Category Archives: Books

Why Passion Can Make You Irresistible To Guests

the passion economy book cover next to a success welcome sign

Passion can make or break any business. Author Adam Davidson wrote the book, The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the 21st Century.

He argues that where we have both passion and ability should determine our pursuits. When we find something we love to do and that we do well, then we need to find the people (or guests) who most want that.

Value and Price

We need to create value that can’t easily be copied. The passion economy is about the quality we offer (which cannot be mass produced).

Moreover, he asserts that the price we charge should match the value we provide. Our products and services should be so special to guests that there is no obvious reference point with which they can compare.

First, Davidson advises that we imagine doubling our prices/rate. Second, we should think about what we would need to do (in order to deserve twice as much). We must understand what we offer that provides the most value.

Value pricing requires selling to the right people (the right guests). As you develop a reputation among your target customer base, more guests will reach out to you.

Your Story

You can (and should) tell the story of why you do what you do. Davidson claims that passion is story and that your story should be told in every detail of your business. Focus on the core value you create.

By definition, a passion business stands out from the competition. For that uniqueness, you can charge a higher price. Telling your story can be an inspiration to others.

Your Niche

Your passion can be your bed and breakfast niche. This passion can be based on activities and interests that you do for pleasure and that you’re talented at doing.

You can teach classes, host retreats, or offer guest packages that involve your both your interests and talents. The potential guests who share your unique passions, will be drawn to your place of hospitality.

Possibilities

By no means would I ever attempt to come up with an exhaustive list of hobbies that be incorporated into your hospitality business. However, I do want to share some ideas, as a starting point:

  • Acting
  • Adventure
  • Art
  • Astronomy
  • Baking
  • Bird watching
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Calligraphy
  • Card making
  • Cooking
  • Fashion
  • Fishing
  • Flower arranging
  • Furniture building
  • Games
  • Gardening
  • Geo caching
  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • Historic tours
  • Jewelry making
  • Karate
  • Karaoke
  • Movies
  • Photography
  • Reading
  • Scrap booking
  • Soap making
  • Quilting
  • Wine making
  • Wood turning
  • Writing
  • Yoga

Of course, innkeepers need not go it alone. Bringing in outside experts (as long as there is large enough interest and you can afford to compensate them) is always an option.

Passion Adds To Your Appeal

Guests who share the same passions, interests, and hobbies will start to come to you IF they know about you. This is why having the right marketing is essential to your hospitality business.

Blogging, email marketing, and social media marketing should align to spread the word. Consider adding a web page to introduce your new classes, retreats, or guest packages.

Your passion will attract those guests who enjoy similar activities and pastimes. This goes a long way in becoming irresistible to your target audience.

 

Change Can Be Easy With These Simple Steps

 

Change can be easy. That’s right. It’s possible. At least according to the world’s leading expert on habit formation. BJ Fogg’s book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything show us all how to have happier, healthier lives by starting small.

 

3 Things Required in Order To Design Successful Habits:

  • Stop judging ourselves
  • Take our aspirations and break them down into tiny behaviors
  • Embrace mistakes as discoveries and use them to move forward

First, we all can be too hard on ourselves. Usually we are our own worst critic. Fogg recommends that once we identify our aspirations, that we determine the little steps to making them happen. Inevitably, there will be mistakes. Making mistakes means that we’re moving towards our goals. The important thing is acting on our dreams!

3 Things That Create Lasting Change:

  • Have an epiphany
  • Change our environment
  • Alter our habits in tiny ways

Just what is an epiphany? According to the dictionary, it is “a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into reality, or the real meaning of something”. This new understanding “can come from something simple or commonplace”. However, we can’t make ourselves experience an epiphany.

Alternatively, we can change our environment. For example, maybe the people closest to us do not have the best influence on us. However, we cannot always walk away from our environments. Unfortunately, innkeepers will host some guests that are not as friendly or likable as others.

With BJ Fogg’s tiny habits method, he recommends that we focus on small actions. These are things we can do in less than 30 seconds. According to the author, “the only consistent, sustainable way to grow is to start small.” By taking this approach, he affirms that change can be easy.

The Anatomy of Tiny Habits:

  • Anchor moment: an existing routine or event that happens and that reminds us to do the new tiny behavior
  • Behavior: a simple version of the new tiny habit we want to do immediately after the anchor moment
  • Celebration: instantly celebrate to create positive emotions (such as saying aloud, “Good Job!”)

Determine the routines that we do from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed. It is by pairing the new habit with an established habit that we are more likely to consistently act.

The behavior is the new habit that we do right after the anchor moment (the existing routine). For example, innkeepers can pair the action of tactfully responding to online reviews when they get their mail each day.

Celebrating these new steps will encourage us to continue doing the new habit. Moreover, feeling positive emotions, reinforces our desire to consistently do the new habit.

Most importantly, author BJ Fogg says that we can change our lives by changing our behaviors. Furthermore, that only three variables drive those behaviors.

Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt

For instance, the more motivated we are to do the behavior, the more likely we will do it. Conversely, the harder a behavior is to do, the less likely we are to do it. Thus, the amount we have of one affects the amount you need of the other. In other words, more motivation requires less ability. Alternatively, less ability requires more motivation. Moreover, no behavior occurs without a prompt.

Golden Behavior:

  • The behavior is effective in realizing our aspiration (impact)
  • Desire to do this behavior (motivation)
  • We can do this behavior (ability)

The key is to choose a behavior that helps us make an improvement we desire (impact). It is vital for us to want this behavior (motivation). Lastly, we must be able to do the activity (ability). Of course, it is pointless to choose something that we will never be able to do. We must be aware of our own limitations (including height, strength, speed, knowledge, etc.).

Steps in Behavior Design:

  • Get clear on our aspirations: be as specific as possible
  • Explore behavior options: many different behaviors can lead to our goals
  • Match with specific behaviors: choose effective behaviors that we can do
  • Start tiny: we can always go bigger once our new habit becomes consistent
  • Find a good prompt: determine an appropriate pairing of behaviors
  • Celebrate your successes: create positive emotions for reinforcement

In addition, BJ Fogg reminds us that every day we do the behavior, we build a bit of strength, flexibility, and skill. Thus, change can be easy over time. Therefore, we can make lasting change.

Ability Factors:

  • Time: Do we have enough time to do the behavior?
  • Money: Do we have enough money to do the behavior?
  • Physical effort: Are we physically capable of doing this behavior?
  • Mental effort: Does the behavior require a lot of creative or mental energy?
  • Routine: Does the behavior fit in our current routine or does it require us to make adjustments?

Thus, our time, resources, physical strength, mental stamina, and the ease of which we adjust to our routines, all play a role in determining our ability to implement these new habits.

2 Important Questions:

  • Discovery question: What is making the behavior hard for us to do?
  • Break through question: How can we make this behavior easier to do?

If we are facing challenges, author BJ Fogg recommends we ask these two questions. We need to reflect on what is making the behavior difficult for us. Furthermore, we should think what would make it easier to implement this new desired habit.

3 Approaches:

  • Increase our skills
  • Get tools and resources
  • Make the behavior tiny

First, to create a new habit, we need to find a behavior it should come after. In other words, this will be our anchor. Therefore, the author argues, change can be easy when we pair it with an existing habit.

Identify Our Anchors:

  • Match the physical location: same place
  • Meet the frequency: done the same amount of times
  • Match the theme/purpose: for a similar result

For example, it would make sense to pair an old habit that we do in the kitchen with a new habit we’d like to do in the kitchen. Secondly, to meet the frequency, if we brush our teeth 3 times a day and we want to read for 30 minutes a day, then we could read for 10 minutes after each time we brush our teeth. Thirdly, we can pair items done for the same purpose. For example, when we do laundry, we can line dry our sheets (which may be a new eco-friendly practice we want to make routine).

Why Celebrating Is Key:

  • Celebrating small wins gives our brains something to re-pattern our lives
  • Emotions create habits and make behavior more automatic
  • The feeling of success is a powerful catalyst for change

The author explains why celebrating the little victories along the way does wonders to make our new behaviors more automatic. Moreover, when we experience feelings of success, we are further motivated to make changes.

Skills of Change:

  • Behavior crafting: knowing how many new habits to do at once (focus on what interests us, embrace variety, and stay flexible)
  • Self-insight: knowing which new habits will have meaning to us (the new habit affirms a piece of the identity we want to cultivate, the new habit helps us approach an important aspiration, and/or the new habit has a big impact despite being tiny)
  • Process: knowing when to push ourselves beyond tiny and ramp up the difficulty of the habit

The more we practice our new habits while pairing them with existing habits, the easier it will become to do this consistently. It is essential that we desire to make these changes.

Behavior Change Masterplan:

  • Phase 1: focus on creating new habits
  • Part 2: focus on stopping the old habit
  • Phase 3: focus on swapping a new habit for an old one (if needed)

Once we successful create new habits, it will be easier to stop old habits. The author recommends that, if necessary, we replace a habit we want to stop with a habit we want to start.

Redesign Ability in Order to Stop Old Habit:

  • Increase the time required
  • Boost the money required
  • Increase the physical effort required
  • Raise mental effort required
  • Make the habit conflict with important routines

When we make it harder for us to continue the old habit, it is easier for us to stop it. Whether more time, more money, more physical or mental effort, or a schedule conflict, we literally can redesign our ability.

Scaling Back the Change:

  • Set a shorter time period for stopping the habit
  • Do an unwanted habit for a shorter duration
  • Fewer instances of the unwanted habit
  • Do the unwanted habit with less intensity

Alternatively, we can scale back bad habits by committing to stopping for a specific time (rather than forever). Second, we can reduce the amount of time we do the unwanted habit. Thirdly, we can have fewer occurrences of this unwanted habit. Lastly, we can do the unwanted habit with less intensity.

How Ability and Motivation Influence Habit Change:

  • Ability and new habit: make the new habit easier to do
  • Ability and old habit: make the old habit harder to do
  • Motivation and new habit: make the new habit more motivating
  • Motivation and old habit: make the old habit less motivating

First, the author explains why change leads to more change. As we build confidence and skills, we will become open to other types of changes. Moreover, author BJ Fogg encourages us to view our behavior as a puzzle to be solved. Similarly, the changes we make shape our work, family, friends, and community. Thus, step by step, change can be easy. In conclusion, it starts with tiny habits.

 

How Super Thinking Can Be Super Profitable

Book Cover Super Thinking and Book Cover Influence The Psychology of Persuasion

 

In Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann, the authors define “super thinking” as the ability to think better about the world. You can use it to your advantage to make better personal and professional decisions. Super thinking can be super profitable.

 

Make Better Decisions

We all make numerous decisions every day. Obviously, it would be better to be right more and wrong less. In order to be wrong less, you must increase your empathy with other people, opening up a deeper understanding of what they may be thinking.

For instance, seek to understand their frame of reference. Moreover, interpret the other person’s actions in the most respectful way possible (by giving them the benefit of the doubt).

Take every opportunity to figure out what actually causes things to happen. There may be an immediate cause, but the root cause (the reason for their behavior) may not be the real reason they did something. Ask “why did this happen” until you reach the root cause(s).

Life Can Be Unpredictable

You must continuously adapt to what life throws at you. You have free will and can actively make decisions. You can increase the probability of a successful outcome for yourself. However, many aspects of life have variability. Of course, not all things can be predicted with certainty. For example, you cannot entirely predict how someone will respond to your actions.

When People Are More Likely To Leave Reviews

People share more “out-of-the-ordinary” stories. For instance, people will be more likely to write a review when they had a terrible experience or an amazing experience. People do not usually write reviews about average experiences. That is why it is so important to exceed expectations!

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

  • Known knowns: you already know how to deal with them based on past experience, you need to execute that known plan
  • Known unknowns: it is not known how someone else will react
  • Unknown knowns: the risks you may not thinking about, but for which there exist clear mitigation plans
  • Unknown unknowns: the least obvious risks, which require a concerted effort to uncover, you still remain unsure of its likelihood or consequences

Try to get a full picture of the system to make better decisions. For instance, analyze different scenarios. For example, pose questions like “What would happen if…”

Characteristics That Lead To Accurate Predictions

  • Intelligence: brainpower is essential, especially the ability to enter a new domain and get up to speed quickly
  • Domain expertise: the more you learn about a particular domain, the more it helps
  • Practice: good forecasting is a skill you can get better at over time
  • Working in teams: groups of people can outperform individuals as long as they avoid “groupthink” (you must evaluate all ideas critically and establish a Devil’s advocate position)
  • Open-mindedness: people who can challenge their beliefs tend to make better predictions
  • Training in past probabilities: people who look at past probabilities of similar situations will be better able to assess the current probability
  • Taking time: the more time people take to make the prediction, the better they do
  • Revising predictions: those who continually revise their predictions based on new information will be the most successful

6 Types of Influence

The authors summarize Robert Cialdini’s Influence Models from his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

  • Reciprocity: you tend to feel an obligation to return (or reciprocate) a favor, whether the favor was invited or not
  • Commitment: if you agree to something small, you will be more likely to continue to agree later
  • Liking: you will be more likely to take advice from people you like, and you tend to like people who share characteristics with you
  • Social proof: drawing on social cues as proof that you will be making a good decision
  • Scarcity: you become more interested in opportunities the less available they area, triggering your “fear of missing out” (FOMO)
  • Authority: you tend to follow perceived authority figures

Apply Knowledge From Other Areas

Thus, the central theme of this book is that you can apply specific models of thinking from different fields to help you solve problems. What’s common knowledge in one field can be secret in another. In fact, many secrets may be hidden in plain sight. You need to know where to look. Super thinking can be super profitable.

 

Are You Focused On Your Guest Experience?

Book Cover "The Customer of the Future", Author Blake Morgan, Big Data, Feedback

 

Guest experience should be at the top of your hospitality priority list. According to Blake Morgan, in her book The Customer of the Future, how we make people feel has a significant impact on their perception of us. Moreover, today’s customers prefer to interact with companies that make their lives easier and better.


Focus on Guest Experience and Happiness

In fact, research suggests that people find more lasting happiness from investing in experiences than in buying things. A “guest experience mindset” occurs when every decision the company makes is based on what is best for the customer. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recognized the importance of this when he stated, “If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of focusing on our customers, it will be the beginning of the end.” Thus, the guest should be at the heart of everything your B&B inn does.

5 Qualities of Guest Experience Focused Leader

  • Energy for influencing change: positive attitude, genuine, high standards, efficient, motivated, caring, organized, and effective communication
  • Neighborly: listening, approachable, flexible, humble, showing empathy, going the extra mile
  • Good judgment: sound decision making, forward thinking, strategic, inspiring greatness in others
  • Problem solving: creativity, innovation, clever solutions
  • Consistent say/do ratio: transparent, honest, trustworthy, committed, integrity

A Zero-Friction Customer Experience

According to the book, your goal should be a zero-friction customer experience for your guests. Companies succeed when they figure out efficient ways to solve common problems. For instance, focus on how you can continue to create a more seamlessly efficient process. These means accommodating the needs of your guests, solving their problems, and asking questions to determine ways to overcome challenges.

When guests first enter your accommodations, make sure their experience is pleasant. In addition, identify the added services you can create to make their stay even more attractive as well as to encourage return visits.

Stays Should Be Meaningful and Memorable

The hospitality industry is changing quickly. Therefore, accommodation providers should make a traveler’s stay both more meaningful and more memorable. According to Sharon Cohen, Vice-President of the Fairmont Hotels Brand, they ask two fundamental questions:

  • What are our guests telling us?
  • What needs have yet to be articulated?

Role of Technology in the Guest Experience

Of course, technology is an important asset in helping to bring the guest experience mindset to life. Chief Experience and Innovation Officer, John Padgett, designed magic bands for guests of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Ocean Medallion. Moreover, this includes 7,000 sensors and 4,000 digital interaction points.

The magic bands track passengers’ movements on the ship (helps them locate loved ones); makes personalized recommendations of what to eat and do; lets passengers charge purchases throughout their time aboard; allows guests to lock and unlock rooms, turn lights on and off, adjust room temperatures; and much more. Thus, this provides a more seamless guest experience.

Customer Feedback and Personalization

It makes sense that customer feedback is critical to finding out what your customers like and want from you. In fact, studies show that guests would gladly give up some data to a trusted company in exchange for a desirable customer experience. According to author Blake Morgan, “personalization” allows businesses to treat their guests more like people and less like wallets. The key is to focus on guests, designing great experiences specific to their needs, and telling amazing stories about them.

Measurements Lead to Better Decisions

However, if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it. That’s why analytics is so important. Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns of data, and the process of applying those patterns toward effective decision making.

The Customer of the Future book describes “customer centricity” as focusing on a small group of your most valuable clients and surrounding them with relevant options. In other words, find your best customers. Then, look for ways to expand your relationship with them. Analytics helps companies to be better listeners, provide more relevant experiences, and be where their guests need them. What does the information you have about your guests tell you?

Real-Time Offers and Customer Loyalty

This book asks what real-time offers can you make your customer? How can you better meet your guests’ needs throughout their experience? They recommend that businesses create special programs for their most loyal customers. How could you apply this to your hospitality business? What program could you develop for your biggest fans? For example, perhaps you can create an incentive program for frequent stays and guest referrals.

Guest Journeys and Customized Communication

Think about your guests’ journey and the relevance of your communications with them. Why are they coming? What is their story? How can you give them a better guest experience? According to Blake Morgan, there is no one definition for customer experience and no “one-size-fits all” approach. Thus, we must be looking for ways to connect with our guests in a more personal way. In conclusion, companies that create an amazing guest experience make it their intention to do so.

 

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!

 

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.

 

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!

 

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