Category Archives: Marketing

How To Effectively Market Your Bed and Breakfast

Guest room with large bed, fireplace, windows, ceiling fan, view of outdoor area beyond the room

 

 

Wonder how to effectively market your B&B inn? You’re not alone. More and more innkeepers are realizing that in order to effectively market their bed and breakfast, they need the outside help of hospitality marketing professionals.

 

There are, of course, B&B owners that do a wonderful job marketing themselves. One of the best examples is Chloe Tuttle, Owner and Innkeeper of Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in Williamston, North Carolina. Chloe shares her own photographs (which include pictures of the bountiful produce and gorgeous flowers she grows). She writes Chloe’s Blog, and she makes her own recipes that she writes about in her blog posts. She also takes the time to let potential guests know what they can expect from a stay at her place.

Chloe is active on social media. In addition, she even gives her website visitors the opportunity to enter their email address to, “Sign up for Updates from Chloe at Big Mill B&B” and Get updates of happenings on the farm, recipes and things to do in eastern N.C.”

However, it is perfectly reasonable to want to focus on taking care of your guests and handling the administrative and operations parts of your business. If you are frustrated with marketing (or simply lack the time or interest to effectively market), hiring an outside expert may be exactly what you need.

A good hospitality marketer will make sure that you making the most with your website, your blog, email marketing, social media, advertising, and other promotions. An outside perspective can help you better see things from your guests’ perspective. They may share some great ideas that help your marketing take off.

These are all great ideas that B&B marketers should recommend that innkeepers do:

  • Join one or more hospitality associations for networking, education, and added credibility
  • Make sure your website is mobile responsive (it adjusts to the size of whatever device it is being viewed from)
  • Make sure your website is (https://) secure meaning that your data is encrypted and it has a firewall to protect it from hackers and viruses
  • Show plenty of professional photographs (of all areas that guests can access, make sure to have great lighting, and good photographers use props such as coffee mugs and blankets)
  • All photography on your website should be “pinnable” meaning that a visitor to your website can easily pin your images to their Pinterest account (millions of people use Pinterest)
  • Be sure to have social media icons on your website so that people can find you on social media. Bonus points if your social media handles match across networks.
  • Make sure your booking engine (your website reservation software) is easily accessible via your website (and the two work seamlessly together)
  • Prominently display your B&B name, city, location, phone number, and email address on your website
  • Be consistently active across a variety of social media websites. See my blog post about social media content themes. It is always good to share different types of content.
  • Your blog should feature the best about your inn, your local area (including other local businesses), and your local events (especially those that happen every year)
  • Be sure to have a thoroughly filled out About Us website page
  • Seek permission from each of your guests to add them to your email list, then they will continue to receive regular updates
  • Remember that innkeepers are not limited to earning income solely from overnight stays. There are plenty of extra things you can do to boost your income (such as offer packages, host events, and have a B&B shop, restaurant, tea room, and/or spa)
  • Encourage happy guests to give you a review online. Be sure to respond in a timely manner to anyone who leaves your inn an online review.
  • Reward your guests with a frequent stay and/or guest referral program.
  • Be sure to present your inn as a consistent brand (this includes your logo, your messaging, your topics of focus, and more).

If you are looking to hire a B&B marketing professional to effectively market your inn, Kristi Dement is available for a free 20-minute phone call. Contact Kristi and set up a phone appointment today.

I have been helping inns with their marketing since 2013. I am also the Marketing Director of Bed & Breakfast Magazine. I will be launching Retreat Business Academy with my partner (and Retreats Expert) Kirsten Polman in the next month. I will share more details as the time nears.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

What You Need To Know About Conversation Marketing

Conversation Marketing Book Cover alongside words: listening, feedback, like, and trust

This post is based on the excellent book, Conversation Marketing: How To Be Relevant and Engage Your Customer By Speaking Human by Kevin Lund. You can deliver the right kind of content to the right audience at the right time when you have a deeper understanding of who they are, what they want to talk about, and how they want to be spoken to.

 

Conversation marketing adds value to your business. It promotes engagement since it allows you to connect with your customers on a deeper level. It adds a personal touch since you can make your customer feel valued, special, and appreciated. It also maximizes conversions by letting you develop a lasting connection which ensures that they respond positively to your product or service. According to Lund, when customers trust a brand, they automatically gravitate toward the company.

This book discusses 10 ways to be relevant, engage your customer, and speak human to them. We will briefly look at each way.

How You Can Earn Attention For Your Brand

  • Develop your brand’s voice: your brand’s content personality and style
  • Choose your brand’s tone: your brand’s attitude; be interesting and engaging
  • Be clear: plain, use language your audience will understand
  • Be clever: memorable, amusing, heartfelt, and/or captivating
  • Be concise: sometimes it is the shorter messages that have more impact
  • Be consistent: your brand voice and tone should be consistent for your audience
  • Regularly publish: useful, memorable, and shareable content

Tell A Story

Good storytelling lets you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic, engender his or her trust, so that he or she remembers you and is left feeling smarter. Good storytelling presents facts in a compelling and meaningful way. Benefits to telling stories:

  • Translates complex data through a narrative lens: appeal to their mind and heart through feelings and emotions, not facts and data
  • No one can argue with a story: a story is processed completely different than data
  • A story elicits an emotional response: they remember how you made them feel
  • A story touches the hearts of the audience: we are reminded in a positive way every time we hear it

Stay Humble

  • Be approachable and relatable
  • Focus on your audience’s pain points
  • Know your product/service/industry
  • Do not talk about yourself
  • Don’t pitch–teach
  • Show how your company makes a difference in the lives of others
  • Write to your audience to address their needs

Pick Your Party

Content is created to attract and retrain your customers. Conversational content includes: blogs, videos, social media, podcasts, native advertising, digital newsletters, white papers, print magazines, digital magazines, books, e-books, and webinars. The audience is your first priority. Stay focused on their needs. Be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How do we want to get there?
  • Where are our customers hanging out?

Be Relevant on a Molecular Level

  • Make sure you are talking about topics that interest your audience
  • Address their pain points in a language they understand
  • Make sure relevant content gets to each individual at the right time and place
  • When you solve problems and provide easy-to-find answers, you’ve become a resource to them
  • Build an audience with good, relevant content
  • Give that audience a reason to buy from you
  • Know how you can address, answer, or solve their pain point in a relevant, unique, and useful way

Open Up and Listen

  • To be a good conversationalist, you have to be a good listener
  • Listening validates the other person
  • What do customers/prospects need right now?
  • What are the topics they want to talk about?
  • What is being said about your brand?
  • What are your audience’s pain points?
  • How can you take care of their needs right now?
  • How can you make them feel connected to you?

Start the Conversation

  • What is your unique selling point to your audience?
  • What does your target audience need to know about right now?
  • How can I talk about it in a way that hasn’t already been talked about?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • Captivate your audience with content that explains how to accomplish one task activity, goal, or result

Know When to Stop Talking

  • Know what your audience is saying, not saying, and what needs to change
  • Use tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite
  • Look at blog and video comments and survey responses
  • Interpret the data correctly, make sure you have enough responses

Get Your Customer Involved

  • Find influencers, fans, and brand ambassadors
  • Generate content from fans and customers
  • Monitor what customers say online and respond
  • Always respond to what is being said by your customers
  • Encourage them to share your content

Ditch the Checklist

  • Ask bigger questions about your company and their ultimate goals
  • Make sure your unique marketing strategies align with a deeper motivate than earning money
  • Every brand has its own personality and mission
  • The mission needs to be a goal, task, or endeavor you feel passionate about and are willing to stand by
  • Forget about what everyone else is doing
  • No two content marketing strategies will work exactly the same
  • The difference today often comes down to content

I highly recommend this book since it shares excellent examples of real companies and brands. Their successes as well as lessons learned. How can you relate more to your guests? What kind of content are they looking for? How can you stand out from other accommodations? What are your guests saying about you online? These are all important answers to learn for the success of your hospitality business.

Feel free to comment below about what you found to be most helpful from reading this. Also, if you have any questions, I am happy to respond.

 

How To Increase Your Bookings

palm trees by the ocean

 

Do you know how to increase your bookings? This blog post will share insights from the book, The Tourist Magnet Formula: Transform Your Hotel Into a Fully-Booked Tourist Attraction Using Modern, Practical Digital Marketing Tools by Andrei Tiu.

 

Understand Your Values and Communicate Your Brand

  • Look at what guests mention in their reviews
  • Know what marketing messages you want to communicate
  • Analyze your guests’ perception and the way you actually want to be perceived
  • See how the two perspectives match
  • Identify where there are gaps or differences

Assess Your Communication Activity

  • Note followers, engagement, and posting consistency on all social media
  • Look at email open (% of people who opened the email) and click-through rates (% of people who clicked on specific links in your email)
  • Examine partnerships with any travel booking sites and travel agencies
  • Make a list of any media attention and publicity you receive
  • Determine what drives the most traffic, engagement, bookings, and effective social media results
  • How well is your marketing message being conveyed to your customers?

Ask the Right Questions

  • What is your ideal vision for your hospitality business?
  • Do guests associate your business/association with certain values?
  • If so, are they the ones you wanted them to be?
  • Identify the best ways to enhance your unique offerings and attract your ideal guests
  • What insight can you draw from your guest feedback?
  • How would you like for your guests to refer to their experiences from now on?

Design Your Objectives the SMART Way

  • Specific, simple, and significant: What exactly do you want to achieve? Why is the goal important? What resources will you need?
  • Measurable and meaningful: How much? How many? How will you know when you achieve your goals?
  • Achievable and attainable: How realistic are your goals? How will you achieve them considering other constraints that may interfere?
  • Relevant and realistic: Will it get you closer to your “dream business scenario”? Is it the right time to put in the energy?
  • Time bound, time sensible, and time limited: When do you need to achieve your goals? What can you do today, this week, this month, and this year that will get you closer?

Know Which Areas You Would Like to Improve, By How Much, and In What Time Frame

  • Bookings/reservations
  • Branding (customer perceptions)
  • Growth (more guests or association members)
  • Marketing (including email marketing and social media)
  • Revenue

Define Your Marketing Strategy

  • Know where you are
  • Know where you want to go
  • Have deadlines for measuring and achieving success
  • Know your target audience (your ideal guests)
  • Establish how you will reach them
  • Gain clarity over your desired branding

Define Your Target Audience

  • Have an “ideal customer persona” (description of your ideal guests)
  • Then segment groups of people that will fit under that criteria
  • The language used for each segment should be different and match as closely as possible to their type of language and attitudes
  • Deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time using the right language and right channel

Define Your Marketing Channels Mix

  • Decide which actions to take first to maximize your impact
  • Try to be active on at least 4 or 5 social media channels (where your audience is)
  • Determine how you want to position your inn/association
  • Understand your unique features and how they are important to your guests to communicate them effectively
  • Identify your brand values to differentiate yourself from your competition
  • Consider new products and services valuable to your ideal customers

Check For These Website Factors

  • Clean and easy to navigate (does it visually make sense?)
  • Descriptions (how well does your content appeal to potential guests?)
  • Loading time (the slower the website, the faster they leave)
  • Local area (do you feature local attractions and events?)
  • Mobile optimization (does it adapt to different devices?)
  • Partners (do you promote any partnerships with local businesses?)
  • Pictures (are they attractive and professional?)
  • Reviews (do you include the comments of previous guests?)
  • Social Media (do you have links to each of your ACTIVE social media networks?)
  • Usability (how user friendly is it?)
  • Video (do you have video content to give guests a more personal look?)

Use Social Media Wisely

  • Blog regularly and share on social media
  • Convey your brand personality
  • Encourage your guests to follow your social media and mention you
  • Follow accounts with 1,000+ followers
  • Hashtags to get discovered easier
  • Interact with your audience
  • Links to articles and recipes
  • Planned posts and consistent activity
  • Post pictures
  • Real-time updates
  • Share descriptions
  • Show what makes your accommodations unique
  • Strong call to action
  • Time of day your audience is most active
  • Titles that include keywords your public uses
  • Upload videos
  • Use language your audience uses

Build Your Online Reputation

  • 3rd party opinions and guest recommendations tend to be far more trusted
  • Ask for guest reviews in the best possible way
  • Automate email to follow up with guests
  • Encourage corporate travelers
  • Influencer marketing (post guest reviews from notable people)
  • Partner with local information and travel centers
  • Show your intention to keep in touch further

Reach Your Dreams

When you successfully implement these factors in your marketing, you will increase your bookings. Need more clarity? Contact Kristi from Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free 15-minute phone conversation.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

How to Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition

roses and wine on night stand next to bed with view of pool through the window

 

 

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from your competition. Bed and breakfast owners must ask themselves, “How are we different and why should guests choose our accommodations versus all others?”

 

Legendary marketer, bestselling author, sought after speaker, and business growth adviser, Dan Kennedy, advises businesses to answer 3 questions in his book “Magnetic Marketing: How to Attract A Flood of New Customers That Pay, Stay, and Refer“:

  • What specifically do you do that’s truly different than your competitors?
  • How do you uniquely benefit your target market?
  • Can you niche your target market in a way that nobody else can or will?

The goal is to identify what sets you apart and makes you different and that comes by understanding how you uniquely benefit your target market and deliver something in a way that no one else can or will. 

There are several different areas that can distinguish you from other hospitality businesses, including:

  • Accommodations: your property including guest rooms and baths
  • Amenities: your extra on-site luxuries that set you apart
  • Events: unique events you host like an annual charity ball
  • Food: your signature dishes that guests consistently rave about
  • Hospitality: the way you make your guests feel special
  • Location: including local attractions and events exclusive to your area
  • Niche: the segment of the population you attract and serve
  • Packages: unique offerings to guests often centered around a theme
  • Reputation: your achievements, what you’re known for, how others view you
  • Uniqueness: having no equal, unparalleled, incomparable for something
  • Value: your perceived importance or your worth to your guests

It may help to make a list of the compliments you have received from your guests (both spoken and written in reviews). If guests take the time to notice something and expression their appreciation for it, this could be something that makes up your unique selling proposition (USP).

When you know your USP, then you can promote that on your website, in your blog posts, on social media, in your press kit, in your videos, in your slogan, and so on. When you distinguish yourself from other accommodations, you are much more likely to attract guests. People crave experiences and when you can show that are the only place to offer X, Y, and Z, then your rooms will be booked.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

How To Develop Guest Packages

couch in front of open French doors with balcony overlooking pool with sunset background

 

To attract more visitors to your bed and breakfast, develop guest packages.  Packages are a great way to reinforce your brand and your inn’s image.  This also allows you to offer discounts without cutting your room prices.  When you bundle several items, services, and features together, this adds more revenue to your B&B business.

 

Wondering how to come up with some great ideas for bed and breakfast packages? Can you offer some courses or classes?  If you teach a particular skill (or can find a teacher), offer to host a bed and breakfast retreat. Potentially, you could fill all of your rooms.

  • Artist Retreat
  • Bird Watching Retreat
  • Book Club Retreat
  • Culinary Kitchen Getaway
  • Farming Retreat
  • Board Games Retreat
  • Gardening Getaway
  • Photography Retreat
  • Quilters Retreat
  • Scrapbooking Retreat
  • Writers Retreat
  • Yoga Retreat

 

What about featuring local attractions in your area?

  • Entertainment Package
  • Historic Tours Package
  • Restaurant Package
  • Spectator Sports Package
  • Wine Lovers Package

 

Do you want to attract a specific group of people?

  • Class Reunions
  • Family Reunions
  • Girlfriend Getaways

 

How about offering a promotional package during each season?

  • Winter Specials: activities like ice skating, skiing, and snowmobiling
  • Spring Renewal: everything starts to bloom again
  • Summer Fun in the Sun: can include amusement or water park tickets
  • Fall Foliage: certain parts of the country are known for their beautiful autumn colors

 

Is there a specific sport or physical activity that is popular in your area?

  • Bike Tours
  • Golf Getaways
  • Horseback Riding
  • Snow Skiing

 

What about promoting the holidays to your guests?

  • New Year’s Package
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Package
  • Christmas Package

 

The bed and breakfast package could center around guests’ relationships.

  • Anniversary Package
  • Babymoon Package
  • Family Travel Deals
  • Honeymooners Package (you can offer this even if you do not host weddings)
  • Romance Package (not just for Valentine’s Day, but for any time of the year)
  • Wedding Package

 

There are so many different package possibilities, depending upon where you are located and your interests:

  • For mystery lovers, you could offer a Murder Mystery Weekend Package.
  • For couples or single travelers looking to be pampered have a Massage Package or Spa Retreat.
  • If you live near a university, you may offer a package to the Parents of College Students.
  • If your inn is close to a number of major businesses or hosts business conferences, you may offer a Business Travelers Package.
  • If you would like to offer discounts to a specific groups of people you can: Military Special, Senior Citizen Discount, Teachers Discount, etc.
  • If you are a green inn, you could offer a discount to those driving cars with alternative fuel options.  You can reward your guests for being eco-friendly and helping Clean the World.

For more alternatives, offer an a-la-carte approach and let your guests create their own package by choosing from specific add-ons you offer.  They could add chocolate, flowers, heart-shaped balloons, teddy bears, and other special upgrades to their room price.

Packages can be centered around the time of the week the stay, “Midweek Specials” for slower times during the middle of the week.  “Spontaneous Specials” for last minute bookings for spontaneous travelers.  Even a Frequent Stay or Extended-Stay Discount.

There are many more bed and breakfast packages that you can put together based on what is in your local area, the types of guests you are trying to attract, your skills, and your amenities.  The key is to design your packages around the desires of the guests you want to attract.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

aerial view of mansion with pool, parking lot, and grass with trees

 

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

What if there was an amazing way to market your bed and breakfast by keeping the alphabet in mind? These are some of the most important factors to consider when blogging about your bed and breakfast inn.

 

 

  • Amenities: What extra amenities does your B&B have that others do not? It is important to know what sets you apart from your competition. Whether you have in-room hot tubs or fireplaces, this is a great thing to mention in your blog and on your website.
  • Antiques: Do you have any unique antiques that guests can look at? You may want to keep priceless or fragile antiques behind glass to protect them. Some B&B’s sell antiques to their guests.
  • Art: Do guests admire your art collection? Whether you have paintings, murals, or sculptures, people enjoying looking at art. You may refer them to your local art museums and galleries.
  • Awards: Do you have some honor or distinction that is noteworthy? It is okay to mention your Diamond Rating level, your prize-winning recipe, or anything else that distinguishes you from other places of lodging.
  • Bathrooms: Show off your spacious, well-decorated, and luxurious bathrooms with pictures and blog about recent upgrades.
  • Beach: Having a beach or waterfront property adds to your appeal. Share plenty of outdoor pictures as well as pictures of the outside view from inside your inn.
  • Bedrooms: You could let guests know the meaning behind the names of your bedrooms. Is it named after a former resident, your state bird, or a local sports team? Blog about what your own guests tell you they love about your guest rooms.
  • Benefits: Blog about the benefits that come to those who take a break to relax and spend time with loved ones. With permission, you could feature some of your guests and have them share how they have benefited from their stay at your B&B.
  • Birthdays: It is always great to ask guests the reason for their visit. Even if the reason is not a birthday, it may be a good idea to find out those dates so you can send guests a postcard or email on their birthday to remind them of their stay and entice them to want to come back.
  • Breakfasts: Do you cater to special diets like gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan? How do guests receive their breakfast: delivered to their room or eaten in a common place? These are all things you can blog about. Even give a behind the scenes look at your kitchen or interview your chef.
  • Business: Do you host a number of business travelers in your area? Do you have a conference room and technology resources like free Wi-Fi and guest access to a printer and fax machine? Blogging about this may result in hosting more business travelers.
  • Classes: Do you teach, or know of someone who could do this, a certain skill? This could be cooking, dancing, photography, etc. By offering unique classes, you can attract more people to your inn.
  • Complimentary: Emphasize all the free things that come to your B&B guests versus those who stay at your local hotels. This includes: breakfast, concierge services, parking, etc. This gives people a reason to choose to stay with you over your local hotel competition.
  • Concerts: Are you near a big venue like a concert hall or stadium? Blog about the next musician or theatre performance coming to your area.
  • Decks: If you have a deck with an amazing view, by all means blog about it and show pictures of the view.   People like to get away to scenic places.
  • Dining out: Do you provide your guests with a list of local restaurants or have local restaurant menus available for guests to browse? You could feature certain restaurants you know are popular with your guests.
  • Eco-Friendly: If you are an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast, then you should write about what things you do to earn that green distinction. If you line dry your blankets and/or offer an electric car charging station, guests will appreciate that.
  • Events: Keep an eye on events that are happening in your local area. A great way to do this is to regularly check your local and state visitors’ bureaus.
  • Farms: If you live on a farm that grows crops and/or has animals, blog about this. Some guests would love to meet animals from your petting zoo. Other guests want the experience of picking berries, for example.
  • Fireplaces: If you have fireplaces inside and/or fire pits outside, this is an attractive feature. Mention that indoor guests can sip hot cocoa or drink wine by the fire. Outside they could roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
  • Flowers: As long as you know your guests do not have any allergies, displaying fresh flowers on throughout your B&B is a nice added touch. These flowers could come from your own garden or a local florist, farmers market, or grocery store.
  • Frequent stay: Reward your repeat guests in some way. This could be a free upgraded room, a free bottle of wine, free massage, or even an extra night.
  • Games: Do you offer cards, board games, or even video games at your inn? You may have a pool table or air hockey table or even have a horseshoe pit outside. Blog about the games that your guests enjoy playing at your bed and breakfast.
  • Garden: Guests love to walk the grounds of bed and breakfasts with gardens of all kinds, including: flower gardens, produce gardens, and rock gardens.
  • Handicap accessible: Do you accommodate handicapped people? If you have these available, discuss your ramps, ground floor guest rooms, wheelchair friendly bathrooms, and elevators in a blog post.
  • History: Many bed and breakfasts are registered historic places. You could blog about the history of your B&B including its former occupants and what it was used for. Some bed and breakfasts were once private residences, boarding schools, or used for other purposes.
  • Holiday: Use the time leading up to holidays to show pictures of how your inn is decorated and discuss local events related to the holidays.
  • Honeymooners: Many couples choose to stay at a bed and breakfast for their honeymoon. You may even have a Honeymoon Suite as part of your inn.
  • Innkeepers: Your guests want to know more about the innkeepers, the people who run your inn.
  • Just in Time: You could offer discounts based on the time of their stay. This could be last minute specials, mid-week discounts, or stay for a specific number of nights and get the next night free.
  • Kid-friendly: All bed and breakfast inns need to establish their minimum age requirement. Some bed and breakfasts cater to romance and do not allow anyone under a specific age to stay overnight. Others B&B’s are known as “kid friendly” and welcomes kids as well as provide accommodations like adjoining rooms.
  • Lakes: Being located on a lake is a tremendous advantage. If your guests can go fishing, swimming, waterskiing, rafting, canoeing, or do any other water-related activities, this is an opportunity to blog about it and share pictures.
  • Leisure activities: Anything that your guests can do for fun should be mentioned in your blog. I recommend having a list of links to local leisure activities such as amusement parks and golf courses.
  • Libraries: Do you have a common room that is perfect for guests to read in? Do you have a library of books available for them to use during their stay? If so, you could write a blog post about it. If you know a local author (or happen to be one yourself), consider hosting a book talk or book signing. Your library can include movies that guests can watch in their rooms.
  • Linens: Brag about your high thread count sheets, plush towels, and luxurious robes.
  • Local area: Find out why most people visit your area and blog about those reasons often. For example, if you are located near a famous race car track, feature that.
  • Membership: Belonging to associations can attract more guests. Guests rest easy when they know that you are part of a bed and breakfast association; have a certain Diamond rating, and so on. Membership in these organizations adds credibility.
  • Mountains: Bed and breakfasts located in the mountains can show their breathtaking views and discuss those pictures on their blog and website.
  • Museums: There are many types of museums that could be in your local area: art museums, history museums, natural science museums, and even sports museums (or hall of fames). If your inn is near any museums, blog about this.
  • Mysteries: Some bed and breakfasts offer Murder Mystery evenings or weekends. This may even include a dinner and/or getting into a costume. Those who like reading mystery novels are great candidates for people who are likely to enjoy these kinds of mysteries.
  • Night walk: Some local area events happen late at night or you could host your own night tour.
  • Occasion: A special occasion might bring people to your inn. This could be an anniversary or even a family reunion or class reunion.
  • Outdoors: It is important to know what people like to do outdoors in your area.   It often depends upon the weather your area receives and the topography of your region.
  • Packages: Add more value by putting together guest packages based upon interests, seasons, area activities, occasions, and much more. This could mean making arrangements, on behalf of your guests, for restaurants, tours, concerts, and more.
  • Partnerships: You may decide it is in your best interest to form partnerships with local business people. For example, in exchange for exclusively using only their business, you can get a deal with a local florist to reduce their rates.
  • Patios: If you have an outdoor patio area for your guests, take pictures of it. Blog about any outdoor events you hosted on your patio.
  • Patriotic: American patriotic holidays include Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Your bed and breakfast may decorate, host events, and/or offer patriotic packages.
  • Pets: Your bed and breakfast may not allow pets or the only pets allowed are the innkeepers. Other bed and breakfast inns may accommodate pets in certain places of the inn (like the first floor, rooms with private exits, and private cottages) or it could be entirely pet friendly. If your B&B does allow pets, you could devote a blog post about the lovable pets that have stayed.
  • Pictures: They can say much more than words ever will. Be sure to have flattering pictures of your bed and breakfast inn on your website and in your blog posts. The pictures should accurately represent what your inn looks like today.
  • Pools: If your B&B has an indoor or outdoor pool or hot tub, you can share pictures of that. Guests really appreciate private in room hot tubs.
  • Porches: Many bed and breakfasts are known for their porches. Share pictures of your porch with its rockers, swing, and other furniture.
  • Promotions: Bed and breakfasts can offer special promotions based on the holidays, seasons, and local events. This could include discounts, complimentary services, and free upgrades.
  • Quiet: Guests like to get away from the noise of everyday life. If you live in a tranquil setting, write about the compliments you receive about being a quiet place to stay.
  • Recreation: Discuss types of recreation guests can take part in on your property as well as in your local area.
  • Redecorating/remodeling: Feature the before and after pictures from a recent redecorating or remodeling project. Blog about how and why you decided to make those changes as well as why guests will want to visit.
  • Referrals: Give your guests incentives to make referrals to their friends and family. The incentive could be a discount on their next stay.
  • Restaurant: If you own your own bed and breakfast restaurant, this part of your inn may be open to the public. This is a great way to draw new overnight guests by giving them a taste of your incredibly delicious food when they come to dine at your restaurant.
  • Retreats: You could offer retreats like yoga retreats, scrapbooking retreats, or business retreats. Blog about the variety of retreats you offer.
  • Reviews: Share genuinely positive reviews you have of local places of interest to your potential guests.
  • Romantic: Bed and breakfasts may be the perfect place to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Relationship building is one of the primary reasons people take vacations.
  • Seasons: Decorate your inn to reflect each new season. This encourages people to return at a different time in the year to enjoy that time, too.
  • Shopping: Whether you have your own bed and breakfast shop or you are near a lot of wonderful area shopping malls and retail outlets, guests who like to shop will want to read about the shopping that is available in your local area.
  • Spas: You may have your own spa or have a partnership with a local spa or masseuse to provide spa services. Having these services sets you apart from other lodging accommodations.
  • Sports: Bed and breakfasts near sporting arenas and stadiums can blog about local sports teams season schedules, players, and coaches. Innkeepers might provide a Sports Package that includes tickets to their choice of certain local sporting events.
  • Tea: Bed and breakfasts may have a tea time or even a tea room. They may serve scones, tea sandwiches, cookies, and other finger food.
  • Ultimate experience: Position your bed and breakfast inn as the ultimate experience in lodging accommodations, hospitality, and cuisine. Encourage guests to give you a five star rating, or if they cannot do so, to talk with you about it instead of sharing their less than 5 star rating. This keeps up your image as the ultimate experience and gives you valuable input for how you can improve your guest experience.
  • Videos: If your bed and breakfast has its own video, be sure to put that on your website in a prominent place for your web visitors to see. Videos show more than pictures do. This allows your guests to get a feel for the layout of your bed and breakfast.
  • Weddings: If your inn hosts weddings, it is wise to dedicate a place on your website for that as well as to blog about it. Smaller bed and breakfasts may do small weddings or elopements.
  • Wine: Depending upon your state laws and licensing, you may host wine tastings or allow your guests to bring their own wine. You may even offer your guests the opportunity to tour one or more local vineyards in your area.
  • Xtra special: This was my “extra special” attempt to come up with a word that starts with “X.” It is important that your guests feel extra special not just when they arrive, but from the moment they see your website and speak with you over the phone.  Your bed and breakfast should have a great reputation.
  • Young and old guests: Bed and breakfasts appeal to young couples as well as older ones. You may have guests that return regularly over the years. That is great to have such loyalty and friendship with your guests.
  • Zzz…. Are your guests ready to have a restful experience at your inn? Make sure that your mattresses are comfortable. Be sure to offer extra pillows and blankets. Have a night light for guests to see their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Be sure to share your blog posts regularly in social media.  No time to write your own blog posts?  Contact us about your bed and breakfast blogging.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Quick and Easy Way to Market Your Bed and Breakfast

Outdoor lawn furniture around a fire pit

 

 

Looking for the quick and easy way to market your bed and breakfast? Share information from our essential bed and breakfast content checklist.  This can be shared on your website pages, in blog posts, in social media, in emails, in videos, and more.

 

 

Essential Bed and Breakfast Content Checklist:

 

  • Activities: What can people do when they stay at your inn?  This includes activities at the inn as well as activities at places and events in your local area.
  • Amenities: What amenities do your guests have access to?  Perhaps you have something as unique as a heated pool or billiards room.  The picture shows a lovely outdoor area for guests to relax and hear music.  Be sure to list every amenity your inn offers.
  • Area: Think about why people visit your local area.  Do you provide information that includes the many reasons people decide to stay at your inn?
  • Associations/Ratings: Do you belong to any B&B associations that regularly inspect your inn for quality assurance? Let your guests know what professional associations you belong to as well as any ratings of distinction such as Select Registry or Historic Hotels of America.
  • Blog: Do you have a blog? Blogs are great places to regularly share new information such as seasonal changes, local annual events, and more.
  • Decorating: Do you have any decorating tips to share? Perhaps you could feature pictures of your decor and give ideas for how guests can make their own homes more decorative.
  • Employees: No matter the size of your staff, you can share a picture of them and some fun facts about them.  Include where they are originally from and a brief background like their favorite sports team, college alma mater, favorite breakfast food, favorite thing to do in your local area, etc.  Also let guests know what roles they have at your inn.
  • Events: This includes both activities that happen at your inn as well as local activities.  Be aware of any major local activities and conferences to specifically attract those guests.
  • Food: Food is so popular that entire television channels are devoted to it! Share recipes to your most popular items and share behind-the-scenes photos of preparing for breakfast.  Feature your farm fresh produce.
  • Fun: Highlight the fun that happens at your inn.  This could feature guests (with their permission) having fun in common rooms or anywhere on your property.
  • Gardening/Landscaping: Do you have award-winning gardens? Do you have attractive fountains and outdoor sculptures? Do you have hanging outdoor lights to shine at night? What is in bloom right now at your inn?  Focus on seasonal changes and promote Fall Foliage if that is something your area is known for.
  • Guests: Think about what types of guests you attract.  If the guests tell you the reason for their visit or activities they participated in, make a note of it.  Offer recommendations to local restaurants and shops.
  • History: Do you have a historical inn? If so, consider sharing your B&B’s unique history.  If you built your inn, share pictures of its construction and your motivation for building your own B&B.
  • Holidays: Does your inn show off unique decorations with each holiday? Valentine’s Day is just one of the many holidays that bed and breakfasts can feature in blog posts and on social media. If you have any holiday-related packages, be sure to feature them during that time.
  • Promotion: Consider promoting local events and businesses. You may want to feature a contest on your website and/or social media.  Require those who enter your contest to enter by sharing their email address.  Then you can add them to your email list.
  • Publicity: Was your inn featured in a magazine or the local news?  Be sure to have links to any publicity your inn receives listed on your website and share it in social media.
  • Renovation: Did you renovate or redecorate any areas of your inn?  Share before and after photos of any indoor or outdoor transformations.  Describe the process it took to get it from the before picture to the after picture.  There are lots of people who would be interested in learning how you remodeled that space.
  • Success: Did you receive an award for something? Perhaps your won a local recipe contest.  Maybe you received an award in your local town as an elite place to stay overnight.  Be sure to include this in your content.
  • Support: Do you support any charities or host charity events? Do you sponsor any local teams or events? Any community outreach you do can be featured in your content.  Share pictures of the events.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There may be other areas to promote, depending upon where you are located, the types of guests you host, and the unique accommodations you provide.  The key is to regularly share new content. This makes you more visible online when people go to search for specific keywords.

Not sure what keywords you should feature? Consider using the name of your city, popular tourist destinations, popular local activities, and so on.  That way if someone types in “your city name and a popular activity” they could find your content and land on your website.

Need help marketing your inn?  Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free consultation.  Bed and Breakfast Blogging specializes in not only blogging, but also social media marketing, email marketing, reputation management, and more.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Easily Brand Your Bed and Breakfast

Log cabin bedroom with fireplace and desk with chair

Branding your bed and breakfast is both easier and harder than you think.  What do I mean by that?  Well, little things can make a big difference so there are plenty of things you can do.  However, it is harder than you think because you don’t want to make costly mistakes along the way.

Your goal is to attract a particular target audience to your bed and breakfast inn.  The type of inn you have including your location, its amenities, its surroundings, and its weather (among many other factors) all play a role in who will want to visit your accommodations.

The following are descriptions of very different places to visit:

  • A twenty-room mountain getaway for avid skiers and hikers
  • A B&B spa in the woods with separate cabins, each with private hot tubs
  • A modern urban inn that caters to business travelers & hosts corporate retreats
  • A historical inn that has hosted celebs & famous people in history
  • A five-room inn with horse ranch and trails, riding lessons for guests
  • A tropical beach resort with its own restaurant and live music in the evenings
  • An inn located on a vineyard, with tours and tastings with cheeses and desserts
  • A B&B in a popular tourist town with lots of local activities and attractions
  • A Southern inn with an award-winning flower garden; gazebo, pool, swing, etc.

As you can tell, from the above examples, bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and resorts, can narrow their marketing to reach the most ideal audience for what they offer guests.  Since you cannot be all things to all people, the best brands:

  • Visually grab the attention of their target audience (with pictures, images, quotes, testimonials, etc.)
  • Emotionally attract (tug on the heart) their target audience (“because time passes by so quickly, capture memorable moments with us”)
  • Convey a simple message to that target audience (ex: guests deserve time away to enjoy their loved ones)
  • Differentiate themselves from their competitors (show why you are the best accommodations for your target audience in your local area)
  • Develop their reputation for excellent hospitality and exceeding guest expectations throughout multiple touch points along the way (check-in, front desk, guest services, hospitality, use of amenities, breakfast, check-out, and opting in for your e-mail list with a loyalty program)

Brands can differentiate themselves in the following ways:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Curb Appeal
  • Decor
  • Guest Rooms
  • Amenities
  • Photography
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Blog
  • Stories
  • Guests Testimonials
  • Email Marketing
  • Hosting Events
  • Videos

According to “Telling Your Brand: How Your Brand Purpose and Position Drive The Stories You Share” by Rob Marsh, the importance of differentiation can be seen through the efforts of four national pizza chains:

  • Pizza Hut (the market leader) uses their advertising to feature new innovations like hot dogs or cheese baked into their crusts, chocolate chip cookie pizzas, pizza sliders, stuffed crust pizzas.  Pizza Huts stands out with their innovations.
  • Dominoes (focuses on owning the “delivery” position), focused on it more before lawsuits forced them to soften their claim of “30 minutes or less or its free.”  Dominoes is the go-to choice for home delivery.
  • Little Caesar’s (focuses on the “value” position), offering 2 pizzas for the price of one, with tagline (“Pizza. Pizza.”) Today they offer ready-made, grab-and-go pizzas for $5, emphasizing their ownership of the low-price position in the market.
  • Papa Johns (focuses on fresher ingredients), with tagline “Better ingredients, better pizza”, the emphasis on high-quality ingredients reinforces this position in the minds of consumers.
  • The point of positioning is to own one idea.  The brand story you tell will help position your inn in the minds of your guests and potential guests.

Mr. Marsh advises companies to think about these questions (which I have rephrased to apply to places of hospitality):

  • What benefits do guests receive from staying at your inn?
  • How are you different from competitors and how do guests experience that difference?
  • What are the stories your guests tell about themselves now?
  • If your brand were a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • What adjectives describe your brand?  What adjectives do not?
  • Does your B&B brand have a compelling story?
  • How does your company’s values and mission make an impact on your guests?
  • What’s your brand’s purpose?

Denise Lee Yohn, in her book, “What Great Brands Do: The 7 Brand-Building Principles That Separate The Best From The Rest“, argues that your brand is WHAT your company DOES and HOW you do it and NOT what you SAY you are.  It matters more what you DO.  Identify the key values and attributes that define your inn.  People buy according to how brands make them feel, or what identity they help their guests experience and express.

Focus on the unique way you bring value to your guests.  Understand and communicate what makes your business different and better than the rest.  According to Denise, “Great brands know that if you try to be all things to all people, you’ll never connect deeply with anyone.”  She offers the following template for companies to use building their brand:

“For ________ (your target audience), we are the _____________ (frame of reference) who does ______________ (the unique value you deliver), because ______________ (the reasons why consumers should believe that you deliver value).

According to the book “Brand Intimacy: A New Paradigm in Marketing” by Mario Natarelli and Rina Plapler, the following are types of “Brand Strategies”:

  • Fulfillment: always exceeds expectations, delivers superior quality/service, good value for the money, reliable (ex: Amazon)
  • Identity: projects a favorable lifestyle, values your target market aspires to (or identifies with) (ex: Whole Foods)
  • Enhancement: makes your life easier, more effective, smarter, more capable, more connected (ex: Apple)
  • Ritual: part of your routine, ingrained in your life, more than a habitual lifestyle behavior (ex: Starbucks)
  • Nostalgia: reminds you of your past, evokes warm memories and feelings, associates with you in some way (ex: Lego)
  • Indulgence: a personal luxury, makes you feel pampered, pleasing to the senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, sound) (ex: Sephora, a beauty brand)

In the book, “Building Your Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Your Customers Will Listen,” Donald Miller argues that stories organize information in a way that compels people to listen.  Miller advises readers to make the customer the hero of the story and to position your brand as the guide.  Focus on the success of your customers (and not the success of your business).

Donald Miller explains that since human beings have two motivations in life (to escape something bad and to experience something good), we can include these motivations in our brand stories.  Great brands obsess about the transformation of their customers.

With the permission of each guest, you could their personal story of what their life was like before coming to your destination and how your destination impacted their life for the better.  Using guest testimonials carries a lot of weight and provides social proof.

Motivation 1: To Escape Something Bad

  • Boredom with Life (Feel Stuck in a Rut)
  • Escape the Noise/Traffic of the City or Escape the Isolation of Rural Life
  • Fast Pace of Life (Escape the Busyness and Routines of Everyday Life)
  • Perceived Lack of Quality Time with Others
  • Stress from Job (or Other Responsibilities like Education and Parenting)
  • etc.

Motivation 2: To Experience Something Good

  • Adventure (for athletes, adventurers)
  • Business Success (for corporate travelers)
  • Culture (for art and music lovers)
  • Food (breakfast, local restaurants, etc.)
  • Health (improve fitness and nutrition)
  • Relationships (for family and friendships)
  • Romance (for stengthning committed relationships)
  • Shopping (for retail therapy)
  • Sports (for sports lovers)
  • Travel (for travel buffs)
  • etc.

All businesses need to distinguish themselves from the competition.  By determining your target audience, knowing what will attract their attention, and differentiating yourself from other inns with meaningful brand stories (with your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide), you can feature reasons why potential guests should escape their current circumstances to experience a variety of pleasant experiences that all begin with a stay at your place of hospitality.  This is how to easily brand your bed and breakfast inn.

Need help branding your bed and breakfast inn?  Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free phone consultation.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Do You Know What Makes Your Inn Stand Out?

balcony of chairs and tables with view of trees and water

 

 

What makes your inn stand out? Does it have a great view like the picture above?  It is critical to know what makes your bed and breakfast different from the others in your area. What types of guests do you attract?

 

Be sure to promote your unique features to potential guests on your website, on social media, in blog posts, and in the directories you are listed in.  Are you the #1 rated bed and breakfast in your area? Have you won a bed and breakfast recipe contest?  Are you one of the sponsors of an upcoming local event?

There are many things that you are already doing or could start doing that could attract the right kind of guests you are looking for.  It may have to do with what is in your local area, what types of amenities your B&B has, the policies upon which you run your business, or your attentive concierge services and warm hospitality.

Here is a list of ways to stand out:

  • Beach or waterfront property?  Ask your guests to share their photos online. Alternatively, ask the public to share their best pictures of relaxing in the sun to enter a photo contest to win a gift certificate to stay at your inn.
  • Eco-friendly bed and breakfasts can have a page on their website devoted to their environmentally safe practices and awards.
  • Game rooms?  With their permission, share photos of guests playing your games (ex: air hockey, chess, horseshoes, Scrabble, etc.).
  • Gift shop? Offer guests attractive items to purchase with your logo on them (such as decorative soaps, coffee mugs, aprons, and maybe even your own cookbook) so they are reminded of your inn every time they see or use the items.
  • Gourmet breakfasts so delicious they prompt guests to write great reviews about your inn.  Ask those who rave about your food to post on online review.
  • Handicap-accessible inns can show their ramps, bathrooms, ground floor rooms, and (if applicable) their elevators.  With guest permission, share pictures of trained guide dogs who have visited your inn.
  • Historical inn and/or unique antiques? Share photos and stories of the original family members that lived at your historic inn.  Share photos of the gorgeous antiques safely displayed throughout your inn.
  • Kid friendly?  Show pictures of rooms or suites that are suitable for families.  Write blog posts about local family attractions.
  • Library? Attract more guests by sharing pictures of your library and by featuring a local author who will be speaking at an event (in or around) your bed and breakfast.
  • Luxurious amenities (such as a pool, hot tub, or spa) should be featured on your website and in your social media.
  • Mountain inns can share photos of majestic views as well as promote local activities such as hiking, skiing, and zip-lining.
  • Mysteries? If you host murder mysteries, share pictures of your event (such as your guests dressed in costumes) on your website, blog, and social media.
  • Packages? Feature tickets to popular local attractions (such as a theater or amusement park) and/or gift certificates to local fine dining restaurants.
  • Patriotic bed and breakfasts can display their country’s flag and offer a discount to those on active military duty and to veterans.
  • Pet-friendly bed and breakfasts can show pictures of pets at their property and take about their pet policies (including where pets are allowed to go).
  • Restaurant? Bed and breakfast inns with their own restaurant can feature photos of seasonal events (like Thanksgiving Day) as well as social events (like private parties). Regularly blog about popular signature dishes or feature the chefs and write about their culinary training and experience.
  • Retreats hosted at your inn?  Notify the media.  This is especially important if the person speaking at the retreat is famous or notable in their field.
  • Settings that are breathtaking, peaceful, and gorgeous should be shown in pictures to attract more guests.
  • Tea time? Whether you have a dedicated tea room open to the public or specific tea times only for your guests, promote tea time with pictures of your tea table settings and food as well as guest events like social hours or book clubs.
  • Vegan or vegetarian bed and breakfasts can show pictures of delicious, hearty looking meals that are (surprisingly) within those diet restrictions.
  • Weddings at your inn?  Display pictures of places where the ceremony and reception can be held on the property.  With permission, share pictures of happy couples and of related events like vow renewals and elopements.
  • Wine tastings? Whether you own the winery or offer a package for your guests to tour local wineries, describe the experiences that guests will have as well as share photos (with permission) of guests touring vineyards.  If transportation is provided during tours, be sure to mention that as well.
  • Yoga is a great way for your guests to become stronger and more relaxed.  If you regularly offer yoga on site to your guests, be sure to share that on your website, in blog posts, and in photos on your social media.

Share your excellent ratings, reviews, and status.  This is not the time to be modest since your inn is your livelihood.  Link to your Trip Advisor rating, share guest reviews, and proudly put on your website if you belong to Select Registry, a bed and breakfast association, and other elite groups.

No time or desire to manage your online marketing? Please contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.  We can put a plan in place that will make your inn stand out!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages

memorable guest packages

Please attend the webinar, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages.” This is scheduled for Wednesday November 16 at 2 pm. All members of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International may register to attend.

How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages: Regardless of the number of rooms your inn has, every innkeeper can profit from designing memorable packages for their guests.  Since guests do not want to “work” to put together a great vacation, you can coordinate things on the front end (before they arrive) so your guests can relax and enjoy their experience. Guests are willing to pay more for things to be planned in advance for them.

In this webinar, we will discuss creative ways to put packages together using your knowledge of your inn’s local area and by partnering with local businesses including restaurants and attractions. This is extra income that is there for the earning and for the satisfaction of pleasing your guests who will no doubt return again soon because of their memorable stay.

You Will Learn:

  • What It Means To Be Memorable
  • 5 Essential Questions To Ask Before Designing a Package
  • 10 Types of Packages and What They Can Include
  • Don’t Forget To Add “The Fine Print”
  • and much more!

Enjoy hospitality photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography‘s images throughout the presentation.  Marcus travels across the country to take pictures of bed and breakfast inns, hotels, restaurants, and food.

With his talent for lighting, Marcus Berg is able to capture what is outside a window from inside a room. Marcus is easy to work with and will makes very flattering pictures of fine accommodations and cuisine.

memorable guest packages

 

This webinar, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages” will be recorded and I will add the link to this webinar once the Professional Association of Innkeepers International posts it on their website.  Innkeepers interested in contacting me can use the contact form on my website. Thank you.

 

Food image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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