It’s always exciting to find inns that really "get it" when it comes to marketing their properties. It’s not that there is just one way to do it, but that most successful inns follow one consistent pattern: they all pay a great deal of attention to what is happening: at their inn, in the marketplace, and in trends that will affect them.
I recently did some work at The Folkestone Inn in Bryson City, NC. This is a true country inn, rural, close to Smoky Mountain National Park, the Cherokee Indian Qualla Boundary, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center, to name but a few attractions. At 10 rooms, Folkestone Inn isn’t huge, but it’s big enough to be a viable business. One of the things that impressed me is the way the owners track their business. They want to know not only what is happening now in real time, but how that compares to last year and the year before. If there’s a change, they ask themselves why? What are the leading indicators that would suggest a reason for a change. What should they be doing to anticipate a change or even a recurring event? They have beta tested almost every reservation system to pick the one that works best for them, for the information they want to be able to analyse. They have real time online booking. And they utilize a professional phone service when they are away, even for a few hours, to be sure a human answers the phone whenever possible.
They leave their web work to professionals, but they direct those pro’s as to what they want featured, and when. They artfully integrate the style of their inn with the amenities they offer. Scrupulous attention is to paid to the basics like extreme cleanliness and good food. They monitor websites like TripAdvisor to know what people are saying and plan to put those reviews on their own site. In short, they pay attention to the details.
Importantly, they spend their time on the high value tasks which they can do better than anyone and hire the help that is easier to come by (not that great housekeepers are easy to come by, but you know what I mean!). Are they blogging yet? No, but who knows what the future holds once The B&B Team gets our hands on them!