Make It All About Your Bed and Breakfast Guests

Make it all about them. Make it all about your bed and breakfast guests.  Author Bruce Turkel, in his insightful book All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on Others, makes it clear that what really matters to consumers is their own self-interest. Business owners (including innkeepers) can use that knowledge to make their businesses (specifically bed and breakfasts) about the people they are trying to reach (potential guests).

Author Bruce Turkel states that successful businesses created for today’s “all about them” economy realize what you do is less important than identifying who you are and why that resonates with current and potential customers (guests).  

Turkel stresses that “good brands make you feel good, but great brands make you feel good about yourself.” Things sell not because of what they can do, but because of how they make consumers feel.  

What attracts business to you and separates you from the competition (other accommodations)? Understand exactly what your customers are buying.  What do you provide that they cannot find anywhere else?  

Figure out who you are and what you stand for then communicate that identity.  Translate your message into customer centered communication that resonates with your audience.

What opportunities does your business provide for increasing customer satisfaction and company revenue?  What do you stand for?  Can you describe that in just a few words?  To determine what those few words are, Turkel recommends you consider five components.  

  • First, write down your company features and benefits.  This means everything you and your business offer including products, services, talents, skills, experiences, and so on.
  • Then write down your points of distinction.  What sets you apart from your competition? What do your clients identify about you?
  • Next, focus on the functional side of your business.  What features and attributes do you offer?
  • Then focus on the emotional side of your business.  How do your customers feel?
  • Lastly, this is when you can take reflect upon that information and know what you stand for and know who you are.  This is your brand promise.   

Innkeepers, do you make it all about your bed and breakfast guests?  Do potential guests know how you are different from other accommodations in your area?  

If you need help defining what makes your inn unique, so you stand out from other lodging choices, the Bed and Breakfast Blogging team is here to help.  Contact Kristi Dement for a free consultation today and she can start help you share your inn’s story with the world!

Can Your B&B Guests Charge Their Devices?

Can your B&B guests charge their devices?  With an increasing number of people owning and traveling with multiple mobile electronic devices, bed and breakfast inns must think about offering places (especially in their guest rooms) for their bed and breakfast guests to charge their electronic devices.

For example, just one person could bring their business cell phone, personal cell phone, laptop, e-reader, tablet, i-Pod, etc. You get the picture!  

The location of the charging stations/outlets should be conveniently located.  No one wants to move or duck behind furniture to get to them.  Ideally, they should be on either side of the bed, they can be built into lamps or desks, and be put near bathroom mirrors and guest room entryways.  

New bed and breakfast construction should plan to offer more outlets and USB ports than what was once the standard number of outlets. Older accommodations can have their outlets “retro-fitted” to handle multiple devices.  Of course, make sure your outlet strips are surge protected.

The 1810 Emerson House Bed and Breakfast offers guest rooms with a dual USB wall outlet for ease of charging all their electronic devices.  If this historic property can add the technology later, then so can your inn if it needs to be updated.

The Inn on First in Napa, California not only offers iPod docks, but also i-Pods with curated playlists designed to heighten couples’ romance.  Now that is going above and beyond guest expectations!

Bed and breakfast inns should think about their “plug-ability” for the electronic devices of their guests. The last thing they want to do is search for hidden power outlets and find out they are not in convenient spots or that they have more devices than outlets in the room!

If you do have extra outlets and USB ports, be sure to mention that on the list of guest room amenities on your bed and breakfast website.  On social media, you can share a picture of your own phone, tablet, laptop, i-Pod, and/or e-reader charging in a guest room and write something clever like “Our guests can easily charge a variety of electronic devices in the privacy of their own rooms.”

This is especially useful if some of your guests tend to be business travelers.  Consider putting a blog post about your business amenities, including any meeting and/or banquet rooms.  Offering your guests the ability to safely charge multiple electronic devices in their own guest rooms is smart hospitality. 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How Bed and Breakfasts Can Win Like Amazon

Fast Company ranked Amazon the World’s Most Innovative Company in 2017.  Amazon is the largest American e-commerce company.  Founded on July 5 of 1994, Jeff Bezos selected the name Amazon as he looked through the dictionary.  He settled on “Amazon” because it was a place that was “exotic and different” just as he envisioned for his Internet enterprise.  Bed and breakfasts should each strive to be different and stand out in a unique and impressive way.  Think about how your inn can uniquely excel in hospitality, cuisine, and accommodations.

Bezos also noted that the Amazon river was by far the “largest” river in the world and he planned to make his store the largest in the world.  Amazon, as a company, has achieved enormous success.  Back in 1996, Amazon was only a $16 million company while Barnes and Noble was at the time a gigantic $2 billion company.  However, Amazon was the fastest company to reach one billion in sales. In 2016, Amazon’s revenue was $136 billion United States dollars while Barnes and Noble increased to a significantly smaller $4.16 billion.  

How did Amazon do it?  Amazon set goals to create something superior and completely new.  Jeff Bezos, who continues to record ideas as he thinks of them, made a list of 20 possible categories for his business and then decided that his best option was to start with books.  Years later Amazon would become one of the world’s best known companies and be referred to as “the everything store.”

While publishers complained when Amazon let its users publish book reviews (showing both the positive and negative comments), Jeff Bezos stated, “We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”  To him, it was so people could make informed choices.  The user-generated content did give Amazon viewers an extra reason to visit their website: actual buyers of books were giving their honest opinions.  Now consumers can leave written evaluations of any of Amazon’s products.  Bed and breakfasts would do well to encourage their happy guests to leave reviews as well.

Amazon strives for continuous improvement and efficiency.  While you may be satisfied with the size of your business, there are always things innkeepers can do to make more money with each guest who visits.  Whether through added packages, special retreats, retail merchandise, or other extras, make it a goal to gain more business from every person who walks into your inn.

Names are so important for both people and places. Names help define people and brands. One of the most successful brands is Amazon.  Bed and breakfasts can look to Amazon for its success as a brand and its successful brand name. Since June 19, 2000, Amazon’s logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.  A good bed and breakfast logo can appear on merchandise you sell like coffee mugs, cookbooks, and aprons.  

Amazon carefully selects who they hire to join the company.  According to Amazon, they hire only the best and the brightest.  Some interview questions have been known to catch people off guard like, “Do you know why manhole covers are round?”  This is to judge the reasoning skills of interviewees as much as it is assess their intelligence.  This sets a high bar for the talent they hire.  While they have had some personnel issues as far as people electing to leave the company, many employees have done very well for themselves by staying.  Bed and breakfasts should also be selective when hiring more staff members.

One of Amazon’s core values is innovation.  They remain on the cutting edge of technology with their products and services.  As a company they love inventing things.  They are not held back by conventional thinking. They will quickly abandon old notions and embrace new ones when better options present themselves.  Likewise, innkeepers should stay on the cutting edge with their online marketing, reservation software, and so forth.

Amazon is known for their excellent customer service.  They offer a generous 30-day return policy.  They are resolved to offer the lowest prices anywhere.  Amazon has expanded not only the types of merchandise it sells, but also the programs it offers.  With a focus on long-term customer loyalty, those who are Amazon Prime members get several perks including free shipping.  Bed and breakfasts can reward returning guests and guests who make referrals.

Amazon is obsessed with customer satisfaction.  This online giant offers a personalized version of their website and gives recommendations to each shopper based on their previous searches and purchases. Amazon’s wide selection, low prices, and excellent customer service is remaking industries.  Through strategic marketing, including blogging, social media, and phone conversations, bed and breakfast guests can be persuaded to spend more money during their visits on custom packages and other options. 

Amazon arguably has the most authoritative online product catalog.  To make it easier for customers to learn more about the products on Amazon, they offer the following lists and tools:

  • Amazon Bestseller Lists
  • Amazon Sales Rank
  • Amazon Wishlists 
  • Amazon Look Inside The Book
  • Amazon Search Inside The Book

Amazon’s overarching goal is to be the first place people look to buy anything. Amazon is also referred to as the “unstore.”  According to Bezos, Amazon is not bound by the traditional rules of retail.  This is a list of some of Amazon’s products and services:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire (their own e-book reader)
  • Amazon Create Space (their e-book publishing company)
  • Amazon Audible (audio books)
  • Amazon Web Services (cloud computing)
  • Amazon Prime Video (similar to Netflix)
  • Amazon Marketplace (option to buy from third party sellers)
  • Amazon Fresh (groceries)

Perhaps having a company name beginning with “A” was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.  Does this mean that your bed and breakfast name must start with the letter A?  No, absolutely not.  You can think of a clever and profitable bed and breakfast business name by taking into account: your location, your inn, your decorating theme(s), and so on.

Maybe I should rename my company name from Bed and Breakfast Blogging to something else?  Any suggestions??  Feel free to comment below with positively creative suggestions!

Do Your B&B Headlines Get Attention?

Do your B&B headlines get attention?  Shown above is Co-Schedule’s free tool called the “Headline Analyzer.”  It promises that you will learn how to write headlines that drive traffic, shares, and search results.  This is especially important in the travel industry. 

So why are headlines so important? It’s because they’re the first lines of your copy that customers read. They create an initial impression that either draws readers in or pushes them away.  In this fast-paced online world, it is important to stand out and capture the focus of your potential bed and breakfast guests.  

The headline alone can make or break your ad, homepage, or e-mail subject line. It sets the tone for the rest of the copy. If the headline pulls readers in, you may make more money; if not, you’ll be left wondering what happened.

Headline writing tips to keep in mind:

  • Your headline should be unique.
  • Your headline should be ultra-specific.
  • Your headline should convey a sense of urgency.
  • Your headline should be useful.

The following headline ideas are just a starting point.  You can be as creative as you want to be.  The goal is to create headlines that motivate people to continue to read about your inn.

The Secret [fill in the blank]

This is an opportunity to share insider knowledge of your local area to benefit your potential guests. Help your bed and breakfast guests know more about your local area.  Where are great local places for dining, sight-seeing, and other fun activities in your immediate area.

  • The Secret To Discovering

Who Else Wants [fill in the blank]

By asking “who else wants” you are implying that there is a consensus about this desire. 

  • Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?

What Everybody Wants To Know About [fill in the blank]

This headline challenges the reader’s curiosity to see if they are missing some knowledge. 

  • What Everybody Wants To Know About Staying at a Bed and Breakfast

Now you can have [something desirable] and [great circumstance]

This is another version of the classic expression “have your cake and eat it too.”  

  • Now You Can Go On Vacation and Enjoy It Too

[#] [Facts or Ideas or Lessons or Principles or Reasons or Secrets or Steps or Tricks or Ways] [fill in the blank]

Numbers in headlines get attention and people love lists.  They are easy to scan and readers know how much content to expect from the blog post.

  • 10 Facts About Bed and Breakfasts You Didn’t Know
  • 5 Ideas to Make Your Vacation More Memorable
  • 7 Lessons About Spending Time With Those You Love
  • 3 Principles to Making Love Relationships Work
  • 9 Reasons To Vacation More
  • 4 Secrets To Melting Stress Away
  • 8 Steps To Relaxing While On Vacation
  • 11 Tricks To Packing More Efficiently
  • 6 Ways To Strengthen Your Romantic Relationships

No time to write blog posts?  Bed and Breakfast Blogging is here to help.  Contact us to find out more about our tailor-made marketing services.

How To Promote Staycations at Your Bed and Breakfast

As you may know, “staycations” are vacations spent at home or nearby.  Have you promoted your nearby bed and breakfast to locals in your community?  This is a great target market.  Best of all, you are a “local” promoting your business to other locals.

The Victoria, a bed and breakfast in Bentonville, Arksansas,  lists four great reasons for locals in their community to stay at their bed and breakfast:

  • Less planning is necessary (since you know your local community and you can even go back home if you forgot something important)
  • Much more affordable (plane rides and car rentals are not necessary)
  • Get to know everything your area has to offer (such as its museums, gardens, and other tourist attractions)
  • Vacation at a more relaxed pace (a great alternative to stressful, activity-filled vacations far away from home)

According to The Project: Time Off Coalition, more than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days! Ironically, their data also showed that employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.  

This is where owners and innkeepers of bed and breakfast inns can come in.  You could put together your own staycation package that could include tickets to local area attractions and gift certificates to local restaurants. 

The Bridgeton House in the New Hope area of Pennsylvania offers a “Savory Staycation Package” that includes:

  • A welcoming wine and cheese upon arrival
  • Afternoon tea featuring a wonderful selection of homemade sweets and savories each day of your stay
  • A multi-course made to order breakfast each day of your stay
  • Their fireside basket dinner for 2 inclusive of a bottle of wine (choice of red, white or sparkling cider)

You can promote your package in a number of effective ways:

  • On a web page that lists your specials and guest packages
  • In a blog post that discusses the benefits of staycations and details your package
  • Share the information in social media (including Facebook and Twitter)
  • Since you are attracting local area guests, how about putting a sign outside your inn announcing your staycation package?  This can attract those who pass by.
  • Partner with local business owners to promote your staycation package (such as local attractions and restaurants)
  • Share this information with your local tourism board and local press
  • Volunteer at a local nonprofit or sponsor a local event in your community for word of mouth advertising

Since you know what your specific local area offers, you can customize your staycation package to fit your community.  It is becoming increasingly popular to “shop local” as well.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Reach More Success By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Reach more success by applying the lessons found in the new book, Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence by Andy Molinksky, Ph.D. Professor Molinsky teaches psychology and organizational behavior at Brandeis University.  

He starts out by asking how many of us have avoided opportunities that could have potentially led to real growth and development?  I would say all of us have shied away from doing something because we felt it was outside of our comfort zone.  

So what makes us hesitate to do things?  We have a tendency to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. Molinsky lists five challenges to overcome in order to step outside your comfort zone, rise to the challenge, and build your confidence:

  • Authenticity challenge: it may feel unnatural to you do this, but the more you do it the easier it will be
  • Likeability challenge: you fear that others won’t like you; don’t let what others think of you prevent you from doing something that will lead to your own improvement
  • Competence challenge: you fear you don’t have the skills or that you won’t be good at it; remember we are our own worst critic!
  • Resentment challenge: you are annoyed that you have to adapt your behavior; focus on what you are trying to accomplish and the annoyances will fade away 
  • Morality challenge: you may feel unethical (the example the author gives is that of a pediatrician who regrets seeing babies cry when he/she is injecting them with necessary vaccines to protect their long term health)

Molinsky details the following solutions:

  • Conviction: have a deep sense of purpose that it is necessary to make these changes; focus on how this behavior is actually helping 
  • Customization: change the way you do it so that it is more comfortable for you
  • Clarity: take an honest account of your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses 
  • Take the leap: when you willingly take the leap, you will discover that this isn’t so bad and this will reduce your anxiety and make you more likely to take leaps in the future; the more you do it, the more your anxiety diminishes

Possible examples of how these solutions can be applied to the bed and breakfast inn-keeping world:

  • Conviction: you may decide to focus on how your excluding guests under 12 is helping you cater to your adult guests who visit for a romantic getaway
  • Customization: you may decide the best way to prepare for the next morning’s breakfast is to have your guests check or circle a designated # of items from a list of food choices (ex: French toast or pancakes or waffles) when they check in
  • Clarity: you may realize that it is worth the extra money to employ a housekeeper so you can focus on what you like and do best
  • Take the leap: when you speak to potential guests over the phone, the more often you talk about your inn’s custom packages, the easier and more natural it will become to regularly mention them in future phone calls (and more revenue should come as a result)

While innkeepers are known for being warm, gracious, and outgoing, there are always more things we can do to step outside of our comfort zone.  Innkeepers, how did stepping outside your comfort zone improve your bed and breakfast inn business?  Please feel free to comment below.  

The Four Doors Of Innkeeping

The Four Doors of Innkeeping is based on the book “The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom and a Meaningful Life” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans.  There are more than 17 million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated in more than 24 languages.

Door #1: Believe There’s a Reason You Were Born

Never underestimate the power of belief. Not only is there a reason you were born, but there is a reason that you are an innkeeper.  Just like teachers with their students, you will never know the amount of lives you touch for the better as you host and serve your bed and breakfast guests.  Remember that as you extend warm hospitality to each of them.  

Door #2: Free Yourself from Limitations

Most of our greatest learning experiences (and successes) come because of adversity (and failures). Everyone has problems.  It’s how we deal with them that matters. If you had to deal with (or are in the process of overcoming) zoning issues, renovation problems, or even a public relations nightmare, you can come out better on the other side.

Door #3: Magnify Your Life

Dreaming is the first step to making our lives greater.  Ask yourself, “What if…?” Be willing to take risks. We should use our talents and gifts to make more out of our lives.  This could mean that in addition to running a bed and breakfast inn, that you may add a restaurant, a gift shop, or even a spa.  

Door #4: Develop a Love-Centered Map

Love is the secret to joy.  The greatest source of happiness comes from giving and receiving love.  Love is what love does.  We develop love through service.  Love is both the destination and the journey.  As you appropriately love your guests, they will come become repeat visitors as well as spread by word of mouth (and hopefully online reviews) their enjoyable experience as your guests.

The author reminds us that we have a choice to live a more abundant life, a life of joy, freedom, and meaning.  We can improve our lives by opening these 4 doors. Feel free to comment below about how these 4 doors relate to you and your innkeeping experiences.

Is Your Bed and Breakfast Organized Enough?

bed-and-breakfast-organized

Is your bed and breakfast organized enough?  This blog post is inspired by the book called, “Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide To Getting–and Staying–Organized” by Amanda Sullivan.  Our homes and inns are a reflection of our minds.  We must ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Why do I need this?
  • What is it doing here?
  • Does it work?
  • Does it get used?
  • When is this needed?
  • Does it reflect me (and the style of our inn)?
  • Do I love it?
  • How many do I need?
  • Where is the logical place that I will remember to look for it?
  • Does it belong here?
  • Does it fit who I am now?
  • Can I let go?

Sullivan focuses the first part of her book on the acronym FLOW:

  • Forgive yourself
  • Let stuff go
  • Organize what’s left
  • Weed constantly

Her organization tips include:

  • Go through your home and see it as if for the first time (or see it from your guests’ perspectives)
  • Create simple systems with easy routines
  • Gather all of one category to evaluate together (get rid of what is not needed)
  • Make sure your containers are well labeled and easily accessible
  • Keep a bag/box dedicated for items that need to be passed on
  • Having less means fewer objects to keep track of
  • Designate dedicated areas for items (everything needs an exit or resting place)
  • Develop the habit of weeding constantly to keep chaos at bay
  • Put what you regularly use in the easiest access spots
  • Try to deal with the stuff on your desk every day
  • Eliminate piles of paper (including mail) by dealing with it as it comes in
  • Have a recycling bin and shredder near your designated paper area
  • When filing digitally, you want to be able to access what you are looking for and know what a document is without having to open it
  • Be consistent in your labeling system to make it easy for you (and your staff) to find what you’re looking for
  • Keep the most-used files in the front of the easiest access cabinet
  • Store tax information by year (and keep 7 years of tax backup documents)
  • When your file cabinet is full, look to weed rather than buy another file cabinet
  • Give everything a home and stick to those boundaries
  • As we stick with a habit, it requires less and less of our concentration
  • Make a habit of knowing what you have so you can keep your stock replenished without over-purchasing
  • Practice cultivating consistency in all of your routines

The benefits to breaking down disorganization habits:

  • Less clutter
  • Less waste
  • Less stress
  • Less running out of things
  • More serene environment
  • More beauty
  • Knowing where things are

Even if the guest areas of your bed and breakfast are very tidy, what about the places that only the owners/innkeepers, their family, and their staff spends time in?  The book specifies that “organized enough” does not mean that all your spaces have to be perfect, but they should be functional.  

This book motivated me (Kristi Dement) to organize my piles of mail (it only took me THREE HOURS) into a more efficient system.  I am also going to look into automatic online payments to cut down on the amount of bills I receive in the mail (this saves time and it is better for the environment).  If you want to share any additional positive organization tips, please feel free to comment below.

How To Profit From Designing Bed and Breakfast Retreats


bed-and-breakfast-retreats

Bed and breakfast retreats can be very profitable for bed and breakfast inn owners. I will be presenting on an upcoming Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) webinar.  Here is the blurb:

“From dreaming to planning and pricing to marketing, Kristi Dement will show you how to profit from designing retreats at your bed and breakfast.  She will reveal 15 different types of B&B retreats that your inn could host.  Plus, learn several reasons we should all love retreats!”

We will discuss:

  • 3 Essential Questions To Ask in the Dreaming Phase
  • Understanding the Role of Activities and Breaks
  • Crucial Planning Considerations
  • Option of Working with Outside Professionals
  • Types of Retreats and The Importance of Names
  • Customizing Retreats for Specific Clients
  • Critical Retreat Policies to Have in Place
  • Retreat Pricing Guidelines
  • Structuring Your Retreat
  • Building Retreat Buzz
  • Key Retreat Marketing Strategies
  • Reasons to Love Retreats

Throughout the Professional Association of Innkeepers International webinar, I will be sharing the images (like the one above) from talented hospitality photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography.  

Click here for the blog post with a link to the YouTube video of my previous PAII webinar called, “How You Can Profit From Creating Memorable Guest Packages” led by Heather Turner, the Marketing Director for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.

This PAII webinar is scheduled to take place on Wednesday January 25 at 2 pm.  After the webinar, I will provide a link to the presentation right here.  To get more ideas for designing retreats, look at BnBFinder’s website under Specials and then Classes, Courses, and Workshops.  

If you can think of another issue for me to address, with regards to designing bed and breakfast retreats, please feel free to comment below.  Alternatively, if you have experience leading bed and breakfast retreats, I welcome you to introduce yourself.  Tell us the name of your inn and where it is located and let us know what has worked well for your bed and breakfast retreats.

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