Tag Archives: brand

Do You Know What Makes You Different From Your Competition?

different from your competition

 

Businesses always have competitors, so do you know what makes you different from your competition? Do you clearly show why bed and breakfast guests should stay with you and NOT another local inn or a hotel? 

No matter what kind of B&B you have, you can emphasize your specific amenities, strengths, and accomplishments. Examples include:

 

  • Accommodating to Guests’ Dietary Restrictions
  • Art on Display and/or Guests Creating Art (with Instructor) During Their Stay
  • Bikes Available for Guests to Use During Their Stay
  • Breakfast Delivered to Your Room
  • Business Amenities: High Speed Internet, Desks, Electronic Charging of Devices
  • Community Outreach, Local Volunteer Service, and/or Sponsoring a Cause 
  • Consistent (and Exceptionally High) Online Reviews from Guests
  • Culinary Classes or Retreat for Your Guests or Your Own Cookbook
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Station
  • B&B Farm with Animals to Pet and Products (Such as Goat Cheese)
  • Fresh Floral Arrangements in Guest Rooms (Part of a Package)
  • Game Room with Pool Table, Ping Pong Table, Chess, etc.
  • Gardening Awards for Incredibly Beautiful and Well-Maintained Grounds
  • Gift Shop with Coffee Mugs, T-Shirts, Postcards, etc.
  • Gourmet Chocolate and/or Chocolate Desserts with Hot Cocoa or Coffee 
  • Green Leader in the Hospitality Industry
  • Guest Packages Customized for Specific Interests and/or Occasions
  • Host Elegant Private Events Like Parties, Retreats, Receptions, and Weddings
  • Indoor and/or Outdoor Pool for Guests to Use
  • Library of Books and Other Media Available to Your Guests
  • Local Love from Other Local Businesses (Receiving Word of Mouth Referrals)
  • Logo That Is Memorable and/or Catchy Slogan for Your Inn
  • Luxurious Spa or Private In-Room Massage Service
  • Modern Inn with Modern Decor and Amenities
  • Movie Theater Screening Room
  • Only Historic Bed and Breakfast in Your Town
  • Partnership with a Tour Guide Company That Picks Up Your Guests
  • Picnic Lunch Option for Your Guests (Can Be Part of a Package)
  • Plenty of Free Parking Available to Guests and Well-Lit Inn at Night
  • Private Wine Tastings or a Complimentary Social Hour with Wine and Cheese
  • Professional Photography of Your Inn and The Food You Serve Your Guests
  • Restaurant Inn Open to the Public (Not Limited to Your Overnight Guests)
  • Strong Online Social Media Presence 
  • Tickets to Local Concerts or Events (For An Additional Fee)
  • Won a Local, Regional, or Even National Best Recipe Contest 
  • Yoga and/or Fitness Focused Inn with Classes for Guests

When you know HOW you are different from your competition, then you can be sure to communicate your message of uniqueness to attract even more guests. Be sure to feature what makes your inn different in regular blog posts as well as in social media. This is a successful way to position your own brand. Make your B&B the obvious first choice for those looking to stay in your area!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Managing Your B&B Reputation

Managing Your B&B Reputation

Managing your B&B reputation is more important than ever in this fast-paced world of easily accessed online information. Whether bed and breakfast innkeepers monitor it or not, people are talking about their inns. Do you know what others are saying about your bed and breakfast?  Do you look at reviews written by your previous guests? Conversation goes on whether or not you participate in it.  You can’t afford not to know what is being said about you and your inn!

According to Trip Advisor, 93% of people find reviews important when determining where they want to stay.  This is why receiving positive feedback from satisfied guests is so critical.  Every effort should be made to reduce negative reviews and improve the reputation and appeal of your place of lodging.

Online reputation management means monitoring and influencing the image of your property throughout the internet.  Places of hospitality should focus on review sites, social media, and search engine results.  People from all backgrounds and all over the world use the internet for online travel research before booking their accommodations.

B&B Reputation Management Tips:

  • Monitor all feedback avenues regularly
  • Spend most of your time listening and paying attention
  • Read everything travelers are saying about your B&B on OTAs & review sites
  • Set up a Google Alert for the name of your B&B and other relevant keywords
  • Communicate why people should recommend your brand vs. your competitors
  • Know what messages about your brand you want guests to share
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for guest feedback during their stay
  • Answer all questions in a timely manner
  • Respond with an open mind to comments
  • Engage with sincerity and authenticity
  • Take all precautions to prevent negative events from occurring

Owning a hospitality business means you need to actively protect your image.  In the event that your reputation management escalates to crisis management, ignoring negative guest comments does not make them go away.

Actions To Protect Your Hospitality Brand:

  • Identify the naysayers and respond promptly
  • Make the appropriate apologies and explanations
  • Seek to positively solve their problem
  • Isolate them so the conversation becomes more personal, but far less public
  • Talk in a one-on-one private discussion to find the solution to their problem
  • For every zealot trying to hurt you, your loyal guests are ready to defend you
  • Consumers will generally “shout down” detractors who are way off base
  • Reputation terrorists often base their arguments on feelings vs. facts
  • Have an escalation plan in place for excessive bashing in multiple forums
  • Pick your battles and tactfully respond to criticism
  • Always take the high road

Gathering a lot of mostly positive feedback will increase your visibility because guest reviews will be distributed efficiently on social media as well as booking platforms. At the same time, you can avoid high provision fees by getting people to use your website and your booking engine.  A high rating means your reputation is on a good level, automatically driving demand for your B&B and creating more revenue for you and your employees.

The key is to be attentive and responsive to guests in person, on the phone with callers, and online with those asking questions or making comments.  If you do not have a blog already, considering adding one so that people can get to know the details about you, your inn, and your local area. 

Managing your B&B reputation is critical to the success of your bed and breakfast.  Our elite reputation management service tracks comments on review sites (like TripAdvisor and Yelp), gives you tips to encourage more positive guest reviews, and we prevent (and defuse) reputation crises so you maintain your reputation for superior hospitality. Contact Bed and Breakfast Blogging if you would like to know more about it! 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Fantastic Fill in the Blanks Social Media

blanks social media

 

Fantastic fill in the blanks social media can definitely attract more traffic to your website.  People love to use their imagination and share it with others online.

Do you remember Mad Libs? Those books filled with one-page stories filled with blanks that invited you to insert your own keywords? They were  invented in 1953 by Leonard Stern and Roger Price, who published the first Mad Libs book themselves in 1958.  It turns out that  these guys were ahead of their time in recognizing the power of the ‘blank’.

 

Fill in the blanks social media can prompt people to think about activities they would like to do and places they would love to visit.  For example, Disney posted, “If I could spend a day with a Disney character, I would choose _______.”

This is a great way to encourage creative responses as well as to promote engagement with your posts and tweets.  The blanks are essentially ‘platforms’ for people to share their creativity.

  • My favorite way to relax after a long hard day is to _______.
  • _______ always makes me feel inspired.
  • The best afternoon snack of all time is _______.
  • My favorite board game is _______.

These types of posts often garner fun and short comments, which then encourage your audience to react and interact.  Share a great photo and a good fill-in-the-blank sentence to inspire your audience to engage with you and your brand.

Twitter Fill in the Blank at bandbblogging Spring

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Fill-in-the-blank posts feel incomplete until they’re engaged with. People love filling in blanks, and the most effective fill-in-the-blank posts are the ones that let fans share their ideas.

Make fill-in-the-blank posts and tweets relevant to your fans and the space you’re working in to see the best results.

Use fill-in-the-blank posts as a two-pronged engagement tactic: interact with your online community and get to know them better for future marketing campaigns.

Use the post tactic in conjunction with a specific event, such as a holiday.

Fill in the blank contests are great as they have the potential to actually get people thinking. The contest consists of a sentence of paragraph, and your fans are asked to add their own unique perspective by, obviously, filling in the blanks.

Fill-in-the-blanks are similar to questions.  They are simple and create engagement.  Some samples of these are:

  • My favorite social media site is _______________.
  • I’ve lived in ___________cities in my life.
  • I laugh every time I think about ______.

Have fun with these, but one piece of advice is to be careful that you don’t leave the blank too open ended for a potentially bad response. Be careful what you make a fill in the blank because people can turn it ugly.  That is what happened when the German grocery chain posted this:

“I became an ALDI-lover when I tasted _______ for the first time.”

Tweet out a straightforward question that’s easy to answer.  When questions are short and simple, it’s easy for followers to respond because they don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about their answer or trying to fit a longer reply into 140 characters (or fewer if there is a hashtag).

Fill-in-the-blanks social media gets your followers thinking and you challenge to them to show their creative side. The key to making fill-in-the-blank tweets work for your company is to relate them to your followers’ interests.  Then you will have success!

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Start With Why You Do What You Do

start with why you do what you do

 

Start with why you do what you do. Every single business on the planet knows WHAT they do and some know HOW (their unique selling point), but very few can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do, according to Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Us To Take Action

 

Sinek argues that companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. WHY looks deeper than external factors. For example, the popular Apple brand capitalizes on the lifestyle, imagination, passion, innovation, empowerment and aspirations of Apple users.

It is not about telling people about what your brand makes or provides, instead, it is about communicating what your organization believes in order to connect with your target ideal audience. Emotionally connect with your guests and start a movement that you believe in.

 

Possible Bed and Breakfast WHY’s:

  • Business-friendly: to accommodate individuals and groups who are there for business (either at the inn or in the local area) by providing the resources and conveniences necessary to make their stay as efficient and enjoyable as possible
  • Eco-friendly: to encourage environmentally friendly practices to protect and sustain a high quality of life for all living creatures
  • Family-friendly: to enable families to comfortably travel and stay in overnight accommodations together as well as experience local family dining and entertainment
  • Romantic: to strengthen the passion, romance, and closeness of couples as they experience activities such as an inn’s spa amenities and room service
  • Urban: to offer guests many activities to do at your inn (like games, movies, reading) and in your local city (such as shopping, art, and theater)
  • Vegan/Vegetarian: to promote a specific diet lifestyle yet also show guests (who may eat differently) the benefits of committing to a particular eating plan
  • Waterfront: to provide relaxing amenities so guests can make full use of your waterfront property and have the ultimate vacation experience

Great organizations keep their WHY clear year after year. Their strategic marketing and training of employees goes a long way into developing a consistently, clear, and strong WHY.

If you start with why you do what you do, make it obvious to guests the deeper reasons WHY your business exists in the first place. This makes it more likely that your guests will return year after year.

Include an “About Us” section on your hospitality website. You can also reveal more about yourself (and your inn) when you write blog posts. Answer any of the following questions:

  • How did you become an owner/innkeeper today?
  • What is your background? (family, education, work experiences, travels, etc.)
  • What is your big WHY? (the deeper reasons you host guests)
  • What do you hope to accomplish as your dream/legacy?

When you reveal more of yourself to others, it helps them know, like, and trust you. We all do business with those we know, like, and trust. Win the hearts of your guests by telling your compelling true story. Start with why you do what you do.

Note: I receive Amazon Affiliate commissions from purchases made through the Amazon link.

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Everybody Writes: Infographics

everybody writes infographic

 

This wraps up our series of posts about Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.  Ann offers practical infographic creating tips that we will illustrate with an excellent bed and breakfast industry infographic.

 

But first, just what is an “infographic”?  Infographics are expressed graphically via drawings, pictures, maps, diagrams, charts, and more and are all held together with a coherent visual theme and typically published as an image file.

According to Ann Handley, the best infographics express rich objective data in a more accessible and engaging way:

  • Checklist or resource
  • Compare and contrast study
  • Evolution of a movement, demographic, or industry
  • Illustration of the state of some business sector or function

Have the following characteristics:

  • Utility: entertaining, educational, intrinsically useful, applicable to your audience
  • Data: based on facts (not opinions); uses credible data and credible sources
  • Story: have a hypothesis and a narrative at their core
  • Logical sequence: organize your information so that it flows logically; the images and text need to make sense together
  • Great design: color, typography, illustrations, animation, videos, charts, text
  • Quality control: make sure your infographic is free of errors
  • Promotion: the goal is to drive attention to and interest in your brand
  • Shareable: make your infographics easy to share in social media

The infographic shared in this blog post was produced by Little Hotelier and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  First, they share the statistics that the B&B Industry in the United States has an estimated worth of $3.4 billion.  The core of this starts with the estimated 17,000 inns in the United States and then branches out to all of the product and services needed:

  • Real estate
  • Insurance
  • Hospitality
  • Furniture
  • Food and beverage
  • Cleaning
  • Safety
  • Heating
  • Cooling

The median performance:

  • Occupancy rate: 43.7%
  • Average daily rate: $150
  • Revenue per available room: $58

everybody writes infographic

The infographic tells us that the typical inn has between 4 and 11 rooms with 6 being the average number of rooms and the average size is 5700 square feet.

94% have private baths and 93% offer free high speed wireless internet.

Types of inns:

  • Suburban 5%
  • Urban 23%
  • Village 43%
  • Rural locations 29%
  • Historical designation 36%

everybody writes infographic

Their infographic portrays amenities at most inns both in the common areas and in the guest rooms.

Amenities in Common areas:

  • Internet
  • Magazines
  • Hot/cold beverages
  • Board games
  • Fireplace
  • Televisions
  • Refrigerator
  • Newspapers
  • Telephone
  • Cookies, cakes, candies, and fruit
  • Fresh flowers

Amenities in Guest rooms:

  • Internet
  • Magazines
  • Televisions
  • Fireplace
  • Luxury bed linens
  • Robes
  • Premium branded toiletries
  • Jetted tubs

everybody writes infographic

Their infographic ends with a statistic about the inn owners.  The percentage of inn owners that are 72% are couples, 18% are individual females, 5% are individual males, and 5% are non-couple partnerships.  Also it lets us know that 79% of owners live on the premises.

everybody writes infographic

A big thank you to Ann Handley, Little Hotelier, and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  If you would like help with your online marketing, please contact us at Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

Note: I receive Amazon Affiliate commissions from purchases made through these Amazon links.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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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.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Visual Storytelling: Responses

visual storytelling responses

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, authors of the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand remind us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice online. Companies need to identify common occurrences, both positive and negative.  It means looking for opportunities to create visual storytelling responses all around us.  Some strategies include:

 

  • Understand the most important factors that can influence sales and customer leads
  • Weather may be an important theme to craft content around
  • At key times of the year, companies can announce awards, rankings, events, speeches, partnerships, and make other announcements
  • Understand the most frequently asked service inquiries and comments, both positive and negative
  • Develop a robust content library to allow time for real-time opportunities
  • The best storytellers play off their audience responses to hit the message home
  • Extend the life of conversations and engagement as long as it is relevant
  • Look at the content fans are sharing each day

While on the topic of user generated content, there is a higher barrier to engagement if it is not natural for fans to share visual content.  Reward sharing behavior with a campaign, contest, and/or rewards.  Look for themes in the most common types of photos, videos, hashtags, and sentiment.

Choose a clear call to action such as a unique hashtag available across all social media channels.  Make full disclosure to customers how and where their photos and videos will be shared.  Highlight examples to show a range of creativity.  Give rewards and recognition by having an “image of the week” or randomly sending a thank you.

Customers can share their own content through videos shared on social networks like YouTube, Instagram, and the Vine.  Look at your content calendar to determine which video(s) will help tell your visual story in a way that other media cannot.  Think about your target audience, desired end goals, and what resources are available.  Evaluate the needs of your audience and show off your personality.  Mix up the content to a variety of different types and lengths of videos. Common videos include:

  • Announcements
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Case studies
  • Celebrity partnerships
  • Community involvement
  • Company overview
  • Demos
  • Event highlights
  • FAQs
  • Goals
  • How-to
  • Live streams
  • Office tours
  • Parodies
  • Testimonials
  • Video blogs
  • Visual portfolios

Fan shared content as well as company made videos can show another side to a business. The key is to make the most of what customers are saying about you.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Visual Storytelling: Shaping

visual storytelling shaping

 

According to 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, companies need to do visual storytelling shaping.  Each piece of content needs to have a clear theme and point of view as well as a take away message for the reader.

 

Content needs to be aligned with who you are as a company: voice, personality, and values. Once woven together, these themes shape your story.  It is important to list your goals and determine how visual content can help achieve them.  Ask yourself, if your company were a person, what would it look like in real life?

Embrace social media’s more personable, human side.  Look for the most commonly discussed conversation themes from your online consumers.  Shape your story and identify major themes to craft your visual content mix.  Look at your goals, company voice, and customer feedback by social media platform.

Determine Your Visual Content Mix:

  • The magic is in the mix to keep storytelling fresh
  • It allows you to deliver more personalized content to target audiences across different platforms
  • Evaluate your desired frequency per platform for posts, tweets, pins, etc.
  • Have a formula and clear plan of what steps you will take
  • Frequency varies by company and by social media channel
  • Quality content always trumps quantity and volume
  • Content must be interesting, important, and relevant to your audience
  • The usual shelf life of a tweet is considered an hour at most
  • The shelf life of a Facebook post is around 24 hours
  • Prioritize by social media platform the most important content themes that go into crafting your visual story
  • The mix needs to balance what is important from an ongoing visual storytelling perspective with goals, current events, questions, and general conversation from your customers
  • Content goals will likely change each month depending upon how much news your company has or tweets your making in response to fan engagement
  • Content should aim to be mostly upbeat, fun, motivating, and engaging
  • Outlining content themes makes it easy to identify what messages will be best conveyed as photos, videos, infographics, presentations, etc.

Authors Walter and Gioglio remind us to be listening and responding to what is being said about our company as well as learning the most commonly asked questions.  When we know that, companies can better respond to their own target audience.  This means setting goals and developing a strategy.  Our content will adjust in response to real time as we get live social media feedback.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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