for your inn. If you do not mind members of the press coming to your bed and breakfast to interview you and/or make a video, then be sure to state that on-site tours can be arranged. There is nothing better than free publicity!
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography
There are several bed and breakfast tea rooms in America. Tea rooms can be open to the public or limited to their own bed and breakfast guests. Tea rooms are great for small gatherings and often they serve brunch and lunch. Each tea room has their own hours or some serve “by reservation only.”
The Channel Bass Inn Bed and Breakfast and Tea Room is located in Chincoteague, Virginia. Opened in 1995 by innkeepers Barbara and David Wiedenheft, The Tea Room offers afternoon tea three days a week to their guests (as well as to the public) to enjoy a taste of England. The first course is something savory like tea sandwiches or tea scones. Next, are the “world-famous” scones served with butter, jam, and cream. The third course is more sweet like a decadent chocolate truffle, butterscotch pecan tart, or pound cake with blueberries, strawberries, and cream. For hearty eaters, Barbara offers an additional jam tart, macaroon, or butter “biscuit” (cookie).
Your Menu Options Include:
- Sweets (like cookies and cakes)
- Tea (bottomless usually costs extra)
Your Open Times:
- Regular year round hours
- Reservation only
- Seasonal hours
- Sunday brunch
Events You Can Host:
- Baby shower
- Birthday party
- Bridal shower
- Club meeting
- Girls‘ get together
- Group meeting
- Private parties
Items You Can Sell:
- Tea cups
- Tea pots
- Blog: great fresh content for your website
- E-mail marketing: send out information to those on your e-mail list
- Photos of your bed and breakfast, tea room, food, and guests (with their permission)
- Social media: Facebook fan page, Pinterest pins, Twitter updates, etc.
- Website: you can have one of your main headings labeled “Tea Room”
When thinking of ways to increase your business, if you do not already have a tea room, bed and breakfast tea rooms could be a great idea. For those who do have tea rooms, are you consistently promoting them online? Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging is happy to help you with this.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography
Your bed and breakfast name sets the tone for what your guests can expect. A good name says a lot about an inn. You want the name to be memorable and give a great first impression. It is important to take your time and come up with a long list of potential names before deciding. Get a talented group of friends together and just start randomly calling out names. Have someone write down all the bed and breakfast name suggestions.
Permit your gathering of people to suggest whatever name comes to mind. By allowing everything to be spoken, eventually you will have a list of great potential bed and breakfast names.
Only after you have generated this list of names should you then start to evaluate them. Make sure that your bed and breakfast name is:
- Simple to pronounce aloud by others (have others repeat the name aloud)
- Spelled like it sounds (makes it easier to find)
- Without an unintended meaning (think of the words in various contexts)
- Not too common (make sure it is fresh)
- Appropriate to your local surroundings (e.g. do not have beach in the name unless there really is one)
- Not too funny (this may suggest you do not care about your hospitality business)
- Easy for guests to remember (name recognition)
Top business blogger Brandon Gaille recommends the following practical advice when it comes to finding the perfect business name:
- It should be easy to recognize in an email subject line or a tweet
- Check the international implications of your name (make sure it is not offensive in any other language)
- Unique names can come from inventing a name, adding a letter, dropping a letter, or adding an “ly” or an “ify” on the end (however, as mentioned, spelling it like it sounds makes it easier for people to find)
- Make sure you reserve the business name (or a shortened version) consistently across all social media accounts
Other words for bed and breakfast include:
- country inn
- garden inn
- guest house
- street inn
- village inn
Visualize how your business name will look in a logo, outdoor sign, and on your website. Be sure to get your own email address to be something like:
When you know what you want to call your bed and breakfast, you must make sure that the domain name (website address) is available before you register your business name. If there are already bed and breakfast inns with that name (even in a different state), it is best to choose a different name or a variation of the name to avoid confusion.
Above all, make sure you absolutely love your bed and breakfast name since you will likely say it over and over throughout your time as a bed and breakfast owner. Smart innkeepers ask for ideas from others and take plenty of time when they choose their bed and breakfast name.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography