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Hospitality Photography Advice From A Professional

Photos are an important part of marketing your bed and breakfast inn to travelers.  Professional hospitality photographer Marcus Berg, of Unique Angles Photography, shines the light on this crucial aspect of promoting your hospitality business. He specializes in photographing B&B’s and frankly, his talented work speaks for itself.

His company, Unique Angles Photography (UAP) was established in 1994 and over the years has created a niche in serving the hospitality industry. With exceptional attention to detail and skillful use of lighting, UAP has been privileged to work with lodging facilities that include bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels and inns. UAP also specializes in culinary and wine photography to showcase other aspects of hospitality.  Marcus is located on the West Coast in Oregon and can travel to your location. 

Looking back, Marcus explains that he and his wife were spending an anniversary at a B&B and as he looked at their website; being an architectural photographer, he offered his services to improve their images. The second inn they visited, Marcus made the same offer and that innkeeper recommended he attend a B&B conference. Marcus said he’s been hooked on B&B’s ever since.

According to Mr. Berg, “It’s really not the equipment that is going to make the difference, it’s what the eye sees. It’s all about the lighting and where it’s placed. Turn on lights and try to bounce your additional lights off the ceiling.”  A poorly lit room can come off as stuffy, dark and small and may not be appealing to a traveler.  Utilize natural light to make your rooms shine. Taking interior photos during the middle of the day will help you maximize the sunlight.

According to Marcus, less is best.  The more you have the room cleaned the better.  Clutter in the background of an image can make your place less appealing.  Windows are often overlooked.  Remove the screen and clean the glass.  Hide the clocks, garbage can & telephone.  Set room up with some props for an invitational image, such as a robe, wine, fruit, coffee mug, chocolate, newspaper/book, reading glasses etc.

Marcus uses Photoshop to help with fixing his images.  Several things can be done on the computer. Lighting can be worked with, and levels of color to enhance the image. Removing reflections or unwanted objects and sharpening can also be done.

Berg advises that if you are going to do the exterior of the location, it’s usually best to have the sun behind you, which goes for interior photos too.  The two best times he likes to shoot is early in the morning or just at sunset or “the golden hour”.  One thing you want to stay away from is taking interior photos at night.

Avoid people in your photos, particularly when it comes to room or bathroom shots, as travelers want to imagine themselves in those spaces, not other people. 

When it comes to staging photos, set your dining room and guest rooms how you would normally but pay extra attention to background. Make sure TVs are turned off and wall decor is straight. Also, consider putting flowers and champagne next to the bed. A professional photographer can help with staging your rooms for photos.

Make your setting as inviting as possible.  For instance, taking a photo of a nice looking bed is great, however, if you turn down that same bed and add an inviting cup of coffee with and a flower, you have just turned that photo into something much more enticing.

In working with his clients, he begins with an agreed upon project and date. Upon his arrival, Marcus meets with the innkeeper(s) and reviews what they want to focus on.  He tries to use as many props as are available at the location.  We may choose to bring outside props in, such as flowers or wine/cheese plate.

Depending on the size of the facility, Marcus spends most of his time shooting the inn.  When editing photos, don’t add any borders, watermarks, arrows, or text. Photos are literally the window to marketing your B&B. Hiring a professional photographer, like Marcus Berg, is worth the investment. Marcus recommends that photos are at least 1024 x 768 pixels.

At the end of the shoot, Mr. Berg comes back to his office and then the work continues to prepare each image for its final print.  Once all the photos are done, he prepares a DVD in both a JPEG and TIFF file for the client.  JPEG is for the internet and the TIFF file is for printing or publication.

Potentially interested innkeepers can always reach him via his email address: uniqueangles@gmail.com or contact him through his website (link at the bottom). Other ways to contact Marcus Berg are through LinkedIn as well as several associations like: PAII, OBBG, CABBI, the Keizer Chamber of Commerce and the Wine and Hospitality Network.

Having high-resolution photos is no longer a luxury — it’s required. How will travelers know how great your B&B is if they can’t tell from a photo?  Photos can make or break how new visitors perceive your B&B.  Are the photographs of your B&B doing enough to invite and attract more bookings?

Thank you, Marcus, for sharing some of your professional hospitality photography advice.  I know that social audiences love stories AND they love photos. Share stories (along with your professional pictures) about how your guests enjoy all that you have to offer. 

By sharing photos on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter you can build your social following. Also, be sure to have social media icons easily visible on your website so that visitors can go directly from your website to your social media.  Make it as easy as possible for people to find your website and your social media online.  Pictures can make all the difference in the world!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How to Host Elegant Private Parties at Your Inn

Wondering how to host elegant private parties at your inn?  All types of private parties may be hosted at your inn, depending upon your inn’s location, accommodations, amenities, and space.  Another factor in determining which types of parties to host can be the number of rooms or areas (indoor and outdoor) that you have to offer your party guests. 

It is important to specify on your website and in your marketing materials the square footage of each space as well as the number of guests you can comfortably accommodate. Indicate if there are handicap-accessible areas for your guests.  Also specify your policies on catering and access to your kitchen. Do you want to cater the events yourself or do you have a “preferred list of vendors” that you work with?

Rental rates depend upon the time of year, the type of event, and the length of their visit.  It is important to NOT specify prices IF you want to give yourself some flexibility when it comes to pricing.  Some types of parties are more expensive to host than others.  Also, some guests can be “harder to please” than others.

Let’s talk about parties that typically take place during the day time.  This could include the following:

Baby showers: Have you thought of hosting baby showers for expectant parents?

Tea parties: Do you have a tea room or host afternoon tea parties for your guests?

Wedding showers: Even if you do not host actual weddings, could you host wedding showers for soon-to-be-married couples?

 

Parties that typically could take place both day time and night time:

Book signings: Do you have famous local authors interested in you hosting their private book signing party?

Family reunion celebrations: Is your inn located in a centrally convenient place for families from several popular areas to meet?

Fundraisers: Do you host parties for non-profit organizations raising money for good causes?

Graduation parties: Are you located in a city known for its local colleges and universities?

 

Now, let’s focus on parties that typically take place during the evening.  They include:

Dinner parties: What organizations (profit and nonprofit) would potentially be interested in you hosting their dinner party?

Formal dances: Perhaps your local Historical Society or Chambers of Commerce would like you to host a formal dance?

Murder mystery parties:  Even if you have not hosted them before, what about arranging for a murder mystery party at your inn?

Wedding receptions:  Do you host weddings and/or receptions?  

 

Have a different checklist of items, depending upon the type of party:

Beverages: is this an event that typically serves alcohol?; do you have a license to sell alcohol or do you allow guests to bring their own libations?; non-alcoholic beverages include: punch, juice, non-alcoholic fruity drinks (a.k.a. “mocktails”), soda, tea, and water

Date and time options: list available dates and times for each type of event (this is why you must keep a very organized calendar)

Decorations: of course the decorations will depend not only on the type of gathering you are hosting, but also if it has a particular theme; you may have some decorations that you can buy to regularly display (such as a lacy antique baby buggy as baby shower decor for every baby shower you host)

Flowers: consider coordinating all of your floral arrangement requests with one particular florist (so in exchange they give you a discount for your exclusive business)

Food: if you are catering, offer a variety of menu choices for each type of party; consider accommodating particular dietary needs or preferences of your group (such as gluten-free, low cholesterol, low sugar, non-dairy, vegan, vegetarian, etc.)

Location: specify the places on your property that will be reserved strictly for the party guests for each party type you host as well as how many people each place can accommodate  

Music: provide a list of music (either a selection of live performers or recordings of musicians) that guests have the option of hearing; the music you play at a baby shower will be different than the music played at a wedding reception

Party events and games: fundraising parties may feature an auction whereas baby showers may have a variety of fun games for the expectant parents

Pictures: if possible, take lots of pictures of the event to share with the people who arranged for the event to take place at your inn; always ask permission before sharing photos of guests attending private parties at your inn with the public (through your website, blog, social media, or in photo collections for potential clients to see)

Price: of course you should make a profit from hosting private parties; think about potential costs associated with different events (including the cleaning and not being able to use the inn for other events at that time)

It helps, but it is not a requirement to have a professional wedding or party planner on your staff.  You may want to work out an arrangement with a local wedding or party planner to handle all of the planning details given your specific list of requirements (including costs, caterers, etc.).  In addition to renting out rooms, you can make a pretty profit hosting events (even when you have to give a percentage to a professional party planner who manages all the details for you). 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Shatter the Disastrous 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 To Make a Successful Bed and Breakfast Press Kit


Successful bed and breakfast press kits can increase your inn’s likelihood for receiving media attention. Wondering what is a press kit?  It is a package of media about your inn that makes it easier for a journalist or reporter to do a story about your bed and breakfast.

When you do most of the work for reporters up front, they will be more receptive to your pitch for press for their website, publication, or news story. In addition, it looks more professional and makes your bed and breakfast more appealing to write about.

Consider adding a press kit link on your website.  “Are you a journalist working on a story about inns or bed and breakfasts? We would be happy to help you with your story or article.”

Your valuable bed and breakfast press kit can include:

  • Contact’s name, phone number, and email address (the owner, innkeeper, public relations person)
  • High resolution photos (your gorgeous view, the outside of your inn, your guest rooms and common rooms, the best breakfasts meals you serve, etc.)
  • Map of your local area (and its nearby attractions)
  • Brief history of your inn (its location, year it was built, original owners, type of architecture, its history as a bed and breakfast, etc.)
  • Innkeepers/owners story (share your story or how your B&B came to be, a little about yourself and your team, and why you’re doing what you’re doing)
  • Pictures of your luxurious amenities (such as a pool or private hot tub, fireplace, library, spa, garden, etc.)
  • Current promotions (your own specials, custom packages, and description of private events you host like weddings, etc.)
  • Awards received (from bed and breakfast associations, contests won, your AAA Diamond rating, your BBB grade, etc.)
  • Online guest reviews (share links to positive guest testimonials)
  • Your blog (which features local activities and area events)
  • Existing press coverage (list of and links to articles in newspapers, magazines, and online attention)
  • Videos (made about your B&B or that you had filmed to promote your inn)

Include anything you think will enhance your reputation as providing exceptional hospitality. This is your opportunity make it accessible for the press to report about your bed and breakfast. Even curious potential guests will be impressed by it when they see it.

Having an available press kit, makes you media friendly and more likely to get more publicity for your inn.  If you do not mind members of the press coming to your bed and breakfast to interview you and/or make a video, then be sure to state that on-site tours can be arranged. There is nothing better than free publicity!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Accomplish Your Bed and Breakfast Goals


Consider writing down your bed and breakfast goals for next year.  Use the famous SMART acronym to make decisions.  This will help you accomplish your bed and breakfast goals.

Specific: Make sure that your goals are very specific.  First, ask yourself some questions.  

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What types of repeat guests would we like to attract?  
  • Are guests coming to our local area for a specific reason or activity?
  • What types of local events in our area attract guests?  
  • What do guests tell us they like about my inn?  

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to know if you have reached them. Quantifying your goals gives you something to strive for.  

  • By what percentage do we want our occupancy rates to go up?
  • How many more B&B packages could we sell this year?
  • What number of local business partnerships do we want to add this year?
  • How much money could we set aside to sponsor a local event?
  • How many private events should we host?

Attainable: Goals need to be reachable to motivate you do achieve them.  Setting impossible goals does not help you.  Make it a goal that is a stretch but doable.  

  • How many blog posts could we do this year?
  • How many e-newsletters would we produce?
  • What social media campaigns could we do?
  • Do we need to change our reservation software to give us better results?
  • Should we join a bed and breakfast association?

Relevant: Goals need to be suitable to what your inn and your local area offers.  Represent what your guests can expect from their stay with at your bed and breakfast.

  • What inn amenities could we promote?
  • Do we have any of the following: a restaurant, a gift shop, or a spa?
  • Do we have excellent local entertainment venues or other attractions?
  • Do we have up-to-date pictures of our bed and breakfast and food?
  • Could we support a local cause that has an event?

Time bound: Giving yourself a deadline makes your goals even more real.  Vague goals do not equal results.  

  • What are the due dates for our blog posts?
  • How many calls to potential local business partners do we make each month?
  • By what date should our bed and breakfast website be redesigned?
  • When do we need to finish this renovation project?
  • No later than what date should we put up our new bed and breakfast sign?

Success does not happen by accident, but by dedication and SMART goal planning.  What goals does your inn have for the coming year?  Feel free to comment below with what your bed and breakfast would like to accomplish.

Do you want to add or improve your blogging, social media, and/or reputation management strategy? Contact Bed and Breakfast Blogging at 919-931-6168 or email contact@bedandbreakfastblogging.com

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Let Someone Know About Your Inn


Unique Angles Photography beach mural bedroom

How to let someone know about your inn…there are many ways to do this.  The more creative and original you let them know about your inn, the more likely you will get bookings.  Try answering questions that they will likely want to know.

  • Why do most people stay at your bed and breakfast?
  • What do guests love most about your inn?
  • What are you most known for?
  • What makes your inn unique?
  • Why do most people visit your city?
  • What is the best kept secret about your area?

It is important to understand why people stay at your bed and breakfast.  There could be many reasons, including some of the following:

  • Your luxurious amenities
  • Your gourmet breakfasts
  • Your warm hosptiality
  • Your ideal location
  • Your thoughtful packages
  • Your reasonable rates

Unique Angles Photography hot tub with brownie and sundae

Pay attention to your guest comments and feedback.  Keep track of guest compliments so you are sure to continue getting that response.  On the flip side, make note of negative feedback, so you can make the appropriate changes.  Knowing what guests love the most (and what they don’t love at all) helps you provide the best environment possible to your guests.

Are you, your inn, or your area famous for anything?  For example, you could have won a breakfast recipe. Your inn may have received a prestigious award.  You area could be home to the world’s most awesome event.

Be sure to emphasize these accolades in your marketing messages.  Marketing messages can be spoken (e.g. what you tell your guests in person or over the phone), be online (e.g. your blog, newsletter, or website), or be in print (e.g. your sign or your brochure).

It is fundamental that you know what makes your inn so special.  What do you offer that other area accommodations do not?  In marketing, this is called your “unique selling point(s).”

What attracts people to your local area?  It could be one or more of the following:

  • Business
  • Concerts
  • Conferences
  • Festivals
  • Nature
  • Sports
  • Universities

In response to the question, “What is your area’s best kept secret?” you could reply in any of the following ways:

  • Tell about a famous local legend
  • Recommend your favorite local restaurant
  • Reveal a local hot spot not commonly known to tourists
  • Reassure them you are not hiding any local area secrets and that you will gladly answer all of their questions to the best of your ability

Thus, answering guest questions they want more information on is a great way to let someone know about your bed and breakfast inn.

Images by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Easy Ways to Better Understand Your Guests’ Lifestyles

LawnChairs-01Logo

Understand your guests’ lifestyles to satisfy their unique needs.  The more information you know about your potential guests, the better you are able to target your marketing messages and offer attractive hospitality services.

There is no point in trying to be everything to everyone.  It is rarely possible to satisfy all customers in the same way.  When you know what your potential guests’ values and what motivates them, you are better able to attract them.

Lifestyles are ways of living based on motivations, needs, and wants:

  • Activities: actions pursued for pleasure or relaxation
  • Attitudes: feelings about people, things, or situations
  • Beliefs: trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something
  • Interests: curiosity, attention, or concerns about something
  • Opinions: judgments or ways of thinking about something
  • Values: important and lasting ideals

These lifestyle factors can explain why your audience buys the products and services they do.  There is power in knowing how your prospects make their buying decisions.

How you package and promote your services is a key component of your marketing strategy.  Put together a list of different guest personas you want to attract that is based on what is in your local area, your unique talents, and your amenities.

First, ask yourself these three questions:

What is in my local area? This could be anything from college campuses, to concert venues, to national parks, to business conferences.  Once you know what is in your local area, you can better understand your potential guests’ lifestyles.

What are my unique talents?  If you are an official tour guide (local trail and/or hiking tours), a party planner (excellent anniversary parties), a massage therapist (with a spa on site), a vegetarian-only chef (cooking for vegetarians and vegans), then you have a better idea of the lifestyles’ of the guests you want to attract.

What amenities do I provide my guests?  This could be anything from game rooms, to gardens, to hot tubs, to luxurious linens, to indoor and/or outdoor pools, to tea rooms.  Understand what amenities you have that are attractive to potential guests.

Then segment your customers into different personas.  For example:

These are easy ways to better understand your guests’ lifestyles.  Then you can promote your place of hospitality (bed and breakfast, inn, resort, restaurant, etc.) on your website and through social media.

Kristi Dement at Bed and Breakfast Blogging can help you attract more guests.  Click here to contact me and/or feel free to comment below on what you do to attract more guests.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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