Tag Archives: offer

Do You Know What Your Guests Really Crave?

Book Cover: What Customers Crave next to picture of author Nicholas J. Webb

Do you know what your guests really crave? What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint by popular speaker and corporate strategist Nicholas J. Webb gives more insight into the desires of customers.  Mr. Webb explains with customers being able to rate their experiences and express their opinions online so easily, especially on websites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp; there has been an irreversible shift of power from businesses to consumers. There is no place to hide for those who deliver poor products and services because they will be vetted by customers who will share that information throughout cyberspace forever.

Mr. Nicholas Webb argues that we, as business people, first must understand our consumers better and then create relevant experiences to specific customer types.  What does he mean by “types”?  Simply, knowing what customers love and what customers hate.  Make the effort to understand what customer types we serve, and then learn what those types love and what they hate to design beautiful experiences throughout your time together.

5 Critical Touchpoints:

  • The pre-touch moment is when your potential guests are checking you out online and looking at how you maintain your inn.
  • The first-touch moment sets the theme for how your customer will view their experience with you.
  • The core-touch moment represents how you serve them throughout their stay.
  • The past-touch moment is the final experience they have with you so send them off with a memorable good-bye, so they want to come back.
  • The in-touch moment is how you stay connected with them after their experience with you.  Consistently and pleasantly provide them with ongoing value so they willingly want to come back.  This is not the time to be sales-y.

When you go far above what they expect, you have given them a memorable experience.  Listen to your customers.  Read their comments in reviews and in your guest books.  Ask your guests when they book how they found you and if there is a reason for their visit.

Webb advises that you must invent the experiences that fit your market, service product, and customer types. Not sure of your audience(s)? Create a one-sentence mission statement that is powerful and to the point.  It should define the foundation for why you are in business.

The author writes about an experience he had staying at a luxury hotel in San Jose, California.  At the extravagant price he was charged, he expected an extraordinarily high level of service.  He was disappointed with several things:

  • He found a plastic card informing him that he would be paying $29.99 a night for internet service (most B&B inns offer free wireless internet)
  • There was a large Evian bottle with a card hanging from its neck reading, “Enjoy this for $19.95” (B&B inns are known for giving their guests access to free refreshments and goodies)
  • On the back of the remote there was a sticker warning him that if he stole the remote, he would be charged for it (given the unlikelihood of a “remote-control heist”, he said he would forgo the label that insults a customer’s integrity)

Webb points out that when your customers love you, they will buy more and stay longer all while referring their friends and family to stay with you.  However, if you deliver only what your customers expect, Webb states that you will lose your guests to a competitor that wows them.  The “innovation zone” is where you begin to exceed your customers’ expectations.  The better you get at this, the further you will rise.

What gets even better is that your customers will become your marketing machines through social media and word of mouth and you will rapidly build a reputation as the best place to stay in your local area.  Satisfied customers will nurture you with sales, repeat visits, referrals, and incredibly powerful ratings on social media as well as through digital sharing.

Nicholas Webb reminds us that acquiring new guests is much more expensive than keeping current guests.  That is why we should deliver exceptional and relevant experiences to build an excellent reputation across all touch points and to all customer types.

If your price is less than the value customers expect, you will increase sales as well as happy customers.  However, if the price exceeds the value customers expect to receive from you, they will leave in droves.

As you begin to distinguish between customer types, your perspective on how you view customer expectations changes. You can see the world through your customers’ eyes, including what they love and what they hate.

You customers can clue you in to areas that need improvement and tell you how to improve them, which allows you to provide the most exceptional and relevant experiences.  Reward your guests who present ideas on how to improve their experience at various touchpoints.  If customers leave because they are not being properly served, your hospitality business eventually fails.

Mr. Webb advocates for collaboration with people in your same industry since it can add to greater mutual prosperity through an exchange of ideas, experiences, and skills.  This explains why bed and breakfast inn associations are a great resource.  There is strength in coming together as fellow proprietors who want to offer the best hospitality possible.

Your customers can do a complete background search on your business literally in seconds. To stay on top of your business reputation, Nicholas recommends using Google Alerts on keywords that are relevant to your business name, industry, and competition.

Put together a contest encouraging people to specify what they love and what they hate in overnight accommodations.  Reward prizes to the top three people who offer most helpful suggestions (such as a free night’s stay or free room upgrade during their next visit).

Mr. Webb gives practical tips for making an upset customer (guest) a lifelong guest in five easy steps:

  • State to the customer that you intend to listen to them and work hard to make them happy.
  • Know that sometimes you just need to remain quiet while the customer releases steam and talks about why they are upset (if you listen carefully, you can learn what will make them happy).
  • Confirm with them that you heard them correctly by restating it back to them and asking if that is correct.
  • Offer a solution based on what you learned from carefully listening.
  • Follow up on the mistake to make sure you met with their approval (this shows them that making the situation right was a priority for you & your inn).

Great organizations love their customers and want them to be happy.  Businesses get better when companies get better.  Constantly look for ways to reinvent the customer experience by removing pain and adding pleasure.

Always leave your guests wanting more!  Continue to provide exceptional service throughout their stay.  Customer experiences are not just one event, but a series of events.  Think of your last touch as a way to prove to your guests that you love and cherish the relationship.  Then continue the relationship by offering personal, relevant, and valuable information on your website, in social media, and in e-newsletters.

Providing excellent service is vital to those in the hospitality industry.  Mr. Webb stated that one of his clients who operates high-end lodges and resort hotels started having team members take pictures of the guests throughout their stay and a few weeks after guests returned home, they would receive a complimentary and beautifully bound photo album ($40) delivered to them (for less than $20).  Annual re-bookings increased by 78%!

What’s more is that hundreds of customers posted the pictures on their social media which resulted in a 20% uptick in new bookings because of this practice.  Today, guests are also sent a digital photo album to make it easier for them to share their photos on influential social networks.  This proved to be a fabulous idea well worth the investment because of the additional business (from returning guests and new guests).

Taking Mr. Nicholas Webb’s advice, we should discover what our guests love and what they hate.  Of course, this depends upon who we are trying to attract.  What types of guests stay at your B&B?  Are these your ideal guests?  What do your ideal guests love and what do they hate?   Keep track of all of your ideas, brainstorm with employees or others in your industry, and listen to your guests, so you can know what your guests really crave.

7 LinkedIn Groups for Innkeepers

linkedin groups for innkeepers

LinkedIn Groups for Innkeepers can be a helpful way to get support and advice from other bed and breakfasts and others in the hospitality industry.  LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories.  All LinkedIn groups are private and those open to membership must request to join the group.

 

Upon acceptance, each group has their own rules for what its members are allowed to post.  If the group’s profile and rules state that no links whatsoever should be posted, its members must abide by that. If you would rather find and join a group with a less stringent view of links, then simply look for a different group.

Group members are not obligated to post anything.  They can just read what other members have posted.  However, many social media experts advise that newcomers introduce themselves to their group. Not only does this let the group know about their new members, but the group will likely reach out to welcome its new members.

Things inn-keeping groups share with each other include hospitality-related articles, online marketing tips, questions for inn-keeping best practices, and much more! A great way to learn information is to ask questions from your group.

The following is a list of just some of the LinkedIn groups innkeepers may want to join:

Bed and Breakfast Business has over 900 members. “Bed and Breakfast group is a group for BnB owners who want to collaborate and communicate with other BnB owners about their business, best practices, tips, etc…”

Bed and Breakfast and Guest House Owners has over 2,000 members.  “Have you ever wondered how you can make 6 figures…from just 4 rooms? Want to know how to get raving fans coming back again and again?…If you’re a bed and breakfast owner, small hotel owner, guest house owner, then join our group and let’s share and help each other.”

Bed and Breakfast Inns has over 400 members.  “BedBreakfastTraveler.com’s goal with the Bed and Breakfast Inns group is to foster partnership, networking, and collaboration among the innkeeping industry. Through sharing of information, resources, and advice, the collective standards and profitability of the group shall increase.”

Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers has over 3,700 members.  “This group page is for Bed&Breakfast Owners across the Globe. Finding your niche as a B&B Owner and making it a success. Sharing what is your unique about your B&B, it’s amenities in what you offer and why you know that an experience at your B&B will be well remembered, and one that ensures your guest will return time and time again.”

B&B Owners Association has over 950 members.  “The B&B Owners Association has 3 main purposes:  1) To provide an independent, stable and well funded Internet marketing organization for the accommodation & hospitality sectors.  2) To ensure cost effective & comprehensive Internet marketing for its members and a effective global promotional vehicle on which to promote their businesses.  3) To ensure the public and Internet user have an easy to use and easy to find accommodation resource.”

Innkeepers has around 2,500 members.  “Bed and Breakfast Business Owners worldwide are welcome to network and share on this Group, whether you are an established Bed and Breakfast business or you want to own and run a bed and breakfast business.”

Just Bed and Breakfast Network has around 250 members.  “Justbedandbreakfast.net is the fastest growing worldwide bed and breakfasts directory offering the most complete list of unique properties from historic inns and guest houses to cabins and farm stays. View bed and breakfast descriptions, photos, reviews, and more.”

At the top of the LinkedIn page under “Interests” click “Groups” and this allows searching for these group titles or using other keywords.  Underneath the search box it will list any groups of which you are currently a member.  Underneath that, users can even create their own LinkedIn group should they desire to do so.  They can focus their membership on a specific geographical area or direct the discussion to a specific topic of interest.

Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging may start her own LinkedIn group.  If I did, what kind of topics would you like to see covered?  Please feel free to share a comment below or use my contact form to notify me directly.

Also, if you are a member of one of these LinkedIn groups (or a different LinkedIn group related to hospitality) and think it beneficial for other innkeepers to join, please tell us the name of your group and what you like about it.  I read all my comments and respond when appropriate.  Thank you!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Twitter

visual storytelling Twitter

The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand is a fantastic online marketing book for businesses.  Authors Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina)and Jessica Gioglio (@savvybostonian) do an excellent job of giving practical advice that businesses can apply to better market themselves online.  This particular blog post focuses on what the authors tell us about Twitter.

 

Twitter is an innovative marketing tool as well as a keen way for businesses to connect with their audiences and provide quality customer service.  In fact, of all the social media platforms, Twitter is currently the most popular with Fortune Global 100 Companies.

Super Twitter Statistics:

  • More than half of all links shared on Twitter are images
  • Over 460,000 accounts are created every day
  • 20.6 million adults in the United States access Twitter at least once a month
  • 177 million tweets are sent every day
  • 24% of Twitter users check Twitter at least once a day
  • 54% of Twitter users are male and 46% are female
  • 46% of users are aged 18-34, so a high percentage of young people
  • 67% of users more likely to buy products from brands they follow on Twitter

Smart Twitter Capabilities:

  • Companies that use Twitter gain twice the number of leads each month that their non-tweeting counterparts
  • Twitter cards make it possible to attached media experiences to tweet that link to your content
  • Tweets that link to participating websites can be expanded by users to show a whole range of media
  • If you add the code on your own site, you can determine what sort of content will be shown by a Twitter link
  • Users interested in a particular offer or promotion will be able to fill out a field on the card
  • That field links their existing information, allowing them to quickly register

Savvy Twitter Strategies:

  • Develop your company’s voice
  • Tweet around several key passion points
  • Provide company news and updates
  • Offer unique deals to your Twitter followers
  • Give your clients (and potential clients) excellent customer service
  • Know what you want your followers to associate with your brand
  • Give them reasons to follow your company
  • The photos and videos you share should integrate with your overall strategy
  • Show a more relaxed side to your brand
  • Each tweet should be able to be understood on its own
  • Mix up your content
  • Ask questions to spark conversations
  • Use links to articles, photos, videos, and blog posts
  • Retweet your followers
  • Find out what your followers are interested in and share that
  • Use hashtags (#) to join in bigger conversations on a topic or start your own (#)
  • Use calls to action including RT (retweet)
  • Consider the locations and time zones of your audience
  • Use Promoted Tweet or Trend features to support your key messages

Given the popularity of Twitter and its capabilities, it makes sense for businesses to follow these social media strategies in order to promote their business and provide excellent customer service.  A special thank you to authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of the content in their book.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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

Hosting The Business Traveler

the business traveler

 

Have you thought about promoting your bed and breakfast to the business traveler? Your B&B may be in a quiet area that is not too far from major companies.  You can offer a discounted rate to corporate business people.  One bed and breakfast called their promotion code “BIZRATE”.

 

 

You can emphasize all the reasons why the business traveler should want to stay with you:

  • Their own desk area with comfortable office chair
  • Wi-fi
  • Fax machine
  • Alarm clock
  • Located near a copy store like Kinko’s
  • Peace and quiet
  • Free parking
  • Flexible check-in times
  • Adjustable breakfast arrangements (including “to go”)
  • Lenient cancellation policy (ex: no penalty for canceling by noon on the day prior to your scheduled arrival)

Some B&B’s choose to limit this offer to specific rooms or do not make this promotion available at certain times of the year.  As an innkeeper, you can offer the traveler a certain percentage off their room.  One bed and breakfast offers 20% off the first night and 33% off all other nights.

You can emphasize that they will receive the same great breakfast, same wonderful service, and they are staying at an awesome place.  Be sure to discuss this promotion on your website, in your blog, and through social media. You may even contact local area major corporations to let them know their out-of-town employees and customers can stay at your bed and breakfast.  Be sure to take advantage of your closeness to major businesses.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

B&B Guests: Sports Spectators

sports spectators

 

Sports spectators may be attracted to visit your bed and breakfast. Your guests could be staying with you because of local area tournaments and games or even major sporting events like hockey or racing in a nearby stadium.  Your guests may not play the particular sport, but they sure do enjoy watching it live and in person.

 

You can offer tickets to local sporting events and tournaments as part of a sports spectators package.  Your sports package entices more guests to visit your bed and breakfast.  You can even offer extras such as T-shirts and sweatshirts with your bed and breakfast’s name on it. Your sports spectators could even be seen wearing your B&B’s apparel at the televised sporting event they attend!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

B&B Guests: Special Occasions

special occasions

 

Special occasions like a wedding, honeymoon, birthday, anniversary, graduation, or reunion may be the reason for your bed and breakfast guests visit.  When you communicate with them, be sure to find out if they are coming for a memorable reason.

You may offer a special package for honeymooners or people celebrating their birthday or anniversary. Depending upon the size of your bed and breakfast and the number of relatives, you could offer a deal to a family if they book all of your rooms.

 

 

Make mutually beneficial agreements with local florists, musicians, and other business people offering complementary services. You can refer each other to more business.  Just as important, your guests will appreciate how you treated them (especially during their celebration of special occasions) so much that not only will they return again, they will also refer your bed and breakfast to other potential guests.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

B&B Guests: Hobby Lovers

hobby lovers

 

 

Hobby lovers may be attracted to stay at your bed and breakfast. Common outdoor hobbies include photography and bird watching.  Other hobbies include scrap-booking and writing.

 

 

There may even be a local conference related to their hobby in your area.  This is a great opportunity for you to offer a special package to your enthused hobbyists.  Assure your hobby lovers that they will have the quiet they need and beautiful scenery they want when they stay at your bed and breakfast.  This is a win-win situation!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Successful People Help Others Get What They Want

Successful people help others. The late success consultant, speaker, and author, Zig Ziglar, said that

“You can get everything you want in life, if you help enough people get what they want.”

So we must ask ourselves what we can offer people that they would want?  The answer to that question depends upon several factors.

First, do you have positive role models in your life?  Even if you do not personally know someone who is successful in your field of interest, of course you can read about accomplished people. Their success can motivate you.  Do what they did.  Read what they read. Learn what they learned.  Just take action!

In addition, use your resources (this includes your education and experiences) to seek out ways to meet the needs of others.  You can also use your skills (such as communicating or leading or researching) to your advantage.  Use the skills that people tell you they admire about you.

Also, the more connections you develop, the easier it is to refer people to others and to receive referrals from others.  Social media (such as Face Book, Linked In, and Twitter) makes it even easier to be connected to other people.

I think Mr. Zig Ziglar’s point was that when you put others needs before your own, then your needs will be taken care of as well. It is only natural that people will hear about how you helped other people and want you to help them, too.

So take your eyes off of yourself for the moment and look to solve someone else’s problem. In doing so, you will have solved your problem. That is the beauty of what Mr. Ziglar was talking about.

Zig’s most popular book is See You At The Top. Much of his sage advice is timeless wisdom that can be applied in modern everyday life.