Tag Archives: hospitality

Great Conversation Starters While Hosting Guests

 

conversation hosting guests

It is always a good idea to have some topics of conversation in mind if you regularly host guests at your bed and breakfast.  Having a mental list of what to talk about means you will feel comfortable interacting with perfect strangers at any time. The biggest secret to being a good conversationalist is simply allowing other people to talk about themselves. Why? It is a subject they probably know well and are comfortable talking about.

 

Since they are likely to be out of town guests when they visit, this automatically gives you some conversation topics, including the reason for their stay at your B&B.

  • Are you celebrating a special occasion(birthday, anniversary, reunion, etc.)?
  • What attracted you to visit us in this area?
  • Does our area have a leisure activity or event you will be participating in?
  • Where else have you been on vacation?
  • What was your most favorite vacation destination so far?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

People love talking about what they eat or want to eat.  Think about the popularity of Food Network and online recipe websites!  Inquire about their favorite foods including breakfast dishes.  During the time they book the room is the best time to find out if they are allergic to any foods or on a restricted diet since you, or your staff, will be cooking for them.  If you realize that question was never answered, take the first opportunity to ask.

  • What is your favorite food?
  • If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • Where do you like to go when you eat out?
  • Do you like to cook? If so, do you have a signature dish?
  • Are there any foods that you would like to try?

If they bring up their family, then it is perfectly acceptable to have a discussion centered around that. Most people love talking about their family.  However, we need to be sensitive to people who may have strained family relationships, family members who are ill, infertility issues, or some other personal struggle in their lives.

  • Do you have any siblings?
  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • Did you have a pet growing up?  Do you have any pets now?
  • As a kid, how did you most like to spend your time?

Another topic of conversation could be about sports.  Since there are so many different sports, it is a safe bet that they, or someone they know, have an interest in sports.  They do not need to be a talented athlete to enjoy watching sports.

  • Do you play or follow any sports?
  • Who is your favorite athlete?
  • How do you like to exercise?
  • What is your favorite sports team?

Ask them about their technology and entertainment preferences.  This can lead to lively discussions about favorites.  Then you can mention (if it is available for them) that you offer a free Wi-Fi connection and/or a book, CD and/or DVD collection available for guests to borrow.

  • What are your favorite TV shows?
  • What kind of movies do you like?
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • Who is your favorite actor/actress?
  • What is your favorite movie of all time?
  • What type of music do you like to listen to?  Who are your favorite musicians?
  • Do you like to read?  If so, what kind of books do you read?
  • What’s your favorite board game or card game?

Carefully ask about work, but try not to make it sound like a job interview.  Remember that your guest(s) may be studying, retired, or “between jobs”.  Also keep in mind your guest(s) may be traveling on business while they stay with you.

  • What do you do for a living? Where do you work (or study)?
  • What was your first job ever?
  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What do you like best about your job?
  • If money was no object yet you still wanted to work, what would be your dream job?

The key is to keep it light. The goal is to build rapport with your bed and breakfast guests.  Stick to topics that are interesting and entertaining to talk about.  Most people are looking for polite and lighthearted topics to discuss–it is wise to avoid controversial topics like politics and religion. Leave them with a great impression so they give you and your B&B a positive testimonial about your hospitality via your online guest book.

Great Additions To Your Bookshelf:

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering: Joanna Gaines’ warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favorites and classic comfort selections from the couple’s new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table. Share this book with your guests. Better yet, make her delicious recipes for your guests!

How To Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks For Big Success in Relationships: Written by Leil Lowndes, someone who has a career teaching people how to communicate for success, learn nine ways to make a dynamite first impression from this bestselling book. Discover secrets to building rapport and having powerful phone conversations with your guests.

How To Win Friends and Influence People: This time-tested ground-breaking book by Dale Carnegie gives excellent advice for making it simple for people to achieve success and to easily get others to like them. 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change: This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Covey’s cherished classic, and one of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, has transformed the lives of millions of people (of all ages and backgrounds).

 

Full Disclosure: The above links are Amazon Affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How to Find Your Inspiration as an Innkeeper (Part 1)

how-to-find-your-inspiration

Wondering how to find your inspiration as an innkeeper? Bed and Breakfast innkeepers each have their own unique story of how they entered the hospitality industry.  Think about how YOU got started as a bed and breakfast owner.  For your own reviewing, write down your own personal story of how you came to be a travel accommodations provider. Consider including your answers to some of the following questions.

Motivation:

  • Do you love cooking for others?
  • Do you like entertaining guests?
  • Do you desire to work from home?
  • Do you need to feel independent?
  • Do you enjoy helping others relax?
  • Do you receive fulfillment from serving others?
  • Do you like recommending things for people to do in your local area?
  • Are you a first-generation B&B owner, or does your family already have a history of hospitality management experience or ownership?

Innkeeping:

  • What do you like the most about B&B innkeeping?
  • What could you do more of? (things you find enjoyable)
  • What could you do less of? (things you dislike doing)
  • Do you have (or have you thought about hiring) part-time employees to fulfill the roles you least like (or are challenged by)?

Niche:

  • What amenities does your inn have?
  • What is your inn known for? (ex: spa, restaurant, etc.)
  • What in your local area attracts guests to stay for a visit?
  • What type of guests do you (or would you) like to attract?
  • How do you describe your place of hospitality to others (on your website, in your social media, over the phone, and in person)?

There needs to be a match with your motivation for working, your individual talents, and your hospitality niche/ideal guests.  Consider the following 3 hypothetical scenarios…

1) Innkeeper Irene loves cooking for others and entertaining guests. She dislikes anything involving paperwork–especially finances.  Her B&B restaurant is becoming more known in the community. She does not have the time or desire to learn online marketing. How can she keep doing the things she loves (cooking and entertaining) and hire out for other things (financial and marketing)?

2) Bob the B&B owner is very successful with marketing his inn.  His grown children manage the day-to-day operations of their thriving business.  Their occupancy rate is very good, but he is wondering how to earn more income outside of bookings.

3) Shirley & Dale are a husband and wife innkeeping couple. Shirley’s favorite thing to do is to plant and grow flowers and produce in their gorgeous garden as well as to decorate their inn. Dale loves construction and renovation projects (both inside and outside). However, they have a real need for adding housekeeping and kitchen staff (not to mention their need to promote their inn). What can they do?

Please add your comments and suggestions below and watch for Part 2 of this blog post!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Easily Brand Your Bed and Breakfast

brand-your-bed-and-breakfast

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

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

The following are descriptions of very different places to visit:

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

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

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

Brands can differentiate themselves in the following ways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motivation 1: To Escape Something Bad

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

Motivation 2: To Experience Something Good

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

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

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

Disclosure: These are Amazon Affiliate links for which I will receive compensation. I only recommend what I have personally read and believe to be beneficial to readers.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Do You Know What Your Guests Really Crave?

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 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.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Catapult Your Business Growth with Gift Cards

bed-and-breakfast-gift-cards

Did you know you can catapult your business growth with gift cards?  Bed and breakfast gift cards work well for both innkeepers and guests.  Individual inns as well as B&B associations offer gift cards or gift certificates for purchase. The North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI) makes their gift certificates available in $50 increments and guests can use them at any of their member inns.  

 

Special Occasions for Gift Cards:

  • Anniversaries
  • Birthdays
  • Employment appreciations
  • Holiday gifts
  • Honeymoons
  • Retirements
  • Surprising a loved one
  • Thanking a friend

Make sure you clearly communicate the the terms and conditions of your gift certificates and gift cards to those who purchase them.  You may restrict guests from using their gift certificates in combination with other offers, additional discounts, or third-party promotions.  Your place of hospitality may also exclude their use for group services including accommodations and catering for weddings and other large functions.

Be sure to state in writing that all property specific policies, including deposit, minimum stay, and cancellation policies still apply.  You may want to add that no blackout dates apply. If there is an expiration date, please state that directly on the gift certificate.  Give guests the option of allowing money left over to be put toward future stays.  

Consider offering a discount on your gift certificates or gift cards during the holidays.  Promote that they make great presents for those who are difficult to shop for!

Reasons Why We Should All Love Gift Cards:

  • Gift card recipients have the freedom to choose when they visit (as long as it is before it expires), the reason for their stay (they could save it for their birthday or anniversary), and even their choice of which inn (in the case of B&B association gift cards)
  • Gift givers do not have the usual stress involved in choosing a gift especially for the hard-to-shop-for people in your life
  • Saves time (no need for givers to drive all over the map to find the perfect gift and these are great for last-minute shoppers)
  • Saves money (givers decide the amount you want to give and stay within their budget)

If your inn or association offers gift cards or gift certificates, be sure to dedicate a web page to provide information and list all the necessary details.  Allow people to purchase your gift cards or certificates directly from your website.  Be sure to promote your gift certificates in blog posts (with their permission, share stories about guests who used gift cards).  Don’t forget that social media is a great place to announce that your inn offers gift cards.  Gift cards are a great way to catapult your B&B business growth!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Create Remarkable Holiday and Seasonal Packages

holiday-and-seasonal-packages

I am presenting a Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) webinar called “Creating Holiday and Seasonal B&B Packages” on Wednesday September 20, 2017 at 2 pm EST.  Attendees will hear examples from actual holiday and seasonal packages currently (or previously offered) at B&B inns.  

You will learn WHY you should offer holiday and seasonal B&B packages to your guests.  Hint: it has to do with repeat visits throughout the year AND adding an additional stream of revenue to your business.  

Discover why it is important to customize your own packages.  Take your local area into account as well as the interests of the types of guests you host.  Your packages can also relate to a specific culture, your inn’s history, your inn or city’s name, and your guest room themes.

We will discuss the disclaimers you may want to add to set clear guidelines and manage expectations.  I will discuss key issues that matter to your bottom line.  

Your inn can celebrate many seasons and holidays, including:

  • Fall
  • Halloween
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Winter
  • December Holidays
  • New Years Eve
  • Groundhog Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Spring
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Summer
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day

I give specific examples of real bed and breakfast packages that relate to the seasons and to holidays.  I state that the best way to learn more about the packages is to click on their respective website links.  For those of you who would like my list of links as well as my list of potential disclaimers you may want to add to your packages, please contact me and I will email you that information.

I do share which season of the year has the least amount of packages during its months.  This is a great opportunity to stand out by being the inn that offers a package for only during those few months.  

You may email me any questions you have after watching my presentation.  I am happy to provide specific, practical advice about how you can maximize packages at your inn.  I will insert the link to watch the webinar right here

Bed and Breakfast Blogging helps places of hospitality grow their business through strategic online marketing which includes blogging, social media, and email marketing.  The bottom line is that we can improve your bottom line!  

Looking for more ideas to celebrate private parties and holidays?

Affiliate Disclaimer: These above links are Amazon Affiliate links for which I will receive compensation. I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Shatter the Disastrous Myths About Bed and Breakfasts

myths about bed and breakfasts

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 Bed and Breakfasts Can Win Like Amazon

win like amazon

Think about how your inn can win like Amazon and uniquely excel in hospitality, cuisine, and accommodations. 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.  

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 win like Amazon by gaining more business from every customer (guest) who contacts 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 can win like Amazon by being 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 win like Amazon by rewarding 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 win like Amazon by persuading guests 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!

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

how to get more positive 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.  This demonstrates how to get more positive reviews.

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.  

Bed and Breakfasts Named After Queen Anne

named Queen Anne

 

We feature seven bed and breakfasts named Queen Anne.  The Queen Anne style in Britain refers to either the English Baroque architectural style approximately of the reign of Queen Anne (reigned 1702–1714), or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century (known as Queen Anne revival).

 

In the United States, the so-called “Queen Anne style” is loosely used of a wide range of picturesque buildings with “free Renaissance” details rather than of a specific style in its own right. “Queen Anne” is broadly applied to architecture, furniture and decorative arts of the period 1880 to 1910.

Distinctive features of American Queen Anne style (rooted in the English style) can include:

  • an asymmetrical façade
  • dominant front-facing gable, often cantilevered out beyond the plane of the wall below
  • overhanging eaves
  • round, square, or polygonal tower(s)
  • shaped and Dutch gables
  • a porch covering part or all of the front facade, including the primary entrance area
  • a second-story porch or balconies
  • pedimented porches (a low gable, typically triangular with ahorizontal cornice and raking cornices)
  • differing wall textures (such as patterned wood shingles shaped into varying designs, including resembling fish scales, terra cotta tiles, relief panels, or wooden shingles over brickwork, etc.)
  • dentils (any of a series of closely spaced, small, rectangular blocks, used especially in classical architecture )
  • classical columns
  • spindle work
  • oriel and bay windows
  • horizontal bands of leaded windows
  • monumental chimneys
  • painted railing with support balusters
  • wooden or slate roofs
  • wraparound front porch
  • front gardens often had wooden fences

Now that we know what they typically look like, the following bed and breakfast inns, found in the United States, are all named Queen Anne:

Queen Anne B&B Inn in Denver, ColoradoBuilt in 1879 and 1886, the Queen Anne was originally occupied by the Tabor family. The doors were opened to the public in 1987, when the Queen Anne became the first urban bed and breakfast in Denver.

Queen Anne B&B and Spa in Fredricksburg, Texas: Built in 1904, the elegant Queen Anne is truly the grande dame of Victorian architecture.

Queen Anne Guest House in Galena, Illinois: Their Victorian Queen Anne style B & B is situated 4 blocks from Main Street where the historic shops and restaurants of Galena begin.  The Queen Anne has been featured in many books, including America’s Painted Ladies.

Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco, CaliforniaThis jewel of Victorian architecture has 48 elegant rooms & suites and features a lovely Parlor and Library with English & American antique furnishings, crackling fireplaces, chandeliers, and vibrant works of art.

Reagan’s Queen Anne B&B in Hannibal, Missouri: “Write your own story” when you stay in Mark Twain’s boyhood hometown of Hanibal while enjoying their graceful Painted Lady and Victorian jewel. Find gracious hospitality and comfortable elegance in their restored lumberman’s masterpiece, featuring original magnificently carved ornate woodwork, brass lighting fixtures, and stained glass windows.

The Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches, Louisiana: At almost 100 years old, The Queen Anne continues to define elegance while offering excellent location in this unique city, combining American history with French sophistication.

The Queen Anne House Bed and Breakfast in Harrison, Arkansas: The Queen Anne House is an elegantly restored two story Victorian Home nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, only blocks from the historic town square of Harrison Arkansas.  Enjoy their gingerbread trim, stained glass windows, Infinity spa hot tub, claw foot tubs and showers, beautiful gardens, a large wrap around front porch with rockers, an enclosed glass solarium, a beautifully ornate fireplace, and period antiques.

Several bed and breakfast inns were built using the Queen Anne architectural style.  These bed and breakfasts thought it important enough to include that in their bed and breakfast name.  What is the architectural style of your bed and breakfast and is that included in your bed and breakfast name?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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