Tag Archives: marketing

Why Focusing On The Guest Is The Best Marketing

Book Cover "Marketing Rebellion" by Mark Schaefer

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!

 

Are You Happy With Your Hospitality Business Results?

Bed and Breakfast Blogging's logo and green paper money with white dollar bill sign on it

How often do you think about your hospitality business results? Is there a nagging feeling like you know you need to do something different, but you aren’t sure what? My clients hate relying on online travel agencies (OTAs) for bookings and they hate losing out to uninsured AirBnB properties, but that’s okay because I’m here to help them consistently and easily attract their ideal guests without having to lose OTA commissions.

I also show them how to generate more revenue by offering profitable guest packages (that save your guests time and attract them to your inn) as well as highlighting your local area (since people often choose their location before they choose their accommodations).

I also know how to write content that attracts people to your website, and more importantly, attracts visitors to your bed and breakfast! My philosophy when it comes to marketing your inn is to showcase your unique amenities and your friendly hospitality (what your guests tell you they love the most).

If you’re looking for instant results, we might not be a fit, because in my experience it is consistent effort that leads you to a better bottom line. My clients recognize the value of promoting other local businesses and events and the advantage of being seen in the media and that’s my style, too.

Are you a hospitality provider that wants to consistently earn more revenue? Do you need to improve your occupancy rate? Would you like to offer guest packages? Ready to boost your business like never before? 

This can all be achieved by putting the needs of your guests first. After all, without guests you just have a property. Let me help you grow your business.

My name is Kristi Dement and I have been working with luxury accommodations since 2013. What’s so special about me? I treat every client’s hospitality business as if it were my own. My success depends upon your success.

Use my contact page, call me at (919) 931-6168, or email me (contact@bedandbreakfastblogging.com). I’m here to get you the hospitality business results you want!

 

The Many Benefits of B&B Association Membership

log cabin deck with table and chairs overlooking trees surrounding a lake

 

There are many benefits of B&B Association Membership.  While each bed and breakfast association has their own unique benefits, the following lists commonly offered benefits from such groups.  Innkeepers not belonging to any professional associations will learn why membership is valuable.

  • Advocacy: promoting B&B industry and traveler interests, raising the stature of the state’s hospitality industry, growing the state’s travel economy
  • Affiliations: state tourism department, state travel council, Professional Association of Innkeepers International, etc.
  • Brochures/rack cards/travel guides: distributed at member inns, welcome centers, tourist attractions, visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce, and in response to visitor requests
  • Collaboration: socialize, peer support, share, network, learn, encourage, exchange lessons learned as well as recipes, and enhance the lodging experience of guests
  • Cookbooks: member inns can buy association cookbooks at wholesale and sell at retail for a profit (see some B&B association cookbooks below)
  • Credibility: association membership provides bed and breakfasts with added credibility; licensed, inspected, and approved distinction; passed high standards bed and breakfast checklists
  • Directory: profile information and pictures in online and print directories
  • Discounts: lower cost to related products and services (such as credit card processing, conferences and trade shows, floral arrangements, insurance coverage, membership to other hospitality associations, reciprocal or discount lodging with other member inns, travel deals, and web reservations)
  • Education: foster professional development of members and improve service and professionalism of their staff through annual meetings, experts, featured speakers, round tables, seminars, vendors, webinars, workshops
  • Legal representation: expert support, legal hotline, industry updates, and a better understanding of applicable laws and regulations
  • Lobbying: have a voice in legislative issues, support state’s lodging sector, work proactively with governmental agencies that regulate the B&B industry, produce favorable industry public policy, and champion for safety and security in the hospitality industry
  • Logo: members can use their association logo on their website and marketing materials
  • Marketing: collective advertising, email marketing, e-newsletter, public relations, social media
  • Gift certificate program: reimbursement for association gift certificates redeemed
  • Inspections:  regularly conducted property inspections; evaluated with high standards on specific criteria having to do with safety, comfort, and hospitality
  • Mentorship: seasoned innkeepers can mentor less experienced innkeepers, foster profitability and sustainability
  • Networking: learn from fellow innkeepers and receive their business referrals
  • Partnerships: restaurant and lodging expos; engage in charitable and community endeavors
  • Real estate listings: list of bed and breakfast member inns for sales
  • Reservations: availability calendar, reservations scheduler
  • Travel planner: list of area events, specials, and attractions near each member B&B
  • Website: many offer their members an exclusive web page with photos, contact information, inn names and descriptions, locations, amenities, and specials; links to member website, Trip Advisor and other review sites, social media, and member inn’s blog.

chairs on deck of log cabin overlooking lake with trees

 

There are many advantages to belonging to a bed and breakfast association.  Perhaps the most motivating is making connections with fellow innkeepers and having the accountability and support from your innkeeping peers as well as more marketing opportunities.

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Profit From Designing Bed and Breakfast Retreats

bed and breakfast retreats

 

 

Bed and breakfast retreats can be very profitable for bed and breakfast inn owners. I will be presenting on an upcoming Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) webinar.  Here is the blurb:

 

 

“From dreaming to planning and pricing to marketing, Kristi Dement will show you how to profit from designing retreats at your bed and breakfast.  She will reveal 15 different types of B&B retreats that your inn could host.  Plus, learn several reasons we should all love retreats!”

 

We will discuss:

 

  • 3 Essential Questions To Ask in the Dreaming Phase
  • Understanding the Role of Activities and Breaks
  • Crucial Planning Considerations
  • Option of Working with Outside Professionals
  • Types of Retreats and The Importance of Names
  • Customizing Retreats for Specific Clients
  • Critical Retreat Policies to Have in Place
  • Retreat Pricing Guidelines
  • Structuring Your Retreat
  • Building Retreat Buzz
  • Key Retreat Marketing Strategies
  • Reasons to Love Retreats

 

Throughout the Professional Association of Innkeepers International webinar, I will be sharing the images (like the one above) from talented hospitality photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography.

Click here for the blog post with a link to the YouTube video of my previous PAII webinar called, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages” led by Heather Turner, the Marketing Director for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.

This PAII webinar is scheduled to take place on Wednesday January 25 at 2 pm.  After the webinar, I will provide a link to the presentation right here.  To get more ideas for designing retreats, look at BnBFinder’s website under Specials and then Classes, Courses, and Workshops.

If you can think of another issue for me to address, with regards to designing bed and breakfast retreats, please feel free to comment below.  Alternatively, if you have experience leading bed and breakfast retreats, I welcome you to introduce yourself.  Tell us the name of your inn and where it is located and let us know what has worked well for your bed and breakfast retreats.

How To Let Someone Know About Your Inn

how to let someone know

 

How to let someone know about your inn…there are many ways to do this.  The more creative and original you let them know about your inn, the more likely you will get bookings.  Try answering questions that they will likely want to know.

 

 

  • What do guests love most about your inn?
  • What are you most known for?
  • What makes your inn unique?
  • Why do most people visit your city?
  • What is the best kept secret about your area?

 

It is important to understand why people stay at your bed and breakfast.  There could be many reasons, including some of the following:

  • Your gourmet breakfasts
  • Your warm hosptiality
  • Your ideal location
  • Your thoughtful packages
  • Your reasonable rates

 

how to let someone know

 

Pay attention to your guest comments and feedback. Keep track of guest compliments so you are sure to continue getting that response. On the flip side, make note of negative feedback, so you can make the appropriate changes.  Knowing what guests love the most (and what they don’t love at all) helps you provide the best environment possible to your guests.

 

Are you, your inn, or your area famous for anything?  For example, you could have won a breakfast recipe. Your inn may have received a prestigious award.  You area could be home to the world’s most awesome event.

Be sure to emphasize these accolades in your marketing messages.  Marketing messages can be spoken (e.g. what you tell your guests in person or over the phone), be online (e.g. your blog, newsletter, or website), or be in print (e.g. your sign or your brochure).

It is fundamental that you know what makes your inn so special.  What do you offer that other area accommodations do not?  In marketing, this is called your “unique selling point(s).”

What attracts people to your local area?  It could be one or more of the following:

  • Business
  • Concerts
  • Conferences
  • Festivals
  • Nature
  • Sports
  • Universities

 

In response to the question, “What is your area’s best kept secret?” you could reply in any of the following ways:

  • Tell about a famous local legend
  • Recommend your favorite local restaurant
  • Reveal a local hot spot not commonly known to tourists
  • Reassure them you are not hiding any local area secrets and that you will gladly answer all of their questions to the best of your ability

 

Thus, answering guest questions they want more information on is a great way to let someone know about your bed and breakfast inn.

 

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Easy Ways to Better Understand Your Guests Lifestyles

understand your guests lifestyles

Understand your guests lifestyles to satisfy their unique needs.  The more information you know about your potential guests, the better you are able to target your marketing messages and offer attractive hospitality services.  There is no point in trying to be everything to everyone.  It is rarely possible to satisfy all customers in the same way.  When you know what your potential guests’ values and what motivates them, you are better able to attract them.

 

Understand your guests lifestyles are based on motivations, needs, and wants:

  • Activities: actions pursued for pleasure or relaxation
  • Attitudes: feelings about people, things, or situations
  • Beliefs: trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something
  • Interests: curiosity, attention, or concerns about something
  • Opinions: judgments or ways of thinking about something
  • Values: important and lasting ideals

These lifestyle factors can explain why your audience buys the products and services they do.  There is power in knowing how your prospects make their buying decisions.

How you package and promote your services is a key component of your marketing strategy.  Put together a list of different guest personas you want to attract that is based on what is in your local area, your unique talents, and your amenities.

 

First, ask yourself these three questions:

What is in my local area? This could be anything from college campuses, to concert venues, to national parks, to business conferences.  Once you know what is in your local area, you can better understand your potential guests’ lifestyles.

What are my unique talents?  If you are an official tour guide (local trail and/or hiking tours), a party planner (excellent anniversary parties), a massage therapist (with a spa on site), a vegetarian-only chef (cooking for vegetarians and vegans), then you have a better idea of the lifestyles’ of the guests you want to attract.

What amenities do I provide my guests?  This could be anything from game rooms, to gardens, to hot tubs, to luxurious linens, to indoor and/or outdoor pools, to tea rooms.  Understand what amenities you have that are attractive to potential guests.

 

Then segment your customers into different personas.  For example:

  • Adventurers
  • Antique lovers
  • Art and drama lovers
  • Board game players
  • Business groups
  • Business travelers
  • Class reunion attendees
  • Environmentally conscious people
  • History buffs
  • Hobby lovers
  • Honeymooners
  • Mystery lovers
  • Pet owners
  • Readers
  • Relaxation seekers
  • Shoppers
  • Sight seers
  • Spa lovers
  • Special occasion celebrators
  • Sports spectators
  • Vegetarians
  • Wedding guests
  • Wine lovers

These are easy ways to better understand your guests lifestyles.  Then you can promote your place of hospitality (bed and breakfast, inn, resort, restaurant, etc.) on your website and through social media.

Kristi Dement at Bed and Breakfast Blogging can help you attract more guests.  Click here to contact me and/or feel free to comment below on what you do to attract more guests.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns Association started in 1985.  For over thirty years, they have been dedicated to serving those traveling to North Carolina.  This non-profit, statewide organization recognized the need for an association to ensure high standards in safety, housekeeping, food service, comfort, and hospitality for all member inns.  The traveling public can have confidence in their lodging.

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns is the first state association in the United States to require rigorous inspections as a condition of membership.  To maintain these standards, NCBBI re-inspects member inns every two years. 

 

The Many Benefits to B&B Membership in the NCBBI Association:

 

  • Networking, educational, and marketing opportunities
  • Remain knowledgeable and up-to-date about meeting the needs of travelers
  • Keep up with the latest requirements for state and local laws and standards
  • Show potential guests that they can expect a higher level of service
  • The prestige and credibility of passing their rigorous inspection
  • Regular blog and social media activity
  • Their printed travel planners found at welcome centers, tourism attractions, visitor bureaus & chambers of commerce throughout North Carolina
  • Quarterly newsletters and monthly emails with important industry-related news, alerts, opportunities, reminders, and updates

 

From East to West, North Carolina measures 580 miles. That is more than a day’s drive, so NCBBI encourages guests to stay in more than one region as they travel around our gorgeous state. Based on the topography of North Carolina, the association has assigned three different regions.

 

  • Coastal Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Coast, near the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful beaches, birding, water sports, boating and summer fun.
  • Piedmont Region: to find the perfect B&B in the middle Piedmont region, where you’ll find dynamic growing cities, wineries, universities, golf, lakes and rivers.
  • Mountain Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Western Mountains region, home to the beautiful Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge parkway, the Biltmore Estate, waterfalls, hiking and fall foliage.

 

The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association features specials and packages from member inns on their website.  The specials include for military, veterans, and emergency workers (like police, fire and EMS) as well as last minute guestsInnkeepers also offer creative packages so guests can relax and enjoy their stay:

 

  • Anniversary or birthday
  • Girlfriends getaway
  • Local activities
  • Picnic lunch
  • Romance
  • Spa
  • Wedding
  • Wine and Dine

 

From their website, The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association offer its online visitors an opportunity to purchase their NCBBI cookbook so they can sample the best of North Carolina cooking with their collection of bed and breakfast and inn recipes. In addition to the cookbook, give the gift of memories by purchasing lodging gift certificates (available in $50 increments) that may be used at any NCBBI member B&B. 

 

An NCBBI gift certificate is a thoughtful way to say “thank you” or to surprise someone special. They are also great gifts for special occasions like anniversaries, honeymoons, birthdays, and retirements.

 

The NC Bed and Breakfast Inns website lists North Carolina events (searching either by name, type of event, event date, or venue).   They also provide a way to search for local North Carolina attractions by its name, location and type of attraction, or by a specific local area (within a designated amount of miles).

 

Together you can promote all the wonderful things that your state has to offer its visitors.  You can educate potential guests about everything that comes included when they stay at a bed and breakfast.  You will also have a network of innkeepers with which to ask questions and refer each other business when your own inns are full.  Those are just some of the many reasons why it is important to belong to a bed and breakfast association.

The Art of Social Selling

the art of social selling

 

I highly recommend Shannon Belew’s book called The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Other Social Networks. Belew says the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer.  Marketing has become a two-way conversation with the customer. The art of social selling is based entirely on your ability to build relationships.

 

Did you know that over one BILLION people are active on social networks? Thus, it is extremely important that you know where your customers are hanging out.

Shannon Belew defines “social selling” as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.  This means being more social (listening and conversing about the customer’s needs) and less traditional selling.  The heart of social selling is relationship building.

This book reveals Belew’s ten most important rules for online social interactions:

1) Be genuine: your social networking persona should be an extension of your real persona

2) Listen, listen, listen: to truly hear what the customer is saying so you can present a viable solution you must find and monitor conversations that relate to your prospective customer’s needs, concerns, and interests with the goal of remaining relevant to your customers

3) Be responsive: to customer-related complaints and concerns voiced across social media channels

4) Follow the leader: follow group guidelines, watch how members participate and interact with one another

5) Tailor the conversation: find common ground and share information relevant to your audience

6) Be helpful: offer educational opportunities, general support, and even inspiration

7) Identify the enter and exit signs: know if it is polite to enter the online interaction and make sure to exit gracefully

8) Maintain separation of professional and personal: make sure what you share is suitable for both audiences

9) Be consistent: give people a clear expectation of who you are and what your area of expertise is

10) Admit when you are wrong: be willing to apologize, it is a sign of strength and goodwill

Shannon Belew’s concept of “unselling:

  • Unselling is a process that occurs over time
  • Requires consistent interaction with your prospects via social media
  • This establishes your credibility as a good resource
  • Identify and interact with industry influencers
  • Be a thought leader to build social influence
  • Embrace consultative sales in which you are developing conversations that educate and assist the prospect through the buying process
  • This opens the door to an increased amount of sharing
  • This increases the comfort level of prospects as well as puts you in the role of expert

Belew talks about word of mouth marketing.  Social shoppers are not only influenced by their friends and family, but by perfect strangers, too.  Encourage your happy and satisfied customers to provide online testimonials.  Include your links on thank-you pages and emails. Respond to negative reviews quickly.  Thank customers publicly for their positive reviews.

In this book, Shannon Belew cites a Technorati Report that stated that blogs are the third-most influential digital or online resource and the fifth most trusted resource on the internet.  Blogs are great for sharing on social media.  Plus, points made in a blog post can be posted or tweeted on social media.  Later in the book, Belew gives specific tips about using each of the major social media channels.  This is an incredible resource for business owners.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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