Tag Archives: blog posts

How To Finally Stand Out From The Crowd

Anomaly Book Cover next to large orange game piece with little white game pieces behind it

 

 

Want to stand out from the crowd? The book Anomaly: How to Finally Stand Out From The Crowd by Zack Miller tells us exactly how to do that.

 

 

An anomaly is defined as something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. The author advises us not to be afraid to do something different than others. Being different is what gets us noticed. When we stand out, people want to see what we’re all about.

Offer some free content to your ideal guests (your target market) in exchange for their name and email. Find creative ways to stand out to them. They will stay on your e-mail list if they feel they are receiving value from you. Emails should be short, sweet, and to the point. If you do not follow up, nothing will happen.

Stay consistent in the way you communicate. Your relationship with your guest (or potential guest) should not end after they leave your accommodations. You can continue to reach out to them via email (as long as they do not unsubscribe). By sending a regular email (such as weekly or bi-monthly), you are teaching your following to expect something.

Your content is unique because it is from your point of view. Take inventory of the content you already have (website, blog posts, social media, and so on). Your best content should be given away and consistently promoted.

What other kinds of content can you offer? According to Miller, the most important thing is producing content people crave and engage with.

Promote any past wins relevant to your hospitality business. This could be your award-winning recipe or your leadership in a B&B association.

Create a content calendar and automate your social media. Schedule when you want to post and note which keywords, hashtags, and phrases you will use for your content.

Write down the questions you are asked by guests and potential guests. The questions you receive may come from email, over the phone, in person, and through social media. Take the top questions and create content around them.

By asking questions, you can learn a lot. Let the market guide you as to what you offer your guests.

Display your awards, media recognition, association memberships, inspection rating, average online travel review, and much more to attract new guests. Add their logos to your website and social media. Prominently display your achievements for guests to see when they enter your bed and breakfast inn.

A simple handwritten “thank you” (such as thanking them for being your guest) can go a long way towards keeping their visit with you top of mind. Send them home with some homemade goodies, a coffee mug with your inn’s logo on it, or something else that makes you more memorable.

When guests are booking their rooms with you, do you make it easy for them to add extras? This could be add-on items like roses and chocolate, or even bigger items like guest packages.

By regularly adding blog posts to your website, you are sharing fresh, relevant content that makes you more visible in online search engines. The longer a guest stays on your website, the more likely they are to book a room or a private event with you.

By not doing what everyone else does, you will stand out and not be lost in the crowd. Tell the story you want your followers to know about you. The more they can learn about you, the better your chances of them becoming a customer.

Display your positive testimonials on your website and in social media. This can mean the difference from a guest choosing you over your local competition. Learn from bad reviews and promote good reviews. Publicly respond to every review (since they took the time to leave a review). Also, other readers will benefit from reading your responses.

Read reviews of your competitors to learn what they are doing, see what their guests are posting, see ways you can improve your own business. You must be conscious of the customer experience from the moment they arrive until they leave.

Feeling overwhelmed and/or you’d rather focus on your guests? Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging. During our first conversation, I can get to know more about you, your inn, and your future vision for your hospitality business. You are welcome to ask me questions as well.

I successfully manage the online marketing of bed and breakfast inns (Bed and Breakfast Blogging began in 2013). I am a Vendor Member of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. I provide my clients with consistent and effective blogging, emailing, and social media marketing as well as hospitality consulting. Together, we will choose what services are best for you.

 

Catapult Your Business Growth with Gift Cards

Large home with tall trees around it

Did you know you can catapult your business growth with gift cards?  Bed and breakfast gift cards work well for both innkeepers and guests.  Individual inns as well as B&B associations offer gift cards or gift certificates for purchase. The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI) makes their gift certificates available in $50 increments and guests can use them at any of their member inns.

Special Occasions for Gift Cards:

  • Anniversaries
  • Birthdays
  • Employment appreciations
  • Holiday gifts
  • Honeymoons
  • Retirements
  • Surprising a loved one
  • Thanking a friend

Make sure you clearly communicate the the terms and conditions of your gift certificates and gift cards to those who purchase them.  You may restrict guests from using their gift certificates in combination with other offers, additional discounts, or third-party promotions.  Your place of hospitality may also exclude their use for group services including accommodations and catering for weddings and other large functions.

Be sure to state in writing that all property specific policies, including deposit, minimum stay, and cancellation policies still apply.  You may want to add that no blackout dates apply. If there is an expiration date, please state that directly on the gift certificate.  Give guests the option of allowing money left over to be put toward future stays.

Consider offering a discount on your gift certificates or gift cards during the holidays.  Promote that they make great presents for those who are difficult to shop for!

Reasons Why We Should All Love Gift Cards:

  • Gift card recipients have the freedom to choose when they visit (as long as it is before it expires), the reason for their stay (they could save it for their birthday or anniversary), and even their choice of which inn (in the case of B&B association gift cards)
  • Gift givers do not have the usual stress involved in choosing a gift especially for the hard-to-shop-for people in your life
  • Saves time (no need for givers to drive all over the map to find the perfect gift and these are great for last-minute shoppers)
  • Saves money (givers decide the amount you want to give and stay within their budget)

If your inn or association offers gift cards or gift certificates, be sure to dedicate a web page to provide information and list all the necessary details.  Allow people to purchase your gift cards or certificates directly from your website.  Be sure to promote your gift certificates in blog posts (with their permission, share stories about guests who used gift cards).  Don’t forget that social media is a great place to announce that your inn offers gift cards.  Gift cards are a great way to catapult your B&B business growth!

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 To Accomplish Your Bed and Breakfast Goals

your bed and breakfast goals

 

 

 

Consider writing down your bed and breakfast goals for next year.  Use the famous SMART acronym to make decisions.  This will help you accomplish your bed and breakfast goals.

 

Specific: Make sure that your goals are very specific.  First, ask yourself some questions.

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What types of repeat guests would we like to attract?
  • Are guests coming to our local area for a specific reason or activity?
  • What types of local events in our area attract guests?
  • What do guests tell us they like about my inn?

 

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to know if you have reached them. Quantifying your goals gives you something to strive for.

 

  • By what percentage do we want our occupancy rates to go up?
  • How many more B&B packages could we sell this year?
  • What number of local business partnerships do we want to add this year?
  • How much money could we set aside to sponsor a local event?
  • How many private events should we host?

 

Attainable: Goals need to be reachable to motivate you do achieve them.  Setting impossible goals does not help you.  Make it a goal that is a stretch but doable.

 

  • How many blog posts could we do this year?
  • How many e-newsletters would we produce?
  • What social media campaigns could we do?
  • Do we need to change our reservation software to give us better results?
  • Should we join a bed and breakfast association?

 

Relevant: Goals need to be suitable to what your inn and your local area offers.  Represent what your guests can expect from their stay with at your bed and breakfast.

 

  • What inn amenities could we promote?
  • Do we have any of the following: a restaurant, a gift shop, or a spa?
  • Do we have excellent local entertainment venues or other attractions?
  • Do we have up-to-date pictures of our bed and breakfast and food?
  • Could we support a local cause that has an event?

 

Time bound: Giving yourself a deadline makes your goals even more real.  Vague goals do not equal results.

 

  • What are the due dates for our blog posts?
  • How many calls to potential local business partners do we make each month?
  • By what date should our bed and breakfast website be redesigned?
  • When do we need to finish this renovation project?
  • No later than what date should we put up our new bed and breakfast sign?

 

Success does not happen by accident, but by dedication and SMART goal planning.  What goals does your inn have for the coming year?  Feel free to comment below with what your bed and breakfast would like to accomplish.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

January Holidays B&B Inns

Celebrating January holidays at B&B inns can attract more hospitality business.  Both big and small,  there are special holidays throughout the year.  Some holidays are officially observed (like Thanksgiving) while others are just for fun (like April Fool’s Day).

january holidays

 

Depending upon where you are in the United States, the month of January can be really cold yet beautiful.  It is a time for reflecting on and making decisions to improve your overall life.  It can also be about honoring those who have made a great impact on the world like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

January Holidays

 

Jan. 1 New Years Day

  • Keywords: Happy New Year, New Year’s Day, January 1st, 1st Day of the Year
  • Themes: fresh start, new you, resolutions, commitments, goals, dreams
  • Example: New Years Eve Special

 

Cobblestone Bed and Breakfast of Birchwood, Wisconsin celebrated the New Year with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, noise makers, and hats.  That sounds very festive!

Example: New Years Eve Dinner or New Years Eve Package

 

Each New Years Eve, Orchard Inn of Asheville, North Carolina hosts a decadent 7-course dinner. The night begins with hors d’oeuvres at 7 pm and then dinner at 8 pm. Then guests raise a glass to the New Year with a complimentary glass of French champagne. 

Guests who chose their New Years Eve package (for the 2015-2016 calendar change) received 2-nights accommodation, breakfast each morning and dinner on New Years Eve as well as a choice of dinner on December 30th or January 1st.

 

 

january holidays

St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument in St. Augustine, Florida

Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Day

 

  • Keywords: MLK Day, Martin Luther King Day, Civil Rights Leader
  • Themes: freedom, respect, equal rights, unity, peace

 

 

 

 

Example: Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast of St. Augustine, Florida is promoting FREE admission into Castillo de San Marcos Fort on Monday, January 18, to honor the memory of where Dr. King himself walked.

Example: Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast of Durham, North Carolina, named by Black Enterprise magazine as the number one black-owned bed and breakfast in America, promotes their local area’s Annual MLK-Black History Month Parade.

 

Promote your bed and breakfast by celebrating more holidays throughout the year.  Have the appropriate decor (such as New Years’ noise makers) to make your inn more festive.  Consider hosting a dinner or encouraging your guests to attend local events (such a parades) in your area.

Become known for celebrating amazing holiday festivities (like these January holidays at B&B inns) throughout the year. This attracts visitors to come again to experience your hosting of another holiday.

 

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

Bed and Breakfast Promotions

bed and breakfast promotions

Bed and breakfast promotions include marketing special deals and packages throughout the year. These opportunities include various holidays, seasons, and other special times.

This can be a chance for your bed and breakfast to stand out and show its own personality.  Innkeepers who are creative and thoughtful can really improve the experiences of their guests.

 

The benefits of staying at a bed and breakfast include your guests getting a break, reducing their stress, and focusing on strengthening their relationships.  Guests also experience the beauty of your local area as well as enjoy the luxury of your gourmet breakfasts and plush amenities.

We have talked about the advantages of offering guests special packages.  Now we will concentrate on developing specific promotions.  You can entice with discounts (lower price), complimentary services (free massage or tasting hour), and free upgrades (such as rooms with more amenities). 

Create a Sense of Urgency and Give a Call-To-Action:

  • Hurry!  Offer ends…
  • This weekend only!
  • Back for a limited time!
  • Last chance to…

Your bed and breakfast promotions can be put on your website and blog as well as social media and email marketing.  If you assign promo codes, you can track how they found about the promotion.  A bed and breakfast can have the same promotion, but give it different promo codes depending upon where the guest saw it.  For example, if it were a patriotic holiday promotion (Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veteran’s Day), it could have the following

Festive PROMO CODES to Identify Where They Saw Your Promotion:

  • “Red, White, and Blue” (website/blog)
  • “Let Freedom Ring” (Facebook)
  • “Home of the Brave” (Google+)
  • “Star Spangled Banner” (Twitter)
  • “Lady Liberty” (Pinterest)

Guests Enjoy Holiday Promotions Throughout the Year:

  • New Year: New You (could be yoga retreat or vegetarian B&B)
  • Be My Valentine
  • At the End of the Rainbow (St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Celebrating Mom and Dad
  • Thanksgiving Getaway
  • December to Remember

Season Promotions Could Be Titled:

  • “Spring Forward” or “Have a Spring Fling”
  • “Summer Sun Adventure” or “Dog Days of Summer” (for pet friendly B&B’s)
  • “Fall Back in Love” or “Autumn Leaves”
  • “Winter Wonderland” or “Ski the Slopes” (for ski lodges)

Promote During Special Times:

  • Last Minute Promotions (keep rooms consistently booked)
  • Midweek Discounts (encourage guests to stay during the week)
  • Weekend Deals (popular time for guests to visit)

Bed and breakfasts that have blogs can write a blog post to explain more of the fun details associated with your specific promotion.  The fresh content from regular blog posts offers a great way to become more visible online.  Greater online visibility means not only more web visitors, but also a consistent source of regular bookings. Innkeepers who do not have the time for (or interest in) writing a blog can contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Tips

 

visual storytelling tips

 

This is the last of the series of blog posts discussing the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio.  This features their smart tips for social media photography.

 

 

Visual storytelling tips and social media photography tips:

  • Up your resolution to the highest resolution possible
  • Collages need to be of similar resolution
  • Divide your images into thirds either horizontally or vertically
  • Align your image slightly off center to make it more engaging
  • Variety matters, use a range of angles and setups
  • Take more pictures than you think you need
  • Frame your shot with less cluttered backgrounds
  • Use close-cropped images
  • Work the angles
  • Shine bright with lighting and filters
  • Show don’t sell
  • Celebrate occasions
  • Share great quotes
  • Include photos related to your company’s lifestyle
  • Inspire through the use of images by showcasing your company’s lifestyle, values, and opinions
  • Show how your products and services contribute to the greater good
  • Encourage emotion by featuring a sentimental side when appropriate
  • Propel action into a still image
  • Sprinkle in humor and have a little fun
  • Embrace creativity
  • Not all pictures have to have only one item
  • Go behind the scenes to make your customers feel like part of your brand

This is the conclusion to the blog series about the book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  I highly recommend this book.  I literally took twenty pages of handwritten notes from information in this book!  A special thank you to the authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of their book.  I am not being compensated for this review, I just really think this book is great any business looking to grow their online marketing.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Twitter

visual storytelling Twitter

The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand is a fantastic online marketing book for businesses.  Authors Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina)and Jessica Gioglio (@savvybostonian) do an excellent job of giving practical advice that businesses can apply to better market themselves online.  This particular blog post focuses on what the authors tell us about Twitter.

 

Twitter is an innovative marketing tool as well as a keen way for businesses to connect with their audiences and provide quality customer service.  In fact, of all the social media platforms, Twitter is currently the most popular with Fortune Global 100 Companies.

Super Twitter Statistics:

  • More than half of all links shared on Twitter are images
  • Over 460,000 accounts are created every day
  • 20.6 million adults in the United States access Twitter at least once a month
  • 177 million tweets are sent every day
  • 24% of Twitter users check Twitter at least once a day
  • 54% of Twitter users are male and 46% are female
  • 46% of users are aged 18-34, so a high percentage of young people
  • 67% of users more likely to buy products from brands they follow on Twitter

Smart Twitter Capabilities:

  • Companies that use Twitter gain twice the number of leads each month that their non-tweeting counterparts
  • Twitter cards make it possible to attached media experiences to tweet that link to your content
  • Tweets that link to participating websites can be expanded by users to show a whole range of media
  • If you add the code on your own site, you can determine what sort of content will be shown by a Twitter link
  • Users interested in a particular offer or promotion will be able to fill out a field on the card
  • That field links their existing information, allowing them to quickly register

Savvy Twitter Strategies:

  • Develop your company’s voice
  • Tweet around several key passion points
  • Provide company news and updates
  • Offer unique deals to your Twitter followers
  • Give your clients (and potential clients) excellent customer service
  • Know what you want your followers to associate with your brand
  • Give them reasons to follow your company
  • The photos and videos you share should integrate with your overall strategy
  • Show a more relaxed side to your brand
  • Each tweet should be able to be understood on its own
  • Mix up your content
  • Ask questions to spark conversations
  • Use links to articles, photos, videos, and blog posts
  • Retweet your followers
  • Find out what your followers are interested in and share that
  • Use hashtags (#) to join in bigger conversations on a topic or start your own (#)
  • Use calls to action including RT (retweet)
  • Consider the locations and time zones of your audience
  • Use Promoted Tweet or Trend features to support your key messages

Given the popularity of Twitter and its capabilities, it makes sense for businesses to follow these social media strategies in order to promote their business and provide excellent customer service.  A special thank you to authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of the content in their book.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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