Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team
 

Archive for the ‘Online Reviews’ Category

Good Reputation-What’s it Worth?

June 8th, 2015 by Janet Wolf

Good reputation

A good reputation is one portion of the intangible “good will” value of a property. Here is a description from our articles on Real Estate  on The B&B Team’s website.

“Good will is the price a person is willing to pay for a business’s marketplace presence (that would otherwise take time to establish), a guest or customer base and list, a good reputation, a track record, good staff and management, and, because of these things, the ability to generate a reliable stream of income.”

So we all know what a “good reputation’” needs right? Good reviews.

Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence “recognizes establishments that consistently earn great Trip Advisor reviews from travelers.” When we see that one of our client’s inns has received this recognition, they are excited and proud and so are we. And proud they should be. It takes a lot of work to make sure those top reviews keep coming in and on a regular basis.

New in 2015 is Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame. This is when an Inn has achieved the Award of Excellence 5 years in a row. “1 in 5 accommodations are Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame winners.”

 

Inns at Blackberry Common, Camden Maine

Inns at Blackberry Common

The Inns at Blackberry Common in Camden Maine received the Hall of Fame Award 2015 from Trip Advisor. A big thumbs up to innkeepers Cyndi and Jim. We know they work hard at maintaining a quality Inn as well as offering exceptional hospitality. They well deserve this recognition.

Cyndi and Jim have been innkeepers since 1998, so they have seen some changes, especially in the transparency that occurs in social media, particularly online reviews. And they were smart; they caught on early to the importance of a good reputation established through Trip Advisor. They also understand the worth/good will it brings to their Inn.

inns at blackberry common2

As some of you may recall when Trip Advisor first came on the scene they were not looked upon with favor by many innkeepers. I am putting this in kindly terms, but in truth, there were some venomous words that passed innkeeper’s lips during those early years.

Time passed and travelers and diners started to rely on TA’s reviews first to check out a property and the location and then they started to make their booking decisions based on the reviews. Many other review sites jumped in but TA is still the 800 lb. gorilla and he/she is getting fatter.

More reason to strive to stay on top. Now we all know that nobody is perfect. That a less than glowing review will appear from time to time and will make you feel that they just called your baby (or dog) ugly, knifed you in the back and slugged you in the stomach, not a good day. Then you pick yourself up, write a short and to the point response that is written for the public and not the individual reviewer, wait a day, and then press send. It is hard not to take it personally but remember, there may be truth to the negative review and you may learn something. Or they may be crazy ranting you-know-whats, and you just have to let it go.

let it go

So…that Hall of Fame Award is something to be very proud of. After 17 years, Cyndi and Jim have listed the Inns at Blackberry Common for sale with The B&B Team. Knowing the hard work and dedication they have put into the Inn over the years will be valuable to the future owners. Inheriting a good reputation with the purchase of the Inn is big. An important part of the Inn’s good will.

Trip Advisor says, “These Hall of Fame businesses deserve to be especially proud.” Here is what Cyndi and Jim have said in response to the award. “It is a true source of pride for our entire team at the Inns at Blackberry Common and we’d like to thank all of our past guest who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor. There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by our guests.”

The B&B Team is very proud of them too.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

Best Apps for Marketing Your B&B

April 26th, 2012 by Peter Scherman

5 tools that use word-of-mouth marketing to entice new customers
Guest Post by Jane Johnson

Bed and breakfasts (or B&Bs and BnBs) offer a quaint, intimate, and less expensive alternative to larger hotels for the North American traveler. However, if you run a bed and breakfast or guesthouse, your time is likely largely consumed by making sure your inn is spotless, your meals are fresh, and your guests are comfortable. Apart from cooking meals, meeting guests’ needs, and cleaning, you probably don’t have a lot of time to think about how to market your accommodations, improve your online reputation, and grow your business within your local community.

Luckily, using smart phone apps to help build your bed and breakfast marketing plan can help you focus your efforts so that when visitors plan to travel to your area—your B&B automatically pops up on their radar.

Thanks to a proliferation of devices, competitive pricing and innovate wireless internet products like T-Mobile mobile broadband services, more people than ever connecting to the web on-the-go. These five popular apps will help market your bed and breakfast or guesthouse wherever internet service is available:

1. Yelp for Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

The Yelp for Mobile app is made up of reviews from an active community of locals in the know! So it’s your prerogative to make sure your B&B is listed on Yelp. In fact, whenever I make travel plans for out of town business or vacation, I read the user reviews for hotels, B&Bs, resorts, restaurants, and tourist attractions on Yelp before I pull out my credit card. Yelp is the traveler best ally—it offers up thousands of results for places to eat, stay, shop, drink, relax and play. Users can use this tool to search for a variety of businesses according to geographical location, category, business type, or even by deal. B&B owners can list their contact information (including address, email, website, Facebook profile, directions, and phone number), and even offer special deals via the Yelp app in order to entice and introduce new customers to your accommodations.

2. foursquare (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Fifteen million people can’t be wrong! That’s how many potential customers you can draw by listing your bed and breakfast with the foursquare application. Not only is this an excellent business directory, foursquare also works as a viral word-of-mouth marketing tool. Users can use the app to see what restaurants, stores, accommodations, products, services and entertainment their friends recommend or they can use the app to browse local business by category to discover what’s nearby. This app is built on personalized recommendations from clients—if you gain enough, your business will be placed on a list of the best spots to go, stay, see, or do and shared with foursquare’s audience of 15-million!

3. Yellow Pages Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Join over eighty-million listings and include your business on the Yellow Pages Mobile app—the leader in local mobile search. This app offers users tons of customer ratings and reviews on a variety of businesses and services according to geographical location. Plus, the unique turn-by-turn voice GPS navigation tool (only for the iPhone) will ensure visitors can search for your establishment by voice, user rating, or deal (when you feature discounts in the Deal Section).

4. Urbanspoon Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Urbanspoon is ideal for users who need some help deciding where to eat and where to stay (if you’re B&B offers dining). This app works like a dining slot machine—users just shake their smart phone to make the app spin, and they will view a collection of nearby restaurants with good user ratings. If you list your B&B with Urbanspoon, potential clients will be able to search for you according to neighborhood, cuisine, or price, and they can also use their current location to identify the nearest dining options to their current location.

5. Groupon (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

For B&Bs who want to appear on the list of the very best stuff to do, see, eat, stay, and buy within 500 cities around the globe—Groupon is the app for you! This app offers businesses the option to entice new clientele by offering spectacular discounts between 50% and 90% of the regular price! Groupon is renowned for handpicking every deal they deliver to customers’ smart phones, so if listed, your business is automatically viewed with confidence. Offer a deal to draw new customers, and users can easily redeem deals directly from their mobile phones.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a freelance writer for BBGeeks, a popular site that provides BlackBerry news, commentary, reviews and beginner BlackBerry tips for BB newbies.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The B&B Team®.

Transparency of Inn Reviews, Help or Hindrance?

May 15th, 2008 by Peter Scherman

I just read a GREAT article by Gregg Swann of Bloodhound Realty entitled "Why Do We Link In a Web 2.0 World?" While the blog post is geared toward real estate professionals, the observations and wisdom are worthy of anyone in commerce to consider, especially innkeepers. It’s all about transparency.

At the PAII conference we heard about "Transparency Tyranny," and lots of innkeepers continued to fret about online reviews and how bad they are. Gregg Swann points out how the issue of transparency is really about honesty. People want to buy a product or a service, and they just don’t know whom to trust. The old fashioned marketing as monologue was where you told me how great your product was, and I was supposed to believe you. But, too often, you told me what you wanted me to hear, and when I thought was buying a rabbit, in actuality I got an empty hat.

With Web 2.0 and Travel 2.0, marketing is a dialogue between the provider and the consumer and between consumers. To the extent that a prospective guest at your bed & breakfast can read what others say about you, they gain a measure of confidence, especially if those comments and reviews reinforce what you have said about your inn. That shows honesty.

"Transparency and verisimilitude both mean the same thing in this context: This is real. People are so used to marketing trickery that they expect it everywhere. The challenge for anyone seeking to change minds in the Web 2.0 world is to take away that expectation. Transparency doesn’t mean I am obliged to disclose to you the color of my underwear. Transparency means that if there is any possibility that you could entertain the smallest doubt that I am effecting some kind of sleight of hand to trick you into doing something you otherwise would not do, I have to give you the means of eradicating that doubt to your own satisfaction." (Gregg Swann) The means to eradicating that doubt in travel is reviews. To the extent that you promote them, encourage them, and make them accessible, travelers will trust your honesty, that you have nothing to hide.

Gregg concludes his post with words that are very apropos to innkeepers and which echo what we have been saying for a long time. "…Web 2.0 consumers are already pretty sophisticated [the i.guest] – and everything they do on the nets teaches them how to be more sophisticated. If you are not willing to be completely transparent in your online marketing presence, consumers will gravitate, one by one, to people who are willing to back up everything they say."

At The B&B Team we buy into this concept for ourselves as well as our clients. One of our mantras is that you hire us to tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear. We think that’s the honest thing to do. And we have absolutely no qualms about giving you every opportunity to interview past clients. In fact, we think you should. Your reputation for honesty and transparency is something that no one should take away. And if you feel that people are seeing the color of your underwear, then maybe you have to examine what you’re wearing!

Peter

Online Reviews Impact Bottom Line

December 4th, 2007 by Peter Scherman

There’s been a lot of news lately about online reviews, and sometimes it’s hard to know how to measure their impact on innkeepers. Well, now we have some great statistics to share. A recent article from TravelMole reported that The Kelsey Group and comScore.com did a joint research project that focused on hotels (lodging), restaurants, travel, and other areas. The impressive bottom line was that people were willing to pay at least 20% more (and up to 99% more) for services (like lodging) that were rated "excellent" (5 stars) versus "good" (4 stars).

Furthermore, the study showed that 24% of Internet users read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and of those, 40% subsequently stayed at the hotel they reviewed online. Hotels ranked the highest of all categories in that 87% said that the reviews had a significant influence on the decision to book a room. More surprising, still, was that a full 97% said that the reviews were accurate!

So, what does this mean for innkeepers? At The B&B Team we’ve been saying for some time that Travel 2.0 was important for the unique lodging industry. Sure, the studies are looking at hotels, but B&B’s and inns are in the lodging category, and we all know that you’re being reviewed online, like it or not. So, when was the last time you checked out your reviews? If you’re not looking, and if your guests aren’t saying nice things about you, and if the experience you offer isn’t up to your marketing hype, then you’re problably leaving at least 20% of your potential revenue on the table.

To measure that 20% another way, consider this: If your inn could gross 20% more revenue, and your expenses stayed relatively similar to what they are now, that’s a LOT more net operating income at the end of the year. And, in the parlance of inn valuation, if we used a 10% capitalization rate, for every $10,000 increase in net operating income, your inn could be worth $100,000 more! Don’t believe that social media and online reviews have an impact? Think again!

Peter

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

November 21st, 2007 by Peter Scherman

When innkeepers take a reservation from a repeat guest or learn that a new reservation was referred by a previous guest, it’s always a good thing. The higher the percentage of repeat and referral guests, the better, because word of mouth advertising costs nothing. Or does it?

In the day to day reality of most inns, word of mouth is free. But in the larger world of marketing, advertisers (that’s anyone asking someone else to buy their product or service, including innkeepers) are spending an increasing amount on Word-of-Mouth marketing, according to a recent article from PQ Media. PQ Media reports that "Spending on word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing jumped 35.9% in 2006 to $981.0 million and is expected to top $1 billion in 2007." If WoM has now extended from just friends and family talking together to social media outlets where future guests get referrals from "friends" they may not actually know, this is huge.

According to Nielsen Online, the most popular social networking site, Myspace.com, had almost 59 million unique visitors in October, 2007, up 19% from October, 2006. Facebook.com grew 125% in the same period! The B&B Team has been addressing this issue a lot lately, because it’s important. Does this mean that you have to start spending money to get the word of mouth that has always been free? No, not really. To partcipate in the virtual WoM world takes time more than anything. If you set up a blog the cost is minimal, but it costs nothing to belong to and read various social network sites where a lot of this word-of-mouth marketing is happening. So what are you waiting for? Eavesdrop a bit. Join the party and find out what everyone’s talking about. We are!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter

When a Review is not a Review…

October 15th, 2007 by Peter Scherman

With all the discussion about social media, blogging, travel review sites, etc., there’s always a fair amount of passion. Most innkeepers either love or hate Tripadvisor. There’s very little middle ground. Our feeling at The B&B Team is that innkeepers need to know about, track, and use Travel 2.0 venues as much as they can and as much as they feel it may impact their business positively. However, there’s a big difference between "use" and "abuse."

For instance, is there anything wrong with an innkeeper encouraging happy, smiling departing guests from leaving a review at Tripadvisor (or some other site)? Is it any less ethical not to say a thing about reviews to a departing i.guest who had a less than a perfect stay? Is it important and proper to respond adequately to a negative review? How about posing as a happy i.guest and posting a great review about your own property? After all, it’s just to get the ball rolling, right? Or what about pretending to be an irate former guest and posting a bogus review blasting your competitor?

In the early days of the public Internet, some enterprising individuals bought hundreds of URL’s, including the names of industries and companies, in the belief (well founded in many cases) that someone would pay them a lot of money to buy them. It worked, for a while. There was nothing inherently wrong with being ahead of the competition and buying URLs like "bedandbreakfast.com" that were industry specific. But there was a problem with people buying the names of companies and extorting those companies, in essence, to get their own name back. In the end, because of the ethics and the law that prevailed, some entrepreneurs were denied their hoped-for windfall. A line had been crossed.

In social media, and innkeeping, everyone needs to keep a perspective and remember that there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. This is new territory, so keep a level head and keep the standards high. When a review is not a review, maybe the angel on your shoulder should be louder than the other voice!

Peter

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