Tag Archives: opportunities

Make It All About Your Bed and Breakfast Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reach More Success By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

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

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

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

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

Molinsky details the following solutions:

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

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

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

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

Managing Your B&B Reputation

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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

Bed and Breakfast Promotions

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Bed and breakfast promotions include marketing special deals and packages throughout the year. These opportunities include various holidays, seasons, and other special times.

This can be a chance for your bed and breakfast to stand out and show its own personality.  Innkeepers who are creative and thoughtful can really improve the experiences of their guests.

The benefits of staying at a bed and breakfast include your guests getting a break, reducing their stress, and focusing on strengthening their relationships.  Guests also experience the beauty of your local area as well as enjoy the luxury of your gourmet breakfasts and plush amenities.

We have talked about the advantages of offering guests special packages.  Now we will concentrate on developing specific promotions.  You can entice with discounts (lower price), complimentary services (free massage or tasting hour), and free upgrades (such as rooms with more amenities).  It is important to create a sense of urgency and give a call-to-action:

  • Hurry!  Offer ends…
  • This weekend only!
  • Back for a limited time!
  • Last chance to…

Your promotions can be put on your website and blog as well as social media and email marketing.  If you assign promo codes, you can track how they found about the promotion.  A bed and breakfast can have the same promotion, but give it different promo codes depending upon where the guest saw it.  For example, if it were a patriotic holiday promotion (Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veteran’s Day), it could have the following festive PROMO CODES to indicate the place they found your promotion:

  • “Red, White, and Blue” (website/blog)
  • “Let Freedom Ring” (Facebook)
  • “Home of the Brave” (Google+)
  • “Star Spangled Banner” (Twitter)
  • “Lady Liberty” (Pinterest)

Guests will enjoy holiday promotions and themes throughout the year:

Season promotions could be titled:

  • “Spring Forward” or “Have a Spring Fling”
  • Summer Sun Adventure” or “Dog Days of Summer” (for pet friendly B&B’s)
  • “Fall Back in Love” or “Autumn Leaves”
  • Winter Wonderland” or “Ski the Slopes” (for ski lodges)

Promote during special times:

  • Last Minute Promotions (keep rooms consistently booked)
  • Midweek Discounts (encourage guests to stay during the week)
  • Weekend Deals (popular time for guests to visit)

Bed and breakfasts that have blogs can write a blog post to explain more of the fun details associated with your specific promotion.  The fresh content from regular blog posts offers a great way to become more visible online.  Greater online visibility means not only more web visitors, but also a consistent source of regular bookings. Innkeepers who do not have the time for (or interest in) writing a blog can contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

 

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.

Visual Storytelling: Responses

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Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, authors of the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand remind us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice online.  Companies need to identify common occurrences, both positive and negative.  It means looking for opportunities to create visual content solutions all around us.  Some strategies include:

  • Understand the most important factors that can influence sales and customer leads
  • Weather may be an important theme to craft content around
  • At key times of the year, companies can announce awards, rankings, events, speeches, partnerships, and make other announcements
  • Understand the most frequently asked service inquiries and comments, both positive and negative
  • Develop a robust content library to allow time for real-time opportunities
  • The best storytellers play off their audience responses to hit the message home
  • Extend the life of conversations and engagement as long as it is relevant
  • Look at the content fans are sharing each day

While on the topic of user generated content, there is a higher barrier to engagement if it is not natural for fans to share visual content.  Reward sharing behavior with a campaign, contest, and/or rewards.  Look for themes in the most common types of photos, videos, hashtags, and sentiment.

Choose a clear call to action such as a unique hashtag available across all social media channels.  Make full disclosure to customers how and where their photos and videos will be shared.  Highlight examples to show a range of creativity.  Give rewards and recognition by having an “image of the week” or randomly sending a thank you.

Customers can share their own content through videos shared on social networks like YouTube, Instagram, and the Vine.  Look at your content calendar to determine which video(s) will help tell your visual story in a way that other media cannot.  Think about your target audience, desired end goals, and what resources are available.  Evaluate the needs of your audience and show off your personality.  Mix up the content to a variety of different types and lengths of videos. Common videos include:

  • Announcements
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Case studies
  • Celebrity partnerships
  • Community involvement
  • Company overview
  • Demos
  • Event highlights
  • FAQs
  • Goals
  • How-to
  • Live streams
  • Office tours
  • Parodies
  • Testimonials
  • Video blogs
  • Visual portfolios

Fan shared content as well as company made videos can show another side to a business. The key is to make the most of what customers are saying about you.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Bed and Breakfast Tea Rooms

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There are several bed and breakfast tea rooms in America.  Tea rooms can be open to the public or limited to their own bed and breakfast guests.  Tea rooms are great for small gatherings and often they serve brunch and lunch. Each tea room has their own hours or they serve “by reservation only.”

Menu options can include:

  • Croissants
  • Quiche
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Scones
  • Soups
  • Sweets (like cookies and cakes)
  • Tea (bottomless usually costs extra)

Hours:

  • Regular year round hours
  • Reservation only
  • Seasonal hours
  • Sunday brunch

Events:

  • Baby shower
  • Birthday party
  • Bridal shower
  • Club meeting
  • Girls’ get together
  • Group meeting
  • Private parties

Some sell items such as:

  • Antiques
  • Jewelry
  • Tea
  • Tea cups
  • Tea pots

Marketing opportunities:

  • Blog: great fresh content for your website
  • E-mail marketing: send out information to those on your e-mail list
  • Photos of your bed and breakfast, tea room, food, and guests (with their permission)
  • Social media: Facebook fan page, Pinterest pins, Twitter updates, etc.
  • Website: you can have one of your main headings labeled “Tea Room”

When thinking of ways to increase your business, if you do not already have a tea room, this could be a great idea. For those who do have tea rooms, are you promoting them online? Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging is happy to help you with this.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

B&B Guests: Shoppers and Antique Lovers

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Some guests visit your bed and breakfast because of the terrific shopping available in your area.  Whether it is special boutiques, retail outlets, flea markets, or antique dealers, their mission is to find some great buys.  Some come as collectors to attend conventions for valuable items such as stamps, dolls, and cars.  Whatever their reason, your website and blog can promote these opportunities and events.

B&B Guests: Adventurers

bb-guests-adventurers

Guests who want to stay busy with physical activities could be considered adventurers.  An adventurer is someone who enjoys and seeks exciting, and sometimes daring, experiences. This could be climbing mountains, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, skiing, or any other outdoor activity or sport.

If your bed and breakfast is located near anything that offers fun activities such as the ones mentioned, consider putting together a special promotion or package by contacting these businesses to get guests:

  • 36 holes of golf
  • passes to hiking trials or skiing mountains
  • whitewater rafting adventures

By having a blog and a small part of your website marketing this, you will attract potential B&B guests who have adventurous spirits.  Be sure to think about what opportunities are available in your local and surrounding areas. Have fun with it and you can even create a guidebook of possible adventures for your guests!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

New Year’s Eve Resolutions

new-years-eve-resolutions

Do you have any 2014 New Year’s Eve resolutions for your bed and breakfast?  Here are some possible improvements or new beginnings with your online presence:

1. Your Website:

  • What are its strengths?
  • What are its weaknesses?
  • What opportunities come about? (business)
  • What threats does it have? (competitors)

2. Your Blog:

  • Do we have one?
  • If so, is it attracting more visitors and more bookings?
  • Do we need to hire someone to blog for us?
  • Can that person blog about a variety of issues related to innkeeping?

3. Your Social Media Presence:

  • Facebook–does our B&B have a Business or Fan page?
  • Twitter–do we regularly tweet?  do we know what to tweet?
  • Pinterest–do we post pictures of our B&B?  pictures of our food?
  • Linked In–do we have a profile as an innkeeper on Linked In?
  • You Tube–do we have videos promoting our B&B?

4. Your Membership in Associations & Organizations Giving Web Presence:

5. Your Public Image and Community Outreach:

  • Conferences–do we attend conferences on Innkeeping?
  • Business meetings–do we hold business meetings at our B&B?
  • Weddings–do we offer weddings?  If not, could we?
  • Music–do we host concerts or recitals?

So think about your website, blog, social media presence, associations, and public image & outreach goals for 2014.  Kristi Dement, of Bed and Breakfast Blogging, wishes you a prosperous New Year full of wonderful guests that stay at your bed and breakfast!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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