Focusing on the guest and their experience is utterly essential for bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers. Now more so than ever. According to Mark Schaefer’s Book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, people trust other people more than they trust companies. In other words, what someone else says about your B&B is weighted more heavily than what you say about your inn.
The Guest Will Always Win
The theme throughout his book is that the consumer will always win. Thus, businesses (especially in the hospitality industry) must be focusing on the guest and their satisfaction. According to Mr. Schaefer, “There is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution for every company and every industry.” We also need to adjust to a world where customers (guests) do most of the marketing.
People Want To Feel Loved
Your guest is your most important advocate. Companies (including hospitality businesses) will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf. People trust people. Thus, it is important to focus on consumer-generated marketing such as recommendations, conversations, social media posts, referrals, and reviews after their stay. Feature your guests as heroes of your brand. Build an emotional connection bordering on love.
People Want To Belong
People have a deep need to belong. Therefore, promote a sense of community and belonging. Share stories that serve, inspire, and entertain. According to Schaefer, the greatest companies are fans of their fans. Focusing on the guest will set your accommodations apart. Give people the attention they crave to receive. There is tremendous value in your face-to-face guest interactions. When you help people feel like they belong, then you will reap the benefits.
People Want To See Proof Of The Value You Provide Them
People trust businesses making a difference and helping others. Offer value people can see, touch, and take pride in. However, the focus should be on storymaking, not storytelling. Your most loyal guests become your brand ambassadors. In order to do this, you must know and understand your guests’ deepest self interests. Anchor your marketing strategy around that knowledge. Make your guest the hero.
People Care About Your Purpose
Guests care about your purpose and values. Did you know that the main driver of customer loyalty is “shared meaning”? A shared meaning is a believe that both the brand (the inn) and the consumer (the guest) have about values or broad philosophies. People want to be associated with brands that stand for something. Brands that are forces for change.
You have to choose what’s right for you, and most important, what’s right for your guests. Be clear on your values. Furthermore, know how your values relate to your customer’s why. Taking a stand to show your values does not have to be expensive, risky, or complicated. Be what people want and need. Above all, this means focusing on the guest.
People Want To Be Respected
To have a human connection, there must be consensual marketing. Moreover, in this day of robo-calls, unsolicited emails, pop-up ads, and spamming, it is especially important to build trust. In other words, come alongside your customers in a collaborative way. Measure your success by their successes. Furthermore, study your reviews to have a better understanding of what people like and don’t like about your business. Focus on what your customers love.
A Manifesto For Human-Centered Marketing
- Stop doing what customers hate and discover what customers love
- Technology should help your company be more compassionate, receptive, fascinating, and useful
- Claim a market space and help people belong to it (you can’t own customers, a buyer’s journey, or a sales funnel)
- Never intercept and never interrupt; earn your invitation
- Be relevant, consistent, and superior by building trust into everything you do
- Be a fan of your fans by making them heroes of your story
- Transcend the public’s inherent mistrust of companies through relentless honesty
- Play an active role in your community
- Marketing is never about YOUR why; it’s about YOUR GUESTS’ why
- The most human company wins
12 Ways To Effectively Reach Your Audience
- Customer experience: focus on your guest by building an emotional connection into their experience
- User-generated content: encourage testimonials, engage with customers, and provide extra touches
- Word-of-mouth marketing: establish stories about your B&B that are authentic, interesting, relevant, and repeatable; show how you make your guests’ life better, easier, more interest, and exciting
- Peer observation: brand items since people often make purchasing decisions based on what they see their friends buy
- Peak moments: provide guests with peak memorable experiences they can share with others
- Psychological ownership: allow guests to customize their visit, so they feel invested in their stay
- Experience marketing: offer fun, interactive, and mutually beneficial interactions with attention to detail (such as sharing the history of your historical inn with a full property tour)
- Reviews: use the comments and ratings of guests to identify what needs improvement and focus on the things you know they love
- Influencer marketing: borrow the trust earned by an influential person with their engaged audience since they can raise awareness of your accommodations and show the benefits that come from your hospitality, amenities, and local area
- Social media: share testimonies, reviews, photos and videos of happy guests, awards, your social media presence, and your calls to action to connect to and serve
- Content marketing: produce content people look forward to receiving; create conversations, consideration, and social sharing of that content
- “New” cycles: contribute interesting news to promote social sharing; create something worthy of discussion (including events and announcements)
Peak Moments at Magic Castle Hotel
As an example of “peak moments”, author Mark Schaefer tells readers to consider one of the top-rated properties in Los Angeles, according to TripAdvisor. While the pool is small, the rooms are dated, and furnishings and wall decor sparse, Magic Castle Hotel offers several peak moments.
For example, they have a cherry red phone mounted near the pool, and when guests pick it up someone answers, “Hello, Popsicle Hotline” so you place your order, and minutes later, someone on staff wearing white gloves delivers your popsicles to you poolside on a silver tray for free.
In addition, other bonuses include a complimentary Snack Menu, Board Game Menu, DVD Menu, and they do unlimited loads of your laundry for free! Schaefer’s point is that customers will forgive some underwhelming things as long as you “deliver a few magical peak moments.”
What Really Matters
Most importantly, focusing on the guest is what matters. In fact, their words about you have more weight than your words about you. Thus, develop an ongoing relationship with your guests. Share behind-the-scenes images and information. Establish an emotional connection with your audience. Mark Schaefer reminds us to be more human. After all, the most human company wins!