Tag Archives: needs

Secrets To The Heart of Hospitality

vase of 3 red roses, book cover "The Heart of Hospitality", red heart-shaped chocolates, red welcome mat

Let’s get to the heart of hospitality. We feature Micah Solomon’s book “The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets.” Treat a guest as your only guest by focusing on their needs. Never stop believing in the importance of the individual guest and the individual guest interaction. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a guest feel cared for.

Hospitality should appear effortless and spontaneous to the guest yet service standards and systems need to be in place. When resolving any hospitality issues, be sure to apologize (even if you are not to blame), review the complaint with the guest, fix the problem and follow up to ensure that they are pleased with how it was handled. Document the problem in detail for your records and to have a plan in place for similar challenges.

People are the heart of hospitality. People who are hospitable have certain personality traits:

  • Conscientious of the details
  • Empathy
  • Energetic
  • Exceed expectations
  • Follow through
  • Integrity
  • Kind
  • Optimistic
  • Positive
  • Thoughtful
  • Warm
  • Work ethic

Strive to build a culture of saying “yes” to the guest. Even to questions or requests the customer has not voiced yet. Create “wow” moments that delight guests, make them want to share their story, and come again. Never say “no” without offering a “yes” at the same time. Offering an alternative solution and an apology makes it easier for the guest to accept. Pledge to commit to delivering excellence every day. What matters today is all about unique, memorable, and personal experiences.

Guests today are looking for what they perceive as genuine hospitality experiences. Focus on authentic, unscripted conversations and interactions with your guests. Instead of saying, “you owe us this amount of money” you can rephrase it by stating, “our records indicate a balance of this amount of money.” Hospitality requires the ability to adjust, depending upon the situation and the guest.

Find ways to share the authentic and uniquely local aspects of your area with your guests. Consider providing guests with your very own custom-made travel guide. Guests desire to live the life of a local.

Your challenge, with each guest, is to envision what an enjoyable experience looks like and to put together the pieces that make this happen. Pay attention to smaller touch points. More and more customers are looking for experiences, to participate in something they can look back on with pride. Balance novelty with consistency.

Finally, Micah Solomon, states that providers of accommodations should focus on how your hospitality experience is shared with two or more guests. Build opportunities for social sharing into the customer experience. In hospitality, a brand often serves as a backdrop to the story of each customer’s life. What matters is getting to the heart of hospitality.

 

How One Man Immediately Improved His Company

Author Marcus Sheridan next to his book cover: They Ask You Answer

They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer by Marcus Sheridan is a must read for business owners, including those in the hospitality industry.  Mashable rated this the #1 marketing book to read in 2017.  It is the true story of how one man immediately improved his company.

 

Mr. Sheridan, a co-owner of River Pools and Spas, in the wake of the 2008 economy struggles, witnessed his business rapidly declining.  Rather than see his company go bankrupt, he decided if he simply answered the questions that people were asking about pools on his website (writing articles and making videos), he could become an authority and go-to resource that people could trust.  According to Marcus, the business we are all in is trust.

We must understand what our customer is searching for, asking, feeling, and fearing. We must not be afraid any and all questions.  First, he brainstormed all of the questions he received about fiberglass swimming pools. Then he spent all his spare time answering these questions.

He emphasizes that business owners should take on more of the “teacher” mentality than the sales role.  Sheridan advocates against sticking your head in the sand (like the myth that ostriches do) and hoping your problems go away.  Rather, he argues that we should do everything we can to earn our customer’s trust.

He uses CarMax as an example of a company that admitted their industry (selling used cars) had no consumer trust, and gave examples of what they did to earn back people’s trust:

  • One price is listed for vehicles (nothing more and nothing less)
  • Sales team is given the same commission regardless of what vehicle is sold
  • A five-day money back guarantee to those who purchase their used cars
  • An intensive inspection process that all their cars go through
  • A CarFax vehicle history report that details its history of repairs
  • Listing the Kelley Blue Book Value with all their vehicles

This eliminated the four major fears that used car buyers have:

  • Dealing with the salesperson
  • Buyer’s remorse
  • Buying a lemon
  • Not getting ripped off

Brainstorm every single reason why someone would not buy from your company (or for the case of innkeepers, stay at their B&B).  How many of these reasons have been addressed by your website?  Sheridan said that most companies never take the time to properly address the biggest fears of their consumers.  For example, bed and breakfast inns should educate their potential guests on how they are different from hotels.

Marcus advises that it does not matter what you or I think, but what the consumers think, how they behave, and what they expect.  Are we willing to meet their expectations? Write out the specific messages you want to get across to your most ideal guests.  Figure out what your guests are thinking, feeling, asking, and going through. Assume your potential guests already know about all of the alternative places to stay in your local area.

Sheridan very boldly made a list of the pluses and minuses of his competitors’ pools.  Because he stayed objective, and based his information on facts, he was able to gain a lot of trust from others.  Some of his competitors were surprised (and even thankful) that their brands were mentioned in his blog post.  Of course, others were disappointed at his reviews, and a few even threatened to sue him, but because it was based on fact there was nothing they could do. By explaining the pros and cons of each type of swimming pool, he let the consumer decide what was best for their needs.  The key is the willingness to objectively address his competition and become a trusted source in his industry.

Marcus urges business owners to have a steadfast commitment to helping consumers make the most well-informed purchasing decisions as possible.  Sheridan asserts that the most successful companies have a very clear understanding of the fact that they are not a good fit for everyone.  Focus only on the group that matters–the customers–and not the competition or guests that are not a good fit for what your inn offers.  Be a resource to help them make the best decision for themselves.  Distill the facts into simple-to-understand words that travelers find helpful.

Every time someone consumes a piece of your content (video, article, etc.), the trust factor continues to rise.  In fact, with River Pools and Spas, they discovered that if someone read thirty or more of their website pages before their initial sales appointment, they would buy from them 80% of the time whereas if they didn’t read thirty or more pages, the average closing rate in terms of appointment-to-sale was only 20%.

The moment your prospect sees you as more of a teacher than versus a salesperson, the amount of respect dramatically increases.  The goal of Google (and other search engines) is to give its customer (the searcher) the best, most specific answer to their question (or need, problem, query, etc.) in that very moment.  Places of hospitality that regularly offer fresh content that answers questions, will get more visitors to their website which can lead to more visitors to their inn.

Did you know that one-third of all time spent online is watching video?  Thus, videos and video blogs (vlogs) can be extremely beneficial.  People care about having their questions and concerns answered.  Sheridan recommends that for those just getting started on adding more content to their website, that they begin with the big five subjects:

  • Cost (focus on showing your value with customized packages)
  • Problems (address problems such as food allergies and handicap accessibility)
  • Comparisons (don’t be afraid to make a list of the pros and cons of your local competitors if they are based on fact)
  • Reviews (feature five-star guest reviews on your website and in social media)
  • Best of (feature the best of your local community: restaurants, attractions, etc.)

I really enjoyed reading this book and I know it will inspire other business owners, especially owners of places of hospitality such as bed and breakfast inns and restaurants.  If you would like a free phone consultation with Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging, I would be happy to speak with you about generating more traffic to your website with a focus on increasing the bottom line of your business.

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

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Responses

visual storytelling responses

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Cedar Cove’s Thyme and Tide B&B

thyme and tidethyme and tide

The fictional Thyme and Tide Bed and Breakfast is featured in Cedar Cove, the #1 rated Prime time drama of 2013.  This television show airs at Saturdays at 8 pm EST on Hallmark Channel USA.  Season 2 premiered July 19 of 2014.

This program starring Andie MacDowell as “Judge Olivia Lockhart” is based on the Cedar Cove books written by bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Bruce Boxleitner & Barbara Niven co-star as “Bob & Peggy Beldon” the innkeepers of the Thyme and Tide B&B.

thyme and tide

Cedar Cove is a small town with endearing characters and a beautiful bed and breakfast.  When Peggy responded to Bob’s question about what was on the menu and detailed for Bob all that she was cooking for their guests, he lovingly spoke into her ear, “this is why you make is so hard for people to go home” as he hugged her. Bob and Peggy Beldon exemplify the many positive traits of innkeepers:

    • Warm, friendly, and showing hospitality
    • Attentive to the needs of their guests
    • Excellent cooks (Peggy grows her own spices)
    • Caretakers of the property (Bob is the handyman)

This popular television program will remind people that bed and breakfasts have the comforts of home and the amenities of hotels. If you are not watching Cedar Cove already, I highly recommend it. You can even have Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove books on your book shelves for your guests to read!

For those of you who have see this television show, what do you think of it?  I would love to read your comments!

Pinterest Strategy

Pinterest strategy

 

 

While Pinterest is fun, it is important that businesses form a Pinterest strategy centered around the feedback they have received from other pinners.

 

 

Strategy:

  • Develop a strategy based on your analytics
  • Tailor your boards to the needs and interests of your followers (based on your Pinterest analytics)
  • Showcase your pins in an organized way that makes sense
  • Find out who is pinning what and why
  • Measure your impact and focus on boards performing the best
  • Create a variety of different boards that each target certain words
  • Cross-promote on other social media platforms (ex: Twitter, Facebook)
  • Include hash tags (#) in your board descriptions
  • Invite specific types of travelers into your bed and breakfast (ex: couples, business people, girlfriends, etc.)
  • Determine if you want to be pet-friendly, kid-friendly, or offer special events such as weddings or retreats
  • Look at how other B&B’s (with a large number of followers) use Pinterest

Pinterest can help virtually any business establish brand and get the word out.  What you get out of Pinterest depends on what you put in it. With the proper Pinterest strategy, guests will be able to peek into your personality, style, loves, and aspirations.  Guests will feel like they know you before they arrive!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Innkeeper Personality Trait: Adaptable

innkeeper personality adapt

 

Innkeepers of bed and breakfasts need to have the wonderful personality trait of being adaptable.  According to the dictionary, someone who is adaptable is, “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.”  You never know what will happen when you run a bed and breakfast.

 

Bed and breakfast owners will need to be adaptable as they react to both new guests and new situations. Each guest is different.  They have their own unique personality, reason for staying, expectations of their stay, and objectives for their visit.

It is best when you have your initial phone conversation, to determine the purpose for their stay.  This way you can meet their own unique needs.  For example, you can give the honeymooners the romantic visit of their dreams.  You can give the business traveler, the peace and quiet they seek.

There will always be new situations that come up: a sudden cancellation, an unexpected repair, a couple lost trying to find your bed and breakfast. When you show that you are adaptable to what comes your way, your guests and employees will appreciate that and your B&B business will flourish.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Hospitality of Hosting

hospitality of hosting

A gracious host is very welcoming and immediately sets you at ease when you arrive. Hospitality is the relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. This includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It is important, as bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers, that guests feel at home in your home.

Hospitality is associated with etiquette and entertainment. It involves showing respect for one’s guests, providing for their needs, and treating them as equals. The word hospitality derives from the Latin hospes, meaning “host”, “guest”, or “stranger”.

 

Hospitable Things To Say

  • “Make yourself at home.”
  • “What brings you here to stay with us?”
  • “Do you need more fresh towels or pillows?”
  • “Can I get you anything else?”
  • “Feel free to select from our DVDs and books to take back to your room during your stay here.”
  • “Would you like to know about some fun things to do in our area?”
  • “Your homemade fresh-cooked breakfast will be ready at….”
  • “Would you care for some tea this afternoon?”

As an innkeeper, you will need to know the fine art of how much to interact with your guests. Be available to answer their questions, but also be sensitive to their need for privacy.  Take your cue from the guests themselves since each person is different.  This way you tailor your hospitality to match the needs and wants of your guests. That is the hospitality of hosting!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography