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How To Easily Brand Your Bed and Breakfast

Log cabin bedroom with fireplace and desk with chair

Branding your bed and breakfast is both easier and harder than you think.  What do I mean by that?  Well, little things can make a big difference so there are plenty of things you can do.  However, it is harder than you think because you don’t want to make costly mistakes along the way.

Your goal is to attract a particular target audience to your bed and breakfast inn.  The type of inn you have including your location, its amenities, its surroundings, and its weather (among many other factors) all play a role in who will want to visit your accommodations.

The following are descriptions of very different places to visit:

  • A twenty-room mountain getaway for avid skiers and hikers
  • A B&B spa in the woods with separate cabins, each with private hot tubs
  • A modern urban inn that caters to business travelers & hosts corporate retreats
  • A historical inn that has hosted celebs & famous people in history
  • A five-room inn with horse ranch and trails, riding lessons for guests
  • A tropical beach resort with its own restaurant and live music in the evenings
  • An inn located on a vineyard, with tours and tastings with cheeses and desserts
  • A B&B in a popular tourist town with lots of local activities and attractions
  • A Southern inn with an award-winning flower garden; gazebo, pool, swing, etc.

As you can tell, from the above examples, bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and resorts, can narrow their marketing to reach the most ideal audience for what they offer guests.  Since you cannot be all things to all people, the best brands:

  • Visually grab the attention of their target audience (with pictures, images, quotes, testimonials, etc.)
  • Emotionally attract (tug on the heart) their target audience (“because time passes by so quickly, capture memorable moments with us”)
  • Convey a simple message to that target audience (ex: guests deserve time away to enjoy their loved ones)
  • Differentiate themselves from their competitors (show why you are the best accommodations for your target audience in your local area)
  • Develop their reputation for excellent hospitality and exceeding guest expectations throughout multiple touch points along the way (check-in, front desk, guest services, hospitality, use of amenities, breakfast, check-out, and opting in for your e-mail list with a loyalty program)

Brands can differentiate themselves in the following ways:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Curb Appeal
  • Decor
  • Guest Rooms
  • Amenities
  • Photography
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Blog
  • Stories
  • Guests Testimonials
  • Email Marketing
  • Hosting Events
  • Videos

According to “Telling Your Brand: How Your Brand Purpose and Position Drive The Stories You Share” by Rob Marsh, the importance of differentiation can be seen through the efforts of four national pizza chains:

  • Pizza Hut (the market leader) uses their advertising to feature new innovations like hot dogs or cheese baked into their crusts, chocolate chip cookie pizzas, pizza sliders, stuffed crust pizzas.  Pizza Huts stands out with their innovations.
  • Dominoes (focuses on owning the “delivery” position), focused on it more before lawsuits forced them to soften their claim of “30 minutes or less or its free.”  Dominoes is the go-to choice for home delivery.
  • Little Caesar’s (focuses on the “value” position), offering 2 pizzas for the price of one, with tagline (“Pizza. Pizza.”) Today they offer ready-made, grab-and-go pizzas for $5, emphasizing their ownership of the low-price position in the market.
  • Papa Johns (focuses on fresher ingredients), with tagline “Better ingredients, better pizza”, the emphasis on high-quality ingredients reinforces this position in the minds of consumers.
  • The point of positioning is to own one idea.  The brand story you tell will help position your inn in the minds of your guests and potential guests.

Mr. Marsh advises companies to think about these questions (which I have rephrased to apply to places of hospitality):

  • What benefits do guests receive from staying at your inn?
  • How are you different from competitors and how do guests experience that difference?
  • What are the stories your guests tell about themselves now?
  • If your brand were a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • What adjectives describe your brand?  What adjectives do not?
  • Does your B&B brand have a compelling story?
  • How does your company’s values and mission make an impact on your guests?
  • What’s your brand’s purpose?

Denise Lee Yohn, in her book, “What Great Brands Do: The 7 Brand-Building Principles That Separate The Best From The Rest“, argues that your brand is WHAT your company DOES and HOW you do it and NOT what you SAY you are.  It matters more what you DO.  Identify the key values and attributes that define your inn.  People buy according to how brands make them feel, or what identity they help their guests experience and express.

Focus on the unique way you bring value to your guests.  Understand and communicate what makes your business different and better than the rest.  According to Denise, “Great brands know that if you try to be all things to all people, you’ll never connect deeply with anyone.”  She offers the following template for companies to use building their brand:

“For ________ (your target audience), we are the _____________ (frame of reference) who does ______________ (the unique value you deliver), because ______________ (the reasons why consumers should believe that you deliver value).

According to the book “Brand Intimacy: A New Paradigm in Marketing” by Mario Natarelli and Rina Plapler, the following are types of “Brand Strategies”:

  • Fulfillment: always exceeds expectations, delivers superior quality/service, good value for the money, reliable (ex: Amazon)
  • Identity: projects a favorable lifestyle, values your target market aspires to (or identifies with) (ex: Whole Foods)
  • Enhancement: makes your life easier, more effective, smarter, more capable, more connected (ex: Apple)
  • Ritual: part of your routine, ingrained in your life, more than a habitual lifestyle behavior (ex: Starbucks)
  • Nostalgia: reminds you of your past, evokes warm memories and feelings, associates with you in some way (ex: Lego)
  • Indulgence: a personal luxury, makes you feel pampered, pleasing to the senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, sound) (ex: Sephora, a beauty brand)

In the book, “Building Your Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Your Customers Will Listen,” Donald Miller argues that stories organize information in a way that compels people to listen.  Miller advises readers to make the customer the hero of the story and to position your brand as the guide.  Focus on the success of your customers (and not the success of your business).

Donald Miller explains that since human beings have two motivations in life (to escape something bad and to experience something good), we can include these motivations in our brand stories.  Great brands obsess about the transformation of their customers.

With the permission of each guest, you could their personal story of what their life was like before coming to your destination and how your destination impacted their life for the better.  Using guest testimonials carries a lot of weight and provides social proof.

Motivation 1: To Escape Something Bad

  • Boredom with Life (Feel Stuck in a Rut)
  • Escape the Noise/Traffic of the City or Escape the Isolation of Rural Life
  • Fast Pace of Life (Escape the Busyness and Routines of Everyday Life)
  • Perceived Lack of Quality Time with Others
  • Stress from Job (or Other Responsibilities like Education and Parenting)
  • etc.

Motivation 2: To Experience Something Good

  • Adventure (for athletes, adventurers)
  • Business Success (for corporate travelers)
  • Culture (for art and music lovers)
  • Food (breakfast, local restaurants, etc.)
  • Health (improve fitness and nutrition)
  • Relationships (for family and friendships)
  • Romance (for stengthning committed relationships)
  • Shopping (for retail therapy)
  • Sports (for sports lovers)
  • Travel (for travel buffs)
  • etc.

All businesses need to distinguish themselves from the competition.  By determining your target audience, knowing what will attract their attention, and differentiating yourself from other inns with meaningful brand stories (with your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide), you can feature reasons why potential guests should escape their current circumstances to experience a variety of pleasant experiences that all begin with a stay at your place of hospitality.  This is how to easily brand your bed and breakfast inn.

Need help branding your bed and breakfast inn?  Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free phone consultation.

Top 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

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

Getting to Know Kristi Dement

Getting To Know Kristi Dement

Getting to know Kristi Dement. I was born and raised in Holland, Michigan.  My great-grandmother was originally from Holland, Netherlands.  After graduating from West Ottawa High School,  I completed my bachelors degree in psychology from Michigan State University’s Honors College in East Lansing, Michigan just three years later.

 

Since I did not want to meet someone who wanted to stay in the cold six-month-long winters of Michigan, I met my husband Glen online.  He lived in Maryland at the time I was finishing my last year at MSU. We got married and I moved to the Baltimore area for a year.

When he had an opportunity to transfer with his work to the Raleigh area in North Carolina, November of 1999, I wholeheartedly supported it.  This Michigan girl thought Maryland weather would be warm enough, but going further South sounded even better to me!

I went back to school to earn my masters degree in library science from North Carolina Central University in 2006. I have been a school librarian and professional writer since then.  I look forward to serving more bed and breakfast owners in this new year.

If writing is just “not your thing” (and/or you just do not have time as a busy innkeeper), hiring me is a great solution to getting you more traffic to your website through a regularly updated blog with fresh content for the search engines!  I can also set up your social media business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linked In.  I look forward to helping you book more rooms in your bed and breakfast throughout this New Year!

Your Own Guidebook for Guests

You will have many visitors who are not familiar with your area. This means that guests would really appreciate your own guidebook for guests (which can be a three-ring binder or a basket full of various items) with the following information:

  • Articles featuring your bed and breakfast
  • Typical breakfast menu items you serve
  • Seasonal weather tips
  • Maps and directions to important places
  • Brochures from local attractions
  • Fliers about special events
  • Menus to recommended area restaurants
  • Contact information for area real estate agents
  • College/university campus maps
  • and more!

There is no limit to your creativity in putting together your own guidebook for guests. Your main objective is to provide a resource that they can easily find key information that will answer their questions.  The more pictures, the better! Remind them why they came to the area!