Tag Archives: hospitality

Not All of Your Guests Visit For Happy Reasons

Book Cover "When Life Gives You Pears" by Jeannie Gaffigan holding purple umbrella, raining pears, comedian husband Jim Gaffigan and their 5 kids

 

 

Your guests visit your bed and breakfast for a number of reasons. Perhaps your local area has popular restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, events, and attractions. You may have a strong reputation for good hospitality and luxurious accommodations. Your location may be the perfect stopping point on their long road trip. Of course, guests arrive to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, retirements, and more. All of these are happy reasons for their stay.

 


We Never Know What Crisis May Come

However, not all of your guests visit for happy reasons. You never know what struggles they and their loved ones may be enduring. Jeannie Gaffigan (wife of stand-up comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, and mother to their five children) certainly could not have predicted the health challenges she would have to go through. Fortunately for her, she had a strong support network of family, friends, and prayer warriors.

Life-Threatening Challenges

When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People released in the beginning of October is now the #1 bestselling comedy book on Amazon. While she faced life-threatening challenges (including a brain tumor the size and shape of a pear), she used her experience as an award-winning comedy writer and wife (to a famous comedian) and mother (of five) to poignantly share her journey (with humor mixed in).

She Gives Credit Where Credit Is Due

No one could have predicted the challenges she would have to overcome. She thanks the medical professionals for saving her life. She also gives credit to her husband Jim for his leadership in organizing around the clock care for their five kids and having at least one visitor with her at all times during her lengthy hospital stay. Plus, she needed major medical care and required physical therapy when she was finally released from the hospital. She is thankful for the prayers of loved ones and to God for the miracle that she survived.

The List of Do’s and Don’ts

Given her medical struggles, she (with the help of her sister Lizzy) made a DOs and DON’Ts list for family members helping in the hospital, including:

  • Don’t talk about delicious food if patient can’t eat
  • Do arrange room and organize personal property since the patient can’t move
  • Don’t say, “It’s not so bad.”
  • Do express empathy.
  • Don’t complain about not getting enough sleep.
  • Do organize the cards people have sent.
  • Don’t bring flowers into ICU; give them to the nurses’ station

She also made a list of rules for herself including: Do love your big family and be kind to them when they are health–they will save you when you are sick; Don’t make a rules list about your family and publish it in a book. (That made me laugh!)

Her Relationship With Comedian Husband Jim Gaffigan

Not only will you get to know Jeannie, you will learn how she and Jim came to know each other and read what she did the first time she saw where he was living as a single guy on the road a lot (it involves a lot of cleaning). She ends Part III of her book with, “The oldest of 9 children, the ultimate caregiver, marries the youngest of 6, the ultimate care-getter. A match made in co-dependent heaven.” (If there is any doubt as to who she was referring to, she was the oldest sibling in her family and Jim was the youngest sibling in his family.)

A New Appreciation For Her Life and Family

Their love for each other, their children, and their larger families is very evident when reading this book. In fact, she was surprised at how well Jim really learned what he needed to in order to take care of her medical needs at home. She realized that she should live in the moment more. Not everything in their house needs to be labeled and organized. She’s decided she will say yes more often when her children want her to read them a story, for example. Faith, family, and health are her highest priorities. Also humor!

Hosting Guests 

Innkeepers, while your guests may not share with you the sad reasons for their visit, most of you are very perceptive as to the level of interaction a guest would like to have with you. In fact, many of your returning guests come back because of the hospitality, sensitivity, and grace you show when your guests visit.

 

There Has to Be a Better Way

Moonshot! multiple doors gray doors with one red door

 

There has to be a better way. According to John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi and Apple, in his book Moonshot!: Game-Changing Strategies to Build a Billion-Dollar Business, adaptive innovators deliver an incredible customer experience on a quality level never experienced before.

 

The power of customer ratings, customer recommendations, and customer complaints cannot be overstated. In addition, consumers also have continuous contact with their friends on various social media sites like Facebook.

Sculley recommends that business owners have a passionate commitment because present day opportunities are boundless. Napoleon Hill said, “Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.” We are all capable of so much more.

Sculley advocates for people to be flexible and be willing to look at alternative ways of doing things. For example, those receiving Green Leader awards in the hospitality industry are those who find ways to conserve more and waste less in order to be more environmentally friendly for the greater good of the earth.

Asking the right questions is much more valuable than having knowledge (knowing the right answers). Really listening to the suggestions of your guests is also key. If you hear or read the same guest comments over and over, there may be some truth to what they are stating.

Every “moonshot” begins with a noble cause, a higher calling, a mission that can make a real difference in people’s lives. It is important to know why you do what you do. According to author Simon Sinek, communicating what your organization believes in allows you to connect with your ideal audience.

“There has to be a better way” is the philosophy that Mr. John Sculley lives by. There is always a more effective or efficient solution to the way things are currently being done.

The opportunity to innovate always starts with customer experience. Exceptional customer service with the idea that “there has to be a better way” leads to adaptive innovation at it best.

Getting customers (your guests) to buy the products and services is only the beginning of the relationship. The transaction, Sculley states, is not the destination, but the launching point of a long journey. Personal service is pivotal to the success of many businesses.

Sculley argues, “If you want customers to remember you with profound regard, then you must go out and study their needs and desires with intensity.” Do you have your guests fill out any surveys to give you feedback? What other things could you do to learn more about delivering high guest satisfaction?

Success often hinges on asking the right questions and nowhere is that truer than in creating an exceptional customer experience. Sculley quotes famous Chef and Restauranteur Wolfgang Puck, “We’re not in the food service business, we’re in the hospitality business. It’s all about giving the customer an unforgettable experience.” Deliver a positive, memorable, and matchless customer experience.

The future belongs to those who see possibilities BEFORE they become obvious. Sculley said that before Uber existed, people wondered how to get better taxi service. Entrepreneur Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Business owners need to have an intense curiosity and ask questions. Am I actually open-minded to what my competition may be doing? Is the market ready for what I’m trying to do?

Sculley says that you don’t really understand something until you understand it more than one way. Having multiple ways to think about a problem and process information is also important. Look at other industries and imagine a similar scenario playing out in your competitive world.

The hospitality industry was disrupted by AirBnB. They thought outside of the box to come up with their idea. I am certainly not in favor of the corners cut by AirBnB, but what could you do to help positively change the hospitality industry as we know it?

Monitor negative comments and suggestions with intense attention. There is no substitute for talking with guests one-on-one. Companies and business owners that can adapt will be the big winners.

John Sculley encourages people to be curious, be optimistic, be inspired by what’s possible, but also focused on what’s probable. Develop a context for good ideas so they may actually become valuable. Learn in layers, keep a notebook with you for ideas, and never be afraid to borrow a good idea as long as you attribute the source.

Be committed to finding a better way and never give up in finding it. Prepare, like athletes with hours of practice, and question why things are done in a certain way. Put the customer at the center of your business.

Mr. John Sculley ends his book telling his readers that survival is driven by adaptation and that change is happening faster than ever. Zero in on your most challenging customer problems. Be obsessed with continually creating exceptional customer experiences. Be perpetually governed by the principle that “there has to be a better way.”

 

The Best Hospitality is Personalized to Guests

Rookwood Inn, guest room, innkeeper, bath tub

 

The best hospitality is personalized to guests. Owner and Innkeeper Amy Lindner-Lesser, of The Rookwood Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts, attributes the longevity of her hospitality business (22 years) to her continually adapting to the needs and wishes of her guests. Part of her B&B logo says, “Where memories are made.”

 

She says it is the responsibility of both the guests and the inn’s staff to be sure that wonderful memories are made. “We have guests, a couple who came the first fall we owned The Rookwood Inn and they have stayed more than thirty-seven times since then.” She has many repeat guests.

As both a MA licensed Justice of the Peace and a Universal Life Church (ULC) Minister, Amy performs interfaith and intercultural weddings. She takes the time to learn about the couples’ individuality, how they met, what they share, their ideas for their special day, family traditions, and wedding likes and dislikes. She strives to make this the dream wedding for every couple. She also enjoys working with more mature couples for whom this is their second or third wedding. “These are the type of couples who prefer our more intimate and unique setting for their wedding.”

I like that she features a room comparison chart, on her website so guests can easily make choices among the inn’s twenty rooms on three floors. It lists the type of fireplace (11 guest rooms), type of bath (all have showers; some have separate clawfoot tubs or a shower combination with tub), MP3 dock (8 guest rooms), porch or deck (4 guest rooms), TV (10 guest rooms), bed size(s), sleeper (4 guest rooms), location (3 floor levels), and maximum occupancy (2, 3, or 4 guests per room). Since the price varies by season, she does not list that in the chart.

Guest compliments include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Best hospitality around
  • Cleanliness
  • Location (in the heart of the Berkshires on a residential street half a block for the center of town)
  • Walking distance to shopping, restaurants, museum theater; close to Boston symphony

The Rookwood Inn guests come for the culture as well as to celebrate special occasions and for romance. The summer and fall are the busiest times of the year. She also hosts retreats throughout the year. She recently hosted a two-day retreat for entrepreneurs called, “Awakening the Shaman Within” to help them become new people for the new year (she graciously had furniture moved around at their request). She also hosted a retreat for Inn Partners for prospective B&B owners (she provided the needed equipment for them). Amy is accommodating to whatever the needs are and her guests appreciate that.

Amy tells guests, “The only cookie cutters we have are in the kitchen.” Everything they do is customized to best suit the wishes of each of their guests. Guests say Amy and The Rookwood Inn go above and beyond with their extra touches. They offer an individualized experience that hotels lack. The best hospitality is personalized to guests.

How to Have a Better Bed and Breakfast Blog

covered patio with lounge chairs, chair cushions, coffee table, and plants

Want a better bed and breakfast blog? Here are some top hospitality blogging tips to attracting more readers and more business to your inn.

 

Be sure to blog about WHY people visit you. Because it could be for a variety of reasons, I am going to list some possible reasons.  Each of those reasons can be a blog post! Mentally answer the questions as you read on.

 

Your LOCATION could be a big reason as to why guests stay with you. Whether you offer a secluded place for them to get away from it all (a peaceful place for relaxation and romance) or exciting urban accommodations with lots to do (a thriving place for fun and entertainment), your location could be a factor.

  • What, if any, major attractions are in your area?
  • What are the top 3 reasons that people come to your city?

 

Your AMENITIES can play a vital role in why people choose to stay with you. Guests appreciate being able to experience luxuries they don’t necessarily have in their everyday lives.

  • What amenities do you have?
  • Do you list your amenities on your website?

 

Your EVENTS that you host can attract guests. Whether you host private parties, weddings, or other special events, this can attract people to become overnight guests.

  • What events do you host?
  • Do you have a blog post (or web page) about each event you host?

 

Your REPUTATION for hospitality is another compelling reason. Word of mouth can be very powerful as a way to attract new guests. When we have an enjoyable time doing something, it is only natural to bring it up in conversation with another person.

  • What is it about your hospitality that sets you apart from other inns?
  • Do you monitor what is being said about you and your inn online?

 

Your FOOD can be a major pull factor when it comes to attracting more guests. If you are one of the inns that also has a restaurant open to the public, that is another way to become known. First they dine with you, then they decide to become overnight guests. However, those who do not have restaurants can also do extra things like offer 24/7 access to refreshments.

  • Do you have a wine and cheese hour or a special time of the day for tea and goodies?
  • Are you able to accommodate those with special dietary needs?

 

Your PACKAGES can also contribute to why guests decide to stay with you versus your local competitors. Guests appreciate having things already arranged ahead of time.

  • Do you offer packages that include things like event tickets, restaurant gift certificates, local walking tours, etc.?
  • Do you offer themed packages like romance or adventure?

 

Give people a SNEAK PEEK into life at your inn. Many famous tourist attractions like Disney and The Biltmore Estate offer Behind the Scenes tours. You could share pictures, videos, and stories of what happens at your B&B.

  • Share things that ONLY you or your inn has (more details about your guest rooms, previous residents, the current innkeepers, etc.)
  • Share funny things that happen (amusing little pranks staff members pull on each other, or comical things with guests such as two people who don’t know each other yet show up to breakfast wearing the same shirt)

 

Answer frequently asked questions in your blog posts. If you get asked the same questions over and over, how about answer those questions before your guests even arrive at your inn!

  • The number of miles (and estimated drive time) to key points of interest that guests may want to visit in your area
  • How you do breakfast at your inn (time, typical menu options, in-room delivery of breakfast, etc.)
  • Checking in and check out procedures as well as coming and going during their stay with you

 

Creatively add other unique content to your blog posts, including any of the following:

  • Recipes of things you make here at the inn
  • Tips about your local area including restaurants and attractions
  • Your very own Top 10 List that relates to your B&B or local area

 

One of the most important aspects of blogging, is to consistently do it. The search engines reward fresh content by making it more visible online. Plus, you are keeping in touch with people and staying on their radar. Remind previous guest about why they should come back again and compel new people to visit for the very first time.

 

Another strong factor in having a better bed and breakfast blog is sharing pictures and videos. “A pictures is worth a thousand words.” Guests want to know what they can expect before they come to your inn!

 

You are welcome to put a link to YOUR bed and breakfast blog in the comments below and share what works well for you. If you do not have a blog (or do not consistently blog), feel free to contact me for advice.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Managing Your B&B Reputation

white picket fence with greenery and blooming purple flowers

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

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

How To Choose The Right Bed and Breakfast Linens

deep white tub in log cabin with white guest towels

 

As owners of bed and breakfasts, you build your brand based on the quality and level of hospitality you offer to your guests.  This includes guests’ first impression of your place and their individual guest room down to the look and feel of your sheets and bed and breakfast linens.

 

Innkeepers should strive to provide an experience above and beyond their guests’ expectations.  Thus, choosing quality linens for your bed and breakfast is of great importance.  Create an environment where your guests will not want to leave.  This will encourage them to come back as soon as they can return.

Here are some tips to help guide you when selecting your bed and breakfast linens. Before you start buying linens for each bedroom, make note of how many beds you’ll be fitting within each room as well as their respective sizes (twin, queen, king, etc.). Make sure you have extra pillows for your guests as well as a couple quality blankets for each bed.  One blanket can be placed on the bed between the comforter and the top sheet while the other blanket can be put in an accessible guest drawer or closet space.

When choosing the quality of your bed and breakfast linens, ensure that the material is 100% natural content featuring a thread count of at least 500. Consider choosing white to avoid any fading colors. White also has the advantage of looking crisp and clean while giving an airy and welcoming feel to the room.

When selecting your bathroom sets, make sure you select plush, 100% cotton towels with a dense loop. Anything below these quality standards can detract from the guest experience. Also ensure that you have the correct sizes, including bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths.

Coordination is key. Colors should play off each other to give a natural flow from the bedroom to the bathroom.  What matters is the perceptions of each guest. Whatever you end up choosing, make sure the bedroom and bathroom colors complement each other.

Be sure to provide a generous number of towels, to give your guests the feeling of comfort and luxury.  By having an extra amount of linens and towels, they will last longer.  When your towels are plush and sheets are smooth, your guests are more likely to remember their positive experience (including restful sleep) and return to your inn for another visit.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Great Conversation Starters While Hosting Guests

 

partially covered deck with chairs and picnic table overlooking lake with trees

It is always a good idea to have some topics of conversation in mind if you regularly host guests at your bed and breakfast.  Having a mental list of what to talk about means you will feel comfortable interacting with perfect strangers at any time. The biggest secret to being a good conversationalist is simply allowing other people to talk about themselves. Why? It is a subject they probably know well and are comfortable talking about.

 

Since they are likely to be out of town guests when they visit, this automatically gives you some conversation topics, including the reason for their stay at your B&B.

  • Are you celebrating a special occasion(birthday, anniversary, reunion, etc.)?
  • What attracted you to visit us in this area?
  • Does our area have a leisure activity or event you will be participating in?
  • Where else have you been on vacation?
  • What was your most favorite vacation destination so far?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

People love talking about what they eat or want to eat.  Think about the popularity of Food Network and online recipe websites!  Inquire about their favorite foods including breakfast dishes.  During the time they book the room is the best time to find out if they are allergic to any foods or on a restricted diet since you, or your staff, will be cooking for them.  If you realize that question was never answered, take the first opportunity to ask.

  • What is your favorite food?
  • If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • Where do you like to go when you eat out?
  • Do you like to cook? If so, do you have a signature dish?
  • Are there any foods that you would like to try?

If they bring up their family, then it is perfectly acceptable to have a discussion centered around that. Most people love talking about their family.  However, we need to be sensitive to people who may have strained family relationships, family members who are ill, infertility issues, or some other personal struggle in their lives.

  • Do you have any siblings?
  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • Did you have a pet growing up?  Do you have any pets now?
  • As a kid, how did you most like to spend your time?

Another topic of conversation could be about sports.  Since there are so many different sports, it is a safe bet that they, or someone they know, have an interest in sports.  They do not need to be a talented athlete to enjoy watching sports.

  • Do you play or follow any sports?
  • Who is your favorite athlete?
  • How do you like to exercise?
  • What is your favorite sports team?

Ask them about their technology and entertainment preferences.  This can lead to lively discussions about favorites.  Then you can mention (if it is available for them) that you offer a free Wi-Fi connection and/or a book, CD and/or DVD collection available for guests to borrow.

  • What are your favorite TV shows?
  • What kind of movies do you like?
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • Who is your favorite actor/actress?
  • What is your favorite movie of all time?
  • What type of music do you like to listen to?  Who are your favorite musicians?
  • Do you like to read?  If so, what kind of books do you read?
  • What’s your favorite board game or card game?

Carefully ask about work, but try not to make it sound like a job interview.  Remember that your guest(s) may be studying, retired, or “between jobs”.  Also keep in mind your guest(s) may be traveling on business while they stay with you.

  • What do you do for a living? Where do you work (or study)?
  • What was your first job ever?
  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What do you like best about your job?
  • If money was no object yet you still wanted to work, what would be your dream job?

The key is to keep it light. The goal is to build rapport with your bed and breakfast guests.  Stick to topics that are interesting and entertaining to talk about.  Most people are looking for polite and lighthearted topics to discuss–it is wise to avoid controversial topics like politics and religion. Leave them with a great impression so they give you and your B&B a positive testimonial about your hospitality via your online guest book.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How to Find Your Inspiration as an Innkeeper (Part 1)

a kitchen table set with orange juice glasses and breakfast on plates

Wondering how to find your inspiration as an innkeeper? Bed and Breakfast innkeepers each have their own unique story of how they entered the hospitality industry.  Think about how YOU got started as a bed and breakfast owner.  For your own reviewing, write down your own personal story of how you came to be a travel accommodations provider. Consider including your answers to some of the following questions.

Motivation:

  • Do you love cooking for others?
  • Do you like entertaining guests?
  • Do you desire to work from home?
  • Do you need to feel independent?
  • Do you enjoy helping others relax?
  • Do you receive fulfillment from serving others?
  • Do you like recommending things for people to do in your local area?
  • Are you a first-generation B&B owner, or does your family already have a history of hospitality management experience or ownership?

Innkeeping:

  • What do you like the most about B&B innkeeping?
  • What could you do more of? (things you find enjoyable)
  • What could you do less of? (things you dislike doing)
  • Do you have (or have you thought about hiring) part-time employees to fulfill the roles you least like (or are challenged by)?

Niche:

  • What amenities does your inn have?
  • What is your inn known for? (ex: artwork, restaurant, spa, etc.)
  • What in your local area attracts guests to stay for a visit?
  • What type of guests do you (or would you) like to attract?
  • How do you describe your place of hospitality to others (on your website, in your social media, over the phone, and in person)?

There needs to be a match with your motivation for working, your individual talents, and your hospitality niche/ideal guests.  Consider the following 3 hypothetical scenarios…

1) Innkeeper Irene loves cooking for others and entertaining guests. She dislikes anything involving paperwork–especially finances.  Her B&B restaurant is becoming more known in the community. She does not have the time or desire to learn online marketing. How can she keep doing the things she loves (cooking and entertaining) and hire out for other things (financial and marketing)?

2) Bob the B&B owner is very successful with marketing his inn.  His grown children manage the day-to-day operations of their thriving business.  Their occupancy rate is very good, but he is wondering how to earn more income outside of bookings.

3) Shirley & Dale are a husband and wife innkeeping couple. Shirley’s favorite thing to do is to plant and grow flowers and produce in their gorgeous garden as well as to decorate their inn. Dale loves construction and renovation projects (both inside and outside). However, they have a real need for adding housekeeping and kitchen staff (not to mention their need to promote their inn). What can they do?

Please add your comments and suggestions below and watch for Part 2 of this blog post!

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

« Older Entries