Tag Archives: positive

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

Labor Day Weekend Road Trip

Labor Day weekend road trip

Some of your bed and breakfast guests will be traveling by car and we hope they have a lovely Labor Day weekend road trip.  First, some fun facts about how the Labor Day holiday got started in the United States.  Did you know the United States workers’ unions chose the first Monday in September because it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving? The first Labor Day was observed on September 5th, 1882.  

Labor Day was created to rally for the adoption of eight hour work days and other more suitable working conditions.  Labor Day now carries less significance as a celebration of working people and more as a great way to finish the summer. Schools, government offices, and businesses are closed on Labor Day so people can get in one last road trip to the beach or have one last cookout before the weather starts to turn colder.

AAA is a company known in the lodging industry for their AAA diamond rating approval system. Guests can be reassured that those properties have been selected on the basis of merit alone.   Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney explained, “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”

AAA offers a Fuel Cost Calculator on their website.  Drivers can select, from about 125 different locations in the United States, the closest starting city and destination location. They can indicate their vehicle’s make, year, and model.  Drivers can select “one-way” or “round trip.” The Fuel Cost Calculator will show you the miles, gallons used, and fuel cost.  The fuel price data is provided by Oil Price Information Service.  You can put a link to this Fuel Cost Calculator from your own website.

We have tremendous respect for innkeepers who consistently get great online reviews from previous guests for their hospitality.  Remember you can team up with complimentary local businesses to set up packages for your guests.  Innkeepers, while entertaining guests:

Remember, when hosting, it is the little details that make a big difference.  Your phone communication is a great way to start the process of building relationships with your guests so that they become repeat guests and refer their friends and family to stay at your B&B. You may even often a frequent stay and referral program to help you gain more business and rewards your guests for returning and referring.

Innkeepers, we know you stay busy.  For those of you who want to focus on innkeeping and give the blogging and social media responsibilities to a knowledgeable and dedicated company, think of Bed and Breakfast Blogging as a great solution.  We can provide fresh blog content the search engines reward with higher rankings as well as an active and positive social media presence so you stay top of mind to potential and returning guests.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

25 Ways To Write Creative Blog Posts

If you are reading this, then I assume you are looking to be CREATIVE (and definitely not boring) when you write creative blog posts.  This way you will have plenty of admiring fans! 25 ways to write CREATIVE blog posts:

1. ADVICE You have unique advice that only you can offer to your readers.  Once you understand who your audience is, then you can write like you are writing to a friend.  They will feel like they know you and you will develop a huge following.

2. CA– USE– Why not rally your readers behind a cause you support?  Let them know what you are doing to make a difference and how they can help. Give a call to action. Seriously, don’t leave that out.

3. COMMUNITY Your community could be defined by your local area or it could be people who share a common interest or goal.  Reach out to “your peeps” and connect with them!

4. COMPARISON Take two things and compare them.  Whether you compare two breakfast foods or two fun activities, the fun is in comparing and contrasting them. This could be educational, entertaining, or funny as well. Speaking of…

5. EDUCATIONAL– People like learning about things.  That is one reason why search engines are so popular.  Tell them something that not everyone knows, but you know because you are an expert at it.  Everyone is an expert at something.  Blog about what you know best.

6. ENTERTAINING Everyone likes to laugh and have fun.  You could blog about entertainment that is coming to your community whether it is a music concert, sporting event, or theatrical production. Be sure to make it “entertaining” to read!  Since blogging is writing that is typically less formal than say a report, let your personality shine in the post.

7. EVENTS People like finding out about events–ones that will happen and ones that already happened.  If you have the “inside scoop” on the latest, you can “tell all” in your blog!

8. FAQ This common acronym is short for “frequently asked questions.”  Many websites have an FAQ page on them.  Blog about commonly asked questions.  Blog answers to familiar questions so you can refer your readers to when they ask them.  Saves you time in the process!

9. FAMILY Some of your best material can come from your family members and others with whom you are close. As long as you make it generic enough that you don’t single out any one person or you know they won’t mind your sharing it, go ahead.  You know you want to!

10. GUIDE A guide-type blog post could be a collection of tips about a specific topic. While similar to advice blog posts, they are different in that these tips can be applied by a variety of different people–not advice for one type of problem.  Example: Simple Tips to Get Clients To Pay on Time, Quick Ways to Find Just What You Want Online, etc.

11. HYPOTHETICAL Ask your readers what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Maybe answer that question as well. These types of blog posts tend to get a lot of comments because people like to imagine, “What if….?” Sometimes I imagine, “What if I win a ton of money in the lottery and get to quit my day job?!”  I kind of have to buy a lottery ticket first. Oh well.

12. INSPIRATIONAL Share something motivational with your readers.  Help them connect to you in a powerful way through your telling of someone overcoming a challenge and beating the odds.  Maybe that someone who overcame something big is you.  Don’t be afraid to share since it could encourage someone else!

13. INSTRUCTIONAL or “HOW TO” Give instructions on how to do something that others want to know how to do, and suddenly you have a captive large audience.  You can be creative with your titles of these posts as well. Two examples: How To Teach Your Dog Fun New Tricks, How To Make Delicious Homemade Ice Cream, How To Make a Memorable Family Scrapbook, etc.

14. INTERVIEW If you don’t have any famous celebrities you happen to know (most of us are in this boat), then you could always interview a person notable for what they do. A person who is accomplished in a career or sport or another area of life.  If you interview a person who has an inspiring story and then you have an “inspirational interview“! Wow, two different ways to write a blog post combined! You are an overachiever!

15. LISTS People love lists.  Examples: 10 Ways You Can Change Your Spouse, 20 Best Party Appetizers, Top 40 Bestselling Books About Fitness, etc.  You get the idea and they will too!

16. MEMORIES Often, we like to recall fond memories or retell funny situations.  We may even want to remember how we overcame a trauma for the sake of helping another person who finds themselves in the same emergency. When you blog about a memory, be sure to create a vivid picture in their minds of all the important details of your experience.

17. NEWS Did you know that sometimes bloggers are the first to break a news story? There have been cases where a blogger has gotten in trouble for sharing some kinds of sensitive information.  Keep your day job and don’t blog about company trade secrets. Another word of advice is to keep your love life private so no one tries to sue you for disclosing personal details.  However, if you are in attendance at an exclusive event that you have permission to be blogging about, then by all means SHARE!

18. OPINIONS If you loving sharing your opinions, then blogging is right up your alley!  As long as you are tactful and the topic is appropriate, it is alright to share what you think. You don’t have to have all positive comments from your readers.  In fact, it makes it more interesting when some of your readers do not agree with you.  Usually readers who do agree with you, will come to your defense when you are criticized by others.

19. PHOTOS If you took a great picture or want to share several incredible pictures, then you may want to have a photo blog post.  When your text is all about what is in your photo(s), then you have a photo blog post.  Whether your pictures are of smiling people, grand buildings, gorgeous nature, or something entirely different, there are others who would love to learn about how you managed to capture the photos and the techniques you used in getting it to look the way it does.

20. PREDICTIONS It is common at the end of the year (or the beginning of the new year) for people to come up with their predictions about some topic.  Examples: The Future of Technology, 10 Social Media Predictions, What is To Come in American Education, etc. Similar to the hypothetical “what if” posts, these are your thoughts as to what will come about in the next year (or whatever time frame you select) concerning a particular topic. Inquiring minds want to know!

21. PROBLEMS Life would not be nearly as exciting if there were no glitches.  Inevitably, snags come along.  You spill chocolate ice cream on your brand new white dress shirt.  You get a ticket for speeding on your way to work early one morning.  Your problem post could be written to be a funny look at everyday life or it could be a solution post in which you address how to solve a particular problem with a specific idea, product, or service. People are always looking for solutions!

22. QUIZZES Some people love taking quizzes for fun.  Why not write a blog post that is a quiz about something interesting?  Examples: 15 Questions to Discover the Vacation of Your Dreams, How Well Do You Know Yourself?, etc.  The point is to make your quiz blog post appealing enough to your audience, so that they want to take it.

23. REVIEW Everybody loves reading reviews.  You could blog a book review, a restaurant critique, or a movie screening.  Reviews help other people who, for example, were thinking about reading the same book, dining at the same restaurant, or watching the same movie; decide if they want to based on your review.  When you write a review blog post, you have the power to influence your readers to take action or avoid it.  Don’t let the power go to your head!

24. SECRETS This could mean quick shortcuts, little known facts, or juicy details.  Like news posts, people like finding out things they would not normally know had they not read your blog.  Same cautions apply!

25. STORIES People love reading fascinating stories.  A story blog post captures the attention of your audience yet is brief enough to be the length of a blog post. Stories with important lessons for your readers earn you loyal readers.

Try one (or a combination of several) of these types of blog posts the next time you write! Don’t be afraid to write CREATIVE blog posts. Most importantly, enjoy the process that blogging requires.  It always helps me to visualize my readers reading this.  Will they think this is funny?  Does that tell them everything they need to know?  etc.  Feel free to share your CREATIVE blog post ideas or to ask me a question related to this post.

Are You Media Friendly?

are you media friendly

 

Are you media friendly?  Why not make it easy for a journalist or reporter to do a story on your bed and breakfast? Have a press kit on your website.  Consider asking, “Are you a journalist working on a story about inns or bed and breakfasts? We would love to help you with your story or article.”

 

 

The press kit can include:

  • Media contact‘s name, phone number, e-mail address (owner, innkeeper, public relations person for your B&B)
  • The history of the bed and breakfast: location, year it was built, original owners, type of architecture, date it became a bed and breakfast, etc.
  • Information about the innkeepers/owners: where they are originally from, their career history, their hobbies, pets, kids, etc.
  • Awards you and your B&B have received: from bed and breakfast associations, cooking contests won, your AAA rating, your Better Business Bureau grade, etc.
  • Press coverage: list of and link to articles in newspapers, magazines, online attention
  • High resolution photos of the inside including the rooms as well as the outside of the bed and breakfast as well as the best breakfasts and other food you serve
  • Map of area and nearby attractions
  • Videos made about your B&B or ones that you have had filmed to promote your bed and breakfast
  • Amenities: private hot tub, fireplace, library, spa, garden, etc.
  • Current promotions: such as special packages and upcoming events like weddings
  • Online guest reviews: share positive guest testimonials
  • Your blog

Anything that you think will enhance your reputation as providing exceptional hospitality, this is your opportunity make it accessible for the press to report on it.  Even curious potential guests will be impressed by it when they see it.

If you do not mind members of the press coming to your bed and breakfast to interview you and/or make a video, then be sure to state that on-site tours can be arranged.  There is nothing better than free publicity! Then the press will not have to ask, “Are you media friendly?”

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014! I love New Year’s Day! We all have a fresh start to accomplish and achieve our goals.  More importantly, to grow closer to becoming the kind of person we would want to be around.

There are so many individuals that come through the doors of bed and breakfasts.  Each one is special and every person has a story.  If it is appropriate and the guests are talkative with you, take time to listen to them.

They will remember you as the innkeepers who were very hospitable, went out of their way to serve them, and cared enough to hear what they had to say.  As innkeepers, you have an opportunity to bless your guests with the most positive lodging experience ever.

Happy New Year 2014 from Kristi Dement and her team at Bed and Breakfast Blogging!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

BBB Accreditation Standards

BBB Standards

Do you know what BBB accreditation means to your bed and breakfast? Better Business Bureau Accreditation is an honor – and not every business is eligible. Businesses that meet their high standards are invited to join BBB. Businesses deemed to meet Accreditation Standards are presented to the BBB’s Board for review and acceptance as a BBB Accredited Business.

BBB ensures that high standards for trust are set and maintained. They exist so consumers and businesses alike have an unbiased source to guide them on matters of trust. BBB provides educational information and expert advice that is free of charge and easily accessible.

BBB sees trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.

The BBB Code of Business Practices represents sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business. The Code is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

1. Build Trust
Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.

2. Advertise Honestly
Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

3. Tell the Truth
Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

4. Be Transparent
Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

5. Honor Promises
Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

6. Be Responsive
Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in
good faith.

7. Safeguard Privacy
Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their
information.

8. Embody Integrity
Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and
commitments with integrity.

Each bed and breakfast, whether BBB accredited or not, has a rating. The BBB letter grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, your grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about your bed and breakfast despite their requests for the information.

BBB assigns letter grades from A+ (highest) to F (lowest). In some cases, BBB will not grade your business (indicated by an NR, or “No Rating”) for reasons that include insufficient information about a business or ongoing review/update of your business’ file.

BBB Business Reviews generally explain the most significant factors that raised or lowered a business’ grade.  BBB grades are not a guarantee of a business’ reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business’ grade in addition to all other available information about the business grading elements.

BBB grades are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

1. Business’ complaint history with BBB.

2. Type of business.

3. Time in business.

4. Background information on business in BBB files.

5. Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

6. Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

7. Advertising issues known to BBB.

Bed and breakfast owners, if you are unsure if you have a BBB grade, look up your own name in the BBB directory to see what your file says.  If there are any unresolved complaints, you can contact your local BBB to resolve any issues with your BBB Standards.  It is best to be on good terms with the BBB.  People do consider a business’ BBB grade.  You can apply for membership by contacting the nearest BBB location if you are not already a member.

 

Online Guest Book

online-guest-book

You may already have a guest book in each room of your bed and breakfast for guests to make their comments, but did you ever think of putting their written praises on your website in an “online guest book page”?  Of course, you will need to get their permission in order to use their comment and please respect their wishes if they prefer you not give their full name or specific city when you quote them in a testimonial.

Website visitors will gain insight from what previous guests have said about their experience staying at your bed and breakfast. Some bed and breakfasts already have a web page devoted entirely to feedback they have received.

Your guests may think of reasons that you did not even think of as to why they liked staying at your bed and breakfast! It does not get any better than putting unsolicited positive feedback on your website so potential guests can feel good about booking one of your rooms because they heard recommendations directly from actual guests who have stayed with you!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Let Your Guests Evaluate You

In order to receive feedback for the bed and breakfast experience you offer, why not let your guests evaluate you?  This gives you valuable information and provides them with an opportunity to give you a great testimonial and maybe point out some things they noticed.

Your evaluation form only needs to ask a few questions:

1) What did you like the most about staying at our bed and breakfast? (things they thought were great)

2) Any disappointments? (things they think you can improve)

3) If you could change one thing about our bed and breakfast, what would it be? (this does not necessarily mean you will get negative comments–they may offer great suggestions for you to think about)

4) Do you have any additional comments you wish to share? (this way they feel that they have had every opportunity to share their concerns or ideas)

This evaluation form lets them know you cared about their experience and hope that they will return.  It also allows them to reflect on their stay.

Take any negative comments with a grain of salt.  There may be some truth to them or you may have had a picky guest who is hard to please.

If you want to use any of their glowing statements as positive testimonials, ask permission before quoting them in marketing materials or on your website.

Overall, when you let your guests evaluate you, it gives you important information so you can be a better innkeeper.