Tag Archives: website

Are You Making These Easy Mistakes With Your Bed and Breakfast?

camera next to lap top and social media icons

As a bed and breakfast owner and/or innkeeper, you want your hospitality business to shine. However, there may be some things that you are doing, easy mistakes, that are causing you to lose potential guests who decide to book elsewhere. I’m talking about making mistakes that are relatively straightforward to fix yet are powerful in their results. This post will focus on photography, social media, and website tips.

Photography

Professional photography is essential to increasing your occupancy rates. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the photography on my website done by a professional hospitality photographer?
  • Are the photos attractive and do they inspire others to want to visit?
  • Are my pictures large enough and well lit so people can easily see in the rooms?
  • Do my pictures of indoor rooms also feature the view outside our rooms?
  • Does the image contain anything unsightly (such as a toilet or a trash can)?
  • Does the room look clean and well-organized (and free of clutter)?
  • Were the images made to include extra special touches like a vase of colorful flowers, a delicious-looking tray of tasty food, premium assorted chocolates, and your own branded pottery mugs (or wine glasses)?
  • Have your guests ever said that your pictures do not do your place justice? Or that your inn is so much better in person?
  • Do you feature everything your guests will see?
    • all the guest rooms (with detailed descriptions of their amenities)
    • your bath rooms (if they are attractive and without view of any toilet)
    • all the common rooms for your guests to hang out (including conference and entertainment rooms)
    • the outside of your B&B (including the grounds, any flower or vegetable gardens, private lakes, swimming pools, etc.)
    • anything else open to guests and/or the public on your property (restaurant, spa, tea room, game room, etc.)

Social Media

Social media is a great way for guests to know you more. In addition to sharing images and recipes, you can share blog posts, let people know about upcoming events (at your inn and/or your local area), use #hashtags so your content can be found by others easier, and much more.

Are you regularly sharing social media content so you stay top of mind?

Here is 2019 social media statistics of some of the most popular networks:

  • Facebook: 1.4 billion daily active users, 300 millions photos uploaded daily, 8 billion videos
  • Instagram: 500 million daily active users, 95 million photos uploaded daily
  • LinkedIn: 200 million dailiy active users, 20 million company pages
  • Pinterest: 200 million daily active users, 1 billion boards created, 100 billion pins created
  • Snapchat: 178 million daily active users, 3 billion daily snaps, 10 billion daily videos
  • Twitter: 100 million daily active users, 140 million daily published tweets
  • YouTube: 30 million daily active users, 5 billion views daily, average length of visit 40 minutes

Website

Your website is a window that potential guests can get a sneak peek through before they decide to book. This is an ideal place to showcase everything your inn and local area offers to guests. The following questions are about key website features that will set you apart from other inns.

  • Does your website look professional, clean, and uncluttered (with easy-to-read font and plenty of white space)?
  • Is your website mobile responsive (does it adjust to whatever device it is being viewed from)?
  • Do you have an “About Us” page that details things like the history of your inn (if you own a historical property) and the reason you became an innkeeper?
  • Do you have pictures of every room/suite/cabin that guests can stay in? Do you list the individual amenities of each place?
  • Are the website pictures clickable for people to pin on Pinterest?
  • Do you have visible social media icons that represent everywhere your inn has a presence online?
  • Do you let people know what to expect for breakfast time? What about your complimentary refreshments and goodies?
  • Do you share the logos of professional organizations (like Select Registry and B&B associations) you belong to and major hospitality achievements (like Trip Advisor ratings or awards) you have received?
  • Do you have a Google map and directions for people to find you easily?
  • Do you have a mobile friendly booking engine connected to your website so people can “Book Now”?
  • Do you list your guest packages and specials? How easy can they be added by those booking online?
  • Is there a short (ideally less than five minutes) video of your inn that people can view directly from your website?
  • Do you have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that answers questions people often ask you?
  • Do you offer a downloadable vacation guide to your local area?
  • Is it clear to people how they can contact you (phone number, email address and/or contact form)?

In this post we focused on three areas where easy mistakes can happen: your photography, your social media presence, and your website. When these areas are strong, your business will likely be strong, too.

How To Make a Successful Bed and Breakfast Press Kit

bed and breakfast press kit

 

 

A successful bed and breakfast press kit can increase your inn’s likelihood for receiving media attention. Wondering what is a press kit? It is a package of media about your inn that makes it easier for a journalist or reporter to do a story about your bed and breakfast.

 

When you do most of the work for reporters up front, they will be more receptive to your pitch for press for their website, publication, or news story. In addition, it looks more professional and makes your bed and breakfast more appealing to write about.

 

Consider adding a press kit link on your website.  “Are you a journalist working on a story about inns or bed and breakfasts? We would be happy to help you with your story or article.”

 

Your valuable bed and breakfast press kit can include:

 

  • Contact’s name, phone number, and email address (the owner, innkeeper, public relations person)
  • High resolution photos (your gorgeous view, the outside of your inn, your guest rooms and common rooms, the best breakfasts meals you serve, etc.)
  • Map of your local area (and its nearby attractions)
  • Brief history of your inn (its location, year it was built, original owners, type of architecture, its history as a bed and breakfast, etc.)
  • Innkeepers/owners story (share your story or how your B&B came to be, a little about yourself and your team, and why you’re doing what you’re doing)
  • Pictures of your luxurious amenities (such as a pool or private hot tub, fireplace, library, spa, garden, etc.)
  • Current promotions (your own specials, custom packages, and description of private events you host like weddings, etc.)
  • Awards received (from bed and breakfast associations, contests won, your AAA Diamond rating, your BBB grade, etc.)
  • Online guest reviews (share links to positive guest testimonials)
  • Your blog (which features local activities and area events)
  • Existing press coverage (list of and links to articles in newspapers, magazines, and online attention)
  • Videos (made about your B&B or that you had filmed to promote your inn)

 

Include anything you think will enhance your reputation as providing exceptional hospitality. This is your opportunity make it accessible for the press to report about your bed and breakfast. Even curious potential guests will be impressed by it when they see it.

 

Having an available press kit, makes you media friendly and more likely to get more publicity for your inn.  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!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Increase Your Bookings

palm trees by the ocean

 

Do you know how to increase your bookings? This blog post will share insights from the book, The Tourist Magnet Formula: Transform Your Hotel Into a Fully-Booked Tourist Attraction Using Modern, Practical Digital Marketing Tools by Andrei Tiu.

 

Understand Your Values and Communicate Your Brand

  • Look at what guests mention in their reviews
  • Know what marketing messages you want to communicate
  • Analyze your guests’ perception and the way you actually want to be perceived
  • See how the two perspectives match
  • Identify where there are gaps or differences

Assess Your Communication Activity

  • Note followers, engagement, and posting consistency on all social media
  • Look at email open (% of people who opened the email) and click-through rates (% of people who clicked on specific links in your email)
  • Examine partnerships with any travel booking sites and travel agencies
  • Make a list of any media attention and publicity you receive
  • Determine what drives the most traffic, engagement, bookings, and effective social media results
  • How well is your marketing message being conveyed to your customers?

Ask the Right Questions

  • What is your ideal vision for your hospitality business?
  • Do guests associate your business/association with certain values?
  • If so, are they the ones you wanted them to be?
  • Identify the best ways to enhance your unique offerings and attract your ideal guests
  • What insight can you draw from your guest feedback?
  • How would you like for your guests to refer to their experiences from now on?

Design Your Objectives the SMART Way

  • Specific, simple, and significant: What exactly do you want to achieve? Why is the goal important? What resources will you need?
  • Measurable and meaningful: How much? How many? How will you know when you achieve your goals?
  • Achievable and attainable: How realistic are your goals? How will you achieve them considering other constraints that may interfere?
  • Relevant and realistic: Will it get you closer to your “dream business scenario”? Is it the right time to put in the energy?
  • Time bound, time sensible, and time limited: When do you need to achieve your goals? What can you do today, this week, this month, and this year that will get you closer?

Know Which Areas You Would Like to Improve, By How Much, and In What Time Frame

  • Bookings/reservations
  • Branding (customer perceptions)
  • Growth (more guests or association members)
  • Marketing (including email marketing and social media)
  • Revenue

Define Your Marketing Strategy

  • Know where you are
  • Know where you want to go
  • Have deadlines for measuring and achieving success
  • Know your target audience (your ideal guests)
  • Establish how you will reach them
  • Gain clarity over your desired branding

Define Your Target Audience

  • Have an “ideal customer persona” (description of your ideal guests)
  • Then segment groups of people that will fit under that criteria
  • The language used for each segment should be different and match as closely as possible to their type of language and attitudes
  • Deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time using the right language and right channel

Define Your Marketing Channels Mix

  • Decide which actions to take first to maximize your impact
  • Try to be active on at least 4 or 5 social media channels (where your audience is)
  • Determine how you want to position your inn/association
  • Understand your unique features and how they are important to your guests to communicate them effectively
  • Identify your brand values to differentiate yourself from your competition
  • Consider new products and services valuable to your ideal customers

Check For These Website Factors

  • Clean and easy to navigate (does it visually make sense?)
  • Descriptions (how well does your content appeal to potential guests?)
  • Loading time (the slower the website, the faster they leave)
  • Local area (do you feature local attractions and events?)
  • Mobile optimization (does it adapt to different devices?)
  • Partners (do you promote any partnerships with local businesses?)
  • Pictures (are they attractive and professional?)
  • Reviews (do you include the comments of previous guests?)
  • Social Media (do you have links to each of your ACTIVE social media networks?)
  • Usability (how user friendly is it?)
  • Video (do you have video content to give guests a more personal look?)

Use Social Media Wisely

  • Blog regularly and share on social media
  • Convey your brand personality
  • Encourage your guests to follow your social media and mention you
  • Follow accounts with 1,000+ followers
  • Hashtags to get discovered easier
  • Interact with your audience
  • Links to articles and recipes
  • Planned posts and consistent activity
  • Post pictures
  • Real-time updates
  • Share descriptions
  • Show what makes your accommodations unique
  • Strong call to action
  • Time of day your audience is most active
  • Titles that include keywords your public uses
  • Upload videos
  • Use language your audience uses

Build Your Online Reputation

  • 3rd party opinions and guest recommendations tend to be far more trusted
  • Ask for guest reviews in the best possible way
  • Automate email to follow up with guests
  • Encourage corporate travelers
  • Influencer marketing (post guest reviews from notable people)
  • Partner with local information and travel centers
  • Show your intention to keep in touch further

Reach Your Dreams

When you successfully implement these factors in your marketing, you will increase your bookings. Need more clarity? Contact Kristi from Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free 15-minute phone conversation.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

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

Assumptions Can Be Wrong

three large windmills outside by lake with colorful sunset

Your bed and breakfast guests usually have questions. Be careful to understand their frame of reference when they ask a question. Assumptions can be wrong!

While I was a young student at Michigan State University, I lived in an international dorm. For those of you who don’t know, Michigan State is located in East Lansing, Michigan. One of the reasons I chose to attend the university was that I lived only two hours away in a town called Holland, Michigan.

When an international student asked me what I was going to do over the weekend, I replied, “Go home to Holland.” She looked shocked and asked with a puzzled look, “Only for the weekend?” I had failed to take into account that she was thinking of Holland, Netherlands. Actually, the Netherlands is the country my great-grandmother and her family came from when they relocated to Holland, Michigan.

We laughed when we both understood we were talking about two completely different parts of the world. I wrongly assumed that since we were both currently living in the state of Michigan, that she would have heard of my local Michigan town called Holland! Remember assumptions can be wrong!

Often when recommending places your guests can visit and things they can do in your area, please remember my advice to never make assumptions. You could have an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website with links to various places you suggest that they visit.  You could organize the recommended places by categories such as restaurants, museums, parks, and so on.

This helps your guests plan for their stay at your bed and breakfast and you can easily refer them to your website if they are calling or e-mailing you the question. I also recommend offering free brochures to local destinations to your guests while they visit in person.

Have you ever had a funny mix-up like mine with your bed and breakfast guests? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Fantastic Fill in the Blanks Social Media

the words "Fantastic Fill-in-the-Blanks on Social Media" with drawings of laptops and mobile phones

 

Fantastic fill in the blanks social media can definitely attract more traffic to your website.  People love to use their imagination and share it with others online.

Do you remember Mad Libs? Those books filled with one-page stories filled with blanks that invited you to insert your own keywords? They were  invented in 1953 by Leonard Stern and Roger Price, who published the first Mad Libs book themselves in 1958.  It turns out that  these guys were ahead of their time in recognizing the power of the ‘blank’.

 

Fill in the blanks social media can prompt people to think about activities they would like to do and places they would love to visit.  For example, Disney posted, “If I could spend a day with a Disney character, I would choose _______.”

This is a great way to encourage creative responses as well as to promote engagement with your posts and tweets.  The blanks are essentially ‘platforms’ for people to share their creativity.

  • My favorite way to relax after a long hard day is to _______.
  • _______ always makes me feel inspired.
  • The best afternoon snack of all time is _______.
  • My favorite board game is _______.

These types of posts often garner fun and short comments, which then encourage your audience to react and interact.  Share a great photo and a good fill-in-the-blank sentence to inspire your audience to engage with you and your brand.

a tweet "I'm ready for Spring so I can _________" @bandbblogging with close up of yellow flower with water droplets

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Fill-in-the-blank posts feel incomplete until they’re engaged with. People love filling in blanks, and the most effective fill-in-the-blank posts are the ones that let fans share their ideas.

Make fill-in-the-blank posts and tweets relevant to your fans and the space you’re working in to see the best results.

Use fill-in-the-blank posts as a two-pronged engagement tactic: interact with your online community and get to know them better for future marketing campaigns.

Use the post tactic in conjunction with a specific event, such as a holiday.

Fill in the blank contests are great as they have the potential to actually get people thinking. The contest consists of a sentence of paragraph, and your fans are asked to add their own unique perspective by, obviously, filling in the blanks.

Fill-in-the-blanks are similar to questions.  They are simple and create engagement.  Some samples of these are:

  • My favorite social media site is _______________.
  • I’ve lived in ___________cities in my life.
  • I laugh every time I think about ______.

Have fun with these, but one piece of advice is to be careful that you don’t leave the blank too open ended for a potentially bad response. Be careful what you make a fill in the blank because people can turn it ugly.  That is what happened when the German grocery chain posted this:

“I became an ALDI-lover when I tasted _______ for the first time.”

Tweet out a straightforward question that’s easy to answer.  When questions are short and simple, it’s easy for followers to respond because they don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about their answer or trying to fit a longer reply into 140 characters (or fewer if there is a hashtag).

Fill-in-the-blanks social media gets your followers thinking and you challenge to them to show their creative side. The key to making fill-in-the-blank tweets work for your company is to relate them to your followers’ interests.  Then you will have success!

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.

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.

Shatter the Disastrous Myths About Bed and Breakfasts

outdoor pool with picnic basket on umbrella table with a red rose in a vase

It is time to shatter the disastrous myths about bed and breakfasts. There are a handful of reporters recently who have published stories that seem to be more about their own awkward hang-ups than about having real issues with where they stayed. Also, most of their disappointments could have been prevented through simple actions like looking at the accommodations’ website and reading guest reviews before their booking rooms.

Most bed and breakfasts are NOT about staying at grandma’s house with doilies. While some bed and breakfasts are located in historic mansions, that does not mean they have thin walls, squeaky bed frames, and creaky floors. Many of those inns have been painstakingly returned to their original glory with added insulation (if needed), restored or new furniture, and repaired or refinished flooring.

99% of bed and breakfasts offer private, connected bathrooms for their guests to use. Bed and breakfasts with good websites always show pictures of their guest rooms and bathrooms and even specify which amenities come with each of their rooms. Hotels are not the only ones with private balconies, sitting areas, gardens, pools, restaurants, and gift shops. There are plenty of inns offering these same luxuries.

Bed and breakfasts are always unique. Every inn is different and offers its own special personality and experiences. Guests choose bed and breakfasts based on its location, style, local attractions, and personal preferences. Bed and breakfast inns can come in a wide variety of types to choose from, including:

  • scenic mountain bed and breakfasts
  • modern boutique inns
  • bed and breakfast farms
  • pet-friendly inns
  • B&B retreats for authors or artists
  • bed and breakfasts on the water
  • environmentally friendly inns
  • bed and breakfasts in secluded locations
  • kid-friendly inns

There is a reason why they are called bed and breakfasts. Hotels often offer “continental” breakfasts that leave much to be desired. Innkeepers often have culinary training as well as a natural talent and passion for cooking. Many bed and breakfasts accommodate guests on restricted diets.

Preferably while booking your room, be sure to indicate any food allergies or dietary guidelines. Whether you are on a gluten-free, dairy-free, low cholesterol, reduced fat, no sugar added, vegan, or vegetarian diet, bed and breakfast chefs can make something you will enjoy eating that does not compromise those standards.

You do NOT have to have conversations with other guests if you feel like keeping to yourself. There is no “dreaded obligation” to have small talk with strangers. At breakfast time, many inns offer tables for two or even in-room dining. It is less common for there to be one common breakfast table for all the guests to sit at. This is a win-win for shy and outgoing guests as well as perky and not-so-perky guests. You can seek interaction or keep to yourself. It is completely up to you!

Innkeepers want to provide their guests with the best hospitality experience possible. Bed and breakfast staff do not try to “hover” over their guests. They remain attentive (they are there if you need them) yet not intrusive (they give you space and privacy). They respect their guests’ wishes for peace and quiet. Some places offer private entrances, separate cottages or guest houses.

Bed and breakfasts are a great value. They offer free breakfast, free parking, and complimentary refreshments. Most offer free wireless internet and some have free DVD libraries and even provide free streaming video services like Netflix. Hotels charge extra for these things. There is no such thing as “free room service” at hotels.

If you like impersonal and stuffy hotel chains, then maybe bed and breakfast inns are not for you. However, many of you (if you have not already) will visit a bed and breakfast inn and never go back to staying at hotels!

Owners and innkeepers, are you looking to improve your online marketing results?  Want to educate potential guests about what makes your inn more appealing than your local competition? Bed and breakfast blogging offers professional services including blogging, e-mail marketing, social media, and reputation management.  Don’t have time or don’t know where to start? Contact Kristi today for a free consultation!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Accomplish Your Bed and Breakfast Goals

your bed and breakfast goals

 

 

 

Consider writing down your bed and breakfast goals for next year.  Use the famous SMART acronym to make decisions.  This will help you accomplish your bed and breakfast goals.

 

Specific: Make sure that your goals are very specific.  First, ask yourself some questions.

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What types of repeat guests would we like to attract?
  • Are guests coming to our local area for a specific reason or activity?
  • What types of local events in our area attract guests?
  • What do guests tell us they like about my inn?

 

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to know if you have reached them. Quantifying your goals gives you something to strive for.

 

  • By what percentage do we want our occupancy rates to go up?
  • How many more B&B packages could we sell this year?
  • What number of local business partnerships do we want to add this year?
  • How much money could we set aside to sponsor a local event?
  • How many private events should we host?

 

Attainable: Goals need to be reachable to motivate you do achieve them.  Setting impossible goals does not help you.  Make it a goal that is a stretch but doable.

 

  • How many blog posts could we do this year?
  • How many e-newsletters would we produce?
  • What social media campaigns could we do?
  • Do we need to change our reservation software to give us better results?
  • Should we join a bed and breakfast association?

 

Relevant: Goals need to be suitable to what your inn and your local area offers.  Represent what your guests can expect from their stay with at your bed and breakfast.

 

  • What inn amenities could we promote?
  • Do we have any of the following: a restaurant, a gift shop, or a spa?
  • Do we have excellent local entertainment venues or other attractions?
  • Do we have up-to-date pictures of our bed and breakfast and food?
  • Could we support a local cause that has an event?

 

Time bound: Giving yourself a deadline makes your goals even more real.  Vague goals do not equal results.

 

  • What are the due dates for our blog posts?
  • How many calls to potential local business partners do we make each month?
  • By what date should our bed and breakfast website be redesigned?
  • When do we need to finish this renovation project?
  • No later than what date should we put up our new bed and breakfast sign?

 

Success does not happen by accident, but by dedication and SMART goal planning.  What goals does your inn have for the coming year?  Feel free to comment below with what your bed and breakfast would like to accomplish.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

« Older Entries