Do you live in a Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey The Film Cast

 

Do you live in a Downton Abbey? Even if your bed and breakfast is historical, it may not have all the drama that came with the 6-season television show called Downton Abbey. One of the most talked about shows on television is the highest rated drama that PBS has ever had.

 

Available (at the time of this current posting) on Amazon Prime, and released in theaters in 2019, Downtown Abbey: The Motion Picture, features the beloved Crawleys and their intrepid staff who prepare for a royal visit from the King and Queen of England in this grand cinematic experience.

 

Highclere Castle

The show and movie is set at Highclere Castle, where people may have lived as long as 1300 years ago. The structural work on the interior of the Castle was finally completed in 1878. Once built, the Castle became a center of political life during the late Victorian era.

Important Visitors

In many ways Highclere Castle epitomized the confidence and glamour of the Edwardian period in the first few years of the twentieth century. Visitor books record the house parties full of politicians, technological innovators, Egyptologists, aviators and soldiers.

First World War

During the First World War, Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, transformed the Castle into a hospital, and patients began to arrive from Flanders in September 1914. She became an adept nurse and a skilled healer. Hundreds of letters from patients and their families bear testament to her untiring work and spirit of generosity.

Earl of Carnarvon

The Castle returned to a private home. In 1922, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, the first global world media event.

Second World War

Following the death of the 5th Earl, his son, who then became the 6th Earl, returned to Highclere where he lived until 1986. During the Second World War, the Castle briefly became a home for evacuee children from north London.

Current Day

The current (8th) Earl and Countess of Carnarvon live partly in the Castle and partly nearby but remain closely involved in the Castle’s day to day life and future.  If you live in a historical bed and breakfast, your guests would love to hear about its history–including the drama! Then you can answer the question, “Do you live in a Downton Abbey?”

 

Build the Right Niche and You Can Be Rich

Book Cover "If You Want To Get Rich, Build A Power Niche" next to picture of fish sculpture in lake

 

Build the right niche. Create a much smaller pond where you are the only fish. This will allow you to achieve market dominance and pricing power. Guests are willing to pay the extra price if you are the only accommodations that offers fill-in-the-blank (and enough guests desire what you offer).

 

Focus On Your Guests

Focus on what your guests want, not on what you want to sell. The more you learn about needs and wants of your target guest, the easier it will be to attract them. You will know exactly what they want. According to author, and real estate lawyer, Bruce M. Stachenfeld, a “power niche” is “a small-sized niche within a bigger industry that no one else dominates or owns.” The niche you pick should not be too big (you will not be the obvious choice) or too small (there is not enough demand in the marketplace). Learn every single thing about this smaller niche to have a dominant presence. Since the pond is smaller, you look like a big fish!

Matter To Your Market

Stachenfeld states you do not have to appeal to everyone, you only need a tiny bit of the market to want you in the worst way. How will you stand out from other hospitality providers? How will you be different? Who are you trying to attract as guests? Think from your guests point of view. Be sure to regularly read your online reviews and any comments written in your guest books. Since every guest is different, you cannot assume what worked with one customer will work with the next one.

Niches Earn Riches

Reach out to potential guests through your blog and on social media. Be enthusiastic when you speak to guests (or potential guests) over the phone and in person. Think from the guests’ point of view and create the experience your ideal guests would love. If you want to have more success than other inns, you need to do things differently. When you are the only accommodations in your area to offer specific amenities, services, and packages or cater to a specific niche, that gives you pricing power.

Choose A Power Niche

Stachenfeld advises your niche should be an area you already familiar with. Ownership of the niche is necessary to having what the author terms “a power niche.” By offering things that other places do not, you do not have to compete on price. Your niche should be small enough that you are a dominant force in your local area. Your niche should not be too big (you will not be able to dominate it) and it also must be useful (appeal to enough guests).

Spread The Word

Start telling everyone about this focus. By letting the world know how your inn is unique, you invite others to see your bed and breakfast in that light. See your accommodations from the point of view of the guest. The author says to ask “why should they hire us?” As an innkeeper, you can ask, “Why should guests want to stay with us?” By being part of a B&B association, you can make referrals to other member inns (and they refer their guests to your inn).

Welcome Friendly Competition

The author argues that sometimes the best people to make friends with is your competition. This makes sense when you think about how well bed and breakfast associations do by referring each other when there are no vacancies, or when a nearby inn offers something you do not (such as being pet-friendly or hosting weddings).

Earn Referrals

Do not be afraid to ask for referrals–you just might get them. Your marketing must stand out as different and memorable (for the right reasons) from other accommodations. You do not need every guest–just the guests that want you the most.

Achieve Guest Satisfaction

Go out of your way to make sure guests enjoy every interaction. Expand your relationship with guests so that you nurture the relationship to encourage repeat visits. Get inside the mind of your guest. There is no “one size fits all” answer. Be likeable by showing you genuinely care for your guests. Be qualified by demonstrating your expertise. Your products and services should have value to your ideal guests.

Meet Their Needs

Think about what your ideal guests really want. You can learn this by asking questions of potential guests. Learning what is important to them allows you to meet their needs. Hospitality businesses do much better with guests who are inspired by your message and your reason for being in business. Let your guests know what your bed and breakfast is best at. It is critical that you offer something that people want.

Convey Your Message

Guests can be inspired by your message and why you are in business. People like someone who gets to the point quickly and in an easily understandable way. Make sure they understand what you are saying. How can you stand out and be memorable? Build the right niche!

 

How To Be Better Than Your Competition

wine cellar featuring table with wine bottle and cheese plate

Being better than your competition is the goal of most business owners. This post is for hospitality providers like bed and breakfast innkeepers. You must think of yourself as an entrepreneur because you are! Your goal is to stand out from all other lodging options. The best way to do that is to discover what is called your “unique selling proposition.” Basically, what do you offer than no one else does? By providing exceptional food, friendly hospitality, concierge services, and luxurious amenities, you will build a list of returning guests. There are a number of ways to do that, and it depends upon your preferences, priorities and personality.

Amazing Amenities

Do you offer spa treatments (either in your room or an actual spa)? Do you have a restaurant that also serves lunch and dinner to guests (and may be open to the public)? What kinds of amenities come in each of your guest rooms (mini-fridge, hot tub, free internet access, entertainment, etc.)? How do your linens feel? Do you add extra touches like mints on their pillows? When your guests feel special, they will want to return to feel that way again.

Concierge Services

Depending upon the type of guests you attract, concierge services can be on the high end. For example, before staying, if a guest contacted you and said they wanted to surprise who they are bring because it is their birthday or anniversary, do you have a plan in place? Are you connected to other local businesses? It is of great benefit to get to know the owners of local restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues, etc. so you can network with them.

Custom Packages

Custom packages should be tailored around why people visit you and your local area. For example, if you are in wine country or near a popular winery, consider adding a wine tasting package that includes chauffeur service to a few local wineries. You know the area and your guests will appreciate not having to drive.

Another example, often destinations for romantic getaways offer packages that include couples’ massages, flowers, chocolates, restaurant gift certificates, event tickets, and so on. Think about what couples love to do in your local area.

Food Options

If you have relationships with local farmers, regularly shop from your local farmer’s markets, raise farm animals, and/or have your own garden, be sure to tell your guests about that. People love to hear stories about that.

Alternatively, if you accommodate the dietary needs of your guests, be sure to mention that. “With advance notice, we can provide alternative food options.” Perhaps you pride yourselves on being vegetarian, vegan, diabetic-friendly, heart-healthy, or even providing your guests with “comfort foods.”

Some bed and breakfasts offer a free wine tasting time in the afternoon. This can be a social time and opportunity to interact with other guests. You may offer premium nuts, select cheeses, and other delicious appetizers as well.

Most inns offer complimentary homemade goodies for guests to grab at their leisure. Some offer extras like dessert and wine delivered in the evenings. This can also be part of a package.

Hosting Retreats

When you host retreats, you have the option to lead the retreats entirely on your own, have guest speakers, or have other people host their own retreats using your food and accommodations. The options for types of retreats are endless. Think about why people visit your area. Various retreats include business retreats, relationship retreats, project retreats, and many more. Take the time to assess your interests and plug into your local area. This is yet another way to stand out and be better than your competition.

Offering Classes

Do you ever get told that you should teach a class about something you are talented at doing? If you are good at cooking, dancing, painting, photography, writing, yoga, or something entirely different, you can use your talent. Do you have a famous local talent that would be willing to teach classes at your inn? Even if you don’t teach the class, you can bring an expert who does.

Private Events

This depends upon your area and your interests. For example, if you live in a college town, then perhaps you can host graduation parties. If you have a background in coordinating weddings, and your accommodations is large enough, you can host weddings. Even smaller lodging places host elopements or intimate weddings. Hosting private events is another way to be better than your competition.

Strategic Marketing

Do you have a plan in place to grow your bed and breakfast business to the next level? Consider working with someone who is experienced at helping inns improve their bottom line.

Do they listen to your vision of what you would like to do with your accommodations? Are they providing helpful advice to get you there? Do they seek out opportunities for you to receive press? Are you open to their suggestions?

The relationship you have with a hospitality marketing company, like Bed and Breakfast Blogging, can mean all the difference in the world. We partner with innkeepers to attract their ideal audiences (including pet lovers, history buffs, and adventure seekers).

A good marketing strategy means carving out your own niche and uniquely marketing to them in a variety of ways including: blogging, email marketing, social media, local partnerships, publicity, and much more.

Association Memberships

I want to acknowledge the benefits professional association membership can bring. In this way, innkeepers are supportive of each other. Natural to their personalities, many innkeepers go out of their way to be helpful to others (especially their guests).

Belonging to an association allows for more networking, greater awareness of the hospitality industry, and coming together to encourage more direct bookings. By having a network of referral partners, when guests ask you to recommend a bed and breakfast in another area or when your inn is full, this is a great time to introduce them to other inns (and for other innkeepers to refer their guests to you).

Better Than Your Competition

By incorporating any of the ideas mentioned in this blog post, you are on your way to making your bed and breakfast business even better than your competition. Also, to establishing beneficial partnerships and associations. You are welcome to contact Kristi Dement for a complimentary 15-minute phone conversation.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

What You Need To Know About She Sheds

Outside of Gray She Shed with bedroom and shower

She Sheds are a growing trend. The following is my interview with She Shed Living expert and author, Erika Kotite, in my quest to know more about how more innkeepers could have them available at their accommodations.

Q: My blog readers are mainly B&B innkeepers. Some have large properties with lodges, cabins, carriage houses, and/or cottages. Do you think their renaming their extra buildings (outdoor structures) as “She Sheds” could attract more guests?

A: The idea of having a she shed on the property of a bed and breakfast could be a good thing. If we can measure it to the response we get at home and garden shows, and in our own retail gallery where we have an 8 x 10 shed fixed up with a cozy couch and chair, then I’d say yes. It could simply be the “She Shed” or something like the “Sleeping Porch” or “Nap Shack.” The State Farm commercial has created an extraordinary awareness of the term she shed, though, and it does seem to appeal to women. If the outbuilding housed multiple guests then maybe it could be called the “We Shed.”

Q: Have you consulted with any innkeepers/hospitality providers about She Sheds and/or visited accommodations with She Sheds?

A: I haven’t personally visited B&Bs (nor have any come to me) with the intent to discuss adding or naming a she shed on their property. However, in my first book I included one she shed owner, who made her “Casita” by merging two old broken-down sheds into one very pretty space. This shed was outfitted with a small European style kitchen and bath. She uses this space for herself while her own home is rented out to airbnb guests. (She travels for business a lot–her work as a photographer/stylist is highly satisfying but provides an uncertain income. Having rental income gives her the freedom to continue doing what she loves.)

Q: Since some innkeepers are Green Leaders (by implementing environmentally-friendly practices), I think they would be open to using salvage and recycled finds. What are the best ways for them to find materials? Also, who (& what organizations) approve(s) the construction of She Sheds and where would they find local building codes? I understand they will need to consider factors such as building a certain distance from the property line and meeting guidelines to pass inspections if they want to host guests.

A: The best way to build green she sheds is to rehab something that already exists on the property. Many older sheds require new roofs, more windows, insulation, etc. to be habitable (not to mention electrical and plumbing). I write about sheds that aren’t completely set up for overnight guests, especially for reasons of permitting. Storage sheds under 120 square feet (in most cities) do not require a permit as long as they are not plumbed or wired. Most of our clients go this route. Obviously to make the space appropriate for guests this wouldn’t be an option so applying for the right permits must be part of the plan. Local codes are found in the city government website, as well as many other resources for building and safety. I recommend finding a contractor who specializes in tiny homes or small structures to help the innkeeper navigate the permitting process and help with the rehab or construction of the she shed.

Another way to build green (from scratch) is to work with reclaimed materials. Our shed siding is made from urban forested lumber that ordinarily would have been sent to the chipping machine. We also scrounge around at construction sites for throwaway doors, stained glass windows, even old carriage doors incorporated into the walls of their guest house. Some good resources would be craigslist, ReStore (Habitat for Humanity’s construction goods stores) and even local contractors who might be willing to call when there is salvage to be had.

Q: I love how you detail the carious types of She Sheds. Many of which could host classes and retreats based on the type of She Shed it is (artists, writers, gardeners, cooks, book clubs, floral arrangers, tea times, etc.). I also like that you share pictures of different decorating styles (modern, romantic/vintage, classic, rustic, French country, Spanish-stle, shabby chic, etc.). There are so many options. Is that part of the beauty of She Sheds the fact that it can fulfill almost any purpose and have so many different looks?

A: Yes indeed, she sheds directly reflect the passions and pursuits of their owners! Most of us share our main home with others and we need to adapt rooms and design so that it works for all. A she shed is an intensely personal space; simple and direct. My own she shed is quite small and provides me with a small cozy nook for my favorite hobby: reading. That’s about it. But the color, the artful windows, brick floor, rag rug, etc. are all my own personal touches. Guests of course will not be bringing their furniture and artwork into a she shed they’re renting but you can still theme it will the iconic elements: a pretty chandelier, flag bunting strings, chaise lounge, signage, etc.

Erika Kotite's personal yellow she shed with blue door

Erika Kotite’s own 6 x 6 she shed that lets her read her books in peace. The front windows are leaded glass and were an antique store find. She invested a few hundred dollars to have them completely restored. Worth every penny. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

ethereal she shed with dropdown bar

This ethereal shed from She Shed Living is 8 x 10 and is a gathering spot for the Salinas CA family who own it. They are a winemaking family so of course there is a dropdown bar in the back. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

 

She Shed wooden with teal door

Another one of her own (She Shed Living) custom designed sheds, made with reclaimed materials & vintage windows. This shed is used for entertaining friends, working on crafts, offering a private spot for the lady of the house. (Photo: Maggie Bond)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for the types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?

A: Signage is a really important and popular category! Simple lighting that is battery powered or easily connected to an extension cord is another. String lighting, fabric bunting, small shelf brackets, small-scale furniture, throws, nesting tables, small weather vanes are some other ideas.

Q: What would you tell someone who owns hospitality accommodations if they asked how they could go about building their own She Shed(s) that would be used to host guests? Do you recommend using She Shed Kits?

A: A kit shed could work for a lodging space but again, it would need to be modified significantly to become a guest house (insulated, wired, etc.) You could probably avoid plumbing if you have a bathroom nearby that could be used. However, that would limit the type of guest who wants something cute, but also wants all the modern conveniences right in the space. Look for kit designs that are intended for habitation, such as a home studio or even a pool cabana. They could save you some money as opposed to building from scratch. There are some great companies out there including Summerwood, Modern Shed and Studio Shed.

Q: There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully build and decorate She Sheds: architecture, carpentry, interior design & decor, landscaping and more. What is your best advice for doing things in the right order? Do you have a checklist?

A: At the risk of shameless self promotion, I believe that my second book She Sheds Style: Make Your Space Your Own, provides a solid checklist for all the considerations you would have when creating a she shed guest space. Chapters include architecture, landscaping, doors and windows, color selection, interior design and important details. A good architect and builder/contractor would also provide invaluable advice. Again, look to professionals for specialize in small structures.

Q: What are some things most people don’t know about She Sheds (common misconceptions)?

A: When people see a she shed in person, they instantly know a lot about it. I think it’s because they are reminded of their childhood, when they had a playhouse or a tree fort of their own. It’s a gut thing! Sometimes men feel a little left out but in our experience, they admire the craftsmanship or our sheds so much that they don’t complain. They often are just as excited as their wives/girlfriends! The one challenge to overcome is that a solid, comfortable and attractive she shed is not something you can pick up at a local home improvement store. Those structures are not meant for habitation–they are mass produced with sturdy but nowhere near home-quality materials. So you are going to need to budget more money than you may think. But trust me, it’s so worth it.

Thank you, Erika, for allowing me to interview you. I love the gorgeous She Sheds in Erika’s She Shed Living gallery. I recommend you read her books and visit her website!

 

How to Transform Your Outdoor Structures

Book Cover: Shed Decor

 

Want to transform your outdoor structures? Bed and breakfast inns may also have additional dwellings such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and sheds. Sally Coulthard, author of Shed Decor: How To Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room, was kind enough to answer my questions. According to Amazon, “Shed Decor reveals how the right combination of colors, fabrics, furniture, and accessories can transform an outdoor building.”

“Have you ever been asked to decorate sheds as a consultant or interior decorator?”

“I often give advice for free – it’s much more fun and relaxed than a paid project.  I could talk about sheds endlessly – it’s a bit of an obsession really.  I’ve designed garden buildings and shepherds huts professionally for people, which often a collaborative process – and it’s so nice when people are pleased with the end result.  I built my own shed – finally – a few years back and I absolutely love the freedom and peace it gives me.  It’s got a great view of the orchard on our farm, and I love sitting in there with the wood-turning stove roaring away and cup of tea. Heaven.”

“I love how sheds can be used for multiple purposes and be decorated in many different ways. What are your best tips on Shed Decor?”  

“To be honest, I think the best money is spent on making the shed as warm and dry as possible – damp sheds are a nightmare and you never end up using them or getting the most from your space.  So, plenty of insulation, power sockets, a source of heating and decent ventilation are the priorities.  Once those are sorted the world is your oyster!  Personally, I like simple, honest materials – lots of muted shades and natural light.  Simple furniture, lots of pictures and treasured items to make it cosy, and a splash of colour from a favourite rug or throw.”

“I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?”

“Wow – such potential! I love a vintage shed – so packed full of character. Things like old metal signs – they’re so graphic and colourful. Vintage enamelware and wire storage racks/bins look great. Love the industrial look too – salvaged factory lighting, metal school lockers, office seating, robust tables – all these work really well in a shed office.”

“There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully decorate sheds. Is there a particular order things should be done in?”

“To be honest, no more than decorating a home.  So, you need plenty of enthusiasm, an eye for design and a practical side.  Get the building basics right first, electrics, heating and wifi sorted, then floor and wall coverings and then the finishing touches.  Don’t try and cram too much in your shed.  Less is definitely more.  Clever storage solutions and plenty of natural light will help make it a genuinely useable space.”

“What are some things that most people don’t know about decorating sheds?”

“Get the professionals in for any woodburning stoves and electrics – they can be deadly if badly fitted and, depending where you live, it’s the law. Use eco-paints and finishes – there are so many fantastic brands out there it’s easy to be environmentally friendly.  Insulate, insulate, insulate.  And think of ways to make your shed a bit quirky – could you fit a living roof, for example, or solar panels?”

“Please feel free to share any information that you think would help educate my innkeeping audience about decorating sheds and other spaces.”

“Basically, over the years I’ve learned that a shed is only useful if you put as much energy and resources into it as you would a room in your house.  Sheds that can only be used in summer tend to get neglected, so it’s worth making it a year-round space.  Also, try and imagine different uses for your shed to make it as multi-functional as possible – it might be a kids’ playroom now, for example, but it could come in useful as a spare room, art studio or office somewhere down the line.” 

As a general rule, guests seem to love a ‘sleeping shed’ – I think they like the playfulness of sleeping outside, in a small space, and the privacy it offers – they’re great for romantic retreats or writer’s dens.  Sheds can also make fantastic dining or entertaining spaces for guests – we’ve had some great parties over the years, in and around various garden buildings, watching the sun go down and enjoying the conviviality of it all.”

In Closing

I appreciate Author Sally Coulthard for answering these questions. There are so many ways to transform your outdoor structures. In response to my gratitude…

“You are super welcome! Might be worth mentioning I also have a book called How To Build a Shed if anyone fancies trying it themselves!”

My next blog post will feature “She Sheds” since they are growing in popularity.

 

Improve Your Hospitality These 12 Awesome Ways

The Samuel Durfee House (a large blue inn with red front door)

 

Want to improve your hospitality? I’ll show you 12 awesome ways you can apply these well known sayings to your bed and breakfast business.

 



 

“Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

There are a variety of ways to create more income beyond guests staying overnight. For example, you could host private events and offer extras like guest packages.

“Go the extra mile.”

There are a number of ways to go the extra mile. For example, give guests the option of having local folks also eat breakfast at your inn. Offer breakfasts that accommodate special diets.

“Less is more.”

Guests do not like clutter such as knick-knacks and doilies. By having less objects in your B&B, this allows more room for guests to put their luggage. There is also something calming about having a neat room.

“That’s like comparing apples to oranges.”

While Air B&B may appear to be cheaper, be sure to mention anything you offer complimentary to guests. Free parking, free refreshments & goodies, free wireless internet, full breakfasts, and no additional cleaning fees make a big difference.

“The more you learn, the less you know.”

This is true for all things in life. The more we learn about something, we realize how much there is that we don’t yet know! Lifelong learning is the key. This may mean learning container gardening options or implementing more environmentally friendly practices.

“You reap what you sow.”

Everything you do in your local community and for your guests (the seeds you sow), you will reap. This includes positive guest reviews, word of mouth referrals, and the loyalty of returning guests.

“Pay attention to the details.”

When innkeepers take note of things like why the guests are visiting (such as a special occasion) and what their interests are, they can make their guests stay that much more pleasant. Guests will appreciate gestures like giving them complimentary birthday balloons and/or flowers.

“Raise the bar.”

Provide a level of hospitality like no other accommodations in your area. When your guests can’t imagine staying anywhere else, you know you have earned their future business.

“Don’t toot your own horn.”

Let your guest reviews do that for you. What previous guests say about you is more believable than what you say about you.

“Take it with a pinch of salt.”

When guests share feedback (to your face or in reviews), be open to their suggestions. Perhaps they are giving advice that will improve your hospitality. At the same time, understand that guests could just be having a bad day if they complain about something.

“Timing is everything.”

Offer seasonal packages which can include tickets (to a local concert or sports game) and a restaurant gift certificate. You could even include a homemade seasonal dessert you deliver to their room in the evening. Additionally, promote annual events in your community such as a popular festival or cultural event.

“There’s no time like the present.”

Do you love showing hospitality to guests, but dislike managing the marketing required to keep you visible? Not every innkeeper loves to manage social media, email marketing, blogging, and public relations. Now is the time to consider getting outside expertise.

Did You Know?

Your marketing can more than pay for itself when you have a reputable company manage it for you. Contact me, Kristi Dement, to find out more about ways I can grow your B&B business. Let me help you improve your hospitality marketing.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

Why Focusing On The Guest Is The Best Marketing

Book Cover "Marketing Rebellion" by Mark Schaefer

Focusing on the guest and their experience is utterly essential for bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers. Now more so than ever. According to Mark Schaefer’s Book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, people trust other people more than they trust companies. In other words, what someone else says about your B&B is weighted more heavily than what you say about your inn.

The Guest Will Always Win

The theme throughout his book is that the consumer will always win. Thus, businesses (especially in the hospitality industry) must be focusing on the guest and their satisfaction. According to Mr. Schaefer, “There is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution for every company and every industry.” We also need to adjust to a world where customers (guests) do most of the marketing.

People Want To Feel Loved

Your guest is your most important advocate. Companies (including hospitality businesses) will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf. People trust people. Thus, it is important to focus on consumer-generated marketing such as recommendations, conversations, social media posts, referrals, and reviews after their stay. Feature your guests as heroes of your brand. Build an emotional connection bordering on love.

People Want To Belong

People have a deep need to belong. Therefore, promote a sense of community and belonging. Share stories that serve, inspire, and entertain. According to Schaefer, the greatest companies are fans of their fans. Focusing on the guest will set your accommodations apart. Give people the attention they crave to receive. There is tremendous value in your face-to-face guest interactions. When you help people feel like they belong, then you will reap the benefits.

People Want To See Proof Of The Value You Provide Them

People trust businesses making a difference and helping others. Offer value people can see, touch, and take pride in. However, the focus should be on storymaking, not storytelling. Your most loyal guests become your brand ambassadors. In order to do this, you must know and understand your guests’ deepest self interests. Anchor your marketing strategy around that knowledge. Make your guest the hero.

People Care About Your Purpose

Guests care about your purpose and values. Did you know that the main driver of customer loyalty is “shared meaning”? A shared meaning is a believe that both the brand (the inn) and the consumer (the guest) have about values or broad philosophies. People want to be associated with brands that stand for something. Brands that are forces for change.

You have to choose what’s right for you, and most important, what’s right for your guests. Be clear on your values. Furthermore, know how your values relate to your customer’s why. Taking a stand to show your values does not have to be expensive, risky, or complicated. Be what people want and need. Above all, this means focusing on the guest.

People Want To Be Respected

To have a human connection, there must be consensual marketing. Moreover, in this day of robo-calls, unsolicited emails, pop-up ads, and spamming, it is especially important to build trust. In other words, come alongside your customers in a collaborative way. Measure your success by their successes. Furthermore, study your reviews to have a better understanding of what people like and don’t like about your business. Focus on what your customers love.

A Manifesto For Human-Centered Marketing

  • Stop doing what customers hate and discover what customers love
  • Technology should help your company be more compassionate, receptive, fascinating, and useful
  • Claim a market space and help people belong to it (you can’t own customers, a buyer’s journey, or a sales funnel)
  • Never intercept and never interrupt; earn your invitation
  • Be relevant, consistent, and superior by building trust into everything you do
  • Be a fan of your fans by making them heroes of your story
  • Transcend the public’s inherent mistrust of companies through relentless honesty
  • Play an active role in your community
  • Marketing is never about YOUR why; it’s about YOUR GUESTS’ why
  • The most human company wins

12 Ways To Effectively Reach Your Audience

  • Customer experience: focus on your guest by building an emotional connection into their experience
  • User-generated content: encourage testimonials, engage with customers, and provide extra touches 
  • Word-of-mouth marketing: establish stories about your B&B that are authentic, interesting, relevant, and repeatable; show how you make your guests’ life better, easier, more interest, and exciting
  • Peer observation: brand items since people often make purchasing decisions based on what they see their friends buy
  • Peak moments: provide guests with peak memorable experiences they can share with others
  • Psychological ownership: allow guests to customize their visit, so they feel invested in their stay
  • Experience marketing: offer fun, interactive, and mutually beneficial interactions with attention to detail (such as sharing the history of your historical inn with a full property tour)
  • Reviews: use the comments and ratings of guests to identify what needs improvement and focus on the things you know they love
  • Influencer marketing: borrow the trust earned by an influential person with their engaged audience since they can raise awareness of your accommodations and show the benefits that come from your hospitality, amenities, and local area
  • Social media: share testimonies, reviews, photos and videos of happy guests, awards, your social media presence, and your calls to action to connect to and serve
  • Content marketing: produce content people look forward to receiving; create conversations, consideration, and social sharing of that content
  • “New” cycles: contribute interesting news to promote social sharing; create something worthy of discussion (including events and announcements)

Peak Moments at Magic Castle Hotel

As an example of “peak moments”, author Mark Schaefer tells readers to consider one of the top-rated properties in Los Angeles, according to TripAdvisor. While the pool is small, the rooms are dated, and furnishings and wall decor sparse, Magic Castle Hotel offers several peak moments.

For example, they have a cherry red phone mounted near the pool, and when guests pick it up someone answers, “Hello, Popsicle Hotline” so you place your order, and minutes later, someone on staff wearing white gloves delivers your popsicles to you poolside on a silver tray for free.

In addition, other bonuses include a complimentary Snack Menu, Board Game Menu, DVD Menu, and they do unlimited loads of your laundry for free! Schaefer’s point is that customers will forgive some underwhelming things as long as you “deliver a few magical peak moments.”

What Really Matters

Most importantly, focusing on the guest is what matters. In fact, their words about you have more weight than your words about you. Thus, develop an ongoing relationship with your guests. Share behind-the-scenes images and information. Establish an emotional connection with your audience. Mark Schaefer reminds us to be more human. After all, the most human company wins!

 

Not All of Your Guests Visit For Happy Reasons

Book Cover "When Life Gives You Pears" by Jeannie Gaffigan holding purple umbrella, raining pears, comedian husband Jim Gaffigan and their 5 kids

 

 

Your guests visit your bed and breakfast for a number of reasons. Perhaps your local area has popular restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, events, and attractions. You may have a strong reputation for good hospitality and luxurious accommodations. Your location may be the perfect stopping point on their long road trip. Of course, guests arrive to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, retirements, and more. All of these are happy reasons for their stay.

 


We Never Know What Crisis May Come

However, not all of your guests visit for happy reasons. You never know what struggles they and their loved ones may be enduring. Jeannie Gaffigan (wife of stand-up comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, and mother to their five children) certainly could not have predicted the health challenges she would have to go through. Fortunately for her, she had a strong support network of family, friends, and prayer warriors.

Life-Threatening Challenges

When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People released in the beginning of October is now the #1 bestselling comedy book on Amazon. While she faced life-threatening challenges (including a brain tumor the size and shape of a pear), she used her experience as an award-winning comedy writer and wife (to a famous comedian) and mother (of five) to poignantly share her journey (with humor mixed in).

She Gives Credit Where Credit Is Due

No one could have predicted the challenges she would have to overcome. She thanks the medical professionals for saving her life. She also gives credit to her husband Jim for his leadership in organizing around the clock care for their five kids and having at least one visitor with her at all times during her lengthy hospital stay. Plus, she needed major medical care and required physical therapy when she was finally released from the hospital. She is thankful for the prayers of loved ones and to God for the miracle that she survived.

The List of Do’s and Don’ts

Given her medical struggles, she (with the help of her sister Lizzy) made a DOs and DON’Ts list for family members helping in the hospital, including:

  • Don’t talk about delicious food if patient can’t eat
  • Do arrange room and organize personal property since the patient can’t move
  • Don’t say, “It’s not so bad.”
  • Do express empathy.
  • Don’t complain about not getting enough sleep.
  • Do organize the cards people have sent.
  • Don’t bring flowers into ICU; give them to the nurses’ station

She also made a list of rules for herself including: Do love your big family and be kind to them when they are health–they will save you when you are sick; Don’t make a rules list about your family and publish it in a book. (That made me laugh!)

Her Relationship With Comedian Husband Jim Gaffigan

Not only will you get to know Jeannie, you will learn how she and Jim came to know each other and read what she did the first time she saw where he was living as a single guy on the road a lot (it involves a lot of cleaning). She ends Part III of her book with, “The oldest of 9 children, the ultimate caregiver, marries the youngest of 6, the ultimate care-getter. A match made in co-dependent heaven.” (If there is any doubt as to who she was referring to, she was the oldest sibling in her family and Jim was the youngest sibling in his family.)

A New Appreciation For Her Life and Family

Their love for each other, their children, and their larger families is very evident when reading this book. In fact, she was surprised at how well Jim really learned what he needed to in order to take care of her medical needs at home. She realized that she should live in the moment more. Not everything in their house needs to be labeled and organized. She’s decided she will say yes more often when her children want her to read them a story, for example. Faith, family, and health are her highest priorities. Also humor!

Hosting Guests 

Innkeepers, while your guests may not share with you the sad reasons for their visit, most of you are very perceptive as to the level of interaction a guest would like to have with you. In fact, many of your returning guests come back because of the hospitality, sensitivity, and grace you show when your guests visit.

 

Do You Know How To Have The Storytelling Edge?

The Storytelling Edge book cover, word success, word customer, books

 

 

The Storytelling Edge, by Joe Lazauskas & Shane Snow, explains why businesses can succeed by telling stories. Everyone likes a good story. Stories make presentations better and ideas stick. Storytelling helps people remember you (over your competition). Great stories build relationships and make people care.

The Elements of Great Storytelling:

  • Relatability: your ideal guest should relate to the stories you tell
  • Novelty: while people crave the familiar, we also pay attention to what is new
  • Tension: conflict or curiosity gap (between what is and what could be) turns a good story into a great story
  • Fluency: great writing is easy to understand so people can focus on the story

Great stories (whether funny, fictional, or true) can dramatically increase your business. You need a mission that drives your content and resonates with people. You want readers to spend a lot of time reading your content and sharing it on their social media. Tell them stories they will remember. Evaluate what types of stories are working to share the right content with the right people.

Businesses that have the best relationships with their customers are those who tell stories. Figure out what your ideal guests want before you decide what technology to use. Create the content. Connect with your readers. Optimize both what you create and how you deliver the content.

Branding is whether and how people think of you. The stories we tell influence people’s perceptions of us. Conversion occurs when people take an action such as booking a room or calling your inn. The most powerful place to connect with your audience is on your website.

There are three main types of content. Timely content is pertinent based on news or current events. Seasonal content is relevant because of the time of year. Thirdly, evergreen content is valuable no matter when the audience sees or hears it.

Make sure you know what you want to achieve with your content. Then you can figure out what measurements matter the most. For example, if you want to promote aspect about your inn, such as its history, you could share a true story about the original owners.

The Future of Brand Storytelling:

  • Strategy: figure out what kind of story your audience wants, determine how you’ll reach them
  • Plan: decide how you will pull off your strategy
  • Create: create your story and make the right decisions to tell the best story possible
  • Activate: get your stories out there and use them to build connections with your ideal guests
  • Optimize: figure out what stories worked and tweak your strategy to do even better next time

Every story becomes part of your overarching story. The goal is to consistently tell your story in a variety of ways over time. Use stories to build relationships and make people care about you and your accommodations. Engage potential guests to build lifetime value with them. It is much easier to get guests to return than to find new guests every time! Use what is taught in The Storytelling Edge to attract more business!

 

What To Post on Social Media In The Fall Season

tall trees with orange leaves, red tree, close up of pumpkin and gourds, fall mums, fall trees on paved road

 

Your social media in the fall can be as creative as you make it. Looking for inspiration? How about changing your social media headers to be fall-themed? What about having Fall-related Pinterest boards? Wondering what to post in social media? The following suggests some festive fall content ideas.

 

Share Fall Activities, Events, & Places

Mention Apple Picking, Colorful Autumn Trails, Fall Parades, Farmers Markets, Fun Runs, Harvest Festivals, Hayrides, Leaf Peeping, and other things local.

 

Share Fall Decor

Feature items inside and outside of your inn, such as seasonal blankets, candles, flowers, pillows, towels, wreaths, & more.

 

Share Fall Jokes, Puns, & Quotes 

(Feel free to improve upon these suggestions!)

  • “Fall in love.”
  • “I only have pies for you…”
  • “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (L.M. Montgomery)
  • “Keep calm and watch the leaves fall.”
  • “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • “Pumpkin spice & everything nice.”
  • “Spice-tacular!”
  • “This weather is un-be-leaf-able!”
  • “You really autumn know…”
  • Q: “How do you fix a broken pumpkin?” | A: “With a pumpkin patch.”
  • Q: “What do you call a tree that doubts Autumn?” | A: “Disbe-leaf.”
  • Q: “What is the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?” | A: “Pumpkin Pi.”

 

Share Fall Packages & Promotions

Direct attention to your Autumn packages and promotions that include Fall-related activities, foods, & events.

 

Share Fall Pictures & Videos

Show guests exactly what they will see when they visit. If relevant to your area, give them a local link to check your current Fall Foliage reports. You do not want to be in a situation where a guest is arrives disappointed because a picture you shared that was taken from a previous season or during a different time in the season (and the colors are not as vibrant).

 

Share Fall Recipes

Many of the following mouth-watering recipe titles come from Delish (or you can search online for these). Better yet, make your own famous secret homemade recipes for guests!

  • Apple Cinnamon French Toast
  • Apple Cinnamon Mini Monkey Breads
  • Apple Crisp Cheesecake
  • Apple Dumplings
  • Caramel Apples
  • Caramel Apple Crescent Roll Bites
  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • Carrot Zucchini Apple Bread
  • Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Churro Chips with Caramel Sauce
  • Cinnamon Apple Cake
  • Honey Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars
  • Maple Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
  • Maple Walnut Banana Bread
  • Pecan Pie
  • Perfect Apple Crumble
  • Puffy Pumpkin Waffles
  • Pumpkin Apple Muffins
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Pumpkin Brown Sugar Pecan Pancakes
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Bars
  • Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
  • Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
  • Pumpkin Coffee Cake
  • Pumpkin Dump Cake
  • Pumpkin Pie Granola
  • S’mores Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • Sweet Potato Cheesecake
  • Sweet Potato Cookies
  • Whole Grain Apple Nut Muffins
  • Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles

 

Share Fall Tips & Tricks

Suggest costume options, decorating tips, and party ideas are just a few of the tips and tricks to share with your social media in the fall.

 

Your only limit is your imagination. You can also ask seasonal questions to spark social media conversation. The key is to make it fun and make it about them and the experience they will have if they visit you during the fall season.

No time or desire to consistently post in social media? Contact me, Kristi Dement of Bed & Breakfast Blogging, to help you with your social media, blogging, and email marketing.

 

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