Tag Archives: social media

Managing Your B&B Reputation

Managing Your B&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.

B&B 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.

Actions 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.  Our elite reputation management service tracks comments on review sites (like TripAdvisor and Yelp), gives you tips to encourage more positive guest reviews, and we prevent (and defuse) reputation crises so you maintain your reputation for superior hospitality. Contact Bed and Breakfast Blogging if you would like to know more about it! 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

bed and breakfast marketing

 

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

How To Easily Attract More Guests To Your Inn

Attract-More-Guests

 

 

 

How to easily attract more guests to your inn?  One key component is to focus on good things to do, things to see, food to taste, places to explore, and places to go in your local area.

 

 

 

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do most people visit our local area? (ex: for a romantic getaway in a secluded area or in a bustling city with lots of culture)
  • What do people like to do when they visit my area? (ex: attend a major business conference or participate in a marathon for your favorite cause)
  • How could I convince someone to want to visit my area? (ex: write great content about your local area and develop a reputation for showing warm hospitality to your guests)
  • Do I ask for guests to give me great online reviews?  Tell guests when they arrive,  that if for some reason they do not have a five star experience with you, to let them know in person how it could have been better.  For the few who were disappointed, perhaps offer them an upgraded room or some other perk if they decide to return again.  Make it your marketing mission to get 5 star reviews online so others will want to visit.

As you read this list, think about what you could feature in your local area:

Things to Do

  • Bowling
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Fairs
  • Festivals
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Horseback riding
  • Hunting
  • Local shopping
  • Marathons
  • Miniature golf
  • Quilting
  • Reading
  • Shopping
  • Spa relaxing
  • Sports
  • Walking
  • Writing
  • Yoga

Things to See

  • Ballet
  • Bird watching
  • Book stores
  • Circus
  • Comedy
  • Concerts
  • Movies
  • Parades
  • Photography
  • Sporting events
  • Theatre

Food to Taste

  • Bakeries
  • Bars
  • Coffee shops
  • Food trucks
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Picnicking
  • Restaurants

Places to Explore

  • Attractions
  • Colleges and universities
  • Galleries
  • Historical landmarks
  • House hunting
  • Lakes
  • Malls
  • Mountains
  • Museums
  • Parks

Places to Go

  • Arenas
  • Churches
  • Conferences
  • Retreats
  • Stadiums
  • Workshops

attract more guests

 

Another important key to attract more guests is to establish relationships with these other local proprietors. Perhaps the business person will give you a reasonable deal in exchange for exclusively their particular type of business (such as using only one local florist for all of your flower arrangements).  Consider putting together guest packages that include local area businesses:

 

  • reservations at a nearby restaurant
  • tickets to a local game
  • gift certificate to a relaxing spa (or your own spa)

When you categorize your blog posts, this allows your web visitors to easily go to the content that best fits their needs.  For example, some of my blog categories include:

  • Activities
  • Amenities
  • Conferences
  • Events
  • Food
  • Guests
  • Publicity
  • Renovating
  • Success

Write about what makes your area a destination for most people.  For some, this could mean featuring local concerts at your popular entertainment venues or dishes from award-winning restaurants.  If your bed and breakfast is in a place known for popular events (such as film festivals), be sure to promote that.

Write about things that make your inn unique.  Give them reasons to choose your inn for their accommodations.  Does your bed and breakfast have its own restaurant, horse farm, gift shop, spa, or something else?  Maybe you have amenities such as hot tubs and fireplaces in private guest rooms.  For those who cater to the business traveler, be sure to talk about your free wi-fi internet access as well as desks with comfortable office chairs.

In summary, write blog posts and put on social media the things that are popular in your local area as well as what makes your inn so special.  Offer packages that include things only found in your area.  Be sure to encourage five star reviews from your guests.  This is how you will easily attract more guests to your bed and breakfast inn!

 

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Fantastic Fill in the Blanks Social Media

blanks social media

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Twitter Fill in the Blank at bandbblogging Spring

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Local Partnerships Can Make You Rich

local-partnerships-make-you-rich

Do you know why local partnerships can make you rich?  Do you know that your local area could be your best asset?  Travelers tend to pick the area of their destination BEFORE they choose their accommodations.  So innkeepers can profit from thinking about: “Why do guests visit my local area?” 

Word-of-mouth marketing can also be very powerful.  What do you want to become known for?  A big part of becoming more well known is developing ties with other local businesses and organizations in your community.

Who, in your local area, offers complementary products and services?  There are many reasons why it is in both your interests to form a mutually beneficial relationship:

  • You can refer each other business (since you don’t have all the same customers)
  • You can promote each other in a variety of ways (such as via social media)
  • You can form exclusive partnerships (more on that later)

So, you may be thinking, what types of places and with whom could I form local partnerships?:

  • Caterers
  • Chocolatier 
  • Entertainment providers
  • Florist
  • Gift shops
  • Museums
  • Nonprofit organizations and charities
  • Realtors
  • Restaurants
  • Spas (if you do not have your own spa)
  • Sports
  • Tourist attractions
  • Wedding planners

There is a whole movement going on to support local businesses and service professionals.  Spread the love for your local area by featuring these other businesses:

  • Brochures (display them at your inn)
  • Coupons (arrange for your guests to receive discounts for using their services)
  • Menus (let people see what they offer by providing their menus)
  • Preferred list of vendors (such as caterers and wedding planners)
  • Social Media (share a picture of them and write about why people should want to use their products and/or services)
  • Video (partner with other businesses to promote your town as a vacation destination)
  • Word-of-mouth (if guests ask for your recommendations)

Develop “exclusive partnerships” in which you agree to only buy from them and they offer you a reduced rate for doing so.  This works out well in the case of using one chocolatier and one florist.  Especially if you offer packages to your guests which include chocolate and flowers. 

An “influencer” is a person who has the power to influence many people.  How do you meet and form relationships with the “influencers” in your community? 

  • Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce which will have local business owners and service providers as members. 
  • LinkedIn is a powerful social media network for finding other local business owners
  • There is nothing like meeting face-to-face to discuss how you can help each other’s businesses grow 
  • Look online (like at TripAdvisor) to find lists for the best restaurants near you and the top things to do in (and near) your area for ideas of people and places to contact

That is why local partnerships can make you rich.  

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.

Note: I receive Amazon Affiliate commissions from purchases made through the Amazon link.

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!  

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Do You Know What Makes Your Inn Stand Out?

what makes your inn stand out

What makes your inn stand out? Does it have a great view like the picture above?  It is critical to know what makes your bed and breakfast different from the others in your area. What types of guests do you attract?  What kinds of guests do you want to attract?  

Be sure to promote your unique features to potential guests on your website, on social media, in blog posts, and in the directories you are listed in.  Are you the #1 rated bed and breakfast in your area?  Have you won a bed and breakfast recipe contest?  Are you one of the sponsors of an upcoming local event?

There are many things that you are already doing or could start doing that could attract the right kind of guests you are looking for.  It may have to do with what is in your local area, what types of amenities your B&B has, the policies upon which you run your business, or your attentive concierge services and warm hospitality.  

Here is a list of ways to stand out:

  • Beach or waterfront property?  Ask your guests to share their photos online. Alternatively, ask the public to share their best pictures of relaxing in the sun to enter a photo contest to win a gift certificate to stay at your inn.
  • Eco-friendly bed and breakfasts can have a page on their website devoted to their environmentally safe practices and awards.
  • Game rooms?  With their permission, share photos of guests playing your games (ex: air hockey, chess, horseshoes, Scrabble, etc.).
  • Gift shop? Offer guests attractive items to purchase with your logo on them (such as decorative soaps, coffee mugs, aprons, and maybe even your own cookbook) so they are reminded of your inn every time they see or use the items.
  • Gourmet breakfasts so delicious they prompt guests to write great reviews about your inn.  Ask those who rave about your food to post on online review.
  • Handicap-accessible inns can show their ramps, bathrooms, ground floor rooms, and (if applicable) their elevators.  With guest permission, share pictures of trained guide dogs who have visited your inn.
  • Historical inn and/or unique antiques? Share photos and stories of the original family members that lived at your historic inn.  Share photos of the gorgeous antiques safely displayed throughout your inn.
  • Kid friendly?  Show pictures of rooms or suites that are suitable for families.  Write blog posts about local family attractions.  
  • Library? Attract more guests by sharing pictures of your library and by featuring a local author who will be speaking at an event (in or around) your bed and breakfast.
  • Luxurious amenities (such as a pool, hot tub, or spa) should be featured on your website and in your social media.
  • Mountain inns can share photos of majestic views as well as promote local activities such as hiking, skiing, and zip-lining.  
  • Mysteries? If you host murder mysteries, share pictures of your event (such as your guests dressed in costumes) on your website, blog, and social media.  
  • Packages? Feature tickets to popular local attractions (such as a theater or amusement park) and/or gift certificates to local fine dining restaurants .
  • Patriotic bed and breakfasts can display their country’s flag and offer a discount to those on active military duty and to veterans.
  • Pet-friendly bed and breakfasts can show pictures of pets at their property and take about their pet policies (including where pets are allowed to go).
  • Restaurant? Bed and breakfast inns with their own restaurant can feature photos of seasonal events (like Thanksgiving Day) as well as social events (like private parties). Regularly blog about popular signature dishes or feature the chefs and write about their culinary training and experience.
  • Retreats hosted at your inn?  Notify the media.  This is especially important if the person speaking at the retreat is famous or notable in their field.
  • Settings that are breathtaking, peaceful, and gorgeous should be shown in pictures to attract more guests.
  • Tea time? Whether you have a dedicated tea room open to the public or specific tea times only for your guests, promote tea time with pictures of your tea table settings and food as well as guest events like social hours or book clubs.  
  • Vegan or vegetarian bed and breakfasts can show pictures of delicious, hearty looking meals that are (surprisingly) within those diet restrictions.
  • Weddings at your inn?  Display pictures of places where the ceremony and reception can be held on the property.  With permission, share pictures of happy couples and of related events like vow renewals and elopements.  
  • Wine tastings? Whether you own the winery or offer a package for your guests to tour local wineries, describe the experiences that guests will have as well as share photos (with permission) of guests touring vineyards.  If transportation is provided during tours, be sure to mention that as well.  
  • Yoga is a great way for your guests to become stronger and more relaxed.  If you regularly offer yoga on site to your guests, be sure to share that on your website, in blog posts, and in photos on your social media.

Share your excellent ratings, reviews, and status.  This is not the time to be modest since your inn is your livelihood.  Link to your Trip Advisor rating, share guest reviews, and proudly put on your website if you belong to Select Registry, a bed and breakfast association, and other elite groups.  

No time or desire to manage your online marketing? Please contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging.  We can put a plan in place that will make your inn stand out!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Promote Staycations at Your Bed and Breakfast

how to promote staycations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since you know what your specific local area offers, you know how to promote staycations by customizing your staycation package to fit your community.  It is becoming increasingly popular to “shop local” as well.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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 your B&B reputation can go a long way when it comes to keeping guests happy and more coming through your front door.

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