Category Archives: Associations and Ratings

Do You Know What Your Guests Really Crave?

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 Web 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 To Get More Positive Reviews and How To Handle Negative Reviews


Do you wonder how to get more positive reviews or how to handle negative reviews?  Online guest reviews are increasingly important to travelers.  Around 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before booking.  “Word of mouth” (especially online reviews) is a powerful thing.

Good reviews can attract more guests to your B&B and raise your profits.  Positive guest reviews give third-party proof that your inn is good as your website says it is. A higher number of positive online guest reviews encourages potential guests to stay at your accommodations since you appear reliable and trustworthy.  

Like it or not, reviews have a direct impact on:

  • your ranking on review sites
  • your ranking on third party websites (like online travel agencies)
  • your ranking in the search engines
  • your overall online reputation score
  • your overall sales and conversion rates

Your best line of defense is to always provide an exceptional stay and the best customer experience possible.  Set expectations appropriately: always under-promise and over-deliver.  Exceed your guests’ expectations.  Give every single guest the personal touch and make them feel like they have had a remarkable 5-star experience.  The majority of positive guest reviews come when guests are pleasantly surprised by the hospitality they receive.  

As guests are checking out, you can ask them about their stay.  Guests that give loved their stay should be encouraged to leave online reviews.  Tell them that reviews are important to your business and influential in improving the experience of their future visits.  

You may want to give your guests a scenic postcard (maybe with a photo of your inn’s best feature) with a personal message on it asking them for a review.  They will think of the good times and it will motivate them to write a kind review.  

In follow-up emails you can ask recent guests to leave a review.  If someone states something positive about your inn, encourage them to share their praise online. Social media is a good place to share positive online reviews. 

Respond to all reviews (good and bad) even with a brief comment.  Thank them for taking the time to write their review and show your appreciation of their visit.  

Did you know that the #1 cause of dissatisfied guests is unfulfilled expectations? For the guests who bring up a negative issue, do everything in your power to make it right. Respond to 100% of negative reviews within 24 hours.  Address the specifics in their complaint.  

Always maintain a professional tone in response to negative reviews. Start by addressing the guest’s name, show your sincerity, let the reviewer and potential guests know you are sorry if it was your fault and you can apologize that their experience was not to their satisfaction.  Let them know about your standard of service.  

Do not confront the person publicly.  Too many businesses make the mistake of defending themselves and not acknowledging their own mistakes.  This always makes the situation worse.  Sincerely apologize that they didn’t feel you met their expectations.  

Remember that an apology is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing.  In your response you can note how many years you have been in business and how many guests you have hosted.  “Our team uses very rare incidents like this one to fine tune our operations so that this never happens again.”  This is a good way to frame your business and make the guest feel acknowledged.  

Highlight any changes you have made or intend to make.  When answering a negative review, write it with your future guests in mind.  “We can guarantee that we won’t miss the mark in the future with our guests.”  

The proper response to a bad review can minimize the damage to your inn’s reputation by influencing prospective guests to think more highly of you.  Expressing sympathy that the guest experience fell short of their expectations can also repair your relationship with the unhappy reviewer.  

Thank them for their candid review of their recent stay.  Let them know that their feedback is extremely valuable to them as you strive to improve with each and every guest’s visit. Tell them you appreciate that they brought this to your attention.  Managing you B&B reputation can go a long way when it comes to keeping guests happy and more coming through your front door.  

Why Your Inn Will Profit From Blogging

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Your inn will profit from blogging.  If you are not already consistently offering quality blog posts, now is the time to do so.  Let’s examine the benefits of bed and breakfast blogging as well as learn what qualities to look for in a bed and breakfast blogger.

First of all, search engines like Google absolutely love and reward fresh content.  They give preference to websites which continually add new information.  A blog post is one more indexed page on your website. It signals to the search engine spiders that your website is active.

Bed and breakfasts with blogs establish themselves as being an authority on hospitality and their local community.  By offering helpful, travel-friendly advice, bed and breakfasts can get the attention of those wanting to know more about your local area while also telling others what makes your inn an ideal accommodations choice.

The more information you provide on your website and the more questions you answer, the more likely web visitors are to take action like contacting you, reading more of your website, following you on social media, and booking a room.

You can share the following information in blog posts:

  • Behind the scenes: feature your employees backgrounds and give fun facts about them
  • Events: let potential guests know about upcoming local events
  • Packages: people are willing to pay more for something that is already planned and included (such as flowers and tickets)
  • Recommendations: promote local businesses in your area and let them know you do (they might return the favor)
  • Reviews: share rave reviews from your previous guests
  • Rooms: show pictures of your guest rooms, tell each one’s amenities, reveal why the room has its particular name
  • Specials: offer discounts to mid-week stays or specific groups of people like senior citizens, veterans, and emergency workers

The effort you put it now will pay off well into the future because people will be able to view your blog posts years from now.  Providing valuable content means your content will spread. Blog posts can be shared in social media to expose yourself to a whole new audience.

Be sure to attract more guests with calls to action.  Encourage them to contact you, connect on social media, and book now.

Write for your ideal guest.   Know who you are trying to attract.  Pick a diverse range of keywords related to that topic.  For example, “eco-friendly inns” can also be described as “green”, “environmentally friendly” and use related keywords like “electric car charging”, “energy efficient lighting”, “rain water saving”, and so on.

List out relevant keywords describing your guest, your local area, what makes your inn so unique, and different seasons of the year.

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Keywords to describe the type of guest you cater to:

  • adventure seeking
  • antique lovers
  • beach lovers
  • bird watchers
  • business travelers
  • celebrating birthdays and anniversaries
  • engaged couples and newlyweds
  • girlfriend getaways
  • mystery solvers
  • romantic couples
  • scrap-bookers
  • shopping lovers
  • sports enthusiasts
  • wine connoisseurs
  • winter sports participants
  • yoga exercisers

Keywords to describe your local area:

  • amazing views
  • amusement park
  • annual conferences
  • art galleries
  • breweries
  • business conferences
  • college campuses
  • concerts
  • sports games
  • theatre
  • tourist attractions
  • trade shows

Keywords to describe the uniqueness of your inn:

  • amenities
  • B&B inn association membership
  • awards
  • catering
  • diamond rating
  • eco-friendly
  • gardens
  • handicap accessible
  • historic
  • kid friendly
  • pet-friendly
  • press coverage
  • restaurant
  • retreats
  • Select Registry membership
  • spa
  • tea room
  • Trip Advisor reviews
  • vegetarian or vegan
  • waterfront property
  • weddings
  • wine tours

Keywords regarding different times of the year:

  • Christmas
  • Fall foliage
  • New Years
  • Patriotic holidays
  • Valentine’s Day

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Does this seem overwhelming?  Why not do what you do best as an owner/innkeeper and have a professional like me do your online marketing (blogging and social media)?  These are some qualifications you should look for from hospitality marketing professionals:

  • What is their education background?
  • What experience do they have?
  • Do they seem easy to work with?
  • Will they be dedicated to your bottom line and getting you the results you need?
  • Are they active in blogging and social media for their own business?
  • Do they have client testimonials?

Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free consultation today.  Feel free to add comments or questions below.

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Upcoming Innkeeping Conferences

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Don’t miss these upcoming innkeeping conferences in 2016.  In January, hundreds of innkeepers and industry partners from all over the country (and beyond) will meet in Austin, Texas to experience the biggest industry conference in the U.S. The PAII Innkeeping Conference & Trade Show January 10 – 14, 2016, will showcase industry trends, best practices, and encourage you to renew and build new relationships with industry partner vendors and innkeepers alike.

Join in special events, mixers, and cutting-edge education, tailored to aspiring to novice to master innkeepers.  You’ll learn new ways to drive your business forward, refine your services, and exceed your business goals at over 40 live sessions.  You’ll consult face-to-face with industry professionals, and engage all of your senses at the Innkeeper Trade Show.

Hosted by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, this conference will provide insight and perspective on our vibrant, challenging, ever changing industry, and more specifically, your investment. Gain a renewed focus, build vital connections, and reignite the passion that drives your hospitality business.

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Celebrate 25 years of CABBI (the California Assocation of Bed and Breakfast Inns).

Join them January 31 – February 2, 2016 at the Monterey Marriott for this once-a-year opportunity! Network with fellow innkeepers during the 2016 InnSpire Conference & Trade Show. This year’s trade show is the largest yet and promises to introduce you to the latest and greatest in industry products and services. Join us Monday night on the 10th floor of the Marriott as we host a celebration in honor of CABBI’s 25th anniversary!

The conference will kick off on Sunday with opening keynote speaker Nancy Friedman! An expert in customer service, Nancy is excited to provide InnSpire attendees with real-world takeaways to implement right away and make a difference in your business.  CABBI has over a dozen educational sessions planned, including their always-popular round-table sessions.

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Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers from all over the Mid-Atlantic region are invited to attend the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia from March 6 through March 8.  Learn from nationally known bed and breakfast industry experts.  Products and services related to the B&B industry will be on exhibit.

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The 2016 Knowledge Sharing Summit and Marketplace, hosted by the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals, will take place in Nashville, Tennessee from April 4 through the 6th.  This event will feature over 50 learning opportunities including Think Tank problem busting round tables and workshops that span educational paths from everything from Future Innkeepers to Back of the House to Guest Experience to Heads in Beds, plus multiple pre-conference sessions including professionally facilitated state and local association leader events and more.

If you want to share other bed and breakfast industry events (such as innkeeping conferences) that will take place in 2016, feel free to comment below.  Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging improves the marketing success of bed and breakfast businesses.  Contact us to learn how we help increase your inn’s revenue.  Let’s have our best year yet!

7 LinkedIn Groups for Innkeepers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Professional Hospitality Photographer Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Professional Hospitality Photographer Marcus Berg, from Unique Angles Photography, develops beautiful pictures for his hospitality clients.  When asked how he first got interested in photography, he said he received a phone call from a friend who asked him to take photos at her wedding reception.

This was back in the late 1980s when he did not even own a camera.  Borrowing a camera from his brother-in-law, Marcus later was told that his images of the wedding reception came out the best.  It was then that he decided to take a class at a community college.  Marcus Berg started his Unique Angles Photography business in January of 1994.  From his website, his bio reads:

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Marcus takes his wife to a bed and breakfast on every wedding anniversary.  In 2007, he was asked to attend a bed and breakfast conference.  This was his introduction to the world of hospitality.  After a few years, he devoted all of his interest in the hospitality industry.

His clientele is mainly in the B&B industry, but he has grown into serving boutique hotels as well.  He has done work from hotels, wineries, architects, and restaurants. He has kept the mindset for the hospitality image.

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What he likes most about being a professional photographer is being able to be creative and unique.  He is happy when he can make an image that attracts viewers to his client’s particular location.  Marcus also enjoys making so many new friends while doing his expert photography work.

When I asked him how he was able to masterfully capture the beauty of what is outside from inside a room, he explained that he captures the same lighting with an interior image, matching the exterior light because of his photography experience using lights and angles while keeping an interest in details.

Before Picture                                                         After Picture

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Marcus said that it is crucial for a hospitality business to have excellent photography because of how fast technology is moving these days.  Guests looking for places to stay make decisions based on the images they see.  First impressions stick in one’s memory.

Hospitality owners not only should have images with warm colors, but also an invitational feeling.  Images that enable potential guests to picture themselves right there.  According to Marcus, people do not read about a location before they see images of it.  They read to confirm the images.

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It is important for innkeepers to hire a good professional photographer who specializes in hospitality.  Updated images help hospitality businesses with reservations and they will see an increase in their bookings.  This increase in occupancy rates improves their bottom line.  Thus, good images make a profitable difference on a website.

Bed and breakfast innkeepers more than make back what they spend on professional photography and the images last.  Innkeepers can use last years’ photos to continue to build reservations, even though the photographer was only there a short period of time.

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Since Marcus is based in Oregon, his ventures started taking him around the state.  Then after he started attending more conferences, he made more contacts and soon was traveling the whole west coast.  Then he decided to branch out and made a contact in Texas and got the job.

Since then, he has made contacts all over the nation.  He has traveled to all four corners of the United States and many states in between.  Taking photos at conferences supports the association putting on the conference and helps increase his exposure to potential hospitality clients.

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Marcus said that the greatest part of the type of work he does is being able to meet so many wonderful people across the nation.  The hospitality industry has become a family set for him and every time he attends a conference or returns to a familiar inn, he said it is like being home.

You can see more of Marcus Berg’s Unique Angles Photography work on his website that lists some of his previous hospitality clients and their testimonials.  You can also follow Marcus on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Thank you, Marcus Berg, for letting me display some of your gorgeous photography on the Bed and Breakfast Blogging website as well!

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

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Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

What if there was an amazing way to market your bed and breakfast by keeping the alphabet in mind? These are some of the most important factors to consider when blogging about your bed and breakfast inn.

  • Amenities: What extra amenities does your B&B have that others do not? It is important to know what sets you apart from your competition. Whether you have in-room hot tubs or fireplaces, this is a great thing to mention in your blog and on your website.
  • Antiques: Do you have any unique antiques that guests can look at? You may want to keep priceless or fragile antiques behind glass to protect them. Some B&B’s sell antiques to their guests.
  • Art: Do guests admire your art collection? Whether you have paintings, murals, or sculptures, people enjoying looking at art. You may refer them to your local art museums and galleries.
  • Awards: Do you have some honor or distinction that is noteworthy? It is okay to mention your Diamond Rating level, your prize-winning recipe, or anything else that distinguishes you from other places of lodging.
  • Bathrooms: Show off your spacious, well-decorated, and luxurious bathrooms with pictures and blog about recent upgrades.
  • Beach: Having a beach or waterfront property adds to your appeal. Share plenty of outdoor pictures as well as pictures of the outside view from inside your inn.
  • Bedrooms: You could let guests know the meaning behind the names of your bedrooms. Is it named after a former resident, your state bird, or a local sports team? Blog about what your own guests tell you they love about your guest rooms.
  • Benefits: Blog about the benefits that come to those who take a break to relax and spend time with loved ones. With permission, you could feature some of your guests and have them share how they have benefited from their stay at your B&B.
  • Birthdays: It is always great to ask guests the reason for their visit. Even if the reason is not a birthday, it may be a good idea to find out those dates so you can send guests a postcard or email on their birthday to remind them of their stay and entice them to want to come back.
  • Breakfasts: Do you cater to special diets like gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan? How do guests receive their breakfast: delivered to their room or eaten in a common place? These are all things you can blog about. Even give a behind the scenes look at your kitchen or interview your chef.
  • Business: Do you host a number of business travelers in your area? Do you have a conference room and technology resources like free Wi-Fi and guest access to a printer and fax machine? Blogging about this may result in hosting more business travelers.
  • Classes: Do you teach, or know of someone who could do this, a certain skill? This could be cooking, dancing, photography, etc. By offering unique classes, you can attract more people to your inn.
  • Complimentary: Emphasize all the free things that come to your B&B guests versus those who stay at your local hotels. This includes: breakfast, concierge services, parking, etc. This gives people a reason to choose to stay with you over your local hotel competition.
  • Concerts: Are you near a big venue like a concert hall or stadium? Blog about the next musician or theatre performance coming to your area.
  • Decks: If you have a deck with an amazing view, by all means blog about it and show pictures of the view.   People like to get away to scenic places.
  • Dining out: Do you provide your guests with a list of local restaurants or have local restaurant menus available for guests to browse? You could feature certain restaurants you know are popular with your guests.
  • Eco-Friendly: If you are an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast, then you should write about what things you do to earn that green distinction. If you line dry your blankets and/or offer an electric car charging station, guests will appreciate that.
  • Events: Keep an eye on events that are happening in your local area. A great way to do this is to regularly check your local and state visitors’ bureaus.
  • Farms: If you live on a farm that grows crops and/or has animals, blog about this. Some guests would love to meet animals from your petting zoo. Other guests want the experience of picking berries, for example.
  • Fireplaces: If you have fireplaces inside and/or fire pits outside, this is an attractive feature. Mention that indoor guests can sip hot cocoa or drink wine by the fire. Outside they could roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
  • Flowers: As long as you know your guests do not have any allergies, displaying fresh flowers on throughout your B&B is a nice added touch. These flowers could come from your own garden or a local florist, farmers market, or grocery store.
  • Frequent stay: Reward your repeat guests in some way. This could be a free upgraded room, a free bottle of wine, free massage, or even an extra night.
  • Games: Do you offer cards, board games, or even video games at your inn? You may have a pool table or air hockey table or even have a horseshoe pit outside. Blog about the games that your guests enjoy playing at your bed and breakfast.
  • Garden: Guests love to walk the grounds of bed and breakfasts with gardens of all kinds, including: flower gardens, produce gardens, and rock gardens.
  • Handicap accessible: Do you accommodate handicapped people? If you have these available, discuss your ramps, ground floor guest rooms, wheelchair friendly bathrooms, and elevators in a blog post.
  • History: Many bed and breakfasts are registered historic places. You could blog about the history of your B&B including its former occupants and what it was used for. Some bed and breakfasts were once private residences, boarding schools, or used for other purposes.
  • Holiday: Use the time leading up to holidays to show pictures of how your inn is decorated and discuss local events related to the holidays.
  • Honeymooners: Many couples choose to stay at a bed and breakfast for their honeymoon. You may even have a Honeymoon Suite as part of your inn.
  • Innkeepers: Your guests want to know more about the innkeepers, the people who run your inn.
  • Just in Time: You could offer discounts based on the time of their stay. This could be last minute specials, mid-week discounts, or stay for a specific number of nights and get the next night free.
  • Kid-friendly: All bed and breakfast inns need to establish their minimum age requirement. Some bed and breakfasts cater to romance and do not allow anyone under a specific age to stay overnight. Others B&B’s are known as “kid friendly” and welcomes kids as well as provide accommodations like adjoining rooms.
  • Lakes: Being located on a lake is a tremendous advantage. If your guests can go fishing, swimming, waterskiing, rafting, canoeing, or do any other water-related activities, this is an opportunity to blog about it and share pictures.
  • Leisure activities: Anything that your guests can do for fun should be mentioned in your blog. I recommend having a list of links to local leisure activities such as amusement parks and golf courses.
  • Libraries: Do you have a common room that is perfect for guests to read in? Do you have a library of books available for them to use during their stay? If so, you could write a blog post about it. If you know a local author (or happen to be one yourself), consider hosting a book talk or book signing. Your library can include movies that guests can watch in their rooms.
  • Linens: Brag about your high thread count sheets, plush towels, and luxurious robes.
  • Local area: Find out why most people visit your area and blog about those reasons often. For example, if you are located near a famous race car track, feature that.
  • Membership: Belonging to associations can attract more guests. Guests rest easy when they know that you are part of a bed and breakfast association; have a certain Diamond rating, and so on. Membership in these organizations adds credibility.
  • Mountains: Bed and breakfasts located in the mountains can show their breathtaking views and discuss those pictures on their blog and website.
  • Museums: There are many types of museums that could be in your local area: art museums, history museums, natural science museums, and even sports museums (or hall of fames). If your inn is near any museums, blog about this.
  • Mysteries: Some bed and breakfasts offer Murder Mystery evenings or weekends. This may even include a dinner and/or getting into a costume. Those who like reading mystery novels are great candidates for people who are likely to enjoy these kinds of mysteries.
  • Night walk: Some local area events happen late at night or you could host your own night tour.
  • Occasion: A special occasion might bring people to your inn. This could be an anniversary or even a family reunion or class reunion.
  • Outdoors: It is important to know what people like to do outdoors in your area.   It often depends upon the weather your area receives and the topography of your region.
  • Packages: Add more value by putting together guest packages based upon interests, seasons, area activities, occasions, and much more. This could mean making arrangements, on behalf of your guests, for restaurants, tours, concerts, and more.
  • Partnerships: You may decide it is in your best interest to form partnerships with local business people. For example, in exchange for exclusively using only their business, you can get a deal with a local florist to reduce their rates.
  • Patios: If you have an outdoor patio area for your guests, take pictures of it. Blog about any outdoor events you hosted on your patio.
  • Patriotic: American patriotic holidays include Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Your bed and breakfast may decorate, host events, and/or offer patriotic packages.
  • Pets: Your bed and breakfast may not allow pets or the only pets allowed are the innkeepers. Other bed and breakfast inns may accommodate pets in certain places of the inn (like the first floor, rooms with private exits, and private cottages) or it could be entirely pet friendly. If your B&B does allow pets, you could devote a blog post about the lovable pets that have stayed.
  • Pictures: They can say much more than words ever will. Be sure to have flattering pictures of your bed and breakfast inn on your website and in your blog posts. The pictures should accurately represent what your inn looks like today.
  • Pools: If your B&B has an indoor or outdoor pool or hot tub, you can share pictures of that. Guests really appreciate private in room hot tubs.
  • Porches: Many bed and breakfasts are known for their porches. Share pictures of your porch with its rockers, swing, and other furniture.
  • Promotions: Bed and breakfasts can offer special promotions based on the holidays, seasons, and local events. This could include discounts, complimentary services, and free upgrades.
  • Quiet: Guests like to get away from the noise of everyday life. If you live in a tranquil setting, write about the compliments you receive about being a quiet place to stay.
  • Recreation: Discuss types of recreation guests can take part in on your property as well as in your local area.
  • Redecorating/remodeling: Feature the before and after pictures from a recent redecorating or remodeling project. Blog about how and why you decided to make those changes as well as why guests will want to visit.
  • Referrals: Give your guests incentives to make referrals to their friends and family. The incentive could be a discount on their next stay.
  • Restaurant: If you own your own bed and breakfast restaurant, this part of your inn may be open to the public. This is a great way to draw new overnight guests by giving them a taste of your incredibly delicious food when they come to dine at your restaurant.
  • Retreats: You could offer retreats like yoga retreats, scrapbooking retreats, or business retreats. Blog about the variety of retreats you offer.
  • Reviews: Share genuinely positive reviews you have of local places of interest to your potential guests.
  • Romantic: Bed and breakfasts may be the perfect place to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Relationship building is one of the primary reasons people take vacations.
  • Seasons: Decorate your inn to reflect each new season. This encourages people to return at a different time in the year to enjoy that time, too.
  • Shopping: Whether you have your own bed and breakfast shop or you are near a lot of wonderful area shopping malls and retail outlets, guests who like to shop will want to read about the shopping that is available in your local area.
  • Spas: You may have your own spa or have a partnership with a local spa or masseuse to provide spa services. Having these services sets you apart from other lodging accommodations.
  • Sports: Bed and breakfasts near sporting arenas and stadiums can blog about local sports teams season schedules, players, and coaches. Innkeepers might provide a Sports Package that includes tickets to their choice of certain local sporting events.
  • Tea: Bed and breakfasts may have a tea time or even a tea room. They may serve scones, tea sandwiches, cookies, and other finger food.
  • Ultimate experience: Position your bed and breakfast inn as the ultimate experience in lodging accommodations, hospitality, and cuisine. Encourage guests to give you a five star rating, or if they cannot do so, to talk with you about it instead of sharing their less than 5 star rating. This keeps up your image as the ultimate experience and gives you valuable input for how you can improve your guest experience.
  • Videos: If your bed and breakfast has its own video, be sure to put that on your website in a prominent place for your web visitors to see. Videos show more than pictures do. This allows your guests to get a feel for the layout of your bed and breakfast.
  • Weddings: If your inn hosts weddings, it is wise to dedicate a place on your website for that as well as to blog about it. Smaller bed and breakfasts may do small weddings or elopements.
  • Wine: Depending upon your state laws and licensing, you may host wine tastings or allow your guests to bring their own wine. You may even offer your guests the opportunity to tour one or more local vineyards in your area.
  • Xtra special: This was my “extra special” attempt to come up with a word that starts with “X.” It is important that your guests feel extra special not just when they arrive, but from the moment they see your website and speak with you over the phone.  Your bed and breakfast should have a great reputation.
  • Young and old guests: Bed and breakfasts appeal to young couples as well as older ones. You may have guests that return regularly over the years. That is great to have such loyalty and friendship with your guests.
  • Zzz…. Are your guests ready to have a restful experience at your inn? Make sure that your mattresses are comfortable. Be sure to offer extra pillows and blankets. Have a night light for guests to see their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Be sure to share your blog posts regularly in social media.  No time to write your own blog posts?  Contact us about your bed and breakfast blogging.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Managing Your B&B Reputation

managing-your-b-and-b-reputation

Managing your B&B reputation is more important than ever in this fast-paced world of easily accessed online information. Whether bed and breakfast innkeepers monitor it or not, people are talking about their inns. Do you know what others are saying about your bed and breakfast?  Do you look at reviews written by your previous guests? Conversation goes on whether or not you participate in it.  You can’t afford not to know what is being said about you and your inn!

According to Trip Advisor, 93% of people find reviews important when determining where they want to stay.  This is why receiving positive feedback from satisfied guests is so critical.  Every effort should be made to reduce negative reviews and improve the reputation and appeal of your place of lodging.

Online reputation management means monitoring and influencing the image of your property throughout the internet.  Places of hospitality should focus on review sites, social media, and search engine results.  People from all backgrounds and all over the world use the internet for online travel research before booking their accommodations.

Reputation management tips:

  • Monitor all feedback avenues regularly
  • Spend most of your time listening and paying attention
  • Read everything travelers are saying about your B&B on OTAs & review sites
  • Set up a Google Alert for the name of your B&B and other relevant keywords
  • Communicate why people should recommend your brand vs. your competitors
  • Know what messages about your brand you want guests to share
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for guest feedback during their stay
  • Answer all questions in a timely manner
  • Respond with an open mind to comments
  • Engage with sincerity and authenticity
  • Take all precautions to prevent negative events from occurring

Owning a hospitality business means you need to actively protect your image.  In the event that your reputation management escalates to crisis management, ignoring negative guest comments does not make them go away. Here are many things you can actively do to protect your hospitality brand.

  • Identify the naysayers and respond promptly
  • Make the appropriate apologies and explanations
  • Seek to positively solve their problem
  • Isolate them so the conversation becomes more personal, but far less public
  • Talk in a one-on-one private discussion to find the solution to their problem
  • For every zealot trying to hurt you, your loyal guests are ready to defend you
  • Consumers will generally “shout down” detractors who are way off base
  • Reputation terrorists often base their arguments on feelings vs. facts
  • Have an escalation plan in place for excessive bashing in multiple forums
  • Pick your battles and tactfully respond to criticism
  • Always take the high road

Gathering a lot of mostly positive feedback will increase your visibility because guest reviews will be distributed efficiently on social media as well as booking platforms. At the same time, you can avoid high provision fees by getting people to use your website and your booking engine.  A high rating means your reputation is on a good level, automatically driving demand for your B&B and creating more revenue for you and your employees.

The key is to be attentive and responsive to guests in person, on the phone with callers, and online with those asking questions or making comments.  If you do not have a blog already, considering adding one so that people can get to know the details about you, your inn, and your local area.  Managing your B&B reputation is critical to the success of your bed and breakfast.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns

NCBBI logo

NC Bed and Breakfast Inns Association was established in 1985.  For thirty years, they have been dedicated to serving those traveling to North Carolina.  This non-profit, statewide organization recognized the need for an association to ensure high standards in safety, housekeeping, food service, comfort, and hospitality for all member inns.  This allows the traveling public to have confidence in their B&B lodging.

NCBBI is the first state association in the United States to require rigorous inspections as a condition of membership.  To maintain these standards, NCBBI re-inspects member inns every two years.  There are many benefits to bed and breakfast membership in the NCBBI association:

  • Networking, educational, and marketing opportunities
  • Remain knowledgeable and up-to-date about meeting the needs of travelers
  • Keep up with the latest requirements for state and local laws and standards
  • Show potential guests that they can expect a higher level of service
  • The prestige and credibility of passing their rigorous inspection
  • Regular blog and social media activity
  • Their printed travel planners found at welcome centers, tourism attractions, visitor bureaus & chambers of commerce throughout North Carolina
  • Quarterly newsletters and monthly emails with important industry-related news, alerts, opportunities, reminders, and updates

 

From East to West, North Carolina measures 580 miles. That is more than a day’s drive, so NCBBI encourages guests to stay in more than one region as they travel around our gorgeous state. Based on the topography of North Carolina, the association has assigned three different regions.

  • Coastal Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Coast, near the Atlantic Ocean, beautiful beaches, birding, water sports, boating and summer fun.
  • Piedmont Region: to find the perfect B&B in the middle Piedmont region, where you’ll find dynamic growing cities, wineries, universities, golf, lakes and rivers.
  • Mountain Region: to find the perfect B&B in the Western Mountains region, home to the beautiful Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge parkway, the Biltmore Estate, waterfalls, hiking and fall foliage.

The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association features specials and packages from member inns on their website.  The specials include for military, veterans, and emergency workers (like police, fire and EMS) as well as last minute guestsInnkeepers also offer creative packages so guests can relax and enjoy their stay:

North Carolina Bed and Breakfast CookbookBlue Gift certificate (Voucher) template. Pattern Royalty Free Stock Image

From their website, The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association offer its online visitors an opportunity to purchase their NCBBI cookbook so they can sample the best of North Carolina cooking with their collection of bed and breakfast and inn recipes. In addition to the cookbook, give the gift of memories by purchasing lodging gift certificates (available in $50 increments) that may be used at any NCBBI member B&B.  An NCBBI gift certificate is a thoughtful way to say “thank you” or to surprise someone special. They are also great gifts for special occasions like anniversaries, honeymoons, birthdays, and retirements.

The NCBBI website lists North Carolina events (searching either by name, type of event, event date, or venue).   They also provide a way to search for local North Carolina attractions by its name, location and type of attraction, or by a specific local area (within a designated amount of miles).

Bed and Breakfast Blogging has even featured some of the NCBBI inns on this blog:

If your bed and breakfast is located in another state, we have a link to other state bed and breakfast associations.  Together you can promote all the wonderful things that your state has to offer its visitors.  You can educate potential guests about everything that comes included when they stay at a bed and breakfast.  You will also have a network of innkeepers with which to ask questions and refer each other business when your own inns are full.  Those are just some of the many reasons why it is important to belong to a bed and breakfast association.

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