Tag Archives: associations

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

Do You Know What Your Guests Really Crave?

Book Cover: What Customers Crave next to picture of author Nicholas J. Webb

Do you know what your guests really crave? What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint by popular speaker and corporate strategist Nicholas J. Webb gives more insight into the desires of customers.  Mr. Webb explains with customers being able to rate their experiences and express their opinions online so easily, especially on websites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp; there has been an irreversible shift of power from businesses to consumers. There is no place to hide for those who deliver poor products and services because they will be vetted by customers who will share that information throughout cyberspace forever.

Mr. Nicholas Webb argues that we, as business people, first must understand our consumers better and then create relevant experiences to specific customer types.  What does he mean by “types”?  Simply, knowing what customers love and what customers hate.  Make the effort to understand what customer types we serve, and then learn what those types love and what they hate to design beautiful experiences throughout your time together.

5 Critical Touchpoints:

  • The pre-touch moment is when your potential guests are checking you out online and looking at how you maintain your inn.
  • The first-touch moment sets the theme for how your customer will view their experience with you.
  • The core-touch moment represents how you serve them throughout their stay.
  • The past-touch moment is the final experience they have with you so send them off with a memorable good-bye, so they want to come back.
  • The in-touch moment is how you stay connected with them after their experience with you.  Consistently and pleasantly provide them with ongoing value so they willingly want to come back.  This is not the time to be sales-y.

When you go far above what they expect, you have given them a memorable experience.  Listen to your customers.  Read their comments in reviews and in your guest books.  Ask your guests when they book how they found you and if there is a reason for their visit.

Webb advises that you must invent the experiences that fit your market, service product, and customer types. Not sure of your audience(s)? Create a one-sentence mission statement that is powerful and to the point.  It should define the foundation for why you are in business.

The author writes about an experience he had staying at a luxury hotel in San Jose, California.  At the extravagant price he was charged, he expected an extraordinarily high level of service.  He was disappointed with several things:

  • He found a plastic card informing him that he would be paying $29.99 a night for internet service (most B&B inns offer free wireless internet)
  • There was a large Evian bottle with a card hanging from its neck reading, “Enjoy this for $19.95” (B&B inns are known for giving their guests access to free refreshments and goodies)
  • On the back of the remote there was a sticker warning him that if he stole the remote, he would be charged for it (given the unlikelihood of a “remote-control heist”, he said he would forgo the label that insults a customer’s integrity)

Webb points out that when your customers love you, they will buy more and stay longer all while referring their friends and family to stay with you.  However, if you deliver only what your customers expect, Webb states that you will lose your guests to a competitor that wows them.  The “innovation zone” is where you begin to exceed your customers’ expectations.  The better you get at this, the further you will rise.

What gets even better is that your customers will become your marketing machines through social media and word of mouth and you will rapidly build a reputation as the best place to stay in your local area.  Satisfied customers will nurture you with sales, repeat visits, referrals, and incredibly powerful ratings on social media as well as through digital sharing.

Nicholas Webb reminds us that acquiring new guests is much more expensive than keeping current guests.  That is why we should deliver exceptional and relevant experiences to build an excellent reputation across all touch points and to all customer types.

If your price is less than the value customers expect, you will increase sales as well as happy customers.  However, if the price exceeds the value customers expect to receive from you, they will leave in droves.

As you begin to distinguish between customer types, your perspective on how you view customer expectations changes. You can see the world through your customers’ eyes, including what they love and what they hate.

You customers can clue you in to areas that need improvement and tell you how to improve them, which allows you to provide the most exceptional and relevant experiences.  Reward your guests who present ideas on how to improve their experience at various touchpoints.  If customers leave because they are not being properly served, your hospitality business eventually fails.

Mr. Webb advocates for collaboration with people in your same industry since it can add to greater mutual prosperity through an exchange of ideas, experiences, and skills.  This explains why bed and breakfast inn associations are a great resource.  There is strength in coming together as fellow proprietors who want to offer the best hospitality possible.

Your customers can do a complete background search on your business literally in seconds. To stay on top of your business reputation, Nicholas recommends using Google Alerts on keywords that are relevant to your business name, industry, and competition.

Put together a contest encouraging people to specify what they love and what they hate in overnight accommodations.  Reward prizes to the top three people who offer most helpful suggestions (such as a free night’s stay or free room upgrade during their next visit).

Mr. Webb gives practical tips for making an upset customer (guest) a lifelong guest in five easy steps:

  • State to the customer that you intend to listen to them and work hard to make them happy.
  • Know that sometimes you just need to remain quiet while the customer releases steam and talks about why they are upset (if you listen carefully, you can learn what will make them happy).
  • Confirm with them that you heard them correctly by restating it back to them and asking if that is correct.
  • Offer a solution based on what you learned from carefully listening.
  • Follow up on the mistake to make sure you met with their approval (this shows them that making the situation right was a priority for you & your inn).

Great organizations love their customers and want them to be happy.  Businesses get better when companies get better.  Constantly look for ways to reinvent the customer experience by removing pain and adding pleasure.

Always leave your guests wanting more!  Continue to provide exceptional service throughout their stay.  Customer experiences are not just one event, but a series of events.  Think of your last touch as a way to prove to your guests that you love and cherish the relationship.  Then continue the relationship by offering personal, relevant, and valuable information on your website, in social media, and in e-newsletters.

Providing excellent service is vital to those in the hospitality industry.  Mr. Webb stated that one of his clients who operates high-end lodges and resort hotels started having team members take pictures of the guests throughout their stay and a few weeks after guests returned home, they would receive a complimentary and beautifully bound photo album ($40) delivered to them (for less than $20).  Annual re-bookings increased by 78%!

What’s more is that hundreds of customers posted the pictures on their social media which resulted in a 20% uptick in new bookings because of this practice.  Today, guests are also sent a digital photo album to make it easier for them to share their photos on influential social networks.  This proved to be a fabulous idea well worth the investment because of the additional business (from returning guests and new guests).

Taking Mr. Nicholas Webb’s advice, we should discover what our guests love and what they hate.  Of course, this depends upon who we are trying to attract.  What types of guests stay at your B&B?  Are these your ideal guests?  What do your ideal guests love and what do they hate?   Keep track of all of your ideas, brainstorm with employees or others in your industry, and listen to your guests, so you can know what your guests really crave.

The Art of Pinning

art of pinning

 

The art of pinning on Pinterest is visual in nature.  This works very well for visually oriented businesses like bed and breakfasts.  People want to know what your inn looks like and what your breakfasts look like.  Seeing your pins helps them to imagine themselves at your bed and breakfast inn.

 

 

Pictures:

  • Motivate them to plan a vacation to stay at your inn
  • Each picture is worth 1,000 words
  • Are more appealing and stronger than words
  • Pin only images with strong visual content
  • Brighter colors bring more joy
  • Feature just one idea or product in each pin
  • Use descriptive keywords you want to be known for
  • If you resize an image, make sure it is still clear and easy to see

Social media

  • Builds relationships with guests and potential guests
  • Raises the visibility of your bed and breakfast online
  • Gets you ranked higher on Google
  • Finds you business contacts like fellow innkeepers and associations

Remember:

  • Share your story of how you came to be bed and breakfast owners/innkeepers
  • Share information you are interested in and that your followers will find useful (such as travel tips)
  • Educate your audience on the advantages of staying at a bed and breakfast
  • Pin pictures of your bed and breakfast
  • Pin pictures of you amenities such as pool, garden, spa, etc.
  • Pin pictures of your community to give guests reasons to want to stay in your area

Etiquette or “Netiquette”:

  • If you were not the first to pin it, give credit to the original pinner.
  • Share and repin to show you are interested in other things outside your own B&B

Pinterest users become part of a larger community.  When we promote other people’s pins they are more likely to follow us.  That is one of my secrets to the art of pinning and how I grew such a quick following on Pinterest.  You can too!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Murder Mysteries

murder mysteries

 

 

Do you know that you could host murder mysteries at your bed and breakfast? Not real ones of course! Many bed and breakfasts invite guests to participate in a who-did-it type murder mystery.

 

 

The variety of murder mystery options include any of the following:

  • Using written kits with script booklets.
  • Assigning roles ahead of time and providing each guest with lines.
  • Some of the murders occur in previous eras such as the 1920’s.
  • Providing wardrobe options including outfits, hats, and scarves. 
  • Hosting a meal during the mystery.
  • Having participants look for clues in pairs.  
  • Encouraging guests to take pictures to prove their alibis.
  • Having your staff act as characters in the mystery. 
  • Spreading the scenes of the mystery out over the weekend.
  • Solving the mystery in one evening.

Advise your guests:

  • Arrive in plenty of time to settle in and participate.
  • If applicable, to bring their scripts.
  • They can bring clothes and props for their roles (if they know it ahead of time).
  • Inspire your guests to question or point to others with motive and opportunity.
  • Assure your guests that you will not let them fall out of character.

You can market your murder mysteries on your website, in your blog, on social media, and through your associations.  Some bed and breakfast owners even offer a promotion code for guests to get a discount on their room. Your bed and breakfast does not necessarily have to be historic or haunted in order to offer this type of event.  The bottom line is that your guests thoroughly enjoy themselves in the process of solving the murder mystery!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Promote with Packages

promote with packages

 

 

Promote with packages that your bed and breakfast guests can purchase.  These packages may be based on the season, occasion, local area, classes, or the need to feel pampered.

 

 

  • Classes--you may have guests who are attending conferences, workshops, and other learning opportunities at your B&B or near it
  • Local area–has its own attractions, things to do, and events throughout the year
  • Occasion–your guests may be celebrating their wedding, anniversary, birthday, reunion, graduation, or some other significant event
  • Pampering–your guests may like spa services, chocolates, flowers, or dessert for two delivered to their guest room to enhance their memories of their stay at your bed and breakfast
  • Season–you may offer specials during the slow times of your year or offer special holiday packages such as Valentine’s Day

As a bed and breakfast owner, you may make arrangements with local restaurants, attractions, florists, spa facilities, and more.  There is power in creating affiliations and associations with complimentary businesses to yours.  You both can profit from these mutually beneficial arrangements.

Never underestimate the power of packages.  People love to feel special and know that they will be making vacation memories they will fondly recall.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

New Year’s Eve Resolutions

new years eve resolutions

Do you have any 2014 New Year’s Eve resolutions for your bed and breakfast?  Here are some possible improvements or new beginnings with your online presence:

1. Your Website:

  • What are its strengths?
  • What are its weaknesses?
  • What opportunities come about? (business)
  • What threats does it have? (competitors)

2. Your Blog:

  • Do we have one?
  • If so, is it attracting more visitors and more bookings?
  • Do we need to hire someone to blog for us?
  • Can that person blog about a variety of issues related to innkeeping?

3. Your Social Media Presence:

  • Facebook–does our B&B have a Business or Fan page?
  • Twitter–do we regularly tweet?  do we know what to tweet?
  • Pinterest–do we post pictures of our B&B?  pictures of our food?
  • Linked In–do we have a profile as an innkeeper on Linked In?
  • You Tube–do we have videos promoting our B&B?

4. Your Membership in Associations & Organizations Giving Web Presence:

5. Your Public Image and Community Outreach:

  • Conferences–do we attend conferences on Innkeeping?
  • Business meetings–do we hold business meetings at our B&B?
  • Weddings–do we offer weddings?  If not, could we?
  • Music–do we host concerts or recitals?

So think about your website, blog, social media presence, associations, and public image & outreach goals for 2014.  Kristi Dement, of Bed and Breakfast Blogging, wishes you a prosperous New Year full of wonderful guests that stay at your bed and breakfast!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography